Friday, July 30, 2010

A thousand sighs...

... and tears and hugs and smiles. Today Chloe, Ella and I made a trip to our favorite store, Peek... Aren't You Curious in Roseville. But today wasn't a happy day as we were going to Peek to say farewell. I received a card in the mail earlier this week from Rachelle and Michelle saying that Peek would be closing it's doors on July 3oth - to say my heart was broken would be an understatement. And no Gary, I'm not being dramatic.
I first stumbled upon Peek last year during an outing with the girls. Ella was only a few months old and I took the girls to the Galleria to stroll around. I was just about to leave when I noticed that both girls were asleep in the stroller. Not wanting to wake either by putting them in the car, I decided to wander around for a while. I noticed a cute little store whose facade was made of brick and was painted the most adorable shade of baby blue. I navigated my giant, double wide stroller through the store and instantly fell in love. There was no specific "thing" that caught my attention, just the overall vibe of the place... happy, fun, nostalgic. The kind of place you imagine your grandparents shopped for their kids. And a place where a kid could be a kid - riding a bike, or playing with toys that were stashed in clear jars, or my kids' favorite, crawling on the shelves where they imagined themselves inside a fort made of clothes.
Yes, the clothes are adorable with some of my favorites being made of Liberty of London fabric (this was long before Target picked up on these gorgeous textiles). Over the past year, we have amassed quite the Peek wardrobe, and I can pretty much guarantee that my girls wear at least one article of Peek clothing a day. Because the clothes are cute, they are functional and they are made to last.
But the main reason that I kept coming back to Peek in Roseville is because of the store manager Rachelle and her trusty right hand Michelle. These two women are simply amazing! They always made it a point to say hi (they actually remembered my name) whenever I made a visit and would ask how the girls were doing. I rarely brought the girls in to the store, usually because I was at work that day or had escaped for some brief "mommy alone time". But when I did bring the girls, Rachelle and Michelle always went out of their way to play with Chloe and Ella. Have you ever been to a store where one of the sales people sits on the floor to read your child a book? Or helped your child ride a bike (yes, inside the store)? Or tell you 100 times in one visit that it was okay that your child was pulling an entire stack of t-shirts off the table? Rachelle and Michelle have. That is because they understand two things. First, they understand that children, no matter how unruly or obnoxious, are the center of their parents' universe. And for the time that you are inside their store, your children are the center of their universe. Second, they understand the value of customer service. Everyone appreciates a kind word, especially when it is sincere. And Rachelle and Michelle are always full of kind words, no matter how crazy your child is behaving in their store. They often sent me a card in the mail after I had shopped in the store, just to say thanks. That little card always put a smile on my face. I mean, who doesn't like to receive a cute little hand written card in the mail? Again, the customer service... AMAZING!
The girls and I stopped by the store today to say good bye to Michelle and Rachelle. I thought the store was open but was horribly disappointed to find boxes packed and the store pretty much empty. I had a lump in my throat the entire time. But gracious as they are, Rachelle and Michelle smiled and thanked us for being their customers. They also obliged my request to take some photos, just so Chloe, Ella and I can always remember our friends.

Michelle with Chloe, Rachelle with Ella in front of our favorite store.

Just look at the smiles on Michelle and Rachelle's faces. Those are genuine and I love it. Because they think my kids are really cool. Even when they don't sit still (well, just Ella).

Rachelle and Michelle, thank you for everything. For being wonderful and sweet and patient and kind. We are going to miss the heck out of you!!! Best of luck post-Peek! I'm sure that whatever you do, you will be fabulous. We will think of you every time we put on Peek clothes. And yes, we will still shop for Peek at their at online store, but it just won't be the same without you.
Love, Nicole, Chloe and Ella

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ballerina Chloe

I love to dance. My mom started me in ballet class at the itty bitty age of 4 and I have been dancing ever since. As a child, I had dreams about becoming a ballerina. Ah heck, I still have those dreams and I am 36 years old.

Alas, life got in the way and dancing was no longer a big part of my life. My dreams of becoming a ballerina were eventually replaced by my reality of becoming a veterinarian. And even as I spent endless hours buried in books and even longer endless hours caring for my patients, dance has remained in my heart.

So when the ultrasonographer announced "it's a girl!", my mind quickly flashed forward through all of the things that I would be able to share with her some day. One of the first things I thought about was ballet: I couldn't wait to sign Chloe up for ballet class, buy her first pair of ballet slippers and watch her in her first recital. And yesterday, four long years after the announcement that I was expecting a girl, I got to buy Chloe her first pair of ballet shoes.

I made the mistake of telling Chloe that we would be going to the ballet store to buy her a "costume" for ballet class... she spent every waking moment asking me "mommy, when we going to the ballet store?". And finally, the moment arrived. We walked up to the store, Chloe's eyes growing bigger with each step. She tried on her ballet slippers and found the perfect pair. Then she picked out her leotard. I had envisioned a simple, classic pink leotard with a matching pink skirt. Chloe, however, was lured by the little velvet number with sparkly, ruffled straps. And the purple tutu. The bright, garrish, gigantic purple tutu - something I'm sure Barney would envy. So I bit my tongue and tried to enjoy Chloe's beaming face. All in all, the trip was a smashing success. The moment we walked through the door, Chloe wanted to put on her ballet clothes. She wanted to sleep in them, tights, tutu and all. When I left the house at 6 this morning, she was sound asleep in her velvety soft leotard.

Of course, I could not resist taking a few photos of my little ballerina in her new attire. Here are a few of her, perched on the kitchen counter. She was watching daddy bathe two of our dogs who had been skunked. Chloe wanted to go outside and help, but we wouldn't let her lest she ruin her beautiful ballet costume the very first day.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Elliot is 9 months!

I have had the pleasure of photographing this adorable little girl since before she was even born, and it has been so amazing to watch her grow these past nine months! She is a perfect combination of her parents, with her daddy's smile and her mommy's firey personality (and I mean that in the best possible way!). There ain't nothin' that's gonna stop this girl.

I met Ellie and her mommy, Casey, at the UC Davis Arboretum. It was a beautiful, sunny day with a warm summer breeze. We watched Elliot toddle about the garden where she tried to feast on leaves she had been collecting. Then we settled on a picnic blanket on the grass... classic summertime!

I wanted to be sure to get lots of photos of Casey and Ellie together... Casey takes most of the photos in her family, which means that she isn't in a lot of them. And every mommy should have some photos with her baby.

Ellie is well on her way to walking... I just love this stage, when they are all weebly-wobbly! And those legs! I just want to squeeze them they are so stinkin' cute!

Oh I love Ellie's little face, with her toothless smile and crinkled nose!

Here are a few more of my favorites from the day...

Casey and Ellie, thank you so much for a wonderful afternoon. I can't wait to see you girls again... hopefully we won't let another nine months pass before the next time we get together!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Fourth!

A few days late...


My little firecrackers