Archive for October, 2012

  • Beauty in PA

    Date: 2012.10.30 | Category: Food, Friends, Life, Me, Photography, Style, Travel | Response: 17

    I went to Pennsylvania to photograph a wedding, hang out with Cassie and meet Katie. All those things I expected. What I didn’t expect was to fall head over heels in love with autumn in Pennsylvania.

    I’m a hopeless romantic on a good day, so when romanticized views of fall kept popping up all around me, I was a goner. I think Cassie may have gotten tired of my constant “oooo’s and ahhhh’s,” but I couldn’t help myself.

    And there were BARNS everywhere. That’s right, rolling hills of bright fall colors with BARNS. Swoon.

    I don’t think Cassie and Katie quite understood what was up with my barn fascination. But they humored my constant squeals every time we passed one. Katie even indulged me and took a photograph of me in front of a barn, but for some reason her photos are locked away on the other side of Manhattan and she’d have to hire a submarine to navigate through Hurricane Sandy to get to them. So you’ll have to wait to see me with the barn. Oh and there were colonial style homes with white fences and trick-or-treaters, you know, because perfection is Pennsylvania’s middle name.

    Not to be outdone by the fall landscape, Cassie took me to Oakmont Bakery, where this scene greeted me.

    And to repay Cassie’s kindness, I bought every pumpkin flavored thing there, including a gob, a muffin, a macaroon and a cupcake. And the smell of all that pumpkin combined with pregnancy almost made Cassie barf on her own steering wheel.

    Don’t worry though, I ate the gob and hid the rest so she wouldn’t drive us into the side of one of those beautiful barns.

    And last, but certainly not least, the most beautiful site of all (you know, despite the fact that when we finally got a photo of the three of us, none of us were wearing any makeup):

    Sort of amazing that we all met through blogging, huh? And I am thankful to say that our meet up wasn’t awkward in the least (besides that whole nearly barfing over the smell of pumpkin thing).

  • Fall Festivities

    Date: 2012.10.23 | Category: Baby, Dogs, Family, Food, Friends, Halloween, Holidays, Home, Puppies, Sarah | Response: 11

    In case you couldn’t tell, we love Fall around this place, even with the air conditioning blowing and the 88 degree temps outside. Over the years, I’ve made an effort to make October a month long celebration of fun. This year is no different, and actually more fun now that Sarah can get in on the fun.

    As I mentioned previously, we’ve already made a trip to the Pumpkin Patch.

    After we picked out our perfect pumpkins, I carved one:

    And Sarah colored on one:

    I roasted the pumpkin seeds after carving the pumpkin, and they were delicious. The easy recipe is here.

    We’ve colored Halloween pictures together too.

    Last night though, was our ultimate Halloween tradition: decorating Halloween cookies. This annual event manages to bring together my entire family, including my sister who is in college and we never see. I also invited Becki to come, though she had no idea how much chaos she was in for.

    And, just for good measure, there was also more love time with the puppies, who now have their eyes open!

    On that festive note, it’s time to wish you farewell for the weekend. I’m headed to Pittsburgh to see Cassie, photograph Carly’s wedding and finally meet Katie! I plan on having a great time while they all attempt to distract me with food, exercise and booze so I won’t cry over being away from my baby for four days. See you on the flip side!

  • We are the Champions

    Date: 2012.10.22 | Category: Food, Friends, Health, Life List, Me, OMG YAY! | Response: 11

    It’s been a while since I broke out the ole Life List.

    But I’m happy to say I have something to cross off of it:

    #44. Run a 5k all the way through without stopping.

    And because here in the South we “go big or go home,” I went ahead and committed to a 10k. Because if I’m going to go out and do it, might as well push my body, right?

    The thing is, I really haven’t been training specifically for running any “k’s.” But I have been spinning at the gym at least twice a week for 50 minutes, doing body pump once a week-ish, and spending my weekends power walking with the stroller and power lifting a 25 pound child. So I’m not exactly out of shape, and spin uses a lot of the same muscles. When my friend Becki was looking for someone to run the Autumn Breeze 10k with her, I decided to dive in head first. I mean, you get an awesome sweatshirt for doing it after all.

    In the week and a half leading up to the race though, I managed to land myself with a cold. I only missed half a day of work, but I missed a lot of exercise. Saturday morning though, I took a sudafed and powered through. The temperature was perfect and we set out.

    I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a slow jogger, but it was perfect, especially since the course managed to carry itself over all the hills in northwest Louisiana. Near the end of the first 5k, we had the option to stop, but as we approached the turn around, I looked at Becki and said, “let’s do it.” We made it just over four miles of jogging before the muscles in my butt and legs turned into angry fists and I had to stop and stretch. But we powered through, running just over 5 of the 6.2 miles which, for the record, is the furthest I’ve ever jogged.

    Right near the end of the race, we looked back to see a police car following us. I said as much to Becki and she replied, “Well we better give him something to look at then.” And so we picked up our pace.

    We were some of the last people on the course, the 5kers having finished well before us and the other 10kers actually having competitive run times, so we got lost briefly and actually added to our distance, making it around 6.4 miles.

    At the very end, despite cramps and exhaustion, we sprinted to the end, passing an old couple who lovingly referred to themselves as Secretariat. And, wouldn’t you know it, the race people were there at the end to congratulate us and give us high five’s.

    To celebrate, we went to locally famous diner Strawn’s, where we met Mark and Sarah and ate really good southern icebox pie.

    I’m really proud of myself and thankful for Becki who kept me going all the way until the end.

  • A History of Love

    Date: 2012.10.19 | Category: Family, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Nostalgia, OMG YAY! | Response: 9

    When I was a teenager, I used to daydream endlessly about the man I would marry. In my mind, he was tall, dark and handsome (of course) and could play the guitar (because, don’t you know, guitar playing is sexy).

    When I met Mark, all those many years ago, we were both seeing other people. Unbeknownst to one another though, both of our relationships were on the rocks.

    Mark and I worked together. And by worked together, I mean he managed the I.T. department and I was an intern doing some technical writing for the company (oh, the scandal!) His assistant, a sweet Chinese girl named Yan, got it into her head that Mark and I should date. She told me so and I laughed it off. But then, he and I started playing raquet ball together at the gym. Shortly after that, my long distance boyfriend of a year dumped me.

    Mark, being the smart guy that he is, looked on the company intranet to make sure I was over 18 (I was a couple weeks shy of my 19th birthday). Not long after, he asked me out on a date. I surprised myself and eagerly said yes.

    That first night, we quickly discovered that we were very compatible. We placed our values in the same places, and conversation came easily to both of us. Yan, our coworker, was thrilled and told me, “Mark needs a good girl. You’re a good girl.” We kept our dating a secret for three months at work, then “came out” to everyone at the company Christmas party.

    That was just over nine years ago. The rest, as they say, is history.

    We married on October 20, 2007, five years ago.

    He’s not tall, nor does he play guitar. He has bright, light blue eyes and amazing  dark hair. He is, however, exceedingly handsome.

    I love that I dreamed about the man I thought I wanted, and God sent me the man I needed. He’s not a hopeless romantic songwriter, but he’s the practical, fix-anything, no nonsense rock I need in my life. He’s an amazing dad and a hard worker. He makes me feel beautiful, even when I’m down on myself. Our love has evolved over the years, none so much as when we had a child together.

    I may not always say it, but I’m thankful for every year, every day, every moment we have had with one another.

    Happy Anniversary to Mark, the love of my life.

  • Puppies!

    Date: 2012.10.17 | Category: Baby, Dogs, Family, Home, Pets, Puppies, Sarah | Response: 22

    Can we talk about puppies for a minute?

    Because my parents’ dog had five of them.

    And they are ridiculously cute and soft. So soft that I just want to hold them and rub them against my face all the time.

    We introduced my nephew Jacob to them, and for some reason he was terrified of them. Maybe because their eyes are squished closed?

    But Sarah, well she wanted to pick them up, tuck them under her arm, and carry them around like the new greatest accessory.

    My mom intervened and an overwhelming amount of adorableness ensued.

    Are your ovaries hurting a little bit now? Because mine are.

  • Pumpkin Patch

    Date: 2012.10.13 | Category: Baby, Family, Halloween, Holidays, Life, Me, OMG YAY!, Photography, Sarah | Response: 12

    When I was pregnant, I used to get so excited thinking about the holidays with a child. And with good reason, because we take advantage of things like pumpkin patches all the time now under the pretense of “bringing the kids.”

    But it’s so much fun and provides the perfect opportunity to take adorable photos.

    I’m really impressed we got so many good photos, because Jacob kept attempting to throw the pumpkins and Sarah kept trying to eat them.

    But this is my favorite.

    Oh and this one too.

    We finally set them free after the photos, and these two had a blast running through the pumpkin patch, knocking over pumpkins, lifting them and carrying them around. Good thing it was early and no one else was there yet.

    Hi Mr. Scarecrow. Hugs please!

    Mimi was kind enough to entertain the babies while my sister and I paid for our pumpkins.

    We came back to my parents after the pumpkin patch and I made an effort to get one good photo with little bit, you know, despite the warm Louisiana humidity spiraling my hair out of control.

  • 18 Months

    Date: 2012.10.11 | Category: Baby, Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Nostalgia, Photography, Sarah | Response: 17

    18 months. A year and a half.

    Where has the time gone?

    Almost every day, Mark and I stare at our girl and try to imagine how that little lump we brought home from the hospital has turned into this amazing, energetic, intelligent, little person.

    And to think I was worried about speech? Our girl is now enthusiastically saying a number of things, including: “Dog, Kit-Cat, Pretty, Uh Oh, Ow, Today, Star, Shoes, Stomp, Doll, Duck, Go, Tickle, Doc,  Jake and Hotdog (thanks Disney Junior). Oh, and her favorite phrase, “What is it?” Not to mention she can enthusiastically roar like a lion, mew like a kitty and mmmm like a cow?

    She can also identify her eyes, nose, mouth, ears, head, hands, foot and bellybutton by pointing.

    Climbing has become her favorite activity and one of the most difficult phases for us as parents. After a week long assault on the glass coffee table, we finally just got rid of it. She’s taken more tumbles out of her high chair, off the couches, and off her plastic picnic table than I can count, but it doesn’t stop her. Climbing on the arm of the couch and leaping onto the cushions is one of her favorites, as is scaling on to the back of the oversized chair to turn the fan switch on and off.

    We’re starting to see signs of the terrible two’s with complete and utter meltdowns over small things. Take something away from her? Game over. Try to pick her up when she doesn’t want to be picked up? Limp noodle body.

    Did I mention her favorite toy is a neon green and orange rake? She uses it to rake things up in the house, especially while daddy is sweeping. She totes it around the yard and dips it in the kiddy pool water. She combs the dogs with it, and she freaks out if you try to take it from her. That’s why it appears in all these photos.

    Also that head of hair is like woah. You would think we were sprinkling magic growing dust on it or something. Though I am thrilled that means crazy pigtails now.

    She also likes to do the motions to the following songs: “Wheels on the Bus” (especially the babies crying), “Itsy Bitsy Spider” (especially the part where we wash the spider out) and “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (with rousing stomps for the angry part).

    She loves day care now, and runs from us when we go to pick her up. I guess mom and dad aren’t quite as fun as throwing stuffed blocks in the air? Either way, I’m happy she’s happy during the day.

    Food has also become a challenge. She still hates fresh fruit with the exception of bananas (unless I put them in smoothies), and has decided that she doesn’t like a number of things she used to, including cheese. However, foods she suddenly does like include red beans and rice with turkey sausage, and mild Indian food. Who knows?

    All I know is that this kid wears me out and fills my heart with more love than I knew was possible.

    Happy half birthday kiddo.

    P.S. For reference on growth, here’s a few with lambkin over time:

    It’s the incredible shrinking lamb!

  • Every Day I’m Shuffelin’

    Date: 2012.10.05 | Category: Baby, Family, Life, Love | Response: 14

    Some days, like today, are hard. And on days like today  you just need a moment of pure, unadulterated joy.

    And I have that moment right here, right now for you.

    This is my nephew and he knows how to rock the party.

    I hope this made you smile as much as it made me smile.

  • Food and… Art?

    Date: 2012.10.02 | Category: Birthday, Family, Food, Friends, Life, Love, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 20

    Today was a wonderful day, and not just because it was my birthday, but because people went out of their way to make it fantastic and stuff me full of so many calories that it’s going to take me 10 spin classes to get them all off.

    It started early with a 5:00 a.m. wake up from a laughing toddler… which I tried to ignore while getting a few more blessed minutes of sleep. A little before 7 I relented and got her up. Mark gave me two cards, a sweet one from him and this one from Sarah which promptly scared the pants off of her.

    The kid literally backpedaled about 5 feet when she saw it and hid her face on Mark.
    Note to self: Do not take Sarah to Chimp Haven.
    Note to Mark: Let Sarah pick out her own card next time.

    Little bit gave me a big hug before dad took her to school.

    When I arrived at work, I found that my co-workers had bought me a chocolate cake from Julie Anne’s, a great local bakery AND I had a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte waiting on me. Do my coworkers know how to treat a girl right or what?

    Not to be outdone they took me to lunch at Ichiban, a great sushi and hibachi place. The day went by really fast, and soon I was making my way home.

    Mark’s mom picked Sarah up at school, so we had time to enjoy the perfect pumpkin weather outside for a while with the dogs before heading to eat at L’ Italianos, a great little authentic Italian joint in the old part of the city. We were seated in a back, remote corner and quickly discovered we were surrounded by fertility art, like the one seen here behind Mark entitled “The Journey.”

    There was another one on the wall next to me that was a bit more, erm, female inclined, not to mention the Venus statue that sat in the corner and the grapes that dangled over our heads. Not what we expected to see while we dined, but maybe the waiter thought it was the best place for the youngest couple there.

    Not to be outdone, a group of old British ladies were seated at the table next to us and were very disappointed that the waiter could not procure them chocolate martinis to go with their “starters.”

    The food was amazing though, as always, and Mark and I enjoyed and laughed at the varied entertainment around us.

    After dinner, we headed to his parents’ house to pick up little bit and his mom had baked brownies for us, creating the perfect ending to a perfect birthday.

    One of my coworker said today that 28 was one of her best years. I have a feeling it will be for me too. Here’s to another great year!

    P.S. Happy birthday to my blogging buddy Bluz who also celebrated today!