Thursday, March 31, 2011

Princess Party

It's no surprise that Dallas and I want children.
It's been a roller coaster of ups and downs over the past couple years trying to start a family and not having success.  To ease the pain, I try to spend as much time with the children that are around me.  Usually this would entail babysitting my nephews and niece or planning a fun outing with friends and their children.

Last week I decided to throw a princess party for two of my close friends, Tammy and Jenny, and their little girls, Stella and Tori.  Tammy and her family will be moving to Utah in a few days and Jenny wanted me to get some cute shots of their girls together before they left.  I thought this would be a perfect excuse to decorate the house with pink and purple and revert back to my party planning days.

The party began by picking up the girls in their "royal carriage."  Dallas was seriously concerned I was going to go out and rent a pony or something, but I had to draw the line and use our imagination with a simple wagon.

It was so much fun to see the girls' reaction when they walked into the room with a floor full of balloons.  Needless to say there was a lot of squealing.  I had four different stations for the girls: "Pin the Princess in Her Castle", "Princess Memory", "Princess Story Time", and "Princess Sing-A-Long".  I probably shouldn't announce this, but Dallas actually helped me with the game ideas.  He's such a sweet heart!

The girls playing "Princess Memory"

Jenny made the cutest cup cakes and had the girls help decorate them.  They loved their crazy straws and powdered doughnuts.

After treats we all hopped on the blow up mattress in front of the big screen and sang along to all the princess songs...dancing was of course involved!

It was so much fun to have Stella and Tori over to party!
I realize that this whole day was more for me than anyone else.  It's oddly therapeutic to plan ellaborate parties focused on princesses instead of moping in the reality of not having children of your own.

So above all, thank you to Tammy and Jenny for letting me borrow your girls for an afternoon of fun!  I needed it more than I can say.  Love you girls!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Photo of the Week 10

Crabs at Fisherman's Wharf
This was taken in October while exploring Pier 39 with my great friends I lived with while teaching in New Zealand.  I could spend hours simply people watching and soaking up the excitement along the Embarcadero.  I still sit back in awe that I live here...this summer it'll be three years.  And I'm always up for visitors!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Friday Flashback: Hot Air Balloon

In December of 2007, Dallas invited me to visit for the weekend.
We call it our "Magical Weekend", because it's the weekend that we fell in love.
Dallas pulled out all the stops for our three days together: shopping at Union Square in San Francisco, Cheesecake Factory, tour of the Presidio and Golden Gate Park/Bridge, third row tickets to a cirque du soleil on the Embarcadero, black tie work gala/dance, and the ultimate on my bucket list...a hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley.

He woke me up Saturday morning at 4am, telling me I had only a few minutes to get ready before my "surprise".  We then drove the half hour up to Napa, where I finally realized what we would be doing.  Needless to say, I was a bit excited!  Our hot air balloon held 16 people, plus our pilot.  Two couples actually got engaged while we were on the ride.  We were in the air about an hour, drifting over some of the most gorgeous vineyards.  I wish I could put into words what the experience was like, how it felt to slowly rise in the air, watch the sunrise while feeling like I was flying.  I guess all I can leave you with are a few pictures that will never do it justice.

I remember talking to Dallas about my bucket list on our first date; I don't remember specifically what I said, but when he sent me flowers to my classroom the following week the card read...

Thought you needed these after your first day back to teaching.
Plus it was easier to arrange than a hot air balloon ride.

I was floored by how well he actually listened on our date.  How he remember the little details that I couldn't even remember.  This thoughtfulness is also why the surprise hot air balloon ride meant so much.  It literally sealed the deal for me.  So you can see why, when we got engaged, our invitations were designed around our adventure.  

Martinez Shoreline

There are several reasons why I love Dallas.
His patience level is extraordinary.
On Sunday, after church, we decided to explore the Martinez Shoreline a few miles from our apartment.  There was a perfect window of three hours where the sun came out and the rains ceased.  I figured it was the perfect opportunity to practice photography.  

This is where Dallas's patience came into play...I mean what guy really wants to stand around and get his picture taken over and over again?  But, this is why I love him so much!  With only a few complaints, Dallas stood wherever I wanted him to and even whipped out his million dollar smile for me.  He's literally a saint and I love him for it.

Don't you just love him!?
He really is simply perfect for me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Crazy Weather

The weather's been pretty crazy lately.
For the past three weeks it's been raining off and on, saturating pretty much everything.
Don't get me wrong, I'll take the rain over freezing cold snow any day.  Not to mention that a direct result of all the moisture are the gorgeous green hills covering the east bay.
The other night during one of the insistent down pours, we heard a loud crashing sound followed by an onslaught of hail.  It lasted only a couple minutes, but it was definitely long enough to leave a covering of thick pellets.  I tried to get a couple shots from our front door, but had to stop once the hail started coming inside.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Today I threw a princess party for a couple adorable little girls on my block.  After the party my three nephews and niece came over for a few hours to play.  They LOVED the crazy decorations and over 40 some odd balloons covering the floor.  I'll go into more detail later, but for now I'm going to leave you with a couple shots of what it's like to have your crazy aunt Kirsten babysit...

Photo of the Week 9

This was taken over the summer while in Wyoming.  We were four wheeling through the mountains and stopped for a picnic.  A patch of these flowers were in the clearing and I fell in love with their unique structure.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Flashback Friday: Elephants

I wanted to make sure that some of these Flashbacks had memories of Dallas in them as well...he was feeling a little neglected.

Today's flashback goes back to the summer of 2009 when, for our one year anniversary, we traveled all over Thailand for a few weeks.  Dallas served his mission in Thailand and it was so much fun to hear him speaking the language with locals and recounting stories from when he lived there.

After a rather long string of flights from San Francisco to Tokyo to Bangkok to Chaing Mai, we settled into our hotel and crashed for a few hours.  We then caught a ride out to the Maetaman Elephant Camp in the nearby jungle.  It was easily one of the most fun activities we were able to do while in Thailand, because it was so unique, very touristy, but I can't blame them for targeting the masses.

The tour started with an amazing show, where elephants were brought out and given paint brushes, paint, and a canvas.  It was incredible to watch an elephant literally paint a self portrait with it's trunk as a hand.  The trainers taught us about eating and sleeping habits, and answered any questions for the audience. The show continued with a few stunts and ended with the elephants coming into the audience to collect tips with their trunks.

After the show, we were taken on our very own elephant ride through the jungle.  We rode for over an hour through some of the most gorgeous land I had ever seen.  We had to cross through the river twice, which was fun to watch the elephants submerge up to their bellies and see boats floating by.  Dallas also was able to feed our elephant.  His trunk kept swinging up and back, which was a definite sign for food.  They have them trained so well to where they will pose for pictures if you feed them.  I'm sure it's just another ploy to get money, because we had to pay for the food, but I thought it was totally worth it from the pictures we were able to get!

After the elephant ride you have the option of taking a traditional bamboo raft down the river.  Even though I thought the littlest move was going to capsize the bamboo sticks, it served it's purpose.  

I loved seeing all the elephants getting baths along the river's edges.  It is very common for trainers to be raised and work with one elephant for most of it's life.  The boys in the picture below, looked to be maybe in their early teens, laughing and playing with their elephants.  It was a pretty amazing thing to watch.

I absolutely love traveling and I am SO grateful I married someone with that same love.  It's been fun to think and plan all sorts of adventures we want to have over the course of our life together.  This was just hopefully one of many of our firsts.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Flashback Friday: Batman Date

Wow, so second week in a row and my "Flashback Friday" is not landing on a friday...I guess it's the thought that counts.

I've been taking a walk through memory lane the past couple days while transferring all of my pictures to one external hard drive.  It's been quite the task, but it's given me an excuse to look through all my pictures from when I got my first digital camera in 2005.  That one purchase has saved me, literally, thousands of dollars on film and developing costs alone.  Thank you updated technology!

I have a love for party planning, specifically group dates.
Not just your typical party planning, but themed parties that require participants to dress up and tap into their youth reserve.  While living in Provo, I spearheaded several of these group dates, all with different themes, and they are some of my favorite memories.

In March of 2005, I was halfway through my first year teaching and thought it would be the perfect time for another adventure.  I got a large group of girls together and pretty soon the room was full with tons of ideas and excited giggles. Our first step was to invite our dates.  We created cryptic invitations requesting them to dress up as their favorite Batman character and then meet at one of four different block corners.  They had to RSVP to a blocked cell number by a certain date in order to come.  

Our second step was pretty ingenious.  We asked our Bishop, who was dressed up as Alfred, to drive a Uhaul truck around to pick up all of these random boys dressed as superheroes throughout the south Provo area.  He then took them in circles for miles until they were good and lost and then drove them to my school, Sunset View Elementary.  

While the boys were being towed throughout the valley, us girls were decorating my classroom.  Luckily I taught out in a portable, so we didn't have to enter the actual school building.  We pushed my students' desks into an adjoining room, covered all four walls with black butcher paper from floor to ceiling, hung bats and question marks from the ceilings, and drew the Gotham city skyline to finish.
Looking back, I still can't believe I thought this would be ok with my boss...I don't think I was really thinking!  

When the boys showed up we had tables set up for dinner and batman music playing to set the mood.  Playing cards were at each group to use while waiting for the food to be served.  Because there was such a large group of us, we inevitably had double of some characters.  My friend and I went as Louis Lane, while my date came as two face.  Yeah, he was pretty much brilliant!  We had a blast showing off our costumes, eating, and playing games. 

After dinner, we all crammed into the back of the Uhaul and drove to our friends house to watch the first Batman movie.  It was such a fun night!  We all had a blast getting to know each other better and literally take a trip into our childhood fantasies of superheroes and heroines!

Although I do recommend getting the green light from your employer before you embark on something so elaborate :)

Photo of the Week 8

This was taken at one of my favorite beaches in the city, Baker Beach.  I love the details of the sand on Ellis's forehead and nose, along with her hair blowing in the wind.  She's just too darn cute!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Photo of the Week 7

This was taken at sunset at Capitola Beach.  It was incredible to see the sky split in two; half clouds, half sun.  Dallas and I dream (emphasis on the word "dream") of buying a sailboat someday where we can go from country to country and never look back.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Flashback Friday: How We Met

Even though it is a couple days late, I thought I would share the story of how we met for flashback friday.  When Dallas and I got engaged I asked him to write his version of how we met and I wrote my version as well.  That way our children could read our stories and get a kick at how they were similar and different from each other.  With Dallas's permission, here is the letter sharing his point of view on how we met...

Dear Kirsten,

I had just finished an incredible night of soccer, and I mean a truly incredible night!  I had just played the best soccer I'd played in years and the team we played was ….well, I digress.  I remember running up the stairs only to look up and see a beautiful woman standing in front of Mark and Kendra's door talking to Greg.  My first thought was, "Wow!"  And that thought was quickly followed by, "I hate, Greg.  Where does he find these girls?"  Lucky for me, you turned out to be his cousin.

I cannot recall what was said during our first conversation, but I do remember being immediately drawn to your eyes and your laugh, which is ironic because I believe you were laughing at me at the time …which seems to be a constant theme in our relationship.  I ended our introduction early because I really wanted to an impression, other than a sweaty one, that would set me up for a date that same weekend.

As soon as Greg came into the house, I asked him if he would mind if I asked you out for this weekend.  He said no and even suggested a double date so things wouldn't be awkward.  I got your phone number from the next day and started prepping myself in the morning for the call I was to make that afternoon.  I should tell you that this was an entirely new sensation - to be so nervous to ask a girl out.  I'm not sure why I was so nervous, and I didn't do such a great job of hiding it on the phone.  After covering the basics of socially acceptable phone behaviour, my only thought was to get the date and get off the phone.  As you've noticed, I have a tendency to stick my foot in my mouth; a reason that I've decided John Mayer's song "My Stupid Mouth" is the theme song playing on my opening credits …if I were a TV show that is.

For some unbeknownst reason, I thought I'd try to ruin the first date by taking you on a vampire tour of San Francisco.  Oh no, all the museums or plays or restaurants or countless other activities paled in comparison to the ill conceived vampire tour with you in high heels.

I realized that I was a complete nerd after getting off of the phone with you, but the gauntlet had been thrown and I was going to have to make it good on the fly.  I will never forget how keenly I was aware of you when I got into Greg's car.  During exchanges of hellos and personal questions, I could not mistake the sense that you were close to me, that your hand was close to mine.

Midway through dinner, I had already realized that I'd met an incredible person, but if asked how I felt about you then I wouldn't have answered with any romantic sentiment.  At that point, all I had were facts and as incredible as they were the night was still a fun date night in the city.  There are some distinct thoughts I had during dinner, however.  First, Ryan is an idiot.  How could he ever let this girl get away?  Second, why am I telling her such personal things like my mother and her cancer?  At the end of day, I was too comfortable talking with you even then as a stranger.

I think I became first enamoured with you when the vampire tour didn't work out.  Thinking back, you were probably so cool about the situation because you didn't really want to go, but, at the time, I was extremely impressed that you didn't miss a beat. We just wandered and talked about the cathedral and about this and about that.  The debacle didn't need to be apologized for and the night didn't come to a grinding halt; the date and the conversation just kept going.

The night continued and, another theme now constant in our relationship emerged that first night, you eventually feel asleep.  In fact, everyone feel asleep, except me.  I was left to think and plan how I'd be able to communicate with Greg the idea of letting me take you home before he offered and especially before you suggested that he take you home.  I'm not sure how that quite succeeded but it did.  Driving you to Eric's house turned out to be a great decision …just to make a grandiose understatement.

I gave you a hug at your brother's door, and I made my way back to my stereo-less car.  I sat down and before I turned the key I felt light, I felt alive.  I knew then that I had found you.  The impression is no more clear and distinct now than it was then.  All I needed now was for you to be on board with the idea …to make another grandiose understatement.

On the drive home, I decided that I needed to be bold if there was any chance of catching your interest.  I talked to Greg, and he said that there was some other guy that you might be seeing.  I didn't know at the time that you were dating him, but I don't think I'd have cared anyway.

In my attempt to be bold, I decided to send you a bouquet of flowers to your classroom.  I think the people at 1-800-FLOWERS knew me by name because I wanted to make sure you received those flowers before your school day ended.  I was excited to get your text message, so much so that I couldn't help but call you.  You see, by that time, you'd already capture my imagination.  I'll leave this part of the story for you to fill in.

The next few days were absolutely brutal because I wasn't able to talk with you.  I learned about Mara from Greg, and my heart just broke.  Having listened to you talk about your nephews and nieces, I knew how much you loved them.  I knew you were devastated.  At that point, my motivation changed.  All I wanted was to provide some small measure of comfort.  I don't know why I felt compelled to do so, but I did and it was without regard to consequence.  You have my letter and I think I was able to articulate much better then the thoughts and feelings I was feeling at that time.

After the letter, we seemed to talk every couple of days, and then you invited me to your house for Thanksgiving.  I blame the rest of it on you from there.  Lets be honest with ourselves, how could I not fall in love with you after spending Thanksgiving with you?

So, there's the truth about how we met.

It was fun to reread our stories on our anniversary this year.  It's easy to forget just what a miracle it was that we were able to find one another let alone get married!  I am constantly amazed at how perfect Dallas is for me, how we compliment each other on so many different levels, and how quickly he became and remains my best friend.

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