The Thanksgiving recap

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'm working on the house this weekend in preparation to bring out all of the Christmas decorations. It's my all-time favorite decorating holiday. But first, a little picture recap of Thanksgiving with friends whose tablesetting ideas I am going to steal borrow next year!

The fruity turkey.
It was fun to pluck away all of his "feathers" made of
grapes, strawberries, and cheese and olive shish kabobs.
His face was made out of a pear and his body was a pineapple. If you look closely at the last picture, you will see he was picked clean.

Reese had to check his new e-mail account and play a couple of games. He is still bummed that mine is the only message he has received.

The turkey place card was the cutest thing ever. It's made of oreos, a mini Reese's for the body, a whopper for the head and candy corn for feathers and the beak. I think it was all held together with frosting. Trae couldn't wait to eat his so that's the first thing he had.

Each place setting had a different list of Thanksgiving jokes and trivia.

Alan, the host, reprised his role as Master carver. He did a good job with his knife skills.

Amber, the hostess, worked hard on the dinner and was responsible for making those cute edible accessories and so many of the delicious pies.

It was a great way to spend the holiday. It's always fun to gather around friends who make you feel more like family.

Bring on the bird

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

After a few errands today, we will begin preparing mashed potatoes to feed a bunch for tomorrow's big feast. The kids and I will start peeling away later in the day so I'll have a head start in the morning.

We love Thanksgiving around here. It's my kids' favorite holiday.

Right after we married, we moved far, far away from our family. Jon's parents moved to Texas later on so we lived in the same state for about a year before we moved again. Since then all of our holidays were spent with just our little family. Occasionally we headed out West or down South for Thanksgiving festivities. Although I missed big family gatherings, I have enjoyed beginning new traditions with our kids and being able to spend the holiday with friends. Especially friends who will let me go into a Turkey coma on their couch and then go back for seconds and thirds.
Ahhh, the holidays.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I am thankful for: (in no particular order)
Wood stove
That I found my favorite hair brush
Nice storage unit manager
Happy convenience store clerk
Flexible working hours
That the 2nd auto repair quote was less than half of the first quote
And you.
What are you thankful for?

The jig is up

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

As I was walking up the stairs to the living room I heard a little voice say "NUH-SING!"
("Nothing" in Trae-speak)

I thought that was funny because I hadn't asked what was happening nor did I see anything yet. I walked around the corner with my curiosity at its peak and found Trae standing there smiling, holding out an unopened package of super glue for me. I told him thank you and he, being happy with himself, said "You're welcome MOM!" yelling the last word as he went hopping down the hall.
Interesting that even at 2 years-old they know when the jig is up, isn't it?

Always in style

Friday, November 19, 2010

photo from the Rachel Roy website

Years ago I was asked to take a meal to a family when their mother was having health problems. I was at work when the call came so I said I would get it over to them a little later than usual since my commute was about 45 minutes. No problem they said, the dad would be at home while she was resting and the kids wouldn't get home from school and their practices until later anyway.

I was told they had 4 kids but were all older and didn't know if they'd be home for dinner, but just in case, make enough for everyone.

I am always worried about meals like that because I can never judge how much to make of something. I guess I'm just used to the birds that eat in my nest. So, I doubled what we were having plus a little extra for them.

I hurriedly made my way to their house and when I drove up, I noticed there were many cars in the drive-way. I walked up behind a girl who was chatting on her cell phone and then another person walked up behind me who I assumed was a boyfriend of one of the girls.

As I entered, the father was standing in the kitchen with some teen children and others were lying on the couch watching the big screen TV.

I was a bit embarrassed because I really felt that I hadn't made enough but I also hoped that the thoughts in my head were not translating to a look on my face: Really? None of you knew where the kitchen was in this house?? All those kids, all those cars, and you couldn't get to the drive thru? And with the dad home all day too - did his hands suddenly stop working?? were some of my thoughts.

As quickly as I thought it, I knew I was wrong. Completely.
It wasn't my place to decide who receives service from others or what situation warrants that service. No one should withhold service from another or do it begrudgingly. I always disagreed with people that did so or were of that mindset and here I was falling into their category.

I was responding to a request and it was my job to do it happily. I thought about it and decided the act of service that day was for me, not them. I'm sure they were completely capable of making a meal - probably a better one, but just needed a mental break from thinking about it. Maybe they had been eating out every night during this health scare and just wanted a home cooked meal in-between the flurry of other activities. Maybe that while on the outside they appeared very capable, they just needed to know they mattered. Maybe they said no to the offer but relented thinking that whomever was called to serve needed the blessings more than they. And as it turned out, they were the ones who helped me.

So at risk of sounding preachy, let me just say don't make my mistake. At this time of Thanksgiving and holidays that naturally turn us to be more giving, let's be ready and willing to show kindness to those around us, to be of service in whatever way possible, whether or not we think they need it.
I mean, who doesn't need it?

Anthro and my two cents

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I think my cooking skills would improve if I made a trip to Anthropologie. The same way my backhand in tennis would if I had a diamond bracelet. I've been telling my husband that for years but he hasn't fallen for it.

I have been wanting those Matryoshka measuring cups for ever. When I went to order them one day, they were no longer available. So I hit ebay and found some, but of course, a hundred other people had the same idea and the price went too high. I didn't want them that much.

My husband was a Russian linguist in the Army. When he went to Russia, my only request was that he bring back some nesting dolls and that he stay safe of course. He wasn't able to get any but did bring home some Lomonosov, which little Belen promptly broke. I remember hearing the crash and looking over to see Belen standing next to the buffet and saying "uh oh" in her little voice.

I still have it in its pieced-back-together state. And when the subject comes up of how it broke or something else around the house that mysteriously met its demise, we talk about how sweet she was about it and the memory warms my heart.

So in a long answer to a question about this photo of my glass vase and if I'm ever worried about things breaking with toddlers around, my answer is no. Well yes, but no.

Of course there will be mishaps. They happen everyday around here. Have you seen Tornado Trae?? But, I'd rather be using my things and enjoying them. Some items are a little safer and out of the way, like my great-grandmother's candy dish. But if I wait to get something nice when the kids are out of the house, they might not learn how to treat something with respect and care. It's a risk, but my advice? If you love it, use it. If it breaks, stains, rips or tears, at least it was serving it's purpose. If it is highly valuable, either monetarily or sentimentally, just display it out of arms reach but allow it to be visible enough for all to enjoy.

And that's my two cents.

Names. We all have them.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This photo is from a recent family session.

When I was in 6Th grade I wanted to be known as Dallas. I wished my parents had named me that. Never mind that it sounded pole dancer-ish (no offense) I went about signing my name that way, even on school papers.

I got over that phase when my mom gave me a silver ring that was a circle of laurel leaves. My name derives from the Latin name Laurus, which meant "laurel." The leaves of the Laurel tree were used to create victors' garlands in ancient Rome. So the meaning of my name evolved into "Victory." I liked that but then I thought they should have just named me Laurel since that sounded way cooler than Laura.
I was sure I couldn't find the name Laurel on a pencil.

By the time I was in 7Th grade, I had a list of names for my future children. On my list were Ashley, Emma, Brianne, Caroline, Sunnie, Jesse, Courtland, Eugenie, Carmen and Jacqueline. I ended up not using any of them.
For boys I just had Joseph, Shane and John. I wanted to name a boy John so I could call him "John John" just like Jackie Kennedy. I ended up marrying a boy named Jon whose mom did call him "Jon-Jon." Trae's middle name is Jonathon so that's as close as I got.

When naming our children, we didn't want to go too far into nut-case land but wanted to have something unique and couldn't be found on that pencil in a souvenir shop. Well, maybe that was just me. So far no one has found their name, which has backfired a few times. Do you know how much extra you have to pay to have something personalized? Except for Reese, when he wants something with his name on it, he heads straight for a Reese's peanut butter cup and I'm only out 79 cents.

Have you ever wanted a different name? Do you like your name?

Spectator sport

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Forget watching reality t.v. There's enough drama unfolding at home.
It's a rough 2 year-old life sometimes but at least you can walk around without pants while wearing a dinosaur pajama top and no one bats an eye.

My history of running and a new blog

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Jon along the route. Picture by Alan Campbell

So we ran a 5K on Saturday. Our first ever. It was the Amish Country Bird-in-Hand Half Marathon/5K.
We're already looking to the next and have set goals to make better time.

There was a gentleman who was about 80 years-old that I could not catch. He was not far ahead of me but no matter how I tried, I could not close the gap. He was my inspiration. Picking him out of the crowd was easy as he wore bright orange hunting gloves.

You see, I am not a runner. I played tennis and basketball during school years , which involved running, but I never set out to run distance. I ran with my college roommate a bit also. I had to run two steps to her one because of her 6 foot frame and long legs. She looked fabulous as she glided along the track.

Jon is a runner although I don't think he started out in love with it either. He gets in about 6 miles a day now. In the Army he was used to running and got me going with him. It seemed easier when we could run along the ocean in California. Time was forgotten as you breathed in the sea air. Jon was always encouraging me to keep up the pace and had words of praise when I would push to finish. And on Saturday, he met me as I was in the home stretch and cheered me on the same way. That made me so happy.

I remembered one day I felt winded and a little weak as we jogged. Jon encouraged me to keep going but I just couldn't. The fog rolled in on Monterey Bay and we slowed to a walk and talked. This happened with each attempt. After a few weeks and one trip to the Dr. later, we found out our first baby was on the way. That was a good reason to be sidelined.
That baby was now home tending to the others for us.

I have quickly become addicted to the invigorating feeling that a run gives. I hope to keep it up and one day, as a spry 80 year-old, I'll beat out those little 40 year-old kids.
What is your form of exercise? Anyone like to run?
Any advice on how to keep the motivation to exercise?

Now about the new blog...
I have been really fortunate lately and have had steady business with photography. Each time I feel a little stronger in my ability. Thank you for trusting me!

The website is taking a little longer to finish than I thought so I decided to at least do the blog portion of it rather than post the session reviews here. So, if you're interested in seeing recent work, you can head over to

Once the main site is finished, I'll merge the two for one cohesive look.


Domesticated life and photos

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Today's rain makes me want to stay in all day and finish up projects while the fire is crackling. We've decided to heat the house with the wood stove this year since the electric company's price hike set us back $500.00 on one electricity bill. Just one. We couldn't stomach another. So we bought a $30.00 pallet of wood and have been using it for two weeks now. I must say I am enjoying it so far. I even like to start the fire. And when I do, I yell, "We've got FIYAHHH!!" to which Blair bear says smiling, "You say that every time."

The kids are in my room watching "Max and Ruby" and I am letting the chalkboard paint dry on Reese's closet doors. They turned out nice and smooth, perfect for the drawing and scribbling that Trae and Reese will do - hopefully with just chalk. The kitchen is clean and the washer and dryer are at full speed. I'm taking a quick break to curl up on the couch. I love domesticated life and this break would be even better if I had a carbonated soft drink in my hand but I swore off the stuff. Herbal tea sounds better for this weather anyway.

And here's the other project(s) that I have been working on over the past month. Enjoy!

Fun to be 5

Monday, November 1, 2010

For Blair's birthday we had our usual family dinner, which consisted of the birthday girl's favorite food, and opened some presents. As requested, the Disney princesses was the theme. When I asked her to get ready for the day, she came out of the room all dolled up in her dress-up clothes complete with lip gloss and clip-on earrings.

Earlier that day I had to take Belen to the Orthodontist which is an hour away. The kids look forward to the trip because that means a stop at Chik-Fil-A on the way back. I enjoy that part too. I also made a pit stop at Pier One where the salesclerk commented that she had on her Halloween costume already. Blair shyly replied, "No, it's just my birthday. I'm a princess."

It's fun to be 5.