Sunday, December 31, 2006

Kate's Big Blow Out First Birthday par-TAY

Saturday arrived and the big party for Kate approached.

Granny Moira baked the cupcakes and then frosted them with strawberry icing, or chocolate icing ... Our neighbors Kevin & Aren helped decorate and Nicki got balloons for the occasion.

Kate was a bit dozey -- she woke up from her long nap about 20 minutes before the guests arrived -- and she sat quietly (though was trying to grab the lit 1 candle-yikes) as the guests sang Happy Birthday...then of course, she proceeded to apply her cupcake make up...

Kate & Liz at the Park

Dressed in their matching dresses, custom made by Granny Moira, Cousins Liz and Kate enjoy the swings and an outing to the park...

One Year Check Up

Our favorite pediatrican, Dr. Clyde Wesp, examines Kate on Friday for her one year exam...all is well...though she was fighting a bit of a cold...

Kate's Real Birthday

Kate's actual birthday was on the 28th and of course every stylin' California girl should get a convertible on their first birthday!

It's so sweet watching her "drive" her little pink bug...she's got both hands on the wheel and she sits up so proudly...

Inside the Albertson's Kate got a Happy Birthday greeting from one of the singing stuffed bears (that she just loves...she even knows how to navigate the store from the registers to get to the bears--scary!)

Friday, December 29, 2006

More retro family Christmas Pics

These pics are from Chris & Fiona's Family Christmas party down in Poway on the the ones posted yesterday, these were shot on black and white film, on the Hasselblad...

To see a flash slide show, please go here

To see an html web gallery (best for dial-up), please go here

Thursday, December 28, 2006

More Christmas Day Pics

This Christmas I was feeling kind of retro and I wanted to capture some images on black and white film of the family during this holiday visit.

I just got a note back from the lab that the images were online and ready to view, so I signed on and got a glance at some of the images. The quad grouping above was some of my favorites from the day.

For these photos I used a very simple tool, the Hasselblad, with an 80mm lens, which is a normal focal length. Some think the normal focal length to be quite boring (I know, I used to when I was starting in photography). But it's actually one of the coolest lenses out there, I think, if used in an interesting way. A good number of these images were shot at maximum aperture (f2.8) and that creates a very unique look.

My friend and colleague Dan Milnor is responsible for getting me playing with this system again -- a camera that has been around for a long time. They were actually the brand of cameras that the Apollo astronauts used to take photographs when they walked on the moon back in 1969. They're slow to use (no autofocus), there's no in camera meter but it sure was a nice change of pace.

I'm so partial to b & w and I love how these turned I think the family will really appreciate these, even more as time passes and the kids grow up even more.

To see a flash slide show, please go here

To see an html web gallery (best for dial-up), please go here

A year ago...

Hard to believe that it was a year ago that Kate joined us...

This Saturday is her big, blow-out birthday party!!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day with The Cousins!

It's quiet around here just now. Michael & Belinda have taken the kids to the park along with Grandpa Tony and Granny Moira.

Kate just woke up from a fairly short nap with a sweaty little head. Nicki was resting as well and they're both up ready to head for the park to see if we can find the rest of the family.

The past two days have been fun and hectic. Late Christmas Eve afternoon we went to Mass and it was standing room only even at that early time.

After Mass and dinner we started watching "It's A Wonderful Life". I love that movie more and more as I get older. Hard to believe it was not successful until years later, especially given that Jimmy Stewart starred in it...I remeber the first time I saw it--I was 25 years old and spending my first holiday season in Washington, DC. One of the bureau writers, Tim McNulty was holed up in the conference room watching this old black and white movie. I hadn't seen it until then and he encouraged me to watch.

I did, and it's begun a tradition for the past 20 years now to watch the movie at least once during the holiday season. We have the movie on DVD and it's going to be one of those movies that we'll pass along to Kate as we begin to form our own little family traditions.

We got to the point where George was about ready to jump off the bridge when everyone just faded and we stopped. Last night we finished the still gets to me, even after all the years of seeing it.

Christmas Day was a fairly early one, of course, with four little ones running around wondering what Father Christmas had left them.

I got to dole out the gifts in the morning and it was great fun to see the little ones go at it...opening the presents with the help of Uncle Andy, Granny Moira and the parents. It will be especially memorable since this is our first Christmas with Kate and though she doesn't know quite what it means, I'm sure she's made the connection that Christmas equals tons of good stuff for her! (including the stuffed rocking horse given to her by our good neighbors Kevin & Aren)....

What a great few days it has been even though it's's been a real gift for all of us to be together and as I was driving back from an errand this morning I thought that though Christmas has become very commercial, at the core the whole notion of family coming together has really been the most important thing. Nicki has been pointing to these weeks for most of the year now especially since family is so far away. We wish that both sides of our families were much closer, though this is the path we've chosen.

So we take each moment we have together in these few short weeks (and shoot a ton of photos) and hold them tight and try to appreciate every minute we're together...until the next time.

To see a flash slide show from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, please go here

To see an html slide show (best for dial-up) from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, please go here

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Kate Gets to Know the Cousins; Christmas at Chris & Fiona's

Kate's cousins James, Patrick and Lizzie flew in from South Africa, via NYC (where they had been staying for a few days).

They arrived late Friday and here Kate and James and Pat are mesmerized by Baby Einstein. Nicki's brother Michael holds Lizzie as they watch as well. Michael's wife Belinda is here and she's holding Lizzie at the Christmas party in Poway.

Nicki's brother Andy somehow escaped foggy London and made it here late Friday night as well and got his first opportunity to be with Kate on Saturday.

So yesterday we caravaned down to Poway and the cousins Chris & Fiona for the family Christmas was a terrific success with great food, for certain, but even better was the chance for all the family to get together (including the S. Africans who are now living here and the ones visiting).

We had a great time, and Kate was the Eveready Bunny Rabbit -- she kept going and going and didn't stop until she got into the car and crashed on the way home.

I think that's going to be the norm during the holidays...there's so much excitement for her with the cousins and the holiday buzz that I think it will be hard to keep her on any type of regular schedule...

It's been amazing watching Kate bond with her cousins.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Granny Moira, Grandpa Tony arrived from SA!

Nicki's parents Tony & Moira arrived after their marathon flight from S. Africa. They live in Durban, on the far east (Indian Ocean) side of the country and so it's typically about 35 hours of transit to get from LA to's just a brutal trip but when you get on the other side it it's really worth it. It's especially fun in coach!

Other than three of their bags not making the connection in Paris, they arrived in good form.

This is Tony's first chance to meet Kate, though Moira has known Kate since she was born (having spent the first month with us) still a shock to me that it's been almost a year. Kate's progress has been nothing short of astounding and continues to keep us spellbound as first-time parents.

We're so glad that the grandparents are here and tomorrow Nicki's brother and his family arrive (they've been visiting in NYC) and then middle brother Andy will hopefully get out of fogged-in London as well in time for Christmas.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Rachael & Schonne | December 10, 2006 | Santa Barbara

Yesterday Rachael & Schoone were married at the Old Court House in Santa Barbara in a lovely, intimate ceremony.

Family and friends flew from the east coast and midwest (plus from California) for the event that was beautiful despite the misty rain during the afternoon.

Rachael wore her mother's wedding dress(and it was made for her Mom by her aunt). It seemed to be a perfect fit for Rachael and for the surroundings.

Their dog Bella was close by during the preparation and in the group photos. After the ceremony, the group enjoyed a gourmet dinner in the cork room at Bouchon, one of Santa Barbara's most awesome restaurants.

Have an amazing time in Italy on your honeymoon you two!