Monday, September 30

7 Resolutions (Just a Little Early)

This year, I'm getting a head-start on my New Year's Resolutions for 2014. I have never been very good (okay, I've been awful) at following through with them in the past. And normally I like to wait until the actual day (it feels more like a clean slate that way) to start my resolutions, but just like with repentence, you can wipe your slate clean any day. So I'm starting now. Because (as a Sister Meagan Demers told our ward during a talk many years ago), "today is a good day to start good habits."

1. Don't buy any clothes for myself for a year. Just don't. Why would you do such a thing?! you might be shouting at your computer screen. I'll tell you why--because I don't need them. I don't need to follow trends and I really don't care about them (I'm sure you knew this if you've seen how I dress). I want to save money. I want to gain a better appreciation for what I have. I want to force myself to find new ways to stretch my wardrobe. I want to simplify my life a little. I want to actually follow through with a New Year's Resolution, because truthfully, I can't remember if I ever have before (have followed through, I mean...I pretty much make them every year). Also, Dalin doesn't particularly enjoy when I give him clothes anyway (though he always wears what I buy for him the next day which makes me feel really good) so I may extend this to him as well. Tenley will be the lucky one in the family because I will definitely need to buy her clothes this year, as we have almost none for a one-year old yet! Last, Dalin really liked this idea and (unsurprisingly) agreed to go along with it.

2. Study the scriptures daily. I should be reading God's word daily anyway, but I've been inconsistent pretty much my whole life. I've had stretches where I went for a really long time achieving near perfection of this goal, and then there have been other times where I've seen my copy on the shelf and guiltily looked away intending to read it later, but I want to be steady and sure. I remember when there was a time in high school where the Book of Mormon truly was my favorite book. I learned to love reading it. I'm being perfectly honest here when I say that I love the scriptures, but not as much as I should. I should cherish reading the scriptures above almost any other daily activity, but all too often I look at it as a chore or as just another task I need to complete. I want to, as beloved prophet Gordon B. Hinckley suggested, have "a love affair with the word of God." This reminds me of a story I feel like I should share.

When I was a senior in high school, I applied for a college scholarship from the Cheryl Lynn Walsh Foundation. This was a scholarship based partly on merit and school activities like most, but primarily, it is a scholarship based on kindness. As part of the selection process, we were required to be interviewed by a board of about a dozen or more people. I was incredibly nervous and like everyone else, practiced coming up with answers on the spot to potential questions. I don't remember much about my interview except that I was asked: What is a book that has inspired you? Put on the spot, I think I blushed as I my thoughts first went to Harry Potter (not because it's inspired me but because I love it) and then to a book called Three Cups of Tea which I had been reading recently for my Middle East class. I started to describe Three Cups of Tea to the group, when suddenly the Book of Mormon popped into my head. I am not sure how smoothly I did it, but I told them I want to change my answer and proceeded to tell them how the Book of Mormon has inspired me. In short, I bore my testimony of Jesus Christ and the teachings within the Book of Mormon. I had been given the perfect opportunity to share the gospel in a small way and I am so glad I did not waste it. I found out at Senior Awards Night that I had won the scholarship. I was called up on stage and presented with a huge silver bowl-shaped award (which I have in my hands in the picture below with my grandparents though it's hard to tell). Anyway, the point is, I didn't just say that the Book of Mormon inspired me--it truly has changed my life and made me into the person I am today. And I need to study it continually if I want to really know it.
3. Be the best mom and wife I can be. I am going to try my hardest to have patience with my sweet daughter and my amazingly wonderful husband. I am less perfect than either of them but they are still so patient with me and quick to forgive. I need to follow their examples a little (or a lot!) better. 

4. Pray more. I think I might know just the thing to help me with this. If you haven't heard of this idea, you should try it sometime. You put something small, like a dime or a button, in your shoe and every time you feel it there, it reminds you to pray. It might seem like you're doing a lot of praying at first, but I believe the point of it is to get you to become more prayer-oriented. And when has there ever been such a thing as too much prayer?

5. STUDY MORE, waste less time. These two go hand in hand for me. Undesirables #1 and #2: Facebook and Pinterest. Blogger could potentially make the list as well, but I generally don't consider this a waste of time. Facebook and Pinterest however...I sure love going on them, but I tend to feel more guilty than good about the amount of time I spend on those. So I'm limiting myself. Plus my online classes are suffering as a result of the time spent elsewhere and it's gotten to the point where I've started to not care and that's not good!

6. Save money. My first resolution should contribute to this I would think, but I also want to apply for WIC, and become a smarter grocery shopper. I've gotten better (something about having a frugal husband who hates grocery shopping might have done that for me...) but there is a great deal more I could do. I always say I'm going to start couponing, but all those times were lies I guess because I have yet to do so. (Though, admittedly, I did take the time to clip tons of coupons, just actually using them is the challenge.) I told Dalin about this resolution and told him we need to be more cautious about not buying junk. "Name one thing that falls into that category," he told me. "Hmm, let me think," I said, "Maybe that talking Uncle Si doll from Wal-Mart that someone bought." He gave me a very grinch-like smile because he knew I was right.
7. Focus on thinking well of others. I think I'm pretty good at being nice. I like meeting new people and I don't mind talking to strangers. I look for the good in people and try to give compliments when I admire something about someone. But it is much harder to guard one's thoughts about people. There are things I think to myself that I would never say aloud but then I realize I shouldn't be thinking those things at all. I do my best to remember that everyone is a child of God, but sometimes--okay nearly every time--I get in the car and suddenly everyone is obnoxious and out to annoy me. I am going to do my best to control my thoughts in this area and try to focus on the good. Even when I'm furious at all of the horrible drivers.

What are your resolutions? (Have you started thinking about any yet?)
What do you think about mine? Can you think of any for me to add?

Sunday, September 29

Baby Lessons

Holding up her head! She did this for like ten minutes.
Ever since I watched little Shelby Howard do pull-ups for gym class in elementary school, I have wanted my kids to do gymnastics. I don't particularly care about gymnastics themselves except that they encourage strength training and increase flexibility and balance. I am not flexible AT ALL. When we sat at those dumb machines in P.E. that measure your flexibility, I couldn't even lock my legs so I'm pretty sure my score was terrible. And as for strength, well, I'm 5'0" and normally weigh about 100 lbs and I am not very physically strong. I have done one pull-up in my life and I'm pretty sure I jumped into it so it probably shouldn't even count. The point is, I don't want my children to have the same fate.

I feel the same way about swimming. As you all should know by now, I love the ocean and I love New Hampshire and all its pretty, sparkling clean lakes. I simply love being in the water but I am not a great swimmer, in spite of several years of swim lessons. I was always too chicken to swim in the deep end of a pool alone, having a very strong fear of drowning. Probably thanks to my mom for turning me into a worrier. Anyways, I am hoping to live near the ocean (or perhaps the lake) one day, and I want my kids to be confident swimmers. So I'd like to start them young. Really young. Like I want to start with Tenley now but I haven't figured out where I can {afford to} have regular access to a pool.

Then there are music lessons. I hated the flute. Hated it. But I think that was partly due to my dislike for the teacher who was rather impatient, and my distaste for practicing. Pretty much ever. Then there was the violin. I desperately wanted to learn to play the violin (as it is my favorite instrument) but my teacher moved away after one or two lessons and that was the end of that. Finally, there was the piano, which I also loved but was no good at. I had three different piano teachers (all great) but I did not practice enough and basically never learned to read left-hand music...(and reading right-hand music is still really hard for me). But I did do choir with my ward and Easter choir within my stake and even though I am not the solo singing type, I was told I have a decent soprano voice (don't worry, they said it in a much nicer way than that). Hopefully Tenley will get my mother-in-law's music jeans genes (I literally just typed jeans...embarrassing) because otherwise she is going to be out of luck in this category. And hopefully she'll have some interest in the piano or least, more than I did.

Of course, we can't forget about tennis, which is the sport I'm best at (I feel like I can say this without being too braggy--I played every year since elementary school and I'm not even that great other than my backhand swing) and the sport that I loved playing in high school especially (mainly because you actually have matches). I also enjoyed soccer (especially in elementary and middle school) and field hockey in high school. Even though Tenley has good genes for running on both sides, I won't force that on her* unless it's something she's really interested in because I was certainly not a fan of cross-country.

Anyhow, I plan on being a very encouraging, supportive mom (not that every mom doesn't think this) and I hope that my children give me the chance to attend lots of games, matches, competitions, recitals, performances, etc. to keep me busy.

What sports will you/did you encourage your children to participate in?
What lessons are you glad they took and which do you regret getting them involved in?

*Technically, I won't force any of this stuff on her, but I do want her to be flexible, a good swimmer, and someone musically adept.

Thursday, September 26

Thoughts on Co-Sleeping WIth Baby

Our daughter Tenley is a great sleeper. Dalin and I have gotten into the unfortunate habit of going to bed between 11pm and midnight regularly (at least we've done away with those one or two in the morning nights), but so far it has worked great with Tenley. She nurses somewhere between those hours, then I place her in the bassinet in her room, which you enter through our room, and then I don't have to get up until she wakes me between four and (more recently) six in the morning. At that point, I go in and get our little munchkin (who has the saddest cry ever by the way), and then she joins us on our bed, right between us, and we (she and I) fall asleep while I feed her. Dalin gets up, depending on the day, at about six or seven in the morning, and it is around then that I usually feed Tenley again. Then she and I sleep in until nine or so. At that point, she usually needs to be changed asap or she pees our bed (it's happened like five times) or, worse, has a blowout (like yesterday). It's not a perfect routine, but it allows me plenty of rest. A few times, Tenley has even slept through the night (well, by my definition she has) sleeping six or seven hours straight.

The thing that is hard to understand is how a person so small can take up so much of our bed. I'm not kidding when I say I think she has more space than either Dalin or I do. I've woken up very close to the edge of our Queen sized bed and nearly slipped off. Dalin and I know the risks of co-sleeping (not that they apply to everyone--my brothers and I all co-slept with our parents and we're still breathing) and we think about it a lot because the idea of something happening to Tenley is scary. I'm not worried about myself so much as I am about Dalin accidentally rolling on her (which he worries about, too, though he's never come close) or a pillow covering her face and her not moving or crying to alert us. We are very careful about those things of course, but the trouble is not that we can't get her to sleep only in her bed, but that we miss her when she is in her own bed. Just last night, Dalin and I put her down in her bassinet in her room, then we visited her a few times to look at her, check on her, and give her kisses. Dalin said, "We need to get one of those co-sleeper things." And I said, "I know, I agree. It would be nice if she slept in her bed all night (if I took the time to put her back in there after I fed her) but I miss her when she isn't with us." And Dalin kind of laughed and said, "I know, me too."

It is hard for us to be away from our sweet girl. She is so snuggly and there is something about watching your own baby asleep that makes you feel so good inside. There is also the worry about her being alone, cold, and any other number of things. Example: the other day when I brought Tenley in her room to be changed, I saw a BIG GRAY SPIDER on the wall right next to her bed. I never thought of myself as super afraid of spiders, but saying so would be inaccurate now. Somehow the fear has worsened with age (despite all I know about spiders, they're just gross and I've heard too many horror stories) and this has prevented me from being the one to kill them. (I don't like killing any bug really though...the crunching sound they make when squished is what bothers me most.) I usually scream for Dalin who sighs and gets a tissue. But at this particular time, Dalin wasn't around and I did not want to take my eye off the nasty thing because there was NO WAY IN HECK that spider was going to live and possibly get into my daughter's bed and bite her in the night. So I manned up and got a tissue and, after mentally preparing myself for far too long, smashed the darn thing.

Anyhow, what was I saying? Describing that moment was almost like re-living it...anyway, the point is, that unknown things could happen to her while she isn't under our constant watch and that scares us! We still feel like we have freedom in our current routine so we are debating whether or not to change it, but ideally I would like to foster her sense of independence by having her regularly sleep from at least midnight to seven a.m. in her own bed.

Our routine, ideally, would be: I feed Tenley around 11pm, burp her, change her, and dress her in pjs. Then I read to her, sing to her, and snuggle with her before putting her in bed. Then she wouldn't wake up 'til morning for her next feeding and changing. So far, we do all these things, just not always in the same order. (Reading time is usually during the day.)

So my question for you is what do you think? What worked for your children? What is your opinion about co-sleeping?

The Firsts

We moved out of our first apartment in March 2013, shortly after our sister Shaina married our brother-in-law, Layton. Our address used to be 300 Wymount Terrace. It is now 268 Wymount Terrace (we didn't move that far). The apartment was on the third floor of 5C. It had four tiny rooms--three, if you count the living room and kitchen as one. We had a lot of firsts in that apartment, so even though we frequently complained about its size and other areas where it was lacking, it still holds a tiny portion of our hearts and our history.

The Firsts

It was our first home as a married couple.
It was the first place we established a habit of scripture study and family prayer.
It was the first place we had friends over to play board games and watch movies and eat desserts.
It was the place where we had our first sleepover, which entailed making a bed out of pillows and our comforter placed by the open front porch door because we had no A/C and our apartment was blistering hot our first night there.
It was where I first discovered life without a dishwasher or air conditioning.
It was where I first learned that Dalin hates doing laundry.
It was where I first learned to cook well okay. For real.
It was where we first mapped out our future together and shared our deepest secrets.
It was where I returned to alone, sobbing, after flying home from Arizona on our first Thanksgiving together because I had to work at Dillard's on Black Friday.
It was the place where we had our first Christmas with just the two of us.
It was where I decorated its tiny rooms for every season and holiday for the first time.
It was the place where we lived when we started leasing our first new car.
It was the first place we returned to late at night after long drives to Boise to visit Dalin's family for weekend trips and holidays. 
It was the first place we came home to after much-too-short summer visits to New Hampshire.
It was the place where I began the first job I've ever truly enjoyed.
It was where I first received my Associate's degree from BYU-Idaho.
It was where I first got called as Primary President and where Dalin got called as Sunday School President.
It was where we first began our family.
It was the place where we first discovered I was pregnant with our darling Tenley.
It was where I did my first ever semester at BYU.
It was where we bought our first TV.
It was where we had our first ever couch from Uncle Cash and Aunt Marisa.
It was where we had our first antique kitchen table and where I painted our first kitchen chairs mustard, aqua, and mint green.
It was where I first started to detest Dalin's noisy and filthy old rocking chair that he adores so much.
It was where I first started to feel like that rocking chair was an old friend, noisy or not.
It was where Dalin broke our first camera when he accidentally pushed it behind the stairs of our stairwell while we were taking pictures.
It was where we first learned about how hard marriage can be.
It was where we first learned how wonderful and amazing and sacred marriage can be.
It was where we first learned of each other's faults.
It was where we first learned to forgive each other.
It was where we had our first fight. 
It was where we cared for each other when the other was ill for the first time.
It was where we celebrated the first year of our eternal marriage.
First TV...lovely
One of my first decent meals
There are a lot of others and I could go on, but I'll let you imagine the rest.

Even though we (especially me I'm sorry to admit) complained about that old apartment (and still complain about the one we're in now because the only difference is a spare bedroom and that we're now on the second floor), it holds a lot of memories for us and I know that one day, looking back we'll miss that tiny place and cherish the firsts we had together there. 

Wednesday, September 25

The Random Act of Kindness

I may need to revise my highlight of the day even though I still love that Dalin got to stay home today and that we got to spend the day Tenley. This new highlight was more of a random act of kindness that made my whole week. It's good to know there are still kind people out there. So anyway, I was at the checkout at Walmart, waiting to pay with Tenley in my front carrier pouch, when a former resident of King Henry apartments where I last worked saw me and came over to say hi and congrats on the new baby. We were just talking when, before I knew what was happening, he had pulled out his card, reached past me, and swiped it at the register, paying for almost $70 of stuff. Feeling shocked, embarrassed, and gratified at the same time, I thanked him profusely then he proceeded to help me get the items into my cart and out to my car where he loaded my trunk for me while I buckled Tenley in. I thanked him again and he told me no sweat and took my cart away.

That is an outstanding young man, I thought when I got in the driver's seat before I started my car. I wish I could do something to repay him for his kindness...Well, if you are single and looking for a great guy (I think he goes to UVU and lives near King Henry), I'll give you his name so you can track him down. ;) Anyway, his deed caught me off guard--so much so that I almost cried before I left the Walmart parking lot. I was really touched. I had hardly ever interacted with him at King Henry, I just recognized his face and knew his name. Immediately I wanted to "pay it forward" by doing something for someone else. I got my chance pretty quick. There was a homeless man sitting by the Walmart exit. I never know if the homeless people that gather there are legit or not, but every once in a while, I give something if I have it in case they are. I still had my $15 Walmart gift card in my hand because I hadn't had to use it, so when I reached the man, I rolled down my window and waved him over to me. "There's fifteen dollars on there," I told him. He thanked me sounding very sincere and I drove off hoping I really was helping someone.

I tell this story not to brag about my tiny act of kindness (which was mainly initiated only because of someone else's) but to make a quick point: It is always much easier to do a random act for someone when you've been on the receiving end of one yourself. I re-learned an important lesson today. I had forgotten about my resolve to live the Scout motto "Do a good turn daily." That young man helped me get back on track and I'm going to do my best to keep that motto in my heart, starting today.

What random acts of kindness have you given to others? 
What is one that you've received that meant a lot to you?

Tuesday, September 24

Six Weeks Young

This picture is from our sweetheart's first fishing trip at 7am. Starting her early... ;)
Tenley is six weeks as of yesterday! Everyone tells you over and over that time flies, but they really mean it when it comes to one's kids. I can't even believe I gave birth to her over a month ago. It seems like it just happened but--here comes the cliché--at the same time it feels like we've had our baby girl here forever. I can't picture life without Tenley anymore. Personally, I do not think she has "interfered" with our life at all; on the contrary--she has enhanced it and made it more meaningful than ever. Sure we have to do things a little differently (and a little slower) with her here, but we do more fun activities as a family and I feel the happiest I've ever been having her in my life. Being her mom and playing with and caring for her each day is like having a little best friend by my side. Tenley started smiling fairly regularly a few days ago, too, which is a very happy thing. She smiles at me several times throughout the day, and now at Dalin, too. Today when Dalin came home between work and class, he went into our room where Tenley was napping on the bed, and when she woke up and saw him, she gave her daddy the biggest smile. It was so cute I could have died...and unfortunately there was no camera nearby. Her smiles are still so fleeting that they are almost impossible to catch on camera anyway though.
In other news, I am almost back to my pre-birth size (haha, don't judge that based on this photo). I weigh about 110 right now, so if I lose about 10 lbs I'll be back to my pre-baby body, which will be nice, mainly because I'll be able to fit into my normal jeans again (assuming my hips aren't permanently widened which I've heard can happen...they sure were wide right after Tenley was born). Thankfully I fit into all my skirts and stretchy jeans though so that's progress (especially the pants part)! It is unbelievable how fast my body has recovered from giving birth. I'm not the exercising type either so I was really worried I'd look pregnant forever. Breastfeeding has been a lifesaver for that reason. It really is a miracle that the weight has just fallen off from nursing. Heavenly Father had that planned out perfectly. Based on what several women told me, I was not really expecting to feel so back to normal yet. Nothing has been as bad as anyone told me it would be after for that matter, for which I am grateful. But it's pretty great (though a little sad) and weird not to have my big baby belly anymore. It's weird to be able to see my feet and legs when I look down. In a way I miss being pregnant because I loved being close to my baby, but I am a billion times happier to have her out. I love holding Tenley and kissing her (which I do all the time--much to her dismay when she's crying) and talking to her all the time. I love the way she snuggles against me and falls asleep when my face is close to hers. I love when she stares up at me out of the corner of her big blue eyes when I'm nursing her and makes me feel so needed and loved. I love how she is asleep laying across my lap right now as I type this. As I've been promised, I have so much joy in motherhood. And Dalin has so much joy in being a father. He is always so sweet and tender with Tenley and it fills my heart with happiness seeing the bond they already share as father and daughter.
Yeah, we both love this girl. Quite a lot. It is the best thing ever being her mom. 

How long did it take you to get back to your pre-birth size? Not that it really matters (it's not a competition) but I am curious!

Friday, September 20

My Amazing Photographer Friend ~ Samantha Rizzo

Since moving to Wymount more than two years ago, Dalin and I have been blessed to know a wonderful woman in my ward who has been my visiting teacher two separate times and always a great friend and neighbor. She has taken couples/family photos for Dalin and me on two separate occasions and we have loved getting to know her. Her name is Samantha Rizzo and she is an excellent photographer, local to Provo. She has been building her photography business the last several months in particular and I highly suggest using her talent. She is super friendly and makes sure you look good (I am pretty picky about how I look in pictures but Samantha is awesome--fixing my hair and making sure my arms weren't in some weird place, etc.)

If you want to check her out for any event (she does all sorts), I would look up her website which is really cool. Plus it will give you an idea of her photography style! You can check her website out by clicking here. And you can like her Facebook page (and see more great pics) here.

Here are some of the photos Samantha has taken of us!

Isn't she just awesome? I love them all and many more which you can view on her website or in my Facebook album "Tenley ReNae Gunnell."

If you need a photographer, I know who to point you to!

Wednesday, September 18

The Perfect Gap

Dalin and I have been thinking. Well, let's be honest--I've been thinking. Thinking about our family. Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, I have very different priorities. Feeding the baby comes before everything--seriously, everything. Even before eating myself. I'm so busy taking care of Tenley half the time that I forget to eat. One night, it was almost midnight and I was in bed when all of a sudden I realized I hadn't had breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Just lots to drink (which I realize is something I constantly want since I'm nursing) and a few snacks. I hadn't even felt hungry, I was so distracted. Anyway, my priorities have changed which is what one would naturally expect when having a baby, but I didn't realize how much of my day would be filled with taking care of that baby. Only during her many brief naps do I get the chance to try and get schoolwork done, wash dishes, pick up the apartment, or gather laundry together. I'm lucky if I can sneak in a shower somewhere in my day. And more often than not, the only things that I get accomplished some days are feeding and changing Tenley.

As a stay-at-home mom, I consider this my job. It truly is a job, much more than I thought it would be. Not that it's really particularly hard, but it certainly is time-consuming. Instead of working 40 hours a week, I now work 24 hours a day. I work the night shift and the day shift, and am basically on-call 100% of the time. In addition, I am the maid, maintenance, interior decorator, planner, chef, and driver. With all these jobs, the payments I receive are joy, satisfaction, and eternal rewards, which is more than enough for me; however I do think some financial reimbursement would be nice especially considering that I am now one of the (rare) few women that stay home with their children and ensure that they are being cared for adequately and being taught to have faith, morals, and values, but unfortunately the world isn't really at a place where it rewards people for those things. Apparently they aren't that important to mankind anymore. I didn't mean to sound bitter in this post (though I was mostly just being sarcastic) so let me get back on track.

If you know me at all, you know I have always wanted a big family. Twelve used to be the magic number because I wanted to have a "Cheaper by the Dozen" family (the book version mostly--though the movie version is still fun). I thought that having that many siblings would be a blast and family reunions would be even more fun. I still think a family of twelve would be awesome, but over the years I eventually settled on seven children. Seven would be the perfect number. Yeah, for the world today, seven is still a lot. But I want my own version of the Weasley family (Harry Potter reference) and I always thought six boys and one girl would be a blast. At this rate, I am doubting whether I will get my six boys I originally wanted, but I love having a daughter so much now that I'm fine with that. The big question is, when should we have our next child? I'm truthfully on board for sooner rather than later. That's why I discussed my being a stay-at-home mom above. That is now my job and I'm going to do my best to succeed at it. So why wait? If that's what I am doing, then I may as well have my other children here, too. Maybe that reasoning is weird, but I have had so much joy with Tenley already that I cannot even wait to meet my other children. Anyhow, I'm not talking about having a baby nine months from now, but I am wondering what the "ideal" age gap is between children. I loved being a year apart from Payson (not that I want something that close) but what do you think? One year? One and a half? Two? Four? We probably will be praying for this answer on our own, but I am truly curious about what you think.

So help me out. What do *you* think the perfect age gap is between children?
Love watching her snuggle with her dad. She loves him so much already!

Saturday, September 14

The AMAZING Quilts My Mother Made

My mom is extremely talented at a lot of things. Apparently sewing is among those many talents. She would deny this, but the evidence speaks for itself.

While I was in my last couple months of pregnancy, my mom and I spent a lot of time on the phone, searching the internet together, looking for fun fabrics to incorporate into two special quilts. The first one was for her very first granddaughter, Tenley, and the second, was for her oldest and only daughter--me--who begged her to make one for Dalin and me, too.

For whatever reason, I really love patriotic colors. Maybe it's because being from the east, I have a strong interest in American heritage and values. I just love what this country stands for. Anyway, when my mom and I were discussing ideas for our quilt, it became obvious that I wanted to incorporate the ocean and ocean-themed things, and I wanted it to be kind of manly so Dalin would like it. After weeks of ordering fabrics and a long week of sewing for my mom, it was finished! And my mom brought it out to Utah with her for my birthday present! Here is the final result:
Notice the many elements? I love this thing so much. My mom used a denim comforter--formerly used for my bed when I lived at home--for the backing of the quilt. In the quilt itself, we have beach houses, lighthouses, crabs, lobsters (of course;), anchors, starfish, baseballs (for Dalin), bunting banners, patriotic stars and stripes, hearts, and more. 

She also included a fabric I found at JoAnn's with various American states on it. The best part (I thought) about that fabric was that Idaho and New Hampshire were printed almost next to each other, so she was able to get several patches of both states on there! Our two home states. My mom also included patches from old clothes. The plaid ones are from my old favorite pair of pajamas. The denim patches are from pairs of old jeans, including ones from my mom, my dad, Donovan, Payson, Dalin, and my old overalls (which used to be the only thing I wore in elementary school). So it has pieces of all of us in it, which makes it really special. 

My mom also heeded my request that somewhere on it, she incorporate something representing Boston or the Red Sox. As you can see, she did that! She also put lots of denim pocket patches on the quilt so we can stick things in them, like little love notes to each other. And so Dalin can keep his chapstick nearby...haha.
Oh, and one other thing about the quilt. She made it so it can double as a picnic blanket! As you can see, we have already used it for that (on our anniversary picnic lunch). 

The quilt my mom made for Tenley = gorgeous. The colors are bright and pretty, but not so girly that I couldn't use it for other children.
Possible pattern...
Finished product!
Tenley under the quilt Nana Searle made her :) On our quilt...
Everyone who has seen them, loves the quilts. My Nana, Aunt Pam, Donovan, and many other people have complimented my mom on our quilt especially, and have asked her to make them one! It was a very time-consuming project for her, but I am grateful she finished it and gave it to us (and that she didn't keep it for herself because I know after all the work she kind of wanted to and who can blame her? ;). 
Looking pretty happy :)
Isn't my mother so talented?
Which quilt is your favorite? 

Baby Shower Party Favors

A few weeks ago (or was it a few months...I've seriously lost track of time since Tenley was born!) my wonderful visiting teaching companion hosted a baby shower for one of the cute girls we visit teach. Our friend is having a baby boy in late September. I wanted to contribute by bringing some kind of treat so I decided to do chocolate-covered strawberries and party favors. It was very fun to do, and also kept me distracted and busy while I was waiting for our baby girl to arrive. I got everything at the Dollar Store, too, so it was super cheap! 

Here are the pieces I included:
 I bought 8 polka dot containers, 8 candy bracelets, a bag of jolly ranchers, a bag of hershey's, and a bag of blow pops, a package of hair elastics, and an 8-pack of bubbles. The little tag on the bubbles I tied on myself with twine after punching them out on scrapbook paper.
I have to say, the final result was much cuter in person! 

The chocolate covered strawberries were a piece of cake. My mom microwaved some hershey's chocolate chips and then dipped in fresh (washed) strawberries. She then sprinkled them with a variety of sprinkles (I have a LOT of types...) and placed them in the fridge to harden before I brought them to the shower. 

 Super easy and really delicious. Everyone loved them!

What do you think of my party favors?