Monday, December 31, 2007

Tis the Season...

...for the flu. wow. I can't even count the number of people I've heard flu stories from in the last week. This is probably the saddest I've heard so far, but it seems that the Millars also caught the bug. Sadly, we are also one of them. Correction. Rachel caught it. Luckily, Sam, Andrew, and I squeaked by with (only) sore throats, coughs, and runny noses. Rachel seems to be over her stomach bug though (affecting both ends...we didn't bring enough diapers/wipes to CA. Ugh.), and as happy as ever. We sure didn't want to drive back across Nevada with sick kids. I can't even imagine the smell.

Ghiradelli Square

I have to admit this is my favorite CA tradition. I love going here. We started the first year Sam & I got married (okay, so I think they did it before, but I obviously wasn't invovled) when we came out for Christmas. That would have made it...2003? All the boys, their wives, and mom & dad took a trip together in the Suburban to Ghiradelli Square on a group date. Since I was just married into the family it was a great opportunity for me to get to know my in-laws. We've been a couple times over the last few years, but this year was the first time it was all of us again. And I mean all. So fun! We had debated on taking the kids, but because one family was driving up from southern CA and meeting us in San Fran we decided the kids were in. Rachel loved it. So much ice cream, so little time.

Rachel digging into daddy's ice cream. Mommy got peppermint...second favorite (they didn't have pumpkin!)

My cute nephew Harrison. He's 3 months older than Andrew. They're going to be best buds.

My sis-in-law mentioned the day before that she wanted a picture (just a snapshot) of all the grandkids to give to Grandpa for Christmas. Never tell a photographer that you "just want a snapshot". heheheh I found a good bench and we piled on the kids. I love this picture. Grandpa loved it too. It's hanging on his wall.

After ice cream, we took Rachel on a walk to the beach to look at all theboats. She loved it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Holidays

I'd like to announce that CA has not been that warm. I was expecting blue skies, sunny, t-shirts. I think I'm just a wimp. I'm still wearing my jacket (yes, jacket. Not coat. Thank goodness), but I'm chilled. It's been raining and overcast the last couple of days as well which hasn't helped my expectations. Luckily, the weather should be turning warmer shortly. I'm so very excited. It should put a definitively positive spin on our last few days.

Why is it that I can't blog without pictures? I feel like I am not being fair to my blog. So, pictures and details of our trip are forthcoming. It has been wonderful though. Expect us all being sick. How is it that we get sick on vacation? It's so much more fun (if being sick can be called "fun") at home. Cuddled up in my bed. With all my fun things to do while stuck at home. Oh well. We still try and get out, but its hard with a 2 year old with an upset stomach. Cranky.

The kids are in bed. It's time to go finish our season of 24. Go Jack.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season. Thanks for all of your support, comments, and friendship. I've emailed out our Christmas letter, so if you didn't get it and want to know what's been going on the last year, let me know and I'll send a copy on over.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tile nemisis

We had our Relief Society Super Saturday enrichment a few weeks ago and one of the projects we could choose was tile boards. You know... the project where you cut up a picture, glue it onto the tile board, and then voila! Instant, beautiful, art creation for your living room wall. Not so much... let's just say that my first attempt was a total flop. They got dusty (stuck into the glue you pour over to seal it), wasn't very smooth, lots of bubbles, plus I also got paper towel stuck to them when I tried to stack and then transport them home (stupid, I know). Anyway, because they were Christmas presents I decided to try again. This time I was totally prepped, everything went smoothly and 2/3 turned out great. The last one...well, it hasn't dried yet and I don't think it will. Oh well. Apparently my craftiness needs to stay confined to scrapbooking. Anyway, so now I'm trying to decide if I'm keeping the last good one or not. Such selfishness. I guess I just want to have something to show for all my pain and frustration. Or, Sam said I could just try again....muuuuhahhahaha!


Amidst all the packing, shopping, and wrapping, I thought I'd share a few more shots from my photo shoots this month. My neighbor's (Jamie) mom wanted a picture of her cute grandkids, so she referred them to me. We had fun doing individual mug shots and then attempted to get them all together. Not an easy task when it's naptime.

Jamie also came up with the great present idea! She wrapped a bunch of boxes and then we let the kids go at it. Shall we call it a practice round? Aubrey (the oldest) seemed pretty confused after she tore off all the paper and there was nothing in it! The other two babies were more content to just munch on ribbon. Thanks you guys!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Siblings & Newborns

Two of my favorite subjects. I could photograph newborns all day long (siblings not so much. 2 year olds have such a short attention span). I loved having this family over earlier this week, and I was so excited by their pictures that I couldn't stop editing. I love the way they turned out, and I'm grateful that Karli (mom) let me try all sorts of fun ideas I've had brewing in my head over the last few months. I had so much fun. This is why I love photography.

As a little side note: I love my tan backdrop. It used to scare me so I didn't use it very often, but now I can't seem to get enough. I think it's the lighting set up. Strobes just make everything better.

Christmas Tree

I love having a Christmas tree. We debated whether we were getting one or not because we won't be around for the exact holiday, but we decided that Rachel would love it. (Secretly I would have been very sad without one.) Rachel loved going to the tree store and wandering around the trees. It was actually snowing pretty hard that day, but I think it added to all the excitement. My parents wanted to come see their grandkids, so they showed up later that evening with pizza and helped us put on the ornaments.

Andrew all bundled. He slept the whole time we were out shopping. What a great kid!

Our awesome tree! My awesome husband!
My favorite part about having a tree is lying in our cuddlesac at night with all the lights off, the tree lit, and drinking hot chocolate. There's just something magical about it.

Rachel also got an early Christmas present this year. Fisher-Price has a Little People Nativity set that my parents bought for Rachel. I love teaching her the story, and she loves playing with baby Jesus, the sheep, the camels, and all the other fun characters. I'm not sure she quite understands the whole Christmas thing yet, but we're working on it.

Box Fun

Isn't is amazing how kids can find so much pleasure in playing with a cardboard box? Why do we even buy them toys at Christmas and on their birthdays? Last year around Christmas time, Sam found Mr.McGroovy's box rivets that revolutionized our box-house-castle making endeavorers. They are awesome. Instead of using duct tape, or some other sticky substance that doesn't really stick, you rivet the pieces of cardboard together. Not only does your box-house-castle not fall apart, you look like a genius to all your friends who bring their kids over to play in your awesome box-house-castle.

You should seriously check out the website. They have pictures of Cinderella pumpkin coaches, pirate ships, princess castles. They would take a lot of work (and space!) to complete, but still...Don't do it for bragging rights though. Do it for the kids. They will love it.

Anyway, here's Rachel's castle from last year:

The construction

Christmas morning

We put it together Christmas Eve after she had gone to bed and she woke up to it the next morning. She loved it. Took her a minute to realize what was going on, and then we couldn't get her out of it. Over the next few weeks she also colored over every available surface (mom's: this is great way to let your kids color on the furniture without ruining your couch). And, here's Rachel's house from this year (sorry for not being very photographically "pretty". Cardboard boxes are just kind of boring!):

We had to take it down after a few days to fit the Christmas tree, but she still enjoyed it. I can't wait until we have a backyard. We're going to go nuts.

Planning, Grocery Shopping & Cooking

Normally I love it. The cooking portion, I mean. I really don't mind spending time in the kitchen, and I love trying out new recipes. I really don't even mind the grocery shopping. It's planning the grocery shopping trip that I despise. To avoid this undesirable procedure, I seriously haven't gone to the store in over a week (except to buy milk...that takes a lot of planning. ha!), and I still have no desire to do so.

I think it's because my shopping experience is usually quite complicated. Let me preface this by saying that I do all the cooking in our house. I don't mind. Sam is busy, usually doesn't get home until I'm starving, and to then have him cook dinner just doesn't make sense. Besides juggling Andrew's feeding schedule, and keeping Rachel entertained, finding time to cook is not an issue. I'm also a planner. I like to have a list of meals on the fridge with all the ingredients stocked in my cupboards or fridge ready to go. I don't plan a particular meal on a particular day, just usually about a week's worth of meals at a time.

This is were the complicated part comes in. I hate deciding what to cook. Once it's decided, I'm fine, but the decision making process is agonizing. I have no idea why. I think I get bored with what we eat (hence the try new recipes comment), but it takes time to look through magazines, or go on the internet to research new, easy, yummy recipes with normal, everyday ingredients. Then, once I've picked out the recipes for the week, I use my mom's online grocery ad system (that'll take another entire post to explain) to find out what is on sale, and which store i need to go to. Yes, I usually end up going to more than one store (sometimes spread over a few days) to get everything I need because it's cheaper.

The whole process is a pain. I wish some magical fairy would decide what we were going to eat each week (keeping a good variety, making it healthy, easy, and fun), make my list for me and then off to the store I would go! Unfortunately it doesn't work that way, and until I can come up with a better system, I suppose I should just suck it up. Please just tell me your cooking life isn't this to plan my meals I go. :)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Cuties

Wow. It's been over a week. What a slacker am I? You would think my life would be interesting to blog about, but it's not. :) Such is life. Mostly I just need to get to my pictures (because what's a post without pictures, right?) and I haven't had time.'s the start of a run of soon-to-be posts. I had this family over earlier this week and they looked so cute in their Christmas outfits. They were great too!! Photographing kids between the ages of 18 mo and 2-3 years is hard work. All sorts of bribery involved. That's for sure. Anyway, hope you enjoy.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


At least I think it was me. There's a lot of Jess and Jessica's in blogger-land. As I've never posted a tag before, I thought I might as well. Here's 7 fun things about me:

  1. I am obsessed with all things pumpkin flavored. I crave it. I was so disappointed the other day when Sam went to go get some Dryer's Slow Churned Pumpkin ice cream (which, IMHO, is the absolute best pumpkin flavored ice cream I've ever tasted) from the grocery store and it was no where to be found. I love pumpkin bread (especially from Great Harvest), pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin custard from Coney's, pumpkin oreo shakes from the Malt Shoppe, pumpkin roll, and pumpkin pie. I think this obsession is one reason I love the Fall and Christmas seasons.
  2. I used to be a ballerina. I kid you not. I took dance from about age 5 until I was in 8th grade when I decided I was too tall, big boned (read "fat" in the mind of an 8th grader), and no good. But, I did tap, ballet, jazz, pointe, hip hop. You name it. Luckily I wised up and starting playing volleyball instead. I still love watching dancers though. Makes me nostalgic.
  3. The problem with playing volleyball while being a once-upon-a-time ballerina is that I play(ed) like a dancer. How that is possible, I am still not sure. But everyone said so. I even got the "graceful butterfly" award at the end of the season dinner/party/ceremony/thing.
  4. I speak geek. Well, more accurately I listen geek. Comes with the territory of being married to one I suppose. You would be surprised and how easily I could carry a conversation about JAVA, EC Enterprise, the Kindle, Amazon Web Services, etc., with someone who knows what they are talking about. And by "carry" a conversation, I mostly mean nod my head and smile and ask an intelligent question every once in awhile as my eyes glaze over and my mind drifts to the laundry still in the dryer after 3 days.
  5. I love mountain biking. More than mountain biking, I love racing downhill on a mountain bike. It's seriously a rush. I worked out Outdoors Unlimited at BYU my entire college "career" (I guess you could call it) and when I first started, all the bike mechanics were serious downhillers. They talked me into my first bike, a Diamondback Reactor Duel (or Reactor "Poo". Don't ask.) The thing seriously weighs like 900 lbs, has fatty tires, a cushy front shock, and is lovingly called "the pig". They guys at OU took me down the west face of Squaw Peak for my inaugural mountain bike ride and I've been in love ever since. Sam has trouble keeping up sometimes.
  6. On the flip side. I suck wind trying to ride uphill. I feel like my lungs are going to explode, my legs ache, and I have to stop every 50 feet to catch my breath. Such is life. I'd rather get dropped at the top and ride down than foot it up a hill.
  7. My favorite television shows are Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. I love, love them. My dad got me hooked back when I was first starting college (end of high school? Everything pre-marriage kind of blurs together now), because he upgraded from Star Trek. Yes. I grew up on Star Trek. All of them. When Sam and I were dating, it was a requirement that he not only watch episodes of Stargate with me (as my dad had all the DVD's) but that he also like them. Wish granted. He's as hooked as I am.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Skillin Family

Aren't these kids so incredibly cute? They belong to a high school friend of mine that just recently moved back to Utah. We had so much fun. They are the oldest kids I've had to work with so far (and the most at one time), but it was great. They took some time to warm up to me, but soon we were playing, rolling on the grass, and climbing up and down the stairs. I had so much fun, and I hope Katie enjoys her sneak peak!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Kapfer Family

I love these guys. They are my neighbors (and have been for the last.... 2 1/2 years? Has it been longer than that?) and are so fun. Their daughter is the same age as mine, and they love to play together. We were having our big enrichment craft day, and Ashley needed some pictures for one of her projects so they came down for a quick photo shoot. I seriously need to work on my taking-pictures-of-toddlers-and-baby skills. So much more difficult than I ever would have imagined. You get one settled down and then the other one takes off and vice-versa. Craziness. I had fun though. They are such a great family, and the picture of their two little girls turned out so sweet.

Beware: Mail Goblins

This "package" arrived in the mail the other week. Apparently there are hungry goblins hiding in the USPS mail centers waiting to snatch up yummy Christmas cards. Makes sending them out a risky move. The goblins especially go for ones with money inside (apparently money puts out quite a distinctive odor), so maybe you should opt for a gift card instead of a check or cash for your loved ones' Christmas presents this year.