Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mom's Night Out Gift Exchange #2

Finally here are the photos of my second Gift exchange with the girls. (a different set of girls). We went to dinner at Buca and ate family style. Then did a Yankee Swap style Gift exchange. I am proud to say that my gift and Michella's gift were the two most sought after and the ones stolen the most. Michella's gift was an awesome contemporary scrap girl that was MOM to use to document fun times and Mom Nights Out with her buds. It was real nice. My gift was a 5 pack of sexy panties with a cute tag that read "Not your Granny's panties!" I would love to take credit for the idea, but I can't. I saw it in a store and copied it because the panties they sold in this 5 pack were Granny panties so I didn't see how it made sense and neither did the store clerk. So I told Jimmy, I can do better than that.

We had a great time, great laughs as always and a couple good steals. In the end we all ended up with some cool stuff. Here are the photos! Enjoy! Thanks ladies for a wonderful evening. I love having you all in my life. You all bring something different to it, and I love you each for it. Cant wait to make more wonderful memories together in 2010. Especially with so many of you having babies next year! Yeah!! Sorry to those who had to miss it! You were missed. Perhaps next year we will do it earlier in December so that no one is traveling. XOXO

Monday, December 28, 2009

Goodbye! Selamat jalan! Zai Jian! Ok maams!

So today I turned 30 (again) :) and I had a great birthday. But there was just a feeling of sadness hanging over the air all day today. Because not only was today my birthday, but today a wonderful family and good friends of mine boarded a plane to start their new life in Singapore. Deanna and Jason Dowdy and their two kids Tanner (almost 4) and Paige (almost 1) couldn't pass up this wonderful opportunity! Jason has family who own a successful business in Singapore and they invited him to join their company. They offered him full training and competitive salary and pretty good stipends for living expenses. So this was a great opportunity for them to move there for a while, save as much as possible, and then move back to the States in 10 years or so. =( I have been dreading this day for a while now.

I don't know what to say about The Dowdys or where to begin. I just know I love them. Plain and simple. They are the coolest most laid back couple I ever met. (well... maybe as long as Jason is behaving. wink wink) We met this couple and their adorable Golden Retriever Bowdy shortly after moving into our house. Their house was being finished and they were walking the 'hood. I will never forget the day they came into our house to look around since they had the same model as us, and we struck up a conversation. We became instant friends. Two years later, the baby boom happened. Deanna was the first to have a baby in 2006 and I was the last. Tanner was born in January and Ella was born in November. There were like 10 babies born in our neighborhood that year alone. Talk about a busy neighborhood!

I always call Deanna the Mayor and she would always crack up. Growing up here in Arizona she has a big circle of friends and family. I remember selfishly wishing one day that she were from out of town and didn't have this big network in place, cause I would maybe get more time with her. In truth I wish I spent more time with her. I just couldn't seem to be pushy enough to break the inner circle just due to how in demand she was. But every time I hung out with her I had fun and she always made me laugh. We would often give each other a look and know exactly what each other was thinking and then crack up laughing like it was our little secret. We tended to think alike too. I joke around she was my therapist at times, as she was so easy to talk to and unload on. I probably owe her some money for it! Ha ha! Anyway bottom line is she is the type of friend that will be there for you if you need it. She will be your friend forever as long as you are good to her and her family. She will always be willing to hang out and have fun and just go with it. She doesn't have the loudest voice or personality in the room but she for sure has the loudest laugh... you can't miss it! Ha ha!

Now that she embarks on this new journey with her family, I am going to miss her tons and look forward to them coming home once a year for a visit. Ella and Tanner are going to be penpals and Ella is so excited that she is going to be getting mail!! She can't wait to send Tanner pictures and fill him in on what goes on here at home. The title of this blog includes Goodbye in the four main languages of Singapore (English, Malay, Chinese (Mandarin), and Tamil) but what I really want to say is this: I love you dearly Dowdy Family. Goodbye my friends. Till I see you again. Be safe, be well, be happy. Nothing is permanent, everything is temporary. Hang in there, plant your feet, establish roots and friendships and networks. It wont be easy. It will take time, but it will happen. You have all our love and support at home and you're only a plane ride away should you get lonely and want to come home. Give it your best shot, but rid yourself of the pressure to stay there for any set number of years. Stay as long as you feel it is right and then come home. You are not dead, you are just overseas. Your real friends will make the effort to stay in touch. I will cry often when I think of you but I will also laugh often when I think of you. I cant wait to get your letters and skype with you. I cant wait to watch Baby Paige taking steps on the webcam and hear if either kid develops an accent. And lastly, I cant wait to see Tanner and Ella's story on dateline someday. The kids who were pen-pals for 10 years and fell in love through their letter and were reunited in time to start dating, go to prom together, become high school sweethearts, fall in love, go to college together, get married and have beautiful babies... sigh. Ha ha just kidding. (sort of) Ha Ha. ;)

Hope you enjoyed these collages of my 5+ years with the Dowdys! XOXOXOXOXO Dowdy Family. Talk to you soon! :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Nutcracker with my OWN Sugarplum Princess

There are very few times in my life when I will be able to say that I experienced something with my daughter where it was the first time for both of us. I have never seen The Nutcracker and always wanted to. To be honest I don't even know the entire story of The Nutcracker and still don't! LOL But from the moment Ella was born I said I couldn't wait til she was old enough that I could make The Nutcracker Ballet a part of our Christmas tradition. I don't know if we will see the same one every year, or if we will switch dance companies, etc. but we will see one every year. Going with Ella this past Friday to see the Nutcracker now gave me a new thing that I can't wait for, and that is for Ryen to be old enough to join me and Ella!

Ella looked beautiful, all dressed up in her pretty dress and her purse! She looked SO grown up! It was amazing... I loved it. She kept telling me how beautiful she looked. It was awesome.

When we got there she was so excited. BUT she talked through the entire show!!! I felt so bad for the people around us. I apologized to all of them and thankfully none of them cared. They were actually getting a kick out of enjoying the show through her eyes too. The theater would be quiet and you could hear a pin drop and Ella would ask me loudly "What is she doing?" or "What is happening!?" or "Mommy what is her name?" It was hilarious. I snuck a few photos before getting yelled at not to take any more... but the announcer said no FLASH photography and I had my flash off, but they yelled at me anyway. =( Here is what I got...

Ella was so taken with the dancing she danced the whole way out of the theater and the entire way to the car!! It was seriously priceless to see her that touched by something.

But nothing beats the intermission performance she treated the entire theater too. It started with her dancing in between the first and second level seats. I managed to create a video montage of this below (so adorable). But when I told her I wanted to go to our seats which were in the front row, she proceeded to dance directly in front of the stage in between the front row and stage for the entire theater to see. People were smiling and clapping for her and she loved it. I also managed to have someone take a photo of us both during intermission.

Enjoy the video, it truly is the best souvenir of this amazing night. That and when she looked at me towards the end and said "Mommy- I want to be a dancer too!"

those of you that get this emailed to you please click here to go to the blog to watch the video

The video is over 4 minutes long but I swear well worth it, as her dancing gets hilarious as it goes on. :)

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Parties

Ella and Ryen had two holiday parties with their friends this month. One was at our house (16 moms and 23+ kids) CRAZINESS!!!! But it was fun! The kids did great. We had a potluck with so much good food and a dessert "table" that would have made any persons mouth water. It was awesome! The kids did a secret Santa gift exchange and they loved opening their presents from each other. It was so much fun! Thanks to everyone who came over and celebrated the season with us. Here are some adorable photos! (check out santa and mrs clause in the top right! Ha ha ha ha!)

The following week we had a playdate with our other playgroup friends. All Moms with two kids under 2 (although two of these crazies now have three under 3!!) EEK! This time it was 5 moms and 12 kids! (we are always outnumbered! LOL) Anyhow this group of ladies and I are so laid back when our kids are together that we all stood in the kitchen knocking back mimosas while our children played elsewhere. What a Christmas party! ha ha! For this reason I only grabbed my camera when we opened presents. But Danielle went all out for us. She had the bounce house and trampoline in the backyard as well as cookies to decorate and stocking and flowers to paint or stick stickers on. We had yummy food and as usual our titillating conversation which once again had us laughing, yelling, some of us crying, even. But more importantly just being so brutally honest and raw with each other about anything and everything. It is like fantastic therapy every time we are around each other. No one pretends to be something they are not or pretends they have it together or that their marriage is perfect or that they are perfect moms or wives or that we are not all royally screwed up in our own little ways! HA ha! I love these ladies... sigh. Anyhow here are the photos. Thanks for having us Danielle!

Merry Christmas Everyone! Thanks for being a part of lives!

Jill, Ryen and Ella

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chandler Christmas Tree Lighting 2009

So the City of Chandler Christmas Tree Lighting event is one of my favorites every year. This is when my kids see Santa and get photos taken. They have bounce houses and performers, food, a parade etc. But this year I did not enjoy it at all. We needed to get their earlier and that was a big mistake of ours. By the time we waited in line to see Santa we didn't have a lot of time left to do everything that Ella wanted to do before the parade started. Ella watched the dance troops perform and was mesmerized. She kept moving away from me closer and closer to the stage till she was sitting on the ground right in front of it staring up in awe. After that we tried to get some food but just waiting in line for Hot Chocolate took over 30 minutes!!! With three Hot Chocolates, my sister and her friend Liz who finally met up with me in line, three kids and a wagon we were struggling to get access to the street just to cross it so we could meet up with Jimmy and Ryen. People were blocking all parts of the street with their chairs for the parade but that meant even people trying to leave couldn't. Not one person would move their chairs to help me get to the street for fear I was going to try to take their spot. I finally push my way to the front and the lady tells me sorry Ma'am I can't let you cross the street the parade is about to start.

Jimmy and Ryen were on the other side. I was so stressed out that we were going to be separated for all of the parade and we weren't even sure we were staying for the whole thing. Ella was disappointed that we had no time to bounce in the bounce houses. I had to alk a half mile up the street and cross the street with Ella leaving my sister/friend/kids and wagon behind. By the time I met up with Jimmy my frustration was at an all time high. Then I tried to give Ella a pony ride before we left only to have the guy tell us the ponys get cranky during the parade and no rides will happen till it is over. She was so bummed she had to miss that too! Poor thing. But we got some cute photos and Ryen had a blast! :) Here are the few photos I took. Next year we are there as soon as it starts! >;)

PS My girls wore matching sweaters and hats that their Auntie Lisa and Uncle Dave bought them. SO CUTE! Except Ryen looked like a boy wearing Mommy's favorite color... BLUE!

And our biggest reason for going. Bringing our kids to see Santa. Below are our photos with Santa. Here Santa was telling Ella to be a good girl for Mommy and Daddy and asking her what she wants. So cute. I love taking her to see Santa. She has LOVED him since she was a baby. NEVER cried. EVER!

Here are the souvenir photos we got to take home... See you next year (EARLY!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Girls Dinner/Xmas Exchange

(most of these photos came out like crap cause of an incorrect setting on my camera so sorry in advance that they look all snowy!) Here goes...

My neighborhood kicks butt! We have so many cool families in here and we have all become good friends. Us Moms get together once a year for a Christmas dinner and have a Secret Santa gift exchange. We look forward to it each year. This year we had a great dinner at Ling and Louie's gourmet Asian at the newly built Wild Horse Pass Casino in Chandler. The food was awesome. Thanks to my bud Deanna, I experienced my FIRST Sake Bomber (yeah) and as usual we had some laughs over our gift exchange. The best was when Kathryn gave Teresa her gift and said, I saw this and thought of you cause I know you love bling. And she gave her this hat below...

None of us were sure what to think but we were wondering is she for real or was that a joke? Teresa looked at like and was like Wow... I do like my bling... what she left out was the "BUT this is ridiculous" part. Probably wanted to spare Kathryn's feelings. Jackie could barely keep a straight face (see below)

Luckily that was not her real gift and Kathryn was pulling a joke on us all. Her real hat was adorable! After dinner, some got drinks, some got their gambling on (I think Crissy even won $100!) and then we entered this "Vegas style" nightclub for dancing. We have never danced this hard ever for a MNO. Or maybe just me! Ha ha! But we had so much fun! Here are the pics! Here's to another great year with you ladies and I cant wait for the more good times in 2010!

PS: Next year's girls dinner and Xmas exchange will be held whenever Ms Deanna comes back to the States from Singapore. I don't care if it is the middle of July! LOL... but I am pretty confident The Dowdy's will be coming home for Christmas next year. XOXO

and lastly my favorite photos of the night...

Our Winter Family Photo Shoot

Recently, we had so many cute photos with our friend Jessica who does photography on the side. Those of you who got our Christmas booklet (i mean card) will understand that it was hard for us to choose our favorites. Here is our photo shoot below. Thanks Jessica for some awesome photos. If any of my local friends would like her info here is her email address. I highly recommend her. She is a great girl. Jessica Stoker:

For 2010 we are so excited that we won a photo shoot with Andria of Andria May Photography. We also will be having our friend Tanya shoot us next year as well! I love having all these photographer friends who are all so talented and help me capture my beautiful family and create lasting memories.