Monday, January 26, 2015

My Family in Atlanta

I was in Atlanta, GA with my family for roughly 4 months. I haven’t lived with my parents since high school and they moved to Georgia when I was in college --the "South" and small family dynamic was pretty foreign to me. After spending so much time with them I have a newfound appreciation for Georgia and most importantly my family, not matter how far we all are from one another. 

Days after the hospital. 

Gwen and her Glamma
Big geel, aka my mom. I don't know what I would have done without this woman. Some of my happiest memories were the hours after giving birth to Gwen. My mom stayed with me that night and I felt comfortable sleeping knowing she was right there. A shower and a few hours later my mom comes strolling in with bags of things for baby girl Gwen. It was the start of her endless generosity and obsession with my baby. My SIL said, moms/grandmas are special because they are one of the few people who love your children as much as you do. This is true, and I love what it has done for our mother-daughter relationship. Right now I miss my mom coming in my room, walking by e to greet Gwen with her token phrase What's going on girl, what's going on?! I wish I could cozy up with her in her and watch Million Dollar Listing. I definitely do not want to watch one of her favorite B movies, but I miss joking about them with her. My mom was always willing to change a diaper, dress Gwen up, bathe her and get me all my favorite snacks from the store. I felt spoiled with how well my mom took care of us. I realized how much she really loves me and sacrifices as a mother. I know I will be learning this lesson over and over as Gwen gets older, I'm just lucky to have witnessed and felt the sincerity of my mom’s love for so long.

I have always known my dad/Steve as a hard worker, but the past four months also reminded me how much he sacrifices for our whole family. I thought the first 36 hours of my life with Gwen were crazy; my dad was just as sleep deprived. He went from being in the delivery room, off to his calling, church, and then caught a plane to somewhere in the USA. I didn't see him until Thursday. It was humbling to see my dad come home exhausted and then find him doing something for the one of us. He was quick to help with dinner, Gwen, Collins, or just entertain us with some crazy story. My dad also has a talent for knowing the type of foods and restaurants I would LOVE and getting a baby to sleep. Right now I really miss watching him rock and sing to Gwenzo. He had the best lyrics about her mannerisms and gas.

Collins was born my senior year of high school; regrettably, we didn’t get to spend too much time together. It is apparent when you ask him to list his favorite people: #1 Conner, Evan, Mom, Dad, Ben, Gwen then me. I sort of agree with the order, so I'm not offended. I will cherish my time with Collins. He is such a sweet boy. Some of his acts of kindness would bring a tear to my eye, like bringing me water because he knew I needed to stay hydrated. Or the time he brought me “breakfast in bed” but left it on the toilet because I was on the shower. Had to eat it, the gesture was so thoughtful. He always invited me to do things with him and I felt bad when I was 9 months pregnant and couldn't keep up. What truly melted my heart was his love for Gwen. He told me, I normally don't like babies but when your sibling has a baby you love her. He is the best uncle and I can’t wait to see all the life lessons he teaches Gwen. 

Geezy/Evan was preparing for his mission when I was in Atlanta. I got there days before he got his call and then he was off to BYU-I. From a distance we watched and tried to help Evan prepare for his mission and seeing him before he took off was a beautiful sight. On our way back to Kenya we stopped in Atlanta for a few days to join Ev as he received his endowments and gave his farewell talk. It had also been awhile since I have spent some quality time with Ev and it is wonderful to see the young man he has become. First of all, he is TALL. I love seeing his goofy side come out because he is in a man's body-- a nice reminder that he is the same Geez. He gave an inspiring farewell talk and it was exactly what I needed to hear because I didn't want to see him go. 

Being home really made me miss having my whole family together. I want Conner back from his mission and wish Evan was only going for 18 months. Two years seems like a long time. By the time our family is together again it will have been over four years, we are basically at the half way mark. I can’t wait for the day we are all reunited. My mom and I are already planning that special Christmas.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Years in Oregon

Gwen's grand tour of America had us in Oregon for the rest of Christmas break. With Katie on a mission, family spread out across the country/world, it had been a long time since the Stevens had all been together. With the family growing each coming year we all know it is going to get harder to gather together as a whole family. I am grateful everyone made a special effort to come out this holiday season; I think we did an excellent job making good memories and cherishing our time together.

At Christmas pt. 2 Jade hated her Kenyan outfit, while Demi strutted around the room all proud of her new clothes. I wish I got more pictures of the night. This is the only pic I got of the geels.

Demi loved Gwen. She would constantly Shh! and tell us baby sleeping
Family Volleyball. Tina and her reign of terror
Jade loves the Oregon Ducks almost as much as the guys. We spent a lot of time watching football and cheering on Marcus Mariota. 
Massage train

Smith Rock on New Years Day
Before leaving PDX, we were able to meet up with a bunch of friends, meet baby Emi and Marcus took Ben to the Blazer vs. Laker game. It left us wanting more time with everyone, we can't wait to get back to Oregon.  

Christmas in California

California was about Christmas traditions and introducing Gwen to everyone

Colleen was one of my rocks during my pregnancy. She was four months ahead of me and helped me prepare physically and mentally every step of the way. Her baby, Evan, was born on June 3 and it drove us crazy knowing we had to wait six more months before seeing each other. All we'd talk about was meeting one another's babies and envisioning our dads interacting with them; it was surreal finally seeing Colleen and Mike holding Evan in person. Reuniting reminded me what the holidays are all about -- loved ones.

We took our babies to meet Santa and while he was feeding his reindeer we snagged the couch and had our own photo session. We hope to make this a tradition these upcoming years.

Our Christmas break also included visits with long-time, best friends. I felt pretty special when Meghan and Brittany drove out to Huntington to spend some time with us. Then on Saturday all these lovely ladies rearranged their schedules and we watched time fly by as we caught up on everything.

Tymorie was here in spirit, she had to return to work before we got a picture of all us. 

Last March, when I told my Grandma I was pregnant, I told her the good news then politely begged her to spend Christmas with us in California. So glad I locked Mer down because she helped make Gwen's first Christmas a memorable one.

Gwen and Papa Louie have the same hair style!
Christmas morning
Gwen's smug face really gets me

Family Christmas Picture

Utah and Jordan's Baby Shower

After having Gwen I knew I needed to make a trip out to Utah to visit Ben’s grandparent’s and Jordan. Tom and Ramona needed to meet Gwen and Jordan deserved a baby shower. I wish we had more time in Utah. We have such good friends out there it was hard to fit everything in, but I was happy we were able to do so much in four days. 

We really enjoyed our time with Tom and Ramona. Their place feels like home and I couldn't wait for them to play with Gwen. Ramona enjoyed communicating with Gwen through her toes and Tom rocked Gwen fast asleep, they were both perfectly content. 

Although I co-hosted Jordan's baby shower, all the credit really goes to Cassie. The details she put into the decorations and food made the evening extra special.

She has a glow about her. 

We also fit in a few visits with friends! Ariana showed up with fancy gifts and Stanley fit us in between classes. 

Katie's back!

When I received Katie's return itinerary and saw she was going to have a two-hour lay over in Atlanta I started planning. Katie was scheduled to arrive early in the morning on November 10 and I spent the weeks prior to her arrival researching how to get a gate pass. For security reasons, it has become very difficult to get these passes and I noticed most people received them by lying. Initially I had no qualms with lying. I mean, anything to see Katie, but the Sunday before I started to feel guilty. I was about to see my return MISSIONARY sil and lying was my plan? I decided to just see how it goes and prepared myself not to see her. I woke up at 4:00 am, got Gwen ready, drove to the airport, packed her up in the Ergo and made my way to a Delta employee. The first lady I spoke with responded with what I expected, looking at me like, who do you think you are? You cannot get a gate pass. She did direct me to Delta assistance and out of the blue a lady came up to me and asked me how she could help. I told her the truth. I explained that I hadn’t seen my SIL in 18 months, by chance we were in Atlanta at the same time, I live in Kenya, just gave birth to a baby girl, and asked if I could introduce Katie to her niece at her domestic gate. I did stretch the truth on how long it took me to get to the airport. It took me about 25 min, but I told her an hour. Still feeling bad about that… The lady looked at me and Gwen, stretched out her hand and asked for my ID and Gwen’s birth certificate. We were IN! I started crying. Pure relief and joy sunk in, then I got excited! Katie called my cell phone and I told her hurry!!! I was at the gate. Gwen and I watched the direction Katie would be coming from and 30 minutes later I see two young girls running. Once I saw those skirts I knew it was her. In the pictures below you can tell even at the crack of dawn we were overjoyed! Katie is back.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


I make an effort not to blog while Ben is away. I do this because, although I can handle being apart, I don't enjoy looking back on it. Plus, all my stalkers might be waiting for the opportune moment to steal my baby. I am writing again because we are finally on the downhill. Ben's currently in Kenya and has been there the past six weeks. Yes, SIX LONG WEEKS, and it totally sucks. Gwen has kept me really happy, busy, distracted, and tired; but she is also a constant reminder of how much I like the guy. I am careful not to share too much about my off-the-grid husband, but we were so lucky to have his company the whole month of October, I just had to add a few pictures of my favorite people before he comes back next week!

First Bath
Watched all the Duck games sitting like this with her daddy
She took my side of the bed... not mad about it
First adventure
I am that creepy wife/mother, Ben doesn't know about this picture