Saturday, December 27, 2008

Yee Haw....

For Christmas Ava got this stuffed pony toy. And this was such a huge hit with the kids on Christmas. Pictured above is my niece Alyssa. My nephew Jordan is on the stuffed Panda toy that was for my cousins little boy Emery. Who would have guessed these toys would have been such a huge hit.

This photo of Jordan just cracks me up because he is acting like he has a lasso and was saying "giddy up". He was having such a great time.

A more tame picture of Jordan on the horse! These cowboy hats were actually from Emery's first birthday party back in June. Who would have thought six months later they would come in quite useful. :)

Ava on the pony. She felt like the pony should be wearing the hat instead of her. :)

Emery on his Panda. He already has a wooden horse riding toy his Grandpa made for him, so I thought it would be pointless to give him a stuffed animal that was a horse too. So he ended up with the Panda. And since his Dad's nickname used to be Panda as a little kid we thought it was quite fitting. As for Emery in this picture, the poor little guy was just so worn out from a busy and exhausting day. Not long after this picture was taken was he out like a light in his Auntie Cera's arms.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas....

Christmas Morning 2008

Ava's letter from Santa. And the remnants of the yummy Pop-Tart and mug of milk left for Santa. I was out of cookies...I know that probably makes me a bad Mom, but at least I had Pop-Tarts and milk in the that is what we left. Ava thought it was neat "Santa" left her a letter!

This year Ava had the opportunity to open gifts with her cousins Kylar and Olivia. Last year Olivia was only a week old and in the past few years Kylar has been with his Dad on Christmas morning. So this year it was really nice having Kylar home with us to open presents. Kylar and Ava helped with the opening of Olivia's presents. Next year though I am sure Olivia will not want their help.

Kylar opening one of his gifts.

Kylar searching under the tree for more gifts with his name on them. He did find quite a few more presents under the tree. Santa, was quite good to Kylar this year! :)

Ava carefully unwrapping one of her presents. She isn't at the age quite yet, where she just rips into gifts. I am savoring these moments, in watching her slowly unwrap her presents, and take in each gift, before wanting to rip into the next gift. Kylar, is at the age where he rips into the present, and then quickly moves onto the next gift. However, in our house (and my sister's) he has to wait his turn. After he opens a present then it is someone elses turn to open a gift. So, no matter how fast he opens his present, he still is going to have to wait to tear into another one. It actually works out well when you do it this way, because you see what others got, plus that gives you the opportunity to check out the gift you just opened for yourself. I hated waiting as a kid, but as an adult, I see why my parents made us do this at any gift giving holiday. Okay so that probably makes me officially "old", since I am now seeing the logic and reasoning behind some of the things my parents did when raising my brothers, sister, and me.

Olivia was by far way more impressed with the gifts Ava got, than she was with the ones she got. She wanted to tear into this kitchen set of Ava's so bad and she loved the Barbie car that Ava got too. I can so foresee future disagreements over these toys!

Kylar checking out his new cell phone. He has wanted a cell phone for the last couple of years and has been begging both his Mom and even me for one. So this year he finally got it. He just has a basic phone for now, but if he does well with this one, it may eventually be upgraded to an actual camera phone. My sister was smart enough to also invest in a pay as you go plan, just in case he would lose the phone or who knows what can happen in the hands of an almost 11 year old.

Kylar testing out his new tripod with my smaller point and shoot camera. He left his digital camera at home. He was so excited over this gift. I thought he would like it, but he actually loves it. And has been taking a ton of pictures and trying different settings and whatnot. So fun to watch him be as interested in photography as I am.

Ava and Alyssa playing with some of Ava's Christmas gifts after our Christmas dinner. Ava ended up getting 3 tea sets for Christmas. Can you tell everyone knows she loves having "tea parties". Overall it was a really nice Christmas. I had family over for dinner but decided to do the dinner at 5 p.m. instead of the usual 1 or 2 in the afternoon. I just hate feeling so rushed with getting everything ready between opening presents and getting cleaned up from that, it is just too much. I definitely prefer having a dinner at like 5 p.m. And there ended up being like 20 people here for dinner. It was a houseful, but it was nice to spend time with my family. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Olivia Photos

Olivia turned one earlier this month and my sister asked me if I could take a few pictures of her for her 1 year pictures. I agreed, but Olivia wasn't particularly receptive on this day. I think it also might have helped if my sister was there to help me with her. But then again are one year olds really ever that easy to photograph! Especially ones that are up and walking like Olivia! :) I did get a few pictures I like, but none that I think are especially great, or have that WOW factor. I could just be way more critical than necessary, but hopefully we will try and do this again after the holidays are over.
The dress Olivia is wearing is actually the same dress that Ava wore in her pictures when she was one. So I was really glad my sister wanted Olivia to wear that same dress. Looks like this dress has one more reason to be kept. :)

I think she just looks like a little doll in this dress. And I love the barefoot pictures of her.

Opted for a somewhat "Christmas-y" theme since her birthday is the week before Christmas so she is kind of like a Christmas baby!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ava's Christmas Pictures...

Merry Christmas 2008

Ava actually was sitting next to this present and decided to lay her head on it. It just looked so sweet and innocent and I thought it was worth capturing. So cute!

I love the pouty looks I get from her sometimes. She thinks she is being uncooperative (which she is), but they make for such awesome photos too. I do not feel like the person always has to be looking at the camera and smiling to capture such great photos!

She wanted to open this present so bad, even when I kept telling her there actually wasn't anything in the box. It was just for decoration.

She loves these snowflakes on our tree and it makes for an adorable prop. A little messy since there was glitter everywhere from the snowflakes, but well worth it, since I love this photo of her.

Priceless. This is Ava doing her "cheese" smile, but also with the added bit of laughter too. Once she warms up to having her picture taken she is quite a bit of fun.

This is Ava's you can't see me pose. :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Girls Soup & Sandwich Night...

This tradition if you will, was actually started a year after my Grandpa passed away. He passed away December 10, 2003 and the following year my Aunt wanted to get together with all the ladies in our family and celebrate the life of my Grandpa. This was also a way for us to get through the holidays together. So initially that is how this all came about. My aunt always made the calls in early to mid November announcing the date in December for this get-together. Last year several of my cousins, my sister, and I were talking to one another, and were wondering if the girls night was going to take even take place, since here it was the very end of November and no one had gotten "the call". Then, the next Sunday we had each gotten the call for when it was. And here again a few of my cousins, my sister, and me played bunco together and that night we were like giddy little girls asking each other, "did you get the call" and we each just lit up with delight revealing we each had gotten "the call". At one point during that night, we were going around the room talking about what we were thankful about, and for some reason I felt compelled to share with my aunt how excited many of us were to get this call from her because we were all looking forward to this, but we weren't sure if we were going to have the girls night. Little did I know or any of us in that room know, that was exactly what my aunt had needed to hear. A little while later, I had a conversation with my aunt and she mentioned she had thought about not doing it, because she didn't want us to feel "obligated" to be there, but what she didn't know or realize until that night was, that it was a night we truly all looked forward too. And not one of us felt like it was something we had to go to out of obligation to her. That also was a huge turning point as well, because even though it started with celebrating the life of someone who meant a great deal to all of us, it has not turned into a night of celebrating family and the women and even the little girls in our family who will one day become women. Even though the girls night has taken on a new meaning, I know my Grandpa would be so proud because his life was lived showing his family and friends just how much he loved them and how important family is. So by doing this, we are honoring my Grandpa in the greatest way imaginable.

"The One Who Started It All"

I have an aunt, who every year for the past 4 years now has started this annual "Girls Night Soup and Sandwiches" tradition in our family. First let me say she one of the most thoughtful and amazing women that I know. And then on top of that, she is one of the most amazing cooks as well. So, this is definitely a night all the women in our family look forward too. Anyway she makes 2 different kinds of soup and then we have a few different kinds of cold cuts and several different cheeses on Hawaiian bread! And she is also sure to have lettuce and tomato to add to your sandwiches if you life. Yum! She makes the most delicious cheese soup and also a taco soup as well. This is a night where "no boys" are allowed. We have fun eating dinner and catching up with some of the ladies in our family we do not see on a regular basis. As well as, just spending time together with those we do see on a fairly regular basis. Girls under the age of five are not yet allowed if at all possible, and if the Mom's choose to leave the girls at home who are old enough, and just want to enjoy a night without their offspring that is okay too. Even though Ava is not quite five, I truly look forward to this night and one day sharing it with her.

Okay, so onto this years wonderful "Girls Night" event. Out of the 20 people invited 19 actually showed up. And each year it seems like the crowd just gets a little bigger and bigger. This year had an important meaning as well because last year my Mom was diagnosed with the middle stages of Alzheimer's and my aunt and my Mom are very close. With how my Mom has declined just in the last year, it was really important to my aunt for my Mom to be there. So I made sure my Mom actually was there this year. It was important to me as well that she be there. Last year my Mom didn't go and my sister had to work, so even though I love my family dearly, I just felt like something was missing for me. But this year both my sister and Mom were there and it felt like it should. So on this night we enjoyed delicious soup and sandwiches and played fun games. There was even a game that was a series of questions about my aunt and how well we each knew her. For as well as I thought I knew my aunt and as close as I've always been to her, let me just say I learned a lot about her! :)

It is truly funny the things you learn about people that you think you know so well. Try it sometime. Ask your Mom or your aunts, Grandma's, sisters, cousins or whoever it is you think you know oh so well. You might just surprise yourself and learn something you thought you knew about them. And often times we think we know a person and maybe at one time what we think we know was true, but people change. Their likes and dislikes change over time. No one ever stays exactly the same. Last year we did this with my Grandma and as well as I thought I knew her, there were things about her I definitely learned.

Another game we played was a game with 30 different bags of "things around your house". All you could do was reach your hand in and feel the item. No peeking in the bag, then you would write down your guess. I missed one out of the 30 items. I could have sworn that one I missed was actually fruit snacks. But of course by the time it got to me, it was a mutilated Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. ;) Anyway my cousin Beth won that game since she got all 30 right! Darn! And I lost the game about how well I know my aunt too. I didn't do horribly, but I didn't do that great since I obviously didn't win.

The final game we played for the night was a rousing round of bingo. This game was played because when my Mom and aunts were growing up my Grandma's favorite game was bingo. You would think she would be one of those little old women who frequent the bingo halls, with a table lined with trinkets and doo dads, but she isn't. Yet she loved to play bingo with her family at home. She has been to the bingo halls and has fun, but it isn't the place she spends much time. Anyway we played the "Letter F" for Family. And we all got a really good laugh out of my sister when she displayed one of her not so bright moments and asked my Aunt why she kept calling "O's" when you don't need them. Which we all did need the first one in the O row. Needless to say she didn't win that round of bingo. Sometimes I would swear she was a blond...but she is a brunette through and through!

After the games my aunt then surprised several of us with "recipe boxes" of our own. These included many of her most favorite and delicious recipes. She even hand wrote out each recipe in the box. She even included for each "family", different recipes she thought they would really enjoy. For example, mine includes more "chicken" recipes, since I do not eat a lot of red meat. To see the excitement on every one's face was just something I will never forget. It was so fun to watch everyone look through their boxes and ooh and aah over the recipes. Truly the most perfect gift she could have passed onto us. We are truly blessed. Oh and as for my gift to her, she loved it. I talked to her the next day and she just went on and on about it. That definitely made me really glad. After the gift opening she then served up such delightful deserts. There was pumpkin pie, cheesecake, or brownies to choose from. And after all was said and done we all left with a tray filled with many different kinds of homemade cookies and banana nut bread. She truly spoils each and every one of us. I am so thankful this girls night has become a family tradition. I hope we never get so caught up in our lives that this falls to the wayside. Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Seriously People?!?!

Is the "breaking news" of Barack Obama being a smoker worth creating National headlines? Is the state of our economy not more newsworthy than this? Or the Mumbai attacks? Or the many American workers who are losing their jobs because of the economic recession we are dealing with? Or the fact that the automotive industry wants billions of dollars to bail themselves out of their financial mess? And that if some kind of plan is not agreed upon, many more Americans will be out of work? Yet tonight, I log onto my yahoo main page and the main topic featured at that time was "Obama says he won't be smoking in the White House". Wow! Good for him! I don't know how much sleep I would continue to lose over the fact that the President-elect may or may not smoke in the White House. Oh wait, yes I do. I wouldn't have lost any sleep over that little tidbit of information. What might have me up at night and losing sleep is our economy or terrorist attacks or countless other topics, but I can assure you I will not be losing sleep over such an insignificant issue as what Tom Brokaw thought was an important issue to raise of Barack Obama's smoking habits. Even as a non-smoker I could care less about this issue. There are more important issues facing this country and more important questions I would think that Tom Brokaw could come up with! Shame on him and anyone else who thinks this is even front page "breaking news". Get a life and start asking real questions that really matter to Americans! Questions that will have an impact on the future of this country.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

3-D Embellishment Bouquet...

I have an aunt who hosts an annual soup and sandwiches dinner which I will detail in another post here in the next day or so. She is one of the kindest people I know. So this year to show my appreciation I created a 3-D Embellishment Scrapbook Bouquet for her. She has just gotten into scrap booking in the last few years and is slowly expanding her horizons, and thanks to me she is actually probably moving deeper into the scrapbook world at a faster pace than she would have. I admit, I am an enabler when it comes to the amazing gadgets, gizmos, and thing-a-ma-bobs when it comes to scrap booking. A girl can never truly have too much can she?!?! Okay so some may argue this point, but a true scrapbooker knows the answer to that is a resounding NO WAY! Anyway onto what this post is all about. I just wanted to create something she could fully enjoy and a simple thank you was not enough. I hope she enjoys this even half as much as I enjoyed making it. Check out the pictures below for more details on this adorable creation.

As I mentioned above, this was a lot of fun to make. I was lying in bed the other night and this idea just kind of popped in my head. I had envisioned this and was just hoping it would turn out the way I saw it in my mind. I am glad to say it did. There have been many times, when I have wanted to create something, and it doesn't turn out quite the way I had envisioned, but then there are times when they do, and these are the times that make it worth the while. The base to this is how I store my 3-D embellishments. I use a photo storage box and it works perfectly as a way to store your 3-D embellishments in an organized way. Then, inside the box I used that floral desert foam stuff (I am sure regular floral Styrofoam blocks would work just as well), Popsicle sticks, and glue dots! I am sure you could use a hot glue gun if you wanted to glue the Popsicle sticks together, but I chose glue dots for putting this together.

When putting this together, I wanted to kind of subtly create a message of thanks and appreciation. So, the tallest embellishment in the back row simply states, "love is you" and my aunt does things out of the kindness of her heart and she is just so filled with an overflowing abundance of love. So, this was the perfect embellishment to sum up how I feel about her. In the middle, there is an embellishment that says, "Thankful" because we are all very thankful for her. And in the very front near the bottom is a 3-D embellishment that says "Let It Snow" and it has snow men on it, because she loves snowmen. Then, each embellishment I selected had actual meaning to things in her life. For example, she has a granddaughter who turned 16 last year and she is getting ready to start a scrapbook for her, plus this spring her granddaughter will be attending her first prom, so there is an embellishment for that. Then, she just recently went on a field trip with her 4 year old grandson. There are embellishments for road trips and the like, since her and her family like to go on vacation and travel. She loves fall and so, there are various fall and Halloween embellishments. And of course, Christmas embellishments and a few bottles of Stickles glitter glue in Christmas Red, Lime Green, and I think Crystal. I cannot remember which one I used for the white colored bottle in the picture. lol I personally, use most of my 3-D embellishments on cards and things like that, so I enclosed ivory and white colored note cards and envelopes, tied with a "Merry Christmas" ribbon.

Here is a closer view of the things inside. Now, I did consider filling the bottom with a confetti type filler, but honestly, that just makes a mess and it serves no useful purpose at all. But, I still needed to cover up the foam. It honestly didn't look bad, but I still couldn't stand not seeing it covered up. So, eyeing the yards and yards and yards (sad I know) of ribbon I have, I decided to cover the foam in ribbon to give it that perfect finishing touch. And, it actually serves a purpose when it comes to scrapbooking. So, I filled the bottom with an assortment of ribbon. All embellishment stickers are from either Jolee's or Soft Spoken, except for the "Thankful" one and I believe that one is from "Me & My Big Ideas". The ribbon is mostly from I believe, S.E.I. and the photo storage box is from Paper Studio. It truly makes the perfect Christmas gift or birthday, mother's day or whatever kind of gift. I know I would love getting something like this! :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Photos of Kylar

My nephew Kylar is at that age where he is not a huge fan of having his picture taken. He will let me take some of him sometimes, and today he happened to just let me take a few. So of course, these are moments I have to capitalize on when I can.
I of course, love to shoot photos of him in black and white. His Mom and I both love the look of black and white photography. And a little tilt of the camera just gives it an added look that I sometimes like.

Opting for the black and white photo, but not tilting the camera for this picture. I like the really casual pose here. And the smile is actually relaxed and genuine and not a forced kind of smile.

And dabbling in a little photo shop with this next photo. I actually really like this picture. I love the black and white photo but then the really vibrant color of the red jersey. I also love the fact that in this photo he is not looking at the camera and smiling. He just has this really serious pose about him and I like that. When I photograph Kylar I like to get in a few shots of him that are "posed" and of him smiling, but overall when I photograph him, I want him to be who he wants to be. If he chooses not to smile, then that is what I want to capture for most of the photos.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Little Photo Shoot With Ava...

Ava is not always receptive to the idea of a photo shoot or of me just wanting a couple pictures of her to add to my ever growing collection of photos of her. In fact, when I decide to do an impromptu photo shoot with her, she has to warm up to the whole idea of it. She is not a "smile on cue" kind of girl. She has even told me countless times not to take her picture. Why didn't I get a child who will pose or smile anytime a camera is pulled out! Haha. Of course, I knew she would be this way from the very first ultrasound I had of her and she was swimming all over the place. And then at the second ultrasound when I dreamed of the perfect side-profile shot of my baby to one day scrapbook, and instead she refused to cooperate with the technician and I instead have ultrasound pictures of a leg, a foot, an arm, and the top of her head looking down, but never that ideal side profile shot I so wanted! But I digress.

So, on this particular day she looked so cute in her turquoise sweater and khaki pants, and sporting two pigtails, that the camera was just begging me take it out and photograph her. As you can she see needed to warm up to the whole idea. Thus the pouty picture! Oh believe me, I have more than one picture like this! What is one to do when presented with this type of situation? BRIBE them! That's right. I am not ashamed to admit it. I even told her she could make silly faces and I would take pictures of her doing that. I knew things would go well if she would just come to the decision that SHE wanted ME to take pictures of her! :)

So, here she is pondering the idea still and my bribe of making silly faces and I might have even thrown in a bribe of a lollipop or two at this point. But I am not admitting to that one! Unbeknownst to her this pose made a really cute picture for me! :)

Here again she is still thinking about the proposals I've presented to her. And yet again she is not aware that I still am thrilled with these poses and the, "I'm still not posing for you" attitude she is giving me. When life hands you lemons (or in this case a non-smiling child), you made lemonade (or still take amazing photos of them in all of their sulking glory). :)
Finally she is coming around to the idea of letting me take photos of her.

I said she could make a silly here it is. And it turned out pretty cute even if she is sticking her tongue out and being silly.
A smile and a laugh! Wow she must really want that candy. :)

And the pose that I absolutely adore! Yet it is kind of bittersweet. For as much as I love this pose of Ava, it makes me sad at how grown up she is getting and so fast, yet I also see this amazingly beautiful little girl, that I love more than life itself. I have indeed been blessed!

And no toddler photo shoot would be complete without the "cheeeeeeeese" shot! :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Madagascar 2.....

This was Ava's first time going to the movie theater and with Madagascar 2 hitting theaters last week, this was the perfect first movie for her to see in the theater.
I wasn't sure how well she would do, so we decided on a matinee movie. We actually happened to also be the only ones in the theater during this showing. Which I guess worked out kind of nice for the first time around. Though Ava did really well that I wouldn't mind taking her and having an actual audience in the theater! :)
Ava eagerly anticipating the movie. She had no idea just yet what was in store!

She was hooked from the first second the previews started. It was so cute too because after each movie preview was over she would look at me and say "well that looks like a great show". It was pretty funny.
And the movie we came to see! I enjoyed the movie I think just as much as Ava did. I know I would watch it again! Looking forward to it coming out on DVD!

Taken of Ava at the end of the movie while the credits were rolling. She wanted to watch it until the last word scrolled across the screen. I would say today was definitely a wonderful and memorable experience!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Ava loves to brush her teeth. And she brushes them at least 3-4 times a day. She has the whole routine down pat too. She climbs up on the counter, turns on the cold water, gets out her toothbrush and her own toothpaste, puts the toothpaste on the toothbrush, brushes her teeth (front, top bottom, all the way in the back too), then rinses off her toothbrush, rinses her mouth out, turns off the water, then wipes her mouth off on her hand towel. Finally she climbs down off the counter. She is just getting more and more independent every day!