My Little Lion

Whenever we used to go to parties where there was a face painter, Ben was always reluctant to get his face painted, even though he was always fascinated with the faces of the other painted children. He just could never sit still to have anything done, and couldn’t stand having someone touch his face.

Last year, we had gone to the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market when we were in town, and there was a woman who was painting faces. I persuaded Ben to try it, and that it would be quick and easy. She did a quick smiley face on his cheek, and he loved it.

So this year, I asked him if he wanted his face painted again at the market. He was totally excited and even stated that he wanted to become a lion. His heart sank when we got there and there was no face painter to be found. I tried to distract him with other things, but he never forgot to mention the face painter.

Later in the day, though, the face painter came, and Ben went right up to her and requested to be a lion. I was a little nervous that he wouldn’t sit still for such a detailed job, but he was a total trooper and sat still the whole time, patiently waiting for his transformation.

He was overjoyed with the results, so much that he kept it on the whole day, complete with a little roar for anyone who asked, and he didn’t want to wash it off that night.

Now, he wants his face painted all the time. I’ll probably buy a kit off the internets since the Halloween stuff that’s out there is a little scary because most of them aren’t supposed to be used for kids his age. I’ll definitely post up our creations…heck, maybe it might even turn into a side job if I end up being good at this kind of thing!

113 Days Later

You guys may remember that I started doing the “365 Days” photo challenge earlier this year. I’ve realized that not only do I not have enough time, I also just forget to take a picture every day, and found myself “cheating” to get that 1 a day photo. So I’ve decided to end this run of my challenge, and maybe pick it up again some other time. However, I still want to try and take more pictures, which is why I participated in the first place. I’ve taken some really great photos and would never have gotten them if I hadn’t taken part.

So here’s some of my favorite pictures - you can see my whole 365 photoset here. I’ll keep on taking pictures and adding to it, but there will no longer be daily photos (not like I was uploading them daily anyway!)

Sassy Ornament (30/365) Hiding (34/365) Ex-Cons Can Win, Too (38/365) Chandelier (54/365)
Ball Macro (56/365) Calla Lily (66/365) Red Sunflowers (69/365) Special Pancakes (72/365)
Rose Cameo (63/365) Ear Shadow  (75/365) Roses for Goodbyes  (90/365) Flintstone Vitamins (112/365)


On New Year’s Day, me, Marilyn and Fatima had a mini photoshoot with Ben and Jacob. It was much easier to pose both of them than it is when I take solo pictures of Ben - I think because they were having fun impersonating each other. Fatima and Marilyn probably have more pics than I do, since I was talking to the boys and taking pictures at the same time. The prom pose that they did kills me every time I see it. If only Maui knew what we were doing with his son when we were on the second floor!

It’s really obvious how tiny Ben is compared to Jacob - Jacob’s 2 months younger than Ben and has a couple inches and 10 lbs over him!

365 Days of Photos, So Far

I’ve realized in the last several months that I haven’t been using my camera as much as I used to…when Ben was a little baby I took pictures of him all the time. I think life has gotten so busy with work, selling our house and trying to keep up with the little guy that I haven’t really had much of a chance to bring out ol’ Nick the Nikon.

So I decided to try to get myself into photography again, so I joined a couple flickr 365 groups. To join these, you have to take a photo every day for a year. Now I don’t know if I’ll make it, but I really want to try. The first several days were easy, but as time went on, I realized that it’s easy to take a photo every day - IF YOU REMEMBER! Also, it’s not easy to get a GOOD picture. Then comes the challenge of uploading the daily pictures.

With that all said, I haven’t missed a day yet. It’s been 32 days (I think) and I’ve had a picture for each day. Some are artsy, some are regular snapshots, and when all else fails, I take a picture of Ben. Here’s some of my favorites from the last month…maybe I’ll make this a monthly thing. I realized that this project has been a really great way of keeping track of what I’m doing!

Day 1

My very first picture for the project, taken late at night, without makeup and pretty tired. It was before I had my hair cut.

Day 4

Mmm…sushi. I went to this Japanese market one day to get some sushi and I walked out with a LOT of sushi.

Day 12

I love this picture of my brother in law’s dog, Brody. Can you see Ben in the picture?

Day 17

I’d been growing my hair to donate to cancer patients. Eventually I had about 15 inches from the nape of my neck, which was more than enough needed for the 12 required to donate. I had enough hair left over for a shoulder length haircut. I’m saving SO much money on shampoo now!

Day 20

Sometimes I don’t always have a camera handy, but luckily, there’s always someone who does. We went to the Illini/Georgia game a couple weeks ago, and we forgot to bring the camera. Luckily, Jerome let me borrow his camera to take this picture of the sea of orange at the United Center. ILL-INI!

Day 24

Several years ago I went to Las Vegas and found this really cute mini-mah jong set. The pieces are about as big as my thumbnail. The set had been stored away in my closet until a couple weeks ago, when I let Ben play with it. He LOVES playing mah jong with his lolos and lolas, so he was really happy to have his own Ben-sized set.

Day 29

I found the cutest Brobee ornament at Urban Outfitters and decided to get it for Ben. He loves Yo Gabba Gabba and already has a bigger Brobee doll. We had bought our Christmas tree several days before but it didn’t have ornaments yet, so I let Ben put Brobee on the tree as the first ornament. Later on, he got some company after we decorated the rest of the tree.

Day 31

These are Ben’s sneaker socks. They look like sneakers, but they’re socks.

I hope I last for another month!

Happy Halloween!

Changed my site to celebrate my favorite holiday. Hope everyone has a good holiday, and gets lots of yummy candy.

Also, as a little Halloween treat, here’s a video of Ben in his turtle costume dancing to his favorite tune, “Mony Mony”.

Wedding in Santa Monica

We had a great time in California last weekend. We were there for Dave’s cousin Cathy, who was getting married. We met her husband Marc several years ago when we went on a snowboarding trip to Mammoth. We immediately got along and had an awesome time, snowboarding/skiing and quoting Napoleon Dynamite the whole time.

We started off the weekend at Cathy’s place, with a mini reunion of the relatives. It had been a while since Dave’s mom and all her siblings had been together with all their kids. We all just hung out and watched “Dancing with the Stars” (Benjamin’s idea, of course). I got a really great pictures of Dave’s grandmother and all of her grandkids and her one great grandkid.

We were honored to have Cathy ask Ben to be her ring bearer. We were a little nervous that he wouldn’t be able to do it, so we practiced with him a lot. During the wedding rehearsal, he did a great job walking down the aisle. We practiced a million times, during the rehearsal and before the wedding. The kid had it down! He was walking like a pro!

We had a plan to have Dave be in the back with Ben and me in the front of the room, since it would be more likely that he would want to walk to me than the other way around. Dave would give Ben the cue to start walking and Ben would walk down to me. We prayed that it would go off without a hitch and that he wouldn’t throw the pillow at someone, since the actual rings were on the pillow. When the time came, they had put down the cloth aisle runner and sprinkled flower petals down the aisle. I was starting to get nervous - Ben didn’t practice with all the extra fluff!

So all the bridesmaids and groomsmen came down the aisle, and it was time for Ben’s performance. The door opened, Dave and Ben came through. As soon as he stood on the aisle, he started whining, “I don’t want to! I’m finished!” and as soon as he saw the petals, he said, “I want to play! I want to play!” He put down the pillow next to Dave and tried to pick up the petals. I was loudly whispering, “Benjamin! Come here!” But he paid no attention to me. By this time people were laughing and to me it felt like an hour had passed - I had no idea what to do! Do I go down the aisle, pick him up and drag him down the aisle? Dave eventually picked him up, to which Ben did the “i have no bones” things where he just becomes limp so you can’t pick him up, and he dragged Ben down the aisle. I took Ben from Dave, put the pillow next to the chair in front of me and we sat down, allowing the wedding procession to go on as planned.

It was a great wedding. The priest was a hoot. I was still a little anxious because there was still the moment where Ben had to bring the pillow up to the priest for the blessing of the wedding rings. He was already getting bored and fussy, and a pack of m&m’s was the only thing stopping him from starting chaos. It wasn’t a big room, so all his little comments were easily heard. When the priest mentioned the rings, I knew it was time. Time for redemption.

I stood Ben in the aisle and reached for the pillow. When I tried to give it to him, I realized that the lace on the pillow was stuck in the zipper of Ben’s diaper bag. I started pulling, but nothing happened. Dave was trying to help, too. Finally, the lace was unstuck and we got the pillow loose. I handed it to Ben and gave him a little push to send him down the aisle. Nothing. The kid was as still as a stone. Marc bent down and opened his arms and made a “come here” motion. I gave Ben one last push (some say it was a big shove, I say it was a gentle nudge) and he finally toddled up the aisle into Marc’s waiting arms. People aww’d. Some clapped. Me? A sigh of relief.

The rest of the wedding was pretty uneventful, in terms of Ben drama. Ben had a good time dancing with the flowergirl on the dancefloor as people were coming in for dinner. When we were waiting outside of the reception for the bridal party to be announced, Ben kept on wanting to go to Cathy and give her kisses, saying, "I want to go to the princess!" I was surprised that he was ok walking into the reception hall with the flowergirl without me, but I guess they had bonded throughout the weekend, so he was comfortable with her. Afterwards, he danced and had a good time, by the end of the night exhausted.

Here's some pictures from the weekend (hover near the top corners for navigation):

Cathy and Marc's Wedding-7 Practicing With his Great Grandma Cathy and Marc's Wedding-18 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-17 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-20
Cathy and Marc's Wedding-21 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-24 With the Flower Girl Cathy and Marc's Wedding-28 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-29 Eating Papa
Superman! Cathy and Marc's Wedding-34 With Tito Vinnie Empty Seats Dusty Pink Roses Box of Flowers 2
Introducing the Groom Cathy and Marc's Wedding-49 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-51 First Kiss The Kids Table Cathy and Marc's Wedding-59
Cathy and Marc's Wedding-62 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-65 Warming Up the Dance Floor With the Ready to Walk In Cathy and Marc's Wedding-73
Corrupting the Youth They Start so Young! First Dance Cathy and Marc's Wedding-78 Cathy and Marc's Wedding-81 Pooped!

30 Month Ben Update

This page needs more Ben!

Ben’s going to be in a wedding this weekend in California. Wanted to give a preview of his outfit. He’s gone ahead to LA with this grandparents (because he flies free with them), and I miss the little bugger. Dave’s at the hospital tonight too, so I’m on my own. I should be packing, but my DVR’d CSI is too intriguing. Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve told y’all what little Ben has been up to.

  • Ben is a total poser - a poser in that when he sees a camera, he loves to pose, have me take a picture, then say “Let me see” so he could see the preview. Before taking this picture, I said, “Let’s try on your outfit and then we can take pictures.” I changed him into his outfit and right after, he says, “Where’s your camera? Take my picture!” The smile he has in here is his “gentle smile”. The regular smile is full of teeth and gums.
  • Now that Dave’s done studying for his boards, we’re able to hang out as a family. One of the things we do is just hang out on our bed for “family time” where we read books, let him jump around, and just hang out together. Ben loves this time, and at night, often requests to have “family time”.
  • He’s a skinny little guy. At his last doctor’s appointment, we discovered he’s in the lower 5th percentile for his height and weight. Even though he’s 30 months old, he still fits into 18 month old clothes (though pants are a little short, they fit his waist). He’s a horribly picky eater, some days eating normal meals, some days hardly eating anything. We’ve still got him on whole milk so he gets the extra fat.
  • Ben has a great pitching arm. Dave’s been coaching him. He’s not that great at catching, but he definitely has good aim. He also is pretty good at kicking around a soccer ball, but gets bored of it quickly. Dave really wants been to be great at sports. However, Ben’s favorite non-cartoon show is “Dancing with the Stars” so that may not happen.
  • He’s getting bossy. “Papa, you sit there” “I want chocolate milk now!” “I don’t want cereal anymore.” This kid knows what he wants and isn’t shy about ordering people around. They weren’t lying about those terrible twos!
  • This kid talks. A LOT. You know, when he turned two, I was a little concerned that he wasn’t talking a lot. But over the last several months he’s been talking non-stop. I think his longest sentence has been “I’m going to the mall with Mommy and we’re going to the store and we’re going to buy shoes!” He’s like a little parrot, copying everything he hears (you can only imagine our horror when he started reciting lines from HBO’s “Entourage”). Sometimes I have no idea where he picks things up - once he got a toy pirate hook and he held it up and said, “It’s a question mark!” He was home once when I was working, and when I came down for a break he asked, “How’s work going today, mommy?” It just made me melt into a puddle of mommy-goo. A couple months ago I finally got a DVR, because I’ve been unable to hear anything on TV because of Ben’s chatter. It’s a good thing he’s talking, but sometimes I can’t hear anything else!
  • He’s finally playing with other kids. He goes once a week to Gymboree, goes to the library every now and then, and lately has seen his cousins a lot. His favorite little person is Jillian, who in a way has become the leader of the little cousins. She’s very outgoing and makes it a point to play with Ben when he’s around. He’s warmed up to her and always asks about her. He follows her around like a little puppy.

That’s about it for now…it’s incredible how fast Ben has been growing up. These things are just a fraction of the things that Ben’s been up to lately.

Two Weddings, Whirlyball, Disney and a Pumpkin

Last weekend was a BUSY weekend - I knew that it was going to be a marathon, but it was seriously exhausting.

It started off on Friday with a trip to Woodfield. We decided to eat at Red Robin and ran into an old friend from college, some we hadn’t seen in more than a decade. It’s weird to run into people from college now - before when it would happen, it would be at clubs or bars and we’re out socializing anyway. Now, we’re at the mall or eating dinner at family joints and we’re introducing our spouses and kids. We then spent the rest of our time there hanging out at the Lego store.

Saturday morning I overslept, which made me off for the rest of the day since I had a plan for what I was going to do. After getting the family fed and Ben ready for his grandparents (where were taking him for the day) I was able to get ready. Dave was on call that day, so he was stuck at home while I made my rounds.

First off was Deo and Laura’s wedding. I actually got to the wedding on time, and it was a quick, beautiful ceremony. There were a lot of people from college there, it was nice to see people and catch up a bit. I got a little nostalgic during the ceremony, remembering how young we all were and now most of us were married, with kids or with kids on the way. Life goes by so fast!

Right after Deo’s wedding, I drove back home, changed into a t-shirt and jeans, put my hair up and ran back out to head out to Tall Steve’s whirlyball birthday celebration. I love whirlyball…I would say it’s my best sport. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s basically lacrosse played on bumper cars. It takes a bit for beginners to figure out how to maneuver the cars (because it’s not your normal bumper car steering wheel) and learning how to score (it’s easier to score with a gentle flick of the wrist than to whip it at the target), but once you figure that out, and how important teamwork is to win the game, you can be a master! Its a lot of fun and a great way to bring people together. We played a lot in X-Systems. Anyway, it was Tall Steve’s big “really old” birthday party, and it was nice to see old faces lugging around their new babies.

We left whirlyball early (after 1 too many games, but what could I do, we went into overtime!) to go home and change. My sisters came over and we all quickly changed, got into my car, and headed for Chinatown. We ran into some frustrating traffic on the way (why?!? it’s saturday!) but got to the Vince and Kim’s reception before too many people were there (Fata was in charge of bringing the wishing well for cards). Luckily, Claudine and I found some pretty good, legal parking on the main street. Although we’d been to Furama many times before - mostly for parties, this was our first Chinese wedding. Ten courses is a LOT of food! It was pretty much delicious (except for the cauliflower/broccoli in sauce - but veggies aren’t my thing). It was a good time, with some great music. By the end of the night my feet were aching and I was exhausted!

Whew - that was just one day!

On Sunday, we went to church, then headed home and watched the first quarter of the Bears game which ROCKED! Then we headed out with my cousin and her kids to see “Disney Playhouse Live!“. At first, we couldn’t tell if Ben was having a good time - he was so serious and intense as he was watching the show, he didn’t move at all and didn’t want to be touched. But then when intermission came, he yelled, “More!” and after we told him they were coming back, he kept on pointing to the stage and saying, “They’re coming back soon!” He was so happy and active during intermission, but as soon as the lights went down, he was back into serious statue mode. In the end, he loved it. He kept on talking about it and asking if we could go back to the show.

photo by gavin.fulmer

After stopping home for a bit, we went to my cousin Trully’s place for our annual cousin pumpkin carving night. Every year (except for last year, I think) we get together to carve pumpkins. This year was our best turnout every - we had about 16 people (not counting half people) come with 11 pumpkins carved. Carving pumpkins is pretty hard work, and we had joked that we didn’t have to use pumpkins as an excuse to get together - it was too tiring! However, I think it’s something that we all look forward to at this time of the year. We didn’t even bother with the kids - we just let them run around and fend for themselves.

Cleaning out the Insides Working on the Template Ready to Connect the Dots Dave Carves Taking Extra Care Marilyn's Posse
Ghost in the Graveyard Vampire Chick Alien Fata's Bats Little Reaper Bats
Pumpkin Face Grim Reaper Evil Clown Frankenstein Stitch 102008_ 120

So it was a pretty busy weekend for us! I’ve got a lot more pictures from Deo and Kim’s weddings, I’ll post them up eventually. (meaning probably never, but we’ll see!)

Alaska Scenery

Here’s one of my last Alaskan posts…I’ll probably have an “All Ben” one, but that one wouldn’t really feature much of Alaska, just Ben hamming it up for the camera.

Alaska was incredible. I would have to say that if you ever have a chance to go there, go, and if it’s a cruise, get a room with a balcony. Every time you look out of your window, it looks like a postcard. The mountains are breathtaking. As for the glaciers, well, I never thought that I’d take so many pictures of a block of ice. It’s the coolest thing to see a glacier calf (when a part of the glacier falls off into the water) - it makes this big cracking sound like thunder and falls into the water with a huge splash, creating giant waves in its wake. Every time it would happen, the whole boat would cheer. We were also fortunate to be at the Hubbard Glacier on a clear day, something that they said was rare at this time of the year.

After passing through some fog, sailing through Disenchantment Bay.
See all the mini-icebergs?

Gilbert point, the entrance to Russell Fjord

Looks like a small piece of ice, but look closer, to the right
It’s bigger than it seems!

More favorites - hover over the top right and left for navigation buttons

Anchorage Sculpture The Cook Inlet Overcast Day Portage Glacier 1 Checking Out the Train Waterfall
Exit Glacier Alaskan Landscape Every Scene is a Post Card Waiting for Hubbard Foggy Times Ahead A Beautiful Day
Valerie Glacier Jagged Peaks Ice Fresh Ice Wide View of Hubbard Glacier The Governor's Mansion
Seeing Scats Means SCAT! Mendenhall's Icebergs Mendenhall and Iceberg Floating Ice Salmon in the Stream Mural in Downtown Juneau
Filipino Food in Alaska! The Red Dog Saloon Skagway View Totems Icy Strait View 1 Little Islands
Working the Zipline Pier Cloudy Day Creek Street Closeup of the Salmon Ladder Island Line

To see the whole gallery, click here. You’ll see all of my pictures I’ve posted so far as well as some I haven’t. You’ll also see a lot more description in the photos.

The Colors of Rum

The Colors of Rum, originally uploaded by Yano.

Time for my weekly Bokeh Wednesday shot…

This one was taken at Claudine and Redpac’s place during their 4th of July shindig. I don’t think I’ve posted pictures from it yet, hopefully I will someday.

I’ll probably be posting my massive New Kids on the Block post sometime today…you know you want to read it. :-P