I just finished reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and it is definitely one of the best books I've ever read.  It is very well-written and tells the incredible story of Louie Zamperini and all he went through during WWII- he joined the air force, was shipwrecked on a raft for 47 days, then held in a Japanese POW camp for the rest of the war.  It is amazing and humbling to think of what so many have done for our country.  At times I was cringing and almost in tears as I read about the terrible suffering in the POW camps.  I'm grateful we have a day set aside to remember those who have sacrificed for our country.  We are very lucky to live in this free land.


I'm an aunt!!

Last night little Kirra was born to Trevor and Kristen.  This morning we got to skype with them; she is absolutely, perfectly darling!  Jillian looooooved her cousin and kept laughing and smiling and growling at her (that's how we say I love you around here.)  We know these two will be best friends and cause lots of trouble together.

This was a great way to kick off Birthday Week:
May 23- Kirra's birthday
May 25- my sister Katie's birthday
May 27- my almost brother-in-law Neal's birthday
May 28- my brother Tyler's birthday

Too bad we're not going to be with any of these people to celebrate with them.  Maybe we'll just have to make and eat our own cake!


Yum Yum

Last week at Jillian's 6 month checkup we discussed her sleeping (or non-sleeping) problems.  The doctor said that maybe she was waking up so much because she really was hungry.  She said to feed her as much as we can during the day, including 2 meals of solid foods.  It's only been a few days but Jilly is already sleeping better.  Life is looking a lot rosier around here.  But, along with sleeping more, we're also taking a lot more baths.  Here's why:

We both end up covered in food by the end of the meal.  Thankfully, it's applesauce in the video.  But when it's green beans- sick.  And, I have no clue where she learned those weird noises because I'm pretty sure I don't sound like that when I eat.  We definitely have a wild child on our hands.


So my blog has needed some re-vamping for like, um, forever.  Luckily Bryan has some mad code-writing skills and was able to help me get a little blog facelift.  Since we aren't just Bryan and Rachel anymore, I needed a name change.  We could be Bryan, Rachel, and Jillian, but then what would we do as more kids came?  Bryan, Rachel, Jillian, Bryan Jr, Hezekiah, Hermione, Shaniqua, Zuzu, and Miguel would just be way too long.  Since my blog is a smorgasbord of my adorable daughter, crafty projects, our adventures, books I'm reading, recipes, and our celebrity look-alikes I decided Rachel's Ramblings was appropriate.  So, welcome to my new old blog.



Bryan, who is completely crazy, is doing the Tough Mudder race in Tahoe in September.  He's been training and decided it was a good time to start Jilly on an exercise routine.



I'm going to have to kick it up a notch to keep up with these two!


Family Photo

On Mother's Day we took a family photo that I loved and wanted to frame.  The only problem was that Bryan's eyes were closed.  He has lately been playing with photo editing so I asked him if he could switch out his eyes.  He fixed his eyes and gave himself a shave- I thought it looked great.  Then I noticed that heinous scar on my wrist and asked him to get rid of it.  Again, he worked his magic and showed me the improvements.  I looked closely at the picture and then yelled, "Hey, you made yourself tanner! No fair, I want to be tan too!"  So he obliged and brought me back a final version.  What do you think?



I don't really feel bad about it because this is what we'll look like in a couple months- we're just giving ourselves a head start!


happy half birthday

As you may have noticed, I can't pass up any excuse for a party and Jillian's half birthday was definitely celebration-worthy.  Luckily, I have a husband and friends who humored me and were willing to have a little half birthday celebration for Jilly.

Jillian wore her most festive party bow for the occasion and I got out our birthday banner.  After the picture was taken Bryan covered half the letters in birthday to make it a half birthday.  Thus our sign read "Happy Brty."  I made the colorburst cupcakes from ourbestbites.com (anyone else feel like they're friends with Kate and Sara?) and attempted to make their perfect cupcake frosting but it was an epic fail (completely delicious but completely the wrong texture.)  We decided to give Jilly a cupcake and see what she did with it.  We kept her paci in so she wouldn't eat it but it turns out the precaution was unnecessary- she wouldn't even touch the cupcake!  Apparently her sweet tooth is still developing.


6 Months

It has been quite a month for Miss Jillian Kate.  New developments include:
- She's now a sitter-  She is still a little wobbly so I have to watch her closely, but she sits up all by herself.
- She's a mover-  She can't crawl yet and she chooses not to roll, but she's very proficient at scooting herself around.  Every time I set her down I find her in a different position.
- She's an official solid food eater-  She was not crazy about rice cereal (who would be crazy about that mush?) but she's also had pears and sweet potatoes and she loved them.  Evidence shown here:
- She's a noisemaker-  Her favorite sound to make is a growl; there are few things more hilarious to us than being woken up in the morning by a growl coming from the crib.
- She's a scaredy cat-  The vacuum, my hair dryer, and her dad's sneezes are all terrifying to Jilly.
- She's opinionated-  That girl knows what she wants and she knows how to tell me- unfortunately she usually wants things like our laptop, my cell phone, and the remote control instead of all her fabulous toys.
- She's a social butterfly- She'll smile and talk to anyone who acknowledges her.  Yesterday I was checking out  at JoAnns and the cashier said, "You were here a couple weeks ago; I remember your baby.  She was so cute and smiled at  me.  I went home and told my husband we need another baby."  Jilly is already doing her duty to "multiply and replenish the earth."

Clearly I'm a little biased, but I think Jillian is probably the greatest thing on this earth.  We're so lucky to have had these six months with her and many many more to come.


Mother's Day

All my life I wanted to be a mother.  And, even with its occasional frustration and exhaustion, it is so so so much better than I ever imagined it would be.  I never knew you could love a little person this much.

Mother's Day 2011

Bryan and I were both lucky to be raised by wonderful mothers.  We are so grateful for their love and all they have taught us.  Yesterday we were able to spend the day with Bryan's mom and lots of the Griffin side family.  Jillian finally got to meet a relative her age- Bryan's cousin's little girl Tylee is 5 months older than Jilly and they had fun together.  

Yesterday we went to 2 Sacrament Meetings (a friend was giving his mission farewell talk) and in both meetings the speakers quoted this article from Sister Pat Holland.  This morning I read the whole article and loved her profound insights.  She says, "I believe mother is one of those very carefully chosen words, one of those rich words—with meaning after meaning after meaning. We must not, at all costs, let that word divide us. I believe with all my heart that it is first and foremost a statement about our nature, not a head count of our children."  


Cinco de Mayo

Bryan is definitely not as enthusiastic about holidays as I am, but if he had to pick a favorite I'm almost positive it would be Cinco de Mayo.  This year we had other plans on the 5th so we actually celebrated Seis de Mayo (don't tell our ancestors, they'd probably roll over in their graves.)  We listened to an entertaining Cinco de Mayo party mix provided by Pandora and ate some tasty tacos.

Our Cinco de Mayo table decor:

Taco toppings in our fancy bowls

Our Cinco de Mayo costumes in honor of Bryan's favorite food:

A closeup of our shirts:
Does that Tapatio man look familiar?  These shirts were Christmas presents from Trevor and Kristen- possibly the best gift Bryan will ever receive.


What's in a name

When Jillian was born, Jillian seemed like way too long of a name for such a tiny baby (hello- it has 3 syllables!)  So she very quickly became Jilly.  That was just the beginning of her many nicknames:

Jilly (I spell it Jilly, Bryan spells it Jilli)
Hill Billy Jilly (the first time Bryan called her this I laughed so hard)
Jilly Willy (my little brother's nickname of choice)
Jilly Kate
Jilly Vanilly
Jilly Bean
Jilly Bug
J Dawg (reminiscent of our favorite hotdog)

The other day at a church bbq a little girl was playing with Jillian.  We've learned that little kids and old people have a hard time saying Jillian (it will be interesting when we teach her her own name.)  So when she asked what her name was I said Jilly.  A few minutes later our new friend went back to her mom and said, "the baby's name is Jelly."  So, the nickname list continues.

Sporting her summer hat and sunglasses



What dish would you make if you had to include

brown sugar,

and jicama?

Last night we did our own version of the tv show Chopped.  Each couple provided an ingredient, then we had an hour to make something using all ingredients and anything else we wanted to add.  I was skeptical at first, but it turned out very fun and delicious!

The Yagers made mango and jicama muffins with the most AMAZING homemade caramel sauce on top (seriously, I had to restrain myself from eating spoonfuls of it.)

The Clements made mango and jicama slaw.  They won best presentation, it was almost too beautiful to eat!
 (That is our baby in case you were getting confused)

And we made stir fry with chicken, mango, zucchini, onion, jicama, and mushrooms.  And by we I mean Bryan because even though I am usually successful at following a recipe I am terrible at creating my own and Bryan excels in this field.  I was in charge of chopping the vegetables and presentation (which you can see I completely failed at- although delicious, stir fry is not very visually appealing.)

It was a very fun night and we can't wait to do it again!


I ♥ London

Five years ago today I embarked on the most magical adventure- a Study Abroad in London.  So, please forgive me for all the pictures as I reminisce.

Palace of Westminster, Palace Guard, Sunset over York, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Glastonbury, Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's Home), Phone Booths, Re-creation of The Globe Theatre, Stonehenge, Cambridge, Warwick Castle

And then we went to beautiful Paris
Versailles, Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame

Ode to Harry Potter: 
Platform 9 3/4, The Elephant House- where J.K. Rowling started writing on a napkin, Hogwarts Courtyard, Millenium Bridge

One of the very best parts was the people I met- I am lucky to call these top-quality people my friends.
(No trip to London is complete without a Toga Party- obviously.)

This week I read my London Journal (the one time in my life I wrote every day) and it was so fun to remember all the amazing experiences I had there.  But, I was surprised to find that the thing I wrote about the most was my family- how much I missed them and how excited I was to go home and be with them for the rest of the summer.  And, there was also quite a bit about a boy named Bryan I had just started dating.