Hosting Friends

As soon as we knew were moving here (and had a spare room to host people in) I started telling all my friends that they were welcome to come stay with us and explore the area. No one had taken me up on the offer until mid-April, when I had friends come for two weekends in a row! The first weekend was spent with a college friend who is having her first baby this summer (she was going to stay with me, but ended up staying with another mutual friend in the area which worked out really well because I get boring and tired at around 8:00pm each night). [Side note: They told me that they went out clubbing one night and I believed them and was so jealous! They laughed and laughed at the idea that my almost-30-week pregnant Mormon friend would go out clubbing in San Francisco late into the night and that I was gullible enough to think it actually happened.]

My two college friends and I drove down to Carmel on Saturday, which is one of my new favorite places because the light was stunning and the white sand makes for gorgeous pictures. I’d like to find the perfect spot (with closer parking) and come back on a regular basis.

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OMGMom Meets TF

See what I did there with all of the acronyms in the title? This weekend I spent a few hours with Mandy of OMG Mom (we’ve met before) and her adorable daughter, whom I was meeting for the first time. Mia and T1 are about 9 months apart I think, so they’re close enough in age to make it work, even though I could tell that Mia was a bit bored with T1 at times. I tried to choose my outfit carefully, because I knew Mandy would look awesome, which she did, and I think I’m going to have to give it another try next time we meet.

We spent some time at my place and then went to the park where they shared snacks.

And went down the slide. (T1 tried to tell me that Mia’s pink sparkly shoes were his and tried to convince me to put them on him).

And scaled the monkey bars. Look, T2 is making an in-utero appearance as well! I look so different in pictures than what I see.

I would have fed them lunch, but I’m not sure they wanted to eat it (my hummus was a bit overpowering on the salt and garlic although I did really like this recipe and plan to use it again) but they had to head out for family stuff. Mandy is so much fun to spend time with, and T1 loooooved her. She was constantly scooping him up and playing with him and telling me how great he is. (She’s right, he’s one of the coolest kids ever.) She was also very gracious and refrained from commenting on our inability to be proper hosts since we have almost no seating downstairs (we had to drag kitchen chairs out on the porch to talk). Stylish Mia was not at all freaked out by the fact that I acted like I knew her already, waited patiently for T1 to stop hogging all of his toys so she could try them as well, and did a great job posing for pictures. After they left, T1 kept talking about his “friends” and the “park” and I realized Mandy is right. It is time for me to get some regular playdates scheduled. If only these two lived closer!

And just for fun, a picture of T1 on his new toy. That Husband took this because T1 went outside, came back in, and told him that he wanted him to take his “pitture”. He smiled and posed for several shots all on his own. He’s made so much progress over the summer! (And of course I am delighted that he wants to have his picture taken. I dream of pictures documenting our life similar to what The Image is Found creates.)

Finals Are Over, Christmas Celebrating Begins!

Finals are over, thank goodness, and it’s our last looooooong Christmas break we’ll probably ever have. A 3+ week Christmas break is the best part of being a student, and we’ll be celebrating ours in Washington with my parents (we leave today). We’ve been spending time with friends before we leave, and Saturday was our most jam-packed day yet. I woke up, did Ripped in 30, showered, put my swimsuit on (and the baby’s too), we went down for family swim time, came up and made Mexican Wedding Cookies (a big hit) and we spent the rest of the day/evening at a Mexican fiesta hosted by our favorite friends. We really just ate Mexican food and our friend wore a sombrero, but it was the best kind of party to have with 4 kids under 5 present.

I haven’t been photographing much lately, and between this day and the pictures I took the next day of my pregnant friend, I’m feeling renewed. Something about photography, this craft I’m so passionate about, rejuvenates me and helps me feel excited about life. I hope my family is ready for me to have a camera pointed at them all the time over the holidays. 🙂

When we went downstairs for our family swim time, our favorite friends were there as well! T1 LOVES these two. The little girl, B, is like a big sister to him.

That Husband took this one of me, and I’m so proud of him. Look at this framing! Multiple action layers going on, great lighting. I have high hopes for our vacation photos in the future.

A few hours later, our fiesta began. Matt kicked it off, and told everyone present they had to dance if he was going to play. It was awesome.

While we finished preparing the food, the kids ran around being rather crazy.

After dinner we had hours of fascinating conversation topped off with some snuggling whenever the kids wandered near.

T1 has a new love. The flash on my camera (or my iPhone).
When the babies were tired and it was time to go home, we wound down with some Christmas carols sung by the light of the tree.

It was the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. I’ll check back in as often as I can while I’m living with my parents for the next few weeks. I’m considering a Day in the Life over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Wouldn’t it be fun to see in detail how other people celebrate Christmas? Maybe we could turn it into a series, and have other people submit their Christmas experience as well! I’d love to feature posts like that.

WEverb11: Befriend

Have you heard about WEverb11? It’s a site started by some of my online friends, and you can read a full description here. To summarize, WEverb provides a prompt, and then you write about it. I like the idea because it’s not only fun to see how many interpretations there are for the prompts (endless), but also because the prompts tend to be geared toward introspection and reflection. You can even include badges like this one in your post or on your site.

I wanted to kick off my participation (no guarantees on how frequently I’ll join in) with today’s prompt because I so appreciated Mandy’s Thanksgiving shoutout to me. I want to spend some time spreading the love as well.


Did you meet any new friends this year? How did they impact your 2011?

First shoutout goes to my in-person friend Paige. Iv’e mentioned her a few times. She lives 4 floors below me, has two kids (one who is T1’s age), and a husband in business school like mine. Somehow I don’t have a single picture of/with her, something I need to fix ASAP. We can talk for hours, and I really don’t know how I lived without her for an entire year. She’s passionate about natural birth (is currently 8 months pregnant with her third), teaching a Chicago Hypnobabies course and also somehow finding time to make and sell baby wearing wraps as well. We do babysitting swaps constantly and I’ll be sad to leave her behind next year when business school is over. Paige taught me that now matter how awesome my online friends are (so many of you are so incredibly dear to me) having someone in real life to depend on, laugh and cry with, is essential.

Recently I started emailing back and forth with Grace. Her blog title, Opinionation, fits her writing style and personality perfectly. She lives in Southeast Asia with her husband and baby girl, which of course makes for some really fascinating posts about culture, but what I love most are her thoughts on motherhood and marriage. Her writing style is  frank, extremely pragmatic, and at times brutally honest. I know at least once she has written a post in response to mine, directly contradicting what I said! At first that kind of annoyed me, but now it’s one of the things I love most about her. She probably doesn’t even know how much I love her blog since I never take the time to comment. 🙂 I was going back through to try to pick out a handful of favorite posts, and ended up opening like 30 tabs. Hand down my favorite is Sexless Marriages, but I also highly reccomend Marriage Is Not “Hard Work”, What I Don’t Like About MotherhoodI Love My Husband More than My Child, and My Parenting Style. She makes me think.

Emily Kate of Second Story Window lives in Las Vegas. We do most of our talking on Twitter, and I’ve told her several times I want her to become best friends with Mandy because they both live in Vegas. Apparently I have an interest in matchmaking friendships with my favorite internet ladies. I have a post filled with pictures of activities/games/toys I’ve been using with T1 lately sitting in my drafts folder, and most of them were inspired by her. She has several really fantastic Pinterest boards filled with baby and toddler activities if you’re looking for ways to entertain your kid. Interacting with Emily has caused me to think about new and different ways to maximize my one-on-one time with T1.

Danielle of my dear hearts loves food like I do. In an all-consuming “I’ll-devote-any-extra-money-we-have-to-ONE-unbelievable-dinner” sort of way. She taught me about Chowhound and drank single sourced cocoa bean hot chocolate with me in Boston.

Jackie of Blueberries for Me and I have one really unique thing in common. We both have been diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis. I haven’t dealt with any symptoms since my surgery in high school, but whenever she tweets about her struggles I feel her pain. We certainly aren’t the same though, as she is Catholic and writes about her faith similar to the way I use my blog on Sundays to share more about mine. I always enjoy her comments (she’s like Grace in that she’s not afraid to disagree with me) and when I think about her blog two posts in particular come to mind: Good food: how much more does it cost? and this supremely awesome one titled Ten things to donate to a homeless shelter besides your old socks that absolutely everyone must read (teaser: stop giving away clothing that is covered in stains or filled with holes, even the homeless don’t want to wear stuff like that).

Caitlin of Healthy Tipping Point has written several books, runs a website that has inspired an entire movement toward more self-love, blogs what she eats on a daily basis (she taught me about chia seeds!), and is a great resource whenever I have questions about running. Because she’s so busy I find it extra-special when she’s willing to email back and forth with me about the highs and lows that can sometimes come with blogging. I thought I was over pregnancy updates for the time being, but she’s expecting her first in June and I love the way her updates facilitate discussion on a range of topics.

I almost feel a little bit bad writing this list, because I’m of course going to leave people out. Please don’t think you mean any less to me if you aren’t mentioned here (especially long time friends like Sophia, Katy, Erin, Cristin, Janssen, Lisa, Christiana, EmmieKelli, Natalie, Nodakademic, and so many others who didn’t technically fall under the umbrella of “newly befriended this year”. I’ll stop because now I feel guilty thinking there are others I didn’t include in *this* list). I love you all (both listed and not listed*).

Are you going to participate in WEverb11? Don’t worry if you didn’t start at the beginning. You can either go back and catch up, start with today’s prompt and move forward, or just write about the prompts that interest you most.

*Seriously, last time I will ever clarify that I can’t possibly list everyone. I promise.


Boise With My Besty

An entire weekend with my best friend Heather (who happens to have a daughter one month younger than T1) means a LOT of pictures of them doing pretty much the same thing over and over and the two of us thinking it’s the cutest thing that has ever happened in the history of the world.

In the third picture T1 is letting me know he wants me to sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider”. I started singing it to him regularly after Kimberly Michelle wrote this post. Now he wants me to sing him nothing but that song over and over!

Of course we dumped them in the bathtub together.

And they chilled in their carseats together.

Sharing? Not so much.

We spent a few hours with another college friend, Amber, who just bought a house in the area. I’m so jealous that Heather and Amber get to live next to each other and raise their babies together.

The highlight of the trip was the photo session we did on our last night there.

Shortly before we started taking photos I handed the camera over to Heather’s sister and gave her a little mini lesson on composition. She caught on really quick and I was able to actually be in some nice looking photos, which is a very rare thing.

Our dream was to put these two in the shot together in somewhat coordinating outfits and get them playing together. Unfortunately they spent most of the time ignoring each other.

T1 did attempt to teach her how to eat rocks (look at her reaching for a rock in the picture on the right, haha).

He also took  the toy recorder, hit her on the head with it, pulled her pigtail, then looked away and acted like nothing happened.

This allowed me to get some shots of him all by himself while she was crying in pain (sorry Heather and L!).

See it there? Itsy bitsy spider once again. We taught him to cheer when the song is over.

One last attempt at them playing together and… still not working out.

A new location (patch of weeds that I know Heather thought I was crazy for trying to shoot in!). Heather always talks about this adorable cheesy grin that her daughter flashes, and I didn’t really get it until I met her in person. She flashes that face at pretty much anyone and everyone when she wants to charm them. And she has Heather’s slightly-winky right eye which is just too stinkin’ adorable.

A baby sandwich made up of mama and gramma.

Another attempt at a photo with all four of us smiling and looking right at the camera. Another no-go.

As they rushed L to the car to get her away from the bugs and mosquitoes, I handed the camera over to Heather’s sister one more time. LOVE THESE!!!

I am for sure getting T1 out into a field in his bare feet and blue jeans. A shirtless baby makes for great pictures.

I hope to make the Boise trip an annual experience (if I visit my parents like this each year). Heather and I were able to reconnect, and we realized that our friendship picked right back up where we left off. Thanks again to the B family for hosting us that crazy weekend!