Monday, December 7, 2015

Gearing up for winter

In preparation to go up to Canada for Christmas, yesterday we decided to try Lauren in a couple warm outfits we had stored away for her to use in the (hopefully) cold and snow.

One was an outfit we had found on REI's clearance webpage this summer when Lauren was really tiny and we had actually been looking for a sun hat for her. We never did find a sun hat, but instead saw a 6-month+ jacket and snow pants set at a vastly reduced rate. Even though the heat of summer was making it nearly impossible to even imagine snow and cold, we decided to jump on the deal and hoped that Lauren would fit it by Christmas. The snow pants fit pretty well, but the jacket gave her a lot of extra padding! :D

Yep, fingers can still get to the mouth :)

The other outfit was a fuzzy, brown, one-piece zip-up with bear ears on the hood and bear faces on the feet that her Nana in Maine sent her. The legs were a little too long still and the arms were quite a bit too long, but the second we zipped her in, we couldn't stop giggling at her bundled up bear-self and couldn't quit taking pictures!

Practicing her bear growl :D

I think Lauren will be cozy and toasty warm during our fun in the snow in BC in a few more weeks! :)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

American Thanksgiving weekend

Lauren's first American Thanksgiving was her second Thanksgiving celebration. She had experienced a small Canadian Thanksgiving meal back in October when her Aunt Becky was visiting. For this occasion, we spent a quiet and restful Thanksgiving Day at home with each other.

We started the day with a Thanksgiving story. The only one I could find in my personal library was an Amelia Bedelia book. It was a longer one and obviously over Lauren's head, but I still enjoyed snapping a picture of Jonathan reading to her. About halfway through the book, Lauren took a break from reading and played with some toys instead, but kept looking back at Jonathan and I as we finished reading through the book together. At one point she got most of her body off the ground. It might not be too long until she's able to roll from her back to her front!

Intent on the story (for the moment)
"You guys still back there?"

In the afternoon, after Lauren woke up from a nap, we went outside and got some pictures of her and a few family pictures together with the leaves in our apartment complex.

Wrapped in a blanket to keep her warm
Needed a little something to munch... ;)

After Lauren woke up from her late afternoon nap, Jonathan took a few videos of her and me. In the first one, I taught Lauren a Thanksgiving song that my friend Danielle had taught me and my fellow volunteers during our US Thanksgiving dinner in Tanzania in 2010. In the second one, we were finally able to capture Lauren's adorable laugh on camera. Until that evening, we never seemed to have a camera handy when she broke out into laughter, so we were really happy to finally catch her giggle in action!

We were rather delinquent in actually having Thanksgiving meal. A couple from our church hosted an "orphans" Thanksgiving meal and we contemplated going, but all we really wanted was to just relax together at home, so we ended up doing that instead. And since we'd had a great Thanksgiving meal, complete with both pumpkin and apple pies for dessert, when Becky was visiting, we didn't especially feel like we had to have another fancy meal. However, we did want to do something a little more special than usual, so on Friday we walked to the grocery store (which, happily, was much less busy than usual), got the ingredients for some special dishes, and prepped the food that afternoon. Then on Sabbath when we came home from church we had a small modified Thanksgiving meal, just some favourite dishes, with a dessert of a store-bought pumpkin pie for Jonathan (I don't enjoy it) and a Q-family special, homemade cheesecake. It was simple and delicious, just our style!

On Sunday we carved out a little time to take a dip in our apartment complex's hot tub. The pool isn't heated, so once the weather got cooler we've taken to just warming ourselves in the hot tub. I'm always super nervous about taking Lauren in pools and hot tubs because I really don't want her to have an accident... Of course she's always wearing a swim diaper when we go in, but I still get nervous about potential leaks. Thankfully, it hasn't happened yet and hopefully that trend continues. Lauren loves the water, and quite enjoys our warm dips.

Lauren is sporting my baby swimsuit. The elastic is pretty useless, but the fabric has held up great since I used it 30 years ago!
Practicing her back float...while chomping on her fingers. :)
Wrinkly feet, time to get out
Bundled up against the cold air

Friday, October 23, 2015


I've been needing to get a haircut for a while (like months), but it has become imperative now that Lauren's beginning to learn how to grab and hold and tug. So last Sunday two of us got haircuts. Now the little one just needs some more hair to grow. :)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Becky's visit & Canadian Thanksgiving

Lauren's Aunt Becky came to visit over Columbus Day/Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, Oct. 10-13. It was great to have her here and so fun to introduce her and Lauren. She was supposed to arrive late on Friday night, but because of a delayed flight, finally arrived in the wee hours of Saturday morning. We took her to our new home church, Loomis SDA, and we enjoyed visiting after church since we hadn't been there for a couple weeks prior. In the afternoon, Jonathan's uncle Shawn and cousin Rachel drove the two hours from Reno to visit with Becky and in the early evening we all went for a walk by Lake Natoma together. When we got back we had a pizza supper and Becky and Rachel made a dessert treat before Uncle Shawn and Rachel left to drive back to Reno.

On Sunday, Becky orchestrated a Canadian Thanksgiving meal with Jonathan as her sous chef. I was able to make the cranberry sauce - a Thanksgiving tradition for me - in between attending to Lauren. Lauren woke up from her nap just as we were about to eat, so we were able to include her in our family Thanksgiving photo. She seemed quite mesmerized with my plate of food. :) That evening we played some games together.

Entertained by toys while the adults make Thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving dinner
Maple leaf apple pie!
Pre-meal shot (taken just before Lauren woke up from her nap)
Baby contemplating the plate of food
"Aunt Becky, it looks good enough to eat!"
Pre-meal shot of all four of us

On Monday we had an adventure planned. We had heard that there were roads all the way around Folsom Lake, so we decided to try to drive around the lake, which stretches quite a ways north. We made a picnic lunch, packed up our swimming gear in case the lake was a nice enough temperature for us to want to go for a dip, grabbed our state park pass, and headed out. Boy were we in for a surprise! As we entered the first state park closest to our house and saw the lake, we were shocked to see how much the water had dropped from the last time we'd driven by it (when Jonathan's parents were here in September). The water was so low that much of the lake bottom could be seen and we realized that swimming was kind of out of the question. Since we weren't hungry yet, we drove up a bit more north to another state park and drove around the extensive groups with the help of a very handy map of the state parks around the lake. We were amused to see some four-wheel drive vehicles descend off the park roads and into the former lake bottom for some off-roading. We decided to head to one other state park to actually eat our meal, but weren't able to find it the road to turn off on, so ended up at a farther one that didn't actually have any picnic tables, so we just ate our lunch in our car in the very dry and dusty parking lot. We kept driving north on the west side of the lake until we got to Auburn and we enjoyed driving around the downtown core and seeing the old-timey, gold town shops and statues before turning around and heading back south. We did find the one state park that we'd missed on the way up and checked it out and then continued on back to our house for our final evening of visiting together.

Tuesday morning, Jonathan said goodbye to Becky before leaving for work. Around 11 a.m., Lauren and I drove Becky to the airport where we said our good-byes. Although it was a short trip, we all had a lovely time together.

Thank you so much for all your help while you were here, Becky. A special thank you for helping so much with the meals and especially for helping bring our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner to life! It was so nice to have you here!

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Lauren: Enjoying a hot tub dip.
[Photo credit: Dad]

Joining with Jodi fromPractising Simplicity with a portrait of our daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.

[And a bonus picture this week because we loved it also... :)]

Friday, September 25, 2015

Winter of 2014-15

I know, it's September and we're in California, what am I doing posting about winter??

The thing is, I had wanted to post this since sometime last winter, but never got around to it until now. Last winter was a pretty brutal one for many places in North America. I thought it would be interesting to put together a few facts as well as some of my pictures, both from working at U-Haul as well as just winter in general.

First, here's a list of the top 10 snowiest US cities this past winter. Bangor made #3 with 131.5 inches, or basically 11 feet. Keep in mind that this was as of March 21, but Bangor got snow till mid April!

I found a forum thread later that shows snowfall data from July 1, 2014 to May 6, 2015, which includes every snowfall this past winter. It shows Bangor got a total of 139 inches, or 11' 7" of snow (on the last page of the thread)!

However, not only was it snowy this past winter, it was also cold! February was the coldest month on record for Bangor, with an average temperature of - get this - a whopping 6 degrees F! There were many days that it didn't get warmer than -20 degrees F. At that temperature, it didn't matter that I had a base layer, second layer, sweatshirt, and my snowboarding coat on, it only took being outside for a minute or two in the wind before I was shivering.

And Bangor wasn't the only city with record snowfalls. Boston broke both the winter and monthly records with at least 110 inches as of March 15 and 64.8 inches in February alone, and there are many other cities in the US which had high snowfalls as well. The funny thing is, Alaska had very low snowfalls this winter, making it necessary to postpone the Iditarod, their annual sled dog race, until there was enough snow for them to actually do it.

All this snow and cold was especially driven home for me (Jonathan) since I had taken a job with U-Haul the previous July, and was keeping the job until finding employment in my field after graduation in December. I worked at U-Haul till mid-April, which means I experienced firsthand this winter in all it's frosty glory. Each time it snowed, we had to clear snow off of trucks, as well as move them around to allow the lot to be plowed. This was made much more difficult by the fact that the manager was stockpiling extra trucks against the opening of a new U-Haul center in Bangor, so our lot was chock full the entire winter.

February was especially difficult - there was a period of two or three weeks where there was another foot or so of snow every 2-3 days. Even our boss partially gave up a few times and let half the lot sit for a few storms before calling in a loader and having us completely clear the lot one day.

All in all, it was a pretty incredible winter to go through, and if I had only had waterproof boots, I really wouldn't have minded it all too much - I really do like winter. Working at U-Haul this winter, however, almost made me stop liking it. :P

Below are some pictures I took (mostly poor quality ones taken with my phone) that show some of what happened this winter.

First snow - November 2! Started early this year.
Januray - the trusty '89 Accord took me to and from work many times when the not-so-trusty Astro was broken down
Carving a path through drifts
Deep drifts
Prepped for another storm. Did I mention no U-Haul truck has 4-wheel drive? You can see burnout marks in the foreground...
Had to shovel out trailers each storm
They can get pretty buried...
Unearthing trucks. We probably had around 10 windshields crack from using the heat too much in the cold
Where do we put it all?
Cleaning off a tall 26-footer with a roof rake which is missing one of the extension poles... this was most of the winter.
"Down back" - this area didn't get cleared as often
Row of 26' trucks out on the road so the lot can be cleared.
Bringing in the big guns
Didn't take much time with this
Those overhead doors are probably around 7 feet tall
March 4: first time seeing pavement in a couple months!
More snowfall April 7
April 9 - more snow
And just for one last kick in the pants, as we were loading up our U-Box to move to California, it snowed April 24th!
It wasn't all bad though, we were able to get out and enjoy the snow a few times throughout the winter.

Ali learns to like cross-country skiing!