twenty twelve

eNtnXr on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

How is this year over already? I swear it was just a couple of weeks ago I was doing the exact same thing I am now- sitting on the couch watching Dick Clark's Rockin Eve on TV while Jillian and James are asleep. :-) I mostly likely will not make it to midnight to ring in the New Year (thanks to Nyquil), and I'm completely okay with that. 

Here are the top 12 moments for the Houlin family in 2012:

1. We bought a house!

2. Jillian turned one (and hated her birthday party.)

3. Jillian and I had an awesome trip to Florida in the summer.

4. I started teaching for Provo's online school, allowing me to be at home more.

5. James has good news that can't be revealed until next week!

6. Michaela lived in Utah for a while- it was awesome.

7. We got to see our California family that we hadn't seen in years!

8. I got a new car (that we had to drive to east itchy butt no where aka Kansas to get)

9. My family came to Utah for the week of July 4th and we had an AWESOME time up in Heber/Midway.

10. I went skiing for the first time.

11. James and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary. I honestly think this has been the best year yet! I love that man!

12. Jillian had many firsts: crawling, walking, talking, etc.

I'm pretty excited for 2013!
Some things we're looking forward to:
1. Some big house updates! 
2. James starting grad school.
3. We always said we would start trying for baby #2 when Jillian turned two (which is this summer)...so we shall see about that. 


things i'm thinking

In no particular order:

- I literally just googled "hairtstyles for toddlers with mullets." I didn't really find the results I was looking for (why you fail me google?!)..but Jillian's hair situation is desperate. Home girl has a mullet to the David Bowie-th degree. I did pin some cute ideas when she has more hair up top. In the mean time...I guess we'll rock the pig tails...daily. 

- Why did I decide to paint my kitchen cabinets again? Holy WORK Batman! My kitchen (and basically entire main floor) is a disaster area. 

 (see? Disaster zone.)

- I'm so over being sick. I asked James, "What if you couldn't breathe out of your mouth and you were really congested?" He said, "You'd die." I guess that makes sense. Good things we can breathe out of our mouths.

- Is it summer yet? All the snow outside is re-dic-a-lus. Not to mention anytime the door has been opened, a blast of arctic air shoots through the entire house. I haven't driven my car the last couple of days (or even stepped outside really- sick, remember?) and it wouldn't even start this morning. Umm...what? 

- Not ready for Christmas break to be over...but ready for all the Christmas stuff to be put away. Jillian's into straight up throwing the ornaments now..aye aye aye.

- I FINALLY found some new couch pillows I like at Target. HOL-E-CRAP I love Target! 

(every time folks)


a crafty christmas

I decided to make a lot of Christmas crafts and presents this year. Bad idea. I think I took on way too much. I was painting my last project on Christmas Eve. Everything turned out great (except for the tile sign I'm still working on for James' mom because my stupid Cricut is having issues). 

I didn't get pictures of everything, because I was too busy trying to actually finish them in time, but here are a couple: 

Sign for Nana (my mom):

I used the frame underneath to make a photo collage for my Dad of pictures of him with Jillian. 

Bibs and matching burp cloths for Jon & Sarah's new baby, Theodore:

And the project I'm most proud of, Jillian's table and chairs set. I got the set from Ikea for $20 (such a good deal). It comes in a rather boring wood/white combination...and that just would not do. 

The chairs are covered in scrapbook paper (the most adorable patterns I've ever seen). It took a LOT of time and a LOT of Mod Podge. The table is painted on the legs and has chalkboard paint on the top. So worth it, but so glad to be done with it! 

She loves it! Success.

christmas day

Merry Christmas! Here are some pictures (iphone quality-as most of them are) from our morning. 

In the wee hours of the morning, Jillian woke up around 1 with a fever (darn these molars!). We gave her some motrin and Benadryl (heh...) to help her get through the rest of the night. Thanks to Sir Benadryl she slept until 8:30! What a wonderful Christmas present. 

James' dad and brother were over for Christmas morning. It's always fun seeing them!

Jillian was over all a little confused. When we unveiled her kitchen and table, she was kind of looking at it like "What is this? For me?" And looking at us like, "Why the heck are you guys making such a big deal out of this?" Haha. She also didn't really get the unwrapping part of the presents. I'm sure we'll be in full force Christmas kid crazy next year (and all the years after), so it was nice to have a relaxed morning! 

In my family it's always a tradition to have a big Christmas brunch. And big it was. I'd been cooking nearly the entire day before and a good chunk of the morning! My efforts were not in vain. We had chunky cinnamon french toast casserole with fresh cream and berries, sausage quiche, spinach and mushroom quiche, sweet and spicy bacon, and fresh fruit. YUM-O. 

Also, I need to get on that gym joining thing like STAT. I ate a piece of cheesecake for lunch...just...cheesecake. 

Jillian's been having a rough few nights. It's guaranteed she'll wake up some where between 12-2 with a poopy diaper, runny nose, and a fever. Two of the three things we tribute to teething molars (death be to the molars). Christmas night proved to be no different, she still woke up. But this time she was on fire. Her fever was over 104 and she had a weird rash on her legs and arms that looked like clusters of purple mosquito bites. I called my dad (Dr. Papa) and he said go ahead and take her into the ER to get checked and make sure the rash wasn't a bacterial infection. Aye aye aye. Why do our ER visits always happen in the middle of the night? 

Anyway. We bundled up Jillian and headed down to Utah Valley, where it was far less than busy. Funny how things move so slowly in an emergency room. I guess they didn't want to be there either. 

They checked her out and gave her a strep test. After much thrashing and screaming and attempts on our part to hold her down to be looked at, they gave her some Benadryl for the rash (oh bless ye Benadryl). Jillian was cradled in James' arms when the nurse was giving it to her. She pulled away at the same time the nurse squirted the syringe and it ended up all over James' face. Classic. She was super embarrassed. The strep test came back negative and turns out it's just her THIRD viral bug this month. Kid can't stay well. 

We got back home around 3am. And now we're sitting on the couch watching the third episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Because we're tired, and we can. 

Merry Christmas!

a very, very cold date

Last week we went on our first date since Michaela (aka the best babysitter/aunt/sister ever) moved back to Florida- thanks Shelby! 

 (that's a really nasty picture of us...I know...but it's the only one I took)

We saw A Christmas Carol at the Hale Center Theater. They did such a great job! Makes me wonder sometimes how people in little Orem, Utah are so talented...and people like Kristen Stewart are the ones to make millions of dollars for "acting". Hmmm...

  It was fa-fa-freezing that night, which sucks because you have to wait outside of the Theater in line to get your tickets. 

There was a scene towards the end where Bob Cratchit visits Tiny Tim's grave and sings What Child is This? and snow falls from the ceiling. I couldn't help but tear up as that was the reality for so many parents in Connecticut this Christmas. Thoughts and prayers still with them. 


a christmas party

Saturday night we got together with aaaalllll the Abrea side of the family (James' mom's side) for dinner, games, and even some Christmas karaoke. It was a good time. We don't get together often enough, but when we do it's always a hoot. 

Crazy Argentinians...Argentines? We're not exactly sure...



thoughts on today

I was absolutely devastated at the news of today's events and the horrific tragedy that happened in Connecticut today. 

I've run that scenario in my mind before, as an elementary school teacher. What would I do? Would my hands stop shaking enough to lock my door? Would I be able to keep it together enough to know what to do to keep my kids safe? Do we run out? Do we stay in and hide? How horrible to actually have to think of those things.

After watching the news for several minutes about the events and new details that were coming to light,  before I even realized it I was praying that those babies would be blessed and their parents feel some kind of comfort. Because they were- babies. 

I don't know why horrible things happen. I don't know why people are called home before what seems like their time to go and in such appalling circumstances. I do know that every single one of those children is with Heavenly Father and has been embraced by the arms of Jesus Christ. I pray that their families will feel some relief tonight and in the days to come in knowing this. 

Several years ago when my youngest sister passed away, I came across this poem that I absolutely love. They're additional verses to the children's hymn I am a Child of God and how true they are.

I am a child of God and He has called me home.
My earthly journey's through but still, I do not walk alone.
He leads me, guides me, walks beside me, helps me find the way.
He welcomed me with open arms. I live with Him today.

I am a child of God and I have gone ahead.
My earthly life was brief but oh, such peace and love you gave.
You loved me, held me, stood beside me and though I cannot stay
You gave much to help me and I live with Him today.

I am a child of God and I will wait for you. 
Heavenly glory shall be ours, if you can but endure.
I'll lead you, guide you, walk beside you.
Help you find the way.
I'll welcome you with open arms
One bright Celestial day.


12 days of kindness

I'm almost done Christmas shopping! YAY!!! I decided to make presents for all the grandparents this year...which may or may not have been a good idea...since those all still have to be made. 

We're kind of in this weird stage where we still try to do some Christmas traditions we grew up with, but we're also figuring out what Christmas traditions we want our little family to have. My family always did a Secret Santa drop on Christmas Eve to a few families that were in need, and I loved it. So we wanted to do something along those lines to focus more on giving than just Santa Claus and cookies. I'd seen the "12 days of kindness" idea floating around Pinterest and really liked it. Basically you do a random act of kindness each day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Here's what we came up with...

Woo-hoo! Today I technically have to do days 12 and 11 because yesterday I couldn't find a stinkin' bag to put the treats in for the mailman. Oh well.


jillian, meet santa

We took Jillian to meet Santa tonight! We have a few Santa things around the house, and she always says, "Where's Santa?" and will go point to one of them. I think she's definitely made the red hat/white beard connection.

It was FREEZING outside, but I think Riverwoods at Christmas time is so gorgeous. Put a bajillion Christmas lights on every tree branch there is and I'm sold. So we went. 

Much to our surprise, she didn't freak out. In one sense this disappointed me because I already had our Christmas card idea planned out, based around the picture of her sitting on Santa's lap screaming her head off. But nope. She was a little confused, but content. After we walked away she said, "Bye Santa!" and started smiling. It was pretty cute.

We stopped by Kneaders on the way home and got delicious goodies. Pumpkin steamers are my new favorite things. So are gingerbread men with chocolate pants the size of my face. 

you're getting poop for christmas.

I thought the days of diaper blow outs were behind us-
but then I gave Jillian too much cheese...
(She has a bit of a lactose intolerance). 

The smell hit me first and I knew something bad happened. Like maybe something had gone off in the fridge, or a dead hooker was stuffed under my couch. When Jillian started walking towards me it all clicked. Oh crap. I think this was like the 4th time today (like I said, too much cheese). 

I was sitting cross-legged on the floor and she came and plopped herself in my lap. This is okay for a second, right? I mean, she IS wearing a diaper. It WAS okay...until she started doing the baby cha cha with her hips. Then it all happened in slow motion. Every time she squirmed, she was squishing the poop out of her diaper and down the legs of my jeans.

You can imagine the look of horror on my face.

In one fell swoop, I scooped her up and we ran upstairs to the bathtub. I didn't want to take the diaper off in the tub for fear of what would trickle onto the bath mat. So I left her standing in the tub and stripped off my jeans. Then laid her on the floor and took her diaper off/used fifty thousand wipes to clean her up and put her back in the tub. I redressed myself and proceeded to give her a bath.

WHEW. I think I deserve a metal of honor for that one. 

That all being said, I've been thinking of a little gift to give some girls at church. This incident reminded me of a poem about poop. 

And wah-lah. 

(It's not really poop...they're chocolate truffles. Yum.)

Click on the image to get the printable:


easy with the sprinkles, there squirt.

I can't stop baking.
Tonight we made sugar cookies. They were delicious. I think my mom has one of the best recipes for sugar cookies.
It was Jillian's first time decorating and eating her own cookie, so naturally we had to document the play-by-play.

Success. She said "de-shish!" Translation: delicious. 
And then she just wanted to shake the sprinkles...everywhere.


papa came to town

...For less than 24 hours, but we'll take it!

Not for a very happy reason...he came to steal Michaela away and drive her back to Florida. Well, I guess she's going quite willingly. She wants to be there for the couple of months before she goes on her church mission (understandable I guess). Nevertheless, I will miss her something awful. Who is going to show me funny youtube videos? Or update my quote board? Or get cupcakes with me? Or load my dishwasher? Aye aye aye...

Anyway. So my Dad flew in yesterday afternoon and we spent the day playing/eating/shopping/walking around temple square/riding in a horse carriage in Salt Lake. Jillian (who is usually very wary of new people) took right to him like they didn't even miss a beat.

I even managed to knock FOUR people off of my Christmas list shopping. Woo! 


december is for fatties

(Please know I'm writing this post with the complete intention of stopping halfway through to go make the strawberry shake I've been thinking about all night).


So here's the deal. I'm not gonna try to kid myself and skimp out on the Christmas goodies this year to avoid gaining a few lb's. I like my Christmas goodies. And I like baking them even more. 

What I am gonna do, is work my butt off. 

 mmmhmmm....happening right now.


The December Challenge!

The plan: workout 5 days a week using Jillian Michael's Ripped in 30 dvd. 

She doesn't mess around y'all. I like her workouts because they're only 30 minutes, but you feel like your body just went through 2 hours of torture. Good pay off.

The reward: getting a membership to Gold's Gym in January! 

Woot woot! Ever since my favorite Zumba studio closed down, I haven't settled on a gym that I want to join (thus haven't been going). But I'm gettin' tired of working out at home. Plus, Jillian isn't the best when it comes to workout partners. I figure I'll appreciate it more if I work to get it. 

So BRING ON the sugar cookies. ...just kidding...not sugar cookies...I don't really like sugar cookies. ahem. So BRING ON other delicious Christmas treats! AND BRING IT ON JILLIAN MICHAELS!!!


glitter, glitter everywhere

Today when we pulled out the Christmas tree (yep, it's fake. Bought it the 1st year we were married on Black Friday for like $25. Totally not an exciting Black Friday purchase.) and decorations, glitter got all over everything. It didn't help I made two crafts this year by doing the whole Elmer's glue/dump-a-butt-load-of-glitter-on-it crafts. 

James said he loves Christmas, hates glitter. In this house, Christmas and glitter go together like a fat kid with a jar of peanut butter. 

I was really looking forward to Jillian's reaction to the tree. Everyone said to only decorate the top half, but my inner OCD just wouldn't let me. I figure we can try to teach her not to pull down the ornaments...right? (somewhere someone reading this is going to laugh and shake their head at that notion- challenge accepted). 

In my mind I pictured this whole event a little more "Norman Rockwell" than it actually was...but it was still fun.

She loved putting the ornaments on the branches! She didn't even hesitate. Her inner monologue was something like this I'm sure, "Oh. We're putting these shiny balls on this tree that is inside our house. That makes total sense! I'm in." All she really said was, "Balls!" and "Good job" after she put on an ornament. 

Then she just wanted to put them on and take them off over and over again for a few minutes. After 10 minutes of the whole tree thing, she lost interest all together and wanted to build a tower with her stacking cups. 

Maybe I'll have better luck keeping those ornaments on the tree than I thought. 

We're in full, jolly swing over here. Now I just need to get shoppin'!


a date

Tonight we went on a double date with Jon & Sarah! That hasn't happened in forever. (A date...or a double date). We hit up some temppanyaki in Provo (which ultimately just made me miss Yamato's back home). 

Some day I really want to learn how to do that. 

Then we went to the BYU basketball game. On the way down I told James, "I don't think I've ever been to a BYU basketball game.." To which he responded, "Uh..yes you have...that was our first date." 

Come to think of it I have a vague memory of that. I could've sworn I had a picture for proof, but after searching through all my pictures from college for like 30 minutes...apparently we don't have a picture from that date.

I told James to make a face that said, "OMG I'm in college and I have so much energy face!" ..This was it:

I think he went for the post Red Bull energy crash look.

As Sarah and I were watching the student section and all of their enthusiasm and rambunctious cheering, I told her I felt like that part of my life was soooo long ago. She said she couldn't believe how much energy they had (something an 8 month along pregnant girl would notice).
Ohhhh college. Good times. It was fun to be all nostalgic. 
Except I totally forgot the fight song. I guess I'm not that big of a Cougar after all (totally okay with that). 

And now it's 10:00, and I want to go to bed. Because I'm an old college graduate married boring person. :-p 

On an unrelated note, we busted out the Christmas decor today! Usually I'm not one to get out any red or green until December 1st, but this year I couldn't contain my excitement. I even taught Jillian how to say "Santa!" EEEE!!!!!

I spent all afternoon working a ton of craft projects (finished the snow globes, glitter reindeer, and chalkboard sign today!). I'm still working on some giant glitter ornaments out of styrofoam balls. My back porch is incredibly shiny and I might have ruined some patio furniture (ruined could also be interpreted as "enhanced with clumps of glitter").
Yay for Christmas!



I have literally zero pictures from Thanksgiving this year. Fail. Or the entire 5 days my mom and brother were here! Double fail! 

It was still a good time though. We went shopping...a lot...we also saw Twilight (so good!) and ate too much junk food. Ya know, the usual. 

Thanksgiving day we went to James' mom's house with the whole clan. I made a vanilla & salted caramel cheesecake that smelled amazing. I didn't actually get to taste it, because in the middle of my delicious Thanksgiving dinner (well, lunch really) I got sucker-punched in the gut with a bad case of the "HOLYCRAPYOUGONNADIE". 

I think people were getting the wrong idea...James' grandma came up to me and whispered, "Does this mean Jillian is going to have a sibling?" 
Nope. Haha. It does not. 

It was all down hill after that. We stayed for a few more hours, but fortunately I made it home without vomitting on anything/anybody. That didn't last much longer though...

Have you ever barfed whole chunks of anything? It's awful. It gets all clogged in your nose and such...igchk. My nose was burning and I got the worst headache from trying to blow out the carrot chunks that thought they could stay up in my nose piece. 

I don't want to eat Thanksgiving dinner ever again. It was completely scrumptious the first time around...not so much the second. 
Whatever bug I got seemed to also hit James to some degree. 
BOO. Needless to say, we had a very lazy Black Friday with absolutely no shopping. 

Regardless of all the barfing going on around these parts, I'm still feeling very grateful for everything I have. I have the best guy to take care of me and bring me glasses of ice water in the middle of the night and get up with Jillian when she decides she wants to eat at 2am, the cuddliest 16 month old in penguin fleece footed PJ's who cuddled with me an entire 30 minutes on the couch tonight, and the best family in the world to spend time with over the last few days. Sure am glad I have those folks forever. 

I promise there will be many more pictures (and posts for that matter) in December. I AM SO STINKIN' EXCITED FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!


buzzed on over to cali-for-ni-a

Last Tuesday we got tickets to go to California on Friday. Talk about last minute! My parents and brother were flying out for my Grandma's 85th birthday and wanted us to come along (and of course my mom takes any chance she gets to see Jillian!) 

Go figure Jillian would pop a fever the night before we flew out...babies...they have impeccable timing. Even that morning when my alarm went off at 6:00 to get up and get ready to go, I wasn't sure if we were still going. But with a couple prayers and a few mL of Motrin later, we were off! 
(Can you believe when you fly from Salt Lake to Sacramento- a 1.5 hr flight- you have a layover?! So instead of what should have taken only 2 hours start to finish, took a whopping 6!...lame...at least Seattle is GORGEOUS this time of year.)

It was way fun seeing my Dad's side of the family in Cali- it had been years! They're seriously hilarious. That must be a Shannon trait. 

Jillian on the other hand, was a grumpy beaver. She would only let ME hold her, put her to sleep, and anything else that required the least degree of care. And I thought I'd have somewhat of a "free" weekend because my mom being there...nope! That little booger.

We went to Bidwell Park, where my Dad used to play when he was a kid. Nostalgic.

Jillian got to play with my cousin's kids. I have no idea what that relation is...
She also liked holding Kurtis' hand.  That was adorable.

We also visited my Grandpa's and cousin Kurti's grave. Jillian had to stroll around the cemetery in a diaper and a blanket...because she soaked through her outfit and I was ill prepared. Good thing no one else was there. 

1) The Shann-clan with Grandma 2) Gigi and the great grand-kiddos 3) Grandma and the grandkids 4) Grandma and 3 of the 5 kids

I love my family! They're the greatest.



Jillian definitely got jipped her first Halloween. She was a really tricky baby that required a lot of planning when going out, so when she fell asleep 15 minutes before we were supposed to head out to our church Halloween party- we just decided to call it a night. So she had no "first Halloween" and no "first costume" (which is probably why I took a ridiculous number of pictures this year). 

This Halloween was a lot more costume-y and festive than last Halloween. It's amazing to me that during our first three years of marriage, I couldn't convince James to dress up at all, as anything (he HATES Halloween). And then magically when you have a kid you can dress up, he not only agrees to participate in Halloween festivities, but wears fur pants! A miracle I tell you. A miracle. 
(Apparently the more kids you have, the more you get into the "spirit" of it all- as evidenced by my brother who has two daughters and went as Peter Pan, tights and all) :-D

Tuesday night we went to our friend Jen's trunk-or-treat party. Jillian had no idea what was going on and was terrified of James' wolf hat. But as soon as we gave her a Dum-dum sucker, she was a happy camper. By the way, whoever said it's as easy as "taking candy from a baby" has clearly never done it- because I'm pretty sure it was the end of the world when we took that sucker away. 

Isn't my moo-moo so ...slimming? 

On Halloween, my favorite cupcake place (Sweet Tooth Fairy) was giving away a free cupcake to anyone who came in dressed up! HELLO! Michaela joined in on the fun as the big bad wolf.

Annnddd lastly, we took a stab at trick-or-treating. We knew there was an 80/20 chance Jillian would hate it and cry a lot. Statistics did not disappoint. We made it to two doors, but through lots of piles of leaves!

My favorite part of the night was that it was Michaela's first time passing out candy to trick-or-treaters. That's what happens when you grow up in the country y'all. The first time the door bell rang she panicked, "What do I do? What do I SAY?!" 
Ohhh Michaela. Haha. Needless to say she got the hang of it pretty quick. 

Until next year! (Stay tuned...maybe James will progress to tights!)