I'm here to catch you up on what we've been up to since the last time I posted at the end of May. So buckle up and get ready to roll, cuz here we go...
We've been waiting months for the rainy season to settle down so we could finally paint the exterior of our house.
We've totally been the ugly house on the block for the longest time and so we've been really looking forward to finally joining the "Cute House Club". Here are some photos of our progress...
Those paint samples with the various colors of yellow have been on the side of our house since, yep, last October when I started sampling colors. Embarrassing.
We decided to go with the lower left yellow color...and so it began:
Will is super cool and knows how to paint houses from the period between 2008 - 2010 when he was unemployed and was helping to paint houses to bring in some extra money for us. :) It definitely came in handy with our house now.
Here is a before shot from when we originally bought the house (how we found it), and then the progress after the yellow had been painted...
I spent an afternoon painting the garage and here is a progress pic of that. Amazing the difference clean new paint makes.
And then we painted the shutters black, still working on hanging them all....
We also installed new exterior light fixtures, some hanging flower baskets.
We still need to paint the front door black, and then we also have some chunky white window wrap that we will eventually be putting on the top and bottom of each window. Sort of like the picture below....
One of these days, we will also pave our driveway and do our yard, and THEN we will really be part of the cute house club.
Along the way, Will had one helper in particular...
Unfortunately, he wanted to help a little TOO much here...it took 4 coats of yellow to cover his pink marker bless his heart.
Will also installed new closet shelving in our master bedroom closet.
The caption for this new photo is "Surprise honey! Your closet rack was starting to bow down and so I took all your clothes off to prevent that from happening - says the husband who now has an annoyed wife with an unwanted project."
But the good news is we now have twice the closet space, and I went through and tried on every item of clothing I own and donated a lot to goodwill, and put away all of my maternity clothes.
We've also had some birthdays around here!
PRESTON'S 5TH BIRTHDAY
Preston had a fun little birthday party at our nearby park with 6 of his favorite friends, and we were also lucky enough to have lots of family there. Both Grandparents, and Aunt Elizabeth, Uncle James and cousins Gwen and Grace.
Preston was so adorable and after opening each of his presents went and gave each child a HUGE (and I mean BIG) bear hug. We had to tell him "Okay Preston you can let go now". It was so cute. He is such a sweet kid.
You can obviously see that we had a Thomas the Train theme going on. Preston LOVES trains and is so knowledgeable about them too. Grandma Thomas made Preston a Thomas the Train Cake and look how awesome it turned out! Preston was so excited!
JENNI'S 36TH BIRTHDAY
I also had a birthday, today actually! I celebrated by going to church. Haha.
No really, we celebrated yesterday. I spent the day getting my hair colored at the salon. Sad thing is it takes 5 hours for my stylist to foil my hair and so that is really what I did for my birthday is sit in a chair for 5 hours. I was wishing I had brought more things to do other than read magazines and facebook from my phone. LOL
After I got my hair done, I rushed home where we met the babysitter, and Will and I left to what was *supposed* to be dinner and a movie, but our babysitter could not stay very late so it ended up just being movie. We went to "Man of Steel" and Will appropriately wore his Superman tshirt (cuz he is afterall, my Superman). I really LOVED the movie, and especially the music. So I got two Mans of Steel for my bday :) haha.
Still trying to figure out the photo gallery filters on my phone....hence the "selfies"
This was today - birthday kisses from our sweet boys. Preston wrapped up a couple of his toys for me and gave them to me as birthday presents. He told me to stay upstairs and close my eyes - haha so cute.
Preston drew me this picture for my birthday. If you can't tell, they are little presents, and inside of them are different things like monster trucks, trains, and more. So thoughtful that he drew me all kinds of different presents!
BIKES, and FATHER'S DAY!
A few weeks ago, we had "Bike to Work Day" here in the Seattle area. Will rode his bike all the way from North Bend to Redmond, but in the evening we met him in Redmond so we could go to the event where the boys were fitted for new bike helmets. They were SO excited...
A few days later I convinced Will to take the day off from work and stay home to play with us. :) So we went up to Rattlesnake Lake, which is about 1/4 mile up the road from our house and we let the boys ride their bikes on the trail, then visited the water education center.
We are are blessed to live in such a pretty area! And I love this picture of Will because this is SO him....looking at new sites and gazing upon mountains.
We also enjoyed Father's Day by taking a drive up the mountains after church and enjoying the beauty....
FUN WITH THE BOYS
The boys and I try to keep busy every day and here are just some random pics from our everyday adventures.
First my tulips actually turned out to be irises LOL
At the train depot....we go there quite often :) And the sun was a bit bright for these kids not used to seeing it very often. Haha.
At the park near our house....beautiful evening.
Playing around at the Seattle Temple (another morning we convinced Will to skip out on work and meet us to play)...
This next pic was taken right before Taylor took Pooh and attacked Tigger complete with "Grr" noises. I think I should be worried about this one.
He was obsessed with this paint brush for 3 days in a row. It was his toy that he wouldn't put down and pretended to paint stuff all over the house.
Mommy loves: A beautiful little buttercup that Preston picked for me while we were at the park. Love getting flowers from my boys.
On our bike ride, I didn't have a bike so I just took pics LOL....
This was on Preston's 5th birthday, which he was quite proud of himself.
I've recently hired a fellow mom from our ward to watch our boys one full day per week so that I can get some time to work on music projects, and this is how I found Taylor the last time they were being babysat. He had fallen asleep in front of the TV haha. Must have played hard!
Taylor is currently obsessed with his fire-truck boots and wears them everywhere!
The boys and I went strawberry picking for the first time. We went with our Relief Society from church. They had more fun carrying the strawberry boxes and telling me about squished strawberries than actually picking them - LOL
I think I made freezer jam a long time ago, but had forgotten how. So it was a nice refresher to learn how again....here is the finished product.
MUSIC, MUSIC, and more MUSIC....
Whew. I don't know what has changed, but within the last month it has all of a sudden been increasingly harder to "do it all". What I am referring to is being a good mom, working on music projects, keep a clean house, and everything else to keep up with it all.
Fortunately I am quite forgiving of myself. If my house is not clean one day, but I got some other things done, well then I call it a good day. But unfortunately, not all of my colleagues are as forgiving. I have some music projects that I've promised to have done for other musicians and I have just been taking forever to get them completed because my time is so incredibly limited.
It used to be that I would stay up through the night to get music done - because that is when I had the most peace and quiet. I've always been quite a night owl and so it was never a problem. HOWEVER, for the past several months I have been working my bootay off at the gym every single day and with that comes the need for sleep to recover.
So staying up late until 4 a.m. to work on music does not exacty work anymore with knowing I am back in the gym early the next morning.
Also, my kids have been reaching a stage where they demand so much of my attention throughout the day. Preston no longer naps (and hasn't for quite some time), but his afternoon "quiet times" often only last about 45 minutes before he is bored and at my side asking me for something to do every 5 minutes. Normally naptimes are my time to get the "business" side of my music stuff done, and again, it's been increasingly hard to do so.
I know that Heavenly Father gave me a talent to share though, and he wouldn't have given it to me if he didn't think that I could handle the responsibility.
So it's just been a matter of trying to figure out how to manage my time better. Like I mentioned earlier, one thing I have had to resort to doing is hiring someone from our ward to take our boys for one full day per week. We started doing that 2 weeks ago, and so for one day they go to their house from 9am - 5pm and I get working hard on my music projects.
For example this week I spent about 6 hours on my music day recording violin tracks for a film score. During the last hour, I tried to get more done on a song I'm writing for a baritone from NY for his debut album but didn't get very far on it.
A couple of months ago I came to the conclusion that I can simply no longer produce music for other people. I continually get requests to do so every week, and I just decided it's not even about the money. Even if they told me they would pay me mucho bucks (which some have), I simply do not have the time. And to be honest, arranging music for other people is not what I want to be doing with my music career. I would much rather be producing and writing my own music because that is where I get the most joy.
So I have a couple of projects to finish up where I promised way last year I would do these songs for a few other artists, and then after that I am done with projects like that. Unless I am invited to collaborate as an equally featured artist, I won't do it.
Just a few other random music things...I got my outfit together for my video shoot this coming weekend for "Illumination". I can't tell you the hours I've spent for the past few months looking at every website, every sale trying to find the perfect flowy white maxi dress for this video. I ended up finding this one from Alloy Apparel for only $39. I was pretty excited.
I've also taken some violin lessons to fine tune my skills up again...
I've been incredibly inspired by the soundtrack from Man of Steel and have been working on a piano arrangement of it....
I recently had a sale of my Lullaby Album cds for $5 to get rid of the old stock, and have spent hours this week packaging up cd orders. With the international orders, it took me about 2.5 hours to box these up and mail them.
My little musical bug helping me, with his paint brush of course...
I also recently auditioned and was chosen to be the pianist for the Seattle Ensign Symphony. That will start in September...
BIG LIFE DECISIONS...
I'm going to get a bit personal here, because I feel safe to talk about it here.
Along with the music career, has come some wonderful opportunities for me this coming year. I can't really tell you about them because they are just in the talking stage right now and I won't know if they will really happen or not, but IF they do happen, they would be some amazing experiences.
Will has been wanting to have baby #3 since last year. At the time, I definitely was not ready yet. I really wanted to get more of my pregnancy weight off before getting pregnant again.
My two pregnancies took a huge toll on my body. With Preston I gained 60 pounds, and had so many issues like dislocated ribs, rashes, and then weight-related aches. I got 45 of those pounds off and then found out I was pregnant with Taylor (when Preston was just 17 months old).
I gained the 45 pounds back which put me right back at the same weight I was after I had had Preston. So I had to start over again. With Taylor, I also had another Csection, also pancreatitis and eclampsia which put me back in the hospital for another 6 days after I'd already been there for the Csection. And then 2 years after, I ended up having gall bladder surgery to have it taken out (probably a delayed result of the pancreatitits stuff).
Taylor will be turning 3 years old in August and I'm at a point now where I've lost the 60 pounds of pregnancy weight plus some additional weight on top of that. I'm just about 17 pounds away from my wedding weight - which would be a HUGE milestone for me. And even though I'm still 17 lbs away, I'm actually in better shape now than I was at a lower weight because of how hard I've been working in the gym.
This is actually an older photo from last october, and I've lost almost 10 more pounds since this one was taken, but I thought I would post it anyway....
Here are some other random photos lately....
I have been working SO so hard. I hired a trainer back in February and she has been really the extra push that I needed. I have had some body issues for many years and she helped me get to the root of the issues and fix things from the inside out. She also kicked my trash in the gym.
I go to the gym 6 days a week, and I clear my schedule so that nothing conflicts with that. It is a priority to me. I also try hard to eat very clean, though I do eat a dessert item every day- usually some dark chocolate. I am not perfect, there are days when I eat a lot of stuff I shouldn't. But overall I try very hard to eat healthy.
Some of my food staples.....
Alotted daily chocolate, and homemade protein bar snack...
My weekly workouts are usually 3 days of cardio - 75 min each. I usually start with the stairclimber and do 15 min, then go to the treadmill and do 30 min of hill climbing, and then end on the elliptical at a level 14 incline and level 13 intensity.
The other 3 alternating days I do weight-lifting. I start with 30 min of cardio, and then go into the weight room and do an hour of weights which usually involve circuits of 3 different things which I do twice, and then onto the next circuit. I only do abs on my weight-training days.
I've been struggling with WHEN to get pregnant again. I feel bad as I have dragged it out as "Just let me get to my goal and then we can try", but it has taken me longer than I thought to reach my goals. I'm so close to my end-goal that I haven't wanted to give up to get pregnant again just yet. To feel this good about my body for the first time in 6 years (if you count from before I was pregnant with Preston) has been the best feeling. And knowing how hard my pregnancies have been in the past, it scares me to death to feel like I would just experience that again.
Don't get me wrong, having the bundle of joy in the end is worth it, but mentally and emotionally I just haven't been there.
AND then all these amazing music opportunites have been coming up, and I've really had to think okay, if I get pregnant ____ , then I would have the baby in time for next year to do _____. But if I wait, then I miss out on ____ opportunity.
I really think Heavenly Father has been testing me.
I have been praying about it, and the answer I've received is "Just follow the Lord and keep doing what is right, and you will still be blessed in your music career."
Also talking with one of my music friends who is also trying to get pregnant right now, she already has 4 children, and I asked her how she does it. She tours the country and performs all the time, and I know she has concerts scheduled this fall and throughout the rest of the year and yet she is trying to get pregnant. What is her plan? How does she do this?
Her answer to me was that the first priority should be family, and then whatever God feels is right for her to be doing with her music it will come, and the more she puts God and family first, the more she is blessed in her music career as well.
It's taken me a long time, but I think I've recently finally come to a place where I'm ready now. I'm ready to put my worries aside and go forward with faith in this. I still haven't reached my goal weight, but talking with my trainer she mentally pumped me up to realize that just because I might get pregnant in the near future does not mean I need to give up my healthy ways or my gym time or anything. I don't have to gain 60 pounds this time and I can make it a fit and healthy pregnancy and bounce back quicker afterwards as well. That gave me hope, and helped me to calm some of my biggest fears.
So there you have that little update. Part of me feels like it's a selfish thing to put my body first, but I also don't think it is. My body is the vessel in which brings a baby into the world, and I simply have wanted to be as fit as possible to avoid the previous problems (hopefully) and also feel better about myself. It is the worst thing in the world to be 60+ pounds overweight and not feel good about yourself. I was so self-conscious, I didn't even want to perform on the piano in front of people. I would turn down concert opportunities and other things because I felt so ashamed. So my journey has been one of health and healing for my body and soul.
A few weeks ago, we went to Northwest Trek with Elizabeth and family. It is a zoo with animals you find in the Northwest. the boys had so much fun!
WILL'S CORNER OF THE WORLD...
I love Will. I wish I could see the world through his eyes sometime. Here are just a few of the photos he has taken on some of his training runs in the past couple of weeks...
LAST DAY OF PRE-SCHOOL
Preston also finished an entire year of Pre-School! It was just a little co-op that I did with 5 other moms but he has so much fun.
At Christmas, Will gave me a Groupon certificate for 3 photos to be printed on canvas wrapped wood frames. I finally got it done, 6 months later and this was the final results. Thought I'd go with the whole romanc/Paris kissy theme in our room....
And finally, my boys roughing up the toy section in Fred Meyer. I believe Will said Taylor set off the fire alarm too. LOL Oh boy.
Until next time....