Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Party of 4 | Our 1st Family Photos

To say that I love the way these pictures turned out, just doesn't do enough to explain how much they mean to me. I've been wanting to have our family of four photographed since William was just weeks old, but as much as we tried, we could never seem to get the timing right. Big career changes, followed by travel and then the holidays pushed the date back again and again and now - today, as I look at these beautiful pictures of my little tribe, I'm so thankful that we didn't take photos sooner. Had one of our sessions worked out when Will was a baby, or at Christmas, we wouldn't have these beautiful images! It's amazing how things always seem to happen just as they should, isn't it? This is something I came to learn when our sweet boy joined our family after years of feeling like God wasn't answering our prayers. Trusting the timing of things is a lesson I learned then and it's still just as true today. Things happen as they should. They just always do.

Our pictures were taken as the sun began to set, on a beautiful evening at our local Bosque Reserve. The location was selected amongst many sent to us by our amazing photographer, M. When we looked at pictures she had previously taken of families in this place, with the Sandia Mountains and Rio Grande River as the backdrop, we were all in. Georgia grew up at the base of these beautiful mountains and to this day, she wants us to move to the Heights to be closer to them and talks about it often. The river speaks to me and always has. I'm a water sign and spent every other weekend of my childhood playing in rivers, streams and lakes and still do, now as an adult. For me, being in the water or near the water, is all I need. This is our happy place.

It's a tricky thing to take "lifestyle" family photos outdoors, and in the Spring, no less. This is because you just never know what weather you're going to get - especially when you live in New Mexico! It isn't uncommon for a rainy day to be followed by snow on the ground and then 80 degree temps, all in the same week around these parts. Still, we LOVED the location and booked our session, so we were going for it - rain or shine! Another thing you have to be prepared for with lifestyle photography is to get your feet dirty and go hiking... Like for real hiking! In every lifestyle session we've had as a family, we've had to climb hills, dig through brush, navigate our way through deep sand and trash our shoes. This is because the prettiest places are almost always hidden away. :)

I was a bit worried with how our session would go having a 6-year-old in a floor length dress and a baby in tow, but it couldn't have gone better! We did have to reschedule once, but on the evening of our second attempt, the weather was amazing! Grace was such a great helper and had zero complaints about all the walking. I will admit that I was surprised by this, because the older she gets, the more I'm seeing a tweenager emerge! We're seeing more eye-rolling from our sassy gal; hearing a bit more grumbling and she seems to grow tired of things at a faster rate then she did at 3-5 years old. I fully expected her to be suddenly starving upon arrival + to need the bathroom 14 times + to ask for water non-stop, and to basically be over it halfway through, but no - she did so great! 

Our beautiful girl helped entertain her brother for our entire 2 hour session. She gave M her real smile and didn't complain once! Even when we hiked from the river pictured behind her in the photo pasted below, all the way up to the bluff overlooking the river, which was one heck of a hike. She was all smiles, all evening and I was just so proud of her. 

Baby bro did pretty great too! I think it helped that he lives with 2 Momorazzis, who have taken his picture non-stop since the moment he was born. Our dude is a smiley guy everyday, but he really hammed it up and was just such a perfect baby boy for Mel! My little loves. My heart just bursts seeing their smiling faces. I legit need a bigger house, ASAP because I want to have all of these up on our walls!

I'm not sure why, but we didn't think to have me take pictures alone with the kiddos this session. This has actually happened in several past photography sessions and I always promise myself that I'll jump in a few with them the next time, but then it slips my mind. I'm not too upset about it because how can I be with how beautifully this one of Will and his Mommy turned out! I mean, seriously. My heart just can't take it with these beauties!

This little guy is such a Mama(s) boy and even though this photo was taken at the end of our shoot and just 2 days following a cold he had, as long as he was being held by one of us, he was a happy camper.   

I'm often told things like - you're brave for taking professional pictures with little ones. I've even been told that it seems like it would be torture to take family pictures every year, as we do. You know how it is with people and their opinions... These are the same folks who warned us that we would never have a social life or travel once kids came along and that we were in for it with 2 kids vs. 1 kid, game over! The thing is, none of this stuff has been true for us. Yes, we're busy, almost always. Yes, sometimes our kids act up and yes, it does take time and investment to have family photos taken, but it just isn't "torture" for us and I can't even take credit for why it isn't a bad experience. They're just happy kiddos and they make it easy.  

My mom said something to me the other day as she was over visiting. She had been in the back yard helping Gracie plant her new succulent, while I was inside making dinner. When she walked into the kitchen the baby was standing in the living room, just across the way and was in the middle of one of his baby babble performances that are hilarious and go one and one, most evenings. The news was on volume 10 as it has to be when there's so much chaos and the house smelled of sauteed mushrooms and salmon; when I looked over to see my mom looking at me with the biggest smile on her face. I gave her one of those, why are you smiling at me? curious faces as she walked over and I'll never forget what she said. 

She asked me, "do you love your life?" I answered, "yes!" She then stopped and said, 'Kristin, I want you to try and take this all in, as often as you can. You're in the middle of it right now. You're living your best life, trust me. These are the years you will treasure forever and one day, you'll miss the chaos and the smell of dinner cooking for your family. These babies will be all grown up before you know it, so try and be in it and just love every moment of this life, where you are right now.'

My eyes filled with tears and I promised her that I would, because I can recognize with every part of my heart that these are the years. The best years.

 We're in it. 

To book a family photography session with Melanie Maxine Photography, click here.

Friday, April 20, 2018

11 Months of William

Ok kiddo, technically you're now a year old and this update, well it about 6 weeks overdue... Still, Mama wanted to document your 11th month on Planet Earth and show off all the super cute pictures and video we took of you last month and all the other fun stuff that filled your March. No way could I just skip month 11!

For starters, you got your first shiner this past month! Yup, you heard that right. Your sister, who is 6 years old, has never had a black eye and you managed to get one before turning one! The incident  happened when you were standing, lost your balance and fell right on top of a tub of toys that sister was picking up right as you started to fall down. You cried for a few seconds, but quickly recovered and even with an owie, you looked adorable and were our always happy boy!

At 11 months old you {were} still me on Mommy's roommate. We thought about transitioning you to your nursery last month like we did with sister at that age, but then we remembered that your uncles were going to be visiting for your birthday and staying in sister's room, which meant that sissy was going to be occupying your room in her tent and it was just going to be too complicated to manage you both in the same room at bedtime. This and we weren't ready quite yet, if Mama's just being honest. 

And we LOVE seeing the sleepy face pictured below in the mornings!

We did start to let you CIO a bit in month 11, at bedtime. Your bedtime had evolved into this routine of Mommy and I taking turns giving you your bedtime bottle before placing you softly in your little bed next to ours. You would then immediately open your eyes, stand up and start crying while reaching for us. We would then pick you up and cuddle you some more before trying it over and over. Some nights this would go on for 30 minutes to an hour. Finally, one night I told Mommy that you had just had dinner with us, so I knew you had a full belly, you were just changed and dry and you were safe, so it was time we let you self-soothe a bit and you know what son? You did amazing! You cried for around 5 minutes (10 minutes was the limit we agreed we wouldn't let you cry past) and after the 5 you sat down, then rolled onto your belly and fell asleep! You cried for around 2 minutes on night two and that was it! We were shocked at how easy it was for you, our big boy!

You still adore being outside! You love the backyard, which is what's motivating us to get the yard summer ready sooner than later. You love walks and going to the park with your grandparents. You love the park so much we decided that it would be the perfect venue for your first birthday party. Now that the weather is warming up we've been going out more and even on evenings when it's chilly, we just layer you and sister in warm clothes and out we go!

You have lots of favorite things, but Little People toys are at the very top of the list! Sister has been building her Little People collection since she was 2 years old and now you're adding to it. Mommy's even started buying some vintage pieces that I love because they look just like Little People used to when I played with them as a kid! To date, you and sister have the princess castle, the knight castle, the farm, the farmers market, the park, the train, the fire truck and the animal clinic. You also have a ton of smaller vehicles and it is, without a doubt, our favorite thing play with together! So fun. :)

You + Papa = are still best friends (but no shocker there)

You're eating pretty much everything except dangerous foods like popcorn, nuts and shellfish and thus far, there hasn't been any foods you've not liked. Well, eggs did like you as you're allergic, but that's not your fault. You thought they were delicious! The only new food that I can think of that you tried for the first time in month 11 was chard, lol.

Blueberry face! They're a favorite of yours, for sure! 

Our BIG to-do for the month was your FIRST haircut! Mama wrote all about it here and now you look like such a big boy. You've already had another cut since your first and we're starting to get a better idea of how often this is going to need to happen for you. Your hair grows like a weed. It's crazy! I held you for your second cut and it was decided that I'm not very good at that job, haha. You did great when Mommy held you for the first one, but with me you were wiggling all over the place and were over it before Uncle D finished. He said I'm not allowed to hold you for cuts anymore! ;) 

Swim school makes you happiest of all the things! You go nuts for it! You splash all the kids who are near you and you're the reason Mama now removes her make-up before getting in the water with you. I thought at first that I could stay looking cute during your swim class, but then on class #2 you completely drenched my whole face and I had make-up running down everywhere. It was so bad that Mommy had to come into the swimming area to hand me a towel because I imagine I was looking a bit scary! Now that I take my make-up off, we have way more fun and splash each other the entire time. Sister swims over to us from her older group during every practice and you two are always so darn happy to see each other! It makes your moms' hearts so happy to watch.
Here's Mama, make-up free and ready for fun!

And, well, it happened... Along with all the other fun stuff you did last month, you also ate dog food for the first time ever! The worst part is that I'm pretty sure you really liked it... #momsofboys

And poof! It's been an hour that I've been sitting here writting this post and it's time for me to pick you up from Gaga and Papa's house. Time flies when I'm thinking about you and sister bear. As we wrap up year one, Mama is left with one feeling that stands out more than anything else, and that feeling is: gratitude. I'm so thankful for you and your sister. I'm so very grateful that you have been 100% healthy this past year and more than anything, I'm thankful that you found your way to us. I can't wait to write you for your first birthday, my sweet boy. 

Happy 11 Months, Sonnie Bear!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

16/52: Peace Out.

Do you ever get so far behind with blogging that you're just like, forget it already! 

Well, that's where I am right now. I love this blog and I always have the best of intentions to get back here to write about the things that mean the most to me, but then life gets in the way. Birthdays (so many birthdays...) work, kids, life, school, sleep, wine, it all gets in the way of me doing something that I truly enjoy. This blog, this space - it's for the kids, yeah - but really it's for me! It's my hobby and it has been for 8 years, which is a long ass time to commit to something. It's my space to share and vent. This is my community of friends whom I really miss when I'm away, so why can't I seem to make time for it?! Ugh. 

To show just how far behind I am, here's a list of post I've written in my head and some in drafts, but have yet to finish or share...

1. Will's 11 month baby update (this one's 6 weeks late for F's sake!) 
2. Gracie's 6th birthday Peter Rabbit party
3. Our family Easter 2018
4. Baby boy's 12 month check-up
5. Will's 12 month baby update
6. Georgia's 40th birthday extravaganza
7. Williams FIRST birthday party
8. Little Monster's 1st birthday DIY crafting projects
9. Our first professional pictures as a family of 4
10. Annnnnnnddd Will's ONE YEAR pictures

I mean, 10 important things that I've been dying to share and yet I haven't. What the hell is wrong with me?? There's so much I wish to contribute to this space and yet, I just can't make it happen. 

* Cue end of self-shaming pity party. 

15/52: My Water Babies

Summer Goal #1: Be in the water as much as humanly possible.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Visiting the Easter Bunny

The past 2-3 months with our little dude have been interesting. From birth until he was around 8 months old, he was the most chill, non-fussy baby I had ever met. He literally never cried, smiled all the time, slept through the night (every night) and would go with anyone who wanted to hold him. Then teething set in and things changed. He suddenly had stranger danger and started feeling all the feels. Because of this, I was a bit nervous to hand him over to the Easter Bunny for fear that he would scream bloody murder! To prep for this handoff, we made sure he napped beforehand, that he was fed, that he was wearing a comfortable little outfit and we didn’t hand him over until seconds before the kiddos pictures were taken.

For whatever reason, our sweet boy didn’t cry and I was honestly totally shocked! Gracie was a picture-taking pro (as always) and sat there smiling the entire time we prepped for our bunny pics. Sure, Will didn’t smile, but he also didn’t lose his shit, so I would consider this year’s Easter picture a total success! Yay! ;)

We took the kid’s bunny pics immediately following our professional family pictures + Will’s one-year pictures and about an hour before the mall closed, so there wasn’t anyone around, which I think also helped with the crying situation. Following pics with Mr. B, we ate at Gracie’s favorite 50’s style diner, Johnny Rockets and snapped a few more photos of our family of four. My people, they’re so stinkin’ cute! 

Our photographer sent us a preview of our first pictures as a family of 4 last week along with one edited photo of Will to share on his birthday, and I’m dying to see the final product!

In other news, our baby boy is going to be ONE in just 2 days and that’s just unbelievable to me. How is he going to be one when he was just this tiny, like yesterday?!

14 | 52: Happy National Unicorn Day!

Gracie wanted me to wish everyone a Happy National Unicorn Day!
My sweet girl. She's been extra-extra cute lately. :)

Monday, April 2, 2018

13//52 - Just 2 More Weeks!!

Truth be told, we're way behind schedule with checking things off our little dude's 1st birthday to-do list. I find myself constantly comparing where we are with his birthday planning to where we were with Gracie's this close to the big event and basically, we're total slackers, haha! We just had Will's first birthday pictures taken on Friday, when with Gracie, those were done 5 weeks before she turned one... and now here we are sending out his party invites exactly 2 weeks before the event, which is later than we've ever sent out invites because honestly, we didn't even have a party location booked until about a week an a half ago, lol!

With that being said, I was also a ball of stress for Gracie's 1st birthday party because I waaayyy over-exerted myself. I have such fond memories of her first bday celebration, but I also never got to taste her birthday cake. I hardly had a chance to hold her and Georgia and I didn't have the time to even eat because we were running around like crazy. And you have no idea how sad I was about the missed birthday cake, btw! ;) 

You know that saying, when you know better, you do better? Well this is us trying to do better... trying to take it easy... trying to chill the hell out and know that we don't need to rent a giant hall and we don't need to invite 80 people and we don't need to plan everyting weeks and weeks in advance! Are we still going to go all out with the DIY decor and make a BIG deal of our little guy's first birthday -- YES, absolutely! Are we going to make ourselves crazy by trying to do "it all" -- no and here's one example of that. Instead of inviting the entire family + extended family, we're inviting people who are close to us and have actually met Will over these past 11 months. Translation, we'll be inviting around 50 people this time, not 80, lol. 

In preparation for Will's big day, we set out to find a special outfit for him, as we did with Gracie and while it arrived late and nearly gave me a heartattack, it was in the mail the day of his photoshoot, so he was able to wear it in his one year pictures. Yay! Is this not the cutest thing you've ever seen! I love that Georgia wanted to have a Monster Bash because who doesn't love rainbow colors and adorable little monsters?! Everything is so stinkin' cute. 

Grace was able to jump in on the picture taking action this past weekend because our photographers (the same married duo who took Will's newborn photos and his 1/2 birthday pics) love her and wanted her to be a part of the experience. How cute is that?! I can't wait to share his bday pro pics because I just know I'm going to love them. First though, I need to write all about our gal's 6th bday party and her bro's 11 month update post. It's half-finished and in my drafts. If only there were more than 24 hours in a day, am I right! 

Hope you all are doing well!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

* Gracie’s 6th Birthday Week *

Our gal is 6 years old, you guys! SIX and you know what that means – she’s officially a big girl. When Gracie turned 5, I thought to myself, this is the last year that she’s a baby. I don’t know why but 5 just seemed like the end of her baby years. Six-year-olds do go to elementary school, after all. They are big sisters and big brothers, who ride bikes and climb trees. They feed themselves, wipe their own butts, read on their own and are pretty darn self-sufficient in most aspects. They are old enough to have best friends, like real best friends and so for the Bean’s 6th birthday week, we knew it was kind of a big deal! She knew it was a big deal too and literally counted down the weeks leading up to her “birthday week” with every intention of doing something fun and awesome every single day of that big deal week! Her mom's were happy to oblige! ;)

We have a tradition that we started for the Bean’s first birthday that for breakfast on her bday, she gets a breakfast cupcake instead of the usual cereal, eggs, etc. Gracie’s first birthday cupcake was her first taste of real sugar when she turned one and she devoured it! Ever since then we’ve baked or purchased a cupcake for her birthday breakfast and it’s obviously one of her favorite family traditions. This year’s was from our favorite cupcakery, Smallcakes. It was vanilla bean with Bavarian cream filling and strawberry frosting with baby pink sprinkles on top. We decorated it with Peter Rabbit d├ęcor as that was the theme of her party this year and like every year before, we woke her by singing happy birthday with a delish cupcake in hand. She was all smiles!

We had a BIG birthday surprise for our gal this year! We filled her room with balloons, using all her favorite colors the night before her birthday and she thankfully slept right through our ninja like setup. We quietly placed her wrapped birthday presents on her toy box and could not wait to see her face in the morning! She was of course super surprised and just could not believe that we were able to fill her room with balloons without her waking up! She’s really into making and building things right now, so she LOVED her 3-D Magna-Tiles and Princess Aquabeads sets. I LOVE that she's into these big girl type toys now, because they keep her focused and busy for long stretches of time and what's not to love about that!

We had our work cut out for us this year in the: celebrate a birthday at school department. As I've mentioned in previous posts, Gracie's elementary doesn't allow sugary snacks at school, like birthday cupcakes. They also discourage parents from bringing food to celebrate birthdays, but ask that we bring things that encourage learning and being active instead. The Bean is an awesome reader now and she had the idea to make her classmates bookmarks to celebrate her bday. How great is that idea?! I was very impressed! G took the Bean to the craft store and together they picked out the bookmarks, stamps and colors they wanted to use and they got busy crafting. Not surprisingly, Grace was really into it in the beginning, but after her 5th or 6th bookmark, she moved on to the next thing and Georgia was left finishing the other 20, LOL! G also found the cutest little hopscotch kits complete with dice, chalk and game instructions, so Gracie gave her school buds each one of those too. I laughed telling Georgia, "who's birthday is it anyway?! These kids are making out like bandits!" 

Didn't the bookmarks turn out so cute? The back has a pink heart stamped on each along with Gracie's signature. Props to the wife for jumping in on this project (as I was busy with birthday party stuff). We make a good team, babe!

Georgia and I took Gracie's actual birthday off mid-week to have a special day with her. Her bday fell the week of parent / teacher conferences and the same day as the monthly PTA meeting, so we figured we should just spend half the day with her at school and that's exactly what we did. Gracie didn't know it, but we also made plans with her bestie's mom, K who is a good friend of ours (our girls have gone to school together since they were 2.5 years old). We planned a Zoo day for the girls following the PTA meeting and when we finally told Grace as we drove up to the Zoo, she literally screamed, haha! T, her mom K and T's baby sister joined us and together with our big 6 year olds and their little sibs (both under 1), we had the absolute best day! As crazy as it sounds, all of Gracie's besties (all age 6) have little brother/sisters who are born with months of each other. The timing of several good friends all having siblings who are 5 years younger and all born within 6 months of each other is just crazy, but we love it! Who knew the 5-year age gap was trending. ;)

The Zoo was completely empty. Like zombie apocalypse empty, which is why it was the best day ever! The girls rode the carousel like 6 times in a row, with zero lines. They had their pick of endangered animals to ride, as they were riding the park's Endangered Species Carousel and just had to feel like royalty. We all had maps and let Gracie decide, along with T where we would go. The girls had us ping-ponging back and forth from one end of the Zoo to the other, but they were in charge, so we happily followed. Will and baby P did great and just loved watching their big sisters run around like crazy kiddos. Will got in on the mapping action and spent his day laughing at everything that was going on. It was just such a great day - top 3 Zoo visits for us, for sure.

After the Zoo we let the Bean pick where she wanted the group to have her birthday dinner and she picked Red Robbin, for the sole reason that they give out big red balloons, haha! We visited, had dinner, Grace got serenaded by the staff and we all shared her cake and ice cream, which was delish! The following day Gracie had her 6-year check-up and did great. According to her doc, growth/size is right on track as well as development and with that, we ended BIRTHday #6 for our first born. Six years, SIX. I just can't believe it.

I'm still working on a post all about sister bear's Peter Rabbit birthday party, so in the meantime, I'll leave you guys with a few clips from our sweet girl’s birthday week – a week that she described as the “best week ever”! #momwin

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