Back from Italy

So many things happening in our household, it’s really been a great couple of weeks!


Big T and I went to Italy, it was an amazing trip and traveling definitely gave us a sense of what a small part of this big planet we are. It’s always interesting to see how other people live, and I can’t say enough good things about all the people we met on our Italy adventure. It was an incredible experience from beginning to end. When I walked into the Sistine Chapel, I looked up and tears started rolling down my face. I couldn’t believe I was actually in such a magical place where art is everywhere.

The only hard part of the trip, was that we missed Little T a lot. Every time I would see something amazing I’d wish he was there next to me. He really would have loved it. I would call him and my mom through Facebook every day, and every day I felt like I was counting down the hours until I’d get to say hi to him and tell him about everything that we did.🙂


When we got home, he was so happy. I came in after Big T, and heard him run up to Big T and say, “Daddy! It’s really you! It’s not a dream!”🙂 He wanted to know everything about our trip. Big T and I had travelled for over 24 hours straight without any sleep, so we were having a hard time staying awake. Little T was so excited to see us that he couldn’t sleep, so my mom gave him the Italy books we brought home for him and gave him a flashlight, so he could stay up and look at the books until he fell asleep.

Every once in a while- I catch myself walking on our sidewalks and thinking about those cobblestone steps in Italy and how they felt on my feet as I walked. It all feels so far away from here.

Big T and I have started planning another trip, a little further down the line so we can be sure to take Little T next time. But for now, we’ll always have Italy.🙂

OC Fair Family Ticket Giveaway

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The winner of our OC Fair Giveaway was Kelly G! She had a wonderful time with her family at the fair.🙂 Thanks for entering, everyone!

Hello everyone!

Anyone who knows us, knows how much our family loves the OC Fair. It’s a family tradition for us to enjoy a vegan hot dog from Pink’s and a lovely bowl of fresh fruit from Terri’s Berries.

So when the OC Fair contacted me about hosting a giveaway, I jumped at the chance.

This week I will be giving away an OC Fair Family Packet, which includes:  

  • 4 General Admission Tickets
  • 2 Carnival Ride Cards (3 Free Rides Per Card)

Here are some additional details: 

  • The OC Fair will provide the prize packet directly to the winner.
  • Parking is $10 (cash only) and is not included with the giveaway.
  • Each carnival ride card is valid for three rides or games in either the Main or Kiddie Carnivals. Ride Cards are not valid for food or drinks.
  • Admission and/or ride cards do not have to be used on the same day. Prize must be redeemed during the 2016 OC Fair.

And Some additional OC Fair Information: 

  • Dates: July 15-August 14, 2016
  • Public Hours: Wednesday-Friday Noon-Midnight, Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-Midnight, Monday-Tuesday Closed
  • Theme: “Get Your Fair Face On!”
  • Website: www.ocfair.com
  • Admission: General $10, Senior (6+) $7, Youth (6-12) $7, Children 5 & younger are free every day
  • Parking: $10
  • Special Days: Kids Days (Thursdays, 12 & younger are free all day). Visit www.ocfair.com/promotions for more ways to save.

To Enter: 

  • Comment on this post with your name and favorite thing to do at the fair.
  • Or comment on my Facebook Post with your favorite thing to do at the fair.
  • The winner will be drawn by Little T on Monday June 20th
  • I will contact the winner directly and gather their information to email to the OC fair

And just for fun, here are some new food additions to the fair this year, for all you foodies out there (I’m looking at you, Jenny and Anthony).😉

  • Chicken in a Waffle On a Stick: Chicken Charlie’s making the popular chicken-and-waffles combo portable by cooking fried chicken tenders in a waffle and serving it all on a stick, with a side of maple syrup.
  • French Toast Bacon Bombs: Bacon A-Fair’s new breakfast-inspired offering will make French toast desirable any time of the day as sweet dough stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon is deep-fried and rolled in cinnamon sugar.
  • S’moreo Texas Donut: Bigger is better when it’s a soft, Texas-sized doughnut topped with chocolate drizzle, Oreo cookie crumble, graham cracker crumbs and marshmallow cream.
  • Bacon Nutella Pickle: Pickle O’ Pete’s takes the popular hazelnut cocoa spread Nutella and fills a dill pickle that gets wrapped in bacon, dipped in a funnel cake batter and deep fried.
  • Pork Belly Bacon Dog: At Biggy’s, two feet of bacon are wrapped around a slow-smoked pork belly that is dipped into a corn dog batter and deep fried.
  • Deep-Fried Pizza Log: Mozzarella cheese and pepperoni are wrapped inside of thin pizza dough which is deep fried until crispy and flaky. Served with marinara sauce on the side from the Apple Fries booth.
  • Diabilito Sundae: Fruit Caboose is going loco and adding to their creamy ice cream the Latin-inspired flavor of tangy Tamarindo and hot chili chamoy sauce.
  • Kool-Aid Hot Wings: Chicken Charlie’s taking his breaded wings and tossing them up with his new, slightly-spicy Kool-Aid sauce. He will serve the orange flavor exclusively at the OC Fair.
  • Dole Whip: Fairgoers can cool down with this refreshing, pineapple-flavored soft serve dessert available for the first time inside the OC Fair at Crutchee’s Ice Cream.
  • Bacon-Wrapped Baked Potato: At Bacon A-Fair, a giant one-pound potato is wrapped in a half pound of bacon and slow cooked in a wood-fired smoker oven. Served with butter, the Bacon A-Fair signature bacon-infused sour cream, grilled veggies, blue cheese and choice of hot buffalo sauce or nacho cheese and jalapenos.
  • Bacon Cheddar Brat Burger: Grant’s Tasti Burger is taking burgers and brats to the next level with this massive burger that combines a bratwurst and an Angus beef patty with cheddar, chopped candied pecans, Applewood smoked bacon, Sriracha Bourbon and chipotle sauces, lettuce and tomatoes and served inside a pretzel bun.
  • Pink’s Hollywood-Inspired Dogs: The Daenerys Mother of Doggies pays homage to the Game of Thrones’ queen of the dragons with a spicy Polish dog topped with sour cream, sauerkraut, onions, radish sprouts and Sriracha sauce. The Lord of the Rings Dog highlights the mystical movie with an all-beef hot dog encircled by fried onion rings and topped with barbecue sauce.
  • Juicys: New this year, OC Fair mainstay Juicys is serving up organic meat and nitrate-free hot dogs and sausages.
  • More Offerings: All American Reuben Burger (Grant’s Tasti Burger), Pickle Fries and Pickled Cheese on a Stick (Pickle O’ Pete’s), Shrimp Fried Rice on a Stick (Chicken Charlie’s), Som-Mor-Bacon (Fruit Caboose), Bison Burger (Juicy’s), Lasagna Sandwich (Pignotti’s Pasta), Oreo Churro (Dutchmen’s Funnel Cake).

Best of luck to you all, and I hope to see you at the fair!🙂

 

Campfires, Trains, and Grandparents

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This weekend we took the Moonlight Train on the Sugar Pine Railroad. I have wanted to go for years, but I’m never organized enough to get tickets ahead of time, and they’re always sold out. Luckily, we were finally able to get seats.🙂


I think there might be a strange creature in our house who likes to gobble holes in the knees of all of Little T’s pants, because no matter how new they are, the holes quickly appear.

We arrived at 6:30, all the shops were still open and we had fun wandering around. There were plenty of seats and things to do. They served everyone bbq, and had veggie patties on the grill for vegetarians.


After dinner, we boarded the train and rode it to our camp ground. Little T was so excited, he loved looking out the window.


The train took us to a campfire where we sat around and sang songs. Little T also made a friend and found a lot of great sticks for an imaginary fire.😉 The campfire singers did a great job and even convinced Big T to sing along.


My favorite part though, was when we all howled like crazy people.


The way home was really fun, riding in the train in darkness.🙂 So if you’re ever near Bass Lake and looking for something to do, check it out! We had a great time.🙂

This week: not as expected

You know how sometimes the world tilts a bit and disrupts the balance of your already-kind-of-topsy-turvy- life? We had one of those weeks over here. But we’re at the end of it now and hope is on the horizon (as in, a grandparent is visiting tomorrow-hooray) and when all is said and done, I’m feeling thankful that it happened.

Last week my little man was sick, but I wasn’t worried because I like to think of myself as the kind of person who never gets sick. He crawled into my lap with a fever and I comforted him, and I turned on his favorite movies, and made him soup, and I helped him get better.

By Friday night, I knew something was wrong. Kind of like the calm before the storm. Like any wedding photographer would, even though I didn’t feel well-I worked a ten hour wedding shift that pushed me a bit over the edge the next day. I got really sick after that with what turned out to be bronchitis and couldn’t move. But the wedding turned out really beautiful and I wouldn’t have done it any differently.

Now that I’m on the mend, I’m feeling grateful today for the people I work with who helped make my job easier when I wasn’t feeling well. I’m glad for my parents, in laws, step sister, M and my meow town friends for keeping my spirits high. And for my work friend in FL who knew I was sick and took the time to brighten my day with a phone call. And for Big T, who I’m now indebted to for life for taking such good care of me and getting me Hot and Sour Soup from One World Vegetarian every day because it’s the only thing that I felt like eating.

I discovered that the things I usually think are important weren’t so important this week. I was so sick that I couldn’t say anything to Big T about the mix matched outfits he sent Little T to school in, or what he packed for his lunches, or that he didn’t go over his sight words, or that the house was kind of messy. I just watched it all unfold and was grateful that someone was taking care of me and Little T.  The room mom at Theo’s school and I had planned a lot of things for teacher appreciation week, and Big T had to do all of them for us because she also had an emergency. It may not have been what we’d planned, but it happened and everyone was happy. Little T was happy and Big T was happy and Little T’s teacher was happy, and maybe certain things don’t matter as much as I think they do sometimes. It just made me so glad to have Big T by my side.

And today, I woke up feeling better like I’d survived, and I went and picked out an outfit that matched for Little T. Little T held my hand all morning because he was glad I was up and feeling better and he had missed me. I helped pack lunch and discovered there was nothing to pack because we needed to go to the grocery store, but we made it work anyway. Big T gave me a hug and said it was easier when I’m feeling well and he’s glad I’m back, and that made me happy too.

But also, Little T and Big T took the extra time this week to build this incredible tower. Pretty impressive, my two T’s. Imagine if I’d been sick a little longer, we could have had a theme park in our living room.😉


So that’s the update from over here. Be well, my friends! So glad we’re all feeling better.

This and That

Please excuse my typos, I write this all from my iPhone.🙂 Have I mentioned how much I love Little T’s school? Yesterday the principal and his teacher came up to me to let me know how great Little T is doing. I’m so proud of that kid, and grateful that the school has been so encouraging and supportive of our little guy.

Here’s a few of our spring break adventures.

Little T and I went to see the pirate show by Knotts Berry Farm. We wound up parking too far and had to walk by Medieval Times. I don’t really have a lot of photos of the Pirate Show, because Little T was terrified. Sometimes I forget how little he is, but the Pirates came out and they were loud and his sensory stuff was acting up, and tears started streaming down his eyes, poor little guy. I asked if he wanted to leave and he insisted on staying, but let’s just say we probably won’t go back soon. So, here is a photo of Little T before the terrifying pirate show! :) 


We also made it to the Harry Potter Wizarding World preview! It was a sun kissed day full of magic, friends, and butterbeer. ❤️



We ran into this Gryffindor Head Boy, who made Little T a prefect. It kind of made Little T’s day. :p Watch out, Hogwarts students, these two aren’t going to let anything slide.😉


And we had a great time running around with Mindy!


  
  
By the end of the day, this kid was worn out!


We also got to see a gym friend perform in the stunt show, Little T was nervous but excited to see him afterward. I was amused because little T started telling him all about how awesome Big T was. he’s so proud of his dad, lol.

We also went to an indoor skydiving party for M. We weren’t sure if Little T would do it because he doesn’t like loud noises, but we got him so good ear plugs and he actually did it! He could have gone twice but said it was too loud to go again, but I was proud of him for going in at all. I was so excited he picked out the astronaut uniform, so cute.🙂


  

I also had the honor of photographing the wedding reception for Little T’s occupational therapist. It was the best night, so much love.


And M had her baby shower! I can’t wait for M’s baby to come into the world, I feel like her pregnancy has gone by so fast!

We also got to spend a lot of time with The grandparents over the break, it’s always great when Big T’s mom comes to visit. And Papa G took this crew to Lego Land. Super brave, Papa G! :p



Big T and I went to DL without Little T for our anniversary. We wore disguises so Little T wouldn’t know anything was up. I don’t think he suspected anything.😉


And that’s about it, it was a great break! Now it’s back to school.🙂 see you later, friends!

The end of the Season

Little T’s basketball season came to an end.

What have we learned this season? Well, for one thing, Little T is quite the entertainer. Not in the way that you might expect for a basketball team, but in a “oh wow, he just turned into a robot in the middle of an intense game” kind of way.


Boss move, Little T. Trying to distract the other team like that.



What have we learned this season? For one thing, Big T is a nervous wreck when he watches Little T play sports. Just wait until they actually start keeping score, Big T! :p We’ve also learned that our community is great, and so incredibly supportive. I’ll never forget the time Little T dribbled and attempted a basket for the first time. You would have thought he’d made a winning goal, with how much they cheered for him.🙂 Weve also learned that Little T’s best moves come out on the basketball court-heehee.

Little T was sweet when he got his trophy, he really wanted to give a trophy to his coach, who had to be the most patient person I’ve ever met. He did deserve a trophy!


Great season, Little T! Your robot moves are legendary.🙂

A Fancy Date with my Little Man

Wedding season is wrapping up over here, which means I have a few months where life returns to normal, I see my family and friends again (you all remember me, right?), and spend some quality time with the two guys in my life. ❤️When I wrapped up a few huge projects last week, on Saturday morning-I decided to celebrate by having a fancy date with Little T. Big T helped Little T get all dressed up, and Little T was super excited when it came time for the big reveal.  😂

I know, we’re the dorkiest. :p

We went to dinner theater at the Candlelight Pavilion to see Guys and Dolls together because he loves watching musicals. I didn’t know how he’d do, so we sat in the back by the door just in case it was too long for Little T and we needed to make a quick exit, but he absolutely loved it. He was so quiet, that at one point the ladies sitting at our table thought we left, because they couldn’t believe how quiet he was for the whole show.

The thing he loved the most though, was lunch.

  
The Candlelight Pavilion is beautiful, and his eyes grew wide when we walked in the doors. He was fascinated with how pretty the butter looked in the butter tray, and he loved that they gave him juice in a goblet. It made a big impression on him, and he’s mentioned the butter and the cups a few times since then. I had to laugh, because the server listed off the drinks and Little T confidently said that he wanted the champagne. It must have sounded the fanciest to him, sweet little guy. When he couldn’t have champagne, he ordered the next fanciest sounding thing-cranberry juice.😉 they made us both a great vegan meal (baked potato, black beans, veggies, and they even added a side of rice for Little T. It was a great way to spend the day.🙂

This and That

My favorite little basketball player. ❤️ He may not be the best player, but his dance skills on the court would give Troy Bolton a run for his money. ;) 

Holy Moly, a date night for real!!!!! 

  
Future Little Big T:


Dads are the best, amiright?


Boba dates with my little man.  
When you try to take a photo and they’re like…..just let us eat our ice cream…..😉

When your phone gets stolen at pub trivia.  
So proud of this kid. Did I mention he moved up a level in reading this week? I know, he’s totally a genius. I blame the parents. ;p
Piggy Play Date!  
And some beautiful decor. 💖

 

Mini Trip to Carmel

A while ago, I photographed the sweetest group of girls at Disneyland for their senior photos. We’ve stayed in touch through social media, and when their mom contacted me about senior pics for her youngest daughter, I jumped at the chance. “But it will be in Carmel!?!” she said. Always being up for an adventure- I responded with, “Even better!” And a work vacation was born.

On the way up to Carmel, we stopped in Cambria to pick up Nana, and then traveled to Carmel where we had never visited before. It was a beautiful city, and I hope to see it again someday.

On the first day, we went to Monteray Bay Aquarium. These dogs were having a meetup, there were so many of this breed hanging around! I wish I remembered what kind! 

Do you ever experience something when you were young and remember it as being way better than it actually was? I have this vivid memory of a ride at Knotts Berry Farm, where you have to push the car to make it work, and in my mind it went on and on for miles. Later in my adulthood, I went back and discovered it was just a little circle we went around. My memory was so different! I was worried I’d have that experience with Monteray bay Aquarium because it had been so long since I’d been there, but it was just as amazing as I had remembered it. It was even better, actually-and we had such a fun day. Little T loved it. He liked the open sea feeding and the Penguins the best.  

I’ve decided swimming around in an aquarium tank is my dream job.


When we were done, we found the best little Thai restaurant I’ve ever been to for lunch, and they served Theo’s pineapple fried rice in a pineapple. At night, we went with our host family to Benihanas for dinner, and then went to watch these little raccoons that lived in the rocks near the restaurant. Little T stayed out way past his bedtime, which was all a part of the excitement for him. He also talked the girl’s ears off at dinner and they said he mentioned the word samurai at least 200 times. He had such a wonderful time.

The next morning, we had a great time exploring and taking senior pics. Little T might have even snuck into a photo or two…..or three.😉

    

We stopped for lunch at a nice little restaurant that had a cozy couch in front of a fireplace, and a giant tv that was playing the Broncos/Steelers game. I decided I could live there forever.


During lunch, Little T continued to enjoy all the attention he was getting from the ladies. He loves people so much, such a cutie pie.


That evening, we sadly said our goodbyes, and began the road trip on the 1 back to Cambria. The road was beautiful and it was great seeing Bug Sur, but we didn’t realize how horrifically frightening that road was after dark. We are happy to be alive after dealing with fog, rain, darkness, and windy cliff roads with no road reflectors. Thankfully, I couldn’t see the cliffs because of the fog, because it might have done me in. Big T could see out of his window, and was silently having panic attacks from the passenger seat. O_O We were so glad when we made it home safely.

The next day, we got up early to make our way home from Cambria, but the car wouldn’t start. What started out as a frustrating thing, turned out to be awesome because Little T was in heaven visiting with the mechanic. He even got to hold his tools and “help” him with the car. Little T talked about the mechanic for half the ride home, he really made an impression on him. So much, that Little T asked the mechanic what his favorite transformer was, and promised to give it to him for Christmas. :p


Since we were stuck for a bit, we went to the Cambria Roasting Company and visited their roasting room. The lady working there explained everything to little T from start to finish, and when little T left he shouted, “I learned something today!” Heehee

   The finished product. :p

 The ride home was gorgeous, and we stopped to take a few photos. Sometimes I can’t believe how beautiful this planet is, it takes my breath away.  

And now we’re home, and it’s back to editing and preparing for the week, and thinking about what a nice time we had.  We’re sad it’s over, but alway thankful that it happened at all.🙂

Farewell, Brutus

A few years ago on an ordinary day, we came home and opened the door of our house, to discover that a white and friendly cat had decided to move in. He was sprawled out on our couch with his belly facing towards the ceiling, resting and looking like he belonged there, and so he did. We eventually started calling him Brutus.

This is kind of a weird story to tell-so please forgive me, but Brutus decided to make things official one day when Little T was having a tough time. I took Little T into his bedroom and started rocking him and singing, “Baby Mine”. It was one of those beautiful moments in parenthood where you’ll never quite forget how wonderful it feels to be able to soothe and comfort another little person with nothing but yourself. Brutus agreed, and towards the end of the song, took it upon himself to mark his territory all over us. At the time, we were horrified and upset and had to sanitize everything, including ourselves-but now I look back at that moment in time and realize that it was the moment when Brutus decided we were his family, even if he was kicked out of the house for a little while.😉

Brutus was the most relaxed cat I’ve ever seen. He didn’t even mind when Little T would run around the house like a crazy person. No matter what was going on, Brutus was just content to be there.
The life of a photographer can be a little lonely. When you aren’t shooting, you’re spending days staring at a computer screen with nobody else around. I can’t concentrate with music or the t.v. on, so these days seem even lonelier to me because it’s always so quiet in my house. Once Brutus learned the restroom rules and was allowed back in, he sat next to me every day. His spot was right next to my legs where I’d sit criss-cross and stare at a computer screen for hours on end. I’d often find myself talking to him, absentmindedly reaching down to give him a pet, and getting him cat nip when I’d get a little bored or lonely. It’s like the song in My Fair Lady, I grew accustomed to his face. It’s going to be a long time before I stop reaching down, expecting him to be there.

While Brutus spent most of his time here, he was known to everyone in our neighborhood. He’d get breakfast here, then go across the street for second breakfast, then head to the corner for thirds. At a block party one night, we all sat around and told stories about Brutus, or “that white cat”, as everyone fondly called him.

When we’d leave the house, Brutus would leave too. We told Little T that Brutus was going off to have an adventure. When our car would pull into the driveway, we’d always see Brutus running home. Little T would say, “Mommy, Brutus goes on adventures, but he always comes back.”

The other day, Brutus didn’t come back after his adventure. We aren’t sure if a coyote found him, or if he was taken by one of the college kids who parks on our street to save parking money, or if he was sick and didn’t make it. He’s never disappeared for a day or a meal, so we knew something was wrong.

Every day when we drive home and he doesn’t come running towards the house, my heart sinks a little. Seeing Brutus rush home when we arrived was one of those little things I took for granted and didn’t realize made me happy until it was gone.

I might never know what happened to Brutus, but I do know, that our house feels empty without him here. We miss him so very much. Little T and I like to think he’s off on the ultimate adventure. One that involves pirates and wizards and castles in the sky. I know this doesn’t make sense to write it here, but I feel like I have to say it…I just wanted to say thank you Brutus, for bringing so much joy and love to our family over the past few years. I hope we brought love and happiness into your life as well, my furry friend.❤