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 (  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


#44: Family Portraits 2010

I can’t remember exactly where I heard this idea, but I love it anyway!

A great way to make sure you have up-to-date family portraits is to plan a photo shoot every year around the time of your anniversary. You can see how you and your family have changed and grown from one year to the next and if you do it in the fall, like we plan to (thanks to our October 4 wedding date), we can use the photos for our annual Christmas cards!

For 2010, however, I wanted to do a “Rock the Dress” or “Happily Ever After” photo shoot. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s similar to a “Trash the Dress” session where you wear your wedding dress and do things to “trash” it (I’ve seen things from paint to water to mud and dirt), except you don’t actually do anything to trash the dress. You just get to have the joys of wearing your wedding dress again and reliving the joy of your wedding day, while getting some more unique photos in your wedding attire, or making sure to get some photos you may have missed in the busy-ness of your wedding day. I didn’t want to kiss John before the wedding ceremony, but we were doing most of our photos before, so I gave our photography one chance to get a kissing photo…she got the shot, but when I was looking through the photos of our wedding day, I was bummed we didn’t have more photos of us kissing from that day (yes, I am stubborn!).

For our shoot, I contacted a friend from high school who is working to build her portfolio and not only did she do our photo shoot, but she also did my hair (which I TOTALLY loved!). Thanks Janette of Daneshmand Photography!

WARNING: Lots of photos ahead! I had a hard time narrowing it down! I loved so many of them and wanted to share!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This is my second Valentine’s Day as a wife and I must say, I seem to enjoy this holiday much more now that I’m married!

I mention John quite frequently here on my blog, but other than a few photos here and there, you probably don’t know a whole lot about him, so today, a day we celebrate love, I introduce you the man I love!

John is originally from the Philadelphia area and has lived in several different states over on the East Coast before he moved here to California when he was in eighth grade. Some of the things he says come from his time there, and his love for his home-town football team (the Eagles) is quite evident. He’s always so disappointed when he can’t watch them play because the game isn’t being aired here in Los Angeles – and it’s quite funny to watch him watch the games sometimes – he jumps up and down and screams and hollers at the TV. It’s actually quite amusing, and cute, too!

John is also a huge lover of chocolate.  Well, any kind of sweets, really, but chocolate is his favorite, by far! It makes buying or making him yummy desserts so easy because he will love pretty much anything!

My guy is into airplanes…he actually wanted to be a pilot growing up (dang eye-sight). He regularly plays flight simulator games on his computer.

He earned his MBA back in 2009, the spring before we got married, in Marketing and Finance. It’s cute when he tried to get me to understand our (rather involved) budget spreadsheets and cash flows and all that other money stuff.  I’m glad he gets it, because I’m pretty clueless beyond a basic budget!

He’s a total softy, too (in a good way). He loves animals, especially our 3 cats, even if they can be annoying at times! I know that he will make a great father someday (soon, hopefully!) because of how he interacts with our animals as well as other people’s babies and kids. That was one thing that I knew I had to have in my future husband…he had to be good with kids…and he is! (He is not usually a fan of sharing the bed with the cats…this is a rare moment!)

There are so many reasons I love John…he’s supportive of me and all the crazy things I like doing, he does things for me (sometimes without even asking!), he’s a spiritual leader in our home and wants to make sure our kids are raised in a good Christian home, he loves to cuddle…and so much more! I promise there really is a lot more…I made him a book of 104 reasons I love him as his wedding gift (104 because we got married on October 4), and I am so grateful that God has blessed me with such an incredible man to call my husband!

(Wedding photos by Shannon Leith Photography)

One Last Look: Christmas 2010

I finished putting all of the Christmas decorations away on Sunday, and while it feels good to make a clean, fresh start in 2011, I couldn’t help but take one last look back at our Christmas 2010 (plus, I never shared much of it with you to begin with.)

The first day after Thanksgiving, we actually got ALL of our Christmas decorations put up.  Since we’re living in my sister’s garage, we had to settle for the 3-foot fake tree, and therefore only put a handful of our ornaments up.  We also put stockings for us and our three cats up and by the end of December our doorway was lined with Christmas greetings from all our family and friends (a tradition we had growing up).  I also decided this year to light a daily advent candle (we did that one year growing up). I DIY’d my own by buying a plain white taper candle and taking green and red Sharpies and marking every 1/4 in. or so.  I then took a silver Sharpie and wrote the numbers down the side.  I found a series of readings about the character of Christ to do each day, but well…it didn’t work out so well and I think we burned the candle a total of three or four times – and it took forever because it often had at least an inch and a half to burn each time!  Oh well…maybe next year I’ll finally get/make my real advent calendar and actually do it everyday!

One tradition I totally love as a collector (yes, I’ve gotten MUCH better and don’t hold on to nearly as much as I used to) is our ornament tradition.  Ever since my mom was pregnant with me (Christmas 1981), she has purchased at least one ornament for each child.  Over the years, we’ve developed quite the collection.  Once we had a place of our own and our own tree, we could take our ornament box with us and then use it to decorate our own tree so we didn’t have a bare tree the first few years, or have to purchase a lot of ornaments ourselves.  Well, ornaments have become a bit of an “obsession” for me and I probably have enough now to fill at least TWO full-size trees and the collection grew quite a bit again this year.  Just take a look below and see for yourself (I’m not sure what the deal was with snowmen this year!).

Living in Southern California and being fortunate enough to have Disney passes the past two years, we’ve sort of made it a tradition to celebrate Christmas at Disneyland, and even though my pass had expired, thanks to a college roommate/friend, John and I were still able to carry on that tradition, which includes watching the Disneyland Christmas parade, complete with marching toy soldiers, roller skating snowflakes, dancing snowmen and of course, Santa and his reindeer; riding It’s a Small World, which is all decked out for the holidays; witnessing the lighting of the castle (it’s beautiful all lit up!); and visiting Santa, Mrs. Claus and his reindeer (I shared a photo of one of them here).  We also got to see World of Color for a second time, though our “seats” weren’t as good this time around and there were a few technical difficulties AND watch the holiday fireworks from Main Street.  There’s just something extra special about Disneyland at Christmas!

Our church did something really special this Christmas, aside from celebrating the opening of our new auditorium that seats almost double of what the old auditorium was able to!  Each ministry built and decorated a “playhouse” to be part of the Christmas Village that occupied the courtyard for most of December.  Each week they had candy, cookies and goodies to hand out at each house, along with fun activities for the kids!  It was so much fun to be a part of this season at our church this year!  And of course, I have to share photos of the houses…the Surf Shack from SCG Kids; Fire Station from the Executive Team; Blacksmith from our “Open Bible” group; Music Shop from Communications; Southern Plantation from Connect Ministries; English Tutor from Commit Ministries; Big Red Barn from Contribute Ministries; and the Ski Chalet from Student Ministries.  I’ve heard rumors the houses will be back again next year and there may even be a few additions!

What is Christmas season without baking?  We got somewhat of a late start on this part of Christmas, but we made up for it with the amount of cookies we made (we STILL have a few stragglers left).  This little project also counts toward my 101 task of baking 30 different kinds of cookies/goodies.  I can mark 5 different things off my list: Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Snowballs, Peppermint Bark, Rice Krispie Treats, and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookies (these are highly addictive!).  My sister also made Treasure cookies, which were a huge hit with my in-laws!

I spent the first weekend after Thanksgiving shopping, and actually purchased almost all of our gifts for our families before the first full week of December was over!  Unfortunately, presents sat for the rest of December and finally got wrapped and put under the tree on the 23rd (so much for not procrastinating!).  Although the gifts spent little time in their wrapping, the recipients seemed to enjoy and appreciate their gifts as you can see in the photos below.

Here’s the run-down of what we got for everyone this year (it’s not necessarily what’s pictured above):

  • John’s Dad: Short-sleve button shirt
  • John’s Step-Mom: Red robe from Macy’s
  • John’s Brother: Famous t-shirt
  • John’s Step-Sister: Movie tickets, candy and popcorn
  • John’s Mom: Walmart gift card (his mom and sisters live in Pennsylvania, so easy to ship gifts are awesome!)
  • John’s Sister #1: Walmart gift card
  • John’s Sister #2: iTunes gift card
  • My Mom: Silpat; Stainless Steel Wire Whisk and Ungame for her stocking
  • My Dad: New business cards (they were UV coated and included his website address); Updated website (which is still not finished…I need to get on that!)
  • My Sister: Wire whisk for her Kitchen-Aid mixer
  • My Brother: Fox t-shirt
  • My Brother’s Girlfriend: Zebra Snuggie

And finally…what I got John:

  • Robe (it was MUCH needed!)
  • Jacket (he actually got this a few weeks before Christmas when he was trying to put on a jacket that wasn’t even close to fitting!)
  • Custom-made calendar (inspired by Young House Love’s)
  • Lens filters for his camera (UV, Polarizing, 4 Macro Filters and a filter that’s supposed to be for use with fluorescent lights)
  • 12 Dates of 2011 (I found this on another blog…can’t find it now…but I’ll write a separate post about it later)

I just love watching everyone open their gifts and to see the excitement on their faces when they see what we got for them!

So, now on to what I got…

And I’ll just go through the photos here (though this collage is not at all-inclusive): First, you can see me grinning ear to ear as I proudly show off my present from my parents – a SILHOUETTE SD!!!!!!  I am so excited to use this fun little machine, though I’m still trying to figure out an actual project to give it its first run!

I also got a pink/purple fleece throw from John’s step-sister; Wii Just Dance 2 and Toy Story 3 and some pajamas and cash from John’s parents; Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred and walking weights from my brother and his girlfriend; Wii Toy Story Mania and a watch from John; The One-Year Bible and an orange/lemon/whatever zester lined my stocking this year along with the beautiful scarf my mom made; a rain running jacket from my sister; slippers from…ME (hey, I really needed some, so I got them while after-Christmas shopping…along with a set of pajamas and a few other yet-to-be-purchased items); and of course, you can’t forget the mountain of candy…I think we have enough to last us until NEXT Christmas!

If you’re still with me, congrats, you’re almost there!  We can’t forget one of the most important things about Christmas…the celebrations with family and friends, and the food you eat when you’re with them!

This year we had a fun celebration with our Bible study group (so far there are four adorable little kids…hopefully more coming in the next few years!). We spent Christmas Eve with John’s family, Christmas Day with my family and a delayed “Christmas Eve” with my Dad’s extended family (we usually gather on December 24…in fact, I think this is the first year we didn’t do it on that date!).  The photos I’ve included of the food are from our Christmas morning breakfast with my family and the delicious grilled lobster dinner we had that night…YUM!

Well, you made it to the end of this VERY long Christmas post (sorry it’s so long, but thanks for reading – or at least skimming)!  It’s with a sad heart we say goodbye to one of the best season’s of the year!  I wanted to be able to enjoy Christmas this year, but December just FLEW by and here we are, a few days in to January already!  We did have a lot of fun, and I had some time off work to just relax and get some things checked off my “to-do” list!

I hope your holiday celebrations brought you as much joy and love as ours did…so until next Day-After Thanksgiving, so long Christmas!


    Is that not a cool date?  To me, it’s all about fresh and new…truly a clean slate, the chance to make changes and start a new.  And even though my husband rang in 2011, dubbing it “the weird sounding year,” we have plans to make it a very exciting year.

    This coming spring, we plan to purchase our first home – a daunting process – and almost surreal, but exciting at the same time.  I have files and a brain just brimming with decorating ideas and DIY projects to work on once we have a place we can truly call our own.

    We also hope that our little family of two will be growing late this year.  We don’t have a lot of control over this one, but are trusting God’s perfect timing to bring us Baby Julius and the first grand-baby to both of our families.

    Of course, you can’t welcome a new year without a list (whether it be short or long) of resolutions.  Since I’m right in the middle of my 101 in 1001 project, and 2011 is the last FULL year of my project, there are several year-long tasks I will need to tackle this year, if I want to be able to mark it off my list.  Some of the tasks I plan to complete this year include:

    • Fit into a size 12 (this fits well with the next one on the list)
    • Run a half marathon (I’m already signed up for one on May 1 in Irvine that is to raise money for Pediatric Cancer Research – see my sidebar if you want to donate to the cause)
    • Make Thanksgiving dinner (in my new home, hopefully!)
    • Camp out overnight to see the Rose Parade (this is my last January, so it’s kind of a “must” though depending on the baby situation, I may need to alter this one a bit)
    • Date night with John (originally, I intended this to be a weekly thing, but it’s been difficult, so we’re going to go with a monthly goal instead – and one of my gifts to him was the “12 Dates of 2011” so they’re already all planned out!)
    • Buy a home
    • Help decorate a Rose Parade float (again, this one may not end up working out, but we’ll see)
    • Read through the Bible (I got a One-Year Bible in my stocking to help with this goal)
    • Scrapbook! (I have several tasks on my 101 list that involve getting some scrapbooks completed, and now with my NEW SILHOUETTE – yes, I got a Silhouette for Christmas – I can make my pages even more awesome!)
    • Read (With a goal of 10 novels and none completed so far, I better make some major progress on this one in 2011)
    • Blog (Originally this was a business goal, but I think it fits better for my personal blog, but it’s one of those year-long goals, so I better do it this year!)
    • Pay off credit card debt (This was actually one month away from being completed when my old laptop died and we had to finance the purchase of my new Mac. So, if all goes right, we should have it paid off next summer…although purchasing new furniture for a new house might throw a monkey wrench into everything!)
    • Send an encouraging note once a week (I started this last year and only got about two months in…here’s to 2011’s attempt being more successful!)
    • Send birthday cards to family and friends (I made it until about July last year and just got totally behind.  I have a plan for 2011 that will help me accomplish this goal this year!)
    • P365/52 (I did my 365 photo project last year, and while there were some days that were extremely overwhelming and I’m super behind on posting the photos to my 365 Photo blog, I do plan to participate again, though it’s a slightly different approach this time around that isn’t so much pressure! If you want to check out the plan, head on over to my OTHER blog!)

    So, those are just some of the goals I plan on accomplishing this year.  Some involve lifestyle changes and some just require commitment and determination. I know 2011 will be a great year, even if all of these goals aren’t met.

    I hope you have an awesome, productive and accomplished 2011 (however you chose to define it)!

    Our Christmas Letter and Year in Review

    Growing up, my mom would often include a letter with updates about each of us so our friends and family we didn’t see very often knew what we were up to.

    I loved that tradition, and have sent a letter from John and I with our Christmas cards for the past three years now (we even did one the Christmas before we were engaged!).

    I already shared our handmade Christmas cards with you (if you missed it, check it out here), so here’s our Christmas letter update for 2010!

    (If for some reason you can’t see the entire image, just click on them to get the full-size version.)

    Merry Christmas…err…Boxing Day?

    So, I’m a day late with these well wishes, but in some countries, it’s still a holiday, right (not exactly sure what Boxing Day is exactly), but I’ll take the opportunity to say that I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas with your family and friends.

    Over the next week, I plan to share all of our Christmas adventures, from decorations to ornaments to gifts to fun traditions, as well as catching up on some 101 in 1001 projects I’ve completed recently.

    See you all back here soon!