A list for Tuesday

1.  I made a really good crock pot recipe last night.  I saw it posted on this blog, and it did not disappoint.  It got a thumbs up from 4 out of 5 family members (and, to tell you the truth, Logan’s thumb doesn’t really count because I think it’s broken.  It always points down unless the meal consists of chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, or tacos.)  Anyway, here’s the recipe:

4-5 chicken breasts
8 oz block of cream cheese
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 small can of diced green chilis
1 cup of milk
1 packet of dry italian salad dressing mix

Mix it all together in a crock pot and cook for 4-5 hours. Serve over rice and enjoy!

2. I ran 3 miles pushing Camryn in the jogger stroller this afternoon.  It was harder than my 5 mile run the other day.  It’s been forever since I ran with a stroller and it is no laughing matter.

3. Every once in awhile, I like to check out my google analytics reports to see what searches are finding my blog.  I’m a little flattered that fabulous flirty and 30, 30 and flirty pics, and 30 flirty and fabulous are all in the top 10.  I’m not so flattered that “a jiggly a**” (but with the real word) is number 10.  Really?  When have I ever blogged about that?  I mean, it may be true and all…but really?

4. So I’m officially in my 30’s now.  I turned the big three-one on Sunday.  I had a really great birthday weekend that included a hot date with my hubby, a night out at The Chocolate Bar with friends, a brand new office chair (much needed and appreciated!), a few Amazon gift cards good old cash to spend, kids waking me up with noise makers and homemade cards done completely on their own without any prompting from Derek, really good food out at restaurants, and a cake baked at home with love.  It was a wonderful birthday…maybe even one of the best yet.

5. After my reference to Notting Hill in this post, I felt compelled to re-watch it.  It was just as funny and heartwarming as I remember.  That movie came out just a few months before Derek and I got engaged and I can remember going to see it.  It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

6.  What am I making for dinner tonight?  How come I don’t meal plan for every day of the week?  I was so proud of my dinner accomplishment last night, and of course today, here I sit at 4:27 blogging instead of figuring out what we are going to eat in an hour.

7.  Blogging at 4:27?  In a quiet house?  Yes, it’s true.  The boys are playing at my neighbor’s house this afternoon and Camryn is happily hanging out with her friends Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.  She loves the Chipmunks almost as much as she loves her friends Woody, Buzz, and Jessie.

8.  That’s all I got.  It’s time to go do something about the breakfast dishes before the dinner dishes come out.  Housekeeping was not high on the priority list today…some days are just like that.

Have I mentioned our whirlwind trip to San Antonio?

Do y’all remember that movie Notting Hill?  Remember how Julia Robert’s character is a big, famous actress and then she falls in love with an average guy in London?  I love that movie.  One of my favorite lines from that movie is when Mr. Average’s sister meets Julia Robert’s character for the first time and gushes this whole long thing about how wonderful and beautiful she is, and then ends her soliloquy with “I genuinely believe and have believed for some time now that we can be best friends.”

Someone please tell me that I’m not the only one who reads other people’s blogs and thinks “I would totally be friends with that person in real life.”

I can’t even remember exactly when I found Erin Cobb’s blog, but I do remember that it quickly became one of my favorites.  Not only does she write a great blog, but she is an amazing photographer.  During one of our trips to Arlington, I even told Derek all about her.  It’s really not that unusual for me to talk about the blogs I read and/or the people who write them…maybe that’s weird, but whatever.  I’ve met some really great friends though blogs/online message boards, and I really think that is just one of the neatest things about the times we live in.  Anyway, I told Derek that if Erin Cobb ever came to Texas I was going to want to schedule a photo session with her.  She lives in Alabama, and honestly, I never thought it would happen.

Also, when telling Derek about Erin, I may or may not have quoted that movie about how I was sure Erin would be my new best friend if we ever got to meet in real life.

A few weeks ago, she posted on her facebook page that she was going to be traveling to San Antonio and was going to schedule a few sessions.  I jumped at the opportunity and emailed her right away.  After working out the logistics of us going to San Antonio, we officially booked our session.  We have not done a  real family photo shoot in over 4 years, so it was definitely time to do something about that!

So last weekend was the big weekend.  It just so happens that Derek’s aunt and uncle, Kathy and Steve, live just outside San Antonio, and they were such gracious hosts as our crazy family basically took over their home.  We missed getting to see Kathy (she was out of town) but we enjoyed catching up with Steve and their youngest son, Chris.

Then, in what I think is such a crazy coincidence, my sister and her husband were also in San Antonio that weekend!  They live in Kansas, I would have made a special trip to San Antonio just to visit them, but it worked out so perfectly that we already had plans to be there that same weekend.

We arrived pretty late on Saturday afternoon to yucky, gray skies and rain.  But that sure didn’t stop us!  Connor, our little history buff, wanted to go to the Alamo.  We met Kristin and Kevin there for a quick outside tour (the inside was already closed for the day).  Connor was so funny, reading all the plaques, signs, and information he could find.  That kids loves to learn!

My sister and I are making L’s to remind ourselves that we did not win this battle.  We both needed a little history brush up on what happened.

We lost.  Big time.

After our time at the Alamo, we headed down to the Riverwalk.  We found a Mexican food restaurant which was actually really terrible food but the company was great so it didn’t matter.  We finished off our night with some ice cream and a little souvenir shopping.  I wished we could have seen Kristin and Kevin longer, but I am thankful for the few hours we had.  Kansas and Houston are just too dang far apart.

Sunday was a busy day with church and catching up with a college friend of Derek’s, lunch with Steve and Christopher, the photo shoot, and a drive back to Houston.  When we headed down to Erin’s hotel to meet up,  I knew we were already cutting the time a little close, but I sure wasn’t prepared for a huge traffic jam, a lack of parking, and an accidental detour that took us back on the freeway heading away from San Antonio.  By the time we got to Erin’s hotel a half an hour late, to say I was frazzled would be quite the understatement!  I still had to change all the kids clothes, plus it was raining, and I could feel my hair growing outwards, turning into the lion’s mane a la 1995 before Mr. Straighter and I became friends.

But when we met Erin, I instantly felt at ease.  She’s just that kind of person, which is probably one of the huge reasons she is so good at what she does.  And, as a bonus, I don’t even think I said anything embarrassing about what a big fan I am of her blog and her work, although I probably talked way too fast and was just a bit spazzy.  But that’s pretty much me in a nutshell, even with people I’ve known forever.  We walked across the street to this little grassy area and spent the next couple of hours having a great time, laughing, and pretty much letting the kids go nuts.  My three are a pretty crazy crew in general, but add in travel and maybe not quite enough sleep and a bit of rain and new people and something fun and different and you’ve got an all out Thurman Explosion. (wow, have I ever written such an amazingly long run on sentence?!)   I never doubted for a second that she would come away with anything less than amazing, fun pictures that captured our family perfectly.  Well, maybe I doubted for a split second when Connor would not stop tackling Logan and needed to run a few sets of wind sprints during the middle of the shoot  Or when all three of the kids (yes, including Camryn) were trying to impress Erin with their ability to armpit fart.

But somehow, she was able to wrangle them all together.

And get some great pictures like this:

And this.

And this.

And this.

I haven’t seen the rest yet, and I can hardly stand it.  I just can’t wait to see what else she captured!

We finished our time in San Antonio with a promised boat tour of the river (which you can read about here if you want to hear about one of the rudest people I’ve ever encountered.  Ever.)  We grabbed a quick bite to eat and hit the road.  We arrived home at 10:00 with a van full of sleeping children.

And I had a heart full of love for this little family of mine and our weekend adventure.

All in a days work

Last night, as I settled into bed, I couldn’t help but think back over all I had done that day.

I took the kids to the Moody Garden’s Aquarium for Kayla’s birthday party.  We haven’t been there in years, and it was really fun.

I took a picture with the kids inside a photo booth.

I successfully kept Camryn awake for the 40 minute drive home as to not ruin her nap.  I needed nap time yesterday!

I caught up on my bible study for the week while Cami napped and the boys had room time.

I did 3 loads of laundry.  The clean clothes now sit in a mound on a chair in the living room.  Just keepin’ it real.

I unclogged both of our toilets.  That’s right.  Both of them.  And they were clogged within 2 minutes of each other.  It was pretty awesome.  Oh, and while I was unclogging, I totally doing the potty dance.  I had to go bad.

I used our grilling tongs to retrieve a bouncy ball from our giant pokey plant.

I stepped in dog poop.

I took pictures of Camryn playing with the cat and then pouting when the cat finally ran away.

I made dinner.  Er, rather, heated up an already made dinner.

I made some updates to my photography website.

I cleaned a bathroom.

I vacuumed.

I couldn’t help but smile as I fell asleep.  It was just a normal day.  And I happen to love my current normal.

Two and a half

Today, my baby girl is two and a half years old!  Where has the time gone?

She went from this at 6 months…

to this at 18 months

And here she is now at two and a half.

Hello year of massive hair growth! But I love how her smile is the same in all three.  That’s her smile.

At two and a half…

She talks.  A lot.  Although I still think that people who aren’t around her all the time can’t understand a lot of what she says.  But my girl and I can have full conversations now.

She loves Toy Story and Cinderella.

She counts and sings her abc’s (I must confess in large part to her mother’s day out…I will admit that I am not very good about working on those things!)

She has revived her love of Elmo with her frequent viewing of Elmo’s Potty Time.

She loves to play with her babies, and at least one goes with us every time we leave the house, even if it’s just to go to the mailbox or take the kids to school. She sleeps with a whole army of babies that need to be tucked in and hugged and kissed just like her.

She says the word “hey” all the time, and it’s just about the cutest thing ever.  She uses it two ways: “Hey daddy!”  like you would expect, and “me pee pee in the potty, hey!”  On the second one, you have to envision her raising her hands up in the air and really dragging out the heyyyy is a sing-songy voice.  It cracks us up!

I think her favorite number must be 8 because whenever it’s time to do something she doesn’t want to do, she’ll say “not now.  in eight mimutes.”

She calls herself Mimi, which means we’ve all started calling her Mimi.  Even Nathan, our backyard neighbor friend calls her Mimi.  I think it’s going to be a nickname that sticks.

She loves to dress herself, and more often than not, you will find her in ensembles that she put together herself.  She even puts on her own shoes and socks most of the time.

She still loves to “nunnle” aka snuggle.

She calls Logan “Luby” and Connor “Doddor”  I love the Luby nickname, and it’s another one we’ve all picked up and started using.  Not sure how he will like that one as he grows up, but for now he really doesn’t seem to mind it!

She’s kind of going through a picky food phase right now.  Yogurt raisins have been a big hit, and so have pop tarts.  Chicken nuggets are good, but green beans and tomatoes are out.  Sisshy crackers (aka golfish) and chips are asked for multiple times a day.  She is also love those drinkable yogurts, ham, and fruit cups.  Apples are hit or miss.  She love cheese but doesn’t like any kind of beef.  Most nights, she barely touches her dinner.  I know from experience that the whole picky eating thing comes and goes, so I really don’t make an issue out of it.

She’s always been a big time daddy’s girl, but lately she’s been wanting me more.

She is so fun and so funny.  She dances and sings and does all sorts of things that delight our family.

She is more than I ever imagined.

Happy half birthday, sweet girl!

He really is so good to her

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that Connor can be quite intense at times.  We’ve had some really hard times with him, and there were days, months, maybe even years when “control your body and your hands” was our mantra.  There were times when I wondered if he would ever learn to think of others, if he would ever realize how other people are affected by his words and his actions.  Maybe all parents wonder this.  Maybe especially those of us with strong willed, spirited boys.  At any rate, those difficult days (for the most part) seem like a distant memory.  Maybe it’s just the calm before the storm of the teenage years.  Maybe it’s just the eye of this hurricane called parenting.  I don’t really care what it is, and I will not worry about what it will be like in the future.  Right now, I am enjoying my Connor.  He is really growing up and it’s happening right before my eyes.

Just for kicks…look at him!  Sweet little two and a half year old Connor.  Wasn’t he just this chubby, messy little toddler?

The other day, Camryn came running into the kitchen, showing off her underpants de jour, and bursting with excitement over the fact that she had peed in her potty again.  She has to tell each and every family member available the big news.  And she’ll repeat it until she gets the response she wants, which is all out excitement.  On this particular morning, only Connor and I were awake.  I, as the mother, have of course perfected the “yay cami!   you are such a big girl” squeal.  But I really wasn’t sure if Connor had it in him that morning.  Much to my surprise and delight, he joined right in with the exclamations and celebrations.  He even threw in a hug and a high five for good measure.  As Camryn ran off, happy as a lark, Connor leaned over to me and said in his most grown-up, matter-of-fact voice, “Mom.  That really isn’t all that impressive.”  I laughed, gave him a hug, and told him that he was right.  It really isn’t impressive in the grand scheme of things..  But it’s a big deal to Camryn, so we go along with it for her sake.  I was so very proud of him in that moment.  I still smile and laugh every time I think about that early morning scene.

I think year 8 is going to be a great year.

Cake Smash Fun {League City Baby Photographer}

This was such a fun session!  You just know it’s going to be a great session when you combine a super cute one year old and birthday cake!  We also took a few pictures of him before he dug into his cake.  Isn’t he just adorable?

After his one year old pics, it was time to dig in.  Some kids dive right in, and sometimes they take just a little while to get into.  Mr. T was the latter. At first he just put one finger in the icing.  Then he got his whole hand in there.  Finally, with a bit of prodding, he started to eat it.

But he was still just a bit perplexed by the whole thing.

He started to dig in deeper and deeper, and got messier and messier (which is kind of the whole point!)

And then he got really excited about everything.  So cute!  This one is my favorite.

And then he would look back at his hands, like what is this stuff all over me??

Messy cake face.  Love it.

It was a great session, and it was great to see Mr. T again.  He was my first little newborn almost one year ago!  I love getting to take his pictures.

I have to give an extra big thanks to my friend Laura for letting us use her house for these pictures!

A new year

So I’m only running a week behind on a new year’s post.  Not too bad, right?  2010 was a really great year, and I’m really excited to see what 2011 has in store for us!

In 2010, I turned 30, launched my photography business, Logan turned 5, we spent spring break with some of our best friends (the Inlows), Derek went skydiving, Camryn finally grew enough hair for real pigtails, Logan finished pre-k and Connor 1st grade, we grew tomatoes successfully in the backyard, Connor and I went to camp, we went swimming and wore ourselves out all summer long, Derek and I went to Hawaii, the boys went to Colorado, Camryn turned 2,  we took trips to Arlington, I went to Kansas for my sister’s wedding, we survived August (my least favorite month of the whole year), I sent a kindergartner and a 2nd grader off to school, my business grew and I experienced my first busy season, Connor turned 8 and we had a wonderful Christmas.  So many blessings this year and so many good memories!

In 2011, I will continue to grow my business and become the best photographer I can be.  I will read more, play more games with my family, and strive to parent with intention and patience.  I will run a half marathon.  I will pray more, read my bible more, continue going to bsf and find a bible study to do during the summer.  We’ll travel more as a family, with a trip to California in May and hopefully trips to Florida and Kansas as well.  I will take a photo every day this year and post it on my one frame a day blog.  I will finally start turning the previous years of my blog into a book.  I will scrapbook.   I will be happy.

Here’s to 2011.  I can’t wait to see what it brings!

yes, I am that mom

You know, the mom that records the whole potty training process for posterity’s sake?  Yup, that’s me.

This is serious business, after all, and deserves a place in our family history.

Oh, but it’s not all seriousness.  There are lots of smiles, too!

And even some straight-up silliness.

All in all, this bit of independence is a wonderful thing.

(If you don’t want to read about potty training, you have my permission to just skip this next paragraph!  I’m one of those people who actually like to hear about others’ experiences so I thought I would share mine, too.)

We aren’t quite there yet, but Cami is doing great.  She’s in undies almost all the time and makes it to the potty almost every time.  That’s pretty good considering we just started on Monday!  I definitely embrace the all or nothing, go for it philosophy of potty training.  It’s worked well for me three times, although each time has been different.  Camryn was my one that seemed to have an actual fear of going on the toilet.  On Monday, she was holding it for hours and hours until finally her little bladder just couldn’t hold it.  There were tears…lots and lots of tears.  But I had told myself I was going to give it a good 3 days before I gave up again (we’ve tried potty training twice since the summer, and both times it was the same story.  But since she was barely two, I didn’t push the issue and just went back to diapers for a few months.)  This time, we had everything ready to go for the big day.  On Sunday night, we made a big deal about wearing big girl underpants on Monday morning.  The sticker chart was ready to go, the candy was laid out, and there was lots and lots of encouragement given by everyone in the family.  Oh, and lots of Elmo’s Potty Time.  I’ve never let any of my kids put their potty in the living room, and honestly  I didn’t understand why someone would train their kid to pee in a room besides the bathroom.  But now I get it.  The fact that we were in the living room all day was a huge sanity saver for me!  By Monday night, we had had a few successes, a few misses, and I think we were all relieved when the diaper went on a bedtime.  Tuesday was a little better but the biggest step was that she didn’t want to wear her diapers (a big improvement from the diaper begging she did on Monday!).  She only wanted her “underpants” as she calls them.  On Wednesday, it finally clicked for her, I think in part to the big fat bribe I laid out there.  “If you can go potty without any crying just like a big girl, then we will go to the store and you can pick out a new baby.”  It totally worked.  Never underestimate the power of a bribe!  We still have a few hurdles to overcome (like going on an actual toilet besides the prized elmo potty and…ahem…number 2…)  But I am so very proud of my big girl (and it’s just a little bittersweet to see her growing up so fast!  Wasn’t she just born?)

Okay, no more blogging about potty training.  I promise.  Although I am sure I will still be that mom about lots of other things in the future!

Let’s start the year off with some newborn sweetness {Pearland TX Newborn Photographer}

This was actually my last session of 2010, but between Connor’s birthday, Christmas, vacation, and the new year, I’m just now getting to posting a few (and I can’t even call them sneaks since the session happened weeks ago, but I still want to put them on the blog!)  This sweet baby girl is kiddo number 4 of a friend of mine.  Not only is she stunningly beautiful (look at her hair!  And her lips!), but she is blessed to be born into such an amazing family.

It took a little while to get her to sleep, but that was fine because we were able to get some great awake shots of her.  I love the sleepy newborn pictures, but I also love when I catch those big eyes wide open!

She eventually drifted off (and oh, it was so great to hold and rock a newborn again!)  Once she was out, she was out cold!  Is there anything sweeter than a sleeping newborn?

It just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy to see these pictures.  Thank you so much, B family!

there are a million reasons why i love this kid

Oh man, I can’t even tell you how much it delighted my heart when I downloaded these pictures that Noel took while we were at Six Flags.  I mean, really these pictures don’t even need words.  And I wouldn’t write anything except I think I am incapable of blogging without words because, as anyone who knows me would tell you, I have a lot of words that need to get out on a daily basis.

I will just say that I love this kid.  And I think number 4 is my favorite.