Self Portrait Project

I’m getting older. I look older, my body feels older… time is flying by.
I was looking at some pictures of myself from the last five-ish years last week and wishing there were more. I thought I did a good job back then of getting enough of me. At the time taking them feels vain or not even vain because I don’t like the way I look but… selfish? I don’t know, I feel super strange when I take my own picture.

But I really wish I had more of them! Even when I was fat (2007!) I wish I had more pictures of that time. It’s interesting now to see how different my body looked then.

So I’m starting a daily self portrait project. Not necessarily to share on my blog (definitely not sharing most of them on my public blog) but for myself. I’ll share some occasionally here. I know I want to do some (eek) without makeup or my hair done. And I really want more of me doing what I do all day. Driving, shopping, cooking, cleaning (I definitely want more of me cleaning since I do it ALL day long), doing my makeup, sleeping, etc. One a day for the next YEAR! And I think I’ll keep up the motivation if I don’t pressure myself to edit or post them all the time. I’ll take them and if I ever feel like posting them I will, but if I don’t… no biggie, I have them to look back on when I’m older 🙂

So I’ve taken pictures of myself each of the last three days! Yay me.
I took these last night:
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I had a hard time editing these because it was so dark when I took them. Lightening them at all gave them a ton of noise.
Here’s what it looked like right then, this is SOOC obviously.
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Struggle

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It was a beautiful evening in the desert last night. It felt like heaven gave me a gift of one day ease from the loathing and desperation I’ve been feeling.

I don’t know exactly what to think or say or feel these days about my life. I wish there were changes that were happening but I don’t know if I should push for them.

I really want out of the desert but Allan has a very stable, good job.

Allan and Ember’s Birthday Party

Allan’s birthday was yesterday and Ember’s is tomorrow so yesterday we invited Allan’s parents over to celebrate both.
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I would’ve decorated more for Allan and done more for him but he hates it when I do.
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Because he wants to save the money and spend it on things like fishing and… well, anything besides decorations and cake. lol
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So the party was pretty much all for Ember.
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I used that poster board for display. I love that thing.
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The stuff on the right are prizes for the games we played. Little coin purses and slap bracelets.
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I made four of the bows that were on Ember’s presents. Because I was too cheap to buy them. Allan and his parents thought I did it to be fancy. I was like, really? Awesome! haha
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I’ve finally decided to give up on printing photobooks for my family. They are just TOO much work! I am reverting back to the old classic of printing pictures as 4x6s and putting them in a regular old album! Boring BUT… Ember’s entire first year is there on the table ready to be picked up and looked at. Which everyone did and it was awesome. I don’t think I’m ever going to go back to anything else.
And the grand total for a year’s worth of Ember’s pictures AND the cost of the album. $45. I printed 300 pictures of her!
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I’m so glad I randomly remembered to get a picture of the two birthday people together!
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I love these two so freaking much!
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Ember opened her presents.
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I know I’ve mentioned before that her favorite thing on earth is ripping paper so opening presents was a huge, huge hit!
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She, unlike her sisters, immediately tore into her presents and didn’t stop until they were all open.
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It was the funnest thing I’ve experienced all week. She is so darn cute. I found myself having to refrain from saying, “She’s the cutest baby in the world!” a thousand times that day.
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She opened her big present last. (actually her big presents, a ride on toy zebra and a doll cart were opened last month) It was a baby in a ladybug costume (she’s going to be a ladybug for Halloween) from Costco.
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She LOVES baby dolls.
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When she opened it her reaction was so cute!! She smiled…
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And then the kids distracted her with her sippy cup.
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Then she saw her baby again…
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So the sippy was abandoned…
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And she went in for a kiss <3
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She was so happy!
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I know this is a lot of pictures of her opening that doll but it was seriously just the cutest thing ever!
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She took her doll and brought it over to me.
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She showed me her baby and then wandered around holding it, kissing it, hugging it, talking to it. So sweet.
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Here in this picture you can see her bean bags. I made them for her out of the extra fabric from her bunting and headband.
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I didn’t take pictures while we played the games. We played musical chairs and we played bean bag toss. That was it since the party was for Ember and she couldn’t play any games. lol
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After games we brought out Ember’s little cake for her to eat and make a mess with. As I made it I thought (mostly of how I sucked at making cakes) about how this was probably a waste of time since the girl doesn’t care for food and likely wouldn’t eat it.
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And I was right. She took one or two tiny tastes and tried to push the cake away. lol
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We ended up serving that cake to the girls.
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I took this picture to show the balloons sagging. I bought dollar store balloons and filled them up that morning around 9am. By 2pm they were sagging! Next time I’ll buy the good balloons!
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This was the weekend that Ember shifted fully from crawler to walker. She has been able to walk a bit the last week or so but Saturday and Sunday she really took off. She walks everywhere now. It’s the cutest thing!
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We put Payson and Ember to bed eventually (around 7) and then had Allan’s birthday cake. I wanted to put 33 candles on his cake to be funny. Holy crap I’m not doing that again. That was quite a bit of flames!
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Allan’s parents were laughing about all the pink and I jokingly pointed out his lone blue balloon. I said it isn’t my fault he doesn’t want me to decorate for birthdays but to be funny they said we should get a picture of him with his balloon in front of all the pink. He did a sad pose.
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And then a silly one. haha
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It was a fantastic birthday. I have some SUPER cute videos I took. I can’t seem to figure out how to edit them (my movie editing software is on my old computer, darn it) so I am having no luck sharing them online. If I had a little more time I could play with the basic (crappy) movie editing software that came with this computer.

But anyway, it was such a perfect first birthday. I’ve mentioned to Allan a dozen times that Ember was so excited and just absolutely thrilled all day long. She loved her decorations, the games, her presents, the family all around. She didn’t like cake but that’s just Ember. lol

Oh and I did get Allan a gift. I got him a guitar because he’s told me quite a few times that he wants to learn to play. But he says he’s just too busy right now (his work is crazy and he works long hours) so we’re going to return it.
*sigh*

This Week

Here are the pictures I took last week and never blogged.

I must tell the three older kids to shut the bathroom door fifty times a day. Ember really loves pulling all the toilet paper off the tube and putting it in the toilet.
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There was a mother daughter project runway event for Brooklyn’s activity days night. We made each other dresses out of table clothes and cupcake liners and a few other things. Then we modelled them for everyone else.
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We didn’t have a ton of time and I really wanted Brooklyn to have most of what time we did have so that she wouldn’t feel rushed so I was hurrying when I made hers. I was hurrying so much that I sliced my finger pretty bad with the scissors. I luckily had bandaids in my purse (such a mom thing, huh? lol) and tightly wrapped one around the cut right away. It’s been hurting all week but it’s now mostly healed! Thank goodness!
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I’m not very stylish (to say the least) and barely can tell what dresses look good in real life so designing one on my own was laughable. I was glad that she didn’t look completely stupid when I was done :S
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Brooklyn… she wasn’t the best at dress design. lol! She was SO excited about it though and kept telling me she wanted me to look pretty and wanted to do a good job. I complimented her and told her I looked the best of all the moms and she was such a good designer. She was beaming with pride all night over her skills. lol
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She had her 8 year old well child check this week. She’s 54 pounds and I don’t remember her height (is that terrible? Payson was screaming at the time the nurse did it) and very healthy. She just got vaccines a month ago for school and yet when the nurse mentioned a flu vaccine option she asked me if she could please get it. Crazy child!
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Ember wasn’t in a good mood that day. She was mad at being in the stroller. Ripping the paper on the exam table got her attention and quieted her down for a couple minutes.
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The doctor was taking so long that I finally busted out the lollipops in desperation. Payson and Ember were so loud. And after lollipops… silence! Yes!
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I had some business calls to make so when we got home I put Ember to bed for a nap and let the kids watch a movie. It was… a Carebears movie I think.
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After taking her to and picking her up from school every day for the past month I decided that after all the begging I would let Brooklyn take the bus. We spent $300 on gas in three weeks this month. OUCH! I was driving for one HOUR every day to do school dropoff and pickup! (We live out in the middle of freaking nowhere)
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So the day before her bus start I went into the school and talked to the office workers about the bus schedule and told the lady that Brooklyn was now going to take the bus to and from school every day. She gave me the route number and times and I went on my merry way.
The next morning Brooklyn got onto the bus and all was great.
That afternoon the school calls me and asks me who is going to pick up Brooklyn. I am like… she is supposed to take the bus now. Remember me coming in yesterday? haha
So anyway I guess the woman I talked to isn’t usually the one in charge of the bus thing and she forgot to tell the woman who is in charge as well as forgot to tell Brooklyn’s teacher.
I rushed out the door when they called and was still in my pajamas (it was a day I was suffering from a super clogged milk duct that might’ve been an infection, my entire right side of my chest/armpit/side was in a TON of pain) and Payson and Ember were in pajamas too! It was comical.

Yesterday I wanted to get dressed up to go to the store. Not fancy dressed up, just do my hair and makeup…
So I went in the bathroom and straightened my hair and it looked flat and stupid so I decided to give myself a haircut right then.
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Allan was home and took a couple pictures for me.
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That’s Payson’s hand on my nose. He was pretending a spider was crawling on me.
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I was pretty attached to my long hair last year. I thought I’d have it waist length forever. haha
But when Ember was three or four months old I started that pesky postpartum shedding and lost more than half my friggin’ hair! It really needed to be cut and layered to give it some appearance of thickness back.
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I took pictures on another day of Brooklyn getting on the bus. She loves these types of pictures.
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So she’s taken the bus for about four days now and I have 100% accuracy of bus arrival time prediction. If I’m early to the bus stop- the bus is late. If I’m on time or slightly late- the bus is early. And the bus can get there ten minutes early and will not sit and wait for any kids. That’s really, really, really frustrating!
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It will probably be less frustrating when it’s cooler outside. But standing out in 105 degree heat sucks.
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Homeschool Day

We don’t do full days of homeschooling every day of the week. Tuesdays and Thursdays Sierra has her busy bees fun class so on those days we only read and do some math. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are our full school days.

I’m still using the Mother Goose Time stuff I bought this summer. It’s a very basic curriculum that doesn’t teach much at all. Basically it has awesome crafts and music and I add everything else. For instance the theme right now is camping and they have a flashlight craft and they suggest playing with a real flashlight. Well, I took it a step further and the letter of the day was L (for light) and then we learned about lions because they start with L and the color of the day was yellow because the flashlight light was yellow.
So I tweak it and pretty much plan the entire day myself again. I like it though because Kindergarten is FUN. I absolutely love teaching the middle kids. Both of them are super smart and easy going and love every single thing we do. There has not been one complaint or arguing or anything!!
It’s funny teaching them letters and shapes and colors because they both learned all those things when they were two. Sierra can read but she still has the best time doing her letter crafts 🙂 Payson, too. He is SUCH a smart kid! He sits there and listens and learns everything Sierra does! We all have conversations that are like the homeschooling DREAM. Brooklyn would NEVER have done that! If I told her that there were lions in Africa she’d argue with me until her last breath. lol

So the day I took these pictures for blogging I also wrote down what we did.
First we did our morning time. We have a chart that goes to 100 and every day we color one of the boxes. We’ll have a party after 100 days of school.
We then do our calendar. The kids each get a sticker to put on the current date. We sing a Days of the Week song. It’s to the tune of the Adam’s family song and goes:
Days of the Week (clap, clap)
Days of the week (clap, clap)
Days of the week, days of the week, days of the week (clap, clap)
There’s Sunday and there’s Monday,
there’s Tuesday and there’s Wednesday,
there’s Thursday and there’s Friday,
and then there’s Saturday.
Days of the Week.

We usually sing it two or three times because the kids like it a lot.
On this day we did our craft first. Usually we do it right before lunch. We made flashlights out of a tube, paper cup, some noodles and a bottle cap cardboard thing.
The kids painted the paper cup yellow to look like light.
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After that we learned about the letter L along with light and the sun and the color yellow. They did another sorta craft. They formed the letter L and made yellow thumbprints all over it. They added little yellow lines for the sun’s rays.
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The theme of this month has been camping. We played dominoes with some cards from the Mother Goose kit.
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I didn’t take pictures of the next thing. The kids colored camping themed pictures.

After coloring, to go along with the color of the day I was going to bring out yellow playdough to make suns and lions and stuff out of. But turns out every single bit of our playdough was mixed together last time they used it. So instead they made stuff out of multi-colored playdough.
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Ember and I were playing on the floor with toys while Payson and Sierra played with playdough.
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The kids did math and reading worksheets. I didn’t take pictures but they went along with the themes of the day.
The themes of the day were:
Overall theme: Camping
Letter: L
Color: Yellow
Shape: Circle
Number: 5

After worksheets we went and sat by our wall map and I pointed out the picture of lions on Africa. We read about lions in a Usborne book and then we read the story The Tawny Scrawny Lion. I’d never read it before. It’s a golden books book about a lion who is scrawny because he runs so much chasing his food that he can’t keep fat on himself. Sierra and Payson really loved it and we talked quite a bit about lions and their eating habits and stuff. It was awesome.

After learning about lions we had handwriting time. Sierra did a Handwriting Without Tears page and Payson used their magnetic board to stamp the letter shapes and then trace them. I really love Handwriting Without Tears!
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By this time the paper cups the kids had painted first thing in the morning were dry so we finished off the flashlight craft and then brought the fake flashlights over to the wall with some cutout shapes and a real flashlight to practice making shadows and talk about light.
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We have extra materials since I bought curriculum for four so Ember gets to play along every day. She really goes crazy excited when she’s included 🙂
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We went to the darker rooms of our house to play some more with the flashlight.
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Sierra and Payson fought like crazy over the flashlight even though they knew they’d get equal turns. Payson is not a good sharer 🙁
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After playing with the flashlight Sierra asked if they could play with puzzles.
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All four of my kids really like puzzles.
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They dump them out and put them together quite a few times.
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And one of the kids chews on them 😉
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And then they usually play with the pieces like they do with the rest of their toys.
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And they always pretend the puzzle is a cookie sheet and the pieces are cookies and they bake them for me over and over and over.
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They played with the puzzles for a long time. Eventually it was time to clean up to move on to the next thing.
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Which just about broke Ember’s heart.
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So we kept a couple puzzles out and let Ember play while we moved on to reading.
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The last thing we did was math but I didn’t take pictures. And that’s it for that day!

Seeing the Rim for the First Time

The Rim. We’ve been to the area called by people here in Arizona, the rim, several times. Allan and I have been probably twenty times and the kids have been maybe five or six? Something like that.
We’ve never actually taken the kids to The Rim, though. The lookout part. The side of the mountain where you can look out and see trees and hills and mountains for miles. They’ve been too young before now. It’s a steep dropoff so of course with our rambunctious bunch we stayed away from it.
This time, though, it was time!
The kids were super excited about it as we drove over from the lake and then got out of the car.
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It’s so nice doing things with Allan. Having only two kids to keep track of rather than four is amazingly easy!
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When we got there the view didn’t disappoint. It’s common for Brooklyn to be underwhelmed by everything but she was loving it! Success!
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Nobody wanted me to, but I took a family picture. lol- I had them all pictured out from Ember’s photoshoot but I really couldn’t resist taking one anyway 😉
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Usually I am the one who watches the little two kids and Allan gets the older girls but while I snapped Allan watched Payson and Ember. I have to admit, it’s much more fun being in charge of the older kids 😛
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I love it when my kids ask me to take pictures. I was quite ready to put my camera in the car after I took the family picture but the girls wanted pictures in front of the view. Which is awesome because I wanted pictures of them in front of the view! ha
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Allan was playing with Ember.
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Brooklyn really loves being the oldest when it means priviledges the other kids don’t get. She was the only one we allowed to stand on that rock. It wasn’t dangerous but Sierra is a total clutz so she was told to stay far, far from the edges. lol
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This next picture of Allan and Payson makes me happy. Allan was sitting there looking around and Payson kept hugging him. Before this month Payson didn’t care all that much about Allan. He didn’t dislike him or anything but he wanted mama and if dad was around or not didn’t matter to him. But this month! Wow things have changed. He still adores mommy but daddy is his new best friend! He loves playing with Allan and spending time with him. Allan is potty training him when he’s home and Payson takes it seriously! It’s crazy to see that shift.
I told Allan the other day that I had pretty much not thought of him as Payson’s dad for the past three years. Obviously he IS Payson’s dad but they don’t look or act a bit alike and like I said, Payson just didn’t care as much about Allan. Now he’s very attached to his dad and it is such a relief and valuable thing 🙂
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I’m breastfeeding Ember as I type this and it’s really not good. She is kicking and hitting my keyboard and flailing around and making this not easy. lol. She’s basically full but I’m nursing her extra to try to revoer from a majorly clogged milk duct. I think that’s what it was. I had a golfball sized lump and my entire breast and armpit were burning in pain. I woke up this morning fully planning on calling my doctor, thinking I had mastitis, but the pain was down about 70%. It’s still sore if I rub it but the lump is gone and my nipple doesn’t hurt as much. Thank freaking goodness!! It was a hard day yesterday in all that pain!
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I know I say sometimes that Allan doesn’t like me taking pictures or wants me to hurry up and stuff. He’s not opposed to me taking pictures, in fact he really likes the pictures I take and is super supportive of my hobby, he just doesn’t want to spend a lot of time doing it.
But anyway, he wanted me to take a picture of everyone peeking out from behind these trees because when I was pregnant with Sierra we came to the rim and took a picture with the camera’s timer of us peeking out from behind the trees 🙂
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Payson was asking me to take a picture of him in front of the view. Cute that he loves having his picture taken 🙂
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He’s such a goofball!
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And one of Sierra, of course.
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And me and my baby.
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Allan saw me holding the camera out and taking those and said he’d take some for me 🙂
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After that we went to dinner at Denny’s. It’s Brooklyn’s favorite restaurant.
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And then we drove home!

All the Rest of the Birthday Photoshoot

I have a hard time typing out “Ember’s birthday invite photoshoot” whenever I talk about these pictures. I can’t just call them her birthday pictures because I have a different outfit and idea for her actual birthday/one year old shots. This photoshoot was solely to get pictures for invites. So, with that out of the way, I’m now just going to call them her birthday photos for ease. But they’re not really her birthday photos!

We got to the rim and started driving down the road of our very favorite place ever. Well, my very favorite place in the state of Arizona and I know it’s up there for Allan, too.
I told Allan I was looking for a grassy little field with a wall of trees at the edge. I wanted the sun behind the trees and peeking through all glowy. It was tough finding a spot right off the road. With four kids and an assortment of props and no baby carrier or stroller it had to be a fairly short walk!
We picked this area. While I got Ember dressed and started working on filling the balloons (I bought a helium tank at WalMart along with the pink balloons) Allan went and took a couple pictures to show me the light over in the spot I had picked.
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I really, really wanted her pictures to be with her standing up to show off that cute romper so we (Allan) rolled a rock over to wear she would be to give her something to lean against when she stands up. She can only get to a standing position from sitting like 5% of the time so that rock helped her out.

Problem was, she didn’t want to stand. She wanted to sit on the ground and munch on nature!
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At first I asked Allan to go stand her up again when she’d fall. I wanted just one really cute standing picture!
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Any time she was standing I pretty much snapped continuously in hopes of getting a picture of her looking at me.
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She really loved the pinecones.
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She kept tasting them and then offering them to me and Allan. She’s so flipping cute, isn’t she!
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In these next two she went to try to stand on the rock and then fell on her bum. I love that she flinches when she falls. So cute!
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Her shoe came off so Allan put it back on 🙂
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I wish I’d been able to get some more eye contact with her sitting on that rock. But I like the ones I did get anyway.
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Mmmm, yummy!
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When I planned this photoshoot I thought she’d be thrilled with the balloons and that I’d get some laughing shots as she played with them. I was wrong! She hated the balloons! She was scared of them. This next shot was when I first tried to get her to hold the balloons. I quickly found out she wasn’t impressed.
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I’d been shooting for a few minutes and everyone was getting sick of it. And by everyone I mean Allan and the other kids. I could take pictures all day 😉
So these are the very last ones of the photoshoot and then I said we could leave.
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I showed Ember the balloons one more time in hopes that maybe she’d suddenly like them.
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She didn’t. lol
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We went back to the car to pack up and go play somewhere else.
But wait…
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As Allan was loading things up I couldn’t resist taking Ember over to the wildflowers and snapping a few more!
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I love this one:
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I love this baby girl more than life itself. Really, truly she brings me so much joy every single day!! I can’t imagine how I lived without her!
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So after I took the first set of pictures by the trees I let each kid have a balloon from the bunch. Payson accidentally let his go so I let him have another one. He then accidentally let that one go and when I told him he couldn’t have another just yet because I was using them he cried and cried and cried.
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We kinda giggled at him for being such a drama boy, throwing a fit over not getting a balloon after losing two? And we’d told him he could have another later. I told him if he waited until we got home he could have a red one (I have a multi colored pack of balloons at home) and that made him happy. Then he posed all sad for a picture for daddy to show how he’d been cranky. lol
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My family doesn’t seem to understand that real photo sessions should last longer than fifteen minutes. They think… ok, mommy snapped a bunch so we’re done! Allan, too, doesn’t get that I want at least thirty minutes and that that’s not unreasonable when I’m doing her official pictures. Not just snapshots like I normally do. So he wasn’t too impressed with me when I set up the bunting and balloons in another place. But come ON, we drove two hours to get these pictures, I sure as heck am going to take thirty or forty minutes if I need to!!!
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Ember wasn’t really cranky at this point but she was really wanting to explore. Just to keep her sitting in one place for five minutes I gave her a lollipop.
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She’s such a sweetheart, as she always does she offered to share with every member of her family <3
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Before putting my camera away I took a wider shot to show the area just so I can remember 🙂
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Then I wanted one with her siblings. And I went ahead and hopped in there, too 🙂
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All in all I am super happy with how it went. I’m impatiently waiting for her birthday outfit to arrive in the mail. I ordered it the same day I ordered the romper and it still hasn’t arrived! It’s really cute, I can’t wait to show you guys! I’m wondering if I should take her out to the arboretum for her one year old pictures or if I should take her somewhere that’s more desert since we do, unfortunately, live in the desert right now.
What do you guys think? For her when she’s older, do you think she’d prefer her one year old shots to show the scenery of the place she lived at this time or do you think it doesn’t matter?

Yard Work

First this unrelated picture of Ember in her romper the day it came in the mail. I tried it on to see if it fit and she looked so cute sitting there that I snapped a picture.
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One day this weekend we went out to weed the yard. Then we went on a walk together.
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At first Ember hung out in the stroller.
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And Payson rode the big wheels all around.
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I sat near Ember and snapped pictures of flowers.
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I got Ember out of the stroller and let her sit by me. She decided to taste the flowers.
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It’s funny to me that she is so indifferent towards food but loves to taste everything else.
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Her exploration was cut short by me picking her up when she wandered toward the road.
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And I’ll end this random post with a random picture of Sierra. This was the day I made the headband and the bunting for Ember’s birthday invite pictures and was testing out my aperture. Sierra stood in for Ember so I could see just how blurred I wanted the bunting to be in the birthday pictures.
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Ipod Fun

Brooklyn has always hated having her hair fixed. No matter how fast it takes me or how gentle I am she whines the whole time. She would prefer a life where she never even brushed her hair, let alone putting a clip or hair tie in it.

One day I let her play on my ipod while I fixed her hair. It was so peaceful combing through her hair with her completely silent and not wiggling around that I decided to make it a daily thing.
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Now having her hair fixed is one of her favorite parts of the day. haha

Ember’s Quickly Done Poster Print

I just sat down for fifteen minutes to edit Ember’s birthday invite pictures. I wanted to get to Costco tonight (right now!) to print them so I can send these out before her birthday!
After I made a SUPER fast card I couldn’t resist throwing my favorite pictures onto a 16×20 canvas to print as a collage to display at her birthday party! She’s SO cute!!!
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