...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


making summer memorable - alys beach 2011

Our 4th annual family beach vacation was a memorable one. As I shot these photos, I couldn't help but remember the years traveled - and looking through my lens - how different, how grown up... the kids are now. My sister and her family planned a trip out west, and although we were tempted to tag along, Ava grounded me to our summer tradition and the promise to return to the "beach" since she was 2 years old. This year was no different - she wanted to be at the beach - for 7 full days. I tempted her with Disneyland... but she refrained, and said she's outgrown the "princess stuff" {that's actually very good news!} 

So we left at 3am on Saturday and headed east - to Alys beach - the furthest beach we've stayed at along Florida's Gulf Coast. We arrived by 6pm, changed, and raced to feel the tip of the ocean...

Alys Beach Vacation - Summer 2011

There are so many photos I wish to share here - so instead, I put together 4 slide shows of some of our beach moments. The scrapbook story begins with our great escape... to simply get away.... which is what the kids have been waiting to do with us since the last snowfall...

We chanced the weather, water, and what our beach stay would be like... and we couldn't have shown up a better week. The water was clear and sparkling like the gem its known for, "the emerald coast." Windy mornings and evenings sandwiched perfect days - Mother nature was good to us.

Alys Beach Vacation - Summer 2011

Days 2 and 3... when Ava woke up, she gulped. She wasn't dreaming... she was still at the beach. A little too ambitious and sun burnt from the sun, the kids were forgiving.... and figured out how to split their time between the sand and water themselves. We brought a 9x9 canopy with us {instead of our umbrellas} - which was wonderful to catch naps under...


Aaron's Father's Day this year was very heartening and humbling... After I spoke to my Dad, Ava turned to Aaron and told him to call "his Dad." Ava remembers her Papa every day - knowing that he is no longer with us. But still, she emphasis, that he is, in some essence, still here, and very much alive in our hearts

Having to let go of a father is a very deep and painful loss, that from an adults point of view - seems to only widen with time. We try to splash memories of him as much as we can... but still - all of our hearts ache for Papa. I so cherish how Ava remembers him daily - and how Noah will spontaneously point out memories, in the least expected moments.  

I dedicate this next video to my father-in-law Ron and to my husband Aaron, who finds strength... every day... holding on to - our hearts. 

After the first few days, the vacation days seem to blur together don't they? There was no schedule to follow - just our hearts. We got our traditional photo shoot out of the way on the second day. And we're so glad we did! We picked up an inflatable boat for Ava to jump the waves with... and even though it flipped over in the water and she fell in, she came running out yelling, "Mom, did you see me? I was swimming in the ocean!"

Noah on the other hand, stuck to playing in the sand for the next few days - burying himself chin deep and pretending to be a "merman" and then a dinosaur, stomping on all of Ava's castles... 

When we ventured into town throughout the week, there was quite a bit of ice cream involved... along with some good eats and window shopping. We also chanced on a beautiful fireworks display at the Village of Baytowne Wharf {by far the closest we have ever been to}, an outdoor comedy show of children's fairytales, and some fun games {euro bungy, hamster balls, climbing wall} the kids were so excited to try, now that they are "taller" this year...

Days 4 and 5...
Having the children all to "ourselves" on vacation is quite a bit different than having them at home. Their personalities shine ten-fold... and their curiosity, questions, and energy... seem to be exponentially bigger... and for me personally, seeing this duo together, as brother and sister... was mesmerizing. 

What amazes me the most about the beach is how "small" we feel. There is, and always will be, so much that we won't know. And it is in this - that I find so comforting

The first day we arrived, Ava said, "this is the life!"

So true. But to me, so is the every day... whether we are just snuggling, tickling, racing, or reading books together...  its the infinite amount of conversations spoken - and non - discovering more about ourselves... and what's yet to come.

Alys Beach Vacation - Summer 2011

Alys Beach Vacation - Summer 2011

Until then... we're taking it one step at a time, balancing on both feet, and carrying much love...

Alys Beach Vacation - Summer 2011

Thank you sweet Ava and Noah... for all the wonderful summer time memories we shared at the beach this week. And as amazing as it was... know that there are better days ahead of us... simply because we have each other.

writing thank you's and much more

After the big event, writing thank you cards was on my agenda - but somehow that slipped away from me. Even though its almost been a month, I knew these had to get into the hands of friends and family - after all, we really are thankful. Especially Noah, who has been opening new gifts since then - every few days apart {this was an idea my sister gave me, and its worked like a charm.} Noah appreciates the individual toy so much rather than becoming overwhelmed with them all at once if opened at the same time. To him, it felt like everyday was his birthday {smiling}.

Noah's Thank You Cards

this moment

{inspired by Soulemama}  "A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."


homemade ice cream

Summer is around the corner, and it's already in the high 90s here. Ava's first issue of Highlights Five came the other day, and we both were so excited. Me... because I use to read these when I was little, and for Ava, because she received her very first magazine. {Thanks Maggie!} Upon going through the activities, there were instructions on how to make homemade ice cream. So of course... we had to try it.
Homemade Icecream

dream big - inspirational read

Dream Big

Earlier this year, a publicist contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reviewing a children's book written by Kristi Yamaguchi. To be honest, I thought it was spam, but I couldn't delete that email. It turned out to be true - Yamaguchi was releasing her first children's picture book this Spring. A few weeks later, the book arrived - and I can't even begin to tell you the irony for what this means to me personally, as well as how I hope this will help teach and instill in my kids to - always dream big...

That's what inspired this sign I put up in the kids' bathroom. To read this message every time they wash their hands, and when they brush their teeth morning and night - so that they would start and end their day knowing that there's still so much more... that the impossible is a figure of speech, and that anything that is imaginable, is as real as they are.

Visit our reading corner for a book review of Dream Big Little Pig, a wonderful new book that I've had the fortune to read with my children...

one last flight

It's been a longtime since I've visited the Frontier Flight Museum with the kids. The last time the kids and I went was when we got our membership last summer, which got me to thinking, it was going to expire soon. So today seemed like the perfect day to take flight...

Frontier Flight Museum

a lesson in patience

Noah has been a fan of the animated Disney/Pixar movie Cars for a few years now. It's a great movie - the music always has us up off the couch, and there's great lessons to draw from too - like having the right amount of confidence in one's self. This month, Cars 2 will be coming to theaters - and to promote the movie, they are on a multi-city tour. We happened to be one of them, so after Aaron got home from work, we trekked on over to the "Cars 2 - Agents on a Mission" event sponsored by State Farm at Northpark Mall.

I guess I should have anticipated the lines - but I didn't. I have never been one to wait in line for Hollywood-hype. But it wasn't about that for the kids. They didn't care much about the life-size remote controlled cars. It was the bounce house that gripped their hearts. I explained (judging from what I saw) that we would have to wait in line for a "looooooong time" before we could test it out (the line circled the parking lot). They both said yes - and wanted to wait. Aaron looked at me crazed, and I felt that way too - but I wanted the kids to learn a valuable lesson - that not everything they "want" comes easy. And if they "really wanted it," than they have the option to be patient for it. But we gave them an option B - to just take some pics from afar and then get out of the heat and go swimming....

They held their ground, and waited! I was really impressed with their patience, and the fact that they both stood for most of it. Staff walked around handing out tattoos and magnets...



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