Father’s Day, The First Since

We’ve hit most of the major “first” milestones since Dad died…Christmas, everyone’s birthday but Mom’s, including what would have been his 60th on May 8, the six-month anniversary of his passing, and now, Father’s Day.

Having John to celebrate with Sarah has helped, but the first year when everyone else is celebrating their father when yours is gone is a hard one.

When we went to Hume Lake earlier this year to scatter his ashes, I picked up my camera again after a long time away from it, especially landscape photos, my first photographic love. Life has been a little crazy since then and I hadn’t taken the time to go through those photos until today.

I’m not ready to share everything from that weekend (both emotional and photographic), but this image is particularly special and one of my favorites.  While pictures are often “worth a thousand words,” the words below the photo are those I shared with our family before we said our final goodbye to his earthly remains, a fitting tribute on this, The First Father’s Day Since.


As we were preparing this week before our trip – making sure all of my obligations were taken care of and getting things packed and ready – the busyness of it all, the words to this song were brought to mind often:

“To be still and know / That you’re in this place / Please let me stay and rest / In Your Holiness.”

Thinking of Hume – and specifically the times that Dad spent here – brings thoughts of rest, stillness, peace, calm, and quiet. Dad was always on the go for work. The time that he spent here at Hume was the only break or time off he ever really took.

He loved it here. The friends he made, the games he played, and the time he got to spend with people – away from all the distractions.

Dad will continue to be greatly missed here on earth for many different reasons, but no one can argue that after God and his family, his greatest love was for other people.

Back home, the distractions of life often interfere with our relationships, but Hume provides a place that forces the distractions be put on hold for a while so that we can just be – be still…be with people…be with God.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 says, “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

I think it’s very fitting that his final earthly resting place is here – the one place he truly rested while alive. I hope it is a reminder to you as it is to me that we try to not let the distractions get in the way of the things that really matter.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Celebrating After Loss

On March 16, it will be four months since Dad died…a third of a year without him already. It’s gone by so quickly.

On March 14, Sarah will celebrate her sixth birthday. Her first without her grandpa. So far, I haven’t had any major milestones without him (other than a holiday where I was just kind of numb and hoping to make it to the new year for the “fresh start” it often brings). This birthday celebration has had worried me. Dad loved celebrations, and it was always a time we knew he would be there, even if it meant rushing from a job site he was working on.

Every year since Sarah turned two, our family has celebrated her birthday with a trip to the Disneyland Resort. It’s always been at least me, John, her Auntie, Grammie, and Grandpa (for at least part of the day). This year, it was a challenge to pick a day that everyone could go together.

With March 6 being one of only a handful of days that Sarah could go, we chose that date and whoever could make it, could make it. Sarah and I made the trip alone yesterday.

We often go to Disneyland with just the two of us, so that part didn’t bother me, but this was a special trip – her birthday trip – and it had always involved others.

My worries and fears that this year’s would be so different in a negative way turned out to be completely unfounded. We had one of the best days at Disneyland that we’ve had in a very long time.

None of the cast members we encountered yesterday knew what had happened in our lives over the last six months nor the history of our special visit that day, but we encountered the most amazing people who showered us with one magical moment after another. A day I was so worried would be a disappointment instead turned into a day filled with wonderful memories that left our hearts overflowing.

As many of you know, Sarah likes to dress up, or cosplay, when visiting Disneyland, including some of the cast member outfits. One we made last year was a replica of the cast members who assist with the Jr. Chef show that goes on during the Food & Wine Festival. It’s a fun show where the kids get to “make” cookies – “Magical Oatmeal Raisin Cookies” to be exact – with Chef Lilly and Goofy. This show was the highlight of the Festival for Sarah last year, so we were excited to hear it would be returning, and we could use the costume again.

Sarah was a little saddened at first because the friends she had made last year weren’t working yesterday, but she soon made new friends, especially when they saw her outfit was just like theirs. The cast members helped her color her chef’s hat and talked with her about her birthday. They let her add the raisins to the cookie mix since that’s her favorite part. She got a “shout-out” from Chef Lilly on stage, acknowledging her outfit. She got TWO cookies after the show (it was the last one of the day and the cast members had extras). We spent almost three hours in the area and Sarah left beaming ear to ear, saying she was having “the best birthday celebration ever!”

On our way to the Wilderness Adventure play area, we stopped by one of the Info kiosks to get Sarah’s Disney birthday button. In true Sarah fashion, she stroke up a conversation with the woman, telling her all about her Jr. Chef experience that day and about her plans for her birthday dinner later that night (I had made reservations at Blue Bayou, a place she had never been, but had wanted to go).

The woman asked if I had our tickets. I was kind of puzzled for a moment as I handed her my phone with our barcodes. She asked Sarah what her favorite ride was. “Thunder Mountain.” She scanned our passes and added an anytime FastPass. She then asked me what my favorite ride was. My favorite is Space Mountain, but Sarah doesn’t like the dark. Instead I chose the Matterhorn, where “Chewy’s friends live.” (Hey, you do what you can to get her to not be scared of the Yeti’s inside!). She scanned our passes again, adding a second FassPass to ride the Matterhorn. She then gave Sarah her button and wished her a “Happy Birthday” and we were on our way.

I had no plans to ride anything that day unless Sarah requested it – and was willing to wait. Rides in the afternoon/evening at Disneyland aren’t exactly known for their short wait times. Now, Sarah would be able to ride TWO of her favorite rides before we had to check in for our dinner reservation. Again as we exited each ride, “this is the best birthday celebration ever.”

Earlier in the day, I had asked Sarah what she wanted to wear to dinner at The Blue Bayou. She insisted on “fancy dresses” for both of us. We packed dresses and comfortable dress shoes that we changed into just before our reservation time.

I knew that a visit to Blue Bayou would not be complete without sitting at a table along the water’s edge where the boats embarked for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It meant a little bit of a longer wait, but not much, thankfully.

When our name was called, Sarah excitedly followed the hostess and climbed into her chair, immediately leaning over the railing waving at the boats passing us by. Yep, it was again, “the best birthday celebration ever!”

We ordered our drinks and since it was a special dinner, I ordered her a Louisiana Lemonade, which is lemonade, Sprite, with flavors of raspberry and mango – served with a glow cube. Her eyes lit up when the server brought out our drinks and set it down in front of her. Not only was she so excited to have soda for the first time, but her drink glowed! “Best birthday celebration ever!” as she sipped her drink watching the boats floating by.

Dinner was amazing. She had mac and cheese. I had the rack of lamb. Then came time for dessert. Having had two cookies from Jr. Chef earlier in the day and two cups of sugary soda with dinner, I had planned to skip dessert since we try to keep her sugar intake minimal most day. Our server arrived at the side of our table with a Mickey Mouse shaped chocolate mousse dessert surrounded by Mickey shaped sprinkles and a birthday candle burning in the middle. They didn’t sing, but she was still over the moon excited to blow out the candle and eat the dessert (interestingly, she only had one bite of it because she was full).

As we finished our dinner and packed up the leftover dessert to take home, Sarah came over, climbed into my lap, and gave me a “squeezy hug” like only she can. “Best Birthday Celebration Ever, Momma.”

A Year in Review. 2017.

bycphotography-favello-family-portraits-068While this year has been as busy as ever, it’s also been a difficult one for us. On November 16, Katie’s dad, Terry, lost his fight with pancreatic cancer. We were so fortunate to have had almost 21 months with him since he received his diagnosis, most of which he was relatively healthy. We were able to spend many evenings with him over the last month or so and Katie and Sarah helped care for him in his final days. We are mourning the loss of a very special man that we love dearly, but we are comforted knowing he is no longer in pain, is cancer free, and we will see him again someday.

It’s difficult to transition from sharing news like that to sharing what else our family has been up to this year, but we’ve found grief is like that – an awkward balance between continuing with our daily routines and activities while dealing with the emotions that seem to overwhelm us at the most random of times.

12-KindergartenSarah finished out the spring with her preschool co-op and after extensive research and attendance at a homeschool convention, Katie and Sarah started the adventure of “officially” homeschooling as Sarah began Kindergarten in August. She loves science this year – marine biology (on a kindergarten level, of course) and we’re learning about our country, community helpers, and what life is like for children in different parts of the world. We’re part of a homeschool group that has park days, co-op classes (Sarah will be in her first musical in March and is learning to play the recorder), field trips, and a great group of families to help us on this journey.

IMG_4415Sarah has continued dancing, performing in a “Toy Story” themed recital in June, dressed as one of her favorite Disney characters, Jessie, and danced a ballet number to “Here Comes Suzy Snowflake” in her Christmas recital. She is now one of the oldest dancers in her class and we’re eager for her to move up the “big girl” dance classes in another year or so.

2017-05-17 19.29.45This May, Sarah earned her Awana Cubbies Honeycomb Book Award. That means she memorized about 20 more Bible verses this year! She also built her Grand Prix car with Grandpa and John in January – a “My Little Pony” car she designed. She moved up to the Sparks-K group this fall and is almost half-way through her book already! Katie has continued volunteering, now with the 5th and 6th grade girls this fall.

2017-07-10 11.17.46We didn’t take a big family trip this year, but did spend a week in San Diego in July. We visited the USS Midway as a family and while John attended a work conference, Katie and Sarah watched the seals and sea lions on the beaches in La Jolla, learned about Cabrillo while earning Sarah’s first National Parks Junior Ranger Badge at the Cabrillo National Monument, and went on Sarah’s first trip to Sea World (her favorite were the dolphins). We ended up with annual passes to Sea World and have already returned once.

2017-09-09 12.24.52-1During spring soccer season, Sarah participated in the UK Academy program through our local region and worked on developing her skills. This fall, she was a very valuable member of the Fiery Pink Unicorns, which Katie coached (Katie also joined the Regional Board as the Team Parent & Yearbook Coordinator). Sarah’s still aggressive, attacks the ball, and is quick, but she’s also developed into a great defensive player this year. We’re still deciding if we will play spring soccer this year since we started with a running team in preparation for running track this spring! After running all four runDisney Kids Races this year, she’s excited for competitive races.

PathfinderAnother new and exciting activity we joined this year is American Heritage Girls. It’s similar to Girl Scouts (earn badges through character & skill development), but with a more faith-focused approach. Sarah is a Pathfinder this year and is working on earning her Fanny Crosby and Joining Awards that she can wear on her vest next year. There are three Pathfinders girls and it’s been so sweet to watch their friendship develop over these few months. We really enjoy this program and Sarah is VERY excited for the Mother-Daughter camping trip this spring (it will be her first!).

We, once again, renewed our passes to Disneyland in September, though with all of our other activities and life circumstances, we haven’t gone as much as we did last year. But when we do go, it’s that much more exciting! Sarah is finally 42” tall, which means she is able to ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds (she loves them!), though her favorite is still Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Sarah’s 5th birthday was in March and we celebrated with an Ariel party at Grammie’s house and our annual trip to Disneyland. This year we ate lunch with the princesses at Ariel’s Grotto after she had a “make-over” at Anna & Elsa’s Boutique in Downtown Disney. We ended our evening watching the Main Street Electrical Parade, something she really enjoyed, despite it’s lack of technology. She told us at the end of the day that it was the “best birthday ever.”

In additional to shuttling Sarah to her various activities and lesson planning for school, Katie continues to serve on the local MOMS Club board, this year as the Treasurer. She also took on the role of “Big Sister” to five local chapters, a volunteer position with the International organization.

John was officially hired on direct with his company in February and he enjoys being able to work on projects that have allowed him to expand his skills.  He recently completed a facilities aerial photography project and has also been working most of the year architecting a geographic information system (GIS) system for Operations. This summer he had the opportunity to attend the ESRI GIS conference in San Diego and attended many workshops. The whole family enjoyed the company picnic at the Santa Barbara Zoo in September.

We are thankful for each one of you and the love you have shown to our family, especially these last few months. We pray that you have a wonderful 2018!

John, Katie & Sarah

Screen Shot 2017-12-25 at 8.30.34 PM


Sarah: 3 Months

I can hardly believe Sarah is already three months old.  Time seemed to fly before having her…now it feels like we are in warp speed.  I truly have no idea where the first half of this year has gone!

SIZE:  We don’t have an official weigh-in this month since we didn’t have a doctor’s appointment, but according to the not-super-accurate bathroom scale method of weighing myself first, then while holding her and subtracting to find the difference, she is about 12-13 pounds.  She fits comfortably in 3-month clothes, but there’s definitely some room for growth before we’re putting her in 6-month stuff.  We just made her cloth diapers larger this week – 2 in the waist and 5 in the legs (on the smallest snaps).  It’s amazing to look at her newborn photos and see how different she looks and how much she’s grown!

DEVELOPMENT:  Sarah loves to smile – a lot!  Her head and neck are really strong and she’s getting better at tummy time too.  Just this past week she’s started pushing herself up on her arms, but there’s lots of work to do there still.  She does spin herself in circles and scoots on her tummy by kicking her legs.  She is fascinated by her hands and plays with them and tries to put her entire hand in her mouth – both at the same time!  She has also discovered her bottom lip and sucks on that frequently.  Sarah has become Miss Talkative, babbling and cooing and will sometimes even have a “conversation” with us where she “says” something, waits for a response, and then responds.  It’s very cute.  She is also tracking people across the room really well – and not just with her eyes.  Her head whips around now, especially when she hears something she’s interested in.  She did discover how comforting sucking her thumb is while we were taking her 13 week picture.  Aunt Cassie would be so proud!

PERSONALITY:  She’s a pretty happy baby.  She rarely fusses or cries unless she wants something (mainly when she’s hungry).  She does “whine” when she’s tired though.  I actually find it kind of funny to listen to, especially when she’s falling asleep in her car seat in the car as the whines get further and further apart until she’s sleeping.

LIKES:  Many of the things she liked last month, she still enjoys now – her swing and mobile, having her diaper changed, watching the TV…and there are some new things we’ve discovered she likes too.  She loves to lay on the floor and watch the ceiling fan at Grammie & Grandpa’s house (well, pretty much anywhere).  She also likes to play with her burp clothes, especially the ones that have lace or ribbon sewed on the ends.  However, this fascination does not extend to her Taggies blanket, which is much softer and more colorful!

DISLIKES:  I really can say there’s much that Sarah that dislikes.  Other than tummy time, which is still somewhat of a struggle, Sarah is a pretty content baby.  Oh, and getting shots…she’s not a fan of that, but she only cries for about 10-15 seconds and then she’s fine.

EATING:  Eating is going well through the transition of me going back to work and having to pump and do the whole bottle thing during the day.  She is a good eater for John during the day and still eats well at night for me.

SLEEPING:  Like eating, sleeping is going well too.  She is still sleeping through the night with rare exception, going to sleep around 10:00 or 10:30 and waking up around 8:30 or so.  She’s been doing great in the cradle and is all but outgrown it.  We’ll be moving her to a crib in the next couple of weeks, though I’m torn about whether to move her to her own room or set the crib up in ours.  I’m sure she probably doesn’t care all that much, but it’s a big step for Mom!  She often falls asleep on her back at night, but I usually find her rolled onto her side in the morning with her head tilted back (she’s always done this uncomfortable looking position while sleeping).  Naps are still hit or miss and she doesn’t have a real “schedule” yet of when she takes her naps.  Hopefully this month she’ll get into more of a predictable pattern.

OUTINGS/CELEBRATIONS:  Like last month, we had a very busy month!  I went back to work on May 21 and John is at home with her for six weeks.  It’s been an interesting adjustment!  We attended two friends’ birthday parties, celebrating Eleanor’s first birthday (my high school friend’s daughter) in May and JP’s second birthday (from our Bible Study) in June.  She also met much of the Favello extended family at a BBQ for relatives visiting from Utah, including her second cousin who is just a few weeks older.  Sarah also had her first experience away from both Mom and Dad while we celebrated my birthday at Medieval Times (Grammie babysat).  She also spent her first full day with Grammie while Dad worked with Grandpa (a trial run for when Dad goes back to work in July).  This month was also my 30th birthday, which we didn’t do anything special for – just dinner with most of my family.  Sarah and Dad got me a reflector for my photos and a bag of peanut M&Ms (yum!).  This isn’t really much of a celebration, but we experience a fairly minor earthquake yesterday – the first I’ve felt since we’ve lived in this house.  It was a short one and Sarah slept through it all!

I love watching her grow and change from month to month and being able to experience new things with a her…even routine things are so different when you have a baby to bring along!

Sarah: 2 Months

We “celebrated” Sarah’s two-month birthday with a visit to the doctor for her well baby appointment.  She did a great job – was all giggles and smiles until it came time for her shots.  She wasn’t a fan of the oral one and fussed through that, but a pacifier eased her quickly.  The injection went a bit worse with cries that I’ve never heard from her before.  Fortunately, being in my arms soothed her after just a minute or two.

SIZE:  Sarah weighed in at just under 11 pounds this morning (10 lbs., 13.9 oz. to be exact).  She is 22.25 inches long.  Both stats put her between the 25th and 50th percentile for her age.  We graduated to 3-month clothes around 7 weeks, which was bittersweet for me as I moved her newborn clothes to a less used dresser drawer.  Her diapers (exclusively cloth now) are at a 3 in the waist and 6 for the legs.  She definitely doesn’t look “newborn” anymore and I think she looks so big…until I see another baby just a couple of months older!

DEVELOPMENT:  Sarah is all smiles, especially when she is having her diaper changed or just after she eats.  It is the cutest thing to see her huge infant grin when we talk to her.  She’s also holding her head up really well.  We do still get a few head bobbles, but she’s doing better every day.  She’s not pushing up on her arms quite yet since she’s not a big fan of tummy time.  She did discover her tongue and hands around 8 weeks.  She loves to look at her hands and put it up to her tongue, lick her hand, and repeat (think of licking an ice cream cone).  She’s become a lot more aware of her surroundings, particularly who is holding her (mom is her preferred person).

PERSONALITY:  About a week ago, she became very attached to me, which means that she often wants to be held only by me.  Grammie says she’s a total momma’s girl, which is fine with me!  She still prefers to be held and around people than napping by herself in her cradle.  She is overall, a very happy baby and while she doesn’t like missing anything, it can make her fussy because she doesn’t sleep during the day.

LIKES:  Sarah still loves to be held…especially by me.  She enjoys car rides most of the time and has been staying awake for more and more of them.  The swing is a bit hit now and she loves to smile at herself in the mirror that is in the middle of the mobile above her head.  She loves the mobile too, and will just lay in her crib watching the animals go around.  She discovered TV this month.  We find her “watching” over our shoulder or while she’s sitting with us on the couch.  I think she’s interested in the movement on the screen.  Surprisingly, Sarah enjoys having her diaper changed (most of the time) and is still a big fan of bath time.  We think she just likes being naked (she gets that from dad).

DISLIKES:  There’s not a lot that Sarah doesn’t like, but tummy time has been a struggle.  She usually fusses and cried only a few minutes in when I do it with her, though Dad has had some better results.  She also doesn’t like napping during the day unless she is being held.

EATING:  Sarah is eating great!  She typically eats every 3-4 hours, though it can be every 2 hours in the evening (or every 30 minutes during growth spurts!) and she goes about 8 hours while sleeping at night.  We’ve fixed her latch and have virtually no problems with nursing.  She will start eating from a bottle (pumped milk) in just a week when I return to work, so we’ll see if there are any challenges with going between breast and bottle.

SLEEPING:  Nighttime sleeping is fantastic!  She was going to sleep around 9:00 p.m. but has recently transitioned to closer to 11:00 p.m.  She does sleep between 7 and 8 hours, regardless of when she goes to bed.  Last week we also moved her from the pack-n-play napper to the cradle.  She was getting too long for the napper and I wanted to get some use out of the cradle before she has to move to the crib once she starts rolling over.  She does sleep in the swing during the day sometimes since it rocks her better and longer than my arms can handle.  We get mixed results with the swing, though.  She does still sleep with her hands straight above her head, but not as often as she used to.  She’s moved into more of an arms straight out position.

OUTINGS/CELEBRATIONS:  This month was another one filled with trips and celebrations.  Daddy and Grammie both got visits at work where Sarah met all of their co-workers.  The same day Sarah also met most of my co-workers at the retirement reception for my boss.  During my 6-week check up, Sarah met and was adored by Dr. Wang, my OB, who monitored her growth while growing inside me!  Sarah also met all of Grammie’s family at dinner to celebrate Great Aunt Judee’s move to Idaho, and again at Great-Grandpa’s 90th birthday party (where she also met other relatives from South Dakota, Minnesota, Idaho, and here in California).  We visited the Lemon Festival in Upland where we walked around downtown Upland and watched a pie-eating contest while eating corndogs from Hot Dog on a Stick.  Sarah also met our Awana clubbers this month, many of whom where eager to meet her after the anticipation of her arrival.  We finally made it this month to a Build-a-Bear store, where Sarah made her own “Sarah-Bears” to join “Mr. & Mrs. Bears” on our mantle (it’s a family nickname).  She loved the feel of the bear on her cheek.  We ended this month with a very special Mother’s Day, as Sarah was dedicated at our church, with Grammie, Grandpa, Aunt Cassie, Uncle Greg, Theresa, Mark & Ellie, Christina & Kaylee, and Keith in attendance.  After church, we had a lunch reception back at our house, and Sarah gave me her gift of a year subscription to Food Network magazine (both her and Daddy like me to try new recipes).  My mom (Grammie), also gave me a beautiful heart necklace with Sarah’s name on the heart and her birthstone (aquamarine).  We ended the day with the Survivor finale party at Grammie & Grandpa’s house.

Sarah: 1 Month

It’s hard to believe that Sarah is already a month old!  After spending 5 days in the NICU for treatment for a possible infection, Sarah came home and John and I have been adjusting to our new normal with a baby in the house.  It’s been a very challenging month, for sure, with the stress of the NICU stay, feeding challenges, healing from a difficult 30-hour labor and delivery, and the lack of sleep we’ve both been getting, but we love her more than we ever thought we could!

SIZE: Sarah’s 8 pounds (she was 8lbs. 3 oz. at the last doctor’s appointment) and is wearing newborn clothes still, though they’re definitely getting smaller and probably won’t fit much longer.  She had graduated into size 1 diapers when we had her in disposables and her Fuzzibunz are set at 3 on the waist and 7 on the legs.  The legs are going to need to be moved soon though!  I know she’s probably on the smaller side for her age, but I think she looks so big – especially when you compare her with her early photos!

DEVELOPMENT:  She’s been growing like crazy and hit a couple of big developmental milestones this month.  She began lifting her head at about 10 days and her neck muscles keep getting stronger.  The pediatrician even commented on how strong her neck was at her two-week appointment!  She’s also started smiling at us on occasion.  The first time we were sure she was doing it in response to us was on Easter (3.5 weeks) when Grandpa was tickling her face with his beard.

PERSONALITY:  I’ve noticed that Sarah is very independent in that she knows what she wants and wants it now.  She doesn’t have much patience (wonder where that comes from J).  She does love to cuddle and be held.  She also likes to be in the middle of things and doesn’t want to go to sleep and miss anything (“much like her Mom” says Grammie).

LIKES:  Sarah loves to be held, even when she’s sleeping.  And it’s usually on her stomach or side.  She loves to lay on her stomach on the chest of whoever is holding her or on her side with her head hanging slightly over their arm, which gets heavy really quick!  Car rides are mostly good and usually put her to sleep.  She also likes to lay in bed with Dad and is quite content in the Moby as I do chores around the house.  Even though I originally did not want to use a pacifier, she loves hers and it’s a lifesaver when she just wants to suck and isn’t hungry.  Sarah’s a big fan of Grammie – she almost always will settle down and/or go to sleep when Grammie is holding her.  She enjoys being swaddled with blankets (the actual Swaddlers weren’t a big hit) with her arms fairly loose so she has access to her hands.  She also loves bath time.  So far, we’ve had no crying before, during, or after baths!

DISLIKES:  Sarah does not like to be left in a room by herself.  If we try to lay her down in the pack-n-play napper (she’s not a fan of the cradle) after she’s fallen asleep and we’re not in the room, she will usually wake up shortly after.  She does not like being in her car seat, unless she’s asleep or we’re moving.  The one attempt we had at taking a walk with the stroller didn’t go so well.

EATING:  After her stay during the first week with formula supplements in the NICU and a challenge with establishing my supply, feedings have finally started to become regular, usually every 3-4 hours, though we did have a growth spurt during week 3 when she wanted to eat almost constantly for about 8 hours!  She seems to eat well, but her latch has gotten a bit shallow in the past week or so.  Hopefully a visit to the feeding clinic will help remedy that so feedings are pleasant for both her and me.

SLEEPING:  We’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to her sleeping “schedule.”  With the exception of the growth spurt, she sleeps for 2-4 hours between feedings and even slept for 9 hours one night!  She’s usually waking up just once during the night, around 3:00 a.m. to eat after going to sleep between 10:00 p.m. and midnight.  She wakes up again around 5:00 a.m. when Dad leaves for work before going back to sleep again until around 9:00 a.m. when she’s “awake” for the day.  Looks like she’s a night owl like Mom!  She loves to sleep on her back with both of her hands up over her head in a “touchdown” position.  Guess she’s gonna be a football fan – fitting right in!

OUTINGS/CELEBRATIONS:  We’ve been lots of places this month.  We’ve conquered our first shopping trip with both of us to Costco and our first restaurant experience with Grammie and Grandpa at Lucille’s.  Sarah did really well on both trips and I got my first experience at breastfeeding in public just as I finished eating my dinner at Lucille’s.  We also went to Bible Study, though there weren’t very many people there.  Sarah did get to meet the only other girl, Ellie, in our group.  We’ve been to Mom’s Group in Upland a couple of times and a few more shopping trips alone with me.  We celebrated Easter at our house with Grammie, Grandpa, Aunt Cassie, Uncle Greg, and Theresa.  She got a basket from Grammie with some books, clothes, and toys, and a VeggieTales Easter movie from us.  Sarah also went to her first wedding on her one-month birthday for a life-long friend of mine, in Temecula.  She did amazing during the wedding (which was outside in really cold weather) and the reception with the loud music!


Merry Christmas!

As we look back on this year, we are in awe of how blessed we have been again this year!

We started our year with plans to start house hunting in May, but certain circumstances started that search in early February instead, a truly providential situation.  After looking at about 30 houses and four offers, we closed on the first house we put in an offer for on March 29.  The next month we spent doing minor renovations, including scraping the popcorn texture from the ceilings throughout the entire house and painting the walls.  Good Friday was a really good Friday for us as it marked moving day and our first night spent in our new home!  We celebrated six weeks later with family and friends at our housewarming party.

We hosted our first overnight guest in September when John’s grandmother visited us for a weekend during her vacation to California from Philadelphia.  Trips to the LA County Fair and Oak Glen for apple and berry picking gave us a chance to show her around our part of Southern California – the Inland Empire.

After a successful Thanksgiving 5K run last year, Katie started training for her first half-marathon.  On May 1, she started out on the 13.1-mile course in Irvine, crossing the finish line with a time of 3:24:03.  She had originally planned to run two additional half-marathons this fall, but the good news we received in July cancelled those plans!

Since moving, we have started attending a new church, Pomona First Baptist, and attend a Sunday School class for married couples (though we still are part of our small group from our Orange County church). This fall, we also started volunteering once a week with the AWANA program, mentoring 3rd through 6th grade boys and girls as they learn and memorize God’s Word.  We have even taken on the challenge to complete a book this year, right along with the kids in our group.

Just days after closing on the house, Katie was laid off from her position at the Crystal Cathedral, something we now consider a huge blessing in light of the current uncertainty they are facing.  She then put her photography skills to use starting her own portrait business, KatieJ Photography (katiejphoto.com).  Then, just three months later, in July, Katie started a new position as an Administrative Assistant in the Dean’s Office at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University.  Her primary responsibility is planning a prophecy conference that will occur in March, for which they are expecting 2,000 attendees!

July was a busy month as we learned that we are expecting our first child in March 2012 – a precious daughter we will name Sarah EllenJoy.  After trying for over a year, it was hard to believe at first, but we are both so excited, as are both of our families.  We’ve seen her several times via ultrasound and shared the wonderful news that Baby Julius was a girl at the second party our house hosted – a gender reveal party.  Both future dad and grandpa have been hard at work on her nursery, including Katie’s dad making the crib and dresser.

In October, we celebrated our second anniversary with a trip to MCAS Miramar for the annual air show and dinner at Cheesecake Factory.  It became a non-intentional tradition for us to see the Blue Angels to celebrate our anniversary.

Our house has definitely been getting a lot of use this year (as we had hoped), hosting 13 people from both of our families for Thanksgiving!  We can’t wait for the celebrations we will have in 2012, with the birth of Sarah in March and Katie’s 30th birthday in May, among other things!

We are so thankful for all God has given to us this year and we look forward with anticipation to what He has in store for us in 2012.

We pray that you and your family have a blessed Christmas and 2012!

The Julius Family

Three months later…

Yes, I realize that my poor little blog has been neglected for three months and is in need of a much overdue update (I have pretty good reasons, though…just keep reading)!

I’ll save most of the smaller updates for later posts, but get the big news out there!

I guess I will start with the big news first…John and I are expecting!!!  We shared the good news with immediate family right away when we found out in July and just broke the news to extended family and friends and pretty much the entire Facebook world with this cute little video.  We are due March 15, 2012 and get to find out if we’re having a boy or girl in just three weeks – on October 7.   We’re having a gender reveal party the following Saturday, so you will have to come back after that to find out if Baby Julius will be sporting pink or blue!

Another huge answer to prayer happened right around the same time we found out we were expecting – I got a full-time job offer (and accepted, of course)!  I’m working at a private Christian university as an Administrative Assistant and most of my time has been spent planning and coordinating a retreat for the faculty of the department I work in.  It’s a definite change in environment from my previous position, but I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone that I work with and throughout the University.

We’ve also done some work on the house, including new furniture, converting my office to a guest room (and soon to a nursery) and some landscaping, as well as marking a few more items off on my 101 list and just plain relaxing (growing a baby is a lot of work!).

Stay tuned for more on these other updates as well as Baby Julius’ progress over the next 6 months (and beyond)!

Jag Älskar

Translation: I’m in love! (at least according the online translator I used…I apologize if this is not even close!)

I’ve been to Ikea once or twice before, but this was my first trip since having a place of my own that I can actually imagine what certain items would look like in my house.

I’ll leave out the details, but suffice it to say I ended up down in Orange County last week with nothing to do at 9:00 in the morning. I needed to make a trip to Ikea anyway to try to resolve the kitchen curtain issue (a suggestion from a friend and reader), so I thought, why not take my time going through the store and snap some photos for inspiration along the way!  Let’s just say I took a lot of photos.  My design style is modern, contemporary, clean lines, etc…just like many Ikea products…it’s no wonder we get along so well!

Love this “start shopping” sign…I think I may just take them up on their offer!

The parking lot was so big they had section of the lots labeled with letters…I felt like I was at Disneyland!

Because I had arrived so early, the store wasn’t actually open yet, but the restaurant was serving breakfast and how can you beat a $2 breakfast with eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and (I think) French toast?  The best thing was the potatoes. The eggs were very clearly powered eggs and not all that tasty, but hey, what can you expect when you pay just $2?

After breakfast, it was just after 10:00, so it was time to meander through the showroom and let my imagination just go! Here’s some of my most inspired finds or products that were just way cool!

This is a motion sensor light. When you open the drawer, it turns on. I want these in my future kitchen!

I love this large, deep kitchen sink. I know there’s a special name for this type of sink, but I’m drawing a blank right now. Love the clean lines!

I’m not a huge fan of the upper shelf, but I do like the low profile of the TV stand, though we would mount our TV on the wall.

I’ve been on the lookout for one of these behind-the-sofa tables for a while and I really like this one, especially because it’s white!

Someday we are going to put a closet organization system in our bedroom closet for better use of the space. I had never seen this pants rack before and like that it slides out of the closet for easy access.

Love the shape of this table, but I’d get it in white (I’m really loving white furniture right now…not only does it go with anything, but it brightens up a room).

This kitchen display was still in progress, but I fell in love with it right away. I love the color of the green walls (probably a better choice than what is currently in our kitchen) and the backsplash totally goes with our kitchen color scheme. I will have to go back again in a month or so when they’re done so I can find out what the paint color is (I love that they have signs in most of the display rooms letting you know the “finishes” in the room, including paint color and flooring materials).

These clocks remind me of the ones they have in schools, but that’s not why I like them. I like the set of three showing different times around the world. I can easily think of two times that would be important to us (California and Philadelphia, where hubby is from), but I’d need one more (at least). I guess I could do five clocks, depending on the space and just choose a few cities scattered across the globe for some variety (maybe Paris, Sydney and ???).

I’m not entirely sure what I would use these for…yet, but I love the idea! Might be good in the office, and it’s definitely a great idea for corralling kids crayons or other small items.

I’m torn between these two spice rack ideas. I do like the concept of displaying spices, plus they are easier to get to, but the jury is still out on which one I like better. It’s a good thing I have plenty of time to choose!

My current dining room set I’ve had for 6 years – and I purchased it used. It’s been a great sturdy set, and I could probably paint it and re-upholster the chairs, but the design is a bit too “traditional” for me. I love these white chairs (though I’d probably change out the fabric).

I’ve seen these types of cabinets before, but wanted to make sure I had a photo of it since I want to utilize my kitchen cabinet space the best I can once we redo the kitchen (way in the future).

My current desk came from Walmart seven years ago. It’s time for an upgrade. I will likely be getting a roll-top desk from my aunt that belonged to my grandparents, but I couldn’t help sneaking a peek at this beautiful desk, full of storage, but not feeling like the desk was closing in on you (like my current desk). P.S. I really need a new office chair.

The next stop was the lighting section and I absolutely love these two lamps. I like the first one for either the living room or side tables in the bedroom and I’m not sure where a good place would be for the second one, but I love the design!

I don’t really need any of these pots or plants, but the organizer in me loves this display wall!

I love these side tables for our bedroom. Now I just have to convince the hubby to get them!

About two hours after arriving at Ikea, I finally emerged from the store with just a handful of items (it’s a good thing we’re on a strict budget or I would have ended up with a carload of items). I got a green throw blanket for me, really really inexpensive wooden spoons/spatulas, two sets of curtains for the kitchen and two wire curtain hanging systems.

After showing my mom photos of my Ikea trip, she told my dad she wants to go (neither of them have ever been!) and I told them I’d gladly tag along. After all, I am in love!