{ XLIV }

For those of us ( yeah, I had to look it up) who are unfamiliar with the XLIs or otherwise known as Roman Numerals…XLIV is 44.  FORTY FOUR.  Over 10 decades of tradition…having my photo taken with Santa.  Funny how … Continue reading

{ riding through mansions of glory }

The joys of turning one… family and friends goo-goo, gaa-gaaing over you, dressing up in cute little outfits, and being allowed to go buck with your very own frosted slice (or slices) of heaven.

This is the story of Kelan.  A little bundle of joy who passed all of the required assessments to graduate to the First Year Cake Smash-o-Rama.  In lieu of a diploma which, after all, is  nothing more than a piece of paper, he opted for a ride on his trike, cake, and a bath in the great outdoors.

We were greeted with a warm, sunny evening.  Crowds of hundreds (or was it 6) formed to watch little Kelan come riding in on his little chopper.

The crowds were starting to get a little out of hand so reinforcements were brought in to keep them in control.

Then, in the distance, like a trophy waiting for the winner to stake their claim…sat the most delicious cake.

Meandering across the horizon, the delicious goodness summons Kelan over towards it.

Thinking to himself, this must be a gift from the heavens, Kelan wastes no time digging into the mysterious dessert.

Waving his proverbial white flag signaling his defeat, he falls back into submission…hoping the cake will retreat as as mysterious as it arrived.

After a quick nap, Kelan swallows his pride (and the last piece of cake) and moseys off into the sunset.

What luck..on the other side of the park was a tub waiting for Kelan to wash the sugary goodness from his body.

After a quick scrub and a patriotic dry off,  Kelan hopped back on his ride and hit the open road.

{ so long pre school, it’s been fun! }

A couple of days ago, my wife and I joined other parents to watch our children bid farewell to the protected walls of pre-k and bite our nails with eager anticipation as they journey towards kindergarten. This was a huge milestone for so many in the room; parents as we watch our children start a new milestone and the kids as they learn that saying goodbye to something (or someone) is part of life.

I sneaked into the classro… ehh, dressing room as the kids went through last minute preparations and cap fittings. The kids were surprised

The kids walked in and cheering began.

The ceremony started off with some songs and opening remarks.  I was so proud to watch Jackson lead the attendees with the pledge to the Christian Flag.

Then it was time for the children to come to the microphone and say the verse the rehearsed for this special day.

This daddy was doing good with all of the events and presentation’s.  That is until the group of children marched in place and in perfect cadence sang the following ditty:

Kindergarten, here we come, here we come

Kindergarten here we come.

So long preschool, it’s been fun.

Kindergarten here we come, here we come.

A few “capture this moment in time” photographs with friends and family and we were on our way. 

{ I’m on a wavelength far from home }

Mexico? Sure! Tijuana….to build houses…40 men….no electricity – are you crazy? That is what went through my head when someone from Chapel Hill asked if I would be joining the Men’s Group this year for the Mexico Mission Trip. Me on a Mission? Never…or at least that is what I thought.

I first heard about the trip early 2012 during service one day and it kind of went in one and out the other (you know how that goes). Then one day, something hit me and I started to ask a few questions about the trip. I was careful to not show too much interest…didn’t want someone to think I was actually considering going on this 5-day trip. I thought what Amor Ministries was doing to help these families was fantastic. I heard from several men who have made the trip before said the team from Amor was amazing and the families are told that God is sending group of men from Gig Harbor, WA to build a house for them. Cool, right? The more I looked into it and the more people I spoke with, it started to seem like a great, rewarding opportunity. However, I had reasonable excuses why I couldn’t go…having to burn vacation days….missing out on photo sessions….a wedding….spending time with family….the cost…the list went on and one.

Looking back on my time in Tijuana, one thing was clear. Though there were 20 reason’s why I couldn’t go – there was (and will always be) one reason why I went. Thing is…I didn’t know it beforehand.

After an uneventful flight from Seattle to San Diego and a short (but welcomed snooze at a hotel close to the border, we gathered and headed to our meet one of the Amor representatives who would then escort us into Mexico.

Once we crossed the border we headed out to meet the family our team was assigned. Almost an hour later we arrived to three young toddlers jumping up and down like they were old men at the tracks watching Sea Biscuit back in the day. What a grand welcome to the Baltazar Garcia family home! We started the day clearing an area for their new home. It would also have been nice to give a workman’s whistle and have the cement truck back up and start pouring. Ohhh, that would have been too easy. We shoveled from a large pile of clumped sand and sifted (and sifted, and sifted) to get fine material. Add a little cement mix, water, a pinch of fiberglass (which I still have no idea what that would really do) and voilà – we had cement.

It wouldn’t be a cement pouring party if we didn’t let the new family put a little scribble into the drying goo. Chad added a little Chapel Hill love with John 3:16.

Our Mission was to to not only build houses, but to spend time connecting with the families…and boy…did we ever connect.

Camp was another story. A beautiful, solitary area that surprising felt very peaceful. That is until you heard grown men screaming after taken their end of the day showers (sans hot..okay, warm water). You would take a bucket of water from the bins outside the shower area, pour the water into a jug hanging above and shower away. The toilets were lined up like a locomotive at the station.

Day two is framing day. If I never see chicken wire again it would be too soon. That said, I am secretly waiting to do this again on the ’13 Build Trip. After framing came stucco. We found time later in the day to hang with the family. Mark entertained the family (and us) with his bag pipes. It was awesome seeing so many people from neighboring houses come out and over to watch him play. Even more special for the kiddos is when he let them take a stab at playing.

We LOVED all of the smiling faces!

Pool fights were the best and Mark showed a little SFD arm wrestlin’ love.

Chad and Ellis felt the need to show a little arm bumps.

Three (okay, 2 very long) days of hard work and gettin’ our dirt on, and their new home was complete.

Our time went fast and in the end, looking at the expressions on the faces of the families during the key ceremony was emotional for all of us.

I will sincerely miss our time in Tijuana and cannot wait to do again again next year.

More pictures can be found at http://gigharborphoto.zenfolio.com/mexico2012

{ rounding third }

I love the exciting times that come with pregnancy…especially during the home stretch.  That, my friends, is month NINE.  The encore.  Like with other life events, I get so excited to be asked to capture the beautiful and glowing look of the expectant mother and nervousness and excitement from the other family members faces.

Meet Justin, Amber, and sweet (and I mean sweet) little Lila.  The first part of the location was at one of my favorite settings, Chambers Bay.  It was PACKED, but all eyes were on Amber and her cute little baby bump.

The session started with a little warm-up.  Lila, who is practicing her big sister role  (more on that in a bit) held the little, yellow H with all the love in the world.  She is so excited for baby Hayley to make her appearance.

Still not sure exactly what about small rocks on the bump that looks so cool, but Amber braved the cool stones on the bare skin for my simple pleasures…and hopefully hers now :)

You always have to keep an eye on what others are doing during the session.  Failing to do so, I would have missed this little daddy and daughter time.  All together now…. awweee.

As I said earlier, Lila was working hard practicing her role as big sis.  In fact, I caught her sneaking in a quick study session with mommy watching over to make sure no questions go unanswered.

Chambers Bay offers so many options to capture the right image, grass, water, sand…it’s all there.   Love this place and love the interactions between Justin, Amber, and Lila.

The first part of the session wrapped up with another fan favorite…the Big Yellow Vintage Chair.  A session without that chair just isn’t session and Lila was not about to let mommy have all the fun.

The session continued with a visit to a large, spacious, and b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l  residence.  Once I smelled the country air, it was game on and the creativity started to flow.

Love this one…

Don’t ever underestimate the power of open arms to your children.

As we round third and head for home…. put Lila in coach, she is ready to play!