17 December 2010

Santa Visit

We headed to Gurnee Mills last week to Bass Pro Shops, our annual spot we go to visit the jolly guy!  We first had dinner at The Rainforest Cafe (one of Mallory's favorite places) with Papa and Grammy and then headed to the carousal for a ride.  Papa took Mallory and daddy took Jillian on her first ever carousal ride!  We then stood in line to see Santa.  Mallory appeared brave in line proclaiming she was going to sit on his lap but once we approached she cried and basically freaked out!  Seriously, it's somewhat of a weird concept to a 2 year old I'm sure..."Go sit on that strangers lap who is sitting under huge bright lights and surrounded by a million other screaming children....yeah, go sit on his lap and smile nicely...."  Ah well...maybe next year!  Jillian however was happy as a clam to sit on his lap seemingly unaware of all the fuss!  Either way it's a classic tradition we put our children through all in the name of priceless pictures! 

Photos from the evening...

07 December 2010

First Snowfall...

"When I no longer thrill to the first snow of the season, I'll know I'm growing old."

Over the weekend we had our first snowfall.  We had a busy weekend and were unable to get out and "play in it" but I'm certain we'll have ample opportunity for that this winter.  I did capture some shots the morning of the first snowfall of the season!   Mallory seemed delighted to wake up to it and loved watching it out the window! 

Scenes from our backyard...

06 December 2010

Holiday Traditions

I admit it...I love Christmas and everything about it!!  I love the sappy Christmas songs, I love the timeless classic movies..."It's a Wonderful Life", "Christmas Story" etc. I love the decorations, the tree, celebrations, seeing family, and the list goes on!  I also really get great joy from the idea of creating traditions for my family.  When I was a child we always went to Candy Cane Lane every year to the see the Christmas lights and I loved it! While I'm told that neighborhood no longer puts on the display it's fun to think of new traditions that my kids and I can enjoy together. Just thought I'd share some of our traditions. 

Here are traditions currently started:
*Going to see The Lincoln Park Zoo Lights every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
*Giving the girls one gift to open on Xmas Eve, the gift is always new pajamas to wear to bed that night and have for Christmas Morning.   
*Advent Calendar
*Going to see Santa at Gurnee Mills with Grammy and Papa, eating at Rainforest Cafe and riding the carousal.
*Hot Chocolate and family tree decorating

Here are traditions I'd like to start someday:
*Seeing the Xmas display at Botanic Gardens (we actually have plans to attend this year)
*Elf on a Shelf
*Giving Tree at church (buying a gift(s) for a needy family)
*Decorating Xmas cookies (another one we will try this year)
*Going to see It's A Wonderful Life at The Music Box in Chicago. (Tony and I used to do this and it's so stinkin festive!)

Here are some photos from this year's trip to see the Zoo Lights. 

 "There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions".

-- Bill McKibben

03 December 2010

Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful...

Winter and the Holiday Season is here!! I can smell it in our pine scented candles and taste it in the gingerbread I baked yesterday (From Trader Joe's, Love being so close to Trader Joes)! I can see it in our almost decorated home minus the xmas tree (weekend to-do list) and hear it in the newly uploaded i-tunes Christmas playlist as well as tuning into 93.9 in the car at any given moment throughout the day.

In the spirit of the season thought I would post some pics from my first attempt at an in-home studio photo session with the girls! Mallory's smile is a direct result of the lollipop bribe she's holding. The lighting in the room (or lack there of) was tough to work with but I tried to do the best with what was available. 

Here they are...

Happy Holidays to one and all!! 
29 November 2010

I remember a place

After negotiations, inspections, signing contracts, final walk throughs, cleaning, and all the other endless to-do-lists that accompany buying and selling a house, we have finally moved in and are on the track to getting settled!! I must say it feels pretty darn good!! There’s something to be said for finding and moving into (god willing) “your forever home”!! In a strange sense I feel like I (like many others) spent the better half of my younger years striving to reach the big goals…graduations, landing jobs, finding lasting relationships, marriage, and kids. All the while I’ve been so grateful for the beautiful experiences, joyous moments, and many success’s that have come my way, but with every accomplishment reached and every goal realized I am even more thankful for the ones that weren’t…the heartaches, the disappointments, the bad decisions because I truly feel like I have learned from all those “mistakes” and unanswered prayers and that they helped me get to where I am today.

Where I am today?

I whole heartedly can say I am at that place where I always wanted to be…I have everything I ever wanted and finding our house that we will make our home, our home to raise our family, a home in a town that we love, in a wonderful neighborhood, surrounded by so many family and friends well it’s quite simply the icing on the cake! As we wrap up Thanksgiving weekend I will say my gratitude is indeed overflowing.

So much of this blog is about documenting the lives of my family. I was able to capture the first few days of living in our new home through photos. I wanted the photos to be authentic and candid. I have turned them into a photo montage and hope to someday show it to Mallory and Jillian. I know someday we will look back fondly at these early years…starting our family and we will reflect and say I remember…

 “I remember a place... a town... a house like a lot of houses... a yard like a lot of other yards... on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is, after all these years, I sill look back... with wonder.”
 - The Wonder Years

 The photo montage...

12 November 2010

Fare Thee Well

When we moved into this house three and a half years ago we were a newly married couple with a cat.  We are now moving out with a cat, dog, two little girls, and lots of beautiful memories.  Although I'm over the moon about our new home I can't help but to feel a bit nostalgic about the momentous days we experienced in this house as well as the seemingly insignificant days in between.  We brought Lady home for the first time in this house, we brought Mallory home to this house for the first time and most recently baby Jillian came home to this house for the first time!  We've had glorious times in this home where we celebrated birthdays, barbeque's, holidays, baptisms, and even the everyday mundane family time; where we played hide and seek with Mallory in the living room, family dinners in the kitchen, snuggling on the couch together to watch a movie in the family room, summer nights on our patio....all the days gone by I will cherish in big and small ways! 

As excited as we are about our "forever" home there's no denying that this will always be "our first home".  Mallory and Jillian are too young to have any memories of this place but we will no doubt share with them all stories and let them know this is the home where it all started...the home where our family began!

The day we brought Lady home! 

The first week we brought Mallory home! 

Jillian's first week home!
05 November 2010

Keeping The Moment...

So it's no secret to anyone who has been in my life these past two years that photography has turned into a true passion for me.  I absolutely can not get enough of it!  I read anything I can get my hands on about the subject; blogs, websites, books...you get the picture....HA, no pun intended! ;)  Seriously though I marvel at the fantastic photographs I find that are truly inspiring and I instantly think "I want to be that good."  I am for sure a work in progress and find there's not enough time in the day to soak up all the knowledge that is out there in the photography world.  I however will not stop trying and truly feel lucky to have found something to feel passionate about, to get excited and giddy over, that is reserved for only myself. 

Of course my family are the subjects I use most often to entertain this passion and as a result the camera is toted around to pretty much any family event/activity that I deem "photo opportunity worthy".  This was no exception when we went to the pumpkin farm last weekend and although I was proud of many of the shots from the day there's one that really stood out for me and reminded me why I love photography so much. 

This following photo was the first one taken and I thought it turned out great.

Then in a split second I captured this next photo and instantly knew it was a treasure!

This wasn't posed and we never told Mallory to lean in toward her sister the way she did.  While taking a series of photos I happen to capture this candid expression from both their faces!  Tony and I both said "Awww, that's nice Mallory" and then when I looked back in the viewfinder I was so pleased and couldn't wait to go home and see it on the big screen.  This photo is why I love photography and it's why I'll continue to capture these little moments in time for our family!    

"Time will never stand still and those moments that bring us such joy become memories in an instant. To capture such a moment and record it forever is truly monumental." - Joshua Atticks -
02 November 2010

Halloween Highlights

Halloween 2010 has come and gone!  Here are some highlights from the weekend...

* A successful trip to the pumpkin farm.  Mallory picked out her pumpkin and baby Jillian's pumpkin, She had a pony ride with Daddy by her side, We went on a family hayride and were the only family on the ride (a plus for being procrastinators and going the day before Halloween), We ate hot dogs, Jillian tried to put a pumpkin in her mouth and Mallory and Daddy went down a slide ride together.  All events took place across from a suburban Walgreens...note to self: venture a little further north next year for Fall festivities.  All in all a good time.

* Mallory's first time carving pumpkins with mommy and daddy.  She refused to touch the pumpkin innards beyond the first and only time she felt them with her hands.  Still working on "getting messy is fun".  She seemed to get a thrill from the Jack-o-lantern effect we showed her at night!  

*Pre trick-or-treating costume getting ready went fairly smooth.  We tried to instill excitement in Mal about the events that where to come "What are you going to say at the door?"..."Then you will get CANDY"..."Yay"...something like that.  We thought it worked until about two minutes outside and then she cried, refused to say trick or treat or even get out of her push car. I would imagine Halloween seems a bit absurd and scary in the mind of a two year old. Ah well, we took pictures, visited the neighbors and came home all the while Papa pushed Jillian in the stroller proudly displaying her cat costume!  She was unfazed.

01 November 2010

May you always jump in the leaves...

Just a few favorites from Fall leaf fun!

Love this....

"To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature.  Most persons do not see the sun.  At least they have a very superficial seeing.  The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and heart of the child.  The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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