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Thursday, December 31, 2015

To honey boo boo on her 4th birthday

To my sweet, sweet 4 year old baby girl.

As mentioned over and over again, you are our WHIRLWIND! Feisty, sassy, independent, strong willed - those don't even dent the surface of YOU. From night one with mommy and daddy, 4 years ago exactly, we've been in "how do we handle this?" mode. You rushed into our world knowing exactly what you want, always waiting for us to get on YOUR level. It's one of the traits I admire the most about you - willing things into the way you think they should be. From the way you idolize brother and say the name "Carter," to your proclivity for pajamas at all hours of the day, you are just the sweetest little fire ball we ever did see.

3 was such a great year for you, so I have to record some of the highlights as we move into the big F O U R:

1. How well and strongly you took to Snow! Oh man, talk about a dog person!!!! Cheek pinches, smothering cuddles and extreme adventures in training are your thing, girl. I just love looking into the kitchen where you're standing in ONLY undies, holding a piece of turkey and telling Snow to give you his "love paw!" Gaaaaaah!

2. Aforementioned pronunciation of "CARTER!!!" Holy cow. There is nothing sweeter than this. It's like every "r" sound is very strong. Carrrrrrterrrrr!!! It can be in a loving tone of voice or in an ughhhhhhh type of way. The bond between you and big brother is the absolute best.

3. Today during your first pedicure of all time. So yes, this didn't exactly happen when you were 3, but OMG. So darn precious. I will never forget how you kept looking over at me and blowing kisses. You picked out your neon purple, then proceeded to tell me that the pink I had selected wasn't bright enough, so "here you go." I'm now donning Baywatch nails. It's freaking awesome.

4. Watching you make friends I had nothing to do with! Bella and Valentina are mentioned constantly around here and it's amazing. The girls in your dance class? I love hearing about them! So cute and fun!

It's such a pleasure watching you grow! And let me tell you, I almost cried 1,000 times today thinking about how our BABY is 4. FOUR! How has this happened? I love it (but wouldn't mind a baby Kota snuggle here and there :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Our first Christmas service at Crossroads

A little blurry because, again, no clue what I was doing with shutter speed, etc. at this point, but hey, love this picture. It was taken on December 23rd, Carter's birthday, right after we went to Crossroads for church.

The kiddos stayed with us in the big church that night, and I'm telling you, what a surprisingly emotional experience! I think there were a few contributing factors to the level of sensitivity felt between the motha and fatha of the family:

1. How pretty the Christmas music sounded with the accompaniment of the band! So much talent there, I tell you. During the opening songs, there were 5 baptisms, all of which made me want to cry. How cool is that? To get baptized on Christmas Eve?

2. Carter's enthusiastic participation. You know how when you're an adult, if someone says "repeat after me," just like Pastor Chuck does when leading a prayer, you generally stay very quiet in your repeating, if even making a sound at all? Carter, in all of his 6 year old innocence, was bent over his prayer hands loudly repeating the "yes to Jesus" prayer. He was doing exactly what was asked of him without a second thought. It was so sweet.

3. Kota fell asleep on Chad in literally the cutest position possible. I almost cried just looking at them, then Chad shared with me that he knew moments like these were far and few between: cuddling with baby girl. THAT almost sent me over the edge, as statements like those do.

4. The "passing of the candle light" moment. PEOPLE. Oh man. This was literally one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Pastor Chuck started it way down in the first row, then it spread throughout the entire church, person to person. Carter held his high and proud while singing Amazing Grace and let me tell YOU, it was another "almost lost it" moment. The innocence! The whole amphitheater church I'm always so critical of lit up so wonderfully! It was a sensory overload couple of minutes in the best way possible.

So that's what happened during the night of Carter's 6th birthday, after Chuck-E-Cheese's and in the name of Christmas service. I'm so glad that this year we did our research on as to when Crossroads held their celebrations. Last year, the first year we lived right behind the bohemith facility, we discovered that they do not offer a Christmas Day service time, which I thought that was utter blasphemy. How could a CHURCH not do a Christmas Day service?! But now I like it. Those pastors have families too, and the large amount of workers and volunteers it takes to put on a single service is astronomical given the size of the organization. So hey, hey! December 23rd and 24th are a-ok by us!

What a special time of year we are in! Tomorrow is Kota's 4th birthday. Excuse me while I go cry in the corner... and jump up and down because it's so gosh darn fun watching these munchkins turn into people!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The everyday with my new babay + Xmas

What's better than Christmas week? NOTHING! We had so much gosh darn fun this year. Quick run through of the festivities for good ol' 2015:

* Christmas Eve was spent at the Paplia home, something that's turned into a tradition over the last few years. And listen to this! I recently cleaned out my closet so that I could rebuild with things that were better quality vs. items I had just picked up over the years out of convenient pricing or other not fun reasons. I figured I would go shopping for at least a shirt or two before Christmas, but alas, it did not happen - so I just threw on one of Chad's massive sweaters! It actually looked pretty cute in real life! But the few pictures taken that night made me look hobo-esque, so hey. My daring fashion maneuvers didn't exactly translate to film. It's okay, you can judge this outfit as ridiculous (but freakin' awesome because I was basically walking around in jammies the whole night. Win!). And also I had no idea what I was doing adjusting my camera's shutter speed, hence a very blurry photo, but a photo to mark the occasion nonetheless! Anyhoo, love Christmas Eve at the Paplia's. So fun and so special with all the babies running around. And now, Hobo Nicole:

* Christmas Day! Man! It was such a wonderful day! This year, more than others in the past, I felt like I wasn't connecting to the real meaning of the season. There was very little praying going on and my main focus fell on when we would be getting our Amazon Prime shipments. Also, I was overly stoked that I was wrapping all of the presents in very large boxes, thanks to the Amazon deliveries. I wrapped the card game "Uno" for Carter in an 8x20" box! The reason I was doing that was because I just LOVED how full and awesome all the GIFTS looked, set up all pretty like that. It was all very appearance driven! Anyway, focusing on such dumb things actually produced a lot of anxiety during the weeks between the kids' birthday party and The Big Day - not cool, and not nice to Jesus. Once I clued in to how uptight I was being (amidst the Paplia Christmas Eve celebration), I took a deep breath and prayed a whole heck of a lot. Getting back in touch with the real reason for everything produced a happy, amazing, very thankful Christmas morning!
 Santa gifted Kota her first big girl bike!
Daddy got a really sexy budget board made by yours truly which will fly us to exotic places because we'll be so great at saving (bahaha! Here, my husband, here is a gift for you but kind of for me... but really for you!), among other things!
 Star Wars was Carter's bff this year! Santa brought him an Infinity Disney video game!
 Carter, Kota and I made Daddy an entryway table!
And THIS! This is the product of Chadly's present to big mama over here! My new babay: a legit, crazy camera lens! I don't even know the exact name of it! He gave me lots of camera accessories and then we proceeded to play around with it Christmas morning. Thankfully the BIL gave me a little camera 101 when we went to the desert where I learned a smidgen more of her full potential! So, so, so fun and awesome! That, and my boyfriend for life offered a helping hand in said wardrobe rebuild and an ERIN CONDREN PLANNER! Gah!

* Later on on Christmas Day, bff Whitney and her man Taylor came over for enchiladas while en route to her family's Xmas celebration, Grandma Cheryl and Uncle Todd hung out for a long time, and finally, my parents came through to finish off their IE rounds! It was so much fun, relaxing and amazing!

* Then on the 26th we headed to our beloved desert for Christmas festivities with the SIL, BIL and Grandpa Ernie where we had a blast, as we do with those people. So much fun! After my little photo tutorial from Justin, I proceeded to take a ridiculous amount of weird pictures to sort of get the hang of it. The good news is I got some dang hunky pictures of the hubs. Yes, yes I did!

So now to the point of this ol' post before I realized that I should probably document Christmas. With this crazy lens that Chadly fitted to Mr. T2i, I really want to capture the everyday even more so than usual. I mean, duh, pictures are abundant between the "big camera" and Chad and my cell phones, but I want to get things like messy rooms, floor playin' and just life the way it really is during this season of our lives! How cool is that? Just a bunch of pictures of nothing... but everything! You know?!

Playing around with focus, figuring out the wild world of aperture crap, shutter speeds, lighting... doing stuff like that with my babes. I've decided that my Shutterfly books will be for all of the big things throughout the year and the 4x6 prints will continue, documenting all of the "small" things. I actually like my 4x6 albums more than the Shutterfly books. They capture all of the "in betweens," the things we will actually care about in 20 years. So I'm glad I figured that out! Now I'll have Mr. T2i and Crazy Lens along for the journey with even more purpose, ya dig?

Anyhoo, I always feel douchey when thinking too much about this stuff. Like, "chill Nicole, don't be trying to be all Chardphoto on Instagram about this stuff," but hey, what can you do! It's all great to think about and do. So now that Crazy Lens has been introduced and my photo 101 has been completed, how about some "I'm having way too much fun with foregrounds and backgrounds" moments!
Oh yeah! Give it to me, dangling Christmas lights! You're a star! Forget about the little people in the background! The palm trees are just jealous! I'll blur them out!

 More Christmas lights! Stupid palm trees! Always trying to steal the scene! Crazy Lens, I command you to blur them away!

 Blue Steele, American flag! Give me Blue Steele! Yes! Yes! YAS!

Okay, that was weird. So now two more of the everyday, brought to us by Crazy Lens.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A letter to my oldest on his 6th birthday

When one procreates, one becomes a walking cliche. Hence this letter, which definitely is not the first, nor will be the last, of it's kind.

Carter, Carter, you sweet child. You are six today. SIX! How is it that you, me and Daddy have been walkin' around together, figuring out this big ol' world, for six whole years now?! 72 months! It's a wonder. There are several things I never, ever want to forget about you in this season of your life, but just for time's sake (because lesbehonest... I could write about you for the next 20 years sans break!), and because Daddy is waiting for me to take a shower and start on the enchiladas, I'll just highlight some of the gamut of emotions you put us three Cisneros's through JUST today!

1. I almost burst into hysterical, weird, mom-you're-crazy tears each hour, on the hour. "Mom, can you grab me, the King of the World, some juice?" YES BECAUSE IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY AND BECAUSE I WANT YOU TO ALWAYS ASK IF MOM CAN GRAB YOU JUICE UNTIL YOU'RE 25! "Mom, I want to go to Chuck-E-Cheese's tonight. Can that happen?" YES EVEN THOUGH DADDY AND I THINK THAT ESTABLISHMENT VIOLATES SEVERAL HEALTH CODE STANDARDS, WE WILL BRING YOU, OUR BIRTHDAY BABY, TO CHUCK-E-CHEESE'S! "Mom, now that I'm six, I'm going to be in first grade when I get back to school. Yep." WAH, LET'S NOT THINK ABOUT AGING EVEN FURTHER, BUT MOMMY WANTS YOU TO THINK BIG THOUGHTS LIKE THAT ANYWAY! Tears, tears, tears!

2. Daddy posted the sweetest picture of you on his Instagram. You were in the "big church" with us for Christmas service and Kota was sleeping, so it was just you, me and Dad. It was candle lighting time, and once yours was lit, you literally held it at the highest point above your head and said, very loudly, Pastor Chuck's prayer. It was the gosh darn sweetest thing and both Dad and I almost burst into ridiculous, scary person tears! You are such a light!

3. Kota was very, very sad that she didn't get to be "Princess of the World" while you were "King of the World," and also that it wasn't her turn to open presents while you basked in all the Jurassic World Lego video game glory. Instead of looking down your nose at a pesky little sister, you told her that "in just a few days," it was going to be her birthday, then she can be Princess of the World! It was the sweetest words ever spoken on the face of the earth. Again, Mom almost cried.

So a very successful days of on-the-verge-of-tears, I'll have to say. Now you are sound asleep, waiting for the Christmas Eve to happen WHERE WE GET TO GO SEE STAR WARS THE FORCE AWAKENS IN 3D IMAX FOR YOUR BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!! I'm willing to bet there may be a few teary eyed moments watching your little face light up whilst light saber battling.

Mommy and Daddy love you so much, Carter! We are proud of you every single day. I can't wait to see you grow into the guy you are meant to be! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE, Mommy.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Bullets of randomness

When mama goes through December pictures, they end up on the blogular. It's a rule of life.

 ^^^My girl and I had a Nutcracker date at the Newport Beach Public Library with Grandma Cheryl, Auntie Gina and Tessa! So fun and pretty!

 ^^^Kota celebrating her birthday in class! She came out of that room feeling like the queen of the world!

 ^^^Carter had his Kindergarten Christmas performance! He was the cutest little Christmas tree I ever did see!

 ^^^A little experimentation on the T2i never hurt noboday! Aperture, exposure.... you know. Weird stuff like that.

 ^^^JPD, we love thee.

 ^^^Carter's first sleep over at our house with his buddy from preschool, Carson!

 ^^^On said sleep over night, Kota felt very sad she wasn't "one of the boys," so she got to spend lots of time in Mommy and Daddy's room.

 ^^^When Kota was really into giving Carter a massage before his game to "rewax" him, and Carter wasn't so into it. But hey, it worked! He scored his first goal and got the game puck that night!

 ^^^A Target bathing beauty.

 ^^^I have no idea why this didn't upload with the rest of the Nutcracker pictures, but I'm too lazy to move it into it's respective group. At the Newport library there was this massive green backdrop thing, so we had to take 4,000 pictures with it.

 ^^^Hangin' curtains.

 ^^^Snow's bff, Grandma Cheryl!

 ^^^Friends since kindergarten, 6th grade science camp bunk buds, La Paz middle school goers and MVHS pals. Life ain't bad with one of these chicks by your side!

 ^^^Carter's second season of roller hockey's championship game! So proud of this little beast!

 ^^^When Daddy Amazon Primes, we don't leave him alone.

 ^^^When we took our first stroll through Gingerbread Lane here in C Town. How old do my babies look with those hot chocolates in their hands? They look like hipster young adults drinking coffee at night!

 ^^^Babes had their class Christmas parties on the same day, so Chadly and I divided and conquered!

 ^^^I seriously love watching this child at ice hockey. Obvi I love watching him do whatever it is he wants to do, but there's just something about ice hockey! He's so smooth and fab out there, you know? I want to sign Kota up for skate lessons so we can spend even more time at the rink. What is it about that place?!

 ^^^The night Carter literally licked his plate clean shall live in my long term memory forever. A very large victory for the cook.

 ^^^Being the solemn Catholic church goin' gal that us Paplia's were raised to be, I get really critical of anything "crazy" during service time. Rock bands during holy hour...? Eh. But I have to say, when us 4 Cisneros's attended Crossroads Christmas performance yesterday, I was VERY into the Darth Vader Nay Nay'in' and Gangnum Style partyin'. It was SO FUN.

^^^Mas is Snow's other bff!

So there it is: December pre-Carter's birthday, Christmas Eve and Day, Kota's birthday and New Year's Eve (sans 6 + 4th birthday party). The busiest month of the year is coming along pretty dang well, I have to say, pretty dang well.
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