Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Fabulous Finds: Christmas Cards!

It's time to start thinking about Christmas cards again!  And that means (yikes!) family photos!

With the arrival of Brooke smack in the middle of the holiday season last year, we didn't do family photos.  Our Christmas card was completely adorable, but only had photos of the kids.  So I'm feeling the pressure to get a beautiful family portrait done this year.  I'm discovering that the bigger your family gets, the more there is to worry about when it comes to family photos.  How will we get all the kids to even look at the camera, let alone smile at it?  How will we schedule around the unpredictable weather at this time of year?  And what on earth are we all going to wear?

I'm sure I will be stressed out no matter how prepared I am, but here are a few of my tips to minimize your worry just a little bit when you take those family photos...

*Start thinking about it and scheduling it NOW if you haven't already!  As the weeks creep closer and closer to Christmas, your stress level will climb higher and pictures are just one more thing you don't want to worry about.

*Really...REALLY...go with outdoor photos in a natural setting.  In almost every case, these will turn out so much better than photos in an indoor studio.  Let your kids run around and play and get comfortable in the setting before you try to pose them.  Everyone will be much happier!

*Don't try to be too matchy-matchy with your outfits.  Layers always tend to photograph well!  If you're in doubt about what to dress everyone in, start with an outfit that you feel confident in and want to be photographed in.  Then build the rest of the family's outfits around yours.  The kids can look cute in anything, and the husband will wear whatever.  Make sure you feel good in what you're wearing!

*As soon as you get your photos back, order your cards!  It's nice to have plenty of time to get them addressed, stamped, and sent off. 

I hope those tips can help some of you!  Last year I absolutely LOVED our Christmas cards from Tiny Prints, and I'm pretty thrilled about their collection again this year.  I love the thick, matte quality of their paper and the way their designs really stand out from all the generic Christmas cards.  Check out some of this year's beauties. . . 

{One of these years, I really must do a snowy family picture!}
{Note to self: As much as I might love them, do NOT order square cards again this year.  They are perfect if you'll be handing out most of your cards by hand.  But if you'll be mailing lots of them, the extra postage for square envelopes can really add up!}

{Which one will I choose???}

{Seriously bright and fun!}

{Great colors!  I love the untraditional Christmas cards!}
So what are you waiting for?  Go get crackin'!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kirsten's Summer Vacation!

This year, Kirsten was the lucky duck... she was the only one in the family who got to take a summer vacation to San Diego.  After Grandma and Grandpa came to visit for her birthday party and dance recital, she got to fly down to San Diego with them.  Yeah... I might have been just a tiny bit jealous.

But she had so much fun!  She loved all the attention she got, and since she doesn't like talking on the phone we really didn't get to talk to her much.  But I loved knowing what a wonderful time she was having.  She got pretty attached to this Snow White dress.  So attached that she had Grandma send it up to us a few weeks after she came back!  She's always looking for who will be her "Prince Charming", and she usually tries to make Natalie do it.  That's why we need a little boy next... so the girls can dress him up as Prince Charming.  ;)

My Aunt Lani and Uncle Jon with my four little cousins also visited, and the whole crew got to camp at the beach.  (Okay, fine... LOTS jealous).  I wish I had been there to see Kirsten and Caleb try kayaking for the first time ever!  They look so cute in there!

I'm glad her first boat experience with my Dad wasn't as traumatic as my own was.  The first time he tried to take me out on the ocean, he had an old canoe and it tipped over!  When I came up, I was underneath the boat and I remember being scared and sobbing on the beach afterward.  I was afraid of boats for a few years after that.  Funny, since I love them so much now!

All that fun in the sun with family!  Love it!  See... I can still raise my Seattle kids to have a little bit of California girl in them too, can't I?  :)

Now I can't wait for our WHOLE family to head down there for Christmas!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fun Finds: Gear & Goodies Sale at Diapers.com

One of my favorite online sales is going on right now. . . the Gear & Goodies Sale at diapers.com!!!

If you haven't shopped at diapers.com before, now is the best time to try it out!  Here's why I like it:
*It's a one-stop shop for your baby's needs!  They have such a huge variety of products.  Over 25,000!
*Everything has free shipping, and gets to you within 2 days!
*They have a full-service baby registry for new and expecting parents.

Check out all the awesome brands they have on sale right now!!!
And hurry, because the last day of the sale is tomorrow the 21'st!

Here's a few of the highlights. . .
*Get a $10 diapers.com gift credit when you spend $50 or more on Huggies products

*My disclaimer: This post is sponsored by diapers.com.  But the opinions are mine!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Explore: Whale Watching Through the San Juan Islands!

This summer, our family didn't go on any big vacations.  No San Diego, like we usually do.  It was kind of weird... but also kind of nice.  I decided I'd focus on exploring the beautiful, amazing Pacific Northwest that we are lucky enough to call home.  And we've had some great adventures!

I finally got to cross something off my list that I've been wanting to do for a long time. . . see killer whales in the wild!  I bought us some Groupon deals for half-off a whale watching trip through the San Juan Islands! 

We set sail from Anacortes.  Kirsten was still visiting her grandparents, but we had Natalie and Brooke with us!  I'd better post the proof that there were actual people on this trip, since most of my pictures focus on all the beauty and wildlife surrounding us instead.  

{Natalie saw the whales!}

And I now present. . . why the Seattle area is seriously underrated.  The scenery was spectacular!!!

I seriously LOVED standing out on the deck, surrounded on all sides by ocean and sky and mountains and bright, glittering sunshine, hearing only the waves, smelling only the salty breeze, and looking for whales.  I'll never forget it!

And did we ever find some whales!  We didn't see any breaching, but we saw lots of fins and some families swimming together! 

{In another life, I'd be a wildlife photographer.  So much fun!} 

And we saw seals!

And bald eagles!!!

And more gorgeous scenery!  It was an unforgettable day in the Pacific Northwest!

Winner for the Blog Hop!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Mompact Blog Hop!  It was lots of fun!  And here is my winner:

#30-  Adelina Priddis

Congrats!  You have received an email!

Thank you so much for the support of everyone who entered!!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Dance Recital!

This year I discovered one of the greatest joys of having little girls... watching them dance and twirl around in fluffy pink costumes and tiaras!  Kirsten loved going to her dance class at Dance Elite each week, and we were ALL excited for her first ever dance recital!  Grandma and Grandpa even flew in to see it!

Go ahead, tell me you've seen a cuter and more girly costume than this one.  ;)  Kirsten adored it!  The second we put it on her, she became a performer!

Her class did awesome at the big dress rehearsal!

One of the cutest things was the huge group number at the end of the recital.  They do it every year, and it's easy enough that even the little kids could pick up on it without practicing it beforehand.  Kirsten loved jumping and dancing to "Lollipop" with the whole group!

I can't believe how well she did at the performance!  She definitely is growing up so fast!  She was absolutely thrilled to be onstage and perform with her class!  We gave her flowers after she was done, and she and her friend Saide were so happy.  :)
 It was an awesome day that I will never forget!  We love our cute little dancer!