Monday, March 24, 2014

Waiting for Olivander

 Kate is becoming so much more of a beautiful little person every day.

 Sometimes I just can't believe how grown up her face looks.

She and Jon are good buds. I love seeing how much Jon teaches her. Kate can identify all her facial features as well as her belly button and her tushy, thanks to Jon's guidance. He quizzes her daily on her nose, eyes, ears, forehead, chin, teeth, mouth, lips, hair, etc. I love watching her run up to him saying "hi, hi, hi, hi, hi!!" She signs "daddy" and always asks where he is when he is at work. They make a great pair.

 Margo is just a little over 4 years old now, and seriously as cute as ever.

I am always so thankful for my pomeranian pup. Jon and I have both noticed lately that she's been craving more attention. Unfortunately splitting time with our ever growing human-children-family makes being the only dog-child a little lonely. She is still the snuggliest pup ever and wants to sit on my lap all the time (even though there is increasingly less room by the day). We haven't had her sleep on the bed with us in the past month because I am just too big and every time I roll over she grumbles. Because of this we've tried to make sure and show her as much family love as possible during the day.

Since I started maternity leave last Monday we have been going on daily family walks around the block to help Olivander's motivation for birth. Kate can walk herself the whole way! This makes for a perfect pre-nap activity. All our walking made Kate realize that Margo has a magical leash which will keep her near you. It has now become Kate's number one priority to walk Margo herself. As long as Margo keeps going and exploring, Kate follows closely behind (gently guided and untangled by mom and dad from time to time). We absolutely LOVE it!

 March has also brought a number of other fun family and friend activities.

We have a brand new Target in Rocklin about 5 minutes from the house. This is the closest we've ever lived to a Target, and it is sparkly and perfect! I know it sounds silly, but we went on their soft opening day, and there was NO one there, the staff were incredibly friendly, and there was every color and every size of everything, perfectly lined up and perfectly in place. It was like going to a Target store in my dreams. Kate and I had to try on many pairs of sunglasses.

I have to try really hard to keep myself from going to Target every day since it is on my way between home and work.

We have also been LOVING Fancy FunnelCakes in Rocklin. We had talked it up so much to the DePaolas that they agreed to join us for a family night of deep fried sugary goodness :)

It still hasn't put me into labor - but Emmett and Kate sure had fun flirting over deep fried oreos :)

 We've had some great friends visit us this month, too! Baby Jackson Collette came by on Saturday at only two weeks old, to which Kate was VERY enthralled. She wanted to give him hugs and just stared at the "baby!" with amazement that he was real and much cooler than her baby dolls.

Lynsi Barfuss (previous sister missionary in our area) came all the way from Idaho on her spring break with a friend on their "tour de california". Even though we just saw her briefly, she and Kate had a super fun time playing together!

Olivander wasn't as willing to come out and play just yet, but hopefully we'll make another trip to Oregon soon and then we Alstons can visit the whole Barfuss clan :)

We were also excited to welcome Michelle O'Keefe after over a month of planning for her visit the week of Olivander's due date! Of course we had to make sure to get a bump picture together since in a couple days the moment will be over and we could possibly never be pregnant at the same time again.

Her little strawberry is due in September - just 6 months away!

Michelle and Kate of course bonded right away:

 Kate's first selfie:

Kate spent the morning with Gram while Michelle and I went out for pedicures. My nails are all around perfect now for baby Olivander's arrival! Michelle and I also went fabric shopping (always a favorite past time) and then picked up Kate for a combined ladies lunch at Jack's Urban Eats, window shopping at the Fountains, including some walking for baby Olivander's benefit, and then a fun jaunt to Old Navy for maternity clothes for Baby O'Keefe II.

Kate and I loved looking at the accessories and of course trying on more sunglasses together. We also found an AWESOME swimsuit for Kate on sale! She seemed pretty excited about it, but I think I was even more thrilled than her. It's so refreshing to see adorable baby girl clothes that are NOT hot pink and covered in Hello Kitty and Dora nonsense.

After some yoga outdoors this afternoon in the perfect March sunshine, I could not feel more personally prepared for Olivander's arrival. This past week off work has really given me time to prepare, nest, finish some projects, and just feel pampered and loved.

We are really thankful for all our friends and family that have done so much to support our growing family! Hopefully the next post will be all about our new arrival. Due in just 3 days on March 27th!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

March Showers Bring Happy Babies

April showers bring May flowers, but I'm really glad that I won't be pregnant that much longer!

This month our whole little family was showered with love by some awesome friends.

They put together an adorable RAIN-shower themed party to help us prep for baby Alston II. The food was amazing and the colors (teal and green) were just perfect!

There were puffy pom-pom clouds and raindrops everywhere :)

I especially loved the upside down umbrellas holding the Thank-You treat!

We kept the whole thing really small. I appreciated so much the support from friends who came out to see us and make yummy food! It was great to catch up with everyone. Especially some friends I hadn't seen in over a year! I tried to get pics with everyone, but it seems I'm missing a few. Darn!





Kelly & 1 month old baby Liam

I feel like I have such a marshmallow belly :) haha!


Breanne, awesome co-hostess!

Tiani, co-hostess and fellow bump enthusiast :)
I was also really grateful that my mom and sister could be there. It's nice to live close by family while we're adding on to ours:

My mom (Kate's Gram) and my sister Michelle
Kate loved sitting with Gram and talking about her "schu!" She's great at trying to get them on her feet all by herself.

The best part was being able to share this baby shower with Kate:

It's a whole new experience prepping for an addition to the family who will be Kate's first sibling. She has been so helpful and loves to say "baby!" while poking my belly and carries her toys around snuggling them in blankets. She was a great sport, even though she just wanted to play, got really sleepy at the end, and went around trying to eat everyone else's food:

Guilty face with leftover chocolate from the rice krispy treats
Most of the time, all the babies just wanted to climb the stairs - and Kate has become very mobile these days!

Luckily she had tons of little friends to keep her busy. It has been really fun to see her group of friends grow with her over the last couple years:

Emi, with Autumn in the background
Tristen and Autumn (occupying the tub)

Autumn was just hamming it up!

Most of the baby shower pics were taken by our great friend Nicolette, which I was very grateful for.  I really just wanted to enjoy visiting, and she helped me play with Kate and let me relax.

Caroline made awesome chicken salad sandwiches, Crystal brought a delicious fruit salad, Laurie made teal colored "Thank You" candies for the treat bags, and Tiani and Breanne went all out with avocado bruschetta, pasta salad, veggies and hummus, pink lemonade, chocolate dipped peanut butter pretzel sandwiches and chocolate drizzled rice krispy treats. They even let me make some blueberry mini muffins :) All of it was the best food ever.

Thank you to everyone for helping us build our diaper stash, and partying with us (even if it was only for a few minutes). I know a lot of friends couldn't make it, but we still appreciated the well-wishes and can't wait to share good baby news with you all soon!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Life Goals

1) To be my husband's #1 fan.

2) To be the most awesome communicator of all time.

3) To always be the kind of friend I would like to have.

4) To be the kind of person that my kids would be proud of.

5) To provide happiness and security for my family and to build a spectacular mini house / and possibly also an epic treehouse.


I make sure to tell Jon each day how proud I am of him and when I appreciate seeing him do things that make me happy. I love seeing him with Kate and enjoying her.

I check in with him throughout the day and make sure to always share my thoughts. Camilla Kimball always said, "Never suppress a generous thought." So whenever thoughts of appreciation and love come to mind, I try to share them! How will the people that we love know it if we never tell them? They aren't mind readers. And especially as humans we are prone to forgetting. Unless we hear it daily, and feel loving actions daily, how will we be expected to remember the same feelings we did on the day we were married or the day our child was born?

Earlier this week I told Jon how much I appreciate him taking care of Katherine, because I know it's hard when she is grumpy and sick. She's had a cold, and so one afternoon especially she just walked around moaning and distraught until it escalated into full blown hysterics. Poor girl felt so miserable! And I was at work, so I couldn't be home to help :(

Jon's text back to me was so reassuring when I had asked him how things were going at home. He said that he likes holding her and when she falls asleep in his arms. He said, "It makes me feel good because she is comfortable with me." By sharing things with Jon that I love about him as a father and husband, I also get to see the loving sides of him too.

Even aside from parenting appreciations - there are personal and work goals that I appreciate of Jon too. I regularly compliment him on his talents and like to see him develop personal skills and try new things.

Jon's hand stamped print work in progress for PIECES

 I want him to feel encouraged and know that the things he is doing are noticed. He always impressed me when we were dating with constantly coming up with new ideas, projects, songs, stories, and he was always excited about doing things with friends, or traveling and visiting new places. I want to keep that momentum going in our relationship and not forget how awesome it feels to be encouraged by your best friend (especially when that best friend is your spouse!) I always want to be the first one to congratulate Jon when he does something well, show up at his book readings, attend awards ceremonies for competitions he has entered, and I would never miss a soccer game, a graduation, or an event that is important to him personally. I should be (and always WANT to be) his number one fan.

Jon is very good at doing this for me too. He tells me daily how beautiful and good at things he thinks I am :) He tells me that he appreciates my crafty talents, my ability to sew,


to try new projects, and come up with fun ideas for our family. This week one of my favorite things he said to me was how I'm silly about my crooked teeth and that he likes them because it makes my smile imperfect - which makes it MORE perfect. To him, I will always be his number one favorite. And I'm glad I know that.


I have learned, especially over the last 3 years, that communication is everything. To have any successful relationship (whether it be working with your boss, having a happy marriage with your spouse, a functional family, or just an awesome friendship) it is imperative to communicate your thoughts, intentions and expectations, as well as to understand what others want and need from you.

In the process of working to be the most awesome communicator of all time, I try to talk efficiently and listen sincerely. This goes in all directions (friends and family all included). I always figure that if I don't say it, how will anyone know what I'm truly thinking and feeling? And on the other side, I can't make it all about me all the time. I need to give time to my friends, listen to them, and take a genuine interest in their lives. It's why I try so hard to remember birthdays, spoil my friends, help them know that I love them, remember their special days, and show them that they are appreciated.

decorations for a co-worker's last day after almost 10 years at Beverly's
It might take a little extra time here and there - but what a difference it makes!! It helps me feel happy to know that THEY know how important they are to me and where they stand on my friend-o-meter, but I also like that they feel good, because who doesn't like cake and balloons??

Jon knows I'm a rambler, but he is always very good about listening to my ideas for our family (which I seem to have on a daily basis). I want us to be organized in a group, agreed upon, and productive way - not in an eerily perfect, whistle blowing, VonTrapp family way...

Since baby II's arrival is right around the corner, I have made a sincere effort to communicate how I need things to go. It's always easy to assume that everyone is going to fall into line when your water breaks and the craziness starts, but we're all forgetful! Because of this I made a sign for the inside of our bedroom door so that we know what to grab and nothing is accidentally left behind. I also put a fun little note at the bottom so that no one has to guess at what I want too :)

I like having reminders around the house of things that we want to work on and be better at. I feel like when goals are available and seen by all, there is a greater chance of success. It's why we have a whiteboard up where I write our weekly schedule, including the days and hours I work, and any other plans we have made - so that we all know when and where we need to be and can easily schedule "free time" for accomplishing fun projects and goals. I can easily see where my responsibilities for the week are, and where I can make space for personal time.

Jon and I did an unofficial "family home evening" recently where we made a list together of ways we can achieve more successful bedtime for all:

This is hanging inside our door too - as well as some gospel quotes and scriptures I like about faith in the family. As you can see, Kate also helped color on this Night Time poster for us :)

The idea for this came after I had received an email from Kaiser about healthy sleep habits. Instead of just saying "oh, that's nice" and filing it away with the delete key, I told Jon about it and we took the principles we liked and felt were most applicable for our family and then added our own ideas.

I am definitely a fan of regular sleep schedules. It's something that we're still working on, but having a reminder up helps me see that it's ok to take time for preparing for rest! And when we all get better sleep we are MUCH happier as a family and individually :)

All of these are small things and we do here and there to increase our family unity and make sure we're all communicating expectations.


I have never been a bridesmaid.

Now, to some people that may sound like an achievement as most people will tell you the opposite. They long to get married, but have instead been in countless bridal armies, supporting friend after friend while they wear endless amounts of tulle and taffeta.

Not me. I actually envy those asked to be in so many weddings. When you think about it - being a bridesmaid means a place of honor and love! Of ALL the people that bride knows, of ALL the Facebook friends - YOU are a real life cared for person that they trust and want to have by their side on "the biggest day of their life". I think that's pretty cool.

What I'm trying to say is that I have good friends, but rarely find a "best" friend. (Jon and I have discussed this, and he doesn't count because at this point he and I are just extensions of each other. Ask him to wave his arms in vertical motions on either side of his head the next time we're having a conversation and I'll show you why we don't even need to talk to understand each other anymore. Our marriage is basically just a series of inside jokes and laughter.)

 But when it comes to friendships, I really do take them seriously.

Whether it's thrift store shopping together:

A friend I've had since second grade:

Or, I mean, really... who wouldn't want a friendship like this one:

She's vegan, btw.
Did you do a double take?? Could we be twins?? ;)

I always try to be the kind of friend that I would want to have. I take it seriously when you say you want to hang out and try to follow up and make solid plans. When things are important to you, they should be important to me too! Whether it's a concert, or a talk in church, or a poetry reading, I will dress up in pink wigs with you and get lost in a gaggle of balloons so that we can "wow" the world with our points of view and awesomeness. I will make things for you just because I see an idea that reminds me of you and I know it would mean something to you.

And it's not like I'm trying to rack up friend-points on some imaginary score board. I just genuinely feel good when I surround myself with good people! I try to keep that awesomeness going all the time. I like to take pictures for friends. Pay for their Chipotle. Sew dresses for their babies. Write them letters and send them cards. Jon often says, "Why can't you just think of yourself for a change?" We laugh a little - but it's true. When I walk through a store there is ALWAYS the, "oh-my-gosh, so-and-so-would-love-this!" moment. I'm not trying to make it sound like I'm the most amazingly selfless person on the planet - BECAUSE I'M VERY MUCH NOT! I'm also not the bestest friend there ever was. There is a LOT I can do better. It's just that I love my friends and want them to know it :)

I find it important to support my friend's ideas, be there to listen to their troubles, and help them laugh. Jon sometimes says I'm a chronic "fixer". While it's true that I need to learn I can't take care of everyone's problems, I still refuse to believe that I can't put my best effort into anyone who seeks my time and friendship. Wouldn't I hope to have the same from someone else? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, right? Love thy neighbor as thyself? What would I do for ME in that situation? The answer is always simple: I would love them.


Ever since having Kate, I am hyper aware of the example I'm setting for her.

I mean - who wouldn't want to make this little face proud??

And I'm sure the feelings of wanting the best for my children will only get stronger when I have two little beans running around.

Even while I was pregnant with Kate, I was motivated to get up EVERY morning and do prenatal yoga before work because I knew "the baby" would appreciate it. Already my kids were making me a better person, and I hadn't even met them yet! Those kids, I tell ya...

Well, even when they're not around I think of them. What would they think of how I'm talking about their dad? What would they say about the language I'm using? The text I'm sending? What if they could read my thoughts? Would they be proud of me? Would they be happy for me? Would they understand my decisions?

I think a lot about the relationship I have with my parents. I think of the things my mom and dad did when I was growing up and do now that make me proud of them. I hope that everything I do is something that makes my kids proud of me. I think Jon and I would agree that it would make us feel like successful human beings for sure.


Jon and I have a lot of great ideas. Ones that I am POSITIVE will come to fruition in our lifetime. If there's one thing I'm proud of Jon and myself for - it is that we make a lot of our ideas actually happen. We have gotten really good over the last few years at finishing projects.

Some projects are slower than others. Most are smaller - and craft related. But it's all about making our ideas come to life. We talk a lot about plans and life goals and ways that we can set timelines for big projects to be accomplished.

The pictures above are a few from my pinterest on future home plans - and these are pictures that I ACTUALLY intend on making happen. Not just dreams. Jon and I have talked for a long time about designing our own home. We actually have collected a few books on home designing, have a few designs done on AutoCAD, and regularly talk about it. We've looked at land, and personal loans, and have started to price out how we could realistically buy our own property and build a house on it. Once we're more established with our careers, these plans will be sincerely set in motion :)

If we had the space / tree ability, I would LOVE to build a real livable treehouse. Most of the epic treehouses you might see on TV reality shows are not in North America, however. We might have to get a little creative. If nothing else, I at least want to build an amazing treehouse adjacent to the home we live in someday. I don't care how old you are. Everyone would love their own epic treehouse.

We might get older and have more responsibilities, but I'm determined that we're never growing up! At least not all the way :)