Saturday, May 31, 2008

Olympic Sunset

I took these photos last night as the sun was setting over the Olympic Mountains.
This is the view from our back deck.
I just love how God uses his paint brush to bring joy to my life.
I never tire of this view.
I heard from David today! It was so good to hear his voice!
He landed safely on the USS Abraham Lincoln after five long days of traveling. He made stops in Portugal, Italy, Greece and Bahrain along the way.
He's busy getting to know his way around the huge ship now.
We're almost done with our first week of being apart and so far so good!
Keep us in your prayers!
I'm going to get my hi-lights done today! I'm so excited because they are long over due.
I'll post some photos later!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A walk in my shoes.....

So I come home last night after an evening out with Madison for her birthday shopping and this is what I see.

This little thing is walking down the street at 7:30pm in her sister's old dance recital outfit and my shoes!

I was both shocked that she was out half dressed in shoes so big for her that she was risking ankle fracture with every step and amused at the hilarity and innocence of the scene, that I did what any good photographer mom would do.....I ran inside, grabbed my camera and clicked this series of photos!

C'mon, who could resist the timeless little girl-ness of a daughter in her mother's shoes?!

She handled those heels better than her momma that's for sure!

If I spun around in them like she is, I'd be on crutches again!

Walk on, Little Princess!

I'm behind you every step of the way.

I'm not even gonna touch the sappy analogy that is begging to be typed here because I'm trying to have a "no-sap" day.

But I will simply say that I pray that her "walk" is far better than mine ever was

as I'm sure we all do for our children.

I think this is my next wall portrait choice.

Actually, if I think about it, I shouldn't be surprised at all about the state Bren was in when I came home.
What should I expect....she was on her brother's watch.
I'll give you three guesses as to what they fed her for dinner.......
Ok, I'll tell ya.
1. a popcycle (because that is what she said she wanted)
2. A pop tart (because the word popcycle reminded her of pop tart!)

Now, back to Madison.

We had a really great time shopping together. We went to the Alderwood Mall and hit all the biggies, Pacsun, Aeropostale, Holister, Zumies, American Eagle and Buckle B.

We were in search of some plaid shorts and a shirt to match.

Here's what we found at Buckle B.

And here's a few more photos, just because I think she's so darned cute!

We are planning to do an official "birthday shoot" this week,

so I'll be posting those once they are done.

After searching the entire mall, I am convinced that there is not a pair of sandals on the west coast that Madison likes!

As a matter of fact, I recall searching in Rhode Island too, so make that two coasts that do not contain a pair of sandals that Madison likes.

She has always been super, super picky when it comes to shoes.

She wants them to fit a certain way, have a certain look, be a certain color and will accept nothing less.

I can't tell you how many cute shoes I "oohed and ahhed" over during the past decade

just to have her turn her nose up at them

because they pinched her pinky toe

or were too wide

or were too long

or were hideous

or had too much of a heel

or not enough heel

or were the wrong shade of pink

or had too much blue in them

or made her foot look too fat

or too skinny.....ect!!!

How she is any kin to me who would wear two cardboard boxes on my feet if I had to, is unknown to me!

I wouldn't actually wear cardboard boxes, unless of course I absolutely had to, but I can't imagine a situation where that would even be necessary so just forget that I ever said I'd wear them because I wouldn't.
That would just be silly.
But what I can tell you in comparison is that I have one pair of boots, one pair of flip flops, one pair of sandals, one pair of black heels (see above) and one pair of tennis shoes...that's it!

Having multiple pairs of shoes for myself just doesn't excite me.
I'd rather have camera gear!
Except for irony would have it, I've suddenly been drawn to cute summer sandals of all kinds....too bad my swollen ankle will not tolerate them.

But multiple pairs of shoes for my daughter's does make me 17 kinds of happy, which is why it pains me so much to see Madison snub stunning pairs of shoes on a regular basis!

All I know is that she would be making a wise choice

(and saving her husband loads of cash and and years of frustration)

if she chose to be a shoe designer
because only she could design a shoe that suits her.

Having said all that, I will say that she did "settle" for a pair of cute plaid flip flops from Target, but her shell was only cracked this time because her desire to wear her cute shorts to school today was greater than her desire for pedi-perfection.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Maddie!!

Madison hit the big twelve on Saturday!!!

She was serenaded and smothered with kisses by her brothers.

Here's all four of them looking surprisingly funny faces, tongues sticking out or crossed eyes!

It's a birthday miracle!!!!

12 squiggly neon candles were carefully placed.

Wishes were made and......

another milestone passed!

The last year before she's an official teen.


Tomorrow night I'm taking her out shopping for an outfit of her choice and then we'll have dinner together just the two of us.

Those of you who know me well know that I am challenged when it comes to making cakes.

I just can't ever make them look anything like I envision.

I stink at icing them and they dont usually turn out very moist.

Until now....

Check this baby out!

I am sooooooo proud that it is at least in the same ballpark of what I was trying to do.

It's supposed to be a small package on top of a larger one.

The original cake was supposed to be white icing with fondant polkadots, but Madison is a chocolate loving girl, so we changed that right off the bat.

And, I've seen it on "Ace of Cakes, but what the heck is fondant exactly and where can I get it?

Appartently they dont carry it at Safe-Way or Albertsons.

So, we opted to just make our own polka dots by coloring vanilla icing and squeezing it through a round tip directly on to the cake.

At first we spent about two hours squeezing about 3 million polka dots onto wax paper and freezing them.

We thought we were so clever until we tried to get the icing polks dots off of the paper and onto the cake with out squishing them into unrecognizeable piles of colorful goo.

So, we colored a second batch of vanilla icing and went straight from tip to cake this time.

Isn't it pretty?!!!

I know some of you may be snickering because clearly it is not perfect, but look at it this way.

I was making cakes that people would just look at, smile and awkwardly walk away from, and now I've made a cake that drew squeals of delight from my daughter and high praise from the men in my family.

It was yummy too!

Super moist!

My secret?

I wish I knew!

Happy Memorial Day!!!!
This morning at 3:30 am, I drove my husband to meet the airplane
that would begin his trip toward the middle east.
He'll be traveling for the next two days toward his destination in the Persian Gulf onboard the
USS Abraham Lincoln.
Our separation will be the longest that we have endured so far, almost 6 months.
I'm so proud of his willingness to serve our country and I'm thankful for him and for all of the men and women who sacrifice so much so that we can enjoy the freedom that we have here in America.
If you haven't already, let a service member know that you appreciate them this week.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lake Stevens

I was thinking the other day that in our entire married life, this is the farthest away we have ever lived from the Ocean.
I really do miss it.
I'm a beach girl
and while I'm not fond at all of being in a swim suit,
I am very fond of walking on the sand picking up shells,
running from the waves as they crash on the shore threatening to soak me to my knees,
sitting on a blanket and watching the dolphins put on a show as the sun goes down,
photographing the kids as they boogie board or build sand castles ...
all of that is right up my alley.
Where I grew up in Pensacola, Florida, we lived about 15 minutes from the Gulf of Mexico.
I remember going as a family after dinner to walk on the soft white sand of the beach at sunset.
I did lots of adolescent "thinking" during those walks.

When we lived in Georgia, we were about 30 minutes from the beach.
As a young mom, my kids and I would meet friends at the beach and we'd stay all day.
The kids would play in the surf while my friends and I relaxed on the sand and had girlfriend chats while our skin turned a golden brown.

When we moved to California, we discovered a whole other world of beaches.
These beaches were made for exploring and their breathtaking scenery just cried out to be photographed.
We had so much fun playing in the tide pools and sitting by bonfires while a guitar softly played for us and we sang songs like "God of Wonders".

When we moved to Rhode Island we were surrounded by the stunning beauty of the ocean. Walking along the cliff walk which dropped into the ocean on one side and was backdropped by mansions from the guilded age on the other, became a favorite thing to do.

Yup. The ocean's shore has always played a big role in my life,

and while I really do miss it's vastness, I just can't deny the beauty that we have here.

The snow capped mountains hemmed by tall evergreens make a striking scene, don't they?

This is Lake Stevens. We plan to enjoy it as often as we can.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The treats of Summer......

Quick! Think of some treats that say "Summer" to you.
I'll bet Smore's and Ice Cream were in your top five.
They are definitely in mine along with watermelon, strawberries and jello!

We had a BBQ at our house this weekend to which none of our older kids wanted to invite their friends because (sigh) "That's weird!"
Can you believe that?
I mean, who wouldn't want to come over and spend the afternoon with us?
We are fun parents, darn it!
Aren't we?
Wait, when did we become un-fun?
I must have totally forgotten that I had teenagers when I excitedly came into the house after grocery shopping on Thursday and announced (with a little too much exuberance) that we were going to host a BBQ at our house on Saturday and they should invite all of their new friends.

Zach just looked at me like I was crazy.
"My friends all drive cars, mom. Why would they want to come eat hamburgers here when they can drive somewhere fun to get a hamburger?"
Interupting Zach's monologue about why he should have his driver's license and a car by now,
I turned to Madison, who I was sure would jump right on the BBQ bandwagon with me.
She's a fun girl and she likes to entertain.
She just rolled her eyes.
"I'm not going to ask my friends who I just met to come over, mom. "
OK, I can see her point.
But I've got W A T E R M E L O N!!
Who can turn down fresh ripe watermelon??
Hmmmm....maybe Michael, my sweet, sweet "middle" child who usually has my back and supports my hair-brained ideas....or at least fakes it really well, maybe he would understand my brillant attempt at getting to know my kids friends.
Unfortunately, Zachary beat me to him.
I was still unpacking chips and hamburger buns when Michael walked in the door.
Leaning back on the bar stool in our kitchen, Zach said, "Hey Michael, did you hear what mom wants to do?"
As if delivering a punch line, Zach said, "She wants to have all our friends over for a BBQ on Saturday!"
Zach chuckled at the obvious hilarity of my idea and I waited to hear from Michael.
He shook his head, "It's not gonna work mom."
Michael's words were the final nail in the coffin of my "Get to know you BBQ."

And so, we had our own lonely little BBQ on the back deck.
We milled around the kitchen all day and snacked on fresh cut pineapple, watermelon and chips and dip. The boys came home from playing basketball long enough to scarf down a hamburger or two with us.
I even made strawberry lemonade!
Yup. I went all out people.

We broke out the Smore's a few hours later and the BBQ was complete!
I will never figure out teenagers!
I thought my BBQ was a great idea and such a wonderful way for David and I to get to know the kids that my kids will most likely spend time with over the next few years.
I had "pie in the sky" (mmmmm...pie!) dreams of my backyard full of laughing kids all having a great time. The sandy beach voice of Jack Johnson playing in the background while my husband manned the grill and I kept the fresh cut fruit bowls filled.
Are you there with me? Doesn't that sound fun?!!
Man, I gotta make some friends, huh?!!
In my effort to fill up my life with new people (RIGHT NOW, already!!), I guess I jumped the gun a little and totally overestimated my coolness!
I think it could still work though.
I'll try it again once my kids make more solid friendships and feel more comfortable asking them over for an afternoon BBQ.... and maybe by then, I'll have my own friends to ask over too!
The Smore's sure were yummy though!
Those kids don't know what they missed!

Now on to one of Summer's other great treats!
Ice Cream!!

One person who I can always count on to bring her friends over is Bren!

Good ole Bren and her buddy Miss K enjoy ice cream and popcycles regularly at our house.
I don't need to do much to be cool in their eyes.
As long as I let them prance around the house in unique clothing conglomerations and "oooh and ahhh" over how princess-y they look, I'm golden!

And Ice Cream helps too, of course!
At times like these when I realize that the older three (quite normally) don't necessarily want me to be directly involved in every single facet of their lives, I'm soooooooooooo glad we have little Bren.
I'm just not ready to close the "hands on" doors yet.
I figure I've got about 8 more years of being "Cool enough for her friends" in Bren's eyes and you better believe I'm hanging on tightly to each one of those years!
Zach was kidding around with her last month and told her how lucky she was to be so much younger than he and Michael and Madison were.
He told her that she was going to be spoiled when they were all grown up and out of the house.
She wanted to know what "spoiled" meant.
Zach told her that spoiled meant that she could have anything she wanted.
Weeks later she and I were driving in town and she asked,
"Mom, can you spoil me now?"
I laughed over that for miles!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

I found it!!!

One of my biggest challenges when we move to a new area is finding a great place to do my photo shoots.

The ideal place I look for should be less than 10 minutes from my house, have lots of different areas to photograph in so that my photos don't look the same all the time. It has to have enough shade and unique areas to act as backdrops to the majority of the sets that Bren models.

It is also a bonus if this place can be off the road enough so that I wont have to worry about traffic and it also helps if it is not teeming with people so that we don't draw a crowd which can be both distracting for Bren and a little unnerving for me.

The closest place I have found to date was downtown Newport, Rhode Island on Thames Street.

I feared that I would never find a place with so many neat places to use as "props" in my photographs.

But I think I found a place that will work just as well if not better!

This park is less than 10 minutes from our home. It has old red barn, another weathered wood building, a petting zoo, a bunch of unique fences, acres of green grass, flowering trees and gardens, little bridges, quirky stairways and a lake with a fountain!

It also has an awesome playground to use as a reward for Bren's hard work!

We spent some time there this weekend and explored a little.

I can't wait to go back and have a picnic there!

Someone brought a really cool bubble blower that showered the whole playground with sparkling bubbles!
They are so fun, I'm going to have to find one of those for us!

While we were there, we finished shooting some hair accessories for a designer friend named Kim.

She has an awesome etsy store full of fabulous hair accessories.

Check her out and let her know we sent ya!