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9 posts from July 2010

July 31, 2010

Someone turned six!

Thirty six days after Gwen did it, Maddy finally turned six years old too.  It was a happy day but it was a very long time coming.  In fact, Maddy couldn't have been more annoyed about the dreadfully slow passage of time even if a ticking cuckoo clock was duct-taped to her head.  One that announced the arrival of each new hour by opening a trap door and producing a remarkably authentic looking miniature replica of Gwen (dressed as a bird, of course) that struts around shaking her tail feathers while singing a little taunting tune about how cool it is to be six years old. 

Yeah, 864 long hours of that.

So the day arrived and Maddy was pretty excited!  The first thing she did was run into the bathroom and look at her teeth in the mirror because (even though I've clarified this many times) she was still under the impression that her baby teeth would suddenly pop right out of her mouth when she turned six.  After verifying that they were all still present, she looked a bit disappointed but just as quickly seemed relieved.   

We never celebrated Gwen's birthday because she turned six the day we boarded our cruise ship in Italy.  We were jet lagged and there were no presents or cake on the ship so we promised her that we'd celebrate after we got home.  We meant to do it before Maddy's birthday but our schedules have been so busy (with the sailing weekend in San Diego and my weekend in Bethlehem) that time sneaked up on us and we ended up combining their birthday celebrations.  Even though Maddy would have LOVED to have a day all to herself, it would have really pained her to have Gwen get one first.  So this really worked out for the best.  Maybe next year it can be different.

Here are the pretty birthday girls!

IMG_1528 maddy gwen frame

Something funny:  While I'm writing this post, the girls are splashing and playing in the pool and a few minutes ago I heard them spitting water at one another.  I hollered over the top of my laptop that they shouldn't put the pool water in their mouth "because it has butts in it!"  And now they're cracking up and chanting about there being butts in the pool.  

I think age 6 is going to be a delightful age!

July 27, 2010

Black & White Wednesday: Photography Workshop

I just got back from Pennsylvania where I participated in an awesome photography workshop hosted by Lisa (the originator of Black and White Wednesday).  This just might be my FAVORITE Black and White Wednesday post ever!

IMG_0202 skateboard feet bw

Here's our leader, Lisa.  It was incredibly hot and humid in Bethlehem, PA.  The heat index this day was 115 but you'd never know it to look at Lisa.  Isn't she lovely?  And a beautiful personality to match!  It's almost impossible to believe that in less than one month, she's going to finally have her referral from China.  Yes, that was a very very LONG road to China, my friend!

One of the best things about this workshop (other than learning what the buttons on my camera do) was being able to meet many of my long-time blogger friends in person.  I'm so grateful to Lisa for making this possible and making it fun too!     

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There were models for us to practice our newly taught photography skills but I preferred to photograph the behind-the-scenes action.  You know, get the story behind the pics of the models...

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This boy really enjoyed all of this attention.   :)

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When we were finished taking photos for the day, he poured some water on his head and ruffled up his hair and asked me to take his photo so he could look at the camera and see what he looked like.  I love spontaneous photos -- especially of children.  They're so much better than posed photos.

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This little boy was four years old.  He was soooo stinkin' adorable!  I loved his ratty old sneakers and the crooked way he was standing.

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This "bride" and "groom" have actually been married for two years.  They were incredibly sweet and you could tell their marriage is still fresh and fun (like my marriage and just like all marriages should be!).  Wouldn't it be great to get to pull your wedding dress out of storage and put it on again?    But, of course, the real story behind this photo is all of us standing around them taking their photo and waiting for the moment they look at our camera!

Img_0141 julie felicia denise

Here's Julie, Felicia and Denise.

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And here's Maddy and Dita. 

I took several hundred photos this weekend but since I was shooting in Manual, many were mistakes and couldn't be corrected in Photoshop.  But thanks to Lisa's excellent instruction, most were really good!  I wish I'd gotten more photos of the rest of the group though.  Especially my bestest blogger buddy, Wanda.  I also wish I'd gotten some photos of the incredible storm we drove through on the way to the airport.  There were huge tree branches down in the road and visibility was near zero on the turnpike.  It was unfreakingbelievable!  I'm so glad I had Marla and Stephanie in the car with me to keep me sane and help navigate (and check flight updates). Thankfully my flight wasn't delayed but unfortunately theirs was (and many of my new friends were affected too).  But we all made it home safe and sound.  Phew!

I can hardly wait until the reunion!  :)


For more Black & White Wednesday fun, check out The Long Road to China.
More of our Black & White Wednesday posts here:  Black & White Wednesday

July 18, 2010

San Diego Zoo

We spent our second (and last) day in San Diego at the zoo.  We like zoos and this one is one of the best ever.  Seriously, this place is awesome! 

San diego zoo-kids on mammoth

We saw all of the animals.  The polar bears were Daddy's favorite and my favorite is always the elephants.  I think Gwen loved this snake best.   The zoo attempts to provide plants that are indigenous to the areas where each animal is originally from so it's very visually interesting and there were flowers and trees that I've never seen before.  It was shady and comfortable with something exciting around every corner.  We even got to pose with a mommy and baby elephant (above). 

San diego zoo-1491  San diego zoo-1439 

Near one of the monkey exibits, there were masks you could put your face behind and pose for a pic.  Of course, the girls really wanted to do this and we were discussing how we'd get them into position when Maddy scurried over and scaled this pole!  Then Gwen assumed her pose! 

Our kids are such camera hams!

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This was a really fun weekend! 

On our way back to the airport, we dropped off the rental car and threw our travel car seat in the trash!  Since Maddy is going to be six years old in 12 days, we won't need our cheapo travel seats anymore so it was a big relief not to have to carry it home. 

Here's Gwen pulling our suitcases through the San Jose airport.   She looks so grown up!  

San diego zoo-1501

Only one more flight this week and that one is for ME (alone)!  Yep, my very first trip away from the girls -- ever. 


I'll be flying to Philadelphia on Friday to meet up with 15 other moms (Casey, Dita, Denise, Felicia, Julie, Karin, Kim, Laureen, Leslie, Maddy, Marla, Stephanie, Terri and Wanda) at Lisa's photography workshop.  I'm so excited about this!    It's my first "Mom's Weekend Away" and I get to spend it with some of the funnest (and funniest!) ladies in Bloggerville.  And in such a beautiful place too!  And if that's not enough, I also get to learn what all of the buttons on my camera do! 


July 17, 2010


Since it had been an entire week since we lived out of a suitcase, we flew to San Diego for the weekend.   Compared to international travel, this quick trip was a piece of cake. 

The purpose of the trip was to celebrate the birthdays of two special Dads:   Andrew's Dad (aka Granddad) and Kate's dad (aka Papa Ron).   Kate is our sister in law (married to Andrew's brother, Chris).   The Dads really dig sailing so Kate and Chris organized this special day for them and invited us to share the fun too.  So, 7 adults and 3 children boarded a 36 foot sailboat and spent 8 hours on the water under the beautiful San Diego sun!

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I grew up in San Diego and we had a sailboat when I was in high school but that was a LONG time ago so this was the first time I'd been on one in many years.  It brought back memories.  I wish my dad could have been part of this day (I was thinking of you, Dad!).

Gwen was fearless and wasted no time getting to know every inch of the boat.   

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She borrowed Granddad's binoculars and searched for sea lions (we saw many!).  We even saw a few dolphins.

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Maddy searched for strange or unusual creatures too (and found me!).

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This is Gwen and Maddy's Aunt Kate and cousin Paige.  Paige is two years old and pretty darn cute!

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Here she is looking particularly adorable:

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We weren't sure if the kids would do well on a long boat ride but they had a wonderful time!  If someone would have told me that a 2, 5 and 6 year old would be able to happily spend 8 hours on a 36 foot sailboat, I would have doubted it but I think they could have gone even longer!  

Here's Andrew:

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And here's Maddy and me:

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If you've still not seen enough, here's a slideshow of all of our best photos from the day:

July 14, 2010

Home! (a long overdue recap)

The last time we chatted, I think we were still somewhere out in the middle of the Mediterranean Ocean.  Well, a lot has changed.  We spent a day in Naples and took a short boat ride up the Amalfi Coast to a cute little town of Sorrento.  When we returned to the ship, the girls' missing suitcase was waiting for us in our room.  Great news!  Too bad it was the last day of the cruise.

The next day, we said goodbye to our ship and loaded our family of six and all of our luggage into a taxi and headed to Rome.   It was hot but it was fabulous and Rome is now one of my top ten cities in the entire world!  All of the history and the wine and wonderful food!  Ah!  Molto bene!

I'm afraid it will be pretty much impossible to catch you all up on everything we did in Rome since my husband's previous posts have set the bar much too high.   Instead, I offer you photos.  Each of the thumbnails below represents a "set" of photos on flickr.  Just click any of them and you can see as much as you like! 

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I can't even pretend to guess of how many photos we took during this trip.  The number, I'm sure, is insane and even though we deleted most of them for one reason or another, there were still hundreds that were valuable to us on some level.  And a few of those were actually pretty darn good!  While Andrew researched and wrote the text for the blog, I post-processed each photo in Lightroom and/or Photoshop.  I didn't do any heavy editing because I really didn't have time so most of what you see is pure and true (and imperfect).  All I did was some minor exposure corrections and crop/straighten.  That's it.  

Here are a few of my favorite photos from this trip (in random order). 


This was the sunrise from the ship on our first morning at sea.

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This was taken in Rhodes. Anyone who knows Gwenny knows how much she LOVES swords. This store had hundreds of them. I think it was her favorite part of the entire vacation!

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Here's beautiful little Maddy in Santorini. She sat on this whitewashed wall/bench and leaned on one arm and looked out at the ocean and the light was so incredibly pretty on her face. I love this photo even though she looks much more mature than five years old! I think I can look at this and see a glimpse of how lovely she'll be as a woman.

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This was taken inside Saint Peter's Cathedral in Rome. I love the way the light is streaming through the window and the dark rich colors of the interior. See the lettering on the wall? Each letter is six feet tall!. Another absolutely amazing photo from St Peter's was this one.

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Here's one from Tivoli. Almost all of our best photos were taken with our Canon 5D and our fancy new Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L lens but I took this one with my trusty point-and-shoot (Canon S90) and it's one of my favorites.

Mykonos: Gwenny kicking back

Gwenny climbed up in this window and got comfy and looked so beautiful! She's wearing the yellow plastic bracelet that all children on the cruise must wear 24/7. I wish it came in some color other than yellow! This photo was taken in Mykonos and we had so many awesome photos from Mykonos. Another fav was this one of Kelsey and the girls.

We got home on Saturday afternoon and getting over the jet lag has been challenging even though we're veterans of this kind of stuff.  The girls insist on sharing a room now so they wake each other up and that wakes us up then it's impossible to get back to sleep.  Many of our days have started at 1:30 or 2:00 AM!  But it's getting better.

I've missed all of my blogger friends and there's no way I can catch up on my Google Reader list so I'm going to mark everything as "read" and start from scratch.  If I missed any major life events, please tell me!  Especially if they're good life events!  ;)

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