Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Letter 2007

Greetings friends and family. Welcome to our family Christmas letter. With our jump into the 21st century (this is the first year we've written a blog) we figured we'd save some money and present our letter online. Needless to say, it has been an eventful year. As most of you already know, we welcomed the newest member of our family, Audrey Grace on July 4, 2007 and nothing has been the same since. She has been an amazing blessing to us (and our families) and she has definitely made this Christmas season uniquely special. However, starting out with Audrey is getting ahead of ourselves. There was a lot that happened before we welcomed Audrey into the world.

In January, we decided to take one last vacation sans kids with our friends Dan and Erika (who were also pregnant.) We took a cruise of the Western Caribbean and though the rocking boat was a bit much for the pregnant mommies, we had a wonderful time.

When we got home and settled, we realized that we didn't have too much time before the baby arrived and a lot to do to get the house ready. For those of you who have never seen our house, we live in about 800 square feet and at times it felt pretty tight with just the two of us. The family room became the nursery and Daddy made the first of many sacrifices by buying a flat screen TV to go in the Living Room (needless to say, you can't have an HD tv and watch regular programming so we had to upgrade to HD DirecTV as well.) The nursery looks really great and it has actually been nice to have all of the baby's stuff 5 feet away instead of upstairs or down the hall. The next few months were spent getting ready for baby, washing walls, etc.

In June we decided to celebrate Eric's 30th birthday early. Eric's birthday is July 20 and we figured that we would be in no shape to host a party since Audrey was due July 15th. The party was a wonderful mix of friends from Revolution (our church), Biola (where Eric works and were we both did our undergrad) and family. Eric's family from Baltimore happened to be here for Ashley's shower so it made the birthday all the more special. Eric always said that he wanted to have a baby before he turned 30 so we got in just under the wire.

In late June, as were finalizing preparations for the baby, we received some interesting news. Audrey Grace was breech and not likely to be born naturally in the position she was in. It took some time to adjust our expectations (not the last time we will have to change our plans for a little one) but we eventually warmed to the idea of a C-section. For any of you who know Eric, he was excited about being able to plan ahead for the actual birth. We went in for an appointment on July 3 and our doctor told us that he had an opening to do the C-section on the 4th. Audrey Grace was born on July 4th at 9:15 am at 6lbs 9oz and 19 inches long. Life will never be the same.

The next few weeks were truly a blur. Eric had the blessing of being able to take a month off of work to "bond" with the baby (that's what the state of California calls it.) We had lots of help from friends family along with meals from Revolution. In August we had our annual family camping reunion at the farm. This is the second year we have had members of both of our families spend the night in tents in our yard. We ate lots of great food, played many games and are pretty sure Audrey wasn't put down except to sleep for three days straight.

Audrey has had the chance to do quite a bit of traveling in her first six months of life. In September she took her first road trip to visit Auntie Rahime and Uncle Chung in San Francisco. She requested that we bring along Auntie Lidia and we were happy to oblige. It was a great time of rest and relaxation and Audrey basically slept the entire drive.

More recently, we spent Thanksgiving in Baltimore celebrating the birth of our niece Sofia Amber. Eric's sister Stefanie and brother-in-law George welcomed their first baby into the world on November 14th and we celebrated Thanksgiving dinner with the "Baltimore contingent" of Eric's family and George's family. With 25 people occupying George and Stefanie's house, it was a very full family Thanksgiving.

This Christmas, we can't help but reflect on how blessed we are. We have been having consistent conversations about how richly God has blessed us with a great house to live in, two fantastic (and flexible) jobs, an incredible church, and a beautiful baby daughter. We can't help but be reminded of God's grace in lavishing undeserved blessing on us. It is truly humbling. We hope that this holiday season is a blessing for you as well. We hope to see you all at some time this next year.


Eric, Ashley and Audrey

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Benefits of Mint

While I do enjoy the edible variety of this product, that's not what this post is about. I was reading the latest edition of Fast Company last week (a magazine I would highly recommend) and I came across an article about The guys at set out to help the college-aged community get a better handle on their finances. In order to accomplish this, they created a quick and dirty online version of Quicken. Ash and I have used Quicken for our budget the last three years but have found it complicated and very time intensive. Needless to say, when I came across this article I was excited. In about 30 minutes, you can set it up so that all of your account information is downloaded to and displayed (in spending categories) in a pie chart mapping your spending habits. It also gives you the option of inputing your monthly budget and comparing your expenditures to your monthly financial goals. The greatest advantage to this tool is that it updates your accounts nightly so you don't have to go in and manually download the transactions from your banks and credit cards. The one downfall to is that they can't track investment accounts (yet.) For those of you that are concerned with online security, you may want to check out their forum here regarding this issue. I'll let you poke around the website yourself but for the truly skeptical, they make their money by advertising other financial organization's products in their "ways to save" section. We've only been using it for a week but so far, we are REALLY excited about this service.


For those of you who read our blog religiously (thanks Mom) you will remember that we "prematurely" tried Audrey in her Johnny Jump Up a few months ago. I am glad to report that Audrey has now completely grasped this ingenious invention and thoroughly enjoys it. Here are a few pieces of evidence.