Category Archives: Family

Introducing the Newest Member of the Family

So, it’s been quite a while since I posted anything, but I think I have a good excuse: Robby and I adopted a newborn baby! Our son Owen was born on Easter Sunday (11 days early!) and we brought him home from the hospital two days later. We’ve had our hands and hearts full ever since. :)

Our son's birth announcement, designed by Robby's talented sister, Ashley.

We first found out that we might be able to adopt Owen last Thanksgiving, but since adoptions so often fall through, we decided to share that news only with immediate family and close friends. But God was truly gracious to us, and we now have a beautiful son through the miracle of adoption–and, apparently, one of the smoothest adoptions that our lawyer and social workers have ever seen. Praise the Lord!

We’ve decided to keep many of the details of Owen’s adoption private, since we believe Owen should be the one to decide how that information is shared (although I don’t like the aggressive title, this article has a good explanation of our reasons for being circumspect). But I can share a few things:

  • We were not actively pursuing adoption when we found out about the situation through our pastor. After meeting the birthparents and getting to know them, we all decided to move forward with an open, attorney-facilitated independent adoption (i.e., not through an agency).
  • This meant that we had to complete a full home study and background check in 3 months. We finished our home study just a week before Owen was born (whew!).
  • I have resigned from my job to become a full-time stay-at-home mom, and I am loving it so far!
  • Our family and friends have been so excited for us, and so amazingly generous. Our house is full of baby gear and books, which has given me lots of opportunities for decorating and organizing projects…expect more posts on that soon. :)

Owen is beautiful, sweet, funny, and the light of our lives. We love watching him grow and change every day, and are so thankful that God has brought him into our family. Nap time is almost over, so I’ll wrap this up with a few of the hundreds of photos that we’ve taken over the past two months:

Our first family photo, in the hospital.

Family photo at 4 weeks old.

Recent photo of our beautiful son, taken by Robby's sister, Ashley.


Christmas, New Year’s, and More!

Can you believe it’s been almost a month since Christmas? Robby and I have been SUPER busy since my last post. Between the holidays, a week-long trip to Mississippi, trying to get over a nasty cold that took us both down, going back to work, celebrating our anniversary, and tackling about 10 different home organization and craft projects, the time has just flown by. I hope to be back with updates on the home projects soon (we’re in the middle of several!), but for now, here’s a photo-log of the last month.

Hope your New Year has gotten off to a great start. Ours has–I’m looking forward to what 2013 brings!

Thanksgiving 2012 – Food, Remodeling, and Disneyland!

That post title pretty much sums up our Thanksgiving break! It all started on Thursday with Thanksgiving at my family’s house in Temecula. We had a great time playing card games, perusing Black Friday ads, and stuffing ourselves silly–my crazy mom made two turkeys and 13 different side dishes!

The next day we were up and at ‘em on our latest remodeling project: our downstairs powder room! We had originally hoped to do a big remodel of our upstairs bathroom area, which has a dated full bathroom and a weird separate sink area. We really want to add a toilet and shower to the sink area to create a second full (ok, 3/4) bath upstairs, but some of the cost estimates we found freaked us out a bit. One contractor blog we found suggested it would cost around $4,000 just to add the toilet. Yikes. We’re not quite ready for that big of a financial commitment, so we’ve decided to keep saving our pennies and tackle a smaller project first.

And so, our living and dining rooms currently look like this:

Our living room is full of construction supplies... is our dining room.

Unfortunately, we forgot to take “before” photos, but the fun started when Robby tore out the existing (ugly and chipped!) sink and vanity cabinet:

Phase one: tearing out the sink.

Then we tore out the rusty medicine cabinet (who needs one of those in a powder room, anyway?), and Robby patched the drywall:

Robby's first drywall project. He did a good job!

Next, we filled in the missing floor planks and baseboards, and opened the wall to add blocking (horizontal support studs) for the sink. Unfortunately, we encountered a few unpleasant surprises at that point. One of the sink taps developed a slow leak, we found a vent pipe right where we need to add blocking, and, worst of all, we noticed that the plumbing is agonizingly off-center, which means we either need to move/angle the pipes or put up with a crooked-looking sink:

Annoyingly off-center pipes.

So frustrating! I guess it wouldn’t be a real remodeling project if we didn’t have to call in an expert. :( So, unfortunately, our project is at a standstill until we can get a plumber in to fix the pipes. We’re hoping to get that done this week, but until then, here’s a little preview of what I’m hoping the bathroom will look like when everything is done:

Kohler Archer pedestal sink.

Moen Banbury faucet and accessories (towel holder, toilet paper holder, and toilet flush handle).

Moen Sage mirror.

Grasscloth wallpaper.

I also want to build floating shelves above the toilet to hold towels, like this (image found on Pinterest).

Our bathroom may be in limbo, but we ended our vacation on a high note–at Disneyland! I had the amazing good fortune to win two park hopper tickets in a drawing at work, and we decided to use them before the holiday chaos begins. Our pace was somewhat slow since we were both tired and I had a sinus headache, blah. Still, we had a great time taking in the Christmas decorations, riding the rides, and hunting down fun things to eat. We especially liked the new Cars Land at Disney’s California Adventure:


Christmas at Cars Land was so fun!

Definitely a memorable Thanksgiving weekend, although perhaps not very restful. :) We’re looking forward to spending Christmas with Robby’s family soon–although, I have a lot of work ahead of me since I decided to hand-make several of our gifts. Wish me luck finishing everything!

Late Summer 2012 – Graduations, Birthdays, and Weddings

It’s been a busy summer, with lots to celebrate! Warning–lots of pictures below…

The fun started in late July, when I FINALLY graduated with my MBA, 5 1/2 years after I began the program. It’s such a huge relief to be done, and it even got me a promotion at work! :)

In my hard-earned cap and gown.

Proud husband.

Robby's as happy that I'm done with school as I am!

My sister Erin also got her master's degree the same day as me, and we shared a cake. :)

Best graduation present ever--pink champagne!

Next up was my cousin Jonathan’s wedding to his sweet bride, Cassie. Unfortunately, we missed most of the ceremony due to stupid SoCal traffic, but we do have one photo documenting our attendance:

Yep, that's the same dress I wore to graduation. Found it on clearance at J. Crew and I'm getting my money's worth out of it!

Our next summer celebration was Robby’s birthday in late August. I made him his favorite cheesecake brownies, decorated with space toys (in honor of the MSL landing, of course!).

In memory of the late Shuttle program...

I also made the (rash?) decision to chop off my long hair. Blame it on my approaching 30th birthday, I guess!

New haircut.

A few weeks after Robby’s birthday, it was time to celebrate mine–the big 3-0! My sweet husband planned a fun weekend for the two of us (and Lucy!) at a pet-friendly hotel in Long Beach. We had a great time relaxing by the pool, taking Lucy on walks by the marina, and visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Lucy loved barking at the boats from our hotel room balcony!

She also claimed the hotel room couch as her own. :)

Petting rays at the aquarium.

This is how they do surgery on otters at the aquarium. :P

Robby once lost a spelling bee by mis-spelling the word "plover," so we had to document this sign...


I giggled when I saw a sign that said this was a "jackass penguin." Seriously.

More pink champagne for my 30th birthday!

A week after our trip to Long Beach, we were off again–this time, to Chattanooga, TN to see Robby’s brother Tim marry his lovely wife Kim (yes, there are now two Kim Stephensons in the family!). The wedding was beautiful, and we enjoyed getting to see so many relatives.

Tim and Kim saying their vows.

The newlyweds. Welcome to the family, Kim!

Me and my handsome husband.

The growing Stephenson family.

All the young ladies on Robby's mom's side of the family (except Kim!).

Our nephew Hudson modeling the astronaut shirt that Robby and I got him.

The only bad part of the trip came in the form of a nasty spider bite on my leg. Unfortunately, the bite swelled up to the size of a softball and got infected, and I had to go on antibiotics as soon as we got back to Pasadena. Ugh. Still, we had a great time in Chattanooga, and are so happy to have a new sister-in-law! Oh, and we also got a fun surprise when we landed at LAX…we saw the plane that NASA used to fly the retired Space Shuttle over LA!

NASA plane.

All in all, it’s been a busy and fun summer. I’m looking forward to fall (assuming the temperature ever drops below 90° here in LA!), especially since Robby and I are tentatively planning a big bathroom remodel! :)

Sayonara, 2011; Hello, 2012!

First, can I just brag about the fact that it was 75° today in Pasadena?! I love that. :) Robby and I started our New Year’s Day at church, and then we spent the afternoon kicking around Manhattan Beach. Tomorrow morning, we’re planning on walking 3 blocks down to Colorado Blvd. to catch the Rose Parade before heading back to work on Tuesday…sigh.

New Year’s always makes me reflective, and 2011 gave me a lot to reflect on. In a lot of ways, it was a hard year. I had some medical struggles (including surgery); we learned that it will be extremely difficult (if not impossible) for us to have biological children; we lost a dear friend much too young; Robby and I had far too many stressful work projects; and I took on the burden of returning to school while working full-time. When I think about those things, I’m tempted to say “good riddance” to a bad year!

We did have quite a few good times mixed in there, though. Highlights from 2011 include our epic kitchen remodel; the birth of our adorable new nephew Hudson; two great trips to the Hollywood Bowl; a birthday weekend at Disneyland; getting an article published in a journal; surviving an epic windstorm in Pasadena; receiving a new iPhone 4S for Christmas; getting to preview a Rose Parade float; and taking several great trips:

  • Our anniversary trip to Santa Barbara
  • My work trip to Philadelphia and Washington, DC (Robby came with me)
  • Our trip to Orlando and Miami (in an attempt to witness the penultimate shuttle launch, which was unfortunately scrubbed 2 hours beforehand)
  • My work trip to Dayton, Ohio (Robby wasn’t able to come with me)
  • Robby’s trip to Orlando, where he was able to fulfill his lifelong dream by watching the last-ever shuttle launch!
  • A trip to Atlanta for Robby’s cousin’s wedding and then on to Panama City Beach for a week with Robby’s family
  • Our Thanksgiving trip to Knoxville, Gatlinburg, and Birmingham

I have mixed feelings about 2011. Mostly, I’m just happy to have reached the end of it with a wonderful husband by my side, and I’m hopeful that 2012 will be a good year for us. Heck, 2012 already has two things going for it–we’re planning a trip to Italy and England in the spring, and I’ll finish my MBA in June! I’m already counting down the days (literally–see the sidebar over there on the right??) until I have more time to knit, bake, decorate, and plan our next remodeling project–maybe overhauling our 80s-style bathrooms? :)

I hope that 2012 is filled with blessings for you (and us)! I’ll leave you with this huge photo-retrospective of some of our 2011 highlights: