Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Choice in Destiny

Sometimes in life you get to choose your own path, make your own choice in how you live out your life's path. Sometimes you just don't get any say at all. Its what you choose to do with your destiny, whether self established or written on your behalf by circumstance that matters.

Everyone has a choice. Everyone has a voice. No matter what hand in life you are dealt. There are moments inside it that you have a choice - to be happy, to be sad, to fight, to grieve, to share, to love - whatever the circumstances.

It's hard to know why life happens the way it does sometimes.  However,  I find it admirable to watch and observe those whose destiny is chosen for them due to circumstances beyond their control, how they triumph and live through it.   The power and strength one has to make the best of their circumstances beyond their control. 

Katie since her diagnosis is one of these people.   This is never a path she, or anyone, would ever choose - but it was destined to be for her and as she journeys through this battle with cancer she focuses on the positives, she grieves through the magnitude of it all, and she fights with unimaginable strength.    She still chooses her destiny even if her path was decided by something beyond her control.

Katie fights and as we stand beside her watching her do so - we are all better for it.   Our time on earth is never known.  God can call us home at any time, for any reason. It is what we do with our time we do have that matters.   I'm using some of my time Praying in Purple for my friend.

Because there are never enough kisses!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mommy Escape!

A couple weekends ago I got the privilege to go with my friend B and quite an entourage to go on a dress shopping adventure.   It was a lot of fun but more note worthy was the fact that it was the first time that I was away from Mae overnight.  Yes, a week after Little M turned two I was out of dodge for 48 hours! 

We're all a tad on the sleepy side as the Starbucks run hadn't yet taken place!
We stayed in a nice vacation rental that D found for us and made our stay super affordable,  we ate delish food everywhere we went, and the Bride found a dress after some fun mayhem of massive bridal shopping - and experience everyone should have!  (There of course will be no pictures of that!)

After the dress was found, we enjoyed shopping around Portland in the Pearl District for a while.  Back to the house for a screening of Bridesmaids and then a late dinner!  We sat down to order our food at 8:30, ah to be kid free in a restaurant and dine at whatever hour you feel like!  After we got home we watched Pitch Perfect and headed to bed.   We rounded out our visit with a bit more shopping, some more yummy food and then an easy drive home! 
1. Starbucks Pre-Dress Extravaganza, 2. Pear Cider at Savoy Tavern, 3. Photo booth!, 4. My crazy colorful bed, 5. In line for the bride, 6. Out shopping around PDX, 7. More shopping!, 8. A dress shop we determined B's dress was better than anything there! Success!!, 9. Ombre hot chocolate at Equinox

It was a great time with friends and Mae didn't miss me at all.  Ace missed me a little more and it was sweet because before I left I told Mae to hug Piggy and Ace to hug his tiger if they missed me.   Ace upon my return said "Mom, I hugged my tiger a lot but I still missed you and it didn't help at all."  Glad I was missed.  It was good to be away, but even better coming home to big smiles and hugs.  A big thanks to Loving Husband for taking Friday off of in order for me to go in the first place!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Little Pony Party

Happy Birthday, Mae!
Our little girl turned two!   In honor of such an adventure mommy through her a small family gathering which was mostly centered around cake!   There were snacks and presents, and all the fun things that often come with parties - but mostly it was low key and time with family - and cake.

I love to try to new things with each of my kid's birthday cakes and this year was no exception although I wasn't really sure for a while what I would do.   I had seen several things that I had been wanting to try and so with some artistic direction from the birthday girl  herself a plan was formed!  I knew I wanted to do the sprinkles on top with the void forming the #2 - it was easy simply cut out a piece of cardstock the shape that you want to remain and the cover the thing in sprinkles like crazy!  Remove cardstock, touch up the frosting and wala - easy decor (and yummy too!) 

Mae from the early times of knowing that she was going to have a party wanted two things:  birday cake and Uncle Kai!   When asked what color cake she alternated for several weeks between purpul and geeeeen.   Although the final days leading up to the party she also wanted booo as well.   So I decided to solve that problem and test out the fun marble effect of a rainbow cake!


She would have easily eaten the whole cake if allowed!

The rainbow cake making was pretty easy although multiple steps - I broke out 6 solo-cups and 6 spoons.  Mixed two boxes of white cake mix together and then separated them into the 6 cups (there was some leftover so that in the event I needed to make more of a certain color I had the option later and so it stayed in the mixing bowl.)    Then I grabbed my assortment of food coloring.    The purple I used from the neon package but it was too light so I added a few drops of blue to punch it up some.   The orange, yellow, red were all from the Wilton gel dyes that pack a bit more vibrancy than the droplet dye does.  My green Wilton gel was gross (and old, I suspect as old as the Dinosaur Cake of 2010) so I had to go with the dropper dye for it.  Then all I did was take my three baking pans and put in about a third of the solo cup into each one.   Now for the top and bottom layers I kinda put some in as I saw fit, the middle layer I poured it directly on top of one another and then baked it.  No stirring, just toss it in and wala rainbow cake. :)  

We were all so excited to eat the cake (and as you see above Mae had already tried to start with the licking of it) that as we're munching on it Uncle Kai made note that we had forgotten to sing and blow out candles.  Oops indeed we had!  :)  So we just stuck a couple in and did it then.  Why not?  

She was so cute watching everyone sing to her!

After cake, presents were opened. :)   Mae was blessed by many and she got a lot of fun things and she was quite happy to dress up, play with, and assign differernt family members to open them! :)

Then there was lots of playing to be had! Followed by a nap for Mae Mae!! :)


Post nap there was even more fun to be had! :)

Best birthday present of all, her uncle!

Two Years Old

My baby girl is growing up and with fresh snow on the ground she turned two a two weeks ago.   It's been quite the year of joy, advances, and challenges.    Overall it's been a wonderful year.

Firsts for the 24th month: Lots of sentences!  Fully weaned from mama milk, and sleeping through the night, early stages of potty training.

Yes, I'm calling it -  Mae is sleeping through the night.   Now that said it's not every night and often she still fusses enough that we have to go in and hug her once or twice - but she has stayed in her own room almost every night.    She's been sleeping in the pack-n-play and she loves it in there - must simply feel more secure than her little bed.  I'm happy with it - it creates confinement.  :)    So sleep is slowly coming to our house.   Hooray!!

Mae herself has also began to show interest in potty training - this mommy isn't quite ready to go fully force into the adventure - but Mae shows signs of being ready.  Like a week or so ago she stripped off her diaper, went potty in the little potty, and then came and told me that she had gone potty... and she had!!  Much rejoicing and many more times attempted but we haven't repeated this awesome spontaneous event.    She is pretty adorable and will sit there sometimes for a while and repeat what I've told her "takes time"  which just sounds so cute coming from her.    Mae also is happy to sit there while we sing Row Row Row Your Boat and play Patty Cake.  :) She does the motions and it's so cute to watch her try to 'roll it'!

Over Christmas we went and visited her  Aunt and Uncle and she fell in love with Uncle Kai!  Yes she is in love with Uncle Kai and when her birthday got closer I asked what she wanted for her birthday and she said "Uncle Kai...come here... come home!"   she also was very specific on what she wanted for her birthday cake:  "Purpul cake!" Our little princess got what she asked for in a quite birthday party themed to My Little Pony and family.  :)  A post to come on this specifically.

Mae's vocabulary has expanded a lot and she's doing great communicating to us what she needs, wants, doesn't want.  :)   It's nice to understand her with most things - although occasionally she still has her own language squeaked in there.     She and her brother love to laugh together and in the car they've very recently started to tell knock knock jokes to each other - there is nothing that is legitimate that anyone else would label these as jokes - besides "Knock Knock... Who's There"  but they enjoy saying weird things - most often Mae says "Cookie Monter" in response to 'Who's there' - somehow Ace works that out and doesn't tire with it.  Although he does tire with the Knock Knock game and will attempt to change it to "I Spy" which Mae doesn't engage with and so then the two of them are in the back simply saying "knock knock... I spy"  back and forth over and over.    Depending on my tolerance level, their volume level, and the length of the drive that tends to be stopped by intervention.   They also play pretty well together at home and Mae has gotten very good at playing hide and seek - which is great because then they can entertain each other when I'm trying to cook dinner!   They enjoy each other's company most of the time.  Most of the time.  ;-)

Health wise - Mae has had a pretty good run the last few months.  In general her 2nd year of life was an adventure.    She no longer has a food allergy though and we're quite thankful about that!!   She's itty bitty like her mama and weighs in at 19.4lbs and 30.3" tall (if you're wondering that's just a tad bigger than Ace was at 1.   However, I weighed 19lbs and was 30" at 2 as well - so I'm not concerned with her tiny stature.  :)

Favorites for Mae include at the moment: Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood (she'll stand perfectly still and engaged (zombied?) for a solid 10 minutes just watching it.)  She loves Printhesses, Ponies!!!, and her babies.   She's quite girly and loves to carry around her purses, wear hats, and change her clothes often - although her favorite outfit is simply a diaper.  It can be freezing cold and she'll be content (yet cold) wearing only a diaper - no matter how many outfits or layers we try to put on her - she'll strip them off quickly.  I hope this is a short lived phase.  She loves to read and some of her favorites still are Good Night, Moon,  Good Night, Gorilla, Fancy Nancy books, and the "Princess Book"  which is His Little Princess: Treasured Letters from Your King -  she loves to sing and clap and her dance is adorable.   She loves to say prayers to Jesus and has started to be repetitive in prayers.  She currently loves to touch my tummy as her go-to comforting option.   She's a joy.  

She eats like a bird, but can jug milk from a cereal bowl in no time flat.  She is adorable and we love her joy, her laugh, her smile, her scowl, and her strong willed personality.  :)  We can't wait to see what Year Three brings us!  No diapers is on this mommy's bucket list!   Happy 2nd Birthday, Mae Mae!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Someone is Turning 2!

Time for a photoshoot!!!
Add caption

Mae wearing her mommy's wedding dress again.

Everybody in!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Resolution Reviewed

In 2012 I set the goal to get better at photography and I worked on increasing my skills, my understanding, and challenging myself.      In 2012 I learned how to shoot in manual mode (all on my own!) I took two photography classes through ClickinMoms  and loved them!   I learned about back button focusing and I expanded my photography subjects and started taking pictures for other people.  
1/50s, f/5.0, ISO: 3200
Can I just say that before I decided to really get serious about learning - I had no idea about the best way to achieve good light!   The above setting are a testament to that!   Goodness.  Sometimes though I still got lucky with those settings.  It's a smart camera after all! I did know that those three items could be manipulated to do it and I knew what they all did - but I just didn't know the best way to get the best light.   Sometimes I had good light and could achieve good shots like this one (taken 2 days earlier.)
1/125, f/3.5, ISO: 1600
At the end of the month I set my resolution for 2012 (yes at the end of January.)  And I started studying.   I switched to specific point focusing, then moved into manual mode.   A few months into 2012 I upgraded my lenses and kicked it up a notch more with clicking and studying the photos.

1/180s, f/1.8, ISO: 400

1/750s, f/3.5, ISO: 100

1/180s, f/13.0, ISO: 100
I did challenges from various blogs, ClickinMoms, and other places to help challenge myself into new ways to do things: shadows, stopping motion, etc..  It was fun to try and manipulate my camera to achieve these.  :)

My first newborn shoot!
In June I had the pleasure of photographing the seven-day-old cutie: Savannah along with her family.  It was a lot of fun, great learning experience, and did I mention sooo much fun!  Their house has such amazing lighting!   

1/500s, f/4.0, ISO: 400
In July I was asked by my church to photograph our VBS program and I had SUCH a great time doing it!   It was a fun challenge (churches are dark!) and that brought an excellent opportunity excuse to buy my external flash and learn to use it as well.  
1/750s, f/1.8, ISO: 800
At the end on of July I took an online photography class and I'm so glad I did!  It was great to be challenged and have feedback.  This was my third week's assignment photo - there is no editing in this shot. 
1/250s, f/2.0, ISO: 800

1/125s, f/2.8, ISO: 800

I enjoyed very much doing a One Year Old shoot with a cake smash!  She was so sweet and it was fun to watch her munch on the cake.  :) Messy!!! 

A few weeks later I did another smash session for my friend Katie and her two year old daughter Kennedy!  I struggled in post processing a lot with this shoot - the yellows were killing me! 

1.5s, f/4.5, ISO: 100

1.5s, f/3.5, ISO: 100
Disneyland!  What a better place to do some motion shots!!!   I was particularly happy because I knew exactly what to do to achieve them! :)

I did some family shots for my friend Carrie and her family while down in So Cal.   Their little girl is super cute!

1/250s, f/1.4, ISO: 400

1/90s, f/3.5, ISO: 200 (with external flash)

1/45s, f/3.5, ISO: 200
Final photos of 2012 and the one of Mae might be my favorite of the year.    The final shot of our family was achieved with a timer and a tripod.  :)   It was a good year of education in photography and I am so thankful for the loving husband that was happy to entertain the shutter clicking, the dollar spending investing, and being the subject matter far more than he would choose to.  Can't wait to further improve in 2013!

I call 2012's resolution a success!   Now what to choose for 2013?! :)