Monday, December 29, 2008

Book Club

I have a whole month with no school work! QUICK! Give me a book recommendation, and make it fast! What have you read lately that you LOVED? (No Twilight, please. I just can't get into them...) ;) What should I read that you couldn't put down?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Baby's First Christmas

She slept through it...;) I snapped this at the end of the day!

Gunnar on the other hand ate it all up! The stinker crept downstairs before the rest of us. We missed his face when he saw all of his loot, but he was still surprised at his other presents!

It was magical. Hope the same of yours- Kam

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Top Model

I am a teacher. In my heart of hearts that is what I do and love the most. I spent 7 years in the classroom teaching English and most recently publications before I decided to leave the 170 students I taught each year to be home with my most important students: my kids. It was a tough choice for me to leave; my friends know how I agonized over it. I still miss it terribly and am certain that someday I will return. Until then I look forward to email updates, fun shout outs and conversations on facebook, and even, crazily enough, wedding announcements that are starting to come from my former students. They are all an intricate part in the fabric of my life; I love them all so much and feel indescribably connected to many of them. 

I don't believe in fate or chance. I believe in a certain plan for my life, and I think that certain people enter it at certain times, for moments or years, to touch me on a certain level. I know that I was the teacher in my classroom those years, but I learned so much from the students who walked through the door of room 903. Somedays when the bell rang, I would sit at my desk and feel so lucky to have been the one who was taught that day. Not only did they teach me with their enlightening perspectives, but also in the way they carried themselves and treated others. Each year there were students who entered my classroom and also entered my heart. This beauty was one of them. 

I first met Alyssa her sophomore year of high school. She was in my sophomore honors English class and I am afraid I scared her the first day, like I do most of my students. Isn't it funny Lyss, thinking back to that first day of class...who would have thought years later I would have been taking your family pictures? Interesting the judgements we make when we first encounter something and how, with time, it changes into something completely different. I am strict the first little bit of the year; I need my students to take me seriously. So all my jokes and smiles stay in my pocket for a bit. ;) I am sure that Alyssa was nervous at our first meeting, but she made eye contact and kept smiling at me through my entire first-day tyrant act. I knew I was going to like her and that she would be one of those students who was very special to me.

Alyssa has so many gifts. She is intelligent beyond measure. In fact, I looked forward to reading her papers; sometimes I would put them on the bottom of the stack because it was something to look forward to: a treat at the end. She is sharp, smart, and classy. She is a friend to everyone she meets, always seeking to raise spirits and include everybody, especially the excluded; I never heard her speak ill of anyone. Her friendship knows no bounds and is abundant and true.

After her sophomore year she applied to be a part of the publications team. I knew she would be on the staff before she even when through the interview process. She is one of those people you would choose to be with and work with in any capacity. If I had to compile a team to create something noteworthy and award winning, I would choose her in two seconds. She is responsible and dependable beyond measure. She did everything that was asked of her without question or complaint; I knew I could count on her for anything. When we had down time we would sit at my desk and talk about all of our favorite things, namely our favorite tv shows. We both loved America's Next Top Model at the time and would catch up on the weekly episodes and debrief our feelings on the outcomes. A few years later Alyssa texted me from an airport telling me she was sitting with two of the models from the show. It made me smile and get nostalgic for her and our laughs and times together.

She is thoughtful and pensive, thinking things through before she makes a judgment. I find myself magnetized to this quality in people. I love it about Alyssa.

Her laugh makes you feel like everything is good in this world, and her smile would melt the iciest of exteriors. Alyssa has a kind heart. She was born privileged but seeks to share her gifts with others. I love that. I love that she is so filled with compassion for other people and especially for her family. 

She has one brother, Eric, whom she is very close to.

She calls him Brother Bear...seriously, so cute! I could only wish Larkin would call Gunnar I embarrassing you Eric? ;)

Loved these two shots:

Like me, Eric looks up to Alyssa; it is sweet to hear him talk about how much he admires her.

Love this one:

Eric wasn't a fan of having his picture taken but I thought he did well and I am sure he did it because he knew it would make his sis happy. So sweet!

They are both very close to their dad, Mike,

especially, Lyss. I love the close relationship daughters can have with their fathers. It can be something so important and special. I wish that for Larkin and Jaren.

Alyssa gets her humanitarian heart from her dad; he is planning on spending his retirement years working with non-profit organizations and donating his time to help inner-city kids. So admirable. Jaren and I both commented about how friendly and welcoming he was with both of us. We felt like we wanted to have them all over for dinner after spending one evening chatting. ;)

Alyssa and Eric have been blessed to have more than one mom in their lives. Jackie joined the family awhile ago and is a very sincere and kind person; she fits in nicely with the rest of them. ;)

A few of everyone together:

Alyssa's heart is so big that she has welcomed other brothers and sisters in. 

Jackie's son and girlfriend just had a baby, Shane. I got emotional editing these pictures remembering his tender little spirit and demeanor. Stephen and Lisa, are lucky to have him.

Loved this moment. It made me tear up thinking of the tenderness that is shared with a mother and her new baby. Very, very sweet.

He is a love and a very mellow baby, which is a gift.

It started to get cold and the light was fading so I didn't get to talk to everyone as much as I would have liked, but I did notice a trend with this entire family: they have contagious smiles.

Jackie's other son, Brian and his wife, Rita, and their two kids, Aaron and Sasha:

And the family all together, minus Eric, who had to dash to get to a final...

Thanks to everyone for enduring the cold! ;) It was worth it. And thanks for the delicious hot chocolate to warm us up afterwards at The Kettle. Manhattan Beach was enchanting; this family was too.
Alyssa, I have always and will always have a very special place in my heart for you. I know you entered my life at a certain to teach me compassion, understanding, listening, and kindness. I am grateful for you and believe this world is better because you are a part of it.
Merry Christmas to all of you. May you continue to smile and be happy together, Kamee

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sneak Peek

Last Thursday I headed to Manhattan Beach for pictures and a nice anniversary dinner out with my man. Here is just a sneak...can't wait to share more and write about this gorgeous person

her spunky brother,

and some of their family. It might have to wait until after Christmas though. My family starts coming into town tomorrow, and I am learning a new computer (switching from pc to mac...hooray for me!!) so it is taking me a bit longer to adjust to a new workflow...;), but here are two to wet your whistle. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas in California

I just finished wrapping my last present. 

My sympathies for all of you who have just started your shopping. ;)

Friday, December 19, 2008

compromised christmas

gunnar is an excellent hide and seeker. he uses the entire house: every closet, every nook, every interesting hiding place he can find he uses. i have been stashing his christmas loot in the guest closet; i covered it all with a blanket. i also told jaren to stear him away from that closet when they play just-in-case...the other day i had some girlfriends over for lunch.(tiff and sum, thanks again for coming. i had so much fun!! can't wait for the next luncheon.) they brought their darling kiddos and gunnar got a great idea to play hide-n-seek. i didnt think anything of it when they disappeared towards the guest bedroom. 1 minute later gunnar emerges with his hands full...of christmas. HIS Chirstmas! he found it all...we quickly told him it was for someone else...he of course had a meltdown and has been asking to play with it ever since... do i keep it or take it all back and start over with 6 days to go? this was the last thing i bought him: a book. he didnt find it. he already has...
maybe this book and a lump of coal will be all that stinker gets...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Babies, Birthdays, and Bounce Houses

I always wanted a baby girl. For all of the materialistic reasons, like the clothes and accessories. I also wanted a girl to be able to hopefully someday have the relationship with my daughter like the one I have with my mom. Another reason I wanted a baby girl was to see her in the strong and protective arms of this man.
I know he has his apprehensions with raising a daughter, but I also know he is going to be one of her best friends.
Another man who I believe is an excellent father is this man. He is so good with his kids. Matt is the only man in our circle that we all agree could quit his job and successfully stay home with the children. ;) (Quick story that made me smile and feel so loved. We spent some time with our friends Matt and April on Saturday night. EVERYONE took their turn with Larkin who decided to throw a fit at their house. Matty was so tenderwith her when it was his turn. He shuusshhed, rocked, swayed; he did everything he could think of to make her comfortable. It was very, very sweet.)
Addie will be close to her dad because he is so understanding and accepting: two traits I have always admired about Matt.
I am also grateful for these two men and how involved they are in their children's lives and the home. They are good men who work hard to help their families be happy. I was glad I had my camera close to snapped this moment of the daughters with their daddies.
Saturday was a birthday. We headed to San Clemente to celebrate the first year of a darling little lady bug.
Emmi turned 1! I still can't believe it. Time feels like sand slipping from my fingers. This bug is the most mellow on the block; she takes after her parents for sure.
I missed out on some of the Lady Bug details from her party because I was too busy chitty- chatting with friends or snapping pictures of the babies.
These two, Larkin and Davis, were born 6 days apart. It has been fun to go through the experience this time with Colleen.
We got a good laugh out of this picture and the dialogue that we attached to it:
"Ohhhh, I love your hair."
"Likewise. I was just thinking the same of yours."
"Where do you have it done?"
"The Jonathan Salon in LA!"
"You are kidding me! That's where I go as well."
"No wonder. I just love what he does. So simple. Only he thinned me out a bit too much on the top last time..."
A couple favorites from the day of the kiddos who will be turning one together...but not for a while...thank goodness!!
And something that rarely happens...A family picture. I wish our last name wasArgyle. Wouldn't that make a great last name...or the name of a band. Yes, we all wore our argyle, and yes, it was planned!
photo credit for the next two shots goes to Kate...;) Great camera work K!
Here's a small taste of the Lady Bug theme...
Where were all the big kids during this party? In the bounce house of course. I love all their expressions like they were talking about genocide in Darfur or something.
Two funny stories that have to be blogged for posterity.
Gunnar's friend Caden is a crack up. He has a really funny personality. Anyway, the last few parties the kids have been to there have been bounce houses. The next birthday we are celebrating is Jesus'. Caden asked his grandma the other day if Jesus was going to have a bounce house at his party. THAT IS GOOD STUFF.
The other story is for Gunnar...During Emmi's party they kids were melting down a bit. We decided to put a show on to see if that would mellow everyone out and give them some rest time. Kyle kept asking Gunnar to come and sit by her on the sofa and hold her hand. He was distracted with something and didn't listen to her sincere pleas for 3 year old human contact. FINALLY, he came and sat down and snuggled by her. Gunnar, someday Kyle isn't going to ask you. In fact she might not even want your stinky face around.(Unless you grow up to be cool I might have to pay Kyle to go to the prom with you. You are lucky she is asking for your attention now!) Next time, if there is a next time, JUMP ON IT SON! Seriously, how slow can one kid be to see an opportunity when it is slapping him in the face?
It was a great party filled with friends and fun! Happy Birthday Emmi! Here's to many many more!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sneak Peek

from a 1st birthday...a few more to come soon...Happy First Year Emmi-Girl!!

Friday, December 12, 2008

It's Been a Week...

since she left.
I know that it is unheard of to have your mother or mother in law stay with you longer than two weeks after having a baby. Two weeks for some of you might even feel like a long time. My mom was here with us for 3 months. You read correctly, 3 months. Some of you are shaking your heads in disbelief, "How lucky. 3 months with my mom's help? How wonderful would that be? Think of all the things I could accomplish with extra hands around. Not to mention the rest I could get." Some of you are shaking your heads in disbelief, "I would go crazy with my mom living with us for more than a week let alone 3 months? There is no way we would be able to function with that individual living with us." Having my mom with us for the the past few weeks has been the greatest gift and blessing, for all of us.
I started this semester of school late August, a few weeks before the baby was to be born. (I know. I went to grad school the semester I had a baby. Some call me crazy, others driven. I am not sure what I call myself; May of 09 I will call myself accomplished, but now I am not really sure where I fall. Somewhere in between crazy and driven for sure...) The weeks previous to her birth I had asked a girlfriend to watch Gunnar for me. (Thanks so much for the help Joanna!)
Our original plan was for Jaren to be home early on Tuesdays so I could take off for school. His supervisor at work told him that we were going to need to make other arrangements, that he wouldn't be able to be home by the time I needed him. Argghhhh! Who could I ask to watch a tremendously busy 3 year old and a new born baby? I started to panic and feel extremely anxious. The majority of my girlfriends had just had babies themselves. Even if they hadn't, asking them to watch my newborn made me feel uncomfortable. Not that they aren't good, nurturing women, but I didn't want to burden them with my children. Two weeks into the semester I had a huge realization: I needed help with my kids so I could get through this semester. After class one night, I called home:
"Mom, I need help."
"What's wrong? Are you ok? Are Gunnar, Jaren, the baby all ok? What is happening?"
By this time my dad was on the line. My parents are two of the most compassionate, generous, and kind individuals I know. They have always been some of my best examples of charity and understanding; I love them so much. They are good people who love serving their family and friends. Their hearts are full of love for my sister and me and now our respective families as well.
I love this picture. It is totally out of focus and not sharp at all but I loved the moment.
I explained to my parents what was happening and the bind we were in. I told them we needed some help and wanted to know if Mom would be willing to stay with us a bit longer than the "2 weeks after a baby" norm. They told me they needed to check their calendars, but felt it would be something they could make happen for us. Before hanging up the phone my mom said, "Kamee, I don't think there is going to be a problem with this at all." After I heard that it felt like the greatest burden had been lifted; I knew she was going to be able to stay with us the extended time to help with the baby and my grad work.
She left last Friday. We all miss her. Gunnar asks where she is and when she will be back. Larkin became so used to her that she would calm down almost instantly when Mom held her. Jaren and I both commented the other day that our house feels empty. We loved having her because the house felt so full of so many things: support, comfort, help, assurance, encouragement, and mostly love.
I am doing just fine on my own with the two littles. I mean, I can't live with my mom forever right? It was such a gift to have her close for that extended period of time. Time I will remember and hold dear forever.
Look at Larkee's smile in this one. She was always all smiles for my mom.
Mom, Thank you so much for being here. For making the sacrifices you did to leave your life and Dad for that time to be with us. I am so grateful for everything you did: meals, tending the kids so I could study/attend class, the laundry, staying up with Larkin when she was so sick or crying so hard so I could get some rest, making me laugh when I felt completely deflated and hopeless, nursing me when I was sick, giving me a break to get my toes done or have some quiet alone time, and for loving me and my family so unconditionally. I am a better mother and person because of your influence and example.
Gunnar was playing us a sad goodbye song with his harmonica.
Dad, Thank you for sharing her for so long; we know that was a sacrifice on your part as well. I am so appreciative Dad of your humble nature and tender heart. I have always admired how you willingly put your family first over yourself. You are a good man with a soft spirit. I was so happy when you came for your visits. We all miss you too. Gunnar can't wait for Papa to come back so he has someone to play pirates with.
Mom, you earned this semester's master's degree as much as I did. ;) I love you both so much. Thank you so much for all you did for me and my little family the past few months.
Not sharp either. but can you get over those cheeks?
Baby 3, if there is one, can you stay for a year? ;)
Can't wait to see you in a few weeks for Christmas!! xoxo Kam