Sunday, December 30, 2007

F is for family!

F is for family, not "fetch" if your from Utah, or "fat" because that is how you feel after the holiday, or even "farfenoogan". I changed my post entry after writing about what we did during Christmas because judging from the response in our last blog, our "Most Noble friends" are obviously our family and hey, they were there.


So to honor our "Most Noble friends", I will tell you my most favorite thing about them during the time we were together. While playing charades, most of the focus is on the person trying to act out the clue, and little notice is given to the people who are guessing. Well, Betsy is definately my favorite guesser person to watch. I mean, who else jumps out of their seat, yelling answers out, all at the same time getting closer and closer to the person who is trying to act it out for everyone else.

I appreciate people like Russ who are grammer snobs. He may be reading this right now thinking about all of my grammer mistakes and thinking about dangling participles . My parents speak with "country grammer" and I have inherited it. My first year as a elementary school teacher a fellow colleague said to me, '"Valerie it is not "I seen", it's "I've seen" or "I saw"."' I wasn't offended, even at 22 years old, in fact, I worked really hard at correcting myself. I asked my roommate if she noticed I used "seen" incorrectly and she said "yes." I asked her why she didn't correct me and she said "I thought you were trying to be cute." Over the years, I have tried to steer away from "cute", thanks to people who are brave enough to correct me. So Russ, more power to ya!

Andy and Joe's house is decorated right out of a magazine, or, that is what you would think. Their house is filled with color and life. I love their homemade shelves and their choice of decorations. In fact, 10 years from now, or whenever we can afford a house, I am going to get some ideas from these people.


Since I am on the subject of family and favorite, I would like to share my top ten favorite things about this Christmas holiday in no specific order:

1. Doing a puppet nativity with my mom, Autumn, and the kids. The kings kept popping up at the wrong time! Ah hem, mom was that you?

2. Seeing my mom and Autumn bundle up like they were in a winter in Michigan. Did you forget you were in California?

3. Xander demanding that I hold his hand in the car.

4. CJ and her cousins making a picture slide show.

5. Finding Mia and her little cousins hidden in a small corner, giggling.

6. Watching Jim do Guitar Hero.

7. Playing games with Ben's siblings til 2:00 a.m.

8. Watching Kathy try to take a bite out of her 10 lb chocolate bar.
9. Jes' mohawk.

10.Mia, Porter, and Sam all taking a bath together.(That looks funny. Mia and Porter names together. Isn't that her name?)


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Photoshop Fun!

I've decided if you read our family blog without an email reminder, you have passed the test and will hereby be addressed as "Most Noble friends of the Porters". You will also be given a lifetime supply of tuna. You may leave your name in the comment section so others may know who you are and can address you appropriately.

So I have been playing around with Photoshop and have had so much fun. Here are some of my experiments:



This one I just played with the colors. Aren't little bums cute?

I just absolutely love Xander's face on this. What I did here was much harder than the first picture although I was going for the same affect.


So this is how I got the color in this picture. I opened a color picture and used the color from that neckless and then tried to fill it in the black and white picture. Ben informed me that this was the hard way. I have learned that if I want to isolate color in a picture it is easier to use a color picture, select what I want to stay colored and then make it black and white.


So much fun! I would just like to thank my husband Ben for opening my eyes to the world of Photoshop, my kids for taking naps and giving me some time to play with the computer, and last but not least, chocolate, for being my constant companion this holiday season!

Friday, December 14, 2007


I came home from a busy night and Ben and the kids had this for me. It's hilarious!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Snow in California?

Yes, you heard it right! There was snow in the Bay area. In fact, Pixar was the only place to get hit with snow. The crazy thing is that there was only snow in one area on the grounds at Pixar. It was formed perfectly into a sledding hill. Man, California is full of surprises!

On Friday, we went to Ben's work party. It was so much fun. Besides the sledding hill, they had tons of crafts for the kids to do as well as yummy food to eat. The kids kept themselves entertained making candy houses, beaded necklaces, and crowns. After, we watched the Golden Compass. We had a fun night.

So we have the best news ever! Ben was given word that he would be extended at least 6 more months doing "run of show". Well when it was finally made official, he was extended 12 months and given a higher salary and benefits. I wanted to shout "Hallelujah" and climb to the highest mountain and shout praises. Luckily, there are no mountains close by, so we had to settle for little screams of happiness in our small apartment. We are so thankful and feel so blessed. Thanks to all of our family members who have been praying for us. You are the best!

Xander is showing you how we feel in our apartment. WE FEEL SO SQUISHED! We have decided to stay in our apartment ONLY because we really don't want to move at Christmas and after only 6 months. When our lease is up next summer we are hoping to find a 3 bedroom apartment. I'm sure it will cost a small fortune.

My cute mom and sister are coming to visit next week. I am so excited and even more excited for my kids to get some grandma love. My sister Autumn may just love it here with all the asians and never want to go back to school. After Christmas we will be heading to Utah and visit more family. So. . .have a very Merry Christmas,Feliz Navidad, and Happy Hanukkah!

Friday, November 23, 2007

We love food!

We decided to do Thanksgiving on our own. Was I nervous? Heck no! I don't mean to brag, but I can make a large meal when the occassion calls for it. In fact, at the beginning of my marriage, I had a hard time making small meals. It's a miracle Ben and I lost weight when we were first married and didn't blow up instead. Over the years I have learned how to make a meal just right for our family size. But every now and then, I have to admit, I get excited to make a large meal.

I bought the kids their own little table and they love it. Xander loves it because he can finally be a big kid. Here are some of his big kid words, "Cah (car), bah (ball), mo (more)and gah (go)." I've learned that with Xander, everything tastes better with a bowl and spoon.

We saw 2 movies this week, a first for our family! We saw "Enchanted" at Pixar on opening day. Every now and then they have screenings in their theatre. Our whole family enjoyed the movie. In fact, CJ declared at the end of the movie, "We HAVE to get this movie!" Growing up my family and I went to the movies on Thanksgiving after we stuffed ourselves. I thought since we wouldn't be with family maybe we should pick that tradition up. We didn't quite make it on Thanksgiving. Between the turkey cooking and Xander's nap we didn't have time. So we went today and saw "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium." Another very cute movie that the girls enjoyed. This will probably be the last time for the whole family. Xander did not want to stay in one place and kept Ben and I on our toes. I think this will be a fun tradition when all of our kids can enjoy it and maybe the parents too.

CJ loves to pretend she is a teacher. (A noble profession I must say.) She loves to pretend having Mia as her student. She does a great job and even finds time to squeeze in an assembly for Mia.

Mia has a Jesus/Santa/Anything Christmas confusion. We want to teach the kids why we celebrate Christmas. So we have been talking about the reason we celebrate Christmas is because it's Jesus' birthday. Mia goes around pointing to Santa and will call him "Jesus" and visa versa. At the store today she pointed to a Christmas tree and called it "Santa." She is really excited for Christmas.

We've been keeping ourselves busy this holiday weekend with Super Mario Galaxy. The whole family loves it, even me. Ben even let me be the first to play it. Probably because when I was a kid, I loved the original Nintendo. I was pretty darn good too. Or. . .this is Ben's way of getting more video games. He's probably thinking, "Get the wife to like video games and I'll have no problem in the future getting games anytime I want."

I love taking pictures! Here are some more. Feel free to skip over this section, but let me warn you, you will be missing pictures of the cutest kids in the world! I would hate to let that happen to you.

November Pictures

Friday, November 2, 2007

Candy, candy, and more candy!

Candy, candy, candy! I think we have more candy than food here. Our candy supply began to grow at our ward's Halloween party where they did trunk or treating. On Halloween day, they had trick or treating down one of our business streets where the kids increased their candy supply yet one more time. They also gave out pumpkins and had fun games and prizes for them. Then if that wasn't enough Ben and I took the kids out at night. Oh yes, we are either the coolest parents in the world or the craziest.

Xander was the cutest. He totally got the idea of trick or treating. He would take his bucket up to the door and put his hand out in a "gimme" motion. If the people didn't let him choose and put the candy in his bucket, he would stay there with his hand stretched out until he got to choose for himself. So he may not have gone to as many houses but I think he still ended up with the same as the girls.

Then our Halloween was extended one more day. At Pixar, they have a costume parade and trick or treating the day after Halloween. It was fun for the kids to dress up again and of course get more candy. Betsy,Russ, and their kids were able to come too! We actually got to go through places we normally wouldn't be able to and watched The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in Pixar's theatre. It is a very fun atmosphere at Pixar.

Tons of candy everywhere really drives me crazy. Not that I am a health freak. I do enjoy candy every now and then. When CJ was little at Halloween time, I used to let her choose 5 candies a day to eat. I thought I was being pretty generous. Needless to say, the candy lasted FOR-EV-ER. Over the years, I have learned to just let the kids pig out and the candy is gone within a week. This year I have my doubts that the candy will be gone within a week, so I have taken some precautionary measures. I have very sneakily taken candy out of the kids bowls periodically. So far, I have 2 1/2 gallon size bags tucked away for who knows when. I guess until Ben reads this and finds my stash.

CJ is enjoying her afterschool enrichment cooking class. She comes home and immediately wants to make what they did in her class. Mia is learning her letters and will point them out wherever we go.

Xander is looking more like a toddler to me than a baby. He loves to kick soccer balls, makes "vroom" noises while scooting a toy car across the carpet, and is talking all the time. He also wrote his own novel called,"Waterfall Romance" in his spare time. We are hoping that it gets on New York Times Best Seller list. Check Barnes and Noble for a copy. We don't know if it will be found in the children's novels or romance novels.

We are still waiting to hear from Pixar about Ben continuing on there. He has applied to a few companies in the Bay area. We hope to be able to stay in the area, we really like it here.

Ben pointed out to me that the camera we bought is my toy. I have loved taking pictures and learning how to use the camera. I have taken over 1,000 pictures already. Yes, I am camera happy. Mia is getting sick of me taking pictures of her everyday. She is my favorite subject. Xander and CJ never stay in one place long enough.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

New camera

I always seem to dabble with my hobbies doing a little of this and a little of that. I have finally decided that I want to develop a talent; I want to become passionate about something and be really good at whatever it is. Ben and I invested in a new camera. We bought a Canon XTI which is a digital SLR for those who are unfamiliar with camera names. We were tired of taking horrible pictures with our cheap $100 digital camera. I am especially excited because I am interested in photography and want to learn about how to take good pictures. I have a neighbor who is a photographer and who is helping me learn about doing the settings manuelly. She is really good at composition. Here is one of her pictures: Here are some of the pictures that I have taken. I have really enjoyed learning how to set shutter speeds and f-stops. Ben is also teaching me how to use Photoshop which will definately be useful with photography. Of course I am not a pro. . .yet!

In this next picture there were palm trees behind Mia and it looked like they were coming out of her head (bad composition!), so I erased them in Photoshop!
This next picture Ben took. He is very good and has great composition. I hope some of his skills will rub off on me!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

"You don't know my life!"

One day CJ was telling her dad about how her friends didn't believe that she had gone to Disney on Ice. This is how the conversation went. CJ: ' "I was telling my friends that I went to Disney on Ice and they were like, "No you didn't" and I was like "Uh huh, YOU DON'T KNOW MY LIFE!" ' That is my favorite saying these days. I am very much influenced by what my children say subconsciously. I get "What heck you doing?" from Mia and "Go gee go" from Xander and find myself quoting them throughout the day. I still say "I can do ever what I want" and "Can't know how" from CJ's toddler days. What does this say about my intelligence level? (Don't answer that).

CJ is signed up to take an after school enrichment cooking class. She is way excited. I was hoping to put her in the art class but unfortunately it wasn't offered this time around. She is so much like her Daddy in so many ways.

MIA is having fun with play dates. I have continued to do "school" stuff with her whenever she is in the mood. We are learning to recognize letters of the alphabet. Wherever we go, Mia looks for the letter M (her favorite, of course). What I would like for her even more is to socialize and play with kids her age. The other day we went to the park and had lunch with some friends. The park was near a marina and so the kids were able to see tons of boats. Mia and I are both excited to have new friends!

Mia has this new thing she does with her toys, chairs, and books. What may look like a pile of mess is a very organized place for her. She will stack toys and lay them out very methodically. I have made the mistake in trying to put away her things only to be scolded about moving them. In fact, on her bed, she has babies on her pillows and ends up just sleeping on the mattress because the babies cannot and will not be moved.

XANDER is the cutest kid around. Everyday I think how lucky I am to have this little boy. He loves containers and putting things in them. Yesterday he gave us a little scare. He somehow got a hold of toliet bowl cleaner containing hydrochloric acid and squeezed some out onto the carpet with the lid on crooked. We didn't know if any got in his eyes because he was crying so hard. Long story short, he was just fine but our carpet was fried. Note to self, never buy that cleaner again!

BEN has had some interviews with some people at Pixar. Hopefully we will know sooner whether or not we will be staying here.

As for ME, I have been enjoying making friends. I know that sounds silly for a person my age to say. You would think I have this reservoir of friends over the years. And I do in a way. It is mostly my "keep in touch" friends who are scattered everywhere. When I was juggling work full time and being a mom I really didn't make alot of effort because I was so busy. Then I finally got to stay at home and really didn't make an effort because we were living with Ben's parents. So here I am now, with no excuse, and with a strong desire to make friends. I've decided everybody no matter how old you are, needs friends. I feel like I should break out in song, but lucky for you, I won't.

My dad taught me "One man's junk is another man's treasure" and I have taken his advice. As a kid, I would get embarrassed when my dad would stop and get things from people's garbage. I would sink in my seat and hide. Now, I am following in my father's footsteps. I am a dumpster diver, there, I admit it. I browse the dumpsters every time I go by them hoping to find some fun treasure. So far I have found Harry Potter books which Ben sold at work, a wooden chest, a dresser, and a computer (to Ben's delight). I just want to take this opportunity and thank all the people who were evicted from their apartments or took off and left their belongings. Thank you.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

It's school time!

Over Labor Day weekend we visited Uncle Grant and Aunt Patricia in Auburn. Betsy and Russ met us at our place and we followed them up. It was only about a 2 hour drive. For some reason I thought it was going to be longer and packed enough DVD's and snacks for a 10 hour drive. Hey better to be prepared-right? The kids loved Uncle Grant's train he is building on his 3 acre property. They have so much land that we went on a mini hike in their backyard. Mia called Grant and Patricia "Grandma and Grandpa". Xander had a hard time sleeping in an unfamiliar place, but other than that, we had a blast visiting with cousins. CJ actually had someone her age to play with. She is the oldest grandchild on either side and never has anyone her age to play with. There were 2 cousins her age and she was in heaven.

CJ started school on Tuesday. She got into Ruby Bridges and her teacher is Ms. Escalante. She likes school so far and is enjoying making new friends. Mia and I are doing our own little school at home and I am bringing out some learning activities that I have. I think later down the line, I would like to do a mom preschool with her. Xander says, "Mama" perfectly, probably because I am his favorite! He also says, "Nah" for "No" and "Dah" for "done", at least that is what I think.

So now here is the time I fill you in on Ben. Ben never reads our blog or anyone else's for that matter, so I could tell you anything I wanted and he would never know. For instance, how he reads enormous novels on the toliet- like who stays long enough in the bathroom to do that?
But I won't embarrass him. . .today. Ben and Xander watched the first BYU game of the season. I have never seen Ben so happy in his life. He wooped and yelled and screamed for 3 hours. Good thing we are on the first floor! At Pixar they had a reality series come. It is called Dinner Impossible and it will be on the Food Network channel in November. A renown chef was given guidelines and had to make food for the ALL the employees at Pixar within a certain time limit. Anyways, Ben says the food was wonderful and everything turned out great. On a side note, upon our arrival at Patricia's and Grant's place they told Ben that they just finished watching him on T.V. Ben was on the BYU channel talking about their student film. Let's hope this doesn't go to his head and he thinks he is a superstar (j.k I doubt it. He could care less that he was on TV- so humble is he).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Busy Kids!


I discovered the other day that Mia's hair is long enough to braid. She is really such a cutie pie these days. She says the funniest things, for example, to CJ who was on the top bunk, "CJ want to come on my bed, it way FUN!" Or to me after she asks me a question, "Mom say, "Oh yes!". On Xander's birthday she commented about how there were no balloons, "There's no balloons, doggone."

She had a fun birthday. I really like doing birthday parties and had hoped to do one for Mia this year, but since we had just moved we really didn't know anyone. We went to McDonalds for lunch and played on the outdoor playground. I think the highlight of her day was getting a scooter for her birthday. She was also thrilled that her aunts and grandmas called to wish her a Happy B-day. She told me that those who did not call or were not represented by a significant other, she will be writing out of her will.


Xander has finally taken my advice and instead of throwing the books off the shelf, he picks one up and gently reads the pages while making pictures in his mind. He is totally walking everywhere. I finally put some shoes on him the other day and with his 2 front teeth coming in, he almost looked like a big boy-he just needs more hair!

On his birthday he could care less about eating his cake, he kept putting his hand out to us as if to say,"Here, you eat it. I would rather just play with it!" He got some cute clothes and a fun cup/ball toy. Unlike Mia, he says that he could care less about anyone calling him on his birthday because he can't talk yet and wants to reassure everyone that they still have a place in his will.


CJ has been busy making friends. She was invited to a birthday party from a girl she goes to church with. She was so excited and thrilled to be included. She is also registered to go to school at Ruby Bridges Elementary. The question is, 'Will she stay there?" They said that 3rd grade is pretty full. So we have to wait to see which students return and if there is room for CJ. She may go to another school, Payden that is near by. CJ is just way excited to start school on Sept. 7.

We went to Muir Woods last weekend and checked out the cool Redwoods. CJ got to be the tour guide's helper. She got to hold some of the forest's inhabitants, the friendly slugs. The slugs liked CJ so much, they left her gooed with mucus. What a memorable event! After the woods, we headed to the beach where Ben and the kids ran away from the waves. We stayed only 15 minutes because it was so cold and windy. Xander was excited to have sand back in his diet!

The Parents

Ben is getting alot done at Pixar. He has had several people request some of his cloth designs that he has created. He joined a "Game" club at Pixar and got a free Wii game "Pirates of the Caribbean 3". On another note, we were in San Fransisco after our trip at Muir Woods and Ben would say while we were trying to find our way,"Hey this looks familiar." I asked him if he remembered it from when he was a kid. He said, "No, I remember this from a video game I played." So maybe this game club will teach some valuable skills.

I am really enjoying the diversity here. Diversity in ethnicity and religion. It reminds me of growing up in Michigan. I just feel so alive and excited to talk to everyone. I think the people here are so friendly and interesting.

Ben and I have received callings in our ward (church). Ben will be teaching Gospel Doctrine (his dream calling) and I will be the Enrichment Leader (in charge of organizing activities for the women). This is the 4th time for me, if you include when I was going to college. I'm either really good at this or I really stink and need to get better. Who knows? Either way, I am excited.