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*

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