Monday, July 30, 2012

Hill Family Golf Tournament

For the first time ever I was able to attend the annual Hill Family Golf Tournament!! Growing up we were always either overseas or in Texas and as an adult our travel plans never worked out to be there but this time we were able to attend! And my mom graciously watched the kids so I could play....or my version of playing golf! It was a lot of fun attempting to play 8 holes of golf when my only other golfing experience was over four years ago and that was the first time then. I decided by the end of the day that I was just working on obtaining the "Most Improved Player" award for next year!

The prize table....

Peyton loved playing with my cousins Landon and Tanner. She had them hopping around like bunny rabbits and playing soccer. They were such good sports.

And the presentation of the winners jacket and trophy....maybe one day I will get good enough to receive this honor!

A fun day with family and I am looking forward to next year....better start practicing!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Midweek Ramblings

I always completely underestimate the amount of work it is to be on vacation with two kids by myself which means the blog is the last thing on my list to get done! 

We have been busy enjoying the beautiful weather, time with G and Papa and the Bellingham area. One night we decided to have a picnic on the front lawn of my parents house. We went to the grocery store that reminds me of Whole Foods called The Market and bought some delicious meals and salads and enjoyed the beautiful weather and ate and played with the dog outside.

We have visited several local farmer's markets. There is one on Wednesdays in Fairhaven and then a really big one in Bellingham on Saturdays. The one below is the Fairhaven one. We enjoyed walking around and then sitting in the grassy area listening to music and eating our ice cream cones. While we were sitting down there was a woman dressed in a fairy costume who was dancing around and dancing to the music. It made me chuckle because it felt so much like Austin and felt so normal and like it was our home. I love the uniqueness and creativity of everyone around us. 

On Thursday nights a local park hosts a variety of bands and one night it was music from Zimbabwe. We went and brought a picnic and had a blast. It was so much fun! There were so many people there and everyone was either eating their dinner and enjoying the music or up dancing! The music was great and it was just a fun experience dancing however you wanted with a wide variety of people from all the different ages and backgrounds and just a lot of fun for the kids! We were there for awhile and look forward to heading out there again!

We had family pictures...minus John :(....done by a local photographer one week which was so much fun! I wanted to get some pictures done of the kids but also of me and the kids. I always feel like I am never in any pictures and wanted to have something of me and them! I am so glad I did them as the sneak peak she sent me were great and everything I wanted. I had them done by Jennifer Morrow Photography and highly recommend her. She was so much and did great with the kids and created some beautiful pictures. I will share them once I get them all!

Peyton is still doing swimming lessons and Graham has started his now which means we are at the pool almost everyday. Peyton just finished up a three week art class and will be doing a ballet camp in a couple of weeks. It has been nice to have activities to help keep them busy.

Overall we are having a great time and falling more and more in love with Bellingham each and everyday. I am missing my partner and miss John so much! It is not the same without him! We still have about a month left which will be hard but we are thankful for the time away from Saudi and time with family!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vote for my sister!

My sister Shannon who is a singer/songwriter that I wrote about here when she finished her first album...well she  has made it to the finals of the Dodge Inspired by You Contest! Which is awesome!  The winner gets to have a song featured in a future Dodge commercial. I would love it if everyone who reads my blog or passes by goes and votes for her song "Broken" and help her win! All you need to do is do a free download of her song  at the link below! 

Voting ends July 30 and please pass this along!

Thank you so much!

Follow this link to the contest!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Pile of Dirt

The other day my parents were doing some yard work. We went down to help and it ended up turning into my kids playing in a large pile of dirt and getting completely covered. We have never seen Peyton laugh as hard as she was and it was so much fun. We were playing dirt monster, chasing the dog and just having a blast being outside and enjoying the weather and nature!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Midweek Ramblings....

Since we are technically on "vacation" and life seems to go at a slower pace I figured it would be a good idea to bring back the midweek ramblings to capture everything that goes on during our week.
  • I finally got my hair cut and colored a couple of weeks ago!!! I haven't done anything with my hair since December which was way too long! It felt so nice to have some time to get a cut and fresh color. I am planning one more visit before we leave and then when I go back we will be back to having to go to another country to get my hair done. I normally don't wear my hair with wave/curls but since the hair stylist was doing it, we thought it would be fun and something different. I wish I had the time to do fun stuff with my hair.
  • I kept telling myself I wouldn't look at houses while I was here since we cant buy anything BUT...I can't help it and have fallen in love with several. Both are older homes in a wonderful area that needs some work but is the craftsman/old home feel that I have always dreamed about. It would need some updating and possible addition BUT has wonderful views and is so cute and I love the area....I can dream...and hope it never sells until we are ready to buy or that a better one is available when we can buy.....which is hopefully soon!

  • Shortly after we got here we went out for dinner with one of my mom's friends to a brewery and restuarant here called Boundary Bay Brewery. It had delicious food, awesome beer and a fun garden area that had a live band, play equipment and hula hoops for the kids (and adults) and just a fun, cool vibe that made me feel like I was back in Austin at the University of Texas...minus the two children part! The whole feel, the dancing adults and laid back....and as my husband says...hippie attitude...made me LOVE Bellingham and the Pacific Northwest more and if I needed another reason to want to move here NOW!

  • Since we are here for several months and I didn't want our only activity to be shopping or eating out, I signed up for a couple of extra curricular activities for us. We are doing gymnastics/Little Gym once a week, Peyton has an art class once a week for three weeks and ballet camp for a week. And since swimming is something that I insist on the kids learning since we live so close to water....and Peyton is in LOVE with swimming...I have them both doing lessons while we are here. Peyton is doing them now and Graham starts his in a couple of weeks (a mommy and me class). I signed Peyton up for Preschool Level 2 since Level 3 the recommended age is 5-7 and so we went the first day and she was SO BORED! She has way exceeded the skills for that class. Since this session is only for two weeks and half the class doesn't show up we aren't changing it but I did place her in the next level for the next session BUT if it is still not challenging enough (she just goofs off, gets bored and then regresses in her swimming) due to the structure of the program then I have found a different program and will start her there. I am so impressed with her swimming ability but even more so with how well she does listen, communicates and works well in the class structure. She is by far the youngest in the class (the others are 5) and yet all the other parents were astonished when the asked how old she was...she won't be four until September yet she was holding her own! I was a proud mommy! Oh...and after our first lesson since she didn't have enough swimming time we had to go back that afternoon for the free swim and she swam for another 90 minutes. She just loves to swim, play and practice! She is my little fish!
  • This was the sunset on the Fourth of July....amazing! If you look closely on the left of the picture you can see one firework going off.

  • The weather here is amazing. There have been some rainy days but for a family who never sees rain...we are not complaining! But lately it has been sunny and beautiful! Every time I pull up the weather widget on my computer I gasp at the difference in temperatures between Washington and Saudi. When I captured this it was 8:00 PM in Washington and 6:09 AM in was already 90 at 6:00 AM!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Bed Buddy...

Peyton has her own bed at my parents but she insists on sleeping in my bed. This time we didn't even put together her toddler bed because she never slept in it and after a couple of days she asked to have it put together and PROMISED she would sleep in it. That lasted two days and she is back in my bed and making herself comfortable. Look at her....she sleeps like that throughout the could someone so small take up so much space!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Happy Birthday John!

Today was John's birthday and we wish we were there to celebrate with him and show him how much we love him. We are so blessed to have an awesome guy like him in our lives and hope he knows how loved he is. Since we couldn't be there to sing happy birthday and he was out at a friend's house during our normal skype time....we decided to make a birthday video complete with plastic bowl party hats.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourth of July

We didn't have much planned for the Fourth of July and spent the day outside enjoying the beautiful sunshine and cool temperatures and in the end it ended up being a wonderful day and a perfect way to spend the day. 

Being away from a "free" country whether it is Canada or the USA it makes me appreciate the holidays so much more. I am so blessed to have been born in Canada and to be able to call the USA my home as well and am so appreciative of all the men and woman who have fought throughout the world to preserve democracy and freedom. I hope that we can be back in the States soon...hopefully for be able to celebrate as a family!

We started the day with some dancing in the kitchen complete with dress up clothes from the kitchen for Graham...

Peyton and G enjoyed coffee on the deck with the blankets.

Later in the day we went outside to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and we played hide and seek, tag, and ball with the dog.....

G had a great idea to build a fort with the tree branches that Papa was trimming. It was a lot of work but it was pretty awesome. We had an entrance to crawl through and we had our afternoon snack in there. We also had some friends...caterpillars!

Finally we had delicious hamburgers and all the sides outside on the deck enjoying the gorgeous scenery and wonderful weather. I LOVE the view from my seems like it is always different and so beautiful. That night we watched the sunset and then witnessed the most fireworks I have ever seen in my life. We could see fireworks from two other towns plus all the ones from houses along the lake and in the mountain. It felt like a war was going on. It was crazy! I tried to take some pictures but couldn't really capture it and hopefully the video I took captured it all and if so, I will try and post it later!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Working/Playing at G and Papa's House

We have been lucky to enjoy a couple of beautiful days here in Washington with gorgeous weather and plenty of sunshine. It is back to cold and off and on rain today but it is still beautiful. 

The other day the kids were either outside helping out around the house or we were at the park. It was a great day and both kids were worn out.

Peyton worked out in the garage all day helping my dad organize the garage and Graham loved the broom and was sweeping the driveway. 

Peyton got her car up and running and even found some license plates in the garage to add to her car. She loved driving it around. Graham has discovered it and sits inside but doesn't get to drive it anywhere. She is a whole lot better at steering and driving this year which is nice!

Then that evening after my mom was done cutting the grass she called them down to come and ride the tractor. Peyton loved it and she loved going fast. She was so excited. 

Graham was a little more cautious and concerned. He didn't cry but just looked worried the whole time!

Other things we have been up to was a day trip to Canada to go shopping, attending church (which was so awesome to be able to worship in a corporate setting and have the kids go to age appropriate activities), lunch out, a couple of trips to the park and playing games with my family once the kids are in bed. We also went to a gymnastics class last Friday and both kids loved it. Graham fell asleep shortly after coming home and was out for hours! It was really good for him to be in a new setting, a class and around other kids and to try new things since he is so timid in new situations. I am looking forward to doing it each week with the kids. Peyton starts swimming lessons tomorrow and then Graham starts in a couple of weeks. So far off to a good summer!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

One Year of Photography

This week I will have been a member of a website called Clickin Moms for a whole year!! 

It is significant to me because that is honestly when I would saw that I really started putting time, money and effort towards learning about the art of photography. In that year I have taken two full participation courses and one study along course, spend countless hours pouring over the forums, reading tutorials and even more hours practicing, shooting, bribing kids to participate and working towards understanding the technical side of photography. A year later and I feel like I finally have a good grasp on the technical aspect, feel comfortable shooting in manual and am ready to explore, be adventurous and run free with my creativity, learning about different lighting and really explore where I want to take this interest of mine. 

I feel that writing out goals helps in creating accountability for achieving them so....this coming year I want to take a lighting course, work on getting consistent and strong SOOC (straight off of camera) images and push myself to be more creative and thoughtful when shooting. I am excited and so thankful that living here has allowed me to pursue this passion!

And because I thought it would be interesting to see my are some pictures from each month of the past year!! I have seen growth and am hoping this year I will make it more of a priority to shot daily and with us having a more regular life (no moving, adjusting etc) I will have more time!

End of June/July 2011....I thought this was great...back then!! Wow...some major color issues, WB is off and  could I be any closer?!?

July 2011...I took a Lightroom class (LR 101) and although it was on processing, I still learned a bunch about shooting. Getting better here but poor kids arm, leg and part of his head is cut off, focus is whack...but some improvement on editing and color.

August 2011....the end of my LR 101 course and the first time I did a session for a friend. Learned SOOO much! Starting to understand Lightroom more...

 September 2011.....did a newborn (6 week old) session for my previously pregnant friend. Learned so much about newborns, lighting, skin tones in editing. Lots of fun!

October of my most favorite pictures of Graham. Starting to get better with focus, understanding WB better and is starting to click more and more...

November and December I was in the States and since I was flying home with two kids solo did not bering my camera...which I regret now! So...January 2012.....

February 2012....a newborn shoot for our is all finally starting to click more and more. Learning more about lighting and finally able to lower my ISO and get more clarity and focus is starting to click for me!

March 2012.......Graham's first birthday....didn't shoot much this month with travel, birthday party and John's turnaround. But I was getting more comfortable even with low light situations. The month that I really spent working on ISO and reading tutorials since I didn't have time to shoot.

April 2012....I took Shooting 201. I wish I had more time to devote to it and shouldn't have taken it during John's turnaround but I still learned a bunch and am looking forward to working through the material more this summer. My favorite picture of Peyton.

End of June 2012....I got a new camera for Mother's Day and am finally feeling comfortable with it and am excited to push myself more especially with lowlight and shadows this summer!

And I am just finishing up editing a newborn session I did just before I left Saudi for the summer and am so excited to see how much I have learned and how I am improving each newborn session not only during the session but also in the editing work afterwards. 

I just renewed my membership to Clickin Moms for a Lifetime membership and am excited to take several webinars this summer and then some more classes this fall when I am back to a normal routine...although I am so tempted to take one this summer! 

Again I am so thankful for this opportunity, I only wish I had more and more time to devote to it! I am thankful for all my friends who have allowed me the opportunity to capture images for them and allow me to grow and for my husband who continues to support my interest both financially and giving me the time to do it!