Pregnancy Announcement Photography

When I had Amelia the bond that was immediately formed between my sisters and her is one that I absolutely adore. When they are around Amelia they take the time to get to know her. They really focus on building a strong relationship with her and would do anything for that girl. Amelia knows, without a doubt, that those two love her unconditionally. I've always had this vision of Erica, Grace and I remaining close, both in a relationship sense and location wise. I've often thought about how wonderful it would be to raise kids near one another and have them grow up as best friends. I see a lot of siblings grow apart as they grow older and I feel blessed that the three of us have done the opposite. It's nice to know as we have ups and downs in our lives, the others will always be there. When one of us needs something the other two step in, no questions asked, and are there for each other. We cheer each other on and celebrate every excitement with one another.

On Christmas day this year we got the awesome news that Grace and Chris are expecting a baby. The excitement I feel in becoming an Aunt to one of my sister's kids is wonderful. I already love this baby and I don't even know if it will be a he or a she. I've been shopping and picking out things to sew for baby. I only hope that I will be as great an aunt to this baby as my sisters have been to Amelia. Grace and Chris asked me to take some pregnancy announcement photos for them. I was thrilled to do so! We are also set to do a gender reveal shoot immediately following their appointment in February! My mom will prepare the reveal so they will get to find out as I'm snapping their reaction. I can't wait!!!

Here are some of the great shots I got.

Ashley Elizabeth

6 Ingredient Tomato Soup

I've been trying to cook a lot more lately, and in doing so have been finding some great recipes on Pinterest. We typically quite a bit, but in the past few months with everything going on we've been slacking. I found this easy Tomato Soup recipe made from wonderful fresh ingredients so I thought I'd try it out. I wasn't holding my breath since it was super easy and seemed almost too good to be true, but I have to say I was impressed! Originally recipe found here.

1/2 of a small onion, peeled with ends chopped off
1-2 celery stalks, leaves attached if possible
1 large carrot
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes, with Italian seasoning

If you can your own tomatoes, feel free to use those instead and add the Italian spices.

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend on medium for a few minutes. If you like a creamier soup, add some milk. For those of you with a Vitamix, blend for 6 minutes (or until steam appears) and serve. If you do not have a Vitamix, blend until soup-like consistency and then heat on the stove top. And that's it! You're done. An incredibly simple soup in less than 10 minutes (prep & blending combined). 

The thing I really liked about this soup is the flavor. The soup itself is a little thicker than most store bought canned soups, but the flavor is unbeatable.

Ashley Elizabeth

January update

Are we really almost through the month of January? That means in just a few weeks we will be celebrating our baby's sixth birthday!!! Where is my pause button... or at least the button that puts things in slow motion. January, like December, has kept us busy.

Before I go any further with this post I must share something awesome that I left out of my December post. Amelia got an award at school. The Terrific Kid Award!!! The award is for a positive attitude, good character and responsible citizenship. She didn't know she was getting it so it was a huge surprise to her. We are so proud of her. She had a free dress pass that day which is why she isn't in uniform.

Amelia had her last few days at home before returning to school. Christmas break went by way too fast and I found myself anxious for spring break the second it was over. I love having Amelia at home. I don't need 'me' time, I prefer family time. She loves school though which is a wonderful thing. She's been obsessed with solving math problems lately. I'm hopeful that she got her dad's math gene. She has been solving math problems in her head for about two years now. She doesn't use her fingers at all, she just figures it out (and quickly I might add) in her head. I was working on a math problem with her little cousin who is 3&1/2 and she was secretly feeding him all of the answers almost as quickly as I was giving the problems. She just loves it. She gets her artsy craftiness from me and her love of math from her daddy. 

My sister Grace ended up in the ER on the 9th. She had this horrible rash and her bp and heart rate was incredibly high. Of course when something happens to one of us we all show up. Thankfully her and baby are totally fine, but they aren't sure what caused the rash in the first place.

 The very next morning my grandma was transported to the hospital again. My mom, who moved in with her back in August after my grandma fell, said something just didn't seem right. My grandma is 91 years old so it's always worrisome when she has an off day. Unfortunately the blood thinners she was taking after her stroke thinned her blood too much. She had a lot of internal bleeding in her right lung which caused it to completely collapse. Her and my mom spent 14 days at the hospital. I can't believe the amount of blood they removed with the chest tube. I'm so glad my mom is there to look after her. She came home last week but is pretty worn out from it all. During her hospital stay she gained quite the fan club. Nurses were calling in before their shifts to request my grandma and fought over who got to care for her. She is a pretty remarkable woman. I'm glad she is home but continue to pray that she regains some strength.

Amelia has been taking painting classes. I plan to do a full post soon on this awesome place that is fairly new to Oregon City. She's really enjoys going and the instructor that she's had is so amazing.

Mark started school this month. I have to be honest, I was dreading him being back in school. When he told me he wanted to take classes a flashback of what it was like last time he was in school hit me! This time though we are living in a house on our own (not his mom's basement apartment) and we don't have a newborn. I'm also not working full time like I was back then. Life is much calmer now and once I realized that it was all good.

I continue to volunteer in Amelia's class and around the school. I try to help out once a week. It is so fun getting to know her classmates and seeing her interact with her friends. It's also great getting to know the other staff members and parents. That school really is a wonderful community of people.

In the upcoming weeks I'm going to be crafting and gathering things together to re-decorate Amelia's room. Well, her room isn't actually decorated so I want to find things to hang on the walls, craft some items, sew her some curtains and rearrange her furniture. I'm hoping to get it all done on her birthday while she is at school. Her room is extremely tiny compared to what she had at our old house so I want to make the most of the space and give her a wonderful area to enjoy (and also a way to keep the crafting supplies off of our living room floor). 
Ashley Elizabeth

Catching up after a long absence

With the exception of my "Merry Christmas" post, I've been away for nearly two months. Life got crazy. Let me get you up to speed...

December was ridiculously busy. So busy that I started my Christmas shopping December 23rd. I kid you not! It began with the annual performance of The Nutcracker that Amelia's dance studio puts on. It was a great show, as always. She had a blast and, even though it is time consuming in the weeks leading up to the shows, I'm so glad she is part of such an amazing group. This year Amelia looked incredibly grown up and it made my heart a little sad at how fast the time goes.

The same weekend of her Nutcracker performance we took a ride on the Polar Express. My mom, Erica, Grace, Chris, Mark, Amelia, Amelia's friend Sammy and I all hopped on board. It was so much fun! We all wore our Christmas pajamas and enjoyed hot chocolate and cookies while the elves danced around. Santa made an appearance and spent a lot of time visiting with all of the children. It was a great time.

The week following that busy weekend my grandma was admitted to the hospital. She had a mild stroke and spent several days in the hospital. We visited her as much as possible. She was devastated to be missing my little sister's wedding on the 13th. That week was a crazy one as preparations for the wedding were going on. My Mom, Grace and Chris did everything for the wedding (with help from the Father of the Groom and a couple of groomsmen with setting up). Mark was a best man, I was a maid of honor and Amelia was the flower girl. It was such a beautiful wedding and I am just dying to see the photos that were taken. Grace looked absolutely gorgeous! and Chris cleaned up pretty nicely as well.

The week before Christmas Amelia had a field trip, a Christmas program and the last few days of school before break. I had two photo shoots that week as well. I love the field trips her class takes. They visited a retirement community to sing Christmas carols one week, and the next they visited a tree farm to learn about Christmas trees. They chose a tree to donate to a family in need. I love being able to volunteer and go on field trips. Amelia and I both came down with a nasty cough that laid us up for several days, but my grandma got to go home from the hospital which had us all smiling!

2014 photo with Santa Claus
We spent Christmas morning at my Grandma's and then had a delicious dinner at my Aunt's house. It was a wonderful day. I love that, even though my sisters and I are adults now, we still want to spend every holiday together, along with our mom and grandma. I can't imagine what it would be like to be away from them on special days like that, or to not have sisters to share days like that with. I hope Amelia has a bond that strong with her future siblings. Check out my awesome Christmas gift from Amelia (and my mom). I haven't even put our Christmas photos onto my computer yet. That's how chaotic life has been!
This Kate and I were meant to be! 
We got some wonderful news on Christmas! I'm going to be an Aunt! My sister Grace is pregnant and due in July! I will be sharing their announcement photos in another post. I'm so excited for them. Amelia and I are hoping for a girl! Amelia said "a girl cousin would be just so so so great!"

Traditionally we ring in the new year with my grandma and this year was no different. 2014 was both great and not so great for me. I'm excited for a new year and looking forward to all it has in store for us. 2014 had some spectacular moments!

To keep this post from turning into a novel, I will share 'January thus far' another day. 
Ashley Elizabeth