Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Maternity Photos

Amidst the craziness that is the holiday season, I bended time to snap some special photos for two of my favorite peeps just before baby X arrives. So she wouldn't have to walk around the park that we'd initially planned on visiting, we held the shoot at her home.

These photos came out incredible! Of course, I had lovely models, but good-gosh, this gal is quite a looker, 'eh? Isn't this photo beautiful? Something special about this, is that the poncho she's wearing was given to her by her mom.
I absolutely love their backyard. Even in the winter, it is a quiet respite. It is so welcoming, perfect for lounging out there to read a book, and it lets in plenty of light. Speaking of, it was quite perfect for this shot. I love how she's lovingly looking at him and his hand is resting on her swollen belly. Always protecting, so sweet...
Finally, here's baby X underneath the cozy poncho, safely held in momma's arms.
Can't wait to meet you in a few weeks!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in Texas

After Christmas and just before the new year, my family came in from all over Texas to celebrate Christmas with us. It was extra special because for the 2nd time in the past couple of months, we've ALL been together.

This picture is a glimpse of our front yard. When I was away at training in early December, Don had put up the lights all by himself. It was the sweetest gesture and I really appreciated his hard work. Also, if you look closely folks, that is snow! I had to go to work that day and weather forecasters predicted quite a bit of snowfall. By noon, it was just rain. On my commute home that day, I still saw snow. But the closer and closer I got to home, instead of rain drops, I saw snowflakes. It was so, so lovely. Best of all, it felt like Christmas!
Brother and Melissa safely arrived around 9 and the festivities began. Under our tiny tree were loads and loads of happy gifts smiling back at us. It was so nice to receive actual gifts this year instead of gift cards. Some of the gifts were a nice surprise too! This gift is from Brother. He was channeling Mom/Santa from our childhood. We always knew when mom was nearing the end of the night because all that remained were scraps of wrapping paper. To cover the gifts, there'd be a beautiful patchwork design of gift wrap. This was a tiny bit of nostalgia and a gift in and of itself. Thanks for the happies, Brother!
I'd sewed Texas Tech aprons for the family. 3 girlie aprons with gathering and shiny white blanket binding for the strings and 1 straight across apron for my brother and a pocket. I've already tweaked that pattern slightly to better fit the folks I know who work in the food industry. They all seemed to enjoy them! (oh, and I'd made two aprons for a gift exchange in Kansas and our cousin said that hers reminded her of one that was in Anthropologie. Talk about a compliment!)

And Santa brought me the gift that I'd been begging for since the summer: a Texas Tech snuggie!!! Yee-haw! I'd only been bugging ALL of my family for it since October, and they all confessed that each of them nearly bought one for me, so I would've had Snuggies galore. Lucky for me, though, they did talk to one another and I just got the one. Here I am with my siblings enjoying the fabulous comfort of the Snuggie.
Mari, again, was reluctant to open gifts, flat out refusing one of them. However, she received a baby stroller from Primo and was in HEAVEN. Immediately, she took DeeDee (her new baby) and BeeBee placed them into her new stroller and happily ran all around the house.

I love the holidays. While loads of nostalgia floods the mind, (years past of broken hearts around this time, coupled with fabulously happy family memories) I'm reminded just how important family is, and the advent of a new and fresh year, full of promise and beginnings.

I hope you all enjoyed your time off and were able to share with your loved ones!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas in Kansas

Every year when the holidays are upon us, we head north to Kansas to spend quality time with Don's family. Like with most family visits, it is never long enough. We were very lucky to spend quite a bit of time with the family and lucky for me, my cat allergies allowed us to spend longer than two hours with one part of the family where it is a non-stop laughfest (thanks Primo and e-Stacy for helping my build my tolerance!). Mari had a wonderful time at that visit, stalking their 1 year old kittens. We also were able to celebrate in 4 very special Christmas festivities. We received our dozens upon dozens of chocolate peanut butter balls. We ate loads of food. Every year, I look forward to my MIL's rolls. I swear I must've inhaled a dozen of them. I didn't want any kind of sweets, I just wanted her yummy, melt-n-your-mouth rolls. mmmm-MMMM-good!

We very glad that we brought the hitch because our cousin filled an ice chest with deer meat for Don on a recent hunting trip, and Mari cleaned up with loads of Christmas loot. (and so did we!) This proved helpful on our journey home, since the added weight helped us trek through the remaining slush/ice/snow on the highway.

No Christmas trip is complete without a visit to the local mall. While there, we visited Santa. Unfortunately, it was a Santa with a fake beard. We'd heard the guy with the real beard had been working earlier in the week, but we just missed him. Again, she didn't like the visit, but it was only accompanied by a short amount of screams and shrieks. For her efforts, she was awarded a red lollipop and a bowl of salsa. Here she is walking hand in hand with her daddy.
We'd had two other Christmas celebrations on Christmas eve, so Mari was in no hurry to open gifts. Frankly, she was more interested in the tree decorations and the baby doll she'd received the night before. Eventually, we coaxed her into opening two of her gifts, but she was finished. Proclaiming, "all done!" and, "Nooooooo!!" while running from the room to hide. I guess she was over Christmas.
And lucky for us, a snow storm had passed (while we narrowly avoided a full-on blizzard), so Mari was able to enjoy the snow. She remembered it and gleefully squealed, "SNOW!"
All-in-all, it was a wonderful trip to the land of Dorothy. Speaking of Dorothy, I've just ordered our 3rd (yes 1, 2, 3!!) copy of The Wizard of Oz since our last working copy nearly the bit the dust on this trip. Luckily, I purchased Enchanted and it has been a nice distraction for the meantime.

I hope you all had a very blessed and happy Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Doesn't Like Santa or Mrs. Claus

Just to refresh your memory, last year, my little one did not mind being around Santa. I appreciate that this guy had a real beard. We'll just forget about his deer-in-the-headlights expression, mmmmk? See how happy she is? See how she doesn't mind wearing antlers on her head? It's like a typical photo session. No need for any fuss.
Now fast forward to this year. One year later and we have a classic portrait of a child with Santa. Full on screaming, get-me-outta-here-mommy-like-NOW expression. It was in this moment that I was completely and totally dissected. Half of me wanted to roll on the floor with laughter, because honestly, you can't buy that kind of genuine expression. The other half of me wanted to pelt that Santa with my camera for just existing. How could he be so menacing that he made my daughter cry. My theory is the beard. It is so utterly full of fake curls that there is no way a REAL person's beard would look like that.

I figured if we put her in a female's lap and bribed her with candy she may evoke some kind of a Mari smile. Nope, not at all. She can spot fake from a mile away. She didn't want to tell either of them about her dog or ask for "pretty" for Christmas. (Which, when I ask her, "Mari, what would you like for Christmas?" She always responds with "Pretty." I don't know if that means she wants earrings (which are pretties) or snow (which is pretty) or clothes or a doll. Regardless, she wants pretty, so Santa will endeavor to make Christmas pretty in all definitions of that word for her.*)
We'll attempt another visit in Kansas and maybe this time she'll have the same reaction she did the first time. Who knows?

*and the asterisk for pretty means that Mommy will actually TRY to get gussied up for Christmas and be pretty too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Festive

While I like Summer and Autumn, Winter has to be my favorite season for clothes. So many wonderful layers and lush textures that you can mix up! Also, the fabrics just pop when you outside playing in the leaves on the ground or in the snow.

Anyway, I went off thinking about cooler weather. Well, we have been lucky enough to have cool weather, well, cool enough to wear a coat (not every day, but many days). I've taken this opportunity to fully utilize Mari's cute clothes to coordinate with the weather. You see, every Wednesday and Friday, it's my turn to dress her and get her ready for school. Granted, she's usually a reluctant little thing to get up, much like her mother and father, a certifiable angry, gnarling monster with outta control hair and baby dragon breath (really, it's weird how odoriffic this child is). With Guapo's help and Radio Disney, we can usually coax her out of her blanket shell and back into the land of the living. Guapo covers her with his kisses, but unfortunately, her powers are much stronger than mine, and he will inevitably snuggle in tight with her and try to fall back to sleep himself. Do you see why it is so hard to leave on time on Wednesdays? Who can resist the two of them in a warm nest...so inviting! It's cuddle-mazing!

What was I saying? Oh yeah, clothes. Fridays...right. Well, Friday is also Holiday Party at school. Actually, they call it the Christmas party. And you know what? I think that's pretty darn cool. There's a whole variety of kiddos that go to her school, from all nationalities, and they all celebrate different customs, but none of them are complaining about a Christmas party. Why? Because regardless of where you came from, if you are kid and you've heard tales of Santa, you PROBABLY believe in him. I mean what isn't to like? This guy, who you only see once a year, comes by and gives you toys and candy. While we try to teach our daughter about Baby Jesus, the commercialized images of gifts and Santa and candy canes supercede our teachings. Regardless, the children are having a Christmas party and all of them are incredibly ecstatic about it because they get to eat cake again for their afternoon treat instead of carrots.

There I go again, going off on another tangent. Ok, so I dressed her in the Christmas outfit my mom bought for her. It reminded me of the red dress Annie wore in her movie. Because it did, I paired it with white tights and black patent leather shoes. These days, Mari has been taking her clothes off. I've been assured that it is a phase that most children go through. I've discovered a way around it, though. If I dress her in tights, then put a onesie over the tights, she will always have that base layer because the snaps have yet to captivate her attention long enough for her to figure out she can just pull them apart. Here she is about to go off to school. Again, I'm showcasing that gorgeous investment of a coat I found at Gap. *swoon*
See, it's the beginning of the clothing shed. :) I figure if the tights last all day without a hole and just a few stains, then we're doing pretty good. Also, when did my baby grow so fast? This dress is a 3T! A month ago, 2T was quite a bit too big. It seems that 2T fits her perfectly and 3T isn't that far behind from fitting.

Enjoy your Friday!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Baking & Cuteness

I caught the baking bug simply because I wanted to leave plenty of yum-yums for my beloved while we headed out of town. First of all, who knew it was so easy to make shortbread?? Really? Less than a handful of ingredients and BAM...yummy goodness. One of the first wedding showers I had, my mom gifted me with a cookbook from our church. It was the 25 year anniversary cookbook, compiled with all sorts of recipes from the women in the church. I scanned through the recipes and recognized almost all of the names. It brought back fond memories of the time I spent at St. John Neumann. By the way, for those of you not in the know, if you don't own a cookbook from a church, then you are missing out. These little gems have proven recipes in there, many of them are traditional Southern comfort food. Speaking of SoCo....ok, back with a drink in hand.

Anyway, first up, we have pineapple squares. Don's Aunt K gifted me this recipe on our wedding day. The first time he took me to Salina for Christmas, I fell in love with this dish! I'd scoured the Internets for the recipe and none of them yielded the results like I wanted. This dish sealed our fate, and as it would be, 5 months after eating it, we were engaged. During the engagement process, I wanted recipes galore, even requesting them as part of the RSVP for the invitations. Inside our wedding gift was this treasured recipe. And nearly 5 years later, it was totally worth getting married to Don just to get my hands on it! ;) All kidding aside, this is delicious! I still don't have it down pat like she makes them, but I'm getting better. Instead of making a large pan, I made individual servings so he could enjoy for the week. Unfortunately, they came out a tad drier than the larger pan, but they are still good.
Next up, shortbread. Don loves dark chocolate. Me, not so much. On my last trip to the store, I'd splurged on some fancy-schmancy dark chocolate chunks. They totally filled up all of my luxury item budget, but it was well worth it for a surprise for him. I was unsure how much shortbread dough this would make, especially since the recipe called for it to be split in half while baking. There was no need to divide it in half, though because this was just fine. AND I tasted it and boy, was that some deliciousness right there. Today, it is all gone.
And just for fun, here's my sugarbean not happy about being up early. This was taken last Friday when it was cold. After snapping this photo, she was totally diggin' her mittens. So much so that I catch her wearing socks on her hands. I think I need to consider making her some sock puppets.

On the Potty Training Fast Track

On Saturday, our wee one started having an unusual amount of dirty diapers. It came all of a sudden, and when Don remarked about them, I chalked it up to all of the grapes she'd eaten the night before. Certainly, eating an entire bunch of grapes warrants the type of reaction that we were experiencing first hand.

Then, on Sunday, it just kept going. She didn't have an accompanying fever, but by that evening, not only were we out of disposable diapers, but she'd developed a nasty rash. I elected to work from home because more than a couple of loose stool diapers and she's not allowed to go to school. I've armed myself with all of the clean cloth diapers to fight off the diaper rash.

In the meantime, I told her that the "ouch" wouldn't be as bad if she used the potty. Well, she took it to heart and has been telling me each and every time she has the urge. Not to pee, but poop. I hear that's the most difficult part of potty training, so we'll see if we take another step in that direction.

At least that's the bright spot I'm trying to see through this bug. :) That and the fact that we get to hang out together all day long during the work/school week, even if it is because she's not feeling so great.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

colorful

I like different patterns and textures. It makes me happy when things that aren't supposed to go together can work together to evoke someone's personality. Case in point:
I'm well aware that stripes do not go with floral pattern. Yes, that is a polka dotted ribbon on her dress as well. either way, Mari is just like me. She's all sorts of random spitfire in a bite-sized package. It is very difficult for me to find things in the stores for her to showcase her spirit. I have found some, but they are quite a bit more out of my budget.

Enter City Craft & JoAnn's fabric. I have found a plethora of treasures in the fabric department and now I'm itching to sew her some uber-cuteness. I've been drooling over this machine for the past couple of weeks, ever since Jacki first mentioned it to me. I'm gonna write a letter to Santa and ask for it! Although, in my letter, I will also ask for the accompanying accessories: bobbin and extra feet for it.

Anyway, I'm planning away at all of the projects I hope to complete, but first I must finish up the Christmas gifts. Here's a glimpse of the yummy craftiness going on over here:
Hope that's enough to whet your appetite. Tomorrow, I'll post about the different things I'm crocheting! wheee!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

we have rats?


This is totally a pity party email, so I apologize in advance, but I just had to get this out. I can't let it get any more of me than it already has.

Today I received an email from a concerned neighbor who lives about 5 streets away, but talks to many people in the neighborhood. Some of the people they talk to include neighbors who live on our block. I don't want to turn this into an overblown thing and I applaud her courage for sharing with me, but I had to write this out because, well, I'm really hurt and confused.

Here's the gist of it all: We've been accused of housing rats in the backyard. Apparently, they've been scampering around and it has caught a neighbor's attention who not only reported us to the city, but also told this concerned neighbor of ours. Not once have we heard a single complaint from any of our neighbors, who we actually talk to on a weekly basis. So my first question is, when did things get to be so bad in the world that a neighbor can't walk a few feet to your house to talk to you about something they are concerned about? Or heck, pick up the phone or shoot an email. Lord knows our information is splattered all over the Internets.

Also, the city has never contacted us about having a rodent problem. When we first moved in, we were cited because the backyard fence was old (the original fence) and needed repairs. We had made the requested repairs at that time. One terrible storm passed through a couple of years ago and well, our rickety old fence was no more. We tore the whole thing down. We knew this would expose the world to our backyard. Which is even more concerning because we back up towards an extremely busy street. There's the city's brick fence that acts as a barrier between that street and our alley, but it isn't much. We have some trees that block the view, mostly. When we priced fences, I about had a heart attack! Even if we did it ourselves (which is totally do-able), there's still a cost factor, but most importantly, finding the time to install it. Regardless, we said we would hold off on putting up a fence until we had a proper play area for the little one. Everyone needs their own personal slide, right? And since someone ran off with our fire pit (an awesome wedding present, stolen in the night), we didn't want to spend money on something else that someone would run off with. Seriously, do you know how expensive swing sets and playhouses are?

I feel sick to my stomach at the thought that people think we are those people. We're the dirty neighbors who don't have pride in their home. What does that say about us?

I guess what hurts the most is that I actually thought our backyard was nice. Yes, it could use some work, but this past spring and summer, we toiled and labored. I concentrated on the patio area and Don focused on the yard. I like how he stacked all of our firewood on a makeshift platform at the base of the trees. He planted a garden for his family. He nurtured our trees, especially the Magnolia tree that we planted that first year. I put up some hanging plants and decorated the patio with other potted plants. We created many memories back there, enjoying the shade, and laughing as Mari hesitantly ran through the sprinkler during the summer. I made sun tea back there, we had evening dinners al fresco, and there were times I found myself hanging out there in the evening, thinking, pondering, and praying.

Not once did I see a rat. The rabbits no longer hang around there for fear of Guapo. He's caught a few of them, which is rather surprising, and he's even caught a bird. He's never caught a rat. I believe it is his antics that allowed our garden to thrive and prosper. We actually quite quite a fruitful crop this year!

But still...we're the neighbors with the rat problem, who people are afraid of approaching to voice a concern, I guess. Pretty heavy stuff that puts a dark cloud on a happy Thursday. *sigh*

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

HDMR: The Blindside & The Changeling

This is true story post day...yaaay!

THE BLINDSIDE...based on a true story

I went in this movie knowing it would be emotionally gut wrenching and hopefully inspirational. I didn't leave disappointed. Spending my elementary years in a predominantly black neighborhood, I realized that many of my friends weren't going to have the same opportunities as others. Even at that tender age, they had resigned themselves to what was expected. Very, very bright kids with extraordinary athletic talent, they just weren't given the option to shine. Sometimes you just need someone to "see" you and believe in you. Just one person makes that difference. I knew this true story would take some movie license, but for the most part, from what I understand, it was true to form. I remember seeing Michael Oher play against Texas Tech last year at the Cotton Bowl. He was an integral part to their victory, a force all his own to shut out our defensive line. Not an easy feat!

Anyway, this movie has some moments of ultimate cheese, but overall, I really enjoyed it. Sandra Bullock fell into the part and I completely lost sight of her. I loved how well she played the character, and unlike some of the other characters she's played in the past, this one just stood out. I don't know if she'll win any acting awards, but I certainly hope she'll be nominated! Both the little boy who played SJ and the young man who played Michael stole my heart! I couldn't help but see the vulnerability in the Michael character, and his big burly body with a sensitive nature reminded me an awful lot of my own brother. I'm definitely buying this movie brand new! Go out and watch it tonight! Premium Cosmo with a fresh lemon twist...*clink*

THE CHANGELING...based on a true story

After so long, I finally got around to watching this movie. I knew the story behind it. Honestly, going into it, I really wanted to watch it so I could drool over the wonderful costumes, especially the hats that Angelina sported throughout. Because it was directed by Clint Eastwood, I had a high level of expectation for the movie. I'm not sure why we delayed so long. Possibly because I wasn't quite ready to see the images evoked on screen. Ever since having Mari, the thought of anything going awry with her gives me the heeby-jeebies and invariably leads to a delicate crying fit and an extremely melancholy mood. sigh...

Anyway, this movie was actually compelling. At first, I thought it went slow, but it slowly pulled me in. There were strong characters that I instantaneously hated. Angelina seemed like she had an old woman's voice. Maybe it was to give the impression that she was frail (because all I could think was give this woman a taco!!!), both in body and voice, when in reality, she was quite strong. I like her motto: Never start a fight, but always finish it. Definitely something to think about when you have your back against a well. Also, there are some haunting images that will stick with you, and I have no doubt I will have nightmares about them later. This was definitely worth the rental, but I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as much in the theater. Raised glass of cheap Ballatore Spumante champagne...*clink*

Monday, November 30, 2009

Family Portraits at Stone Creek Park

We headed out early on Saturday morning for family portraits by Jackie. When I get the pics back from our session, I will be sure to share. Until then, here are some of the shots Don took while waiting for our turn to smile and pose. Here's a brief look at the Stone Creek Park in Flower Mound. It was an incredible location and perfect for an outdoor session. Love those rocks!
There was this bridge that we had to cross to get to the creek. Mari had a ball running over it and back. (Hi Jackie!)
Mari was hamming it up most of the morning, wanting to explore, and giddy while she did. However, when we sat her down to snap the photo, she wasn't having it. She totally had a mini meltdown at one point, even refusing marshmallows and M&M's. Here at the end, I tossed her in the air, with the hopes of getting a Mari smile. I think we got one.
I like this shot. Don said she looks like a coach. I told him I agreed. A coach who means business!
And I just can't get over how much this boy has grown. We seriously almost see eye to eye! Wow.
My beautiful sister rockin' the Sheffield Jersey. Actually, it doesn't say Sheffield, but that is who is number 1 this year.


Here's the full set of shots here:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Tech v. Baylor at Jerryworld

Saturday night, we trekked out to Arlington to the Cowboy's Stadium to watch Texas Tech play Baylor. The final score: Tech 20 - Baylor 13. Defense won this game, let me tell you. Ruffin McNeill is the man! I love his passion and ability to motivate his players to get it done. And get it done they did. That last Baylor drive had me standing on my feet, Mari perched on my left hip, right arm extended in the air, waving my guns, screaming Raider Power! They stopped 'em and the goosebumps all over my body when they stopped them made that victory all the better. The best thing of all? Don, Mari, Sam, Cristian, Zeni, Mom, Dad, and Danika were all around us. Brother, Missy, Espi, Mikey, Zeke, Xavier, and Rob were all there too! There were tens of thousands of other Red Raider fans in attendance and let me tell you, it was such a wonderful sensation to hear the boom of RAIDER....POWER echo off the walls in Jerryworld.
We sat right next to the band, so getting hyped up was incredibly easy. By the end of the night, Danika knew all of the cheers and hand motions. Mari had a nice nap during the 3rd quarter, but woke up during the 4th to see the victory. Even she was waving her guns when she heard the fight song. (Does she hear it much? I think so.) It was so cute to hear her yell, "go, go, go!"
This is why I love college football! Man, after January I'm going to have to immerse myself in all kinds of crafty goodness to keep myself occupied. So long Fred's Philly. I'll be seeing you again in January for the bowl game and then I'll take a 7 month hiatus until next season.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Times Two

We were very fortunate to have two Thanksgiving celebrations this year. Thursday night, we had a small family gathering, where we conferenced in Brother and Missy. The wonder of technology, right? He was at work and she was at home packing and getting ready for the trip. I'm so glad that we were able to be there together this evening, but it wasn't complete without Zeni and my Pops. Yep, those crab legs were fantastic! That morning, Don and I had whipped out a 10K and fell in and out of awareness while watching football.

We got up super early on Friday for the Black Friday deals. (4:15AM) I really wanted to take advantage of the sales to stretch the donated dollars by my group for the Salvation Army Angel Tree kids. I loaded up on: 2 mp3 players, a car seat, case of diapers, 2 dresses, a pair of shoes, an all-weather jacket, a princess blanket, with matching pajamas, and plate. While out and about, I also found some really cool megablocks for Mari and a Little People farm set. The best deal of the day had to have been the the gun safe we've been eyeballing for a few years now. We've kept Don's rifles in a locked gunny sack, but always wanted a fire proof gun safe to keep them in. We splurged and got it! (By the way, did you know it is illegal to have a gun in the home that isn't locked up around kids less than 12 years of age?) We were very lucky to have people help us to save on the cost of delivery and set up. (Thanks Espi, Simon, and Stacy!) I also scored some nifty plastic shoe boxes at Home Depot and an awesome tool tote that I plan to store my ribbon. AAAAND...we got some fabulous poinsettas for 99 cents! Later on we'll be delivering some of them to neighbors to spread joy. We all took a break for breakfast. While there my mom entered a contest to win a gas grill. Well, turns out, we're a finalist for it. They called us and let us know that the live drawing will happen on Wednesday. Afterwards, I picked up some SASSY gifts that I won't reveal because the surprise is for one of my readers. However, I was less than impressed when my mom and I made an excursion to Chico's fashion. The lady who helped my mom was patient and kind. The woman who checked us out was...well, I don't want to say what she was, but rest assured, a letter is being composed to send to the store manager. Later on, we had a girls fun time getting pedicures. Mari was a hoot. She really enjoyed dipping her feet in the water and getting a baby massage.

On Saturday, we were all able to be together. It has been a long while since that happened, and it was really great. It was a little less formal of a gathering, and I can't believe how much food we had. The turkey was so delicious, as was the mac and cheese. (Thanks Brother) Sam was mixing up the perfect drinks for everyone and Zeni was being a gracious non-alcoholic drink server. She was on it, especially with the refills. I loved that everyone helped out to prepare our meal.
This time when we did our prayer of Thanksgiving circle, there were definitely more of us. When it came to my turn, I knew I was going to be incredibly emotional. This year has been a valley amongst our peaks and valleys, but I know I'm so very lucky that my valleys aren't canyons. I have a lot of love and support surrounding me and I'm so very, very blessed by generosity, love, and prayers. It's truly hard to think about the bad when you are surrounded by so much positivity. I'm ever so grateful for special people. And that includes you who are reading this. I swear I'm just putting my words out in the universe, only to be ready by spammers and you special few. Thanks for being a sounding board!


Full set of photos here:

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Moon Fever


I went out to see New Moon over the weekend. I was hard pressed to find anyone to go with me. Primarily due to two reasons: those who were interested had plans to see it at midnight when it opened and the others who think I'm silly for falling victim to this series to begin with. Lucky for me, e-Stacy was available to be my date and my inner teenager silently squealed with delight because I wouldn't have to wait until it came out on DVD.

I didn't have high hopes for the film. I was expecting loads of boring, brooding stares. Heck, it got 1.5 stars and most of that was for the effects. Essentially, I was expecting this movie to suck on an epic level, similar to Gigli. Instead, what I got was a whole lotta Some Kind of Wonderful with hints of TV action sequences. It wasn't bad, honestly. Actually, I enjoyed it. Not enough to spend another $7.50 to watch it in the theater, but I will more than likely buy the DVD when Blockbuster adds it to the 3 for $25 section and add it to the collection.

The revelation I made about this film (and quite frankly the books too) was that it really did take me back to being a teenager: when most of my thoughts were consumed with boys, my future, that insecurity I felt over and over and over again, and the uncertainty of it all. I'm not a huge fan of the Bella character, but somehow Kristen Stewart made her not seem as whiny and needy as she was in the books. She kept her trademark lip chewing to a minimum (for her anyway.) Heck, I wanted to give both her and Taylor Lautner some Burt's Bees lip balm with all of the lip licking and biting. But then I realized that as an awkward teen, you often make silly little facial gestures, revealing what you really want, but not really having the courage to follow through. Anyway, I don't know what it was, but Kristen Stewart looked really lovely in this film. So there you go boys, a little eye candy for you too. My favorite scene was when the guys gathered in Emily's home. There was such an easy feeling and flow to them. Their antics didn't seem forced. They genuinely looked like a tight-knit family. Plus, I love, love, love all of the little details in the movie. How many of you notice the things put on end tables or the photos on the wall in a movie? Raising hand...I do!

And God bless Stacy for tolerating my tiny bouts of snickering every time Edward glittered in full view in the sunlight. I couldn't help but chuckle ever since I read that comparison of him to Michael Jackson's glove. Which, can you believe that glove fetched $420,000 at an auction? I adored Michael Sheen as Aro! He certainly does evil well.

I was also reminded how much my former self was addicted to adrenaline. I am very chicken when it comes to certain things, but never one to back down from a dare (even from myself), I often found myself in predicaments that allowed me to conquer my fears, thus yielding massive amounts of adrenaline. I haven't had a rush like that in years! No, I take that back, it's been nearly two years since the last big adrenaline rush...childbirth does that to you. :D

Anyway, I would recommend this movie. Yes, I wish there was a bit more action, but overall, it is mindless fun and a good way to escape reality for a couple of hours. And it was even better going home to Don and Mari and living my own reality. Everything turned out pretty darn nifty for this former angst-ridden teenager who was once in search of herself and love.

*btw, this movie poster is a fan poster I found on the Internets, but it is way cooler than some of the actual posters.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Chalice Project


This chalice made a weeklong visit to our home last week. Our church is conducting a chalice project, where a chosen family prays a specific prayer for vocations. We are also welcome to fill the chalice with our own prayers for vocations. Along the way, we also filled it with prayers of Thanksgiving, for loved ones, lost loved ones, general prayers, and a very special prayer for Jenna & Joey.

Having such a beautiful symbol of our faith at the dinner table reaffirmed our faith and reminded us truly why we do what we do. We were instructed to put the in a prominent position in our home, so the chalice would move from the dinner table to the counter above the sink. If we aren't eating, then we are in the kitchen prepping or cleaning. As I put dishes away, I would sneak a glance at the chalice, and then catch a glimpse of my husband. I would pause and give thanks for him.

He and I are connected, and together, we were blessed with Mari. And moments later, after catching that glance, she would scamper along, gleefully screeching, while flitting about the kitchen. And yes, even Guapo halted and stood at quiet attention while we pray as a family.

Growing up, my own family prayed together. This was actually my favorite part of the day, when we would lock hands and say grace before dinner. Now, when we all gather together, just before we part ways, we have our family circle, uniting together again for a prayer of thanks and blessings. Each one of us connected, with all of the grandchildren (and granddog, too!) in the middle of the adults.

Prayer is a very powerful thing. To me, it doesn't matter to whom you are praying, but I do believe we are all connected by our own faith. It is this faith that heals and supports in the dark of the night or the quiet of the day. Some people pray silently. Others sing their prayers. Some pray with their actions. Each type of prayer is beautiful and and lyrical...in its own way.

I felt very fortunate that we were able to fill the chalice with our prayers. We felt honored to have been picked to host it. The underside of the chalice was dedicated in honor of a priest back in the 80s. I meant to write the name down and research the beginnings of how our church first obtained it. Unfortunately, I did not, but it was still nice to have that piece of history in our home.

I send up prayers for all of you and I sincerely hope you get to spend time with your loveds ones, both biological family and family that you have made along the way. May God bless each and every one of you!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Family

When I did a quick search on dictionary.com or wikipedia.com for family you I was not at all surprised at how lengthy the entry was. I did find it to be as basic as you could write about it, but neither topic went into the depths of what family is.

It means something different to all of us, you know, the underlying definition. Some don't like the thought of spending more than an hour with family. Others wish they were granted another hour with their families because they were taken too soon. For me, family is foundation.

I know I often get nostalgic of times since passed, mostly because I miss my family. And yes, I miss that we argue and bickered over the most mundane things. But I learned about sharing, and compromise. I learned about individuality and being respectful of others. I learned that everyone has a job, and even when they don't feel like doing it, they still do it. Everyone has something to contribute.

I miss that I was irritated by little brother. Brother isn't so little any more, and I wish he was around more to irritate me.

I miss irritating my sister by ruining the clothes I would borrow. I just wanted to be like her and wearing her clothes was like putting on a Samantha costume for a little while. Because I have a more womanly shape than when I was 15, her clothes no longer fit. Shirts and pants aren't long enough. Plus, she's no longer a few feet away.

I miss hiding in my parents closet, perched atop my father's dress shoes and behind his suit jackets, waiting to pounce him when he got home. He always let me blow on his tie to make the knot disappear. For so long I thought it was magic, until I grew up and learned the logistics of how to tie a tie. These days, I think it is great that Mari likes to hide in our closet, perched atop my shoes, behind her daddy's shirt.

I miss watching my mother get ready every morning. She was so quick to put on her face. So very glamorous and beautiful. Strong, confident, and nurturing: I often found myself sneaking into their room to spray her perfume on my pillow so that I could smell her when I fell asleep at night. Recently, she stayed with us and her perfume lingered in the room. I kept telling Don to quickly shut the door because Mom's smell would fade so much faster than I wanted it to.

All this to say, they are my foundation. My strength from which I draw upon. My inspiration on so many levels. They are the reason I am who I've become. I love that we've all grown up and not only are we family, but we're friends. They are some of my greatest friends. I often don't speak about my anxieties and worries, but they can sense when it's there. Out of nowhere, I will get that phone call, email, or text, and it will lift my spirit. In that instant, I'm reminded from where I came, and with that strength, where I'm going.

I'm so very thankful to be blessed with my family. Because of them, I know nothing will ever be impossible.

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to the mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Night-Night Brother & Sister

Since the season finally decided to change, I was really concerned about Mari at night. She, like me, doesn't sleep well when it is really warm. Her sinuses dry out and it triggers nosebleeds. However, I don't want her to be too cold either. We've been layering her with a onesie, socks, and fleece footie pajamas or just with the fleece pjs, but we still haven't found the right combination. This is primarily caused by the fact that she likes to wrestle around with her blankets, shoving them off of her toddler crib, or what I think is her favorite: sleeping on top of the blankets.

Last night, we experimented by letting Guapo sleep with her. He used to sleep with us, but as he got older and we grew more and more concerned with potential back issues (dachshunds are known for their back problems AND he sleeps so soundly, more than once he's fallen off of our bed!), we relented and he slept in his own bed within eyesight of me.

Last night, when we headed to bed, he did his usual half-dozed trot to his bed in our room, preparing to burrow under his very own afghan when I paused at Mari's room and asked him if he wanted to sleep with his sister. No sooner had I gotten the phrase out of my mouth, his tiny ears perked up, tail at attention and he raced into her room and hopped on her bed.

He paused in mid-burrow, stared at me for permission and I nodded approval. Normally, he's never allowed in her bed. Even when he helps me wake her in the morning, he will only put his front two paws on the bed, which isn't very far for him at all, since it is less than 12 inches off of the ground (including the mattress height). His tail a-waggin', he happily nestled at her feet, and Mari narily stirred from her deep slumber. I tucked them both in bed, kissed them both good night and whispered into Guapo's ear, "Take care of your little sister." With that, he rested his head on her leg.

This morning, around 6:30, I heard a *THUMP*, then a shaking dog, with clinking dog tags. Dangit, i forgot to take off Guapo's clothes last night! I heard this little nails click on the concrete and I only presumed that he was off to burrow in the nest he's built for himself in the living room. Moments later, Mari sleepily stepped into our bedroom, draggin' her blue star lovey with her. I gladly welcomed her into our bed. She nuzzled with me, and just when I thought she was about to pass out, she perked up, planted a kiss on me and said, "Hiiiiiyyeee Maaaamaa!"

Good morning to you, sugarbean. :)

Photographers are Awesome


One of the biggest reasons I like the holidays are the photos I take at this time. It isn't that they are super amazing by a professional photographer's standards, but they are captured memories of family and friends that I don't nearly get to see, nor spend as much time with them as I'd like.

This year, I did something out of the norm. I booked a professional photographer to meet us the Saturday after Thanksgiving and get a BIG family portrait of my immediate family and their loved ones. I'm so flippin' excited about this opportunity! Normally, we rush and try to squeeze time and head to a photog-in-a-box. This inevitably is very stressful, because trying to squeeze that many people into a room and get them to cooperate, then finally agree on a photo to buy...well, it's just a mess! This is an investment in a moment captured. Thanksgiving is my 2nd most favorite holiday of the year, just inches behind Easter. This year, we're all going to be together! Not on Thanksgiving proper, but two days after isn't so bad. I can't even remember the last time I had everyone around me. It isn't like years have gone by. I know it's just been a few months, but still. We're a tight knit family and I get a little skittish when it's been too long since we've connected.

Anyway, I first "met" Jackie on a local moms board and later met her briefly in person on another photo shoot. I was taken back by her incredible eye and the photos she took of me blew my mind. Seriously, normally I don't like being in front of a camera. I prefer to be behind one, in fact. However, with her at the helm, I'm confident and know that she'll not only get a great shot, but capture my personality. If she could do that with me, well, then it'll be easy-breezy with the rest of my family. They are all super photogenic! That probably has to do with Mom insisting on getting our photos done in the studio every 3 - 6 months since birth. :D Thanks Mom! Good thing none of our photos have turned up on awkwardfamilyphotos.com

While Jackie runs mini-session specials, which are quite a bit less expensive than a typical session, I wanted to have her keen eye for fabulousness all to ourselves. I have wanted to participate in some of her mini session specials for a while, but the timing just wasn't right. Anyway, she is running a wonderful Christmas special: For $175, you get 3 mini sessions throughout 2010. That's a $60 savings!

Also, one final brag on her, she's giving away over $1000 in custom photography to a very deserving family. If you know someone, you should definitely email their story to her.

Speaking of giveaways, another photographer's blog I stalk is Spink Studio. And she's giving away 50 custom Christmas cards for anyone who enters the contest. Go check it out if you want a chance to win.

What are some of your favorite family photo (or general photo) experiences?

Monday, November 16, 2009

brand new header

First off, I have to give a HUGE, monumental, epic shout out to Amanda over at KevinandAmanda.com for the font I'm using in my header. She has some super duper amazing fonts that she created all on her own based on other people's handwriting. How amazingly awesome is she? I've noticed some others that I've missed that I'll have to put into my font inventory.

Anyway, instead of the breezy, dreamy photo I opted for this little gem that I snapped last weekend. It was a lonely flower in a murky pond, yet, she looked so regal and serene. I figured it needed to be shared with the world, so here you go. Voila!

Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bake, Bake, Bake

Alrighty, I didn't bake nearly as much as I initially thought I would b/c I was sidetracked by my re-purposing project and desire to clean every inch of grout in both of our bathrooms (which seriously took about 3 hours!). Any how, here's the baking post. I was very happy that I took photos to share. Yaaay!

So, the first one: duh...Rice Krispy Treats.
Yum, check out that unsalted butter melted with the marshmallows. Small fact, I was unaware that both my BFF and sister hadn't really made Rice Krispy Treats before.
I had a bag of unopened candy corn, so I threw a bit in the mix for kicks and it was delish! I got this idea from The Laws of My Life blog. It was a hit! I only had two pieces leftover for today and that was a very good thing.
Next up, Chocolate Chip Cookies, a recipe that inspired me when visiting Paper Oranges. Only, halfway through making these yummy treats, I realized that I only had one cup of chocolate chips!!! EEEK!!! Instead, I threw in some craisins and chopped pecans for some added flavor and texture. Ok, so this recipe looked oh-so-easy-and-fabulous that I added it to my handwritten recipe book. Check it out:
Remember when I mentioned the aprons? Well, here they are in all their glory! (minus the one that I was wearing.) And yes, that's a bright red double-T on the black apron. I made it as a gift to myself when I graduated. That lil' apron has seen many kitchens and baking adventures.
Dry Goods...awesome Quaker Oats

Here are some more dry good. That first set went in the first bowl and these went in the 2nd bowl.
Here are my awesome measuring cups. I don't think that they've actually graced the blog.

And here are the tiny measuring spoons.Hello spoons!Whisking together the oats, flour, salt, baking powder, & baking soda. Can you spot me in the reflection?
Mmm...light and fluffy: butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla.

Time to add the eggs. I <3 brown eggs! yaaay
Now to fold in the chips, craisins, and pecans.
Last time I baked, there was a bit of caramel overload onto the bottom of the pan and well, it hasn't gone away. I've attempted to use the self-cleaning setting on it, but I'm not sure it is really doing anything. In any case, our little convection oven saved the night.
Voila! yummy goodness!

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