A Year in Review. 2017.

bycphotography-favello-family-portraits-068While this year has been as busy as ever, it’s also been a difficult one for us. On November 16, Katie’s dad, Terry, lost his fight with pancreatic cancer. We were so fortunate to have had almost 21 months with him since he received his diagnosis, most of which he was relatively healthy. We were able to spend many evenings with him over the last month or so and Katie and Sarah helped care for him in his final days. We are mourning the loss of a very special man that we love dearly, but we are comforted knowing he is no longer in pain, is cancer free, and we will see him again someday.

It’s difficult to transition from sharing news like that to sharing what else our family has been up to this year, but we’ve found grief is like that – an awkward balance between continuing with our daily routines and activities while dealing with the emotions that seem to overwhelm us at the most random of times.

12-KindergartenSarah finished out the spring with her preschool co-op and after extensive research and attendance at a homeschool convention, Katie and Sarah started the adventure of “officially” homeschooling as Sarah began Kindergarten in August. She loves science this year – marine biology (on a kindergarten level, of course) and we’re learning about our country, community helpers, and what life is like for children in different parts of the world. We’re part of a homeschool group that has park days, co-op classes (Sarah will be in her first musical in March and is learning to play the recorder), field trips, and a great group of families to help us on this journey.

IMG_4415Sarah has continued dancing, performing in a “Toy Story” themed recital in June, dressed as one of her favorite Disney characters, Jessie, and danced a ballet number to “Here Comes Suzy Snowflake” in her Christmas recital. She is now one of the oldest dancers in her class and we’re eager for her to move up the “big girl” dance classes in another year or so.

2017-05-17 19.29.45This May, Sarah earned her Awana Cubbies Honeycomb Book Award. That means she memorized about 20 more Bible verses this year! She also built her Grand Prix car with Grandpa and John in January – a “My Little Pony” car she designed. She moved up to the Sparks-K group this fall and is almost half-way through her book already! Katie has continued volunteering, now with the 5th and 6th grade girls this fall.

2017-07-10 11.17.46We didn’t take a big family trip this year, but did spend a week in San Diego in July. We visited the USS Midway as a family and while John attended a work conference, Katie and Sarah watched the seals and sea lions on the beaches in La Jolla, learned about Cabrillo while earning Sarah’s first National Parks Junior Ranger Badge at the Cabrillo National Monument, and went on Sarah’s first trip to Sea World (her favorite were the dolphins). We ended up with annual passes to Sea World and have already returned once.

2017-09-09 12.24.52-1During spring soccer season, Sarah participated in the UK Academy program through our local region and worked on developing her skills. This fall, she was a very valuable member of the Fiery Pink Unicorns, which Katie coached (Katie also joined the Regional Board as the Team Parent & Yearbook Coordinator). Sarah’s still aggressive, attacks the ball, and is quick, but she’s also developed into a great defensive player this year. We’re still deciding if we will play spring soccer this year since we started with a running team in preparation for running track this spring! After running all four runDisney Kids Races this year, she’s excited for competitive races.

PathfinderAnother new and exciting activity we joined this year is American Heritage Girls. It’s similar to Girl Scouts (earn badges through character & skill development), but with a more faith-focused approach. Sarah is a Pathfinder this year and is working on earning her Fanny Crosby and Joining Awards that she can wear on her vest next year. There are three Pathfinders girls and it’s been so sweet to watch their friendship develop over these few months. We really enjoy this program and Sarah is VERY excited for the Mother-Daughter camping trip this spring (it will be her first!).

We, once again, renewed our passes to Disneyland in September, though with all of our other activities and life circumstances, we haven’t gone as much as we did last year. But when we do go, it’s that much more exciting! Sarah is finally 42” tall, which means she is able to ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds (she loves them!), though her favorite is still Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Sarah’s 5th birthday was in March and we celebrated with an Ariel party at Grammie’s house and our annual trip to Disneyland. This year we ate lunch with the princesses at Ariel’s Grotto after she had a “make-over” at Anna & Elsa’s Boutique in Downtown Disney. We ended our evening watching the Main Street Electrical Parade, something she really enjoyed, despite it’s lack of technology. She told us at the end of the day that it was the “best birthday ever.”

In additional to shuttling Sarah to her various activities and lesson planning for school, Katie continues to serve on the local MOMS Club board, this year as the Treasurer. She also took on the role of “Big Sister” to five local chapters, a volunteer position with the International organization.

John was officially hired on direct with his company in February and he enjoys being able to work on projects that have allowed him to expand his skills.  He recently completed a facilities aerial photography project and has also been working most of the year architecting a geographic information system (GIS) system for Operations. This summer he had the opportunity to attend the ESRI GIS conference in San Diego and attended many workshops. The whole family enjoyed the company picnic at the Santa Barbara Zoo in September.

We are thankful for each one of you and the love you have shown to our family, especially these last few months. We pray that you have a wonderful 2018!

John, Katie & Sarah

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Three months later…

Yes, I realize that my poor little blog has been neglected for three months and is in need of a much overdue update (I have pretty good reasons, though…just keep reading)!

I’ll save most of the smaller updates for later posts, but get the big news out there!

I guess I will start with the big news first…John and I are expecting!!!  We shared the good news with immediate family right away when we found out in July and just broke the news to extended family and friends and pretty much the entire Facebook world with this cute little video.  We are due March 15, 2012 and get to find out if we’re having a boy or girl in just three weeks – on October 7.   We’re having a gender reveal party the following Saturday, so you will have to come back after that to find out if Baby Julius will be sporting pink or blue!

Another huge answer to prayer happened right around the same time we found out we were expecting – I got a full-time job offer (and accepted, of course)!  I’m working at a private Christian university as an Administrative Assistant and most of my time has been spent planning and coordinating a retreat for the faculty of the department I work in.  It’s a definite change in environment from my previous position, but I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone that I work with and throughout the University.

We’ve also done some work on the house, including new furniture, converting my office to a guest room (and soon to a nursery) and some landscaping, as well as marking a few more items off on my 101 list and just plain relaxing (growing a baby is a lot of work!).

Stay tuned for more on these other updates as well as Baby Julius’ progress over the next 6 months (and beyond)!

The Busy Birthday Month

I don’t know any statistics on the most popular month for births, but with our friends and family, it was the month of June, especially in 2010, which translated to a slew of first birthday parties this month.  We had a total of four parties to attend this month (and there were still others who had small family parties or were too far to travel).  Because of the large number of June babies, we had to find an economical gift for everyone. It’s so easy to spend a lot on cool toys or trendy clothes (but neither were in our budget), so I decided to make the gifts.

Since I’m a photographer and had taken photos of many of the babies (or was going to be soon), I thought photo frames with the child’s name would be a perfect gift. I got the wooden frames at Michael’s and a package of letters from Wal-Mart. I painted the frame white and then chose colors based on the parents and the birthday baby and loved the results!

They were a huge hit with the recipients and almost all of them put the frame up to their face when they opened it! And I’m sure they will have plenty of photos to fill the frame for many years! I’m definitely keeping this economical personalized gift in mind for the future!

 

 

Green with Envy

For at least six months, I have been wanting a camera bag that doubles as a purse. I love taking my camera with me places, but I’ve always disliked lugging around a camera bag along with my purse, or trying to stuff my personal stuff into a small compartment on the camera bag. I fell in love with a Jo Totes bag, but couldn’t afford it, until my birthday when I got some cash from John’s family! Finally!

I ordered my Rose bag in Moss and waited anxiously for the package to arrive. It did not disappoint!

The box arrived on a Saturday morning, so it was waiting on my front step when I got up, the box announcing there was a special delivery inside!

After carefully opening the box, I found my bag lovingly wrapped in another protective bag, declaring the goodness that awaited inside!

I finally had my first glimpse and my new tote (sidenote…I messed up the color on this image…the color in the next two photos is much more accurate)

And here it is, in all its glory!

And of course, we can’t forget the inside fabric! The bag game with 5 separate dividers – I tried to figure out how to use them all, but didn’t need more than 3, but it’s great knowing I have them if I do end up needing them someday when I have more gear.

So, there it is! I’ve used it once so far – but only to my parents’ house. It will be getting lots of use the rest of this month at several birthday parties and photo shoots, so be on the lookout for it to pop up in the future!

P.S. I wasn’t paid or otherwise compensated for this post. I’m just super excited about my new camera bag!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday Recap

My birthday celebrations ended up being about 3 weeks long this year (not continuous)!

The celebrations started on May 14 with a visit from John’s dad and brother to celebrate both my birthday as well as his brother’s birthday (his was the 9th). We BBQ’d burgers and I made this yummy strawberry lemon cake with whipped cream frosting (the cakes were from a box…I made the whipped cream).

They gave me a generous monetary gift that I used, along with a gift from John’s grandma, toward the purchase of a Jo Totes bag I’ve been wanting for a while (more on that soon!). I also got a year-long subscription to Better Homes & Gardens from John’s grandma – and got the first magazine and notification in the mail!

The following day we had a great opportunity to visit the Happiest Place on Earth, courtesy of one of my friends who works there, to participate in an exclusive cast preview of the new Star Tours (amazing!). I was so excited when she invited us because with just 5 days until my birthday, I could count this as my annual birthday trip to Disneyland and collect another birthday pin (this is my fourth birthday pin!), even though this was the first year we haven’t had passes to go! Thanks Alyssa and Jeremy!

The next stop on the birthday celebration schedule was my actual birthday. John left me a beautiful bouquet of red and white roses he clipped from our backyard bushes before he left for work (which is really early in the morning). I was able to enjoy them all day until he got home and we could head out for birthday dinner.

He gave me a choice of going to either Chile’s or Chipotle. I chose Chile’s because I love their Cajun Shrimp Alfredo…or I used to. I must say, I was a bit disappointed. They seem to have changed their menu and some of their recipes. I left after dinner wishing I had chosen Chipotle instead!

When we arrived back home, it was time for presents (finally!). I was excited to open one of John’s gifts to me – Tangled! I loved this movie when we saw it in theaters and I’m working on completing my Disney Classics and Pixar collections, so this was the perfect gift. He also got me a new eye piece for my camera since I had lost the soft rubber party in San Francisco last October! He had put it on my camera and I hadn’t even noticed when I was taking pictures of our green wall in the kitchen!

The next day was a farewell party for my cousin and her family who moved to Utah for a job opportunity and since we didn’t have plans to celebrate my birthday with my family for another week, I asked my mom if she could bring my gift to this party since I already knew what I was getting and I wanted to start playing with it. She agreed and I was so excited to start using my f/1.8 lens! I can’t wait to use it on photo shoots and in indoor situations when my regular kit lens doesn’t allow enough light!

Here’s a few shots from the party that I took with this lens. I’m still getting used to the fact that it’s a fixed focal length (and I sometimes don’t have enough room to move back far enough!) and that when I have the aperture wide open, my depth of field is extremely narrow (as evidenced by this first photo of my cousin’s dog!).

The last part of my celebration was birthday dinner with my family on Memorial Day – my mom made my requested dinner of beef stroganoff, with something else for some of the others in my family since they don’t like it. My mom also made a pina colada cake (yum!), complete with 29 candles – yes, lots of candles!

After cake, it was present time. At this point, I had just one gift left to open since John gave me his on my actual birthday, my parents had given me theirs the weekend before, and my sister had ordered my Food Network magazine renewal back in April to make sure I didn’t miss an issue (I still did…not sure why, but I was rather disappointed!). Though I had just one gift to open (from my brother and his girlfriend), it definitely didn’t disappoint!
“Your Baby in Pictures” by Me Ra Koh! My mom had sent me a link to this book a while ago and I’ve had it on my wish list ever since, so I was very excited to get it! It’s a great resource for how to photograph the first year of a child’s life – complete with tips and techniques at various stages in a baby’s development. And no, we don’t have babies and aren’t expecting…yet, but this book will be a huge help in my photo shoots with everyone else’s babies that I’m photographing as I build my KatieJ Photography business.

So, with that, my 29th birthday came to an end – though I’m already looking ahead to next year and the big party I’m going to throw when I turn 30, provided I’m not super pregnant or have a very young newborn!

Here’s to the last year of being a 20-something!