Monday, December 06, 2010

I Heart Faces: Self Portrait & The Big 4-0

Ahhhhhhh, self portraits. Not something I enjoy doing very much. I am so much more comfortable on the other side of the camera. But tomorrow I start a new decade - yep, I'm turning the BIG 4-0! In honor of this big birthday, I had been thinking about doing this for a while, and what luck - this week is "Self Portrait" week at I Heart Faces. The only thing, though, is that I should have done it earlier - when it was not 32 degrees out and starting to snow! Maybe I'm not getting wiser in my old age after all. lol. The actual "40" sign I was intending to use was in between two train tracks in a not-so-safe part of town, but when I arrived, there were some teens playing nearby. Thankfully, within 5-minutes, my hero husband had spotted another 40 sign. This one was on a very busy, six-lane street. I was drawing quite a lot of attention. People were wondering about the crazy lady up on the street pole. :)

This shot was taken with my camera on a tripod (in the parking lane of the six-lane street, with my car parked behind it to protect it) and a wireless remote. To prepare, I had my husband (aka my downtown bodyguard and camera protector) climb up on the pole first and place his head where I wanted it to set the focus and exposure, then I had him step down and I climbed up, placing my head as close as possible to where he was. I had the camera on a two-second delay so I had enough time to move my hands and hide the remote and Voila!

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My friend, Colleen, at Chasing Dreams Photography is getting ready to release her fourth set of textures. I used Londonberry from her new "soon to be released" set on this photo. Click here to check out her awesome textures. I also used Florabella's "Glam" action at low opacity as the final step to my processing. I love the Luxe set. And don't even get me started on how much I love Photoshop on a self portrait assignment! lol

To see more of my self portraits (yikes!), you can click here.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Vacation Memories

We've been home for 10 days now, but I'm finally getting around to posting pictures from our family vacation. In my defense, I uploaded them when I got home, but didn't even have a chance to look at the images until three days ago. We got home on a Saturday night and I was sick in bed the next two days, then came down with something completely different and had to get my act in gear to host 27 people at our home for Thanksgiving. We did have a wonderful time, though. This was Leila's third trip to Disney, Mia's second and Kara's first. Kara was so excited, but didn't really know what to expect. To my surprise, she had never heard of Disney World while she was in China. Considering she seemed to watch TV every waking moment she wasn't in school, I was quite shocked. I was so excited to get away with the family, but especially anxious to see her reaction. The weather could not have been more perfect! We went during the same week two years ago and had record lows. I had to go out and purchase a whole new wardrobe for all of us then - including winter hats and mittens. Not this year - it was sunshine and low 80s every day. Hallelujah!

A word of warning: to say this post is photo heavy is an understatement. If only my mom and mother-in-law stick around until the end, I'll understand. :)

On our first full day, we took it easy and relaxed - riding a multi-seat bicycle around the resort and going swimming. We gave the girls the choice of driving to a beach or swimming and they chose swimming in the pool - hands down. We were resting up for a long week of Disney.
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We have always taken a more leisurely approach on our past Disney trips - three days max with a break or two to the beach in between. This time, we decided to go all out - five days in a row! The girls were the perfect age to do it and it ended up working out great.

Day One: The Magic Kingdom
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And appointments at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, of course...
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Day Two: Animal Kingdom

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The Lion King and Finding Nemo are my favorite Disney park shows.
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Yes, I am wearing a rain jacket, but I still got soaked!
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That night, we went to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom.
The castle looks so amazingly beautiful at Christmas time.
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We had planned to meet up with some friends from back home. Mia and her friend, Gracyn, were so cute to watch. They were dancing in front of the castle and Mia had her hand around Gracyn's back during the parade. Adorable!!
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Day Three: Epcot
I was so happy to see Mulan, as was Kara and Mia.
The girls all loved Soarin' and Test Track. They were their favorite rides of all four parks.
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We had the Princess Dinner at Akershush in Epcot's Norway pavilion.
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Day Four: Hollywood Studios
This was our least favorite park, but the American Idol show got two thumbs up from all of us.
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Mia LOVES Handy Manny and Woody.
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This was such a neat concept. Park-goers can audition for American Idol in the morning and then compete throughout the day. The audience votes for their favorite singer each show and then the winner moves on to the evening competition. Whomever wins the evening competition gets a "Golden Ticket" that will get them access to the front of the line at any American Idol audition in the country. The winner of our show was really good!
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The girls were pulled out to dance in the street during the parade.
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Day Five: Back to the Magic Kingdom
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Buzz Lightyear was one of the highlights of Mia's trip. Buzz is her absolute favorite!
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Goodbye, Zai Jian & Dosvidania to Disney World... until we meet again. It has been a great week. (And the girls still had the energy to skip to the car that evening!)
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Our bags were packed, the car was loaded and we were headed to the airport. I asked the girls if they had a good time and this was their response...
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I'll take that as a yes. ;)

Monday, November 08, 2010

A Long Overdue Update

Hello? Hello? Is anyone out there? I have received some really sweet comments of concern sent to my business email address lately, and a couple here on the blog, too - from people who wanted to check and make sure everything was ok, since, as my mother recently reminded me, "the last blog post you did was on August 20!" Rest assured, everything is going very well here. The girls are good, Nolan is good and so am I. I've just become a bit overwhelmed with trying to keep the household and my new business afloat and as much as I didn't want to do it, I decided that blogging needed to be put on the back burner for a little while. It was either blogging or my sanity, given all that I was trying to crunch into my 24 hours. I am sorry if I have caused anyone to be concerned! I'll try to do a quick catch up on the last month or so and then hope to post a bit more regularly, as I am taking the rest of the month and all of December off. WOO HOO!!!! I love my job, I truly do. I am just looking forward to a break from having to juggle family, editing, sessions and all of the never-ending administrative tasks that come with running your own small business. Plus, we have a fun family getaway planned that I hope to blog about in the coming weeks. YAY!

So, here's just a little bit of what we've been up to...

Mia turned 5 in October. Boo hoo hoo. Where has my baby gone? She looks and acts so big - although she is still outrageously funny!

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She had a cheer-themed birthday party, which turned out to be lots of fun for her and her friends.
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Leila got glasses. I think she partially needed them and partially wanted them because some of her friends have them. :)
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My brother and his family moved from a state away to just 15-minutes away. It is so great to have them so close. We were able to attend a few of Jorge's football games, one of Lucy's soccer games and play lots and lots of four-square over the past couple of months. We visited our favorite pumpkin patch a few weeks ago. And yes, that pose is all Mia. I catch her making this pose in the mirror many mornings. That girl is too funny!!! :)

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My beautiful niece, Lucy.
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And my adorable nephews, Jorge & Joe.IMG_3814-copyIMG_3836-copy
The mini- zip line for Mia.
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The big zip line for Kara and Leila.

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And then, of course, there's Halloween. We had a Toy Story "Jessie", a gypsy and a scarecrow pay a visit to our house this year.
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Kara had to work hard to make this "mean" scarecrow face. She kept bursting into laughter.
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And our most recent "happening" at our house was a trip to the E.R. yesterday for Mia to get three stitches in her upper lip. She was hit by a flying toy truck in Sunday School yesterday morning. I was so proud of her. She was so big and brave and didn't flinch as she got the stitches. I, on the other hand, almost passed out and ended up kneeling on the floor asking the Dr. to go get my husband for me. Here, my baby girl is taking it like a champ and I couldn't bear the sight of that fish hook (NOT what I was expecting!!) going through her sweet little lip. Fortunately, Mia was concentrating so hard on staying still, I don't think she even noticed that my words of encouragement were coming from the floor and not beside her. lol!

We still ended up making it to a Chinese tea party a little over an hour later. Mia and her friends learned some history of tea and were able to pour their own and sample three different kinds. Then, they worked on a craft project. It was such a fun little play date/party for the girls.
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Well, that's it for now. Thanks again to those who reached out to check in on us. I'm sorry that I had anyone worried. I'll try to do better.