Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Haley's 9th Birthday

I've never seen a kid so excited to get a dictionary.

Friday, November 20, 2009

First Cheer Performance

I have a lot to blog about lately. It's probably because I am just so freaking excited! Myhusband is coming home soon! I will no longer go to bed at 8:30 pm just because I have nothing better to do because I will have my husband home to spend time with. It's going to be great. Not only is Nick coming home soon, but our baby is due in 7 weeks, or 1 1/2 months, that is right around the corner! I can't believe it. It feels like just yesterday I was a complete wreck, worrying constantly about the well being of this baby. I was so afraid I would miscarry again. Now I am able to comfortably spend my days with her practicing kickboxing, salsa, and yoga inside my body, reassuring me that she is doing great in there. We have so much to look forward to right now and I am thrilled.

Anyway, last night was Haleys fist cheerleading performance, she had a great time out there but I was really dissapointed in the coaches. I know Haley is only 8 and this isn't high school cheerleading but I expected a little more from the coaches. First of all, we have been through 3 or 4 coaches and we're only in week 3 of cheer. I really liked coach 3, she let the girls have a good time but at the same time she inforced some basic rules such as standing at attention after a cheer, remaining in position, and calling cheers loudly. These are important because if you're not standing at attention ready for the next cheer then you're going to be behind, and if you're not standing in your position the whole cheer formation looks sloppy plus you could end up getting kicked in the face or kicking someone else in the face by standing way too close to them, and lastly, if the cheers aren't called properly (i.e someone yells "name of cheer. Ready? Ok!") then how the heck are the girls supposed to know when to begin and what cheer they are doing?

Last night we had some random coaches that I had never seen before. These coaches did not make the girls stand at attention so half the time most of them were talking to each other instead of getting ready for the next cheer. Then the coaches neglected to get the girls back into position every once in a while so we had the 2nd row of girls 2 feet from the front row, and the back row was about 10 feet away from the 2nd row. And then instead of calling the cheers properly the coaches chose a cheer then told the girls "lets do...dynamite" and then let the girls just begin, they never said "ready?Ok!" and so most girls didn't know when to start cheering. Then they started letting the girls choose the cheers which is nice but the girls have 3 favorite cheers so they kept repeating the same cheers over and over again. It was an unorganized mess but at least Haley had a good time and she did a great job cheering. I am just annoyed because for one thing I'm a little bit of a perfectionist and for another thing Haley wants to get into cheerleading in high school so it's important that she has an idea of the basic rules of the sport. If this were basketball the coaches wouldn't allow the kids to run while holding the ball, they would be penalized, so why do they let the cheerleaders break all the rules?

Anyway, here are some photos of Haley having a great time last night. I brought a mug of hot chocolate for her and she loved drinking out of it, she said it made her feel like a high school girl, ooooh :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christmas Tree and Baby Belly

Today in an attempt to relieve boredom Haley and I ventured out to Home Depot and Wal-Mart in search of Christmas decorations. We stopped at home depot and picked up a holiday snoopy inflatable for the yard, a Christmas welcome mat (only $3, go get yourselves one) and then we headed to Wal-Mart. I had told Haley she could save her allowance for half the cost of a little 3ft tree and I would pay for the rest of it if she deserved it. Well last night I ended up having to bring her along to a photo session and she was just awesome so today she got her tree. She chose a pink tree skirt, pink glittery ornaments, and of course a pink topper. I think it's pretty cute and since we aren't putting the big tree up until Nick gets home she gets to keep all the presents under her tree for now.

So...that's my belly. After 32 weeks of carrying around this sweet baby girl that's how big it has gotten. People tell me daily that it's "tiny" which is nice I guess. I definitely do not see it but apparently the majority of society is shocked to find out I only have 8 weeks left before I deliver. By the way, you may have noticed that I am slouching, this is not how I normally stand. I just wanted to seperate the girls from the belly if you catch my drift. Here is what things look like when I stand up straight.

That's probably why people think I look "tiny", because there is hardly any belly definition since my girls think it's a race to see who sticks out the farthest, them or the belly. And no, in case you are wondering, I do not have any shame. It went out the window with my wasteline a few months ago. Oh and since we're on the subject of bellies here is a little conversation Haley and I had earlier today:

Me: The other day I was talking to a man and my belly just started dancing. The baby was doing the cha cha.
Haley: I thought you were an adult.
Me: What do you mean?
Haley: Adults don't say "belly" they say stomach
Me: But my stomach is an organ. The baby is not in my stomach. Technically I should call it my abdomen but I don't want to be technical.
Haley: Be technical. Abdomen. It's not your belly, your tummy, your tum tum, your food processor, it's your abdomen.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

This last Saturday there was a pumpkin patch on base so Haley and I decided to get up earlier than usual for a weekend and head over there because it started at 9am. Most events that are held on base are free, amazingly free, as in free games, rides, prizes, and food but then occasionally there will be an event that requires payment and you really never know in advance. I think it's just another one of the ways the military keeps us on our toes. I couldn't imagine the pumpkins being free so we stopped at a convenience store on the way so I could purchase some water and get cash back.

When I went back to my car the damn thing wouldn't start, it wouldn't do anything, the battery was dead which is strange since I just bought a new battery for it. Luckily though it kept flickering back to life and I was able start it and get back home, without pumpkins. On the ride home I called my dealership who put into my head the idea that this must be my alternator which is of course no longer covered under warranty. So I called other car repair places to see about getting it fixed immediately. With it being a holiday weekend we had several plans that I didn't want to see broken due to my car. Unfortunately there was not a single car repair shop open in the entire town. I would have to wait until Monday. I was really mad. Mad at all the repair shops, mad at the Marine Corps for sticking me in a small town where all repair shops were closed on weekends, and mad at myself for buying the stupid car that causes so many problems. I was so mad I actually cried which made me mad at my pregnancy hormones. So we were stuck inside this house with nothing to do for 2 whole days. All of our plans were broken and we stayed home, I wrote a paper for my history class, we played monopoly and life and spent way too much time on the couch. It was an incredibly boring weekend.

So finally today the car places opened up and I was able to have my car looked at. It turns out it was a very minor problem, the cable for the battery was "really, really loose" and not allowing the battery to properly charge. Thank goodness, I was so relieved and only had to shell out $45 for the battery/alternator test which is so much better than the $500 I was convinced I would be charged for an alternator (I know that's crazy, but in this town I was quoted $700 for brakes so it's normal out here). And to make things better the place where they had the pumpkin patch still had about 50 pumpkins just waiting to be carved and they were free! So Haley and I headed over there and grabbed 3 of the lumpiest pumpkins we could find because Haley likes her pumpkins with character.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Stopping by to say hello...

I know I don't update this thing nearly as often as I should but I think when Nick gets back I will get more into it. It's hard to update the Stephens Family Blog when an intricate part of our family is not around at the moment. But he will be home soon and everything will go back to normal. When Nick is deployed I feel like I'm in a waiting room for 7 months. Sure Haley and I do things together to pass the time, but I don't feel like I'm really living while he's away. This deployment wasn't what I expected at all though. I had imagined traveling a lot with Haley, I wanted to go some place new almost every month. But with the pregnancy I found myself too tired and too irritable to travel, plus for some reason I don't like leaving the base, let alone the city. We traveled to San Antonio in mid June, then returned here in early August. Earlier this month we visited San Luis Obispo, and in late October we're having a girls weekend in Big Bear at a little cottage. Well, actually it's a big cottage that's too big for just the two of us. It sleeps 6 and I thought about inviting some friends to come up there but I don't have any friends with kids Haleys age so I decided against it. We're going to enjoy shopping, eating, and visiting Oktoberfest. I love Big Bear, especially in the fall so I am really excited about this.

Also, we found out that our baby is a girl! We were so excited. I really thought it was going to be a boy for some reason. I mean, there was no doubt in my mind. In fact I had started purchasing boy things I was so sure. When the tech told me she was a girl I was in shock, so absolutely thrilled because I really wanted another girl.

Well, thats about all the news I have for now. Here are some photos I took over the summer:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Update on Everything!

I know it's been an incredibly long time sine I've posted anything new here, so here is an update. I'm sure most everyone knows this by now, but Nick and I are expecting another little one! I'm currently almost 16 weeks pregnant and the baby is due January 8, 2010, just 9 days after Haley's 9th birthday. We don't know what the baby's gender is just yet but my gut feeling is that it's a boy, but we'll see. I decided that once I know the gender I'm going to keep it a secret until Nick has a chance to call me fromAfghanistan. I think it would be really weird for the baby's father to be the last one to know it's gender so that's why I'm waiting. If you know me well, then you also know that I have a really hard time keeping exciting things to myself so we will see how well that turns out.

As far as Nick's deployment goes, things seem to be going ok. We rarely get to speak and when we do it's only for 20 minutes and the connection is almost always terrible, but at least it's something. From what I can tell he seems to be doing ok. His morale seems much higher than it was when he was deployed to Japan which is great, he hated Japan. We do have a homecoming window however I will not be putting it online due to operational security, I will say that he will be home before Christmas. If you want to know the exact dates just let me know and I'll contact you with them. Also, to all family and friends, if you would like to attend the homecoming please let me know, I have absolutely no problem with this as long as I get the first hug from him :)

Also, if you want to write Nick he would love that, even if you are a reader of this blog whom we have never met, if you would like to send him some encouraging words I can give you his address. There is an amazing tool called motomail.us that I use daily, sometimes multiple times a day, which allows him to receive our letters much faster than he would via snailmail. All you do is visit motomail.us, register for a username, input Nick's address, and begin writing. Motomail is then printed out and delivered to the Marines within 24hrs of the letter being written. The letters he recieves are incredibly important to him, and it would mean the world to him to recieve more.

I will contact his command and ask about whether or not it is ok to post his address online or not, if so I will update this blog with that information.

Nick also loves receiving care packages and almost anything can be sent EXCEPT FOR PORK PRODUCTS. So please, no bacon, lol. The main things he keeps asking for are baby wipes.

Ok, that about sums it up. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Girl Scout Reward

This year Haley's girl scout troop sold a ton of cookies and with the proceeds they went to Build A Bear Workshop and Rainforest Cafe. Both the workshop and the cafe were in an indoor outlet mall so you can probably imagine that it was really hard for us retail deprived desert folk to be in there but not have a chance to shop. Here are some photos:

Friday, May 8, 2009


I heard from Nick last night when his plane stopped in Maine. Maine has a really nice group of people called the Maine troop greeters. They basically hang out at the airports when they know troops are scheduled to land so that they can greet them and thank them for their service. They also photograph the Marines and then post the photos online. Here are the photos I was able to find of Nick. You can view more photos of the Marines and Corpsman that accompanied Nick at http://www.mainetroopgreeters.com/

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Whitney's Website

In an effort to revamp my business I decided to purchase a flash website. I've had it up for only 2 1/4 days and already it's been bringing me business. I am so thrilled! The only thing I'm not thrilled about is that I'm not fully done "revamping" and I wasn't going to unveil the new me until after I returned from Texas this summer. It doesn't do any good to become a popular photographer and then leave the area for 2 months.

Here it is for anyone that wants to take a peek. The site has music just to let you know. Turn your speakers up, as my mom likes to remind everyone who looks at it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Family Photos

Yesterday we had our family photos done by my friend and fellow photographer, Shaunna Barry. I made a few storyboards out of my favorites. Feel free to copy these and make your own prints, they are both size 20x10. I can also change the text easily to something less personal and then email them.

These are awesome because they are so versatile. You can frame them or you can mount them on styrene and display them on a plate stand or hot glue a cute ribbon to the back and them on the wall. I'm ordering both but the one of just Haley and I is going to be hung in her room.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Photography Studio

I am so incredibly excited! I am finally, after nearly 2 years of being a professional, getting my studio put together. Yesterday Nick and I went to home depot where we got a 4'x4' section of laminate flooring, a couple pieces of plywood, and a piece of molding in order to create this look:
The wood flooring is a very popular look right now, it's supposed to look as if the subject is sitting on the floor in a room with a painted wall. I like it because it's portable since the wood planks just snap together I can easily unsnap them and put them back into their box.
Then I decided I needed some props for my studio so I went antique shopping and found an incredibly cute bench/stool for $15 and a red step stool for $10. I figure they will be good for having little kids sit on. I have been feeling really creative lately and a very popular photo prop right now is tutus however these can run $40! Instead of paying that and waiting a week for them to arrive I went down to walmart, spent $8 on materials and 2 hours later I had this:
Now I'm waiting for my lighting kit and my seamless paper backdrops and I am all set! I can't wait to be able to photograph in studio!


Just some photos from Easter, we were up in San Luis Obispo for it this year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

10x20 Storyboard of Miss Haley

The other day Haley and I went out and had a photo session at the beautiful 29 Palms Inn (of course) and today I made the story board pictured above. It's 10x20, so it's a good size and it comes mounted to styrene and has a ribbon attached so it can hang on the wall. If you're not into ribbons you can choose to display it on a plate stand. As much as I would love to make one for everyone in the family these bad boys cost $18 to make, so instead I'll take orders or you can copy it and print it yourself. You can get it with or without her name displayed at the bottom. Also, if you don't order the storyboard it's ok, I'll be ordering regular prints to distribute to everyone soon.

The finished product will look something like this http://www.flickr.com/photos/ambernorris-photography/2825432669/

Monday, April 13, 2009

Pre-Deployment Leave

Well, we just returned to our desert wasteland/home from being fully submerged in greenery for a week. Needless to say, it's a dramatic change and we all prefer the greenery. We first traveled to Santa Margarita for a couple of days to stay at a KOA campground. During our stay there we had some pretty heavy rains so we weren't able to enjoy the scenery as much as we had hoped but we still managed to squeeze in one extremely muddy hike before leaving. After Santa Margarita we spent our time between Atascadero and San Luis Obispo visiting Nick's grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Nick's cousin Brandee was nice enough to let us stay with her in Atascadero. While we were there we fell in love with the area all over again which confirmed our decision to relocate to the Central Coast after this enlistment. We can hardly wait and 2 years suddenly seems like a lifetime.