Monday, September 8, 2008

Family Fun in Cali

So after much planning and feeling full of anticipation, we finally made our way to visit my three step-siblings that live in CA. I can't tell you how excited I was! It had been a year since I'd seen Herman, Heather, and Emerson when they came to visit us and I had never met my newest nephew, Marshall, until this trip. He is SUPER CUTE by the way and such a sweet, happy baby! It had been seven years since my step-bro Ace moved to Cali and eight years since I'd seen Karla, Nikki, and Katie. Boy, oh boy, was I excited! Heather - thanks so much for being the hostess with the mostest! We really appreciate you guys letting us borrow all the baby gear and planning the photo shoot! Can't wait to see the pictures!!! We loved spending time with all you guys and Grace loved playing with all her cousins!

Here's Grace and Emerson seeing each other again (Emerson was 8 mo. and Grace just shy of 5 mo. when they first met) Just like old times - Grace going after Emerson's snacks :) Playing together like old buds! Emerson bouncing on his Rody! SO CUTE! Ace and Marshall Marshall loved it when Ace whistled! Marshall is one cute baby boy! How'd you find me in here, Mama? Playing with other people's toys is just the best! What's not to love about those big brown eyes?! I loved spending time with Emerson. He's 100% boy! Just climbing on everything! Grace's turn. Thanks for the ride, Noonie! Sidewalk chalk works much better like this, Grace. Cute boys and sweet parents A mama always knows how to get the giggles going! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this picture! Boy, have I missed you, Ace! You never cease to amaze me with your beautiful spirit. Love you, bro! Family shot! Trying on Daddy's hat just for fun As a fun surprise for Papa A.J., Heather & Herman arranged for a professional photographer to meet us Sunday morning at a local park to take pictures of his kids, grandkids, and the whole family! We somehow managed to keep it a secret and boy was it worth it! I think he was really surprised and excited! During all the craziness of a photo shoot with 13 people, I managed to capture this sweet moment without them seeing me. I love that I got this on film :) Mamas and babies I'm sad that I didn't capture more spontaneous moments between the prof. photos, but chasing after a very active 17 mo. old in a new park isn't easy :)

As I mentioned before, this was a trip of many firsts, including Grace's first ride on a choo-choo train. To say she loved it would be an understatement :) She wanted to ride again and again and again! Daddy's turn! And then it was time for Herman's b-day party. Heather did an awesome job putting it all together - she even cooked all the food while in the middle of having all of us around - like I said, hostess with the mostess :) The weather was perfect and we had a blast in their backyard! A boy has to mow the lawn, doesn't he? Driving a la Flinstones style! I think I'll go check out what Marshall is up to Hi, Marshall! Katie keeping an eye on the kiddos and indulging Aunt Jessica with a picture :) Grace so badly wanted to jump in the little pond! Like I said, this kid loves water! Exploring. Who knew gravel could be so much fun! The birthday boy! And my sis Karla in the corner - now, Karla, how is it that your camera holds the only photo of us together????? Was that planned?? And my niece Nikki somehow managed to escape my camera. Hmmmm...was this a mother-daughter plot? Don't worry, I'm sure Heather snapped a few of you guys and is more than willing to share :) Now I know Heather will probably be embarassed I'm posting this one, but I think it's the perfect finale to an awesome day/trip. Ahem, I was just trying to get a picture of that wonderful cake you baked - he, he, he. Don't worry Heather, I know you'll get me back one day :) ...A sweet moment between Herman and Heather just after he blew out his birthday candles.

I felt really sentimental leaving. I wished I could bottle up what I felt when I was with you guys, just so I could feel it all the time. I love having family around and definitely wish we lived closer. Thank you ALL for all the wonderful memories. Lots of love and hugs all around and smooches for all my sweet nieces and nephews. ~Jessica