Monday, December 25, 2006

What Not to Wear

Daniel took me shopping for a new outfit to take some family photos in. I've been watching TLC's What Not to Wear faithfully for a few months now. I'm trying to follow Stacey and Clinton's advice.

Since I'm losing weight, it was exciting to get to shop in a smaller size. I'm down to a size 14 for the first time in years. The WNTW tips I'm utilizing in this outfit?

1. fitted jacket to slim my waist
2. layers with a neutral camisol under a blue jacket
3. straight leg slacks to make me look taller and proportionate
4. pointed toe shoes with a little heel to elongate my foot

I got all the compliments on my new slimmer sleeker look that I could have hoped for. My sister, Toni, however knew immediately where I was getting my fashion advice from. She said, "You've been watching What Not to Wear!" the minute she saw my new outfit. Yup, I was busted! The family photos came out great, and I felt beautiful all evening, so "Thanks, Stacey and Clinton."

Dang, Sis!

We took some photos at my Mom's house with her and my sister, Toni. All I can say is, "Dang, Toni!" How did you manage to look so good in all those photos? I take 20 pictures with me in them and am praying that one or two are just "okay".

You know, you could do one of those talk shows where you show pictures of you as a cute, but geeky little kid with glasses and freckles, then burst through the giant photo as this amazingly beautiful adult.

Have I mentioned that you, my baby sister, are my current inspiration? I'm talking about the way that you managed to lose weight, get fit, and turn into a bombshell all by yourself. You gave me hope, originally, that I could do the same thing. It was such an encouragement to see that someone I know really can do all that without surgery or some crazy diet plan. You just worked hard and ate less. Hopefully, our family photos next year will be more balanced and both of us will look as good as you do now. Love ya, Sis!

That Thing You Do

My mom has a way with kids. When Danya was a baby, Mom made her laugh, a real true belly laugh, for the first time by saying silly nothings like "bubba-lubbers" and "Wookie" in a surprising way. When we were at her house last week, she had an instant raport with Kevin. She had him smiling and laughing in no time.

Whenever I'm playing with my kids, being silly, singing goofy songs, dancing around the living room with them, and generally being a fun mom, I give a silent little thanks to my mom, who did all those same things with me when I was a kid. So often, I hear my mom's words, my mom's voice, coming out of my mouth. Some of the often heard "mom-isms":

1. Is that money burning a hole in your pocket?
2. I'm not Mom anymore, I'm changing my name.
3. You'll get glad in the same boots you got mad in.
4. "But, but" is what you sit on.
5. Yeah, I'll just use my third arm to get that for you.
6. So is Christmas. (after the kids say, "I'm coming!")
7. Nice to meet you, Hungry. (after the kids say, "I'm hungry.")
8. Don't make me come over there!
9. Do you think money grows on trees?
10. I'll just take that out of petty cash.

The "Greats"

We spent some time visiting with the Moffett great grandparents while we were in Oklahoma. They gave the kids some new stuffed animals, and played dominoes with them.

When I looked at the photos we took, I saw this one of Kevin and Grandpa Joe. I'm just amazed at the family resemblance. Their expressions, their ears, even their hands have a remarkable similarity. Kevin, buddy, you may be able to see your future here.

My Favorite Aunt

Aunt Kathy has always been my favorite aunt. She moved to Oklahoma when I was about 11 years old. She gave me one of my all time favorite Christmas gifts one year. It was a instant polaroid camera, and I loved it! I think that's where my love of photography started.

We took pictures with Aunt Kathy, her son Shane, and his wife Rachel last week. Aunt Kathy gave the girls an awesome toy. It's called a Crayola Cutter and it cuts out any shape the girls draw. You can even cut photos with it. I think I had as much fun with it as they did!

It was really good to see cousin Shane again. I've always loved spending time with him. It's a shame that we live so far apart these days. I really wish Daniel could someday find a job in Oklahoma City so that we can be closer to family.

Our Father's House

Sunday was quite an experience. We all went to Daniel parents' church, New Covenant Fellowship, in Stillwater. Grandma Nancy was so proud to have all of her children and grandchildren to show off!

We also got to see our friends, Glenda's family and the Haley's there. This picture is of Glenda & Eric's crew and their two nieces.

Kevin was so funny at church. He kept babbling through the service until he had to be taken out. At one point he seemed to be having a conversation in baby talk with the baby girl of our friend, C. J. New Covenant is the church that Daniel and I went to as teenagers, so we got to show our pride and joys off to alot of people who knew us when we were younger. After church we went out to eat with friends and family. At the restaurant we had to ask for a "table for 27"!

A Very Brady Christmas!

We had so much fun taking family photos with my little amateur photography studio. We got sibling pictures of Daniel, his brother Ben, and their sisters Jennie and Robin. I had them pose in lots of different ways, and then we took a few pictures of them doing the "Brady Bunch" thing where they look around at each other. We were all cracking up the whole time. It was great!

I especially liked how the colors they were wearing looked so perfect in the photos. We couldn't have planned it that good if we had tried. We got some really excellent photos of Daniel's family. We've already printed a few out and put them in the picture frame I got for Christmas.


We lucked out this year. First, our gift for our niece, Shalom, was a hit! She liked it so much that her parents had trouble getting her to pay attention to all her other gifts. We gave her an Elmo/Cookie Monster phone.

We gave Kevin some similar gifts. He got a little ball that has Elmo's face on one side and Cookie on the other. They both giggle and shake. Then we got him an Elmo hammer that lights up and makes music when he shakes it. He also got a baby Elmo that sings and hums when you give him his pacifier. Kevin keeps trying to suck on Elmo's pacifier.

At my brother, Ricky's, house I somehow lucked into being his daughter, Riley's, favorite person for the night. She kept running up to hug me and be held. She even cried and fussed when I would hand her back to her parents! She's about 14 months old and incredibly loving and sweet. It was a fun surprise to be an instant favorite!

A Little After Dinner Snack

I guess Kevin was still hungry the other night because he decided to chew on his cousin Bekah's forehead for a while. She gave him a hug and he started rubbing his gums on the top of her head just like he does with his favorite teether toy.

She was laughing and letting him chow down even though drool was running into her eyes and down her face. If that's not love, I don't know what is, lol! We recorded Kevin munching on his cousin and took a few cute pictures. I'm sure this will be one of those weird stories he hears about when he's older.


Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Wayne had all eleven of their grandbabies at their house last weekend. They even have #12 on the way in this picture, that Diana is expecting in about 8 months.

Their oldest grandchild, Judah, will turn 12 next month. It's fun to try to imagine how many grandchildren they will have by the time he reaches adulthood in a few years.

My parents only have 4 grandkids, my 3 plus my brother's son. So I guess we better hurry up if we want to help them catch up to Daniel's parents!

The Great Outdoors

The best thing (in the kids' opinions) about going to their Grandparents' house is getting to play outside. They can get dirty, swing on the tire swing, play in the leaf piles, and generally run amok.

The kids begged and begged to go outside, but we made them wait until after we took family photos. A bunch of us got together to play touch football, too. I dubbed myself the sports photographer and Uncle Matt declared himself the permanent quarter back for both teams. Even little Jason played, and did a great job. He is one tough little boy! He didn't even cry when the football nailed him in the head.

Tuesday night I played hide and seek with Jason, Rhema, and my girls. We played at dusk, and we actually played reverse hide and seek, which is where one person hides and everyone else tries to find them. Then when someone finds them they hide with them until the last person finds the whole group. When I was a kid they called it "Sardines" because you end up packed together in a tiny little hiding spot. The weather was perfect, just barely chilly at all. The kids even managed not to get too terribly dirty all week.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Away in a Homemade Manger

The Maxwell kids perform the Christmas story every year for the family. This year was no exception. They called and informed us that our girls would get to be angels and asked if we could please learn "The First Noel" and "Silent Night" in sign language.

Well, I looked up the signs in my old book from the class I took years ago at Rogers State College. We learned the signs and the words on the drive from Colorado to Oklahoma. Then Danya taught her cousins the signs when we got there. They all did a great job with the play and the songs. The Maxwell kids sang "Silent Night" in the Spanish version for Aunt Diana's benefit, since she doesn't speak very much English.

Grandpa Wayne even built a wooden manger for the play. Kevin was supposed to be baby Jesus. He even tried out the manger, which was a little small for him. Unfortunately he fell asleep just before the play started. So his under study, the plastic baby doll in the above group picture, filled the role for him.

The Gangs All Here

This is one of the better photos we took as a group outside. In this shot is Daniel's brother Ben's family, his sister Robin's family, his other sister Jennie, his parents, and of course our immediate family. For this shot I just set the timer and ran to get into the photo.

I'm really surprised that we managed to get almost everyone looking. We have another photo where everyone is looking but you see less of Jennie (in the ball cap on the right). Ben surprised his mom, or attempted to anyway, by flying in for the weekend with his family.

Little Gymnast

My niece Bekah is an amazing little gymnast. While we were in Oklahoma celebrating an early Christmas with family, she showed off some of her moves.

She performed her gymnastics routine for us and showed us the cool flips and jumps she can do. I set up my little photo studio in the game room of Daniel's parents' house and had Bekah do some of her tricks while I took pictures in action mode.

She is just simply amazing. I don't know if she'll end up an olympic hopeful or a college gymnast, but I know that she seems born for gymnastics. She seems to light up when she's leaping and twisting and doing her "thing". Bekah-boo, I'm sure that someday I'll be proudly jumping up and down yelling, "That's my niece!" Then again, I'm already pretty proud of you.

A Hiking We Will Go!

"It's only 10 minutes away, Jess."
That's how it started. Daniel tells me about a pretty little hiking trail with a great view of the mountains. He just wants me to come with him and take a tiny little walk around.

The weather had warmed up just barely enough that it sounded like fun. Almost an hour later we arrive at this wide open area with gently rolling hills. The sun has started to set, the temperature has dropped 10 degrees, and the girls and I are shivering and flapping our arms to warm up. Poor Danya was not dressed for a chilly walk. She begged the whole time to go home.

It really was beautiful out there. I'd love to go back sometime when the weather is warmer.

Kevin's First Christmas Gift

We exchanged gifts with the Caulkins' kids before our trip to Oklahoma. They gave Kevin his first ever Christmas gift, a soft brown teddy bear wearing a Santa hat.

It was love at first sight...or is it "bite"? He immediately, hugged, snuggled, petted, and slobbered on his bear. He gets excited every time he sees it.

We gave Shannon and Sarah new scrapbooking kits, and Brandon got a new LOTR video game. They gave us cards with free babysitting coupons, and some other neat little toys and things. It was nice for Danya and Gloria to get to open a few gifts early, since they've been staring longingly at all the gifts under our tree for weeks now.

Seeing Each Other

Daniel and I took an evening while the kids were in bed before he had to leave for work, to play with the new backdrop and take photos of each other.

The lighting was off, so the colors came out wrong, but the photos don't look too bad in black and white.

I did, however, learn one important thing. Make sure to remove watches for future photos shoots.

On a side note, thanks for the new shirt, Jennie. It looks great on me!

The Good, the Bad, and the Silly

Daniel got me some new photo backdrops and a stand for them. We've been having alot of fun trying them out. Some of the photos have come out less than stellar, but there have been a few really good ones.

I even let the girls and the neighbor kids play with the backdrops and my old camera. They took all kinds of silly pictures and giggled up a storm!

It's going to be great taking monthly photos of the kids. My favorite is the white background, but the black creates a neat effect, too.

Land Rental?

We found a place north of here selling homes in our price range. We went up to have a look and found out that they were manufactured homes (think trailers) on concrete slabs. They were actually very nice.

One catch though. They don't sell the land the houses are on. You have to pay about $400 a month in rent! Talk about a scam! We had fun anyways playing at their park and building a snowman with Gloria.

It never ends

I like the fact that our van is completely paid for and that it only cost about $5,000. What I like less is the endless stream of repairs and general maintenance it requires.

We took the van to Grease Monkey for the supposed 10 minute oil change. The girls and I took a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood while we waited. I'm glad the van was ready for our trip to Oklahoma for an early family Christmas. I wish, though, that we could get the electrical system checked so that we could plug in the girls DVD player.

Daniel thinks that maybe we blew a fuse when we tried to use the DVD player and the laptop at the same time back in September. It sure would make the drive to Oklahoma easier if we could get that thing fixed. It costs almost $100 just to get a diagnostic done on the van, so we haven't had it looked at yet. Oh well. The joys of automobile ownership, right?

Making Changes

Well, I got in one of those moods where a woman just HAS to reorganize something. I got the girls to help me come up with some room layout designs, and then we enlisted Daniel's help for the heavy lifting.

I really like the new flow of the living room. The only hitch was when Daniel tried to lift the whole Christmas tree and left it in the middle of the room for a minute. Then he bent down to move a drawer and accidentally knocked the whole tree over. The ornaments fell off one side, but the tree survived.

Experimenting with Black & White

We took some photos of Kevin in the buff on the spur of the moment before his bath today. We set him on top of the kitchen table with a blanket on it. I think he looks great. There's just something about black and white that lets you focus on his shape and his great expressions.