Sunday, May 20, 2012

Master Jon

On Saturday - May 19, 2012 - Jon graduated with his MASTER'S degree in English from California State University Sacramento.

That morning we had an open house for him to celebrate!

El Shrine de Jon:

I put together a poster board of Jon's work this year (which Jon was VERY helpful with. I am known for my classic procrastination skills and finished this poster up the morning of the open house. Jon helped me score the foam board and even went to Target to pick up the pictures for me. What a guy!) Since it is hard to see, I will post the pictures below so you can look at them in better detail.

Among the items on the table are Bazzanella Literary Award anthologies (Jon won first place in the graduate division for poetry this year), the Calaveras Station Literary Journal (which Jon was one of the executive editors for this year. He designed and physically helped put together every journal. This was the first year they have had color printed in the journal. He did an AMAZING job!) There are also copies of the books he helped build at the independent publishing press, Copilot, for which he was an intern this past year.

Here is Jon's graduation cap from commencement yesterday (the HC is from his thesis) and there on the right is his diploma from graduating with his Bachelor's in English - May 2010:

Because Jon's emphasis was in Creative Writing, his thesis was a creative project - which had to be a publishable work of either novella length fiction or a compilation of creative pieces (such as a collection of poetry). He went with a novella (short version of a novel) and it turned out AMAZING! The copies that he has printed and bound so far have all been done by hand and each one is a little different. I personally dig this purple copy which was made for Stephanie Sauer - founder of Copilot Publishing Press.

A shot from the inside the novella:

One of my favorite features throughout the book is the footnotes, which Jon designed to be INSIDE the pages (which are printed on a fold) so you can read the book straight through without interruption, or you can literally cut open the edge of each page to read the extra material inside. He is so creative :)

Here is the copy of the Novella that he made for his sister, Beth:

Jon has also been working more lately on personal binding projects. He made my newest journal (which you can see in a previous post) and this one below is for a co-worker of mine:

All finished and complete with bookmark! Stay tuned for us opening an ETSY store...

At the open house we had TONS of amazing food! Since it was a brunch time we did an assortment of breakfast and lunch-ish finger foods.
Jon's brother Mike made his famous cinnamon rolls :)

I made these breakfast egg, cheese and bacon muffins with my new mini cupcake maker! Recipe was from Better Homes and Gardens.

Other deliciousness included mini nutella cheesecakes, chocolate-strawberry swirl cake, artichoke spinach dip, gluten free brownies, fruit salad with golden raspberries (thanks Breanna!) a veggie platter and pink lemonade (Jon's favorite) supplied by Jon's parents :)

I will do a separate post with all the recipes in case anyone wants them.

Jon's dad also did this awesome splatter and palette knife style painting for Jon's graduation! It's still under construction, but VERY neat and outside his normal style for sure!

And what is a creative writing master without a fantastic set of fancy pens?? Thanks mom and dad!

 Because I didn't want to spend the whole duration of the open house behind the camera, I didn't get a lot of pictures of the people who were there or the other extremely thoughtful gifts and cards people got for Jon. So here is my shout out to all the awesome friends and family who came!

Jon's mom and dad (Steve and Chris)
Jon's brother and sister-in-law (Mike and Amanda) with their daughter (AnnMarie)
My parents (John and Nancy) with my sister (Michelle)
Ben and Breanna Baker
Kacy Wyatt
Jake and Brenda Joyner
Tim and Jamie Sartain (along with their chilluns and dog)
Ali Goff (and her hubby Tim, in spirit - he had a gig with his band)
Crystal Poole and her son Jace as well as her step-mom Catherine


After an afternoon nap we headed to the graduation!

My parents were there:

me and Michelle:

And Jon's parents too!

I didn't want to change camera lenses, so the pictures aren't very close from the actual commencement - but this is great because you can feel like you were actually there!

For your convenience I  have circled or drawn arrows to Jon so that you can find him. Otherwise it's like a massive grad version of Where's Waldo!!

Here he is when they first came in. Front row! And after a few minutes he actually stood on his chair and turned to find us in the crowd. He had his phone with him so I sent him a text to let him know what section we were in. Ah, technology :)

Here is Jon being "hooded" by one of the faculty. He is officially a master with wizard's robes!

And there he is, walking across the front as they read his name :)

And here we are after the ceremony with Jon all decked out! The gold/green hood falls down his back and the yellow sash and cords in the front are for honor societies he belongs to for academics and such.


Let life after school begin :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day Weekend

The Alston's had a fantastic weekend!

First - we headed up to Plumas Eureka campground on Friday to stay the night. Jon made chili in the dutch oven for dinner. Soooooo good!

I didn't get a lot of pictures that night because we were pretty tired. Mike, Amanda and AnnMarie came up at the same time as us and we stayed in the Bear Scat Flat cabins. Jon's parents were planning to come up that night too - BUT Jon's sister Beth flew in from Idaho as a surprise for Mother's Day! So they didn't quite make it with her flight being delayed 6 HOURS! They came up the next morning and had breakfast with us instead :)

Saturday we spent the day helping with site renovations, spreading bark and cleaning up the campground.

What is a weekend at home without a little work??

AnnMarie cleaning off picnic tables:

Doesn't Jon look handsome when he shovels??

Jon's family has camped at Plumas EVERY year since before he was born. Jon's parents have known the ranger up there for years, so it was really fun to be able to see the campground before it opened and really feel like we were able to help preserve a part of California history.

Plumas was originally a gold discovery site and still has the original standing stamp mill:

Although it is not open for going inside, we were still able to get pretty close just to look around and take pictures. It was nice to be the only ones up there! Margo loved hiking and getting to look around :)

View from below - the warped wood of the old stamp mill:

Baby Alston also really enjoyed his/her first camping trip! While we were there I officially made it to 29 weeks. I think camping looks pretty good on this baby!

Although it was a short one-day trip we had a lot of fun. We're hoping to go back for Memorial Day weekend!

On the car ride home, Margo settled herself in the back of the Explorer with the sleeping bags. Jon snapped this picture while I drove:

What a freakin doll!! I love this pup.
Back at home on Sunday we went to church and spent time with Beth. Jon did a book binding project for a co-worker of mine (pictures to come soon) and I made this picture frame for my mom!
Many thanks to Laurel of LKT Photography for the awesome pic :)
Jon helped me with the staining since the frame was originally a light pine color and I painted on the words. Jon finished it off with a sealer and voila! (original frame was from Beverly's. MAN I love my work!)
For Jon's mom we got her a gift card to Mimi's cafe so that she and Steve can enjoy a fantastic breakfast date!
Jon was super thoughtful and got me a mini cupcake maker! I was hoping to take pictures of us making the delicious mini cupcakes on Sunday, but we didn't have any olive oil - so no pictures yet... but I guarantee it is adorable and I will be making cupcakes very very soon! I'm so grateful that I can keep working towards my goal of being the best baker in the world!
Jon's parents got me an AWESOME swaddling blanket for the baby :) It is SO cute in green, brown and orange with an elephant on it! I'll post baby stuff pictures when I do a post on the nursery.
My mom got me this beautiful necklace for Mother's Day!

It really meant a lot to me because she always wore pretty heart necklaces when we were growing up and I remember picking out heart necklaces for mother's day for her. Wearing it made me think of my mom - but also how my children will look at me. It made me feel official :) My dad also spoiled me with a pound of See's candy. Holy cow I am surrounded by sweetness!

And one last picture of the chickens :) They crack me up! I think this one is Goldie. I was outside taking pictures of Jon working on the book project and happened to see Goldie sticking her head inside the coop haha. I guess they were playing peek-a-boo. Silly chickens...

Happy Mother's Day!!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

April Showers and May Flowers

As April ends and May begins - here is a little of what we've been up to!

California weather can never make up its mind this time of year, so we've had a pretty varied month of cool rainy rays and HOT sunny days. Last Sunday in particular was AMAZINGLY perfect. No breeze, just the right amount of warm and cool. We sat outside without needing sweaters, and I felt absolutely great!

Jon was working on some wood carving:

and I took some pictures around the yard:
I just like to capture sweet days like this, because I know that someday I will look back and appreciate the beauty and simplicity of it all. I also love thinking of taking pictures as a way to tell our kids who we are and where we were before they were born. It's like a step back in time.

Also, I will appreciate that at 6 months pregnant I could still see my toes.

I love how Margo and Shasta are such good friends! Shasta came and tumbled Margo over in the grass while she was mid-run and Margo retaliated with some jumping and twirling at Shasta's face! The pictures were blurry, but they cracked me up - I just couldn't resist sharing :)
Shasta is always so good at letting Margo share her toys.  She hardly even bats her paw.

During the rest of the week I went with my parents and sister to my cousin Chelsey's wedding in Utah!

 My hair for the wedding. I am getting pretty proud of my swooping french braids!

The wedding was absolutely gorgeous. I loved being in the sealing room at Mt. Timpanogos with my family, grandmother and cousins. The day started out drizzly and when we left the temple it was beautiful and sunny!
There was such an awesome spirit there and it almost felt like watching my sealing day all over again. I especially loved when the sealer talked about Heaven having their eyes on Philip and Chelsey and Heavenly Father having a destiny for them. I am so thankful for the temple blessings we have here on the Earth to create eternal families. It is amazing!
Unfortunately the only pictures I got were a few with my cell phone.
Michelle and me in front of the temple:
At the reception:
Holy moly, their cake was amazing!
 Here are some of Philip and Chelsey's bridals. Their photographer is amazing! And the earrings Chelsey is wearing were made by her younger brother Dallin. I can't wait to see all the finished pictures from the wedding day :)

Oh, and remember my recent sewing project? Well here it is all finished!

I made this apron for my cousin Megan. She LOVES to bake. Her blog is named "Raspberry Mousse" for goodness' sake. When she came out to SF in January we were talking about how she loved cute aprons. Well I've been wanting to work on my apron skills and just loved this fabric. The teal definitely made me think of her. I was glad to have the excuse of going out to Utah so that I would have someone to practice for! I was so proud of how it turned out. I lined it and all of the stitching turned out super straight. It made me more inspired to keep making things for the baby too!

Megan, modeling her cute new apron. And as it turns out, teal is one of her favorite colors! I'm just that good.

In other news: Jon is graduating in 2 weeks with his master's! I would post pictures of his recent book binding projects including his thesis, but I'm not sure if he's ready to share :) And I want to save it all for a super amazing awesome post about his graduation. I am so proud of him!!

Last, but not least:

Baby Alston and I have officially hit week 28!

Since hitting the third trimester I have popped out more. The baby is active ALL the time. We've started doing kick counts and it only takes about 5 minutes for the baby to roll, move or dance 10 times. I feel so blessed to have an active baby!

Jon says that the baby must be super awesome and over-developed though, because I've been having contractions. Previous to being pregnant, I thought contractions were a lot more scary, but here are a few things I've learned:
One - it is totally normal to have braxton hicks contractions in your third trimester as long as they are not regular and most of the time eating or changing your position will make them go away.
Two - early contractions (for me) do not feel ANYTHING like what has been described to me. I was told at my 24 week check up to be concerned about cramping. What I didn't think about is that my whole belly is baby, not just the lower abdomen, so when I went in a couple days ago for my routine monthly physical, my midwife said "Have you been having a lot of contractions?" and I said "Not at all!" and she said "Newsflash - when you laid down for me to check the baby's heartbeat, you were having a contraction."

Ooohhh! Well in that case - I have them a lot. I mean like probably about once a day. So no big deal. But she told me to just watch and if they became regular then I should call in. She told me that for first time moms it is not uncommon to be unaware of contractions because you don't really know what you're waiting for. To me, they feel like the baby is in a ball stretching WAY out and making my tummy tight. They never hurt, but I can tell when the baby seems to be "stretching".

So yesterday... I'm sitting at the computer and Jon is making lunch, and the baby "stretches". I felt my tummy and it was definitely tight all over. I drank some water, moved around and it went away. 5 minutes later, it happened again. And then 5 minutes again. So I laid down and ate some crackers and a muffin and drank some water. And by the time 45 minutes had gone by I was getting contractions every 3 minutes and they were getting tighter and tighter. I told Jon I thought we should probably call in.

The nurses didn't sound too concerned, but they told me it was probably a good idea to come in and get checked out. We were at the doctor for about 4 hours. My contractions continued the whole time. They hooked me up to some tummy monitors and checked to make sure I wasn't going into pre-term labor. Luckily the baby was super happy and nothing looks like it's progressing too soon. The whole experience basically ended up being me and Jon getting to listen to the baby's heartbeat for a few hours while I had contractions every 1 - 2 minutes that were never super painful, but they were so frequent and did get much tighter so that they started to hurt in my back quite a bit. It was like an intense pinching in my spine. They ended up giving me a shot in the arm to make the contractions go away. I call it: the miracle shot.
It made me glad that I can now recognize what the early signs of labor are like, and I just really really wanted a nap. I'm also even MORE certain that when I really go into labor, I will be getting an epidural. If those were just practice contractions, I know that I could not go through natural labor all the way. I totally respect women who do, but I was so exhausted by the end of my 4 hour episode that I slept the rest of the day.

So we are still good! Everything is fine and I feel great. I just have to take it easy and watch in case they come back again. It has been the most "eventful" day of pregnancy so far - so it felt worthy of the blog. Hopefully Baby A will chill until week 40! He or she must just be too excited to meet us :)
I mean - what baby wouldn't be excited for parents like this???

And in case you're interested - our awesome registry is now open for viewing here!