Saturday, October 26, 2013

My 36th Birthday

Another year gone by.  I don't feel like I'm 36, but I am... as of 7:44 on October 24th.

My birthday was filled with ordinary routines, but my girls were very mindful most of the day because I kept telling them that they better be nice to me since it was my birthday ;o).  Apparently their mindfulness ran out at the end of the day because we took them out to dinner that night and they were not being very well behaved :o(.  

Don't let this picture deceive you... Clara was NOT pleased because she found out that Aunt Chilada's does not offer Mac 'n Cheese on the kids menu.  Once she made that discovery, she was not happy and she was going to let the entire restaurant know that.

This next picture seems appropriate for the type of evening it was lol

My mom got me a bracelet and some beautiful earrings. Thanks mom :o)

We boxed up our food and left the restaurant early.  My dad went home and the girls fell asleep on the way back to the house so I didn't get a birthday song with cake and candles to make my wish.  Dana offered to sing to me, but I thought it would be silly for just one person to sing me Happy Birthday.

  The next morning Dana showed me a bountiful supply of gluten free food that he bought at the bakery where he got my cake.  The bag was filled with gluten free chocolate ganache cake, strawberry cupcakes (with real strawberries in them), whole grain bread, twinkies and snicker doodles.  So far I have had the cupcakes and the bread and both are amazing.  I seriously have never had a regular cupcake that tastes better than the gluten free strawberry ones that he got me and the bread tastes just like real, fresh baked bread.

Some day I'll be able to look back at this seemingly bad birthday and laugh.  Despite it all... I feel so blessed to have my family here with me and to have been able to live another happy and healthy year.  Here's to many more to come!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Gypsy Photo Shoot

Last year, Dana's mom bought the girls some adorable pajamas and I set them aside thinking to myself, these need to be photographed on the girls.  Of course, a year goes by and I finally got around to it.  Not that there is any shortage of photographs of these two little girls, but I have all of these ideas in my head for photo sessions and there's just never enough time to accomplish all of them.  Slowly, but surely... we will get them done.

With these pj's, I thought "Gypsy".  So I pulled out some beads that I have been saving as head pieces... for no particular session.  They were perfect for this gypsy inspired photo shoot. I'm so glad that I had them on hand.  I originally wanted to head outdoors with a wooden bed for this photo shoot, but I changed my mind at the last minute and did the pictures in my studio with a white drop, white wood floor, white rug and a white mesh veil.  Oh my, oh my... I am in love with this look and I can't wait to have the perfect opportunity to use this set up for a client's photo session.

Aiyana | 5 years old

Clara | 3 1/2 years old

Aiyana's 2nd Poem Recital

Today Aiyana stood in front of her class and recited a poem that she memorized.  I am so proud of her.  This is the second poem she's recited in front of her classmates and for such a shy girl, she does a wonderful job.

Here she is in a cell phone picture that I took before the morning flag ceremony.  She was a bit shy posing for my camera in front of some of the other kids.  Ha, ha... shame on me for being one of "those" moms.

Here she is reciting her poem.  This time we worked on her projecting her voice more so we could hear her on my cell phone camera ;o).  I think I might be putting my finger over the speaker which doesn't help.  She definitely said it louder this time.  Now we just have to work on posture.

I'm thankful for the turkey
I'm thankful for the pie
I'm thankful for the corn and bread
and squash I'm going to try
I'm thankful for the toys I have
the sun I feel and see
and always for my family
who gather here with me

Aiyana also had her first school pictures taken this week.  Here's a quick photo that I took of her at the dance studio after school.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Mason's Party

Yesterday we celebrated my nephew Mason's birthday.  His birthday isn't until November, but since he and my sister-in-law were here for a visit we decided to have one for him here so we could all attend.  First we headed to McCormick Stillman Railroad Park so the kids could play.  The highlights were the carousel and the train, of course.

Here's Aiyana on the carousel.  Mason is on the horse next to her.

All three cousins ready to ride...


After the carousel, we headed for the train.  Mason doesn't look too excited or anything :o).

The kids really wanted to ride in here, but we had them in the open sections with us.  This part was way too small for adults.

Ready to ride...

Clara was excited...

and Mason was still super excited :o)

Aiyana waiting for the train to start.

Love it... I love the excitement written all over her face.

Mason enjoying the ride...

The tunnel was definitely the most exciting part for the kids.

After the train ride, we headed for the park to let the kids play.

Then we headed to Barros Pizza to eat, have cake and open presents. Mason got to see his daddy (my brother) through Face Time.

No one had a lighter so we waited quite a while to figure out how we were going to light the candles.  Mason couldn't resist touching the frosting.  He was so excited about his cake.

Several attempts to take a decent picture of the grandkids with their Nana and we never succeeded.  This one was the best shot...

Same goes for a picture with Grandpa.  Silly kids.

Finally getting the candles lit.

Singing the Happy Birthday song.

My brother watching from California.  Gotta love technology.

My mom made a gluten free rainbow cake... yummm.

Time for gifts...

It was a wonderful day spent with family.  I can't wait until we are all together at Thanksgiving time.  Thanks for the pizza mom!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Dana Turns 34

These days it seems like our birthdays (mine and Dana's) are just like any other day... boo!  I tried really hard to make Dana's day special for him yesterday, but between photography edits, dance classes, school for Aiyana and her homework... It was pretty much like every other day only with more of an effort put into our dinner ;o).

I asked Dana what he wanted for his birthday dinner and I was given the choice of making Navajo Tacos or a Philippine dish called Chicken Adobo.  I went for the Chicken Adobo.  I certainly need some work on preparing this dish.  I followed a recipe, and despite my apprehensions about the amount of vinegar it called for, I did what the recipe said anyway.  It was pretty darn vinegary, but if you could look past that... you could taste the potential in this meal and I will definitely be making it again.  After all, I can't leave off with that attempt :o/.

This was the chicken after I had it cooking in the sauce for a few hours.  I put it in the broiler and let the skin get nice and brown and crispy... it was delicious.  I served it with rice and the super vinegary sauce.  Next time... equal parts vinegar, coconut milk and soy sauce.

 The cake was a gluten free M&M cake (poor Dana and the girls have to subject to my gluten free diet when it comes to sweets).  Good thing gluten free deserts are pretty good. Dana is a huge fan of M&M's so I made the Heath Bar Cake with chocolate sauce instead of caramel and topped it with M&M's instead of Heath Bar pieces. It was so good.  In fact, I am going to have another slice tonight... yum.

My sister-in-law, Mary, is in town for a meeting so Mary and Mason were here to help us celebrate and so was my mom.  Family is such a blessing.  I know Dana's parents would have loved to be here as well.  They sent him a very generous gift for his birthday.

Check out Aiyana's face in the above photo ha, ha.  She loves her some sweets.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mini Family Staycation | JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort

This past weekend, our plans to head to Salt Lake City were canceled at the last minute due to the government shut down.  In SLC... we were planning on heading to Dana's mission reunion on Friday, we had tickets to attend General Conference, one of our nieces was getting baptized and I had a photo session planned for Saturday evening.  We were packed and ready to head out the door on Thursday when Dana got the word from headquarters that he would need to stay at work and his approved vacation was, in fact, un-approved.  Boo!  The girls were devastated.  They really look forward to our road trips and they love seeing their cousins. So, we had to remedy the situation and we came up with a plan.  A staycation of sorts.  Course... the true definition of a staycation is that you stay in your own beds and travel close to home, but in our case we stayed at a resort in our own city.  We had some points to use towards a Marriott Hotel stay so we applied them to a night at the JW Marriott Resort at Desert Ridge.  We stayed for one night and enjoyed two days of the amenities.

Here's the view from the balcony of our room...

This is a beautiful resort and I had a lot of fun taking pictures of it, of course.

This was before we jumped into the water... Once they were in, they didn't get out.

Super delicious drink with local honey and toasted coconut on the rim... yummm.

They even have a splash pad, though this was not the highlight for us.

Clara is our little Dare Devil.  She LOVES being thrown in the water, jumping in the water on her own and ducking her head under the water to swim. If she were tall enough she would have loved to go down the resort slide, but she didn't meet the height requirement.

View from one of the many pools at the resort...

All of the fun that we were having wears a girl out. Clara passed out for about an hour while I lounged by the lazy river.


That evening we headed across the resort to the Desert Ridge outdoor shopping mall and ate at Rock Bottom Restaurant.  This is one of the many water features in front of the resort.  I thought it looked beautiful with the Arizona sunset and palm trees behind it.

Oh hey... look at that!  I actually exist on this trip ;o).  The kids were not interested in looking at the camera so this is one of about 10 unsuccessful photos that we took ha, ha.

The next morning the girls headed out to the balcony to take in the view.

Aiyana is eyeing the lazy river <----the br="" most="" of="" our="" place="" spent="" time.="" we="" where="">

Breakfast consisted of one giant cinnamon roll for the girls.

They split it.

I enjoyed taking pictures of some of the desert landscaping...

I seriously LOVE these fluffy looking things.

More of the resort...

and back to the lazy river we went...

The girls enjoyed floating around without the tube most of the time.  They had such a blast.  I really thought that they would get bored with it, but they were completely content just floating around.  

Guess what!  There's actually a second picture of me. Ha, ha... I am really the one to blame when it comes to a lack of pictures of me since I am the camera crazy person in this family.  Sometimes I do enjoy letting someone else "take the wheel" for a while.  Looks like we have another future photographer in the making though, check out Aiyana on her tube...

I had a lot of fun on our mini vacation.  It was nice and relaxing... and, perhaps, one of the best things about a staycation is that there isn't a long journey to get back home.