Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tiny Dancer

My mother put me in ballet class when I was four years old and I looooooooved it. I took lessons all the way through high school, and should have continued through college (UCI has an awesome dance program). But I decided to focus on my school work as I couldn't figure out how to fit in all my science classes and dance classes. I can't say that things turned out too badly...

Several years ago, I realized that I missed ballet and enrolled in an adult ballet class at Hawkins School of Performing Arts in Folsom. I would still be doing it today, but I have had two babies and can't seem to fit it into my schedule. So I did the next best thing and enrolled Chloe. The jury is still out as to whether she will love ballet as much as I do. She's four and her current priorities include coloring and walking her stuffed animal doggie named Chloe. Unless she develops a deep disdain for dance, I will keep signing her up for class as I feel it will help her to develop poise, confidence and discipline. And lets face it, the costumes are just so darn cute!

Chloe had her very first ballet recital last week and I was beside myself with joy and pride and will admit I shed a tear or two. I am very pleased to say that she did a wonderful job - Chloe smiled, performed most of the routine and didn't run off the stage. For a four year old, that is quite a feat. Would you like to see my little ballerina? Here are a few from backstage:

Fiddling with her choker

Hanging out with her friends

We also ran into an old neighbor of ours.
Amazingly enough, Chloe remembers going to Sophia's birthday party.
Which was 2 or 3 years ago.

Chloe was a little reluctant to be on stage...

... but she got over that pretty quickly:

I love how each girl is doing something different:

How cute are they?!?!

Here a few shot of Chloe and her ballet BFF, Jilli:

And Chloe with her daddy:

One thing that completely surprised me through all of this is what a diva my little girl is. I took hundreds of shots of her during her rehearsal and recital. And in those shots emerged a miniature model. I did not coach her on any of these, she is just that fierce:

I asked her to give me a ballerina pose and she gave me this:

I have no idea where this little girl came from. I was never this fabulous. And her daddy? Well, lets just say that he is really good at things like wrestling cows and chopping down trees.

Chloe, I love you dearly. You continue to amaze me each and every day. While I want to freeze you in time and keep you just as you are right now, I cannot wait to see what new and amazing adventures you have in store for us. You are and always will be my baby.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Cynthia!

I love birthdays, perhaps more than I should. Which could be traced back to the fact that my father never saw the point in celebrating them... "I celebrate achievements" he would grumble, "graduations are an achievement, birthdays are not". In my book, birthdays are most definitely an achievement as they signify another year of growth and learning (and in some cases, survival), and are the starting point for a brand new year of things to come. And when the birthday happens upon a decade, well, that is even better.

I had the honor of attending Cynthia's 60th birthday party earlier this month. I was asked by my wonderful friend, Schaelene, to come and photograph the festivities. Schaelene had organized a party for her stepmother, and my being there was a surprise. I met Cynthia when I entered the door wearing my gigantic backpack complete with tripod. Ever so sweet, Cynthia introduced herself, to which I replied "hi, I'm Nicole. I will be your photographer for today". I am a bit of a ding dong and forgot that this was a surprise gift from Schaelene and her cousin Sara. Ever the gracious host, Schaelene explained to her stepmother that I was there to gather photos of the families and friends who had traveled from far and near to celebrate this lovely woman. And as luck (or un-luck) would have it, Cynthia's husband was ill and could not attend the party. Ken was upset, not just because he was missing his wife's birthday party, but because he is usually the historian at these events. Schaelene assured her father that she would have someone there to photograph the event, so he should relax and get some rest.

It was a lovely party with around 50 guests, each of whom received a custom name tag written by the newly-minted first grader, Isabella:

Isabella's little sister, Claire, was the official greeter, giving lots of hugs to family and friends:

The co-hosts and the guest of honor - Schaelene, Sara and Cynthia:

Susan, a friend from high school, was able to make the party and raise a glass to her friend:

I couldn't help but photograph this little guy, Cynthia's nephew:

It is no secret that I am smitten by adorable little babies. But ones wearing UC Davis gear, fuggetaboutit! P.S. his father is a veterinarian - wahoo!

Here is Cynthia with her sister, Adrienne:

and with all of her siblings:

Marianne, Alan, Cynthia, Gerry and Adrienne
A handsome family, wouldn't you say?

No party is complete without a fabulous birthday cake.
Or two, if you are so lucky :-)

Cynthia's family is kind and did not give her 60 candles to blow out.
Although I think she could have done it!

Schaelene had her father on the phone for the singing of Happy Birthday. Even though Ken couldn't be there physically, he was still able to be a part of the party.

And what a wonderful party it was!

Happy Birthday Cynthia!
Happy Birthday to you!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cutest Swimsuits. Ever.

Summer sure took it's time getting here... I can't remember ever having a cold thundershower in June, but that's the way it has been this year. Which is a total bummer, because I bought my daughters the most adorable swimsuits at The Silver Spoon and I couldn't wait to get the girls into them. It took a good couple of weeks, but finally the sun made an appearance and we were on our way to Folsom Lake. Chloe packed up everything she and her sister would need, proudly exclaiming "I love to be prepared". If being prepared means bringing 4 towels, a rain umbrella and a microphone inside a suitcase on wheels, well then, they were most definitely prepared.

The moment the girls hit the beach, I could see everyone around smiling and saying "OMG they are so CUTE!". Which made me insanely proud because my kids usually resemble Little Orphan Annie with their mismatched clothes and tangled hair. But they just love these swimsuits and can't wait to put them on, hat and all. Yes, I said hat. Check it out:

The little lady bug is Chloe.
And the bumble bee would be Ella.
If you saw their Halloween costumes, you will recall they were
a lady bug and a bumble bee.

It is a little hard to see, but Ella's suit comes with wings and a stinger.
Very appropriate for my feisty little two year old.

The little antennae just crack me up.

Then there is my little lady bug.
Who I had trouble getting to stand still long enough to get some photos
(she was too busy flitting around, literally flapping her wings).
But then the lifeguards left the tower...

... and a little diva appeared.
I swear I did not coach her through these shots
(if you don't believe me, look at the studio ballet portraits she took yesterday.
I have never seen her "smile" that way before).

This one worries me.
Which is why she is not allowed to date until she is 50.
And will be enrolling in karate ASAP.
And why daddy will always accompany her to the beach.

Now that the sun is finally out, I'm pretty sure that we will be making lots more trips to the beach. And I'm thinking I may have to buy another suit for each girl... because at the rate we are going, these will be worn out before summer is over. Come to think of it, I should probably buy a suit in each size so that they can wear them for years to come... I love these suits that much. Fortunately for everyone at Folsom Lake, they don't sell these suits in my size. Or else I would be wearing one, too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Local Bark

I had the opportunity to visit The Local Bark in Rancho Cordova a few weeks ago. In case you aren't from the Sacramento area (or if you are and haven't seen their awesome billboard on highway 50), The Local Bark is a fabulous facility that offers day boarding, extended boarding and training for dogs. As a veterinarian, places like this scare the bejeezus out of me... I have seen my share of kennel cough, diarrhea, dog bites and other unsavory disasters that have originated from boarding kennels. But The Local Bark is different. It is waaaaaaay different. And let me tell you why.

First of all, the place is clean. I'm talking sparkly clean without a hint of dog hair anywhere... which is a momentous feat considering how many dogs walk through that door each and every day. Second, the staff members are so nice - not the saccharine kind of phony-nice, but genuinely nice. They greet each guest by name (who does that anymore?) and you can tell by looking at the client's face that this is very much appreciated. If you really want to get a feel for how much the clients appreciate The Local Bark, just visit their Facebook page. It is filled with posts from clients who had great experiences there. Oh, did I mention that The Local Bark posts about 100 pictures a day on their page? That way, clients can see how much fun their dog has had while they are away, kind of like a postcard from summer camp. Third, there is someone monitoring all the dogs all the time. I watched the group of large dogs playing together and was amazed at how quickly the two staff members in the play yard were there to respond when someone was getting a little too rowdy - a quick squirt with a water bottle and the situation is diffused. And if that doesn't work, it's time for a doggie time out. And fourth, the owners... ahhh the owners. Kristin and Matt Minnie are just the nicest, most down-to-earth people I have met in a long while. Kristin is a dog trainer, and a damn good one at that. I will admit that my knowledge of dog behavior is slim-to-none and I admire people like Kristin who understand dogs and their psychology. And human psychology, too. Because dog trainers don't train just dogs, they train people. In meeting Kristin and Mark, it is obvious why The Local Bark is such a great place - they genuinely care about dogs, their clients and their staff members.

I had the chance to meet two great groups of dogs while at The Local Bark. The first group being their "pack" or group of dogs that they use to help train other dogs. A funny bunch, every size and disposition was represented. Here they are demonstrating their mad obedience skills:

These six dogs all sat and stayed on command (and did I mention the white Bulldog is deaf?). I have four dogs and there is no way that I would ever be able to get them to do this. Hence the magic of The Local Bark. And here are their close-ups.

Goose - the alpha dog

and with his friend, Little

Dory, the sweet yellow lab

Sierra, the quiet and shy member of the pack

Jake, Mr. Wild Hair (who looks like the dog on
The Local Bark's logo)

and last, but not least... Huge
A deaf bulldog full of love and personality.
Shhhhhh, don't tell. He was my favorite from the day.

And then there is the group of dogs that the trainers are preparing for diabetes alert training. In case you are unaware (much like me), it is possible to train dogs to sense and alert when their person's blood glucose level is too high or too low. Isn't that just incredible? Would you like to see some of these lifesavers? Here they are:

I love how the two Goldens look so regal. And how the two little munchkins in the middle are stealing a kiss.





As a veterinarian, I am often asked if I can recommend a place to board dogs or train dogs. Now that I have been to The Local Bark, I can reply with an enthusiastic "Yes I do!!! Go to The Local Bark!". This place is beyond amazing and I cannot wait to go back. In fact, I must apologize for Kristin Minnie for my semi-stalker ways the past few weeks. Sorry Kristin, but your place is so amazing, I just have to be a part of it!

Check it out - you will be impressed!

3201 Fitzgerald Road
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
(916) 638-3880