Friday, September 30, 2011

Swept Away...

Swept away... blown away is more like it! Yesterday was an sensational and emotional day.  I began my morning like I normally do - get my people up, dressed and ready to go.  We headed out early to run some errands.  Along the way I had planned to treat my littles to a yummy donut and early morning haircut.  My plan was cut short by a text I received while sitting in the donut shop.

"Where are you??" the text said.  "Are you home???"

"No. I am around the corner at the donut shop with the kids." I replied.

"Get home. I have a surprise for you." 

"Can you leave it on the doorstep? We'll be home soon." I typed.

"No." was the only reply I got.

Hmm....  "Can you bring it to me?" I asked.  "We are getting our hair cut."  

"No. You need to get your @$$ home now." she demanded.

Geesh, I thought to myself. What the heck is so important that I needed to get home ASAP?? What was going on?? Is it a puppy or something she couldn't leave unattended on my doorstep until I got home?  I was about to find out.

My kiddos were confused about why we packed up so quickly and walked back to the car.  

"Momma, I thought I was getting a haircut."  my daughter whined.

"Where are we going?" my son asked.

I explained to them that mommy's friend was at our house and we needed to go see her real quick.  Later we could come back and get a haircut.  This satisfied them for a moment although I faced a barrage of questions on the short ride home.  

"Mommy, why is your friend there?  Who is there?  Where is she?  What is she doing?" And so on.  All I could answer was "I don't know.  We'll find out as soon as we get there."

I pulled my car into the driveway to see two of my closest girlfriends waiting for me. I rolled down the window.  

"What are you doing?" I asked as I slid out of the driver's seat.  I had expected to chat with them for a minute, see what was up then head right back to our errands.

"Who runs errands at 8 o'clock in the morning?  Where were you?  We need you home today. " they said.

What were they talking about? I run errands early in the morning so I can get it done and out of the way.  I don't move very fast these days so I've got to make every minute count.  I was at the donut shop, the dry cleaners, the bank and about to get my kids' hair cut.  Why do I have to be home today?

They handed me a lovely orchid and a card.  
One girlfriend explained: "I am here to take your kiddos for the day."
My other friend simply stated: " You have house cleaners coming in 5 minutes." 
WHAT???  The emotions hit deep and quick.  Tears poured down my face underneath my sunglasses.  I could hardly breath. It was one of those moments where I couldn't even speak. How could they do this?  They didn't have to do this.  Who was responsible for this awesome gift??

I opened the card to find signatures and messages from an amazing group of women.  These women learned about my recent health challenges and wanted to help me and my family.  They collectively raised enough money and arranged for house cleaners to come into my home and clean it from top to bottom.  My heart swelled.  This took me completely by surprise.  I was swept away - literally.  

"Mommy, what's wrong?" my kids asked.  
"It's alright."  I assured them.  "Mommy is very happy right now."
I felt like Ed McMahon with Publisher's Clearing House had showed up on my door step. And I was one of those crazy winners who stood there speechless,crying with my hands shaking. Yes, that was me. 

"Your husband knows about this.  He gave us his blessing.  It took a little while, but he agreed to let us do this for you."  they explained.

These women had coordinated with my husband to arrange the date and time for the cleaning.  My kiddos went to one friend's home for the afternoon for a play date.  They would surely be happier there than running under foot during the cleaning.  I was comfortable knowing they were in good hands and having fun with some of their best buddies.

Ten minutes later, a car pulled up and a cute little husband and wife team knocked on my front door.  
"Hello." They said. "We understand your friends want us to clean your house."  Those words were sweet music to my ears.  Since I have gotten sick, my home and cleaning it has become less of a priority for me.  I look around and see the mess.  I know that it needs cleaning, but the desire and the energy level just hasn't been there.  The loss of dexterity in my fingers and my hands make it very difficult to do some of the house work that I would like to do. 
"Yes!" I replied excitedly.  I showed them around and they got to work.  Boy, did they work. And they worked.  And they worked.  And they worked.  For almost 5 hours they worked.  They cleaned parts of my house that have not been touched since we moved in almost 10 years ago.  I pushed my embarrassment aside and let them do their thing.  

Several times throughout the day, the dust would be flying and I would get emotional all over again.  The tears would come and I still couldn't believe what my friends had done for me.  All I could do was shake my head in awe.  Amazing. 

I woke up this morning and looked over their card again.  I ran my fingers over the signatures and sweet messages.  To everyone who contributed, I hope you understand how much your gift means to me.  You have touched me deeply.  I am indebted and grateful for your generosity.  My family and I appreciate you. I am a better person because I surround myself with women like you.  Thank you.  
All my love,  XOXO

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Think I've Got a Princess on my Hands

princess G

when i was pregnant with my daughter i was adamant with friends and family that i did not want any clothing with "princess" or "diva" imprinted on it.  i liked the color pink and loved the color purple.  i did not mind "girly" things but for some reason the words: princess and diva got me all anxious.

thank goodness my friends and family listened to the grumblings of a crazy pregnant lady.  i told them that if my daughter decided she loved princesses and wanted go that route, fine.  but let her decide what she liked.  i didn't want her coming in to the world with a title like that being pushed on to her.  (i know, my friends still roll their eyes at me.)

G and some of her Princess Friends

well it turns out that my daughter LOVES princesses.  i wouldn't say she is a diva, but the girl definitely knows what she wants.  she wants pink.  she wants pretty.  she wants sparkles.  she can't get enough shoes and purses.  in all honesty, i love it.  this is the same girl who plays dress up in all her pretty clothes then will go outside and dig in the dirt while wearing her princess shoes.  you have to respect a girl who isn't afraid to get dirty but also appreciates the finer things in life.  

my daughter and her friends had an opportunity to play dress up at the chick-fil-a princess night last week.  she was beside herself with excitement.  we got her all dressed up in a pink sleeping beauty gown with matching sparkle princess shoes, a crown and her jewels.  a girl after my own heart, she accessorized with the perfect handbag.  to make the night really special, we added some sparkle make up to her eyelids and some clear sparkle lip gloss.  my girl was in heaven.  we arrived at chick-fil-a to find a horse drawn carriage waiting for us along with our very own prince charming.
G and her Prince Charming
she had a great time with her brother and her friends.  i had a great time watching her.  she tells everyone who will listen that she is going to be ariel, the little mermaid for halloween.  we are in the beginning stages of planning her ariel birthday party too.  you know what?  it's okay that she likes to be a princess.  my girl is discovering who she is.  i tell her all the time: be the princess you want to be and do it well.  wear all the pink you want to wear.   
your mama loves you, g.  you make me smile every day.  xoxo

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kerr Family: Of Course He Lost His 1st Tooth

Kerr Family: Of Course He Lost His 1st Tooth..... 
"..right before our pictures" Kim says to me.
I had to laugh.  
"That's great!! This is exactly when we should be taking pictures. We need to celebrate that." I told her.  This is one of many "firsts" to come along in life.  Let's capture this memory right as it's happening.  
 "Think of how great these pictures will be when you look back on them years from now." 
I think of how great it is to look at these pictures right now.

And this is exactly how I want to remember my friend with her family.  I love the way she is laughing and looking at her man.  DJ loves his daddy.  I think this picture says so much about this family.

How many of us would love to have these eyes?  Kim, your inner beauty lights them right up!

Kim, thank you for being an amazing friend to me. I am so lucky to have you in my life.
I am grateful for your support and encouragement with my newest adventure.
Nick, you were such a great sport and thanks for the delicious Ruby's burger!
DJ, you are a ham!  And I loved it!!  Nico and Gianna need a play date with you SOON!
xox, amanda jane

Monday, September 26, 2011

Chapter 3: Ground Hog Day

the date was tuesday, august 9th.  my mother in law dropped her life and  moved into our guest bedroom.  she came to help me get around; help with the kids, get my son to school, fix meals and whatever else she could do.  i truly believe she earned her angel wings that week.

the morning began with me waking up to find that my joints had stiffened again over night.  it was still very painful to move.  the first few hours of the day were difficult.  my husband left strict orders for me to drinks "gallons" of water throughout the day and get plenty of rest.  which i did.  i knew it was difficult for him to head off to work while he watched me struggle.  he called to check on me every couple hours.  someone had to make the money to pay the bills, right?  it had been a couple of weeks since i had worked.

there were a handful of people who helped me get through these first couple weeks.  i never would have been able to get through without them.  those who showed up to help me stretch and do yoga -thank you.  those who made meals, brought over reading material and offered incredible company - thank you.  those who took care of my children and entertained them when i could not -thank you. those who helped with laundry and did my hair -thank you.  i am forever grateful for you. you know who you are and your kindness has touched me deeply.   in all honesty, i had not shared what was happening with many people.  only my family and a few close friends knew the details.  those who did know showed up. in a big way.  like i mentioned earlier, it's not easy for someone with my type-a , control-freak personality to reach out and ask for help and admit that i might be broken.  but more importantly, i didn't really know what to tell everyone.  "hey, it's amanda. i feel like crap.  i'm not sure what's wrong. can you come help me get out of bed in the morning?"  that would be weird.  i had people approach me later, saying: "why didn't you tell me?? i would've come help."  although i appreciated the gesture, that is so much easier said than done.

the second shift was taken by my mother, who had just returned from being out of town.  i know it was hard for her to be away from me and my family when all this craziness started.  my mother and i have a deep connection; one i feel in my core.  i imagined how i would've felt being so far; a feeling of helplessness. not being there.  each time i updated her on the phone i could hear the worry in her voice. 

my dear friend helped me plan my nutrition and meals for the week while loosely following the "17 day diet."  - let me clarify something, i was not hell bent on dieting to loose weight.  i was focused on cleansing my system from the inside-out in an effort to make it run more efficiently.  however, if i dropped a few pounds along the way who was i to complain?

my mother in law made a comment one afternoon while we sat and watched the kids play outside.  she said: "it's the weirdest thing to watch your progression throughout the day. i would have never understood it if i didn't see it for myself.  you wake up in the morning practically disabled and slowly, throughout the day your body loosens up.  i see your body change.  by the afternoon you are moving more fluid."   yep, that pretty much sums it up.

the first two weeks were a repeat of the same thing; groundhog day. i would go to bed feeling "almost normal" and then bam! wake up and be right back in the same situation i was the day before.  the thought of feeling better in the afternoons was what kept me focused.  my days consisted of the same routine:  HOT shower in the morning, stretching/yoga, eating clean, drinking gallons of fluids, and lots of rest.  slowly i noticed my body began to respond.  this planted a seed of hope.

friday, august 12th my general practitioner called with the results of my second blood test.  unfortunately, there wasn't much more information he could give me.  "just keep doing what you're doing and let me know what the rheumatologist says."  i know i should not get frustrated with him but i wanted more than that.  couldn't he give me any information about why my body was acting this way??  no, he couldn't.  he offered more pain medication if i was uncomfortable. i didn't want more medication.  i wanted answers.    after my conversation with him, i broke down crying.  my mother in law hugged me.  she was emotional too.  she assured me i would get through this.  i knew she was right but it was therapeutic to let my frustration out.

my mother in law had contacted her massage therapist and sent her over to see me.  on a quiet sunday morning my husband took the kids out of the house for a couple of hours while i received a 90 minute, full body massage.  i swear, the clouds parted that day and another ray of sunlight poked through.  at the beginning of our session i needed assistance lying on the table.  at the end of our session i felt like a new woman.  i felt so good that when it was over, i put on a pair of tennis shoes and headed outside to play with my kids.  i felt close to great and figured even if i woke up tomorrow with my joints locked up i had better take full advantage of today.   that massage made me feel like a million bucks.  i couldn't wait until my next appointment.

from then on, i was a focused woman on a mission: each morning i would call the rheumatology office and ask if there had been any cancellations; any way i could get an earlier appointment?  finally it happened.  they could get me in a week earlier.  great!  i'll take it!! i would be seeing the rheumatologist on august 19th.   in the mean time, i focused on what i could control: my yoga and stretching, my diet, acupuncture, massage and my attitude about all this craziness.  so that's what my days consisted of for the week.  all i could do was look ahead and hope i would get some clearer answers at my first rheumatology appointment.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Arabella is Turning 2!

arabella and her friend, olivia

one of my close friends asked me if i would be willing take some pictures of her daughter for her 2nd birthday.  can you  imagine what my response was? 
we had such a great time putting this shoot together.  my girlfriend knew she wanted to do an "olivia" theme so the pictures would coordinate with arabella's birthday party.  that was our jumping off point.
from the balloons to the cupcakes to the colors.  we had a great time and arabella thought she was getting an early birthday party prepared just for her.  well, she was!

the great thing about turning 2 is arabella is still considered a baby... but she is also getting into the "big girl" stage.  she has such a strong spirit.  this girl knows what she wants and can think for herself already.  i imagine her to be a very independent young lady when she grows up.  and that's going to be a good thing.

happy birthday, arabella!

arabella, i hope you have a wonderful party.  i am so glad i got to celebrate a little early with you and our friend, olivia.  thank you for sharing those yummy cupcakes with me.  it was a joy to spend the afternoon with you and your mommy!

i need to give a special shout-out to my wingman, sandra.  she helped us keep arabella entertained and as always was a huge help during the shoot.  thank you from the bottom of my heart.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hitting the Wall : Chapter 2

monday came and i hit the wall.  as i struggled to get my limbs to respond to what my brain was telling them to do the pain washed over me.  i got scared.  very scared.  this isn't right.  this does not feel right.  something is wrong with my body.  all of my body.  there was not one joint that had been spared from this intense pain. 

my husband sprang into action.  "in sickness and in health," - boy, they weren't kidding.  he had to physically help me out of bed.  help me to the bathroom. get me into the shower.  wash me, dry me and dress me in my clothes.  every movement made my body scream. 
right away my children were aware something was wrong with mommy.  "you don't feel good?" my daughter asked looking up at me.  my son softly kissed me and rubbed my arm.  "does that make you feel better?"  he asked.  i felt my heart break in two when i recognized the worry on their sweet little faces. they should not be worrying about me. i am the mom.  it is my job to worry about them.  

thankfully we have amazing neighbors and our kids went to stay across the street.  my husband drove me straight back to my doctor's office and we waited until the front doors were unlocked.  no appointment. no warning.  we just showed up.  his staff was visibly surprised to see me back; it had only been a few days since i was there last.  the doctor even gave me a funny look when he walked into the exam room and saw me sitting there again.  i tried hard to hold back the tears but they came anyway while i explained to the doctor why i had returned.  

"it's like she turned 90 years old over night" my husband told him in disbelief. 
my general practitioner talked a little more about the results of what would be my first blood test.  he advised me the diabetic reading was high.  "now, i'm not saying you are a diabetic but i don't want you to have problems with that in the future.  so let's do some preventative maintenance right now by loosing 5-10 pounds.  even i could afford to do that." he chuckled.  not funny, mister doctor. i am not in the mood for humor.
he continued: "you need to drink lots of water. your kidneys look like they are having some trouble and i want to make sure we are flushing them out real good.  your liver too."
so.... you want me to loose weight, drink 3 gallons of water a day and i'll feel better? 
i could tell the doctor was still a little skeptical until he saw me try to get down off the exam table.  my husband wrapped his arm around my waist and lowered me onto the ground.  he continued to support my weight as we made our way toward the door.  the problem with this connective tissue disease is that ALL of the tissues that connect every flexing joint in your body hurt like an s.o.b.  
the doctor's eyes grew wide and his mouth opened.  
"do you always walk like that?  you didn't look like this last week." he stammered.
"that is what i've been trying to tell you." i cried.  "this isn't me. my body is not doing what i tell it to do." i sounded like a toddler whining to him.
my doctor referred us to a rheumatologist.  you see, i was under the impression that a rheumatologist studied rheumatoid arthritis.  yes and no.  i had tested positive for a connective tissue disease.  there are several diseases within this connective tissue disease family.  rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are only some of them. my doctor ordered additional blood tests to investigate the connective tissue disease, gave me a prescription for tramadol (a pain medication) and encouraged me to go home and rest.  

there was no going home yet. we had things to do.  first call was to the rheumatologist for an appointment.  the first office did not have an available appointment for over 2 months.  that's not going to work.  the next doctor we called had an available appointment, but of course it would be several weeks before he would be able to see me. "i'll take it."  then i vowed to call his office every day to see if an earlier appointment became available.  yes, i can be very annoying like that.

next stop: the lab for more blood work. 
"hello again" the technician said when i shuffled in. since i had turned 90 years old overnight, it's not like i was moving very fast.  "more tests?" he asked.
i used to be afraid of needles.  we didn't get along - needles and i. but today was different. 
i was scared of what was happening to my body and i was determined to find out what was causing this craziness and get it fixed.

after the lab we hit the pharmacy for those pain meds. yes, give me pills.  if they make me feel better, give them to me now. while my husband went in to the pharmacy and took care of business, i sat in the car.  what else could i be doing to better my situation? i can't just sit here and wait around for something to happen.  i knew i could only control certain aspects of my situation.  one of them was my diet.  "loose 5-10 pounds" played over in my mind.  ugh.... but he kind of had a point.  if i ate healthy; if i ate "clean" my body might operate more efficiently and therefore be able to heal itself better. right? 
another light bulb went on: acupuncture.  hmm? i had never done acupuncture before.  remember what i said about me and needles?  yeah, well this time things are different.  i would have set my hair on fire and run down the street if it meant i would get some relief from the pain.

i called my chiropractor's office and promptly made an acupuncture appointment for later that afternoon.  scared, sore, anxious and in pain i shuffled into the chiropractic office.  once again, the office staff and patients in the waiting room turned to look at the 90 year old shuffling through the door.  i was quickly escorted to a private room and my consultation began.  

"i don't know what's going on with you, but i am very worried. are you nervous?" she asked.
"yes. very." i filled her in on all of the events leading up to me coming to see her.  she diligently took notes and nodded appropriately. i also presented her with a copy of my first blood test.  she read them thoroughly and shook her head.  

"it looks like your body basically exploded and you have inflammation everywhere." 
i asked her if she could recommend any type of nutrition or dietary restrictions for me.  she encouraged a cleanse diet - not to loose weight, but more to rid my body of all the processed foods and ick that might be deterring it from performing its normal duties. (kidneys? liver?? are you listening this?)  ok, i can do that.  another vow for the day: eat fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats and plenty of protein. stay away from crap. 
for the next two hours i laid on the bed in that private room.  the lights were dim.  soft, soothing music played in the background and i realized as she stuck needles into my body that i was finally pain free.  could it really be? or am i hallucinating?  no, it was really happening.  occasionally i would feel a pinch when she put a needle in place but the sensation quickly went away.  i felt at peace. most of all, i felt like she was listening to me and hearing what my body was saying.

my first acupuncture treatment was strictly to help manage my pain.  when she finished the 2 hour treatment, she encouraged me to go home and take an epsom salt bath then get some rest.  i did just that.  while relaxing i was hit with the reality that i needed to ask for help.  this might not be a big deal for some people, but it was a huge deal for me.  i prided myself on being fiercely independent and now i was going to have to swallow my pride.   i stared at the fact i would not be able to care for myself and my 2 kids when my husband went off to work early the next morning.  i picked up the phone and dialed a number.

my husband had to assist me with walking out of the chiropractic  office, getting into the car and moving up the stairs.  but when the time came to go to bed i felt a little better. i had some slight relief.  the day's events had drained me - mentally, physically and emotionally.  i was hopeful the next day would be even better.  or maybe i was just naive that i would wake up and be magically cured.  oh to be so lucky...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Going From 100 mph To a Dead Stop

a recent personal struggle has reared its ugly head and i thought i would share.  i figured maybe writing about my experience would be a form of therapy for me. additionally, i am learning that there are a lot of people going through the same thing and maybe we could learn from and help each other.

on july 14 i woke up and started my morning like i always do - sort of.  when i moved to get out of bed it was obvious something was wrong with my hands.  my fingers had swelled up and i had a difficult time removing my wedding ring.  i also had difficulty making a fist.  my first inclination was to wonder:  am i going to start my period? crap, i hope not.  then i began reviewing the previous day's meals.  did i eat too much salt? or drown myself in sodium?  
no, not that i could recall.  at the time, i decided i needed to exercise like i usually did.  i told myself i needed to get moving and i would feel better.  that was partially true.  i even commented to my girlfriend while working out that my hands were sore.  she had the same questions i did.  strange.  

for another 2 weeks, i awoke with similar symptoms.  i always felt worse in the morning and would gradually start to feel better as they day progressed.  the swelling and pain had started to affect more than my hands.  my right shoulder was sore.  my big toe, both ankles, and pads of my feet ached and had become  painful to the touch.  i had stopped exercising. i no longer jogged up to 5 miles - 4 days a week.  enough of this; i could only suck it up for so long and frankly, i was tired of the pain.  i decided to go see my doctor. besides, i had a softball tournament in las vegas coming up and i was not going to miss out on that!

thankfully, a girlfriend agreed to watch my 2 little people and i headed to my first doctor's appointment on august 1st.  my joints were still painfully sore when i went in to the see my general practitioner but i figured he would be a good place to start. the doctor checked the usual: my blood pressure (it was higher than usual), my pulse, my weight (ugh) , ears, eyes, etc and took a brief look at the joints that bothered me.  after a deep inquisition into my family history, he really had no idea what was happening.  there were so many symptoms that he needed to narrow down the playing field, so to speak.   according to him, i could have been experiencing anything from lyme disease to rheumatoid arthritis.  he prescribed celebrex to help with the inflammation, an oral antibiotic "just in case" i tested positive for lyme disease and sent me to the lab for numerous blood tests.

four days later i was on my way to las vegas with my girlfriends. honestly, i had hesitated to go on the trip. my husband and i talked about it.  i also spoke with the coach who was a close friend.  we decided i would go and have a fun trip with my friends but play only as needed and when i felt good enough to do so.  that is exactly what i did.  additionally, i made sure to make healthy food choices while i was away.   on day two of my trip my general practitioner called with my blood work results.  he normally did not give this type of information over the phone but he knew i was out of town and anxious for some information.  he advised me to stop taking the antibiotics because i had tested negative for lyme disease.  {wheww!}  he was, however concerned about a positive abnormality showing up on one of the blood tests.  i clearly remember him telling me: "now, don't freak out.  i do not want you to worry about this but a small percentage of people who test positive eventually get diagnosed with lupus." 
there it was. the bomb in my gut hit hard and heavy.  then a little voice in my head started repeating: "you are going to be fine. you are always fine. there are plenty of tests that come back with a false-positive. this is no big deal." 

my friends and i made the 4 hour drive home from las vegas on sunday, august 7.  i knew when we stopped halfway through the trip that i was in trouble.  my joints had stiffened even more.  i had difficulty getting in and out of the car.  once i arrived home, i was relieved to be with my husband and children.  i could try to relax and do my best to rest before having to go to work early the following morning.  or so i thought... the next morning proved to be the next chapter in my newest challenge.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Hooray for Pre-K!

1st day of pre-k

this week my son started his pre-kindergarten class.  i love his school.  he has been attending the same preschool for just over a year now but somehow THIS first day got me a little emotional.  he begins his last year of preschool; sort of an end to a chapter, so to speak.  next year, kindergarten will be a big step for him. (and for me, too.)  it is so important that he savor every moment of being a kid.  
having fun.  learning new things.  laughing - a lot.  making new friends.  
i love this face
lately my son has been asking me what it's like to be an adult.  he tells me he wants to be grown up.  my response is usually: "well, i wish i could be a kid again. i'll trade ya!"  he just laughs and tells me i am being silly.  yea i guess it is silly but it's true sometimes. i tried to explain that adults have something called responsibilities but i don' think he quite gets it and that's ok.

my son had a hard time understanding that some of his friends from last year had graduated preschool and started kindergarten.  because of where his birthday lands in the year we opted to wait an extra year and start him in kindergarten when he is 5 - going on 6.  we are comfortable with that decision but he had difficulty grasping it.   he started his new class this week and loves it.  he is excited about his new friends and activities.  it helped him to know he is now considered one of the "big" kids at school.  he feels very proud to be one of the upper class men of preschool who will head off to kindergarten next fall.
son, enjoy your time at preschool.  don't worry, you will be big soon enough.  each chapter in your life is a journey.  i have loved watching you grow during this journey and look forward to watching you in the years to come.  promise me you'll stay sweet, be a good boy, but most of all have fun and soak up every minute.  i love you.  
xoxo, mom (aka: aj) 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Have My Cake & Eat It Too

every once in a while i get to have my cake and eat it, too.  this past weekend i was lucky enough to do just that.  i assisted kamee june photography with hosting her "small business workshop" and soaked up some education from an amazing teacher.  other photographers looking to build their businesses got their learn-on and at the end of the day we were treated to a stylized shoot.  what a treat, indeed!!  our theme for the afternoon was "beach-y" and boy, was it HOT!  our model, justine serrano is gorgeous inside and out.  this girl does not take a bad picture.  
the glamor - hair and makeup was all handled by our stylist, jessica hale-fredrick.  
needless to say, the afternoon flew by.  everyone at the workshop gained some serious knowledge from kamee june.  it was uplifting to see these photographers work with each other, learn from each other and network together.  so inspiring!  hope some of the pictures i snapped inspire you, too.

just a peek...
who says there's no beach in corona?

love this sunlight.  it looks like butter.

a HUGE thank you to kamee june photography for allowing me to work with you.  i am grateful for the opportunity to be mentored by someone with your talent and even more appreciative of  your friendship.
jessica - can you make me look this good??  seriously,... your knack for beauty is awesome!
justine - you are a sweet, intelligent and beautiful young woman - so refreshing to be around.  i really look forward to working with you again.
everyone who attended the workshop - did you have as much fun as i did?!??  i learned SO much and ran home to plug in my camera and check out my shots.  thank you for letting me be a part of your day.  i was enlightened by all of you and learned a little something from everyone.  here's to watching your businesses grow!  best of luck to all of you.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pie in a Jar Thank You Gifts

The Cake Dish: Pie in a Jar Thank You Gifts:  

ok, seriously?? I am going home to make these tonight! these are absolutely adorable for teacher gifts, gifts for a sweet neighbor, baby shower gifts, mailman / UPS guy gifts - just about anyone for any time of year! slap some cute ribbon and color coordinate to your theme and there ya go!  think of the endless possibilities you have with these treats.

found these while i was "pinning" this morning and suddenly had an urge to eat pie! ... in a jar. :)
this idea is compliments of who originally received it from jenn at the cake dish.  (isn't it crazy how the domino effect is amplified on the web??  i love it. sometimes.)
my boy starts school this week and his teachers (miss jenn and miss karen, if you're reading this i apologize for spoiling your surprise) are going to receive these goodies.
happy labor day everyone! hope you are finding something fun and fantastic to do on this last day of summer.
xoxo, aj