Friday, December 26, 2008

And A Good Time Was Had By All...

We had such a nice and fun Christmas. My mom was able to fly in from Ohio and celebrate with us. It was so nice to have most of the kids home (Lindsay, Chris, Mark and Katy, and Nathan). We really missed Matt, Claire, Theo and Luc. We understood that Theo hadn't slept for a couple of days before Christmas, he was so excited! It sounds like Matt and Claire probably didn't get much sleep either.

It's always lots of laughs here when the Allen brothers get together, so opening presents together was again, too funny. Mark played Santa and distributed gifts to everyone. Perhaps the most creative wrapping came from Nathan- he wrapped Greg's tie in a tube that was the length of the tie. I think the most fun gift was sent by Matt and Claire and the kids, to Lindsay, Nathan and Chris: each received a small case (12 packs) of candy cigarettes! No one expected that! Here are a few favorite moments:

Mark and his new watch!

Wait, is there a Transformer in the family???

You can't go wrong with a "Y" shirt for Greg.

It appears that Nathan has picked up a new habit. Love those "Lucky's," candy cigs, that is.

Happy Jean got her favorite "signature" cologne, Red Door. You can't tell from the pic, but I am wearing the coolest Lucky Brand earrings that I received from Lindsay. Does she know her mom or what???

More Christmas Pics...

Greg proudly showing his new Columbia University tie.

Grandma Gladys looking great at 87! We are so happy to have her in Virginia with us for Christmas again! we have an Aussie in the fam???

Katy with her new "Pretty In Pink" sweater.

Dapper Chris modeling his new pea coat.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Stellar Has A New Buddy...

I bought this HUGE stuffed Bernese Mountain dog for a friend the other day at Costco. Not sure where to store it, I just put him under the tree. I thought it was so funny when I walked by and saw that Stellar decided to use him for a bed. She has been sleeping on him any chance she can get- which is quite a lot, since we know cats sleep all the time!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fox Trot

If you've read my blog a few times, you know it's no secret that I get excited over pretty much any animal. I love that living in Piedmont, I have found rabbits, deer, hawks and herons, literally in my backyard. It tickles me to see these wonderful creatures. (Okay, I really wasn't tickled to smell a skunk). But I was totally thrilled when, last week, as I was letting the pups out, a fox was hovering around our fir tree! I wished I could have watched him for a little while before he trotted off, but it took no time at all for Sandie to catch his scent and drive him from our yard. Sandie ran the length of 5 neighborhood yards before he decided to come back home. There was no getting Sandie to retreat until he knew the fox was long gone. But it was exciting to see, nonetheless. And I think Sandie felt like a hero as he protected our property! :)

Going With The Flow...

Well, I was about to write that not much has happened in the last couple of weeks. And I guess that is true for the most part. Work has been very busy and I have enjoyed the students in the schools where we have been working. However, there is one big thing weighing on my mind with regard to work. You may have read that there is going to be a BIG budget cut next year in Fairfax County Public Schools. Several positions from my department are going. There's a good chance that my contract will go from 11 month to 10 month, which equates to a cut in pay. Would I take that instead of losing my job? Of course. But I guess the hardest part of all of this is just not knowing! We're not sure when all of the final decisions will be made. I think that no matter what happens, it may be a tough adjustment. So for now, I am trying to be calm and just go with the flow.

I think the sad thing here is that so many people across the country are going through the same thing and my heart truly goes out to them. I read where one guy left the east coast to take a job in the west, only to find out that he was laid off after one day. I pray that our devastating economic situation that is affecting each and every one of us will find recovery soon.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sweet Love

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of photographing Amy Blodgett, the daughter of one of my dearest friends, Diane, and Amy's sweetheart, Joe. I have known Amy since she was about four years old. I couldn't be happier for this sweet couple. It was so wonderful to see two people so in love! Congratulations Amy and Joe!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

No HOV For Me For A While

It felt more like Friday the 13th, instead of Friday, the 31st! Last Friday, I went to Costco after work and as I was leaving, a huge Toyota Tundra truck backed right into me. He got out and yelled at me, "What do you think you're doing???" Hello!!!!! I believe that I had the right of way, buster! Anyway, $2300 later, my car is in the shop getting repaired and for 2 weeks, I don't get to use the HOV lane. Boo hoo, right?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

On Top of the World

Greg is sillouetted against the beautiful expanse of the Shenandoah Valley.

Shenandoah In Autumn

Greg and I took a short trip to the Shenandoah this weekend. I was hoping to see more bears, but no luck. We did take in some of the autumn sites in the area.

Here are some interesting looking green pumpkins we saw at a Pumpkin Patch in Luray, Virginia.

It was a bit too early to see the mountain side filled with blazing reds, oranges and yellows, but we did see an occasional tree that had turned red.

We drove through a tunnel on the Skyline Drive and here we see the light at the end.

Some interesting looking gourds...

A multitude of pumpkins..

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Autumn Family Photo Shoots

As many of you know, for the past few years, I have been doing photo shoots of families, grads, pregnant moms, a few weddings, and even animals! My usual rate is $100 per session, which includes approximately 30-60 minutes of shooting, post production editing, and a disk with the final photos on it so the recipient can print as much as he or she wants.

I decided to offer an "Autumn Photo Session" at half price! $50 would include the same deal as the $100 session, taken at my home. I am willing to come to your home (I have a stand and a few backdrops) or a nearby scenic location for an additional $5 to cover my time and the cost of gas.

Autumn is a wonderful time to have family or any other types of photos taken.

Please contact me at if you have any questions or would like to schedule a session.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

True Love!

Wow! I can't believe how quickly time has flown by! Just five years ago, on September 27th, 2003, Greg and I had a really sweet, small wedding attended by those we dearly love. I remember that Greg commented to our guests that he had received a fortune cookie earlier that week letting him know that he would be having a romantic encounter soon! And we know fortune cookies never lie!

We had a beautiful cake that was decorated in edible sea shells. One of my dearest friends, Diane Blodgett, played a favorite piece on the piano for us, Enya's Watermark, making the day even more magical. We left the next day for a wonderful honeymoon at Panama City Beach, Florida. We practically had the whole beach to ourselves. It was a great way start to a wonderful marriage.

I still marvel that Greg took on a peri-menopausal woman with a teenage daughter, two dogs and a cat. No small feat, as he has four sons and no daughters and no pets. He states emphatically that he never said he didn't like animals, he just felt that they should live where they belong- outdoors, not inside with humans. Well, that all changed very quickly for Greg. All of our pets are comfortably lodged inside our home. I think Greg might be fond of at least one of the pets, although "fond of" may be a slight exaggeration.

I continue to discover new things about Greg that, frankly, I never had a clue about. I recently learned that he plays piano! When did this happen???? His sister told me that that of course he plays! Where have I been??? Then there was Mark's wedding reception. Who knew that Greg could dance to disco the way he did that night. I just stood there on the dance floor with my jaw on the floor. I certainly knew that he could dance a mean Foxtrot, but disco? Who knew?

So, five years later, I love even more, this sweet, funny man. No one can recite quotes like Greg. His love for sports has increased over the years, if that is even possible (much to my dismay). He is smooth, steady, strong and sensitive. He knows when to leave me be when I am in one of my moods and he knows when to gather me into his arms when I need a BIG bear hug. He is easily the most thoughtful and kindest man I have ever known. I have a big stack of sentimental cards to prove it. He sends me cards for holidays, when he goes out of town, when I am not feeling so well, to cheer me up, and for, well, ... just because.

Am I one lucky chica or what???? Yes, I am. And I am truly grateful for this wonderful blessing in my life that I call husband.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Trigger Finger

Guess what I am enduring? Trigger finger! No, it doesn't mean I am quick with a 6 shooter, though I do enjoy a bit of target shooting. What it means, in layman's terms, is that my tendon in my left index finger has decided to lock up. When I reached for something yesterday, I felt a very sharp twang near the middle joint- it was like a current of electricity shot through me. So what does this mean??? I am left with an index finger that is temporarily bent and I cannot straighten it out at all without excruciating pain.

The first time this happened, a few years back, it lasted for only an hour or so. The last time it happened, a few months ago, it lasted for 2 weeks. I am thinking it's time to see a doc about this. What do ya think?

I have new, heartfelt empathy for people who have ANY kind of physical limitation. I know that this is just a minor inconvenience compared to many. But I forgot how difficult it is to bathe and wash my hair with one hand. Definitely not fun or easy!

Okay, my whining is over. If you'd like to read a sweet love story, read cjanerun. You know I have been following Nie Nie and Christian Nielsen's recovery. Her sister Courtney wrote a touching piece on her blogsite about when Stephanie and Christian met. Very sweet.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

New Friends I've Never Met

Okay, I am not the greatest blogger. I knew that going into the blogosphere. I guess I just don't think a lot of exciting things are going on in our everyday lives (which is not necessarily a bad thing). More than updating my blog, I truly enjoy reading other blogs so I can keep up with the lives of my dear friends and family. From there, I love to check out the links to their families and friends, people I have never met. I have become acquainted with many new moms and families, people who have brought a smile to my face and inspired me to keep trying new things and to hang in there.

One blogsite I stumbled across came from a friend of a friend. I learned about Stephanie and Christian Nielsen, who, on August 16, were involved in a fiery, private plane crash. A pilot was killed. Christian, who is also a pilot, sustained burns over 20% of his body. His lovely young wife, Nie Nie, has burns over 80% of her body. Both are in critical condition. Even sadder is that they have 4 small children waiting at home for them, who are being cared for by relatives. I don't know Christian or Nie Nie, but I check Nie's recovery blogsite on a daily basis because I care about her and her husband and checking her site reminds me that I can help by praying or donating to help with their rehabilitation costs.

So today, Nie Nie and Christian, this blog's for you! May you recover steadily.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy To Be In Primary!

Well, I just was sustained on Sunday to teach CTR 6 in Primary! I am really happy about this. Don't get me wrong. I totally LOVED teaching Relief Society. That was a wonderful opportunity where I learned soooo much from each sister! But now, I get to learn from 5 year olds and can't wait! I only had one sweet boy in class for my first lesson, Cameron. But we had a fun time getting to know each other.

So, I believe that change is a good thing and I feel honored to be able to teach these sweet kids!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Skyline Drive

Greg and I spent a wonderful couple of days on Skyline Drive. I was thrilled to see all of the deer, but what I really wanted to see was a bear. Lo and behold...

Here is one pretty deer we saw on the drive.

Gorgeous scenic overlook!

We LOVE Our Grandsons!

Matt, Claire, Theo and Luc drove all the way from Indiana to be here for Mark's wedding. We were able to spend some time with them before they drove back. Just when the boys got to know us, they had to leave. :(

Theo loves his Grandpa! What is so cute is that Theo always calls Greg- Grandma Greg! They look happy, don't they?

Grandma and Luc

Who couldn't help but fall in love with this sweet little boy! I could just eat him up, he's so cute!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Wonderful Wedding

The day could not have been more perfect! Okay, maybe a little less heat. The bride and groom never looked happier! The ceremony was just beautiful and the reception was fantastic! We couldn't be more thrilled for Katy and Mark! Here are some of the photos from the big day.

The Allen Family
(Walter Williams, Greg, Jean, Katy, Mark, Matt Allen, Nathan Allen, Nancy Gill (Mark's Aunt), and Matt Gill (Mark's Cousin)

The Haddow Family

Katy, A Few Days Before The Wedding In Her Gorgeous Gown

This Kiss, This Kiss

Mr. and Mrs. Mark Allen

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Happy ___th Birthday, Greg!

We celebrated Greg's birthday last week. Chris, Andrea, Mark, Katy, Lindsay and I wished Greg a happy day! We ate Greg's delicious homemade lasagna, and for dessert, snacked on Greg's homemade birthday cake and a wonderful Edible Arrangement that Katy and Mark brought. It was fun to have everybody over which made the day special for the birthday boy.

Jungle Cat

After spending some time looking for her, Lindsay and I found Stellar on the side of the house, lurking under some tall plants. Despite the very hot temperature and her super long fur, she looked quite comfy and seemed annoyed when we brought her back into the cool house.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In All Fairness...

It's only fair that I include a pic of sweet Cammie, our 12 year old poodle. Yes, she only has one eye and can barely see out of it. Where Sandie tends to be feisty, Cammie is super sweet, although can be quite a barker. Other than the rare brawl over treats, Cammie and Sandie are pretty much inseparable.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

One Happy Pup!

This is our sweet pup, Sandie. He is the younger of our two poodles. Sandie is eight years old and still acts like a puppy. He always seems to have this smile on his face! Seriously, he is always happy!

Sandie recently got into a brawl with Cammie, our older puppy. The fight was over the contents of a Kong toy. Sandie got a little greedy. He ate his treat and then thought he would snatch Cammie's. But Cammie would have none of that! Cammie defended her Kong with all of her might. I literally had to pull Sandie off of Cammie. What was really frightening was that when I got Sandie away from Cam, I noticed that Sandie had blood dripping from his eye! Now this was particularly upsetting to see because we have had a history of eye problems with our pets. Two of our pets (Cammie included) had to have an eye removed. I was worried that Sandie might be the next. A trip to the vet determined that it was a minor cut and he healed within a few days. Whew! Sandie is back to smiling again.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Love Is In The Air!

I had the great privilege of shooting Mark and Katy's engagement photos. They make a wonderful couple and were so fun to photograph. We are all getting excited as the day draws closer!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wedding Update!

Mark and Katy have moved their wedding date up to July 19th! I will continue to post updates as I receive them.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Kathi Hansen

This is a portrait that I shot of Kathi Hansen a couple of weeks ago. I didn't enhance her eyes at all! That blue is the true color of her eyes! I just made a layer of B/W and kept her eyes the same color. Yes, her pregnant torso is pictured below a couple of posts ago.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Congratulations To Mark and Katy!

We received some exciting news this week! Mark and Katy Haddow are engaged! Both are attending BYU in Provo. From what I have heard, it looks like it will be a December wedding. I will post more news as I receive it. Congratulations, Mark and Katy!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Who Is This Beautiful Woman With Child?

While I don't consider myself a professional photographer, I sure have enjoyed having photo shoots with friends in my make-shift studio in my basement. I particularly loved this shot. Any guesses as to who this might be?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My Latest Read

I am, admittedly, not a voracious reader like some members of my family. But recently, I read with pleasure Randy Pausch's book, "The Last Lecture." Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University and was asked to address students in a lecture series that was once referred as "The Last Lecture." The idea was to get speakers to talk to students about whatever they felt was important, if this was to be their last lecture ever. For Randy Pausch, this was his last lecture. Ever. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the past year or so and is literally dying. He has surpassed doctor's expectations for surviving, fighting with every fiber of his being to live a little longer for his wife and especially for his three young children. He knows that his time is running out.

His book is based on the lecture he gave at Carnegie Mellon University, but with more elaboration. In no way is this book maudlin. In fact, it reflects Randy's positive outlook on life, and do I dare say, is quite inspirational to read. I found the book to be very poignant and really will make you think about how precious your life really is! A must read! Here is the link to the actual lecture if you decide not to get the book: "The Last Lecture," by Randy Pausch.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Yesterday, Greg and I drove to Charlottesville, with the goal of visiting Monticello, former home of Thomas Jefferson. We got there late in the afternoon and thought we wouldn't be able to get onto the grounds. We were fortunate enough to be able to get there before they closed. Both of us had seen the inside of Jefferson's home before, so we concentrated our time on walking around the gardens. What a perfect day to be there! I don't think I have ever seen so may different types of tulips before! And on the the grounds were the biggest, most fragrant lilac trees ever! It was truly heavenly!