Charlie Brown Christmas tree

Growing up, one of our Christmas time traditions was to cut down our own tree.  Needless to say, every year we'd have a barren, Charlie Brown christmas tree.  To add to our tree's pathetic appearnace, every year my sister Kyra insisted that her kindergarten-made ornament be hung front and center.  (Her christmas ornament was a paper plate painted purple, hole punched one the outside with green yarn laced through, and an orange & purple ceramic monkey pasted in the center of the plate).   The tree's branches would bend with the load of the ceramic monkey decor.  I vowed that I would never have a Charlie Brown tree or tacky ornaments when I had a home of my own.

Well, it's my first Christmas with Chad and guess what we did for a Christmas tree this year...yep, we cut down a tree ourselves.  So much for my previous vows.  But it gets better, it's not even a real pine-  it's a cedar tree. What can I say? The pickings were slim on my parents property.

The tree...

The chainsaw (and my dad's backside)...

The haul...

Chad with his kill (a 10 point christmas tree he called it)...

The happy couple...

My brilliant idea to begin a tradition of making our own ornaments every year. We both agreed that this might be the only year that glitter will be used (especially since this will be our last child-free Christmas).

Some of our homemade ornaments (prettier than a ceramic monkey pasted to a paper plate, right?)...

Me trying to hang ribbon on our tree. Chad said it looked more like a toilet papering job...I agreed. We made the ribbon into some of the above ornaments instead. :)

The final result. Next year we will buy an artificial tree.


Michelle loves Chad!

I love my husband. I realize that I've only been married for about a year and I could be accused of still being in the honeymoon stage, but why is it that my love for him continues to grow? The increase has been nothing dramatic. Like nature, it grows ever so slowly everyday. Everyday a little more deeply rooted. Everyday gently sprouting. I'm grateful for him and the increased happiness I find with him. He wrote me a poem the other day-


Our love tumbles and crashes, opening and closing, and sometimes gasps rhythmically out of the water, drying and parching away from where it was born.
And then we crash together again, and her kisses raise the crushed blades of grass and bring the green back to the brown. We rotate like dancers, closer then farther, rekindling, reawakening and falling asleep.
Sometimes when we swing so far away I cannot feel her hand in my hand. I started to panic, that she had turned away. I close my open hand, around hers. Still there.
Standing in one place, once taken for granted, now so difficult to be the stable one. Two planets we revolve around each other, pulling with our gravity, unstabilizing each other with our love and our pushing. I thought she would define my substance, but she defines my space. I thought she would slake my thirst, but she became my seasons. I thought she would give only life, but now she guides me in death and resurrection. I thought love would be my center, but it is my matrix, and my favorite color.

He's definately more romantic and poetic than me. In fact, he had to explain parts of this poem for me...I'll let you try to figure it out for yourself though :)


It's set in stone...

...well, maybe not stone, but at least block. We finally decided on name- Liam Seth Guerra. Hopefully he looks like a Liam to us when he's born because I've already started making things with his name on it. Below are some blocks and other things that I've made for his room.


My new blog!

I started a new blog that has all my photography! There's a link for it on my sidebar under Michelle Guerra photo blog or the website is www.mguerraphotography.blogspot.com. Go check it out and leave me some comments!


Bridle your passions that ye may be filled with love...

A frequently quoted scripture in the Book of Mormon is found in Alma 38:12. Here, Alma counsels his son Shiblon to "bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love". Growing up I'd heard this scripture repeatedly likened to the need to control your hormones while you were dating if you ever hoped to find true love.

This scripture took on a new meaning for me one Christmas when I was home visiting family. Being home is supposed to be fun, but I was actually struggling with the transition. I wasn't used to the messy house, the constant chaos of kids, and the frigde completely void of anything I considered remotely healthy. My sanctuary soon became the room which I was put up in- the cluttered office with the blow up mattress in the corner. It was there that I one day came upon the former scripture in my studies. However, this time I connected with Shiblon in a way that I never before had. Shiblon had been the obedient son who'd faithfully served with his father in preaching the gospel. Alma acknowledges and even praises his son's obedience, but then comes his caution and counsel. Alma speaks of his own conversion and stresses how it was not his own righteousness that brought about his change of heart. He talks about being temperate and not being lifted up unto pride, then the familiar scripture- "Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love". Why did I connect with Shiblon? I, like him, was getting a little too confident in my own capabilities. Like Shiblon, I needed Alma's reminder that though we may be working towards change, it is God who ultimately endows us with the change of heart we seek and blesses us with the talents we possess. The strengths I might have (or I might perceive myself as having :) ) were never meant to be used with overbearance or condenscension, but to bless and serve others just as Christ.

I thought I'd squeezed all the needed lessons from this scripture, yet as of late, I've gleaned even more from Alma's words. As seen from previous posts, I've taken on several different projects, primarily refinishing furniture and photography. I've absolutely loved exploring these different venues of creation and creativity. You could say I'm passionate about these things. However, with time I began to wonder if my "passions" were healthy for me. Not only were they consuming my time, but also my thoughts and attention. I noticed that meals became simpler, scripture study more rushed, my appearance more low maintenance, my house was accumulating little sorting piles, and I wasn't giving Chad the attention he needed after work. Not only that, I began to notice that my love for each of these areas was affected. For example, I enjoy cleaning, but when I was so occupied with my projects, housecleaning became more of a burden rather than a joy. This bothered me and I began to seek for understanding.

It was in working on one of my projects that this scripture was reintroduced to my mind. I have continued to think on this scripture, pray for understanding and try to put the counsel into practice. I can say that I've gained a deeper understanding that God is happy for us to find things that we love and are passionate about. He wants us to take the talents he's given us and to further develop them as a wise steward would do. However, all this with a caution to govern our passions so it us ruling, not the passions. I still love the process of creation and creativity, but now there's a time and a place for them as with all things; a time for laundry, a time to talk with a sister on the phone, a time for showering, a time for grocery shopping, a time for exercise, a time to fix dinner, a time for applying make-up, a time for sewing, a time for studying my scriptures, a time for cuddling up with my husband, etc.,... My love for my passions is not decreased by putting a reign on them. In fact, my love for them feels deeper because it feels more balanced and healthier...I feel more balanced and healthier.


My new hobby...

Well, I've finally finished reupholstering the couches and ottoman...(yay!)

...so now it's time to learn a new hobby. I've decided to take up photography. Chad & me bought a nicer camera this last week. I've read the camera manual from cover to cover and have been playing around with it and photo editing this last week. Below are some of the pics.

I watched Kyra & Brigham's daughter Lydia one morning. She was so well behaved while I snapped shots of her. She was, however, not much for smiling. I think she was just wondering what I was doing with that strange black object in my hands. It's so fun to imagine what goes through the minds of babies!

Taken by Chad, edited by me...


Baby Names

When we first found out we were pregnant, Chad's sister Teline said that if we named the baby Stinky Poo Guerra, she would offer us lifetime babysitting and college tuition to our firstborn. As tempting as this is, I think we'll go for something a little more traditional. In fact, I've sat here tonight with my husband googling all sorts of baby names. We've looked at baby name searches, family history, and still are unsure about what we will call this little guy. I never thought it would be this hard to pick out a name. Ironically, I have plenty of girl names that I like. So far, these are the name combinations that we've come up with-
Liam Seth
Kale Seth
Smith Hollister
Smith James
These are my thoughts on the names we've come up with so far-

Liam- We both really like this name. I've never met a Liam, but according to a google search, it's becoming quite popular. I'm not looking to name my kid after another trend.

Seth- I like the idea and meaning behind the name: he was just like his father and it means annointed.

Kale- Chad has really liked the sound of this name and found out tonight that it is the hawaiin derivative of his name. The only problem: I can't pronounce it. It comes out more like- "Kell" when I say it. (My sister Kyra informed me of my incorrect pronounciation)

Smith- I really like it's originality. It was my great grandfather's name, Chad's mom's maiden name, and the last name of Joseph Smith; but does it really pair well with Guerra?

Hollister- another original name. It was my great grandfather's middle name, but will people think I'm naming my son after the clothing store? I don't even own anything from Hollister.

James- Chad's grandfather's name- Smith James would actually be his name in reverse order.

Alright, now that I've divulged our ideas on names, none of you out there better steal any of them! We're still undecided. But we would love feedback or more ideas on names or how to pick one. :)



Life has been busy! But it feels good. I've been learning to do payroll, taxes, and billing at Chad's office and there's several projects that I've taken on at home (currently it's reupholstering another couch). Because life has been so hectic, I've become queen of multi-tasking. For example, I've perfected the art of exercise that can be performed while cleaning (you should see me run in place with a vacuum cleaner, do jumping jacks while unloading the dishwasher & squats while folding clothes). I can't imagine what things will be like when I finally have my baby! I've also learned that some things take a back burner when something more urgent comes up. Often this means that a load of laundry will sit in the dryer a few days before it gets folded. I had to laugh when I had this conversation with Chad tonight-

Chad: Do you know where my shorts are? I can't find any of them.
Michelle: I don't know. Probably in the dryer. I did laundry today.
Chad (while searching through the dryer): I think my scrubs need to start being hung up after they're washed.
Michelle: Why? 'Cuz they're wrinkled?
Chad: I look like I'm the only one at the office who doesn't care what they look like.
Michelle: So what are you trying to say?
Chad: That I look like I'm the only one that doesn't care what they look like.
Michelle: No, you're trying to say that your wife isn't very good at laundry...
Chad (in corrective tone): No, you do great at laundry!
Michelle: Well good. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing then.

I gotta love him. He's so fun to tease sometimes.


3-D ultrasound...almost :)

This last Friday, Chad and me went to the hospital to get a 3-D ultrasound. Sadly, things didn't go quite as planned. First, the baby had his cute little hand up by his face, thus interfering with the possibility of actually getting a 3-D picture. As we jiggled my stomach around in an attempt to get him to move his hand, he decided he wanted to roll over and turn his back towards us. Off to the hospital hallways we went, ice water in hand hoping the combination of cold water and walking would get him a little uncomfortable and make him want to roll back around. That worked, but this time he decided he not only wanted his cute little hand by his head, but to throw in his cute little feet as well. Needless to say, we did not get any 3-D pictures that day...but we did get some other fun footage.
I understand that discerning ultrasounds can be somewhat difficult, but if you watch closely, you'll see him open and close his little hand, swallowing, and even kick himself in the nose.

Here you go Shannon...me at 6 months!

Shannon has been wanting to see what me and my pregnant self look like. Since I've been doing so many projects I feel like I'm never looking picture worthy. Lucky for Shannon, this cute, little town called Filley, is picture worthy. I've always wanted to stop and take pictures here, but have never had the chance. I finally snatched that chance on the way home from a doctor's appointment with Chad. I hope to take better pictures here in the future, but creativity is somewhat limited when your working with a self timer, almost dead batteries, and limited places to set up a camera.


The Nesting Stage

From what I understand, every expectant mother goes through a stage before giving birth where they clean, decorate, organize, etc. in preparation for their new arrival. This phenomenon is know as the nesting stage. When I think of this stage pictures of pastel paints, stuffed animals, cribs and pillows come to mind.

Last week as I was talking with my sister Shannon and telling her about all the projects I'd taken on, she laughed and said, "Michelle, you're in the nesting stage". I didn't think this was possible since I don't even own any baby stuff yet, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I am. My "nesting", is just a little unconventional. It hasn't consisted of baby blue, cuddly animals, & petite clothes, instead it has been sanding, painting, picking out staples & seam allowances, cutting, sewing, & using a staple gun. (Oh, and don't worry. I took the necessary precautions when painting)

Below are some of the pictures of the projects that I've finished so far.

My mom built this potato box awhile ago, but I've never had the time or space to finish the wood. Staining it was the first project I took on.

This cedar chest was a Christmas present one year. My mom also made this & had finished it with polyurathane giving it a natural wood finish. I wanted the wood darker & to look a little worn. This was my 2nd project. I don't think the picture does the cedar chest justice though.

My in-laws gave us their old dresser set. They were in great condition, they just didn't match our bedroom. Originally I wanted to stain it like the cedar chest, but the dressers were made from particle board with wood & laminate veneers, so I had to paint instead. These were my 3rd project(s). Here's some before & after pics.

My in-laws also gave us their old couch, love seat & ottoman. They were also in good condition, just didn't match our stuff once again. Originally I was going to sew a slip cover, but somehow that evolved into me taking on my first re-upholstering job. My mom has experience upholstering furniture. She was going to help me, but because she's been so busy, I ended up doing everything on my own. This was my 4th project.

My 5th project- still a work in progress...

...to be continued.


My favorite season

I love the fall! It is my favorite season. I love the way the air feels, the colors, the smells, the holidays, and the quiet peacefulness associated with it. For me, it represents a time in my life when I learned to submit my will to the Lord's. In that time period, as the seasons transitioned from summer to fall, my soul also underwent a change. Nature seemed to be calming down. The planting & toiling of the field was over and the quiet satisfaction of the harvest entering. It invited a stillness with it, and one that my own heart seemed to echo. For me autumn now serves as an annual memorial to take time to be still.

I can't think of a better way to be still and draw close to the Lord than to hear the words and messages of a prophet and the apostles. How thankful I am for this opportunity every October to listen to them as we watch General Conference. I know the Lord answered some of my questions and prayers through counsel given in conference.

Maybe it's the home economics teacher in me, but I get so excited about any special event and the chance I have to create new traditions associated with it in our own little family. And of coarse, what better way to commemorate any special event than with good food. I got up early that morning and made multi-grain & nut pancakes and I had prepared snack food the day before for between sessions of conference. All in all, it was a day of both physical and spiritual feasting where we felt the satisfaction of full bellies & full hearts.

It's a Boy!

The title and the pictures are pretty self explanatory :)

Walnut Festival

In Stockton one of the big community events is something called the "Walnut Festival". It is celebrated annually around harvesting of the walnuts. It was fun for us to attend, not only because it would be our first Walnut Festival, but because Lynnae would have a big part to play in all the festivities. She opened the ceremonies singing the National Anthem and would be representing Stockton in the Black Walnut festival pageant. Below are pictures of some of the different events we attended in connection with the Walnut Festival.

Lynnae singing the National Anthem.

You can see my belly is starting to show...

Some of the parade spectators...

And some of the parade participants...Lynnae, Kelsi, Royce & Cody.

Lynnae won!!!