Pioneer children sang as they walked...

...and walked, and walked, and walked... Yes folks, last week was Pioneer Day. If you're not Mormon you have probably never heard of it...but it is kind of big deal for us! My awesome holiday-crazy friend Kristie planned a little Pioneer Trek, and it turned out to be really fun!

As I was trying to figure out how to turn our red wagon into a covered wagon, Jakob asked me what a covered wagon was. "WHAT? How does he not know what a covered wagon is?" So, I found a picture of one to show him and he instantly recognized what it was, and we talked about them for a few minutes. Then later Joshy asked me, "What does 'pioneer' mean?" I tried my best to explain it, but I'm not so sure his sweet little 3-yr-old mind could fully understand it all. :)

Anyway, they had fun dressing up (as did I!) and we met over at Kristie's house. I am not sure how far we walked, but it seemed just about the right distance because by the time we made it to the park, I think all the kids were tired of walking! Luckily we only had one accident (that I know of) -- Jakob tripped and fell, but he was OK. The scary thing was to think about a real pioneer child tripping and falling under a wagon...the chances of them being OK would have been very slim. It was a humbling thought.

I am so grateful for all of the pioneers who persevered and trusted in the Lord. It is because of their faith and diligence that we are able to enjoy blessings of the gospel today. I am in awe at their struggles and endurance...and hope to one day thank them personally for their sacrifices. I think we can all learn from their amazing example, and should do our best to honor them by living our lives with integrity and faith.

I wish I had taken more pics, but here are a few that I liked:


9 Months Old!

I can hardly believe it's already been 9 months!

This little guy is so amazingly sweet, I just can't get enough of him!

Thank Heaven for little boys!

I love the deep concentration on his face in this one...
he is mastering the art of feeding himself!


More Twilight Goodies

At the request of my sister...here are some links to some fun Twilight goodies!

EW.com Breaking Dawn spoiler and interview with Catherine Hardwicke & Stephenie Meyer.

Premiere.com interview with Kristen Stewart.

Twilight Cast Panel Discussion at Comic-Con from July 24th:

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five.


National Cheesecake Day!

Just thought I'd be nice and pass along the good news to all of you!!!

Celebrating “30 Delicious Years,” The Cheesecake Factory is serving up several sweet initiatives throughout 2008.

To kick-off the anniversary celebration and in commemoration of National Cheesecake Day on July 30th, 2008, The Cheesecake Factory restaurants will offer every delicious slice of its more than 30 varieties of cheesecake with a dollop of nostalgia by featuring all cheesecakes at $1.50 per slice, limit one per guest, dine in only, on that day—as they were when the restaurant first opened in 1978.

In addition, a special, limited edition cheesecake, the 30th Anniversary Chocolate Cake Cheesecake (pictured above), will be introduced on July 30th with $0.25 from the sale of each slice sold this year benefiting the national hunger-relief organization, America’s Second Harvest – The Nation’s Food Bank Network. Additional activities will be announced throughout the year.

My personal favorites are: Coconut Chocolate Cream, Craig's Crazy Carrot Cake Cheesecake, Adam's Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple, Dulce De Leche Caramel Cheesecake, and Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake.


First Carousel Ride

I can't believe this little guy will be 9 months old this week!

Here he is taking his first ride on a carousel:

I know, I know...I messed up on the color in this last one. Forgive me. I'll adjust it later. :) I love this photoshop action, it's called Urban Acid. I love how it blows out the colors. What do you think?



Have fun and please be kind. :)

Here are the directions:

1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember!

2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty funny to see the responses.

If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you. If you don't want to play on your blog, or if you don't have a blog, I'll leave my memory of you in my blog's comments.


For all of you Twilighters out there...

I have a friend who sends me links to articles, clips, etc. about Twilight the movie, and so I thought I'd share a few with you... I particularly liked watching the clip of Rob Pattinson talking about becoming Edward and getting hate mail when he was cast. I think he's going to do a great job!

http://www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1590892/story.jhtml (this one has 3 clips)
And a couple of highlights this week:
(This one was fun to read!)


Words of Wisdom

The following is from a lady named Cheryl Jacobs on a photography forum that I belong to. I know some of you out there are aspiring photogs just like I am (and even if you're not, some of these words of wisdom apply to more than just photography...) so I thought I'd share!

What Every Aspiring Photog Should Know:

These are my thoughts, nothing more and nothing less.

I get asked all the time, during workshops, in e-mails, in private messages, what words of wisdom I would give to a new and aspiring photographer.

Here's my answer.

- Style is a voice, not a prop or an action. If you can buy it, borrow it, download it, or steal it, it is not a style. Don't look outward for your style; look inward.

- Know your stuff. Luck is a nice thing, but a terrifying thing to rely on. It's like money; you only have it when you don't need it.

- Never apologize for your own sense of beauty. Nobody can tell you what you should love. Do what you do brazenly and unapologetically. You cannot build your sense of aesthetics on a concensus.

- Say no. Say it often. It may be difficult, but you owe it to yourself and your clients. Turn down jobs that don't fit you, say no to overbooking yourself. You are no good to anyone when you're stressed and anxious.

- Learn to say "I'm a photographer" out loud with a straight face. If you can't say it and believe it, you can't expect anyone else to, either.

- You cannot specialize in everything. - You don't have to go into business just because people tell you you should! And you don't have to be full time and making an executive income to be successful. If you decide you want to be in business, set your limits before you begin.

- Know your style before you hang out your shingle. If you don't, your clients will dictate your style to you. That makes you nothing more than a picture taker. Changing your style later will force you to start all over again, and that's tough.

- Accept critique, but don't apply it blindly. Just because someone said it does not make it so. Critiques are opinions, nothing more. Consider the advice, consider the perspective of the advice giver, consider your style and what you want to convey in your work. Implement only what makes sense to implement. That doesn't not make you ungrateful, it makes you independent.

- Leave room for yourself to grow and evolve. It may seem like a good idea to call your business "Precious Chubby Tootsies"....but what happens when you decide you love to photograph seniors? Or boudoir?

- Remember that if your work looks like everyone else's, there's no reason for a client to book you instead of someone else. Unless you're cheaper. And nobody wants to be known as "the cheaper photographer".

- Gimmicks and merchandise will come and go, but honest photography is never outdated.

- It's easier to focus on buying that next piece of equipment than it is to accept that you should be able to create great work with what you've got. Buying stuff is a convenient and expensive distraction. You need a decent camera, a decent lens, and a light meter. Until you can use those tools consistently and masterfully, don't spend another dime. Spend money on equipment ONLY when you've outgrown your current equipment and you're being limited by it. There are no magic bullets.

- Learn that people photography is about people, not about photography. Great portraits are a side effect of a strong human connection.

- Never forget why you started taking pictures in the first place. Excellent technique is a great tool, but a terrible end product. The best thing your technique can do is not call attention to itself. Never let your technique upstage your subject.

- Never compare your journey with someone else's. It's a marathon with no finish line. Someone else may start out faster than you, may seem to progress more quickly than you, but every runner has his own pace. Your journey is your journey, not a competition. You will never "arrive". No one ever does.

- Embrace frustration. It pushes you to learn and grow, broadens your horizons, and lights a fire under you when your work has gone cold. Nothing is more dangerous to an artist than complacence.

- CJ


Vacation from a vacation?

Do you ever feel like you need a vacation after a vacation? You know, with the kids and everything, you get so worn out that it didn't really FEEL like a vacation, so you get home, and wish you could take another vacation to recover from that "vacation" you just took? Did that make any sense?

Well, last week the boys and I headed down to San Clemente for some fun times with my mom, my sister and her kids and my brother & sis-in-law and their kids. Brad stayed home to work, and so I was on my own (relatively speaking - my mom and sister were big helps!) for 4 days.

We had a blast at the beach and I loved having my kids there to bond with their cousins -- fun times with my cousins are some of my favorite memories!

But, the yucky 24-hr stomach bug was circulating and I thought we were going to make it out unscathed, but no, it got us. First it was Drew...he puked twice and had some pretty nasty diapers, but was overall a pretty happy kid. When it came time for us to pack up and go home, I was actually feeling hopeful that he would be the only one who got sick. Nope.

We got home sat. afternoon and about an hour or so after we got home, Jakob puked. AHHHH! Then I knew there was no hope. We had carried the bug home with us. Saturday night I started not feeling so hot, so I went to bed quite early, but spent most of the night in the bathroom puking or...well, you know. I think I got it the worst. Needless to say, we all stayed home from church (well, Brad made it to sacrament mtg.) and I stayed in my pajamas all day and felt, well, pretty gosh darn crappy.

It wasn't until about 9pm last night that I really started feeling a little better...and that's when Brad said he wasn't feeling very good. COME ON!

So...I was prepared for another bad night, with Brad being sick and possibly Joshy since he was the only one who hadn't been sick yet. But thankfully there were some angels up above watching over us as we slept, and I woke up feeling about 88% better. :) I actually had an appetite! Brad slept in all morning, and thankfully felt better as well...

So far, Joshy has been the only lucky one. But I feel like it could pounce at any time..so I don't feel totally reassured that he's safe.

And that folks, is why I feel I need a vacation, from that vacation.

pictures coming soon...NOT of us being sick...but of fun times in San Clemente!


life IS short...but sweet for certain

The title of my blog is hitting me pretty hard right now. I just read something on my brother's blog about his friend's baby who recently passed away.

For all of you out there who give your kiddos snacks while you're driving, after reading this, you may reconsider doing that again. I know I have.

Even though this is terribly sad, I hope that his family is able to find the peace they need right now through the knowledge of eternal families.

Maybe we can all say a little prayer for them tonight.

hey battah-battah, sah-wing, battah!

He seems innocent enough...oh wait, now the bat is a weapon!

For some reason, he refused to smile showing his teeth...but he still looks darn cute to me!


If you care at all about our fellow brothers and sisters who are living in Afghanistan, read this:


and this:


and tell me that doesn't leave you with tears in your eyes feeling humbled and evermore grateful for being blessed to live in the United States.

I am overwhelmed by it all.

Thanks Grama!

When we were up in Utah, Brad's mom gave us a few costumes that her boys used to wear...and today, Jakob came down wearing the cowboy shirt and vest. So of course the playful side of me kicked in and we embellished it with his sherriff's badge and his cowboy hat that he got from my Grampa Roy. Then he said he wanted to be a bandit...that is SO like him...and well, I just happened to have a black bandana...so we tied it on and he grabbed one of the VERY few toy guns that we own, and he became a full fledged BANDITO! I thought it was very ironic that he was wearing a sherriff's badge, but was also a bandit...and so I loved this picture and it just needed to be turned into a WANTED poster...

I took a few pics of Joshy in the basball player outfit (which I believe is about 50 years old!) and some of those turned out really cute too...but there's not time right now for that...so stay tuned!



I guess I changed my settings for comments, and it wasn't leaving a link for anyone to actually leave a comment. A friend of mine just commented on my Good Grub blog because she couldn't leave one here! Sheesh! Sorry about that...IF any of you out there were trying to leave a comment. ;) Now, you should be able to.

p.s. I love comments...even just a "hi" so I know who is actually reading my blog!


Now all I need is a BIKE!

We recently downsized to one car to save money...and I for one would actually love to be riding a bike most places (if I had one, AND a trailer for my kids!) and have even suggested that Brad start riding to work (he works locally) and he just laughed at me...sorry honey, but you did! -- and was talking to a friend about this a few weeks ago. She mentioned that there were quite a few people from my old ward who were doing just that...riding their bikes even to church! I thought that was so cool!

Later that week, as I was driving, I passed two people on bikes with flags sticking up off the back that read "Old School Fuel" -- I was thinking to myself, "That is SO cool!" and laughing at the same time - and since I passed them going the opposite direction, I didn't really get a good look at who they were.

Well, yesterday at the park, my friend's neighbor showed up on her bike with her two boys, and said that since they saw my friend walking with her kids, that they felt like riding instead of driving. So I mentioned to them that I had seen some people with these cool flags, and they just laughed and said, "That's the "M" family!" (I don't want to put their name on here just in case they aren't cool with that.) So...tonight I got an email from my friend (from the "M" family) with a link to their website and blog...check it out here!

Anybody know where I can get a cheap but reliable bike & trailer? Oh yeah, and my 5-yr-old would love to upgrade from his big wheel to a two wheeler...so if anyone has an old beater that he can learn on, we'd be really grateful!


Me from A to Z

A- Attached or single: yeah, he's pretty much my soul mate, so I'd say we're attached!
B- Best Friend: Tori
C-Cake or Pie: um, can I have both?? chocolate cake from Maggiano's and Blueberry Sour Cream Pie from Marie Callender's
D-Day: Saturday (it's a special day...it's the day we get ready for...SUNDAY!)
E- Essential Item: chapstick or lipgloss
F-Favorite Color: baby blue, bright grass green and red (but not all together)
G-Gummi Bears or Worms: worms definitely - especially when you take them to the beach, and they get really soft and just dissolve in your mouth -- but not after the kids have stuck their grubby, sandy hands in the bag. melty, sandy gummy worms are not good.
H-Home town: Spring, TX
I-Indulgences: chocolate, chocolate, ANY kind of chocolate! oh, and COKE with lemons!
J- January or July?: July baby!
K-Kids: 3 Boys - Jakob, Joshy and Drew
L-Life is incomplete without: LOVE, LAUGHTER and SILLINESS!
M- Marriage Date: December 29, 2001
N-Number of Siblings: 2 sisters, 3 brothers
O- Oranges or Apples: Gala Apples
P- Phobias or Fears: Spiders and that something terrible will happen to my kids
Q- Quote: "It's nice to be important, but more important to be nice."
R- Reason To Smile: my kids...they may drive me crazy some times, but I LOVE 'EM!
S- Season: Fall - i love it when it's sunny but crisp outside!
T- Tag Four: Kristen, Sara M., Sara C., and Carrie
U- Unknown fact about me: I do a fabulous Mitch Gaylord impersonation (well, according to my sister!)
V- Very Favorite Store: I don't have one...so I guess I'll say Target
W- Worst Habit: procrastinating - I SUCK at planning ahead!
X-Rays or Ultrasounds: I have had both multiple times in my life - and I've been in pain with both of them, so unless it's to look at a baby, then I don't want either!!!!
Y-Your favorite food: Waldorf Salad from CPK, DC Chicken Sandwich from Corner Bakery - and their Tomato Basil soup - DELISH!
Z: Zodiac Sign: Aries - oh yeah, WATCH OUT!


Mirror, Mirror...

I've been wanting to take pics of Drew playing with the mirror for quite a while...he used to totally make-out with himself...and leave a slobbery mess...but it was so cute! Now he kind of just talks to himself and likes to try to touch his reflection, which usually results in banging his head a few times...but he never cries. I love watching how much fun he has with mirrors!


Sweet Land of Liberty

By Teresa Bateman

Listen -
Can you hear it?
That soft whisper in the trees?
The sound of honest cotton
Reaching out to catch the breeze?
Unfurling in the gentle winds
Red, White, and Blue it flies -
The flag of our great nation
Standing crisp in freedom's skies.
Listen -
Can't you hear it?
That soft flutter in the wind?
A touch of martial music,
A soft-sung, distant hymn?
The weeping of a war bride,
a wounded soldier's moan,
The sound of distant cannon,
A bugle's lonely tone.
Listen -
Can't you hear them?
Those who struggled valiantly
Through years of war and hardship
that their children might be free?
The winds of change are blowing.
Can we stand before the test?
Have you noticed it's the strongest winds
that make the flag show best?
Listen -
Can't you hear it?
That soft whisper in the trees?
The sound of honest cotton
reaching out to catch the breeze.
Unfurling in the gentle wind,
Red, White, and Blue it flies -
The flag of our great nation
Standing crisp in freedom's skies.
Remember what it represents -
The cost behind the vision.
Look up -
Can't you see the way it beckons to you?

Can you tell what this picture is? Yes, it is an army tank. And on it is written the title of liberty. This picture is on the back cover of a book called "Faith in the Service" by Chad Hawkins. It is filled with short, inspirational stories about those serving in Afghanistan, and even some in Iraq. Brad and I have both really enjoyed reading it - and most of the stories give you chills and even bring tears to your eyes. It has really made the war more personal to me, by being able to read such personal stories. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone! (If you're local, I will totally let you borrow it!)

Last week during our combined Priesthood/Relief Society meeting, a brother in our ward was talking about what he thought patriotism was. He pretty much defined it by the Title of Liberty. I really liked that thought, and it has stuck with me all week. It inspired and buoyed up Captain Moroni's army, and it can do the same now - whether we are actually serving in the military or not. We should live our lives that way. With honor and dignity. We shouldn't be afraid to stand up for what we know is right - especially as parents. We do our children a disservice when we are lazy, irresponsible and cowardly. For the next generation, we must fight for what we believe in, or what those before us fought so hard for, will have been in vain.

I'm not going to get all political on here...but I will say that I believe it is important for us all to become educated in what is happening in this country, so that we can vote accordingly. The power of democracy comes from the people, and if you aren't aware of what is going on, how can you vote? And if you don't vote, you're basically forfeiting your power! So, I for one am going to learn as much as I can so I can prepare for the upcoming election. I hope you'll do the same.

On a lighter note (sorry I got all serious for a moment...) I was reminiscing about my favorite 4 of July memories...

In Colorado, our ward would do a pancake breakfast...and I know I looked forward to that every year! Then our neighbors would all get together to do fireworks...it was always chaotic but so much fun! I remember once being chased (or so I thought) by one of those crazy Flowers - you know, the ones that buzz and kind of jump all over the ground? Yeah, it was quite frightening!

In Texas, we decorated our bikes and did a little parade in the church parking lot...kind of cheesy, but actually really fun!

A lot of my summers were spent with my grandparents in San Clemente, and I always loved watching the fireworks from their balcony...

Most of all, I think the thing I remember the most, is just spending time together as a family. So, I'm looking forward to having Brad home from work, and doing some fun stuff together.

Tonight when I was tucking the boys in, we sang some patriotic songs (which Jakob learned at school), and it's pretty hilarious hearing Joshy sing along to "You're A Grand Old Flag" -- maybe tomorrow I can catch it on video. I know they have no idea how blessed they are to live here, but I hope to be able to teach them to always be grateful and not to take it for granted.

I hope you all have a wonderful 4th -- be safe and have fun!


Citizenship Test

Check out this quiz and see how you do!

I'm embarrassed to say I only answered 65% of them right!