Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Photo of the Week 18

It's been a very rainy Memorial Day weekend.
I'm missing the sun, heat, and excuse to shed the clothes for sundresses and swim suits.
I'm missing Kho Phi Phi, Thailand...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Flashback Friday: Christmas with Emmie

I've embarked on an overwhelming task of converting all of my past images to digital.  For all those who know me, especially during my pre-digital camera college years, you know that this task is incredibly daunting!  But with the school year coming to a close and me needing to find productive projects to complete while I have the time this summer, I figured I couldn't procrastinate the inevitable any longer.

I have spent the past couple days after work scanning hundreds of pictures, and have only just made it to my 22nd birthday...considering I will be turning 31 this July, you can imagine how long this project will take!  Dallas teases me saying that you could condense his entire life of pictures into one month of pictures I've taken, so that's hopeful when I start to convert his images.
The fun thing with this project is that I am able to take a trip down memory lane, which makes for perfect Flashback Friday posts.  This flashback takes place in December of 2001; Christmas in Ephrata.  I had spent the summer teaching in Mukono, Uganda and lived with the most amazing host family, the Tumwesigyes.  Their oldest daughter, Emmaculate (Emmie), came back with us to America to attend university.  This was Emmie's first Christmas away from her family, so of course my mom and dad jumped at the opportunity of opening their home.
Since I had always complained about not having a sister, mom went a little crazy with the matching outfits.  We had matching stockings, hats, pajamas, and stocking stuffers.  It was so much fun to see Emmie's face light up when opening presents.  To be honest I think she was a little overwhelmed with everything.  She couldn't imagine how Mom and Dad could be so generous.
All of my siblings were home for the holidays, including two sister-in-laws, and two nephews, so needless to say it was a packed house and we loved every minute of it!  My brothers immediately inducted Emmie into the family, she even got lots of snuggle time with little Bradley.  She loved our family traditions, especially the Christmas Eve present drop.  She even held her own at the crazy Bair, Adams, Rundle Christmas party!
My favorite part of the holidays was snuggling with my nephews Max and new born Lincoln.  I've always loved a good snuggle!  It was funny to hear what Emmie loved best.  She kept talking about how funny she thought dad was and how much she loved him.  Dad is polar opposite from her father and I think she was just amazed that you could have a personal relationship and actually laugh with your father.
It was such an amazing experience having Emmie in our home for the holidays.  She had such a unique perspective on things and was so gracious and thankful.  I loved being able to share my family with her, like she had done for me.  

I love you, Emmie.  I wish we lived closer and were able to see each other more often.  I am so grateful to call you my sister.  I miss and love you so much! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Photo of the Week 17

Redwoods in Muir Forest
Nothing makes you feel smaller than standing next to these gorgeous trees!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Fun in the Sun

I love three day weekends.
Heather and I always seem to find something fun to do with the kids on three day weekends.  I get the benefit of hanging out with everyone and she gets the benefit of an extra pair of hands to help with the kiddos.  Not too bad!  This past adventure we decided to enjoy the afternoon at Baker Beach.  You can't ever go wrong with sand, sun, food, and the ocean.

My Father the Hero

To know my dad is to love my dad.
No matter where we are, the grocery store, an airplane, theater, foreign country, or restaurant, my dad will make friends.  His philosophy is if someone is wearing a name tag you call them by their names.  I've always been amazed at his ability to make people, even total strangers, feel absolutely loved.  I asked Dallas to give me two words to describe my father and he said "quirky" and "adorable".  Not sure how my dad will feel about his son-in-law thinking he is adorable, but I couldn't help but smile.  I thought of my quirky characteristics of not being able to use the same utensil from dinner to desert, or needing to be at the airport at exactly 1.5-2 hours before my flight, or needing to smile at every stranger who passes on the street.  How many of these qualities come from my dad?  Dallas later continued with adjectives such as generous, humble, spiritual, benevolent, etc.  Both of my parents are extremely generous, to the point where it may seem ridiculous to the average onlooker, but when you are raised with such generosity it doesn't shock you when your parents give two cars away because there are people in need or spend countless hours and finances to anonymously take care of neighbors and members of the community.  I'm sure they will read this post and be totally embarrassed, so I will refrain from continuing, but I'm sure all who know them will agree.

The other week my dad was asked by one of his Sunday school students to take him to Palo Alto.  Dad has been very close to Oscar's family for years now.  He loves them as if they are truly family and would literally do anything for them.  So when Oscar was accepted into Stanford and needed someone to attend the upcoming orientation weekend, which his parents were not going to be able to attend, his first thought was to ask my dad if he wanted to go.  I thought it was so sweet that a high school senior obviously feels so loved by dad that he was his first choice after his parents.

Like I said, to know my dad is to love my dad.

Oscar spent three days touring Stanford campus, attending classes and orientation training, and bonding with current college students.  He left, so excited to start this new step in his life and amazed at how diverse California is, especially from our little farm town of Ephrata.  Dad was so sweet with the whole experience.  Read every page of the thick Stanford handbook, contacted the Institute director and introduced everyone to Oscar.  The last day before they flew back to Washington, Dallas and I took Oscar and Dad around the city.  We started at the Oakland temple where the grounds were covered in gorgeous multicolored flowers and the view of the city was to die for.  Then we drove them into San Francisco to the Golden Gate Bridge, Lombard Street, Palace of Fine Arts, Pier 39 and Fisherman's wharf, Coit Tower, Chrissy Field Beach, and ate at the Hard Rock Cafe and shopped for souvenirs along the pier.  It was a perfectly sunny day, the perfect way to end the weekend.  I kept telling Oscar that the city was trying to convince him to stay.

You can't see San Francisco with out the Golden Gate Bridge!

Thanks, dad, for letting us spend such a fun day with you.  We love you so much and are constantly amazed by your pure heart and desire to love all those around you.  I pray that I will be able to shape my life around service as you and mom have done so frequently over the years.

I love you, daddy.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Flashback Friday: Brick Making in Uganda

In the summer of 2001 I had the life changing opportunity to study in Uganda, Africa.  I had mentioned to my parents that I wanted to study abroad for a semester while at BYU.  When I went to turn in my application for the Spain program, my eye was drawn to the Uganda flier.  I had always loved the African cultures, specifically the music, and immediately changed my application from Europe to Africa.  I still remember the phone call with my parents explaining that I had been accepted into the Uganda Educational Development program leaving April 2001.  Needless to say, they were a bit shocked and nervous to be sending me to a third world country at the age of 20 for four months. 

While in Uganda, we stayed in a small village called Mukono, about an hour east of the capital Kampala.  Our experience was a service-based program, where we spent each day of the week teaching or working at different schools in the community.  One of my favorite schools we visited each week was the Good Samaritan Primary School.  I wish I could put into words what a humbling experience it was to see almost a hundred kids crowed into three different "classrooms."  Classroom being a generous term for a three sided area with dirt floors, tin roof, and a few wooden benches.


While at Good Samaritan, we each took turns between teaching English and music and making bricks for additional classrooms and bathroom facilities.  The kids loved learning different primary songs "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" and "If You're Happy and You Know It."  You haven't seen cuteness until you've seen a group of adorable little Ugandan children with thick accents dancing and singing along to music!  The brick making was obviously more physical.  It was an interesting process that we all became quickly familiar with.  We first had a group mixing mud and clay together with bits of straw and other random materials.  We would take turns stomping on the mixture, similar to the process of stomping on grapes to get wine.  Then we would take the mixture and throw it really hard into a rectangular mold.  We would then line the molds out to dry under the sun, taking at least 2-3 weeks to completely harden.  Needless to say it was a VERY dirty process!

Good Samaritan Primary School was such a community driven project.  Mothers of the children would come to help, donating whatever supplies and services they possibly could.  During the week they would also meet for an adult English class taught by a couple of the girls in our group.  Our last visit to Good Samaritan they threw us a going away celebration and dressed all of us up in traditional Ugandan attire.  All the kids performed different dances, including amazing rhythmic drumming.

One of these days I'll share more stories from our adventures in Uganda; the safaris, close encounter with Muammar Gaddafi, rafting down the Nile River...
But for now, I'll leave you with a very dirty me, eagerly anticipating her cold bucket bath.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Oakland Zoo

There are many reasons why I love living in the bay area; the biggest being that I get to go on fun adventures with my three nephews and niece as often as I want to.  When I got back from Florida there were still three days left to spring break, so Heather and I thought it would be fun to take the kids to the Oakland Zoo. 
 It's been so much fun to see their personalities develop over the years, especially Lincoln and Rulon who seem like they are growing up so fast.  When we entered the zoo Rulon received a map and quickly became our navigator.  He was pretty excited about his responsibility.  All the kids got a hoot out of the baboon exhibit.  I think it had something to do with their bright, red, puffy bottoms.
The Oakland Zoo has a great children's section.  There are tons of objects for climbing, the kids loved the frogs and turtles.  I'm constantly amazed when I look back at pictures of Ellis.  I don't think I'm being totally biased when I say she is gorgeous!  I guess it helps that she is so stinkin' funny as well.
I love brothers, coming from a family of five boys and myself, I had a lot of them.  This is probably the reason I love watching Lincoln, Rulon, and little Will interact.  They had so much fun playing on everything and looking at the different animals.  They also have a lot of energy...I wonder how Heather does it sometimes.  After spending the day with all of them I usually end up going home and taking a nap.  I guess that's the benefit of being the aunt and not the mother!
To end our fun for the day, we spent some time in the petting zoo.  The kids had a blast brushing all the different goats.  Although Will's version of brushing involved throwing straw all over their backs.  It was so much fun to watch the goat's reaction to having a crazy two year old groom them.  

I feel so blessed to be so close to family.  It really was the perfect day!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Color vs B&W

I've been going through the pictures from my photo shoot with the Jones family and I can not decide which I like more, color or black & white.  Both are so gorgeous to me and I think it kinda depends on what you're using the image for, so since I can't decide I'm posting both...
They sure are adorable kids!

Make sure to double click on the images to enlarge.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Flashback Friday: New Zealand Bay of Islands

While attending Brigham Young University, I had the incredible opportunity to go on two separate study abroad experiences.  I have the most supportive parents in the world whom wanted me to get the most out of my education, so they sent me to Uganda, Africa for four months in 2001 and then to Auckland, New Zealand for another four months in 2003.  It became a habit, a travel bug if you'd like to call it that, for me to travel international as often as I could.

In June of 2005, my friends and I decided to spend a month in New Zealand visiting our host family, friends, and revisiting some of our favorite places from our study abroad experience.  We spent a few days up at the Bay of Islands, located a few hours north of Auckland on the North Island.

It was an interesting experience to return to one of my favorite spots during an entirely different time of the year.  Our first experience was in the month of January (New Zealand's summer), so we spent most of our time out in the water parasailing, swimming, playing in the sand dunes, and visiting the 20 mile beach.  This visit was very different!  Since my friends and I had all graduated from college and were now in our teaching careers, the only time we could travel was during our summer (New Zealand's winter).  We quickly found out that we would not be doing much laying out or swimming on our visit.
 We stayed at a really nice hostel, The Mousetrap (don't be swayed by it's name), and were able to meet some amazing people, all backpacking their way through New Zealand.  Our first full day, we decided to take a hike through the kauri forest, which held the largest trees I had ever seen.  It started to sprinkle and mist a bit, but we loved being able to find shelter under the huge ferns growing densely along the path.
Our second day, we took a boat tour around the Bay of Islands.  Our captain let Lisa and I each take a turn steering the boat, which is always a fun opportunity!  We were also able to feed fish off of the front of the boat.  The skies were gorgeous and clear, so the water reflected amazing color.  On one of the stops, they took us to a great restaurant isolated on a private beach, where we ate lunch.  It was absolutely beautiful.
While we were out in the bay, there were a couple dolphin that loved our boat.  Our captain cut the engines and the dolphin played around the boat for over 15 minutes, diving in and out of the waves.  They were such performers and I didn't even have to use my zoom on my camera!
It was such an incredible day.  I loved the endless beaches and the breeze off the water.  After our cruise we took our time enjoying the local area, shopping, eating, and just living up the breathtaking scenery.
One of the things I love about New Zealand is how drastically diverse it is; from the people to the landscape.  The North Island is covered in gorgeous rolling green hills spotted with white coats from hundreds of roaming sheep.  There are actually more sheep in NZ than there are people, which is pretty amazing.  We took our time driving back to Auckland, stopping to take pictures and to explore the different treasures that make up the North Island.

I miss New Zealand so much.  I miss the laid-back life style, gorgeous scenery, accents to melt your heart, but most of all I miss the people.  I know the saying goes, "I left my heart in San Francisco," but I live in San Francisco and can say I left my heart in New Zealand!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Keeping Up With The Jones

This afternoon I had a fun photo shoot with the Jones Family.  They're moving in a week and wanted to get some pictures of their little one, since she's a true California girl.  It was so much fun to be around such an active, funny family.  They have two adorable boys and a six month old girl, whom the boys absolutely love.  It was pretty great watching them maul her with kisses every chance they got!  I have several images to go through still, but here's a quick preview of how beautiful this family is.  And on a side note, Amy is so stinkin' creative and made the adorable headband...yeah I'm jealous I don't have a talent in that department!

Make sure to click on the images to enlarge them.

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