Holiday Traditions…

Let’s talk holiday traditions here.  I love hearing about the things people did growing up and what they are now doing with their families.  Here are the traditions we do every year:

  • Photo Christmas card – Each year we get professional pictures taken and have Christmas cards made with our family photo on them.  I always save one of the cards and with my kids, we make a scrapbook page out of it.  I let them decorate it however they want (and yes, even if it means putting a sticker over one of our faces).  I love pulling out that scrapbook every year and can’t wait to see how their art skills progress over the years. Christmas Card 2013
  • New pajamas on Christmas Eve – My mother did this with us, so I am also doing it with my kids.  Each year I get them new pajamas and wrap them up.  They get to open them on Christmas Eve and wear them that night.  This year, my 4 year old wanted to make her pajamas, so we are in the middle of doing that.  Stay tuned! IMG_5295  IMG_5223
  • Snowbabies collection – When I had my first baby, I wanted to start a collection of something for her that I could add to each year.  I looked around a bit and really fell in love with the Department 56 Snowbabies.  There are so many different figurines to choose from and each year I get each of my girls a new figurine that depicts something either in their personality or something that interests them.  Last year, I got Annalie this superhero figurine snowbabies and I got Stella this Mickey figurine. snowbabies2 This year, Annalie is getting this t-ball figurine (since she just wrapped up her first season in t-ball) snowbabies3and Stella is getting this cute little monkey figurine because this is about how the three of us look most of the time since she always wants to be picked up. snowbabies4
  • Baking cookies – When I was growing up, we made a massive amount of goodie plates every year for our friends and neighbors.  My mom has the absolute best recipes for holiday goodies.  My sister and I have attempted to recreate it several times and I tell you, it is a ton of work.  But, each year, even if I don’t have time to make everything that we did with my mom growing up, I try to have my kids help make at least a couple of things to give out to coworkers and neighbors.  When they get older, we’ll go for the huge variety. 392576_10150435443457509_1854831664_n
  • A real Christmas tree – I have never and will never, ever, ever get an artificial tree.  We never had one growing up and still to this day, we always get a fresh tree.  Unfortunately there are no Christmas tree farms in Las Vegas, but each year Costco gets one truck full of the most amazing Christmas trees (and you really have to be on it to get one before they quickly sell out), so we get one and take it home and decorate it each year.  Nothing beats the smell of a fresh Christmas tree and when the holidays are over, we take the tree to a recycling center where it will be turned into mulch. IMG_5269
  • Ethel M Chocolate Factory – This is a great little place that we visit every year.  They have a cactus garden that they decorate with millions of lights each year and you can walk around sipping hot cocoa, listening to holiday music and even get a picture with Santa if you feel so inclined.  You can also walk through the factory and see all the workers making yummy chocolates and sample some inside.  It’s really close to our house and it’s free!  Definitely a must do if you are in Vegas. IMG_5294
  • Love Actually – Hands down my favorite holiday movie.  I mean there really are some other great classics (Elf, A Christmas Story, The Holiday, etc.), but this one tops my list. untitled

 

What are some of your holiday traditions?

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It’s in! Our official 2014 Halloween Photo!

Ever since we had our first daughter Annalie, we’ve been taking an annual Halloween photo of her in her costume each year.  When Stella was born, we added her into the mix.  Each year, we pick out a cute Halloween picture frame and put the official Halloween photo in it and put it up on our mantle.  I love getting out these photos each year and looking at the progression.  This is the first year they each picked out their own costume (Annalie picked hers our last year, but not Stella).

So, in honor of today being Halloween, I’d like to share with you our official 2014 Halloween photo!

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Happy Halloween!

The Dreaded Family Photos…

Is there anything more stressful than family photos?  I don’t think so.  First you have to book a session with a photographer (thankfully we have an amazing photographer that has been doing our photos since before our kids were born).  Then you have to choose outfits that match just enough to look good, but not too much because you don’t want to look cheesy.  Then come photo day, you’ve got to get yourself ready, and all the kids (which means I actually have to do their hair for once and not just put it in a ponytail).  Then you have to head over to the photo location and hope that in that 20 minutes your kids don’t spill anything on their clothes, fall and dirty up their outfits, pull out their hair, etc.  Then once you get there, you have to bribe them with little bags of candy in between each pose in hopes that you might just maybe get one picture where they are both looking, and bonus points if they are actually smiling!  Not to mention trying to keep them from getting dirty in between takes.  It is enough to drive a parent to drink.  A LOT.

But, in the end it is all worth it because we will be able to look back at these beautiful photos and remember when our lives were full of blissful chaos.

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Do you think family photos are stressful?

The Friday Five Link Up: Fitness Snapshots!

It’s Friday!  That means I’m once again doing the Friday Five link up with the lovely DC Trifecta (Eat Pray Run, DC, You Signed Up For What?!, and Mar on the Run!)!

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Go check out their blogs…they are so fun!  This week’s theme is fitness snapshots!  I have a ton of fitness snapshots so it was hard choosing just five, but here’s the ones that made the cut!

1.  Running with my girls.

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Nowadays I do most of my running early in the morning while they are sleeping, so I don’t use the jogging stroller much, but I did break it out a few weeks ago when my husband was away on a work trip and I desperately wanted to get in a run.  My girls love going for runs and actually get mad at me if I walk, “Mommy run!  Run faster mommy!”  Not to mention the millions of questions they ask during the run.  Seriously, nothing is harder than pushing 75 pounds of weight while running and trying to answer a question every minute about why the sky is blue.

2.  Biking with my sister.

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I love visiting my sister.  We live about 2 hours apart, so we get to see each other a lot.  She has completed two marathons (training for her third) and several triathlons and bike races.  Oh, and she has 4 kids.  She’s awesome.

3.  Running trails solo.

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There are some really great trails around Las Vegas and my favorite is an area called Wetlands Park that is a trail head to miles and miles of paved and unpaved trails along the Las Vegas Wash with beautiful views of the mountains, Lake Las Vegas and the Strip.  Sometimes it’s nice to just go out alone and enjoy the beauty.

4.  Running with my run club (Las Vegas Runners).

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Every Wednesday and Saturday my run club hosts a running meetup.  Wednesdays are speed work at the track and Saturdays are long runs.  I’ve been with this group for about 3 months now and just love them.  Jeremy and Melissa and two really great people, as are all of the other folks who show up each week.  They are so encouraging and give out really great running advice.  It definitely makes getting out of bed at 4am a lot easier when I know I’m going to meet up with some great people.

5.  Running for a good cause.

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If you read my 4th of July 5k Blast race recap, you know I recently ran as an Angel for Captain David as part of the my TEAM TRIUMPH team at a local race.  It was amazing and really fun for the Captains, Angels and families of the Captains.  I really enjoyed running for a good cause.

So, there you have it!  Another week, another Friday Five!  I hope you all have a fantastic weekend.  I’ll be racing in my very first triathlon tomorrow.  Stay tuned for a recap on how good (or bad) it went!

Stella’s 2 Year Old Photos

Spring time brings on some gorgeous weather here in Las Vegas, but with the gorgeous weather always comes wind.  I’ve been trying to take Stella’s 2 year photos since she turned two years old a month and a half ago and every single weekend has been windy.  Yesterday, we finally got a beautiful wind-free Sunday afternoon, so I was finally able to get these pictures done!

Stella pretty much refuses to wear anything but dresses these days.  She hates anything on her legs (quite the opposite of Annalie who wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress), so I picked out a few different dresses and let her choose which one she wanted to wear.  She picked this cute little Minnie Mouse dress that went perfect with this sun hat that she was given for her 1st birthday that finally fits her (she calls it her cowboy hat and loves wearing it).

We did the pictures over at one of my favorite parks, Wetlands Park.  It’s so close to my house and has lots of trees, water and bridges that make for good photo ops.  I had to bribe Stella a bit with fruit snacks to get her to pose and smile, but for the most part she was very cooperative and I ended up with a handful of cute pictures.

She is just such a doll and gets cuter every day.  I’m so glad I was finally able to do these pictures!

 
And my personal favorite:
 
 

I Have a 4 Year Old

I have a 4 year old! How did this happen? Wasn’t Annalie a baby just yesterday? She’s not even a toddler anymore! My, how time flies.
 
 
For her birthday this year, instead of doing presents and a party, we did fun trips. Vince and I took her to Brian Head to ski for her very first time. We put her in a lesson in the morning, which she didn’t love, but once we got her out of there and out on the slopes, she did great and loved it! She was cruising down the bunny hill all by herself! We went up about 5 times. I am so impressed with her!
 

 
 
Then, the other part of her birthday gift was we got her tickets to see the Fresh Beat Band in Phoenix (she is totally obsessed with them). While I was jet setting off to New York (which I’ll write up a recap of soon), Vince took her down to the show (I seriously have the most amazing husband ever). Her Nana also got her an authentic Fresh Beat Band rock star jacket to wear too. She was so excited at the show and just had such fun!
 

 
We took her to Craig Ranch Park to do her 4 year pictures. I love being able to take the photos myself. She even let me curl her hair! They turned out so cute.  Seriously, my kid could be a model.  She is so photogenic and gorgeous!
 

 
She is just the smartest, most beautiful, amazing daughter anyone could ask for.  The thing that I love the most about her is that even at such a young age, she knows exactly who she is, what she likes and doesn’t like and is proud of it.  I love just letting her be who she is and watching her blossom.  I get stopped so many times when we’re out in public and she’s wearing her Spiderman costume or has on her Iron Man mask and people tell me that I’m such a good mom for letting her be herself.  I just couldn’t imagine trying to not let her be her.  I hope she stays like this for her entire life.
 
Happy 4th birthday Annalie!  I love you!
 
 

Introducing Baby Ellie

My beautiful sister-in-law, Anisa, had her baby on November 15th and of course I had to volunteer my services to photograph baby Ellie.  I have never photographed a newborn before and knew it would not be easy, but I also really didn’t realize how difficult it is.  My photographer that I used for my girls’ newborn photos really is a pro.  She makes it look so easy!  Let me tell you, it is not.  It took us two days and several hours with lots of breaks to feed, rock and hold baby Ellie just to get a handful of good photos.  I have so many outtakes, it’s actually embarrassing.  But, I was happy to do it and I loved getting to spend so much time with my new niece.  She is such a doll and Anisa is really embracing motherhood.  Here’s some of the good ones: