Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I'm getting there!

Since moving to Concord, I have felt like a failure in my photography. I'm not a good business person. I'm not pushy and I don't like to bug people. I don't know how to sell myself. So needless to say, I didn't have many sessions at all.


Thanks to my friend Jane who let me take pictures of her family in March, which gave me a boost. Then a big drought for 6 months where I desperately tried new tactics like a "Model Session" where I had kids come and be my model and as a thank you, give an image of their parents' choice. I thought that was an awesome idea, but only got 2 families.


Then I tried a Student Photo Session because the schools charge way too much for school pictures. I only charged 25.00 and gave them one image and copyright. I contacted friends who did preschools and told them with only one booked session, I would give their teacher a free class picture. No one was interested.

Thank goodness for my other friend, Stefanie, who booked a session with me and I ended up taking her family's picture too!



I also tried to get some Fall Sessions because that is when everyone is doing their Christmas cards right? A friend awhile ago suggested I put my Photography on Facebook. No way did I want to set myself up for some more failure and rejection. I finally gathered enough courage and I made a flyer and sent them to everyone I knew on Facebook who lived in Concord or Alameda. That was a big deal for me. Then. . .I waited. Then. . .Nothing.

Defeated, I finally accepted the fact that maybe this wasn't for me and decided that I just needed to be happy with taking pictures of my family. Turns out, I really missed taking pictures of others. I love making people happy with the photographs that I take. I also LOVE processing them and bringing them to life. So then, I decided that I would do some more of my "Model Sessions" and do it, because I love it.


So finally after I thought I had things figured out, that's when things started to pick up. Doesn't it always happen that way, when you least expect it?

Another friend (Hallelujah for friends!) asked me to do some Senior pictures for her daughter. My first ever and I have to say, I absolutely loved it!


My friend posted her pictures on Facebook and I sent a Senior Session flier out to people she suggested might be interested. Since then, I have had several people ask me about getting pictures. I have two more Senior Sessions to do and 3 of my friends from Alameda have asked me to take their pictures.

Four Sessions scheduled this week!

One thing I learned is to not set such high expectations. If I look back at my attempts, each time, I got at least one person to respond. One person should be counted as a success, right?

Have I figured things out yet? Nope. But I am getting there.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Made to do Good Things

For your viewing pleasure, some before and afters of my kids. . .



Today Mia told me as she skipped through the kitchen, "Mom, I was made to do good things! Some people aren't, but I am!" I LOVE that! I love how this girl thinks. She is inquisitive about everything around her-wondering how things work, or why things are the way they are. She is the type of person that is going to succeed in many things in her life. You know how some people are just good at everything? That's Mia. First place in a race and most recently, I got a call from the school saying that her Reflections entry is moving onto the next level. She is very stubborn and demands that she can do it by herself. I think it's that stubborness that pushes and motivates her. Like when she was teaching herself to ride her bike without training wheels. She cried and cried but never gave up and pushed just as hard.




Xander told me the other day while we were reading scriptures, "We read all this, we go to heaven." I was so proud of him. He's been fascinated with heaven lately. While we were shooting hoops, he said, "Heaven's a good place, wight? You walk on clouds." The other day, I lost my patience with him and was upset. I was too hard on him and I apologized. He said, "That's okay. We're still buddies!" Xander is learning to write his name. He's pretty much got all of his letters in his name down and can even spell it. It's the writing part that is difficult. He writes the letters of his name randomly on the paper. Out of all of my kids, he's got it the worst with learning 6 letters. His sisters only have 2,3, or 4 letters in their name.



CJ poses qualities that make her a wonderful person. She is very forgiving and has no problem letting go. Another quality which I admire about CJ is that she is very loving and thoughtful. CJ has a huge heart. It's natural for her to love and help those around her. When I need help, CJ is the first to volunteer (unless it's emptying the dishwasher :) I can learn alot from CJ! CJ's classmate just moved in next door. It's been so much fun for CJ to have someone to play with all the time!




Zoey is the happiest baby you'll ever meet. All you have to do is say, "Hi Zoey" and she will give you the biggest smile. She loves to dance. Whenever and wherever music is heard, you will see Zoey dancing and doing her favorite bobble head move. She also loves to read books and explore. This is the hardest age for me because she is EVERYWHERE! I have to put all of the chairs on their side because if I don't, Zoey will be on top of the tables. She is very active and on the go. She is talking more each day. Just the other day she said, "thanks" and "I love you" to Ben. Some of her other words are: Momma, Dada, Hi CJ (she says it together), kitty cat, down, and more. Everyday she is looking and acting more like a toddler than a baby. I keep thinking, "Slow down!" She is probably our last baby and I just want to enjoy and remember every minute.

Sometimes, I think the roles are switched and my kids are the teachers and I am the student. I learn many things from them. I think my kids are wonderful and I'm not the only one who think so. I kid you not, every Sunday at church, someone says to me or Ben how "cute" our kids are or how they have so much "confidence"or my favorite, how "well behaved" they are. I agree. I think my kids are pretty wonderful and that they are all MADE TO DO GOOD THINGS!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Trip to the ER

Xander was having a playdate with his buddy Hudson and I was in the office with Zoey. Zoey started whining, so I stopped what I was doing and said, "Let's go play something." As I was leading her to the kid's room, she continued to whine. She does that alot because she is learning to talk, so I really didn't think anything of it.

We went to the other room and I started to lay her down to change her diaper when I noticed CJ's earrings in her mouth! That was why she was whining. I'm sure it was poking her mouth. At first glance, it looked like her tongue was pierced by them, but as I looked closer, they were just laying in her mouth.

At 16 months, Zoey is very active and doesn't like to stay in one place very long. I managed to get one of the earrings out and as I tried to get the other one out, she was trying to kick herself free and started to lay back.

Frantic that she was going to swallow the other earring, I quickly pulled her up which resulted in her swallowing the earring! I screamed! All I could think of was the pointy tip of the earring, hoping it didn't do any damage on the way down.

After she swallowed the earring, she acted totally fine like nothing happened. I called the doctor and they told me to take her to the ER. I was trying to think about what to do with the kids because school was going to let out soon.

I called my friend Jane and she came over and watched Xander and Hudson. Ben decided to come home early, I'm sure because I freaked out. I tend to do that when I'm stressed. I'm not very good in stressful situations.

Anyways, at the hospital, Zoey was EVERYWHERE! She kept wanting to go out the front door, which was automatic and of course, just obliged. She wouldn't let me hold her and would squirm out of my arms. As I followed her around, evidence of her destruction was left and I couldn't put things back because she was so fast.

Finally they called us and we went back and had an X-ray taken.

You can see the earring clear as day! The earring was in a good place and not in the trachea. So now we just wait and check her poo to see if she has passed it. What a crazy day!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The End of Halloween 2010. . .finally

There were school parties. . .

A ward party with a trunk or treat, 2 other Halloween parties, and trick or treating at Ben's work. . .

Dressing up a zillion times. . .

Ben impressing everyone with his costume, which no one knew exactly what he was. . .

Ozzy Osbourne??

Mad Hatter?? Oh well, he still nabbed the "Scariest Costume" Award.

And then there was Valerie who like Ben, no one knew what she was either. . .

Until she told them she was a Harajuku Girl which still didn't mean anything to anyone. She won "Most Original Costume" award because she looked so weird.

Adieu Halloween, until we meet again next year.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Amazing Race

Mia came home with a flier about a race that was being held on the Saturday (which is uncommon here) before Halloween. I was needing some motivation, so I signed up for the 10K. I also noticed that they were having a 1K Kid Fun Run too. Mia runs everywhere. If we are on a walk, she has to run the entire way. So I asked Mia if she wanted to run in a race with me. She was excited.

We went on a practice run one time before the race. I wanted to show her the distance she would be running. I had to take the little ones with me. Mia did not enjoy running and complained. I wondered if she was going back out of the race or if she was just not having a good day.

The day of the race came. I drove myself because my race was first and Ben was going to meet me there towards the end of my race. My race was great, I think mostly due to the part that I ran with someone the entire way! Her and I were going the same pace and I thought about passing her, but I didn't want to wear myself out, especially at the beginning of the race. I just started chatting with her and we ended up talking and running the whole time.

She was a great motivator and I finished with a time of 57 minutes. I was happy because my goal was to finish in a hour. Forgive the cheesy smile. Why I smiled like that, I don't know. I invited my new friend, Vanessa to come and play indoor soccer with me next week at the church.

I had about an hour before Mia's race. This race, costumes were encouraged. Mia dressed up as a ballerina and my friend Emily, made me a tutu to wear. She made it to match my shoes. Thank you Emily!

Mia was so excited to run she kept asking me when it was time. The person who was supposed to blow the horn was having problems. I think Ben started the race. He yelled "Go" and everyone took off.

I ran with Mia to help motivate her. She was awesome. She ran so fast and had to stop a couple of times and then just sprinted off. There was only one boy and his Mom in front of us. I told her, don't let anyone pass you!

Mia was the first girl to pass the finish line and received a trophy for first place for ages 6-12. She was so excited. When we were waiting in line for the lunch they served us after, Mia said, "Is this a dream? I can't believe this is real." People kept taking pictures of her and one lady told Mia that she was going to make Mia famous with the picture she had just taken. Mia was on cloud nine and kept talking about how everyone was congratulating her.

I was so proud of Mia and that she did her best. When we got home, I was so touched that her big sister CJ wasn't jealous but proud of her little sister. I overheard her bragging to a friend who was visiting, that her sister got first place in a race.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween Celebrations!


This weekend, our friends had a Halloween party. We were so excited to go! We had originally planned on doing a party this year, but with digging up our yard and Ben making decorations, we didn't feel like we could this time. I'm so glad the Michaels invited us to theirs!

We all dressed up, which is always fun to do. Ben was bummed that he hasn't had time to make himself a costume and had to resort to his Captain Jack costume again. Our friends here have never seen it so it was great.


We ate yummy food, carved pumpkins, ate smores and visited. The kid's played pin the spider on the web. Ben made brain jello which was pretty realistic and gross looking that we had a ton left over. Check out my other blog this week, if you want to make your own!

I learned while talking with the Michael's friend, Laura, that I taught school with her mom! What a small world.

The kids had fun dressing up for the second time already. Last week was the school's Fall Festival and it was so much fun. The games were great and CJ even won a cake from the cake walk.


We still have a ward Halloween party, Halloween itself, and Pixar's after Halloween trick or treating. I hope I survive!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Xander's Field Trip

I got to go with Xander on his field trip to the Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm. We had so much fun together learning about the life cycle of the pumpkin. We also got to see many different types of pumpkins. Xander learned that cows have 4 stomachs and got to practice milking a pretend cow. He also got to grind corn into cornmeal.


One thing I learned about Xander that I didn't know was that he is not afraid to participate in large groups. As a child, I never raised my hand unless I knew for sure my answer was correct and even then, I was afraid I might have the wrong answer. Not Xander, he raised his hand for EVERY question and gave an answer. One time as he was answering a question, he burped the answer out. Everyone laughed.


Xander and I got to pick a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch. I thought it was amazing that he knew exactly which one he wanted. It was one of the smallest ones and when I tried to get him to look at other ones, he told me he already found the perfect one.


The kids were sitting and waiting for their snack. Unfortunately, whoever was supposed to bring the snack had forgotten. Luckily, a parent had some juice boxes in her van and gave them to the kids. They were totally fine.


We played in the "Playland" which had a tunnel of straw, giant tic tac toe, giant pools of lima beans to climb and play in.


I'm so glad I got to go and spend time with Xander. We're buddies!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

General Conference Notes

I usually make General Conference packets for the kids, but today I decided to teach them how to take notes. They did a great job and I was so impressed with them. They each were able to take notes on their individual levels.

Xander drew a picture of Jesus, Heavenly Father, and him. After drawing this, he spent the rest of the time creating his own game of bowling and practiced some soccer moves.

Mia took notes upon notes upon notes of notes! Ben kept feeding her more paper and Mia would fill up it with things that she heard and saw. The middle picture is of an "elf", I don't know when she heard that!

CJ did an awesome job organizing her notes. We talked about the theme of each talk and how to identify it. I loved how CJ recognized Bible stories that were shared because of what she has learned in Primary.

It was a great Conference and since Zoey slept for part of it, I was able to listen to most of it! It has been a great Sunday so far. During the break we are getting our Halloween decorations out and our kids are thrilled to pieces! I wonder where they get that from?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hidden little "Treasures"

We have begun a huge DIY project of installing a sprinkler system. When we bought the house, we thought it already had a working sprinkler system. It looked like it did, but when we turned it on, nothing happened.

After awhile, we noticed that in the backyard, their were PVC pipes just sticking out of the ground. Whoever installed the sprinkler system, did a horrible job.

So. . . here we are now.

Digging up the old sprinkler system, hoping we can somehow use some of it and install a working sprinkler system.


I've just begun digging yesterday and have already found, what Mia calls, "treasures". We know all about these "treasures" because while prepping our garden we found many of them. Treasures like glasses, plastic bags, broken glass. . .

Pretty much what you would call, garbage.

Now, this is a time where my Dad's saying, "One man's junk is another man's treasure" doesn't apply. Whoever's junk we have been finding, is not a treasure, but simply, garbage!

Garbage. Garbage. Garbage.

Is our house built on what used to be the Concord Landfill? That is what it seems.

As I am excavating the pipes, I have found these so far:


I haven't saved everything that I have found, but decided to start, just for pure entertainment.

Wouldn't it be great to find a real buried treasure, say gold or something in that category? I only hope that I am not going to stumble across a dead carcass of any kind!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Random Things in my Brain that must be Emptied


Xander said this while shooting hoops outside today,"I love my home. I love my Mom and Dad. I love my sisters. I love my family."

We got a little kid basketball hoop and Xander wants to play all the time. He asked me the other day, "Can I shoot some hoops?" Ahhh. . . A basketball star in the making.

Xander went to the Halloween store with his Dad last night and has not stopped talking about it. Nothing scared him until he saw the animaltronics. Today, he was, for the second time, telling me about his adventure and how he was scared and he said, "I was so scared. Look at me Mom (I was painting)." I look at him and he is showing me how he looked when he was scared. He was shaking and his shoulders were raised and he had a scared expression on his face.

Xander also loves Michael Jackson. Here are some funny things he has said about the King of Pop:

"When I grow up, I'm gonna look like Michael Jackson."

"Mom. . . can I do the moonwalk?" "Uh yeah," I reply. He proceeds to moonwalk. Well the kid version anyway, which is jumping up and down.

After coming home from preschool, "Michael Jackson is in my class. He's got really poofy hair." And then he shows me how much hair this Michael Jackson has with his hands.

Xander is amazing at picking up lines in songs. I will hear him singing songs we listen to all the time. In the car, I see him trying his best to sing along. I will hear him singing Justin Bieber or church songs. The other day in the car he was singing, "I too sexy for my shirt, too sexy for my shirt". Over and over.


I must add some things that Mia said. Ben was talking about how something was "Made in China" and Xander repeated. "Made in China?" and Mia yelled, "DON'T TALK ABOUT PAGINAS!"

She also asked Ben while he was tucking her into bed, "How do you know Jesus is true because I don't know if he's true?" Ben told her to pray about. She told me the next day, while I was volunteering in her class that she prayed and knows that Jesus is true. I asked her if she felt good inside and she held her heart and said she did. I love how this little girl thinks.

Mia came home from a playdate and while giving her a bath, Ben noticed she had a tatoo on her butt. Apparently, her and her friend went into the bathroom tatooing their body. She had one on the middle of her back and arm too!

After being scolded for telling her Dad, "No!" and that is not okay to say that to her Mom and Dad, Mia replied, "If I can't say, "No" than I'm not a real person!" I told Ben later that that was a profound statement.

We were talking at the table about our nationality. CJ said she was Hawaiian and Anika said she was Japanese. Ben asked Mia, "Do you know what kind of Asian you are?" Mia replied, "Your kind of Asian!"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Oh Ben! (say it with a southern accent)

Ben celebrated his 35th birthday this past Thursday. He called in sick on his birthday because, he was indeed, sick. "Awww sick. . .on your birthday ?" you say.

Don't feel bad for Ben. He still had a great day. After dropping Xander off at preschool, Ben, Zoey, and I went out to breakfast. We tried this new restaurant that had high ratings. It was delicious and filled our tummies to the max. We didn't eat again until dinner.

I just gave Ben money to spend on Halloween decorations. During many moves, we had to get rid of alot of our decorations. Now that we have a house and a yard, Ben is so excited to get more decorations. He's planning a graveyard in our front yard. I'm sure it won't disappoint.

Ben told Xander that after preschool, he could go with him to a Halloween store. Xander told me on the way home,"I told my teacher that I so cited I get to go to the Halloween store!" Xander loves Halloween just like his Daddy.

Dinner, was of course, pizza and Ben chose an Earthquake Cake this year. The cake is pretty simple to make and yet, so mouthwatering, especially if you like coconuts, pecans, and tons of sweetness!

I love Ben's triumphant fist in the air as he blows his 3+5 candles out in one sweep. What a champion!


These two, I also would like to call Ben's presents. We got them just a few days before Ben's birthday. Ben is such a cat lover! I caught him taking a nap on the floor just so he could be close to the kittens. These kittens are the same age as the kittens we had that died. We've decided that there is no way, the kittens we had were as old as we were told. The size difference is crazy. I would say these kittens are at least 3 X's the size of our other ones. I think our last kittens were too young and weaned too early.


The kittens are slowly getting used to us. They have hidden themselves most of the time but have recently been getting braver. The black one is a male and has the loudest meow ever. The gray one is female and is the bravest of the two.

Check out these awesome pictures that Ben took with my Canon XTI at the Oakland Temple.



Ben is awesome in every way!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Inspiration Point

On Labor Day, we woke up early and joined the ward in a hike to Inspiration Point in Tilden Park. We've been to another part of Tilden Park that has the train and little farm. The kids were great on this 5 mile hike. The longest we have ever made it with the kids! I think that it helped to have a ton of people hiking too!

At one point, there was a "shortcut" that a bunch of people were taking. We thought we'd try it too! The shortcut turned out to be a long cut. Instead of going straight over, it curved around and by the time we made it to the bottom, we were now at the end of the pack. Sometimes, shortcuts are not worth the hassle!

There was a point where we were uncertain as what direction to go next. Many decided to turn around and go back but we decided to trek forward.


Good thing we did because not too much farther away, was the lookout point.


Xander flirting with Claire! Just kidding, he's probably telling her a fantastic story about skeletons and superheroes.


Proof that I was there!

On the way back, I pretty much gave Xander a piggyback ride the entire way! The kids were great and we had a fun time hiking with the ward.