Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It was a good one!

Thank you for all of your nice birthday wishes!! It was a good day! 27, sounding closer to 30, but I don't mind that. My parents took me out to lunch, my choice: Thai Food. I have loved Thai food for a long time, but haven't had a whole lot of it in the last couple years. Thanks Mom & Dad! I received some phone calls from good friends & family. And then of course - I got all of your comments! 28 all together! (Thanks Francesca for boosting that number, hehe!). I was so happy to get all of your birthday love here on my blog, but I do think I will go back to not being so public about my birthday in the future - because well, it just felt too much like I was asking for it (since I kind of was, ok, not even kind of; I was). But that doesn't mean I didn't like getting all of your birthday comments!
Paul & Sean (Erin's husband) threw us a semi-surprise birthday party together that night! About an hour before people were supposed to arrive, Paul got out balloons & streamers & smiled -- 'Wanna help me decorate?' -- haha, such a smooth man he is. I thought it was really thoughtful of him. It's not that I was turning a big number or anything; we don't do parties like this every year, but I think because Erin & I share a birthday (so it's a good party excuse) & Paul & I don't know for sure if we'll get to stick around here with his job search; it was a fun excuse to visit with friends (I'm not implying that we are moving; it's just not out of the question is all).
Thanks Loaf for the thoughtful party!

What am I doing in that picture?

Taya clearly thought the party was all about her; she was in heaven - people & food surplus equals one hyper girl!

Check out my post below if you feel like imaginatively transporting yourself to a nice place!

Forgotten Favorites

Just a few photos of some favorite excursions this past year that I never got a chance to share:

When we were visiting Paul's parents in Southern California last summer, we came across the LA Original Farmer's Market - we will definitely be back! If you live in LA or visit LA, you should go! There was every kind of food imaginable from Brazilian to Cajun to Mediterranean to ... everything!, along with ample produce, nuts, baked goods, you name it! I was in heaven!

Does anyone love farmers markets as much as me? (actually I think my sister, Tiffany does!) There is something about rows & rows of produce - both beautiful in colors & shapes & perfect in taste! I've been checking out multiple farmers markets in the Phoenix Valley lately, maybe I'll share what I've found soon ...
Crepes! How do you decide between crepes, homemade peach ice cream, baklava, and more?!! (You buy one nutella/banana crepe & one ice cream & split them!)
There were rows and rows & multiple sections of people in the market like this.

This is the Sedona artist village we visited on a side excursion from a northern AZ Labor Day Camping trip. Another must if you're in that area! This artist village looked authentically aged (built in the 70s) and has an amazing design to it, giving a really eclectic feel to the ambiance (you must say that word snooty-like). These original trees were just built around, leaving little openings for the tree trunks in rooftops & patio overhangs. Very cool.

Meet my dear, dear friend Jessica & her two adorable daughters! We got to spend a wonderful (but too short) night with her and her family when we visited Utah last fall. Miss you Jess! Jess & I go back to 2nd/3rd grade. I can honestly say that we, along with our third friend to the trio (Caitlyn) will stay friends forever.
BEA-U-TI-FUL Salt Lake; Fall & Winter colliding!
We stopped in at this cute & Yum! Hatch Family Chocolates in The Avenues District of Salt Lake City upon trusted recommendation (Thanks Tiff!) - secret chocolate & hot chocolate recipes = I want to go back for more!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Irish Twins - Happy Day for us!

Meet my Irish Twin, Erin! Okay, so many of you that read this already know her - and know how wonderful of a person she is! Well, I'm lucky enough to share my birthday with her every year! Happy day to us!
This picture was taken at our church Christmas party - we could not get over how much we dressed ourselves and even our daughters alike - like I said, Irish Twinners.
Let's make it a good one!

(So do you think you can fill the comment room with 27 comments? My friend Marie did it successfully last week for her 26th birthday - 26 comments - can I copy her? I don't know ... she's awfully popular & deserving of it)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Academy, I mean Premio Dardos Awards ... (+ 2-day countdown)

Meet our dear friends, Kim & Joe: I will tell you more about them in a second here, after I thank Kim for awarding me the Premio Dardos Blog Award going around! (By the way, my birthday is in 2 days) The Premio Dardos Blog Award 'acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write. (It's the big 27!) Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. (You don't mind subliminal messages do you?) It's a way to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web." (Because you're getting them & you don't even know it! ... Two days from now marks the day my mom gave birth to me 27 years ago! ... See, you didn't even know you read that did you?) Now I get to award 3 blogs!!
And I choose: Drum roll please .... (my dad being a drummer always provided the best drum rolls, using car dashboards, kitchen tables & counter tops, books & magazines or the always handy knee) ... (Perhaps I should do a birthday post for myself asking for 27 comments like Marie did last week, what do you think? I would like that. If I don't, will you still leave me 27 comments?) (I like cards, phone calls, blog comments, diamonds, luxury cars, new wardrobes, cupcakes & flowers on my birthday; can I count on all of you for these things come Thursday? My expectations are pretty low, so it should be pretty easy for all of you to stay friends with me)
A. All of us who know or read Jana's blog, It's the Little Things, would be quick to think of her on a blog award. She is as witty and hilarious as they come, a wonderful writer & photographer and has a way of bringing the most interesting conversations in her comment rooms!
B. I mentioned Three Bay B Chicks recently when they gave me some shiny attention, and now I will return the favor - because they are wonderful. If you read their blog (three friends write this blog, including my lovely sister-in-law, Kacey), you will laugh-laugh your little head off (what a weird expression we use there huh?), and you will find helpful and hip tips, as well as relatable moms telling relatable stories about their cute to boot little ones. They also share their cultures, including Japanese, Italian, & Vietnamese traditions. AND, they help me fill my little heart whole that misses living in Northern, California, not far from San Francisco (where they reside).
C. I wish I could be short & concise, yet SO funny and clear in my writing like Kathryn is on her family blog. I've never met Kathryn in person, but I think if we lived by each other we could be great friends having lots of fun together. Kathryn's husband created our oh-so-favorite mobile for Taya's nursery. We ordered it like a normal online purchase with some phone calls made here and there about timing and custom details. Eventually, Kathryn & I connected over the phone and soon became blog friends! I am always thoroughly entertained by her posts & think that Taya & her daughter, Riley would make great buddies! Thanks for sharing Kathryn! Hope you don't mind the attention!
Check all three blogs out if you haven't before. You'll be glad you did. And I could have chosen many more blogs to award! You all help me keep my sanity, what little there is anyway.
Now to you THREE blogs I just awarded:
1. Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who granted it to you, along with his/her blog link.
2. Pass the award to other blogs that you feel are worthy of this recognition. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen as recipients.
Now to tell you a little more about Kim & Joe. Paul & Joe grew up next door to each other and know each other's families like their own family, walking in each others' houses without even a knock (or at least Paul doesn't knock). Joe is an AMAZING chef, seriously - he is really, really talented. I had meant to post about our recent excursion to his top notch restaurant, when for some reason it got away from me, so now is my chance - and I can't even do it justice! When we took our first little getaway without Taya right after Halloween a few months back, we stayed in an adorable, eclectic bed & breakfast near the Sugar house district of Salt Lake City. We were very excited to visit Joe's restaurant, Baxter's American Grill, so we gave him a head's up when we got into town. When we sat down to eat, he (being the executive chef - and visiting our table - we felt like A-list Stars) told us only to worry about the entrees and that he would take care of the rest! This turned out to include 4 incredible appetizers, 1 full entree each, and 2 deserts!! He just kept bringing out more and more of these plates topped with beautifully stunning menu items that tasted uniquely mouth watering, and seemed to be the most creative food creations I had ever seen. We came starving, and left fuller than Thanksgiving Day-Full. Take a look at some of the creations we had that night (my camera battery died that night, so I didn't get them all!) ...

My entree: Philly Cheese steak - gourmet style!
Paul's entree, upon chef's recommendation: Roasted Duck (and those roasted grapes were SO good!)

We will literally be forever indebted to Kim & Joe, seeing as they slaved away in my sister's kitchen for our wedding dinner of 65 people 4 years ago, creating food even more beautiful in presentation & amazing in taste than I had imagined. And they would not accept payment other than cost of food; like I said, we are seriously indebted & hopefully someday we can truly find a way to repay them. It is one of my favorite memories from our wedding day, having amazing food creations by a dear life long friend of Paul and his family. Thank you again Kim & Joe. Kim, we missed seeing you when we were there!

Cheers to great friends & great blogs & great food!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Just What I Needed

Today was one of those long days; you know because of the chilen - yes, the chilen (children if you must be so proper - ok, and in my case, just one - although I was babysitting all day too, but it was mostly the one and only - Taya). The soundtrack of my day sounded something like a heightened mix of whining and screams from my little one (the little darlin has been on one lately - any hints to nip occasional screaming and frequent whining in the bud?). Well, you know how some days are just harder than others to not let it get to you? It was getting to me a little more today, including physically. Maybe this sounds odd, but I've noticed when I let my stress level rise, I get upper back pains - do any of you notice how correlated our mood and our physical comfort can be? Anyway, point made: tough toddler day. Not a big deal, but ya know...
Well, to finish off this tough day, Taya gave me a little gift (I like to think of these kinds of things from her as gifts because that is truly what they feel like; for instance, when she was a little infant and would sleep longer through the night on occasion, it felt like the best gift ever in the morning - and I knew not to count on it each night after - so it was indeed a gift). Tonight, her gift to me was this:
Paul was gone; I was sitting down to eat my dinner and started saying a prayer on my dinner out loud with Taya standing nearby, but I didn't make a big deal of it (as in I didn't tell her to get ready for our prayer). When I finished, I looked up and she was standing there with her arms folded in perfect prayer position (toddler perfect that is) - and even as if she had been through most of the prayer. She had just been rambunctious up 'til the moment I said my prayer and then she not only calmed down for the night, but folded her arms as we have been teaching her the last little while. She normally likes to fold them for a Millisecond if we're lucky, so for her to be standing there very intently & toddler-reverently during our dinner prayer was my little gift for the night (you know how they try to over-cross their chubby little arms above their protruding toddler bellies? And exaggerate their bowed heads?).
It was just what I needed. Sometimes when we have tough days, we don't necessarily get little gifts from our kids who've been part of the source of our stress through the day, but today, I got one. We certainly haven't been pushy in teaching her about prayer, she's so little and it's just a relaxed thing, but they can learn from example starting so young. So to see Taya take something we've taught her and apply it like that was nice.
Maybe this is similar to my last post about attention, but this was another one for the books!
In that Look At Me Mom! post, my newly found pen pal friend from India, Ruhi, shared a comment encouraging anyone who read it to go and give at least just one person a phone call or time together or good thoughts; to simply give them attention. She said that she and her co-workers were encouraged in a class to stop then and there and give undivided attention to a friend or loved one, and that the results from all who participated were very special. So I thought I would pass that along and encourage myself & all who read this to stop what you're doing and give someone some undivided loving attention. If you follow through on this, feel free to share what you liked about doing so!
Next post up: to tell you about my blog award this week, and to pass along 3 awards myself!
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go give my husband some of that attention!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Look at me Mom!

I had an early evening work appointment today (fortunately). When I got home tonight, I had a couple of different phone calls to take. Meanwhile, Taya was whining & so I tried to find her a couple of things to eat while still on the phone. She kind of ate, but kept whining. Well when I got off the phone and realized she was still whining at me, and basically in my face, I wondered why the food hadn't calmed her down. Meanwhile, she continued to whine at me in my face & demand some sort of attention ... 'wait a minute,' I thought, 'I think I've heard of that word before - A-TEN-TION - yah, that sounds familiar - could that be what she wants? Naaaahhh; well? Maybe.' ... So I gave it a try (okay so we try it every day - for those of you who are worried). I stopped whatever it was that I was doing, picked her up, and the minute I started to even talk to her and tickle her and snuggle with her, she responded as if she were a 6 year old getting her first bright shiny pink bike (flower banana seat with tassels hanging from the handles would be the exact kind to justify this level of excitement). 'Wow!! This attention thing really works!' I thought (while you're now thinking Moron!). A-TEN-TION. 'What a great concept!' I thought, and as I drifted off into LaLa land thinking about the concept of attention, she whined in my face some more and showed me just exactly how to give it.
Okay, okay, so she didn't have to remind me & I am not quite that moronic, - almost, but not ... well, I might be actually. But anyway, it's so simple! Positive attention sent her skipping like it was no body's business! And it makes me happy as well.
I guess I just had one of those little moments where I was reminded about the importance & simplicity of something, and this time it was about giving my daughter simple, happy, undivided attention. Her clear & drastic reaction to it just opened my eyes a little bit more to how much she loves it and how much she loves me.
I am thankful for that.
Now, please all give me some attention and write lovely, high complementing comments, mmmk? ;)

Photo courtesy of Jana's beautiful skilz, Taya - 9 months

Oh, and what do you think - should we try this ATTENTION concept with our husbands and other loved ones? Do you think it would bring great results? Instead of Stop, Drop & Roll, we could say, Stop, Drop & Pay Attention! Ok, so I just took it too far.

Monday, February 2, 2009


How do you make up for a previous post that turns out as kind of a dud? You post pictures of your gregarious daughter!

Gregarious? Yes. Defined as: fond of the company of others; sociable.

That is definitely one of Taya's traits.

(If I could be as entertaining to Taya as a whole group of kids &/or adults, she could possibly stay happily content with me all day long)

(These pictures are from late September, but I had to share! I still need to post the other newborn pictures I took that day of my adorable niece! Maybe this week!)

(Taya & her cousin, Presley who is one year older - they're cute buddies!)

Taya turned 18 months last week. One of the biggest steps for 18 months for Taya is that she is now old enough to join the children's nursery group during church. Because she is gregarious (inserted like a 2nd grade school assignment), she was not scared of entering a big room full of kids one bit. She loved it! (Though I hope she doesn't become too dominant - maybe a nice way of saying pushy - of a toodling toddler for the other kids!)

Another fun thing about Taya starting nursery is that I was recently asked to be in charge of music for our church primary & nursery kids (Primary Chorister). I was a little weary of how entertaining I could possibly be for all the kids, but I think I am already having fun with it so far. But what this means is that I get to go into nursery where Taya is at for a short music time each week, so I love to see her in that setting, following me more as a music leader than her mom, or at least some combination of the two.

Taya is becoming more & more skilled with baby sign language, using it to communicate without me prompting her, so I love it! Taya loves signing more, eat, drink, please, thank you, love you, doggie, baby, bird, potty, and some others. She loves to speak some of these words too along with others, but my favorite word that she says right now is 'bubbles'. Well, okay, I love it when she says 'uh oh', 'eyes' or 'whoa' among others too! She's kind of funny when she says 'eyes' because she points to her eyes, but doesn't know not to poke her own eye - so she's always squinting to prepare for her eye poke.

A few other things Taya loves are: toothbrushes (sneaking into bathrooms whenever she can, climbing on the counters & grabbing all toothbrushes in sight - uh, it's kind of a problem), climbing anything and everything (also kind of a problem!), bubbles, Ring Around the Rosies (the falling down part!), and any kind of social interaction, especially saying 'Hi' & 'Bye' to everyone.

I can't believe she is already 18 months!

Love you T-T-T-Taya!!!

(I was hoping that I would have the rights to say 'Boo Yah!' today after the Super Bowl results, but unfortunately I don't have that right. Shuxy Darn. Poor Arizona. Poor Cardinals. Exciting game though!)