Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Snow Globe Christmas

We decided it would be best to head out and surround ourselves with new scenery to lighten the heavy feelings this Christmas was bound to bring. We jumped in on Ryan's parents and Kelli and Jared's family plans as they traveled for the holidays. We couldn't have picked a more perfect combination of a cold winter wonderland and the warm feelings between a loving family and four little girls with pure Christmas spirit. It was definitely a Christmas to remember for all the right reasons.

Nuremberg, Germany Christmas markets




Rothenburg Od Der Tauber, Germany


We rode a horse drawn sleigh and sang Christmas carols all the way up to Southern Germany's inspiring Neuschwanstein (Cinderella's Castle).

Christkindl Markt in Salzburg, Austria . . .

where the delicious sounds and smells guide you to handcrafted shops and hot chocolate so thick you can eat it with a spoon.



A beautiful view of Salzburg, Jared, Kelli and the girls



Christmas Eve in Budapest, was detailed with our tradition of acting out the birth of baby Jesus, unwrapping a few gifts and reading a Christmas story.
This year we were honored to have Abby read her own written Christmas story titled
"Snowing in Oceanside."




Christmas morning consisted of puffy ponies, pillow pets, two really happy girls,
and one amazing moustache.

Merry Christmas!!




stay tuned for more living

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Moving On



Moving . . .


Sorting through and packing everything in the house was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I wanted it to be like a band aid and just rip it off, but it was a slow and very painful process; a process I wouldn't have been able to do without the help of my mom. My mom, my instant friend the day she gave birth to me. The mother who lost a father while at the tender age of sixteen and later lost her child who was 19. The same mom that accidentally sat next to a stranger at the movie theater and started eating his popcorn instead of my dads! The mom we always teased but came to whenever we needed help. . . and she would always help. She was there to help me as I unraveled the various parts of our lives from various parts of our house and packed them away for future use. With packing tape punctuated with tears, the job was done.


Max, 7 yrs old

Max, 7 yrs old



Max, 9 yrs old




Max, 9 yrs old


"I like to surf. I like to stand on the board. My daddy is the best! daddy I ever had. After I surf, I am going to make a light saber."
Max, 5 yrs old



Ryan and I have dreamed about moving closer to the beach and sometimes would ask the kids if they would want the sand to be there back yard. Max would always say, "If we can pick this house up and put it on the sand, I would move." He loved our house. I did too. Saying goodbye to it was very difficult. As I walked through the completely empty house for the last time, I saw where we would say our nightly prayers together as a family of five. I saw the kids jumping off my bed and landing into a pile of pillows. I looked into the bathroom and saw the countless band aids that were applied and the blobs of toothpaste that were somehow always left in the sink. I saw the exact spot we found our missing hamster and the kisses that were given to it in relief. I saw the kids laughing on the couch as they watched Sponge Bob and Americas Funniest Home Videos. I saw where juice and milk and yummy food was spilt and enjoyed at the kitchen table. I saw the kids faces as they came down the stairs on Christmas morning, . . . my favorite faces. I saw the kids running to meet daddy when they heard the garage door start to open. When I walked outside, I saw all three kids riding their bikes, skateboards and scooters back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, over and over. I cried as I stepped back and took my last real look at the house. I wasn't crying because my perfect life had been completely altered, okay maybe I was a little, but truthfully, my tears were tears of gratitude. So much gratitude. Grateful to have been given the chance to make the memories. Grateful for each day in that house I spent with my kids and my husband. Grateful. Grateful. Grateful. The house, as great as it was, was just a house; but the memories and love that filled it was more than I could have ever hoped for.



"My family is grateful.". . . Charlie is crawling on the ground :)
Max, 5 yrs old

My heart is grateful for the memories and the chance to make new ones.




Stay tuned for more living

Friday, December 10, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Ryan might be one of the hardest people to buy for or surprise, but I think he celebrated his birthday just the way he likes it . . . on the beach with his family. Fortunately both our families were in town, so we took advantage of the opportunity and celebrated.
Ryan claims September and October are the best months in So Cal and I would have to agree. The day was beach weather in it's perfection.


the kids


the adults




Ryan did get a few things for his birthday...


a snicker doodle cake . . .



Chargers V. Raiders tickets . . .


36 spankings and a pinch to grow an inch . . .


and a whole lot of love.



Love you Ryan



stay tuned for more living

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Abigail Anne

A lot has happened...a trip to North Carolina, El Salvador and oh right, we moved. Before I write about that, something very special happened, Abby turned eight. We celebrated her birthday in North Carolina (pictures to come when life settles down a bit) with grandparents, cousins and friends. After 10 days we flew home and just when we thought our fun meter was at it's max, we hit up some much requested Disneyland. We went to the happiest place on earth and rode every thrill seeking ride possible. We enjoyed a birthday meal at the "Blue Bayou" and closed out the park.







Abby followed in her brothers footsteps and set a beautiful example for her little sister, by choosing to be baptised. Friends and family from far and wide came to support and show their love for our sweet girl with the heart shaped face. We all watched as our little Abigail radiated with joy as her daddy baptised and confirmed her. The room, packed. The people, beautiful. The feeling, bitter sweet. The love, tangible.

Abby waking up to a gift that will keep on giving . . . the scriptures.


The after party was at our Hunsaker house. Big Chris' BBQ spread was beautiful and mouth watering. I watched Abby peek at the scene around her and I could see her for the slightest moment stop and realize it was all for her and she was enjoying it. She felt special and it brought me to tears seeing how many people care about our family and especially our little girl, Abigail.






We love you Abby!





Stay tuned for more living

Friday, November 5, 2010

Simple

Dear Max,

From the day you were born, you were an inspiration to me. The first smile was inspiring. Your first laugh was magical. Your first word was like heaven singing in my ears. As you grew up, I saw that life for you was simple. For me, life with you was simply inspiring. I remember at the airport, it was early, you had some crazy blond bed head but your blue eyes were filled with excitement and anticipation of seeing your cousins and extended family. How could we have ever guessed that only hours later we would be saying our last goodbyes? We couldn't have, but in that airport something special happened. We sat down near our departure gate and I saw you take out of your pocket, not a DS to play alone, but a small bag of marbles and a string. You gathered your sisters and patiently taught them to play. Other kids gathered to watch, then you invited them to play. Parents and elderly couples gathered and were smiling. Soon they were clapping and cheering you all on. One elderly gentleman, remembering his childhood marble playing days, was giving you tips on the best way to shoot a marble. I can still see the look on your face as you took in your surroundings of strangers coming together and enjoying each other. Your face was content and pleased with the outcome. Laughter, joy, happiness; all because of a boy and a bag of marbles. I was so proud of you Max. You were happy when you won but it didn't compare to the happiness you showed when Abby won that last game before we boarded the plane. When I saw that, my heart almost couldn't hold the feelings of love I felt for you in that moment. It is a feeling and a moment I will keep forever. That bag of marbles and piece of string is a token of the way you lived your life. . . Simple. The scriptures say "... by small and simple things are great things brought to pass." Your life is a testament of that scripture. I miss you Max. Everything about you. No words can describe how much I miss you. At times, I just don't know what to do with myself. The unanswered question I ask myself multiple times a day, How can I still be a mother to a son that is no longer here?, has haunted me. I think back to when I was pregnant with you. I wondered how I would know how to be a great mother. When the doctor placed you, my precious Max, in my arms, the answer was simple, all I had to do was love you and the rest would fall into place. Tonight, thinking of you, I am reminded that the answer to my question now, is just as simple. All I have to do is love you and the rest will fall into place. Max, the best part about it is, that loving you is simply the easiest thing in the world for me to do and I will do it forever.

Your ever loving mommy,

Leanne




I hope you're watching Max,
beacause we are living. . .
for you.

Stay tuned for more living

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chile Part 2

Santiago is Chile's capital and home to 5.3 million people. There's a constant smog looming over the city but on a rare occasion, when the sky is clear, the view is beyond awe inspiring. The city filled with condo high rises, historical monuments and barrios is encompassed by the snow capped Andes mountain range on the east and the beautiful coast to the west. Amongst the loud hustle and bustle of this overrun city, there are pockets of immense beauty. I was lucky I had a pretty cute tour guide to show me and the girls around.



There was nobody else but us and 4 pair of large $5 snow gloves on the snow covered Andes mountain. It was breathtakingly white.





Sometimes something that starts out small. . .

. . . can end up really big.





This is the last post from our whirlwind, spur of the moment, incredibly difficult and amazing trip we took as a family. During this trip, we grew closer together, even though there was one less head to count. Our family grew stronger, even though at times I felt like I was falling apart. I love that I saw Charlie reaching out her hand, grabbing onto the empty air, and listening to her tell me that Max was holding her hand. I loved her even more when she got mad at Abby for sitting on Max as we jumped out of the rainy night and into a Taxi cab, or when she fed him fried fish and told us he loved it. I will cherish Abby crawling into bed with us as the sun began to peek through the window and all of us spooning like spoons nicely tucked in a drawer. Bedtime for the girls was spent chattering about the days adventures, while in the other room, Ryan and I held each other under an unfamiliar comforter and told each other we would get through this . . . together. This was a trip where we were able to escape watchful eyes and expectations, to just feel what we felt. No one, other than our Savior, will ever know what it is like to have an Abby, and a Charlie, and lose a Max. We cried when we felt like it, laughed when we wanted to, and ate incredible amounts of ice cream and gelato. It was liberating. To be moved by our own feelings. To actually hear what our hearts and minds were telling us; they were telling us it was going to be okay. To just be ourselves, together, as a family. It's a time in our lives I will never forget. It was a trip of a lifetime that meant everything to our precious family.