Friday, September 24, 2010

2 Nicoles and their Kids

When I was in college, I was a really shy, dorky girl who had a hard time making friends. I was pre-med and everyone I had met in my classes was ultra competitive - not exactly a warm, welcoming environment for a wallflower such as myself. Someone suggested I rush a sorority, which I did before my sophomore year. I didn't know one from the other, but through that week, I clicked the most with the girls from Delta Delta Delta. Okay, let's get it out of the way right now... "can I help ya? help ya? help ya?". I met some really great girls and a few weeks later moved into the coolest house ever. It was on 33rd Street in Newport Beach, one block from the shore. I shared a room with Nicole, aka Snickie, who was nice enough to share her closet with me. We opened the bedroom window at night and listened to the sounds of the ocean while talking about life, which at that time revolved mostly around boys. Snickie was a great roommate and that year on 33rd Street went down as one of my all time favorites.
After graduation, I lost touch with most of my Tri Delta sisters and my roommates. Some 16 years later, through the magic of a little thing called Facebook, Snickie and I reconnected. Since we had graduated, she went on to marry her college sweetheart and together they have two adorable boys. Nicole was also diagnosed with Celiac Disease which prompted her to discover (and love) a gluten free lifestyle. Nicole has been seriously working on some recipes with the hopes of starting her own gluten free bakery. As memory serves, Nicole is a fabulous cook and I have no doubt that her bakery will be a smashing success!
A couple of months ago, I was planning a trip down to Southern California. Nicole and I decided to get together for a mini reunion, complete with our little kids. First of all, I must say that Snickie looks even more gorgeous than she did in college (if that was even possible). Second, that girl makes some cute little kids (as if there was a doubt). We met up at Fashion Island for a photo shoot as Cole and Dean love to run around there; their favorite activity is to look at the koi in the fish pond. Unfortunately for us, the fish were on vacation as their home is being renovating. But we managed to have some fun despite the little hiccup.
I must confess, I had no idea what I was in for. I have two busy little girls, which is nothing compared to two very busy little boys. After about an hour of chasing them around, I was exhausted. Nicole, I don't know how you do it all day, every day. You are a super hero in my book!
Without further adieu, I give you the fabulous Snickie and her sons, Cole and Dean:

Big brother Cole

and little brother Dean

Cole was so cute... he would wander around and pose for the camera. I think he has a modeling career in his future! Even the recent loss of his two front teeth didn't stop him from smiling. I think Cole needs to give his little brother some tips... every time I put the camera up to my face, Dean would give me this smile:

How stinkin' cute is this little guy? Oh, I am just smitten with him. And FYI, he does actually know how to smile. I asked him to stand in front of the gorgeous front doors of Jonathan Adler and he gave me this adorable little pose:

Another great backdrop was lurking right near the koi pond... we didn't have fish, but we had this cool little sky effect going on:

Which inspired me to play with some vintage-y actions in PS and LR

I don't think there was a part of Fashion Island we didn't cover.

There was a fountain
and an escalator

and a planter

and a toy store

Nicole asked if I could get a photo of her and the boys together, which I was so happy to do. If only it were that easy. Most of my pictures ended up looking like this:

and this:

which I am sure is not exactly what Nicole had in mind when she made her request. But I just love this shot... the boys are being their silly selves and Nicole is laughing and looking uber fab. When I think about our morning at Fashion Island, this is what I remember.

Nicole, thank you so much for being such a great roommate a lifetime ago. Congratulations on your beautiful family and for all that you have endured and accomplished as a mommy. You are doing a wonderful job with Cole and Dean and I am so glad that I was able to meet them. Our reunion was a quick whirlwind of a visit... far too short for my taste. Perhaps we can get together again someday, preferably sooner than 16 years from now?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's a small world after all...

Do you ever stop and think about how small the world really is? I did last week, and not just because I visited Disneyland. And for the record, it's not the happiest place on earth but I will reserve that for another post.
I took my daughters to Southern California to visit my BFF. While visiting So Cal, I had the opportunity to photograph the Ekizian family, who is lovely beyond words. We were "set up" by a mutual friend, the ever fabulous Valli Vida Gideons. I went to school with Valli's brother, JT, who still lives up in No Cal with his amazing wife, Mel, and their son, Gage (who is consequently married to my daughter). Confused yet? Well, don't be. Because the gist of my story is that it truly is a small world.
Our session took place at Pine Park in Dana Point... what a gorgeous place. A grassy hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean near sunset. Ahhhh, heaven! There is also a super cool park where we let the kids run amok for a while, just to get their wiggles out.
First, I would like you to meet Aidan... a fine young man! At first I had a tough time following him around with my camera. Ever the gentleman, he would stop and smile for me, as if he knew that him mom wanted a picture of him.

All I had to do was say "hey Aidan!" and he would stop whatever he was doing and give me a smile... what'd I tell ya? A gentleman!

And then there is his sister, Kate. Who is, shall we say, spirited. I won't lie, this girl is a fireball! But I just so happen to love fireballs so we got along splendidly. It was even harder to get a shot of Miss Kate, but on the rare occasion, she would stop and give me a smile.

Oh, this is a girl after my own heart... look at those eyes, for goodness sakes!

Dad and Aidan broke out their gloves to throw around the baseball for a while... there is something so endearing about watching father and son play catch.

I watched from a distance, because this kid has one heck of an arm! Aidan, you keep this up and I'm sure we'll be seeing you at the Giants games in a few years.

Meanwhile, Kate was blowing some bubbles with her friends Harper and Battle (and their new friend Chloe - thanks for sharing with my little girl!).

And have I mentioned yet how much I love this girl's laugh?

Love it!

We started to make our way over to the cliff to try and get some sunset-over-the-ocean shots. We were a little distracted by this really cool tree..

Mom giving Kate a hand

Aidan giving me a hand

Finally, we got around to some shots of the family together. As the sun began to set, so did our littlest model. Miss Kate did not take a nap that day and she was beginning to lose her patience with me and my camera. The entire family did such an amazing job getting her to smile and laugh...

Of all the family photos, I love this one the most because I think it captures them just as they are:
Here are some more shots of the family in different arrangements:

We didn't manage to get any of daddy and Kate... I think she was "game over" by this point... So that left Karen and Doug for a few shots. After nearly 2 hours of chasing kids, they took a few moments to spend some quiet time together.

I realize this looks like an ad for eHarmony, but I love this shot. And this shot, where Karen and Doug were watching their kids run off with Valli after being excused from the photo session:

But most of all, I looooooove this shot!

Karen, you are such an amazing mom... you take such wonderful care of your kids (who obviously adore you). It was so nice to see you relax and enjoy a few precious minutes with your husband, who so beautifully illustrated in this photo how much he loves you.

Karen, Doug, Aidan and Kate, thank you so much for spending the afternoon with me and my crazy kids. Valli, thank you for setting us up. And JT, thanks for introducing me to Valli. Now everyone sing with me... "it's a small world after all!".

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Daddy's Princesses

The girls and I will be headed out for a princess vacation with Grandma Bunny, my best friend, her two kids and her mom. Yes, we are going to Disneyland. I teeter back and forth on my feelings about this trip. When the girls are running around with their magic wands, I am excited. When I think about the drive, the lines, the girls... I freak out a little. Okay, a lot. Because Disneyland is kinda huge and I am terrified that Chloe and Ella will become lost in a sea of thousands of princess wannabes. Or worse yet, I will end up spending hundreds of dollars on princess paraphernalia so that my two children will look just like everyone else. I wish I could be so bold as to say that this will never happen, but have you been to Disneyland? I can hear it now... "mommy, if I don't get that life-sized, light up glow-in-the-dark Snow White, I'm gonna die". What did I sign up for?
Daddy will be staying at home. His excuse is that he has to work, which is kinda true. But the real reason is that he hates Disneyland. He was scarred as a young child when his family made a road trip from Sacramento. His dad had just purchased a Buick Riveira and was determined to make the trip on one tank of gas. They made it all the way to the park entrance, where the Buick ran out of gas. And there the McArthur family sat, blocking cars from entering the Happiest Place on Earth. Gary can't seem to erase that memory and Disneyland will always be forbidden territory.
Alas, I refuse to deprive my children of this American rite of passage and will be taking the girls while Gary holds down the fort. In preparation for a week without his girls, I took a few photos of Chloe and Ella out in his garden... just so he doesn't forget what they look like. And so when they come home dressed like little miniature drag queens, I will remember what normal looks like.
Ella checking on her pumpkins

Chloe taking a moment to relax

Ella trying to figure the irrigatation

Chloe running through the corn

Ella right behind sister

I thought it would be cool to get a portrait of each of the girls in the corn... the result of daddy's hard labor. Isn't she cute? But this isn't how I see my girl. This is how I see her:

And would you like to see how I "see" Ella? Just like this:

and this:

So there you have it... my little girls BEFORE Disneyland. I'll post pictures after we get home... hopefully they will look much the same as they do here. If not, I'm sure daddy will take them out to the garden and roll them around in the dirt a bit.
Wish us luck!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Woofstock 2010

Last Sunday was Woofstock... a wild and crazy 60s themed event celebrating all things canine. I volunteered at the Chester Foundation booth with my good friends Bryce and Suzi. Not to mention our super awesome next door neighbors, Marsha and Nicole at the Atlantic Street Veterinary Hospital booth. We had so much fun meeting all of the adorable dogs and their humans, hearing stories while receiving lots of kisses (from the dogs, that is).
In case you haven't heard about the Chester Foundation, it is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing veterinary care for stray and disadvantaged pets. For more information, please visit their website here. With economic times as they are, people sometimes don't have the financial means to pay for the unexpected cost that comes along with a veterinary emergency. As an emergency veterinarian, it breaks my heart when people are forced to decline treatment due to financial hardship. I know, you must be thinking "well then don't charge people". Trust me, the thought has crossed my mind, like a million times. But if we did that, we wouldn't be able to pay the phenomenal staff that is highly trained and willing to work the crazy hours that come with emergency medicine. And the hospital would close, which means we couldn't help anyone. So the Chester Foundation was born. This foundation helps clients pay for the costs associated with emergency care through loans and grants. Recently established, there is not a large sum of funds available. But we are working on building it! I was more than happy to volunteer my time at Woofstock to help raise money for Chester. For a donation of $15, I photographed portraits of some adorable doggies at Woofstock. Would you like to see my models? Well wait no longer, because here are some of the coolest, most awesome dogs at Woofstock:

Here is Tessa, an adorable pug who made me smile :-) As did her sister, Pearl:

Am I crazy or is Pearl smiling? I don't know about you, but I thinks I needs me a pug in my life! Mom is just the sweetest thing and you can tell by the twinkle in her eye that she adores her little girls.

And then there is Bravo. Okay, now hold on to your hats because Bravo is about the coolest dog I have ever met. Don't believe me? See for yourself:

OMG... can you stand it? Bravo is rocking the doggles and bow tie. All that's missing is a scarf, a leather helmet and a vintage plane. Move over Snoopy, because here comes Bravo.

And then there is Lucky, the camera-shy pitbull. I must have taken close to 50 images trying to get a decent portrait to give Lucky's mommy. It took some work, but I got perhaps one of my favorite portraits of the day. It is not your traditional portrait, but I just love it! Just look at those soulful eyes.

Just gorgeous!

And then there is Cha Cha Wee Wee, who came to visit her mom Suzi (who was working hard to raise money for the Chester Foundation). Cha Cha posed with Suzi's granddaughter (would that make her a great aunt?).

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get both a dog and a toddler to look at the camera at the same time? Well, it wasn't easy. But goodness gracious, I sure am glad I stuck with it because I just love this photo! Don't you love Cha Cha's expression?

And I realize this next photo has no dog in it whatsoever... but these kind people donated money to the Chester Foundation.

This beautiful young lady is named Kezia... her mommy is on the Board of Directors for the Chester Foundation. Kezia's grandma was in town and Nicole thought it would be nice to get a portrait of Kezia and grandma together. I was willing to do it for free as, well, Nicole is my friend. Not to mention she is on the Board. But Nicole believes so strongly in this organization that she made her donation (and then some) to the Chester Foundation. Which will undoubtedly help someone someday.

And there you have it... some of the cutest, most awesomest dogs (and people) at Woofstock 2010. I am already looking forward to next year :-)