Category Archives: people to see

happy halloween

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Our Halloween was one to remember this year. While it was a Sunday morning, Josh was off for the weekend and the kiddos still had runny noses, so we had in mind to just take it easy. It started off pretty well . . .

Josh picked up an aebleskiver skillet and recipe from our little trip to Solvang, so Abby got to "make" her own.

Things got a little rocky when Zack took a little tumble and banged his head on a magazine rack. The blood started pouring and we were off to the ER. He was no worse for wear by the time we got there, and a little champ while the nurse was cleaning his boo boo. He even serenaded her with a couple rounds of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" while he was getting fixed up. Abby was also an angel in the waiting room, with a little help from some of Daddy’s iPhone games.

We were in and out of the ER in a flash, and Zack was able to get away with glue rather than stitches for his head. When we got home, we resumed our family time with a little pumpkin carving . . .

Abby wasn’t too sure about getting messy, but eventually got the hang of it.

Zack offered to help out a little as well . . .

Since the day we picked out our pumpkin, Abby has said that she wanted it to have a "little face". So she and Daddy got to work . . .Β 

She told Josh where to place the shapes, and she designed her her little face πŸ™‚ .

It was a busy morning, and all of us were in need of some serious naps. After naptime, the kiddos were magically transformed into Tinkerbell (with the help of some Aqua Net) and little Pooh (which, judging by how much he loved his costume, he may feel compelled to run up to Winnie on our next trip to D-land, and punch him square in his fluff), and we were off to visit our families. We started at Grandma Dell’s house. Abby LOVED trick-or-treating . . .

. . . and how fabulous she looked.

We’re pretty certain Zack was pretty miserable, with a cold, a headache, cutting more teeth, and having to put up with his ridiculous headpiece (his Mommy insisted that he wear the same adorable costume his sister wore 2 years earlier), but he was such a sport.

Josh offered to take Zack’s burden from him, but he just couldn’t pull off the look . . .

We knocked on Gigi’s, Aunt Marianne’s, and Uncle Phil’s door also, and this is who answered πŸ™‚ Groucho also sent us home with some delicious homemade caramel apples . . . SCORE!

Before we headed to our next stop, we tried for one more little photo shoot. What could possibly be running through their minds?

Off to visit more family!

Next, we stopped off at Grandma Soni’s, Grandpa Don’s, and Aunt Tami’s house. (We didn’t snap too many pics, but I love how the one’s we did take turned out. Almost looked like Abby went in, stole some candy, and left before anyone noticed πŸ™‚ .)

After this visit, we popped by to see Uncle Cam and Aunt Lacy, and were later visited by the Gin and Cook fams, and their precious Buzz (Carter), Mickey (Abbott-who liked his costume about as much as Zack liked being Pooh), and the cutest little newborn monkey (Evan). Then, much later, we opened the door to some Gorilla (my mom) and Devil (big Sis), and got to visit with them for a bit.

Whew! What a crazy, fun, busy, memory-filled day! There is something so special about having family around to share in the excitement (and silliness) of Halloween, and this year’s was a blast. Till next year . . .

-The Wills’

so new…

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Our family grew today, as we welcomed precious Evan Wesley Cook into the world. He came this morning, via C-section. Mommy and Daddy are (hopefully) resting right now, and all of us in the family are absolutely in awe of this boy. He’s a little guy, weighing 5 lbs 7 oz, but he’s got a mighty little grip on our heartstrings.

So glad to meet you, handsome boy. Can’t wait to love all over you tomorrow πŸ™‚ .

revisiting

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For a good part of my childhood, I lived on a military base. Pt. Mugu, in particular. I have fond memories of "base" life, and it always felt like such a safe place to be (must have been the armored guards). About a week ago, I got to bring the kids to my old stomping grounds, as we joined Grandpa Don at the Pt. Mugu Airshow. We actually went the day before the show for the military family day preview. Sadly, it was just too overcast for the Thunderbirds to do their thing, but we got to see a couple smaller planes practice (one of which touched down on top of a moving truck . . . awesome).

Standing amidst the hangars brought back a ton of memories for me. The smell of jet fuel, hearing Kenny Loggins "Danger Zone" blaring through the sound system, the super excited announcers trying to get the crowd to appreciate the feats of the pilots, the smell of yummy international cuisine being cooked in their perspective canopies. Our family day, even though we were there for only a short time, transported me back to some of my best family memories of me and my sisters (dressed in neon from head to toe, smelling like sunscreen, sporting our fanny packs and sunglasses), following our dad around as he excitedly showed us around his work. (Sadly, at that time, the coolness factor was lost on me, but now I’ve come to realize that I got to see some seriously Top Gun stuff in my earlier years.)

One of the least desirable things about a big airshow are the sounds of the F-16 engines overhead. I was a bit concerned about how the kids would respond had the Thunderbirds performed. Personally, I think the sound is nostalgic (which could have something to do with where my old house was located in relation to the runway) . . .

Still, I was a bit concerned for the kiddos and was fully prepared to be covering their tiny ears the whole time. So, turns out it was probably best the loud planes couldn’t fly, because, just as I had anticipated, Abby did not care for the noise of ANY of the planes. But Zack? He couldn’t get enough of what he was seeing and hearing . . .

The airshow redeemed itself when Abby found out she could tour a plane AND use a freshly cleaned porta-potty (that’s a Honey Bucket to you Pacific Northwesterners πŸ™‚ ) which she had never done previously.

While our time was brief (naps were in order), it was so fun to walk down memory lane with Josh and the kids. This time around, no fanny pack would suffice for all the toddler paraphernalia we get to cart around. But, its such a joy to make new memories from old ones with our little ones. Thanks, Grandpa Don, for the show!

(And, sorry Dad, I have to point out the adorable irony of your T-shirt πŸ™‚ ).

celebrating a little lady

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(I’m fairly certain Zack won’t notice that I posted pictures from Abby’s birthday before his. I won’t tell if you won’t, ok?)

We had a wonderful time celebrating Abby’s 3rd birthday. Our sweet girl soaked in every minute (and graciously made her way through meticulously opening all of her gifts). We had dinner on Thursday with the Downing’s, donuts on Friday morning with the Stumpo/Williams’, a trip to the Clubhouse FunZone, a Skype chat with Uncle Andy, and a Saturday playdate with her Sunday school buds. She kept it together so well, amidst all the extra special attention, and I’m certain she’s already tearing rings off a secret 4th birthday paper-chain hidden her room. Here’s just a few pics from the week.

Abby kept putting on her gold dress and her bling all week long.

She is now the proud occupant of a big girl bed.

This was how Zack looked during the big bed reveal. He was so happy!

Abby in her new toy box.

The Downing/Cook fam enjoying our new patio set (my birthday gift from ALL the family . . . thanks everyone!)

Aunt Tami showing her the fine art of coloring with big-girl crayons.

Abby and her Rolling Pin donut cake (and her new "cheese" face πŸ™‚ ).

Zacky and his Uncle Cam.

The Stumpo/Williams/Gin fam watching the birthday girl open gifts.

She got some awesome presents from everyone. Looks like there will be another year of her dressing WAY better than her Momma πŸ™‚ .

Abby at the FunZone. The kids would have stayed all day if they didn’t make it so apparent that naps were in order.

Zack went NUTS with all the push cars and the huge area to move around.

Carter and Abbott joined us. These two humored me with a quick picture, but didn’t slow down the whole time.

Little Fireman Abbott . . .

. . . and Josh and his Aunt MaryAnn.

Saturday morning was a gorgeous day for a playdate with Abby’s buds. They’re really starting to play WITH each other, and not just NEXT to one another.

Abby, Maddie, and Rayah had some serious girl time at the top of the slide . . .

. . . and my boys did a little bonding of their own on the ground.

What an awesome celebration for an awesome little person!

hooray for…

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Our friend, Jolene, was visiting from Washington a couple weeks back, giving us some motivation to do a little local sight-seeing. Hollywood hasn’t always been a huge deal to me. It’s where you drive through to go to Disneyland, as far as I was concerned. The only time in the recent past I had been to Hollywood Blvd. was to see shows.

Getting out of the car and on the street is an experience all its own. The last time I had done this was in high school, and it frightened me then. But for a season of his life, Josh had worked right in this area, so he was pretty stoked to show our guest around. I just wanted to make sure I knew where my wallet and my kids were at all times.

It was actually the perfect day to look around, and see all the sights (boy are there sights), and now as an adult, I found myself absolutely intrigued with this unique part of the culture. And thanks to Disney’s brilliant idea to open a little movie-themed ice cream shop right next to the El Capitan Theatre, the area is a LITTLE more kiddo friendly. So, aside from snacking, we spent a lot of time at the Hollywood & Highland Center (mostly nursing and diaper changing), a LOT of time walking up and down the Walk of Fame, and took some fab pics at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and in front of the Hollywood Sign.

Aside from getting the finger from a gentleman I apparently cut-off (ok, I really did cut him off) and from being solicited by a number of not-so-convincing costumed "actors", the day was a pleasure: the kids were fantastic, the weather was gorgeous, and we captured some wonderful memories with our dear friend.

If his parents would let him have a Facebook account, I’m pretty certain Zack would choose this picture for his profile.

Our Disney oasis.

Abby was in awe of the movie reel decorations…

…and, of course, Mickey.

We learned Josh had a star of his own this whole time πŸ™‚ .

Our jaunt along the streets of Hollywood soon turned into a treasure hunt of sorts, as we were guided by Josh’s Walk of Fame iPhone app. Strangely, the kids were not near as amused as were were. Hmmm…

We found creepy Barney standing just outside Grauman’s, and had to snap a picture. He was not too happy that I didn’t have cash on me, and let me know all about it. Funny, he wasn’t near as nice as he is on T.V.

I was pretty determined to find Shirley Temple’s precious prints, just so I could take these pictures. Abby LOVED playing with the prints, and before we knew it, there was a crowd gathered around our own little "curly top".

Some other favs…

Finally, on our way home, we passed the church where Josh spent many a Les Miserables rehearsal during his acting years.

It was a wonderful day, and we are so looking forward to more "touristy" visits in our home state.

what a day this has been

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Today was beautifully full. The kind of day that was good-busy, but busy nonetheless. Aside from getting seriously loved on by our amazing family…

I blinked. After Β­Β­____ years of not having my eyes check, I finally went in. While I am NOT following in the footsteps of my fabulously "spectacled" parents, I will need to start wearing glasses for driving at night. I picked out my glasses, and had my pupils looked at. Trippy.

He got cozy. The plan was to leave the kiddos with their Grandma and Aunt while I got caught up on homework. Guess what? Turns out you can’t read for a few hours after dilation. So, little Zack got to do what I would have loved to do, but I instead caught myself with my shades on, squinting at a computer screen, still unable to make out what the teacher wanted us to do. So, thank goodness for interruptions.

I snuggled. OK, so this is the best interruption a person could get. Got the call that our good friends, Erica and Jose, had just met her precious baby boy, Josiah Dean. I hopped in the car, picked up my bestie, and headed over to PV to congratulate the parents. I cried the minute I walked in the room, seeing that little tiny, blue-beanie capped baby. They also have a sweet girl at home, and seeing them with their newborn brought back a ton of memories of that day we introduced Zack to Abby. My heart was so full.

She danced, wiggled, and giggled. After a full day of playing with her family, Abby was running on fumes when I brought her to the church for a preschool Easter party. She was EVERYWHERE. Thankfully, I was surrounded by friends who could also appreciate her energy. She had a blast and practically fell into bed this evening.

Now, goodnight, and thanks to all the family and friends that blessed us today!

where to begin…

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Really, I have no idea where to start. Life is dizzying right now. But, things are slowly falling into place though. There are some days where I feel like I don’t know which way is up. Other days when I am in heaven, watching my kiddos play with their loved ones. Here’s a glimpse of our life…

I just finished the English class I started the day we left Washington (yeah, I’m insane). I’m 3 classes away from graduating, but it still feels like it will take forever. (Senior-itis maybe?) Almost all the boxes are unpacked, but we still have to put up our pictures. The kids and I are taking advantage of the sunshine and walking a lot. We especially love walking to church. Really, it would be a sin to NOT walk with how close we live. Unfortunately, there is a doughnut shop between our house and the church. That could be trouble.

Abby is doing really well adjusting to her new home. It took a few weeks of her following me around the house wanting to be held, but now she knows her way around a little more. She suddenly seems so big to us. She no longer waits in her bed for us to get her. After a few nights of her getting up again and again and standing at her gate, she’s starting to exercise her power for good, and is learning to put herself back to sleep. She is also in love with her brother. She loves to make him laugh, "hold" him, tickle him, and tell strangers about him when they are sitting side-by-side in the stroller. She loves her Sunday school class, and especially loves walking hand-in-hand with her buddy, Carter, to class.

Zack is also doing really well. He cut 4 teeth in the last 4 weeks, and unfortunately, that has made nursing quite frustrating for us both. But we had a breakthrough today, and it looks like we’ll be able to make it a little longer. He seems to be getting happier and happier by the day, and loves to melt people with his smile. He is eating a lot of solid foods, and there doesn’t seem to have an aversion to anything yet. Oh, and he LOVES his alone time on his blanket. He can sit and play with his toys forever, banging toys together, and grunting the whole while. Yeah, he’s all boy.

Josh is loving partnering with Jeff in student ministry, and leading music for the CCC students, as well as for the Saturday night vespers service. He is also working at the Starbucks right across the street from our house. His schedule is NUTS right now, and we’re really praying for direction on how to tread these waters. BUT, God has provided so much for us, in ways we couldn’t have imagined, and we know He will continue to be faithful. And in his spare time, he is loving playing and dancing with the kiddos (Josh and Abby are really into "Fireflies" by Owl City right now…its their happy song).

We didn’t know it at the time we signed our lease, but our house is one street over from Josh’s brother’s house. Uncle Cameron and Aunt Lacy (as well as Auntie Sharon and Uncle Wes) have been able to come over, hang out with us, and inevitably, watch the kiddos while we’ve gotten some work done. The kids are LOVING their family. And we are loving the fact that we can pop in and say hi to Grandma Dell, Aunt Marianne, Great-Grandma Yolly (GiGi), and Uncle Phil. Oh, and seeing Grandma Soni, Grandpa Don, and Aunt Tami at church, well, we are feeling pretty blessed. I think we, as well as our families, are still feeling like we’re gonna hop on a plane and head back home at any time, but its becoming more real every day.

(Here we are outside Cam and Lacy’s house, stalking them shortly after we moved into our house…)

This week, our precious friend, Andy, is visiting with us. We loved showing people around Seattle when they would come visit, so its even more special showing someone around the place we grew up. He’s already humored us as we’ve shown him where I was born, where we’ve lived, where we got in a car accident, where we met, where we broke up, where we got married, etc. Our hope is to take a little drive down PCH and head to Santa Monica before he leaves, and give him a little So. Cal experience.Β 

Clearly, judging by how long its been since I’ve blogged, and the all-over-the-place-ness of this post, life has been a little more challenging than we planned. We’ve got plans for other visitors in the near future, but for now, it seems like we can only take things day to day, make plans quickly and spontaneously (to the chagrin of our poor families and friends πŸ˜‰ ), and enjoy the sunshine. We are so happy to be here, but so ready to settle into a family rhythm. But, I know it will happen, and I’m looking forward to the day I need to refer back to my blog post to remember this time.

So, let me ask…do any of you have any stories from your out-of-state moves with little ones? (I can think of a few of you right off the bat.) Will you share?

new home

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Forty minutes till the library opens. Forty minutes to write a post before I dive into my homework. Now, for the update…

We left our home in Washington, knowing that we were feeling led back to California. All Abby knew was that she was going to see more of her grandparents, aunts and uncles, and good buddies, and that she would be able to go to a big beautiful library and swim in her pool (be it one at our apartment or Auntie Sharon’s). What we didn’t know was where we would live, and what would really occupy our time.

While it feels like months ago, we’ve been here only 3 weeks. We got to California on Tuesday, January 5th, and were instantly showered with love from our families. Josh’s mom (Grandma Dell) opened her home to us, better than any hotel we could have stayed at. Zack took this opportunity to push 3 new teeth through his tiny gums, so with him being the exception, we were very comfy and got plenty of rest. Oh, and then me and the kiddos caught a cold . . . ok, not so much fun. But, within the first week, we got to celebrate Christmas with both families, enjoy my dad’s tri-tip, Josh’s mom’s yummy breakfasts, and Josh’s grandma’s famous cookie tray. Pretty sure we’ve all put on a little weight since we’ve been here πŸ™‚ .

For a month leading up to our flight home, and throughout the first week, Josh and I had been hunting for a place to call our own, and were feeling pretty discouraged. The cost of living being higher here, and the uncertainty of where some of our income would come from, left me feeling pretty stressed. Josh has been blessed with an interim position assisting with the youth and music at our old church home, Camarillo Christian Church, but we would need to supplement with an additional job somewhere. However, talk about wanting to have AND eat our cake, we also were not interested in sacrificing our sacred family time for comfort’s sake. Enter God’s timely reminder that HE is bigger than monetary things. Within the span of two days, Josh was hired on at the Starbucks he pulled his first shot at, and we got the keys to THE PERFECT home. This is the best part…

On a whim, Josh inquired about our old landlord to a few friends of ours. We had rented a great condo, shortly after we were married, from one of the sweetest women we had ever met. This condo, which had belonged to her family for many years, was a 2 bed + bonus room, 2 bath place, just a stone’s throw away from the church, a Starbucks (and the angels sang), and Rolling Pin Donuts (drool). Josh called up sweet landlady and found out our old condo was vacant. Awesome. So, back in the day, it was rented to us way too affordably 8 years ago when we first moved in, so when we met with the owner, we planned on paying a LOT more. So, you can believe our relief (shock, peace) when she told us we would only need to pay the same rent we paid when we first lived here (and the angels sang again . . . only this time for real). What an incredible blessing at a perfect time.

So, since this post is getting so long, and there’s only so much I can say without showing pictures, here is what we have captured so far of our town, our move, and our house.

View of Camarillo from the Conejo Grade . . .

View from Josh’s mom’s driveway . . .

View from the Camarillo Christian Church parking lot . . .

Another iPhone sunrise . . .

View from Great Grandma Yolly’s back door . . .

The amazing moving men (and fabulous moving woman πŸ˜‰ ) of Camarillo . . .

Don’t let their size fool you. Carter and Abbott also got in on unpacking the truck . . .

And without further ado, a really long video of a tour around our VERY VERY messy new home (yeah, hold on to your seats . . . this is almost exciting) . . .

departure

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We’ve finally got internet, and now that I am sitting on my corner of the couch, ready to share the latest, I’m having a difficult time knowing what to share. There’s simply too much. There’s been a lot of joy and struggle, confirmation and doubt, rushing and waiting, and lots and lots of transition.

I guess I can always start small with our leaving Washington…

Our dear friends Andy, Geoff, and Jon let us stay with them during our last few days in town, and we felt so at home. We got a chance to visit with so many loved ones, and our friends from the band blessed us with some farewell fellowship and a precious book of memories. The blessings just kept coming as Andy, Matt, Erinn and Geoff helped to make our old house squeaky clean (pretty sure they are still recovering from all the work they did 3 weeks ago πŸ˜‰ ).

We left for the airport in the wee hours of the morning on January 5, and the kids, from start to finish, were incredible.

Even our fuzzy kid was an incredible traveler (when under the influence of sedatives)…

We left on a gray Seattle day, to touch down in Burbank to some GORGEOUS blue skies. Oh, and it wouldn’t be a trip through the Bob Hope Airport without a little celebrity sighting. OK, I know itsΒ  a stretch, but does Hal Steinbrenner count?

Well, I’m gonna do the unthinkable and leave you all hanging before posting pics of our new home. Its nearing midnight and I’ve burned that oil WAY TOO MUCH over the last month. Stay posted and goodnight!