Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Break

Pahrump, Nevada

We opted to keep things simple this Spring Break. Partly, because I am saving up money for a big adventure and partly because we just didn't feel like going anywhere. We did manage to fit in a few days for a much needed visit with my parents, who at ages 91 and 85, are due for as much family time as possible. The girls love visiting their grandparents and I think the grandparents love having them around.

My parents used to travel around the US in their motorhome while I attended college. I couldn't get ahold of them. I just had to wait until they called me. After several years of travel, they decided to settle down in a co-op in Pahrump Nevada with other like-minded retirees. They have remained there for around 21 years now. It seems like yesterday.

Grandpa is pruning his petunias

I also wanted to be productive during the break. I didn't spend any time trying to take great photographs, but I did manage to sew four simple sundresses and a new top for Effy, our exchange student-daughter. I am really trying to get up my motivation to give new birth to my pattern design business. I think this would be an easy way to generate income and spend more time with the girls. Unfortunately, I have to use some of my quality family time now in order to get this thing started. It's a bit of a Catch 22.

On Sunday, we just hung out at home and let the girls hunt for eggs in the yard. They sure had a lot of fun. Even our new cat Angelina wanted to get in on the action, but she wasn't quite sure what is going on. This is the first time I have ever seen her with a mean look on her face.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Pearl Turns 8

My darling Pearl is turning eight years old on April 8th. For her birthday, she asked for a visit to the American Girl Doll store and dinner in their cafe. So we are all headed to LA/Hollywood to spend a fun day of shopping, dining and time with the family.

On the night of her birthday, her best friend came over for a sleepover and we had a cozy time celebrating with a nice dinner at home and a cute Hello Kitty cake. I think between my two young girls, we have exhausted all the possible disney girls' characters for cakes from the princesses to Tinkerbelle to Tangled. I think she was happy with Hello Kitty.

She asked for a new pair of inline skates and some pearl earrings, so that's what we got for her. I'd really like to get the girls bicycles, but for now, they would rather ride up and down the sidewalks on their skooters and skates.
Below is the underside of a mastedon skull and just beside it is a wolf skull.

Below is a sculpture by Picasso entitled "Centaur". There were several Picassos here, mostly sculptures.

The weekend following her birthday, we had a fun dinner at the American Girl Doll Cafe. They not only serve the real people, but they also serve the dolls too (although their meals are imaginary). The food was delicious and afterward, we let the girls pick out some clothes and accessories for their dolls. Pearl's doll now plays the flute, complete with her case and music and music stand.

The next day we went to the La Brea Tarpits and the LA County Museum. It turned out to be a lot of fun. At the Tarpits, there are several "pits" still exposed where you can see the tar bubbling up out of the ground. Fences have been erected to protect the perimeter of the pits and lakes of tar. It is sad because you can witness firsthand as animals and birds become trapped in the tar and struggle to escape. It is just this process that makes these pits so important to the study of the Ice Age as they continually unearth fossils and creatures that were trapped in the tar over 10,000 years ago. The remains of mastedons and wolves and saber-toothed cats are on display and there are many other creatures bundled in crates still awaiting to be exposed.

The museum was next door and it was wonderful. Since we wanted to get home fairly soon, we only explored a very small part of the musuem. There was a good selection of Picassos and Matisse' and the girls really enjoyed learning about modern art. They had special art rooms at the museum, so that the girls could play with paints and find their inner artist. It was nice and the best part was that I didn't have to clean up afterward.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Planting a Vegetable Garden

Three weekends ago, I got the bug to plant a vegetable garden, even though we are currently renting our home. I remembered back to a time about 18 years ago when my husband and I were renting a small apartment with a cute little patio. We built a raised-bed planter and I filled it full of beautiful flowers. We also had a couple of vegetable plants including cherry tomatoes and peppers. I remember our house pet at the time, an adorable black English Angora bunny named "Raider", loved the cherry tomatoes. He would dance circles around our feet begging for them and we gave him so many that he got fat (or perhaps it was all the graham crackers-he begged for them too).

So I decided that it would be a fun project for me and the girls to grow our own food. I knew Pearl loves veggies and I hoped this would motivate Chloe to try some. The first weekend we built the planter and the next weekend we planted the little plants and some seeds. I know I got carried away and planted things a little too closely, but I am hoping some climbing cages will solve that problem. We planted tomatoes (four kinds), peppers (three kinds), zucchini, pickles, eggplant, yellow squash, pumpkins, green onions, basil, cilantro, radishes and purple carrots. They aren't all in that tiny planter. We also made some rows in the yard for the pumpkins and squash. I am a total beginner at this, so I am sure it won't all go just perfectly, but I do expect we'll have a bumper crop of tomatoes.

Throughout it all, my little Chloe has been helping me step by step. She planted the seeds and watered them. She was the first to notice that the onions had started to sprout. They are super tiny right now.

I think now is the perfect time for my girls to learn about growing things and healthy eating.

A few weeks ago, there was a stray cat at the elementary school. She wasn't friendly at first, but Chloe jiggled some marbles at her and she followed Chloe all the way home. Since we put some food out for her, she decided to stay and become another member of our family. She is so pretty..........don't you think? We named her Angelina. Angelina is our second cat. We adopted Sarafina last August and we still have her. Both of them have the typical tortie pattern, but Angelina also has some beautiful white patches.

Chloe was the first to notice the onions sprouting after only 7 days.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Family Day

Today is the 6th anniversary of my becoming a mommy. After months of preparation, anxiety, interviews, and paperwork, I finally found myself with my husband in Nanning China waiting for the arrival of my baby girl.

They brough Chloe in with the other 14 babies. It took me a minute to figure out which one was mine. I don't think she looked much like the pictures they had sent me. She was quiet, scared and curious. I was most in awe of her big round eyes (accentuated by her fear). She was brave and I later learned, sick.

Those first few days were really rough, but we bonded with our girl and became friends with our travelmates. Everywhere we went, we were approached by Chinese people who would look at Chloe and exclaim, "Big Eyes!"

Now she is 7. We often ask "Where did the time go?" I remember being so frustrated that I couldn't carry on a conversation with her. I was so eager and impatient to see her grow up. I wanted to know what she was thinking. These past few years have been so amazing, I wish I could freeze time......just for awhile. Even my sweet Chloe tells me she wishes she could stay little. How odd, when so many other kids just want to be big.

She has blossomed so much this past year. In Kindergarten, she was quiet and reserved and middle-of-the-pack. In First Grade, she participates, competes, excels and earned Student of the Month. This year she started gymnastics and is taking to it like a fish to water. Her teacher already wants to move her up to the next level. Every evening, when her sister is practicing piano, Chloe is practicing handstands, splits, and back rolls. She does cartwheels as easily as taking a step. She is self-motivated and only needs the slightest encouragement. She is my little sidekick.

Happy Forever Family Day my sweet Chloe ♥

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Chloe is Student of the Month for "Caring"

I am still trying to find time to edit photos from last weekend. On top of that, it was time for me to make good on a photo shoot that I offered in a silent auction nearly a year ago. Chloe and Pearl's Kindergarten teacher was the high bidder in the auction and we did the shoot this weekend. The lighting was horrible and I was pretty disappointed when I first looked at my images, but thanks to Photoshop, I think I came up with some wonderful shots. Hopefully, if I get permission, I will post a picture or two from her shoot in my next post.

When I asked Deb to come all the way out to California to teach me about flash photography, I also invited her beautiful daughter to come along. I knew that Chloe and Pearl would love to have a playmate, and I was eager to meet the beautiful daughter whom I had admired in photos for nearly three years. As it turned out, she was everything I ever imagined..........she is not only beautiful, but she is also smart and sweet and a very special girl. I am honored to have the priviledge of meeting her and I am thrilled that my girls both think the world of her. They liked her so much, that we may have to make a trip to Atlanta sometime in the coming year (if they'll have us).

For now, we will try to catch up on some pictures from last weekend. I feel like I am still in my infancy when it comes to learning photography, but I am totally hooked and don't want to do anything else (other than spend time with my family).

Oh, and on another note, my youngest daughter Chloe was named "Student of the Month" for 'caring'. Chloe has been a tad jealous of her sister Pearl who was named "Student of the Month" in both KG and 1st grade. She has been hoping every month since that it would be her turn. I was a little bit concerned that she might not achieve this status because she can be a bit difficult. Now, finally her dream has become a reality. Not only did Chloe earn this wonderful honor, but her best friend, who is in another class, won the very same honor. I thought it was pretty cool that two best friends both won "Student of the Month" for the same thing at the exact same time!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011


This past weekend was absolutely amazing. My husband splurged and got me the best birthday present ever..........a full weekend with the great photographer Deb Layden. She came out to California to teach me how to use flash (as well as showing me many other great photography secrets). She even brought her darling daughter with her. Both Chloe and Pearl took an instant liking to her and were sad to see her leave.

I took so many pictures of so many subjects that I still have a lot to sort through and edit. I thought I would start with a series of pictures I shot of Effy, our exchange student. She graciously agreed to be our model and assistant even in freezing and windy conditions.

Here are some of my favorites of her from the weekend.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Getting Ready for Valentine's Day

Yesterday we went to Target as a family. It was my intention to purchase some fun cute Valentine cards for Chloe and Pearl to give to their classmates. Boy was I disappointed with the selection. Perhaps it was just because I waited until the last moment, but I really saw nothing worth buying. However, we needed something, so I grabbed a few boxes of different things.

Later that evening I remembered that I saw some Valentine Templates over at MCP Actions website and thought I would play around and see if I could come up with something. As it turned out, I was able to put some lovely portraits from last weekend to good use. The templates were easier to work with than I thought they would be.

I finished them off and printed them up in little time and I think they turned out pretty cute. I hope the girls' classmates like them.

Also today, I took some pictures for a nice young man. His mom said he needed some "head shots" and I was happy for the opportunity to practice my photography and editing skills. I really like this shot the best although we got several real nice ones. I used one of the new actions from Florabella and I think they really gave it that special finish.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine Hair Do

I am always looking for fun hair-dos for my dark-haired beauties. This week Chloe has been asking for hearts in her hair. So I turned to one of my favorite websites, Adopt A Do to find inspiration for Valentines' dos.

This is a variation on the Hanging Heart hair do. I decided to do the heart in the back instead of the side, so that I could put the rest of her hair in a ponytail. Then I used some red mini clips purchased from the local drug store for an accent. You will need a topsy tail to create the top of the heart, but I have had success making one with a piece of wire. There are more Valentine hair-do ideas on her site as well. All the instructions are shown on easy to follow videos.

Happy Thursday!

Monday, February 07, 2011

This and That

I had a fairly productive weekend. What I mean by that is, that I planned to spend it with my family and do nothing other than relax and take pictures of them and then perhaps post a bit to the blog.

Sunday didn't quite live up to expectations as the Superbowl brought some unexpected surprises our way. I had planned to take a picture of Chloe with her American Girl Doll and then later a picture of Pearl with her American Girl Doll. But thanks to the Superbowl, there were kids galore in the neighborhood and they seemed to think my house was the cool place to hang out. So Pearl was otherwise engaged.

Therefore in an effort not to leave her out of this post, I will include a picture of something she created earlier this weekend. She made a three storey Lego house complete with car and a bald man. The home is fully furnished. There is even a computer and table.

Happy Monday! Now I am off to work while the kids enjoy the day off. Sorry Dad.