Thursday, March 15, 2018

Highlights from Hawaii!

Hello! Long time, no blog. It wasn't intentional. Time has just been passing too quickly these last few months. 

So, first off, Victor was gone for a few months--off on a boat cruising around the world. He was gone for Christmas which made him sad. We missed him. He got back the end of January, so a couple weeks later he took some time off and we went on a space a adventure to Hawaii. My dear friend Sarah Holden was getting married, and I wanted to go just the two of us, but softy Victor really wanted to take the boys, and fly space a so we wouldn't have to pay for tickets haha. He convinced me, and I'm happy to say it all worked out and we had a great time on Oahu. 

The weather was not as ideal as the last time we went to Hawaii, but we still had some good days, and did a variety of things. Hiking, boogie boarding, snorkeling, and lots of eating. We also got to see a few friends that live there, and of course, celebrate the wedding of Sarah on the North Shore which was gorgeous!

Sorry that the "highlights" is actually a bunch of pictures I can't help myself!
 We went to a luau at the Hale Koa (military) hotel and I would highly recommend it. Great price and the food was delicious and the activities were fun. We told J we were going to a Hawaii party and he loved it. Getting them matching resort wear at the Navy exchange was a great idea. Such cuteness!

 A big chunk of our time was spent looking at fish in various places. They were obsessed. Talk about random!
 I had so many acai bowls and it wasn't enough ha

The happy couple! Such a beautiful wedding and so happy for our friends. 
The boys had the BEST time spending time with the Tyners, our friends from Okinawa. They watched our boys during the wedding stuff, and then we had an amazing North Shore day playing with them the next day. 
Before taking off on a flight the next day, we spent the night on Ford Island and checked out the memorials of the USS Utah, which I had no idea was a still partially submerged ship. It was surreal and somber, and the USS Oklahoma and the Missouri.

I was sad to leave. I sure love Hawaii, and my boys, especially J, love vacations! I'm grateful they do great in hotels, and while Dom is still in a frustrating two year old phase, overall we still had an amazing time. So glad to have had such great family time, especially after Victor had to be away from us for a while.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A New Year: Getting More out of My Amazon Prime

 This is my last post like this probably until next year ;) Also the pictures don't have much to do with it, they're just from some adventures last weekend that I liked.

Anyway, as I was setting all these goals for 2018, I was thinking of different things, and one of those was how there are things I have heard of Amazon Prime doing besides streaming movies and 1 day shipping. And I wasn't utilizing all of them. So the past month I've made a much more concentrated effort to use them, and it feels good to get more out of what we are paying for!

Here are some of those things

1. Free Photo Storage: I use and love Google Photos to back up my photos, but Prime users also get free photo storage, so I've been trying to gradually back up photos with them too. You can never have them backed up too much!

2. Exercise Videos: Prime Video has tons of exercise videos! All different kinds. So if you are or have been like me where you have some time and want to do something but haven't shelled out all the $$ for certain at home workout routines, these ones are pretty good. I've done some cardio ones, and I like the yoga ones too.

3. Amazon Music App: I have been paying monthly for Apple music, and when it told me I needed to update my payment info in January, I was like "why am I paying this much a month when I could be using the music app from Amazon??" So I've been only using the Amazon music app this past month, and for the most part, they have everything I feel like listening to. For newer albums, Apple music wins, but I could pay an extra $5 a month to have the Amazon unlimited music and I think I will since that's still cheaper than Apple music.

4. Books and Magazines on the Kindle App: Amazon has done a lot better with its selection of free books since the last time I looked, which was a while ago ha. And when I was perusing I realized they also have a monthly selection of magazines, including ones I have dropped cash on plenty of times in the grocery store. Some of those include Real Simple, People, Marie Claire, Vogue, and others. They're not the same every month, but it's still nice to see what they have and read them for free, since magazines are getting more expensive by the year it seems. And I love reading magazines, so thanks to my prime membership for helping with that. 
 ^^Feeling the love for Amazon Prime ;)^^

So there you go! And does anyone else have anything I should know to utilize my prime more?? I gotta get my money's worth!

Monday, January 22, 2018

A New Year: Another Year of Church Attendance...with my children

Ahhh, church with toddlers. It's so relaxing! So spiritual! So uplifting!  Except when it's not. Which is the majority of the time. Church with small children is so hard. So hard.

In my life, I've had a couple crises of faith (yes, I just googled to make sure I spelled the plural of crisis correctly ha), but never in those periods have I straight up lost the desire to attend church. That is, until I had small children. Call me dramatic but it's true. How it's possible that a one hour meeting can leave me feeling absolutely depleted and discouraged by my children is one of the marvels and mysteries of life. And I am not the first parent to ever say, "is it even worth it to bring my children to church?? maybe I should take a 5 year-ish break except for Christmas and Easter ;)"

2017 was a hard year for me in losing the desire to go to church. I will never forget the worst time when we were visiting a ward on Easter, and a lady turned and loudly "shhh'd" my 2 and a half year old. That really has been the only time someone has been rude to me about my kids at church, but it was hurtful enough to want to send me into inactively attending church for who knows how long. I really don't know what I would do if this kind of thing were to happen more than once, because my emotions really are egg shell fragile about it.

But with that being said, the thing that has kept me going is that on all the worst Sundays throughout the year of 2017, there was ALWAYS a tender mercy of someone coming up to me and offering me words of hope and encouragement. Yes, even in that visiting ward on Easter. On a Sunday in our ward now, Victor was giving a talk and the boys were AWFUL. And then I was teaching Relief Society later. And after my lesson, a lady came and said to me "you have had a stressful Sunday." And as she encouraged me, I lost it. I started crying right then and there. Like I said, I am just so overly sensitive about this!

So even though 2017 was a year that I lost my desire to go to church (by that I mean that I do not look forward to church and view it somewhat with dread), I did not stop going to church, and I am better for it.

Sundays are still hard and I admit that sometimes the only thing that has kept me there past the sacrament meeting is the 2 hours of nursery afterward aka a break from my kids. But I see with each passing week the impact it has on my kids, especially my 3 year old. He comes home asking questions and wanting to talk about Jesus. Yesterday he asked me what our spirits are. So even with my 3 year old, I am starting to have pretty great spiritual talks, and that would never have happened if I gave up on taking him to church.

So it's worth it. Hard, but worth it. And I hope this year will get better and maybe a little bit easier? We shall see.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A New Year: Taking Care of My Skin

As part of my last post, I wanted to share another part of my New Year's goals. I was noticing in December that my skin really was not looking or feeling good. Blotchy, bags under my eyes, and chapped lips (that's probably dry Utah ha). So I was realizing that I really need to take better care of my skin--more than a splash of water in the mornings and evenings.

The first part of this goal (also part of my fitness goals) is to drink waaaay more water. I know hydration is the best for your skin. And then after that, I have started routinely using some amazing products my sister introduced me to: The Spirit Goat.

All of their products are made locally in Logan, Utah, and all naturally as well. The facial bar soap, white tea toner, and the goats milk soap and lotion is really what has been a game changer for my face. I never cared much before about the "all natural" stuff, but I am a believer now!

I went crazy on my visit to the actual store, because everything is fantastic. I got some lip balms as well, and I have seen such an improvement. I'm so glad they ship since I don't get to Logan often. 
The scent "Awakening" for soap and lotion is amazing. 
^^also helping with the bags^^

I seriously recommend them. Since regularly using their stuff for the past month, my skin has improved so much. I don't even put on foundation or concealer on anymore, and my skin is so soft. I'm obsessed!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

A New Year

I've had a couple experiences within the last few days that have really prompted and excited me to actually make some New Years Resolutions. Everyone does it, and so it all sounds pretty cliche, but never I have felt more prompted and motivated to actually think about the reset that I need.

The first experience was last week I went to the temple by myself, and I had to wait about 45 minutes. When they told me that it would be that long, I shamefully thought how in the world am I going to pass that time?? I don't even have my phone! Bad, I know. It really was a wake up call that I need to more regularly focus my time to solely do something like study the scriptures. Those 45 minutes of waiting turned out to be a great study time, with no distractions.

Then on the long drive home to California, I caught up on my podcast listening. I had quite a few personal epiphanies, and I want to write about them, but not here. So I ordered a new journal for the first time in YEARS (bad, I know) to write about those personal things.

The podcast that was filled with so much amazing stuff was this one:

Shawn Achor's insights weren't anything super groundbreaking, but they reinforced things that I know I should be doing more of to feel happier. I highly recommend listening to it. Especially at this beginning of a new year.

So I bought my journal, and I joined the YMCA yesterday (I needed the no excuse mentality of a gym that provides childcare haha), and I stocked my fridge with lots of healthy stuff. I am such a cliche for New Years ha. But it really was necessary.

I have some other goals for 2018, but they are things that are kind of uncertain. But the physical and mental health and happiness of my body is something I am in complete control of. So that really needs to be my focus. I'm excited to see the changes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Things I'm Loving Lately

It's been a while since I've done one of these so I thought I'd share little things I've been loving lately!

First up: Annie Sloan chalk paint. I've been painting up a storm and sharing my projects with the new house and it's been so fun thanks to chalk paint! No sanding or priming. Just two coats and some wax and there you go. I love it. Here are some of my favorite projects:
 And what am I doing while I am painting? Or driving in the car? Podcasts! I'm late to the game, I know. But ever since we moved down here and I find myself being in the car for longer stretches than before just doing regular things, I have discovered podcasts and I love them. My all time favorite is Oprah, of course. She has had some incredible interviews and she talks about beautiful, spiritual things: most of the time I end up in tears. Favorites: Tracy Morgan, Nate Berkus, and Joe Biden.

Other podcasts I alternate with Oprah are the Young House Love podcast for some more lighthearted content, and the LDS Perspectives. LOVE the one with Fiona Givens, which brings me to my next love:

The God Who Weeps. Started it and never finished, so I am starting again and really loving it. A great read, but it's rich, so it takes time.

Next up are some food items I am loving. If you haven't tried these oreos, get thee to a walmart! They sure are yum. And for a girl who is trying to cut back on sugar but still craves soda badly, cherry coke zero is a win.

Next: Taylor Swift's new cd. I had open expectations for this album since I did not like the first single she released. But you guys, it's good! Also loving Miley's new cd too.

And lastly, for some good period drama, I finally have watched Victoria on amazon prime and LOVED it. Can't wait for season 2. I am a long time lover of period drama. Part of this favorites list includes the instagram account "period_dramas." Love the girl that runs this account. If you are a fan, you should follow. She has given some great recommendations!

Last on my list are Oceanside sunsets: they have been so gorgeous lately.
 These were taken on the same night! So beautiful.

Anyway, let me know little things you're loving so I can try!!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Halloween with the Von Castros

 Guten tag! Hope you had a good Halloween last week. It's safe to say we had a much better Halloween than last year. J was so into it. I asked him about a month before what he wanted to be and he replied "the Muffin Man!" (not from Shrek. From the actual nursery song haha) Anyway Victor bought these adorable liederhosen for the boys in Austria this summer, so I may have told him that's how a muffin man dresses. Good thing he loved it too.

And since I can't resist it seems, I made it a family affair with my Captain. We have the sons and the gazebo...just are missing the 4 daughters ha. Oh well! Our backyard is alive, with the Sound of Music!

I got my skirt from Germany last summer, and I made this vest. For Victor's costume, I got the jacket from goodwill and pinned some Soviet pins I had. Shhhh don't say anything ha. His hat is just from amazon. The only way I will keep doing family costumes is if it's easy and cheap. 
 ^^the Captain trying to keep them in line with his whistle^^
 There were sooo many Halloween festivities this year. Too much candy. First the ward trunk or treat. J and Lucy here look like their costume is Hansel and Gretel. So cute.
 Then we had a trunk or treat for Victor's work. That was pretty fun. And then of course, actual Halloween trick or treating with our friends, which started with such a gorgeous sunset. There have been a lot of them lately!
 Happy Halloween! So long, farewell, auf wiedersen, good night!