West Virginia Christmas 2018

img_4476This year for Christmas, my family gathered here in West Virginia. Earlier this year, my parents moved to Utah from Virginia, where they had lived for over 30 years. I have a brother in Utah, a brother in Virginia…as of three days ago, and a sister in Virginia. At Christmas time, my brother who lives in Virginia was actually living in San Francisco. Needless to say, it was awesome that we were able to gather from across the country to be together for Christmas.

We started off the family Christmas celebrations the Friday before Christmas with a dinner at Maggiano’s (sadly, my brother from Utah didn’t arrive until Sunday). I love Maggiano’s and I love my family, so this was a win/win situation for me haha.

My brother from San Francisco spent the weekend before Christmas looking for housing in Virginia in anticipation for his big move across the country. My parents and my sister finished their Christmas shopping. John, David, and I laid low and hung out at home. We also FaceTimed with John’s parents and sister and opened up the presents they had given us and we had given them.

On Christmas Eve, we gathered together at our house with my Wagner cousins, my uncles Carl and Markus, and John’s Uncle David. I cooked a ham for the first time. It was super easy, but unfortunately the glaze got everywhere. (Note to self: Glaze the ham in the roasting pan, not on the serving tray). Since I was nearly seven months pregnant at the time, I couldn’t see that I had gotten glaze all over the bottom of my shirt. Thankfully my sister pointed it out before anyone noticed – ha!

Annual Christmas Eve family photo.

Dinner was delicious. Everyone contributed and there were so many tasty sides. After dinner, we read scriptures from the Bible and Book of Mormon that talk about Christ’s birth. In between passages of scripture, we would pause and sing carols. I love this tradition. My family is a musical family, and I love hearing all our voices blend together as we sing songs about the birth of the Savior. It’s one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Afterwards, we had our traditional White Elephant gift exchange. (Earlier in the day, John, my brothers, and I played Dance Dance Revolution. My parents had given us their two DDR mats and game before they moved. I haven’t played that game in years, but I still love it! I may consider it as an option for post-baby workouts haha).

Group shot after the White Elephant gift exchange. Grace is not excited about her electric Spider Man toothbrush haha.

On Christmas Day, we kept things pretty low key. We all slept in (including David) and then opened presents. We had a late brunch, which included an omelette bar and Monkey Bread. That afternoon we watched the movie “Collateral Beauty.” The movie got terrible reviews, but it is one of my all-time favorite movies. It takes place at Christmas time, so even though it’s not a Christmas movie, it seemed fitting to watch it. That night my dad made baked Ziti for dinner, which was so good (I love Italian food!). And we ended the night with some games.

Some other fun things we did during the Christmas break were visiting the National Christmas Tree and going on a nature walk in Harpers Ferry. Below are pictures of these outings!










So grateful for these two!

David Update: Walking and Words

Out for a walk on a warm day this week.

I want to write an update on Christmas (all my family was here, which was wonderful!), but first I want to write an update on David. In November, David began taking a few steps at a time. And in December, he started walking. Now he loves walking!

For a long time, he’s made lots of sounds/said words including mama and dada. But he didn’t know what any of them meant; he just kind of said them. His first official intentional word was “dog.” We have a stuffed toy dog that we gave him for his birthday. A few weeks ago, I handed it to him and he said “dog.” Recently, we were watching “Polar Express,” and when the dogs in the movie started barking, David started saying “woof, woof.” It’s pretty cute. He also says “eat” sometimes when he’s hungry, and I ask him if he wants to eat.

Thanksgiving 2018 in Iowa

These two are at the top of my thankful list.

This year for Thanksgiving we went to Iowa. We left the Saturday before and drove back the Saturday after. I was actually somewhat excited for the long drive there because during the two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, John had been in Hawaii and Europe. I looked forward to spending time with him on the drive. We discussed many things on the drive to Iowa, including potential baby girl names. We narrowed our list to five names.

We left at 6 in the morning the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The first few hours of the drive were extremely beautiful. It had snowed just a few days prior, and the tree branches were coated with frozen snow as we drove through the mountains of West Virginia. David was a champ the entire drive. Prior to the trip, we bought a headrest iPad holder to prop up one of our iPads for David to see. We didn’t end up using the iPad until the very last hour (it was a 14-hour drive). We turned on the iPad not because David was whiny, but because we wanted him to stay awake so we could feed him, bathe him, and put him to bed once we arrived.

Highlights of the trip included visiting the Festival of Trees, watching David interact with his 2nd cousins who are close to his age, watching David interact with John’s parent’s dog, a family lunch date to a trendy, new restaurant in downtown Davenport we had heard about (truth be told we would give the restaurant a B- if we were grading it), a visit to the Chocolate Manor (they have amazing chocolate caramels), visiting with John’s extended family, celebrating John’s mom’s birthday, a getaway to Chicago for a night without David (thanks to the grandparents for watching him!), and a visit to the Chicago LDS Temple. John, his dad, and his uncle also went to the Hawkeyes last football game of the season, which they won thankfully!

Family snapshot Thanksgiving 2018



David and Grandma Lori at the Festival of Trees


The Gingko Grove


When my mom was here for David’s birthday, she took me and David to the Virginia State Arboretum. It’s only about 30 minutes from our house. She showed me the Gingko Grove and explained that when the time was right all of the leaves on these trees would turn bright yellow at the same time.

So a few weeks after she left, John and I made our way to the Gingko Grove and the trees were bright yellow just like she said. We lucked out because John was only home for one day between a work trip to Hawaii and a work trip to Europe. The trees were stunning on this day!



Halloween 2018

This year for Halloween David was a skeleton. The weather Halloween night was beautiful. We didn’t take him trick-or-treating since he can’t walk and he doesn’t eat candy. But we still had fun dressing him up, listening to halloween songs, reading halloween books, and eating cornbread waffles with chili.






Here’s a glimpse back at David’s first Halloween. He has grown so much!

Baby Number 2!


I originally included this update in my last post, but I figured it deserved a post of it’s own. We learned in July that we’re expecting baby number 2. And in October, we learned that baby number 2 is a girl. I am very excited to be a mom of both a boy and a girl. The due date is March 2.

This pregnancy has been different than my first. With David, I got a lot of severe headaches during my first trimester. This time around, I was exhausted and nauseous for a lot of the first 16 weeks, but didn’t get any bad headaches. Thankfully my mom was here with us for a lot of my first trimester and helped out a lot with David. I’m feeling great now and having fun looking at cute baby girl clothes!