Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tu'ifua Reunion 2009

The main purpose of our trip to Washington was to attend the Tu'ifua reunion in Seattle. It included all Tu'ifua's from Vaka's great-grandpa's line of 13 sons. We camped at Camp Lakeview, WA and it was absolutely gorgeous. Literally. I told Vaka to quit school so we could move. :)

Ulu'amu and his kids/grandkids at the reunion

Because of school, our trip was shorter than we would have liked, and it was hard to leave before the reunion was over. However, in the time we were there we enjoyed EATING, swimming in the lake, EATING, dancing, EATING, playing cards, EATING, spending time with family and of course, EATING. It was a Tongan reunion - you get the point! Here are just a few of the many pictures...

Three generations of Tu'ifua boys

Our little family. Check out that view!

Breakfast with Kristen, Lillie & Bradley.
So glad my awesome sis-in-law was there so I wasn't the only non native Tongan speaker!

Vaka's aunties - Solia, Tae and 'Anau

Vaka and his cousin Mele

'Ulu & his new wife Naioka. So good to finally meet her!

Tu'ifua's chillin'

All of the Tu'ifua's from Grandpa Feliha'a's line

We love any opportunity we have to spend with Vaka's family since we don't get to see them often living so far away. We've been lucky to see many of them this year and I was so happy to have Jacob finally meet his Tu'ifua cousins. It was a fun for me to meet so many of Vaka's extended family and finally put faces to names and mentally figure out all the relations, which as you can imagine, isn't simple! Though sometimes the culture can be overwhelming and the language barrier frustrating, it is such a blessing to be a part of such a large, loving family.

LOVE these guys!

The first stop of our Northwest trip was meeting up with the Chavez' in Washington. We met for lunch at our fav, The Cheesecake Factory and then went to Ben's grandparents' condo to chill and give Jacob some freedom to crawl around. Jessica and I were co-workers at Fillmore Spencer before Ben graduated and they relocated to Washington for work. Jessica has been there for my major life events, hosting both my bridal and baby shower, and is definitely a lifelong friend. When they moved, she was pregnant with Emilia, so the highlight of our visit with them was meeting their sweet baby girl! So good to see you again and hopefully you'll make a visit out here soon!

The happy mommies with our uncooperative offspring. Someone please tell me I'm not doomed to have pictures like this from now on! (And yes I know, we look like giants next to these petite girls!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Our little rasta man

Look at that boy groove! If Michael were still alive, I think he just may have stolen some of these moves. :) (And yes, that is reggae playing in the background. Other favorites include hip hop and the Mickey Mouse clubhouse soundtrack)

Monday, July 20, 2009

California in Pictures

For our first vacation of the summer, we spent a jam packed, fun filled 3 days in Southern California. Here are some highlights of our trip:

Cooling off in the resort pool

Attending the Redlands temple with Ben as he received his endowments

Grandma enjoying having all 3 grandchildren together

Haylee enjoying her first boat ride on Big Bear Lake

Jacob loving it too

Having fun at Disneyland

These two boys LOVE their aunt Beka

Jacob meeting Mickey for the first time, probably the highlight of the trip!

And not much of this going on... except for JT who apparently can fall asleep in any position!

Cereal Night 2009

4th of July weekend we reunited with some of my high school buddies for "cereal night" like we used to do back in the day. Sunday's after firesides, etc. we all gathered at the Hopkinson's for well, cereal. :) Many of us live out in Utah now, and others were in town and Andrea was awesome enough to organize and host. It was so fun to catch up with old friends. I left feeling 10 years younger! My high school years living in Hawaii were some of the most memorable of my life... thanks for all the fun guys!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Snip Snip

I had been holding out for Jacob's first birthday to put him in the barber chair, but his hair just kept growing and growing and really starting to irritate him. So after lots of pressure and threats from Vaka that he would do it himself (yikes!), I succumbed.

The before shot of my terrified baby. So glad I captured this face!

And my handsome BOY after. This was what I was afraid of. He looks so much older! :(

A big thanks to Rach for the job well done with such a squirmy, uncooperative baby! This girl has been doing my hair since my Liberty Square days (has it really been 7 years!?!) and was the only one I would trust with my baby's first cut.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fun in the Summer Sun

After 3 weeks of rarely seeing the sun, we took the first opportunity we had to hit the pool again. Luckily I was blessed with a water baby who adores water in any form!

Its hard to believe June is almost over, we'll only get busier from here! July will be taking us on two separate trips - first to California (DISNEYLAND!), then back for a few days before we head up to Seattle for a family reunion and on to Portland and the Oregon coast from there. Vaka starts school the last week of August, and hopefully we'll be closing on our house around that time too!

9 months and counting

How is it possible that I've been staring at this adorable face for nearly as long as I had him in my belly? I can't believe how fast time has flown. He is a ball of fun these days, but I can't help but miss when I could snuggle him in my arms. Jacob's recent favorite activities include: crawling at the speed of light, climbing up the stairs, learning to feed himself, experimenting with fun noises, blowing raspberries and eating yogurt for every meal. We love you little guy!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Confession: I have an addiction

Any parent knows that upon welcoming a baby into your home, household expenses increase exponentially, just from diapers alone. Lucky for us, we didn't have to learn this until just a few months ago, thanks to a generous Grandpa Barker.

Upon arriving at Jacob's blessing, Grandpa arrived with a truck full of diapers, pictured below. THAT IS 734 DIAPERS. Yeah, BIG deal.

So when we finally exhausted our supply and had to actually start purchasing diapers ourselves... OUCH. We quickly learned we didn't want to increase our food/household items budget to compensate for the cost of diapers. Why not try to make the diapers fit into our current budget?

Bringing me to the real purpose of this post. :) $25 stretches much farther in our household these days. For example:

10 yogurts
7 bbq sauces
6 fuze drinks
4 apple juices
4 velveeta shells & cheese
4 ritz crackers
3 ritz chips
3 salad dressings
2 big mayo
2 small squeeze mayo
1 box capri sun
1 box granola bars
1 loaf of bread

All for $23.13, a total savings of $102.31. I may not be a coupon queen, (seeing as I'm not advanced enough where I get it all free and only pay tax) but hey, works for me!

Mommy's Little Helper

I've always heard of "good" mothers who incorporate their children into their household duties, finding ways to have them help you with either cooking, laundry, etc. I guess it's never too young to start, right? However, apparently I don't fit into the "good" mom category because my little guy is always the one initiating the "help" while you can likely find me discouraging it. :)

How can I say no to this adorable, innocent face?

Literally, TAKING OUT the recycling (and not to the curb). His favorite thing to do these days.

Obviously I still need to learn a thing or two, because I'm sure I'll be pulling teeth to get him to help with these things in another 15 years!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Future Missionary

I'm late on the announcement, but I couldn't let it go unrecognized. Two weeks ago my 'little' brother Ben received his mission call to the Brazil Porto Alegre South mission. He'll leave August 26th and head straight for the MTC in Brazil. I'm so proud of him and his willingness to sacrifice 2 years to serve the Lord. I was hoping he'd get called to New Zealand so we'd finally have a legitimate reason to fork out the cash to travel there (and then on to Tonga of course). Brazil sounds good too though!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Beautiful baby Haylee

The downside in having to sign another round of paperwork on the house this weekend? I don't get to hold this sweet baby. :(

Introducing Haylee Tacoma Barker, 7 lbs 14 oz, 19 inches long.

Doesn't Tonya look GREAT!?! I did NOT look anywhere near that good right after labor!

And finally, the proud big brother. His comment when he first held her? "I love her."

Finally pictures of a baby other than Jacob to grace our blog. :)
Congratulations Brandon & Tonya!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


We've been MIA in the blogosphere and social circles recently, and this is why:

This is going to be OURS within the next few months. Yes, its true, we are going to become proud townhome owners! This is a BIG step for us, and we couldn't be more anxious, excited, scared and happy all at the same time. We've signed all the paperwork, picked out paint colors, cabinets, countertops and flooring, and now we just sit back and WAIT for it to be finished with a projected move-in date of July. Who knew I'd practically have to quit my day job and need to hire a fill-in mother/wife/housekeeper in order to make all this happen. We're finally over the hump and can leave the time consuming searching, choosing, signing behind us and get caught up on the rest of our life now! *Beware, many catch up posts to follow!*

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Goodbye Grandma...

(The Barkers, 1988)

We received a call this morning that sometime last night, my grandma passed away in her sleep. She's had numerous health problems for years now, but it still came as a shock - simply because she has had them for SO LONG.

So we headed up to Ogden to spend the day with my grandpa. Though under not-so-ideal circumstances, I can't imagine having spent my day in a better way. We made funeral arrangements, helped with odds and ends and ended the day going through albums of pictures, remembering my grandma the way she was in her happier, healthier years.

The following is her obituary that we composed today:

Lucile Dorothy Van Alfen Barker, 73, passed away peacefully in her sleep on March 7, 2009. She was born June 1, 1935 in Ogden, Utah to Dutch immigrants, John and Pauline Herbert Van Alfen. Lucy was raised in Ogden with her eight siblings and attended Ogden High School. After graduating in 1953, she worked for Safeway Stores and her father at their family real estate office. She married Joseph Keith Barker on August 30, 1955 at the County Courthouse in Salt Lake City. Their vows were later solemnized in the Logan LDS Temple in 1956.

Lucy endured 20 years of military life, moving 19 times throughout the United States and Thailand, before returning to Ogden in 1978. She was a member of the LDS church and enjoyed serving in various callings in the Relief Society. Lucy was an avid cook and was known for her delicious pies and chocolate candies. She loved her many pets on ‘Ma Barkers Ranch’, especially her poodles.

She was a fan of Neil Diamond, Tom Jones, and Englebert Humperdink. Lucy’s notable skills include her excellent penmanship and her organizational abilities. Lucy also loved painting, collecting dolls, planning family reunions, and shopping catalogues. One of her greatest joys was spoiling and loving her grandchildren.

In recent years, Lucy suffered from numerous health problems and her family is grateful she is no longer in pain and has returned to Heaven to be reunited with her sweet babies.

Lucy is survived by her selfless and loving husband, Keith; children: Jeff Barker of Salt Lake City, Cory Barker (Colette) of Orem, Kristi Neeleman (Thomas) of Arlington, WA and Lisa Harris of Tigard, OR; grandchildren, Brandon Barker, Brooke Tu‘ifua, Bryan Teeter, Heidi Strickland, Benjamin Barker, Rebekah Barker, Feliciti Neeleman and Robee Neeleman; great-grandsons J.T. Barker and Jacob Tu‘ifua and step grandchildren Jen Neeleman, Emilee Morzelewski, Angie Neeleman, and Ben Neeleman. Also surviving are sisters Diana Prawitt and Virginia Stark and brothers John and Paul Van Alfen.

She was preceded in death by her parents; baby daughter, Leslie Ray Barker; baby sons, John Michael Barker and Mark Anthony Barker; and sisters, Gertrude Carr, Thelma Martin, Pauline Thomas and Joan Robbins.

Funeral Services will be held Saturday, March 14, 2009, at 11:00 a.m. at Larkin Mortuary, Ogden, Utah. Family and friends may call on Friday, March 13, at Larkin Mortuary from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday prior to the service from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Interment will be at Leavitt’s Altorest Cemetery.

Death always shakes up your life; your way and thinking, and provides perspective. Her death has done that for me today. It brings all the "I wish I had gone to visit more" and "I wish I had taken a picture of her with my sweet Jacob", but more than anything, it brings the reminder that I need to treasure my relationships with my loved ones, and take time to enjoy the simple, yet important things in life, and worry less about little things.

These are just a few memories of her that are on my mind tonight, that I don't want to forget:

She always reminded me of Lucille Ball, with her curly red hair, and the name Lucy. :)

She was an amazing cook, and I especially remember her amazing pies and chocolates candies she'd make during the holidays. I wish she would have been well enough in the last few years to have taught me her skills.

She remembered every birthday and special occasion, and would always send a card.

She lost THREE babies shortly after birth. Being a mother myself now, I cannot even begin to imagine how incredibly difficult an experience that was.

She loved us, her grandkids, and spoiled us relentlessly. When we lived in Hawaii, at Christmas, we would receive box after box of gifts from her and grandpa. I guess you could say they were our own special Santa Claus. :) Because we were so far and rarely got to spend time with them, it was their way of showing their love for us.

Friday, March 6, 2009


His stats from a few weeks ago, at nearly 5 months:
Weight: 18 lbs, 8 ounces (90th percentile)
Height: 26 inches (60th percentile)

I am in love with the cutest, "little" guy in my world. He has grown so much and is currently testing my patience more often with his mischievousness and independence, but I can't get enough!! He definitely keeps me on my toes. He can't sit still and loves to twist and turn, roll and bend, and we're afraid he will be crawling soon. The past week he has been sick with croup - JUST as he was learning to be a better sleeper. NOT FUN, and then yesterday Vaka discovered his first tooth. No wonder the poor guy was having such a rough time. Hopefully we're on the up and will be getting more sleep soon!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bring on the burgers!!

It's official!! This taste of heaven is going to be a hop, skip and a jump away from us by the end of the summer!! Excellent for my tastebuds, not so great for my waistline.

P.S. Let's be honest, even though Draper is becoming such a popular place with Ikea, In-N-Out, and the new temple, don't forget to drop by and see us when you come up to visit the really cool places... we're still the coolest thing there!! :)

Friday, February 6, 2009

So very grateful...

muscles i never knew i had ache - a result of lifting, bending, holding and playing with my energetic baby boy... my eyes burn from 4+ months of regularly interrupted sleep - a sign that my sweet baby is more than willing to assure me he is still alive and breathing, any hour of the night... i haven't bought new clothes for myself in months, but have to purchase something for our little guy every shopping trip - evidence that he is a healthy, growing boy... the house is a mess, the laundry is piling up, on non-work days I don't shower before noon and the remaining 10 lbs of baby fat are not lost - reminding me that this little guy is my new priority around here...

so very grateful... to be a mother

Monday, February 2, 2009

Here comes trouble

I'm at work and just received this picture from my mom. Its how she found Jacob when he woke up from his nap this afternoon. Can I just say, a picture says a thousand words!! Or more accurately, only word is needed here: TROUBLE. Jacob's new favorite thing is to squirm and move as much as he can, even though he isn't really "mobile" at this point. You'll find him doing 360's on the carpet, scooting backwards on his back, and his favorite, sliding all the way out of his carseat if he isn't buckled in. He sure keeps us on our toes!!

(Explanation: You're all probably wondering why he was napping in his carseat while unbuckled... sad but true, his carseat is his bed. :) He just won't sleep more than a few minutes anywhere else!! We've tried the crib and playpen several times, and he just wakes up because he isn't "contained." The pediatrician says its fine, but we know sooner than later we need to transition over to an actual bed... especially one that he can't slide out of!! But can you blame me for wanting to get at least 2 hours of sleep at a time instead of 20 minutes?? Oh the joys of parenthood...)

Monday, January 19, 2009

December in Pictures

Unfortunately this blog too accurately resembles life in our house these days... always playing catch up and barely staying on top of things. Where did the month go!?! And in the blink of an eye we're already more than halfway into January. Here's a brief look at just a few of the many things we were up to last month.

December 5th: We got our Christmas tree!! Jacob couldn't take his eyes off it, even before we had a chance to get the lights on.

December 8th:

Annual Fillmore Spencer
Christmas party. Always lots of fun, lots of food, and this year, Jacob was the big flirt with all the ladies. :) He got his first picture with Santa, what a cute little guy we have!!

December 10th: Daddy finishes finals and starts his full month off from school. HOORAY!!

December 16th: Jacob's 2 month (or rather, nearly 3 month) doctor appt and first round of vaccinations.

The stats:
15 lbs, 5 ounces (91st percentile)
24.5 inches (76th percentile)

Basically, he is a big boy!! He's a tough little guy, he let out a quick scream, and it was hard to decide whether it was because of the shot or his binky falling out of his mouth. Maybe those thunder thighs are useful for more than just cute blackmail pictures after all. :)

December 17th:
'Eni arrived, and storm after storm welcomed her!! She has moved in with us and is looking for a job, and we love having her here!!

December 19th: My dad got us all tickets to attend Neil Diamond for my mom's 50th birthday. It was Jacob's first concert and he was a gem. He slept through the first half and sat looking around in amazement during the second. He sure loves music and bright lights. If only I could sleep through concerts, movies and driving, I'd be more than well rested!!

December 25th: Jacob's 1st Christmas!! We're quickly learning, holidays are MUCH more fun with kids. Jacob was obviously spoiled rotten with toys that will last him through next Christmas, but his favorite thing of all was playing with the wrapping paper.

(click on to enlarge and see his cute onesie!)

December 28th: Brandon, Tonya & JT arrived.
Our visits with them are always too short, and it seems
we're always trying to cram as many games, movies and eating into the time they're here. Sadly, this was the only picture taken this visit, JT helping give "baby Jacob" a bath.

December 29th:
Grandpa 'Ulu came to visit!! He was able to work in an extended layover between his trip to Arizona with his new wife and his flight back to Hawaii, so he could meet Jacob. It was a quick trip, and unfortunately a lot of his time was spent in the airport trying to catch a flight, but we are glad we got to see him for what little time we did!!

December 31st:
Apparently being parents makes us old, as both Vaka and I struggled to stay awake while partying at my parents house, and failed miserably. We both crashed by 10 on the couch and floor. I won't be surprised if that's a sign of how we'll spend the coming year; utterly exhausted.

All month: All I wanted from Santa, or rather Jacob:

Not surprisingly, I didn't get what I wanted!!