Puppy Love

June 20, 2009 - Norfolk, VA

I have known Jen & Kipp for a long time. Jen and I are godmothers to my sister's son Franky. Jen has been my sister Cathee's best friend since High School. Coincidentally, Jen and Kipp have been together since they were in high school. I even have proof.... I have photos of Jen, Kipp, Cathee and the rest of their friends getting ready for Ring Dance (Jr. Prom). I promised that I wouldn't embarrass them. So, I'll save those photos for another day. Over the last 15 years, Jen & Kipp have grown together and weathered many storms. I congratulate and applaud their commitment. That kind of enduring love is very rare.

Recently, Jen & Kipp got engaged. I couldn't be more delighted for them. I was even more delighted when Jen asked me to photographer her, Kipp and their dog Jager. Jager is their puggle and member of their family. It was touching when Jen and Kipp said that their engagement photos would not be complete with Jager. So, I happily agreed to take a few photos for them.

We headed to Waterside in Downtown Norfolk for a short shoot. Jen & Kipp even had an entourage. Jen's sister Jodi, Jodi's Boyfriend Brandon, Cathee, and my nephews all decided to tag along. The funny part? They were all dressed up "just in case" they could get in a few pics of their own. {Next time, kids, just ask me and you can have a photo shoot of your very own.} The entourage showed up for moral support, but ended up being a bit of a distraction. So, I sent them off to grab a bite to eat. {Sorry guys! You know I love you} It made a BIG difference. Here are some of the photos from our shoot.













Up, up, and Away!

Doing a little backtracking... back to the beginning of the month BEFORE my trip to VA.

June 2, 2009
I love Pixar movies. This one is no exception.

We decided to see it in 3D.
at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.
I suggested going to the El Capitan as part of our tourist in our own town adventure. We started in March, but my trips put it on the back burner.

We headed to Hollywood & Highland where there was a free jazz show.

We grabbed a quick bite at
We didn't eat anything special. So, no food pics.

We headed to the theater after dinner. If you have never been to the El Capitan, I suggest you go. The theater has been well restored and its architecture is impressive. Because we went to a night show, I do not have any shots of said details. It was too dark. {A great reason to see it for yourself}

They have an organist who plays before the movie starts.

They also have a pre-movie live show. The show is a bit cheesetastic, but still fun. The theater is owned by Disney. So, expect a Disneyland-esque Show. I think the nephews or niece might have enjoyed it.

The movie is among my favorites. I cried several times and I'm not one to cry during movies. It also had lots of comic relief. A friend of mine called it an kids' movie with life-themes. I won't say any more than that.
If you still haven't seen UP, run and see it in 3D. You'll thank me. And if you're in L.A., watch it at El Capitan. You'll get a taste of the old-fashioned movie theater experience.

Labor of Love

June 15-22, 2009 - Virginia Beach
My parents have lived in their house for 23 years. Twenty-three years ago, they had their house custom built. Every molding, every fixture, carpet and wallpaper was hand-picked by my mom. In the last 10 years, they have slowly, but surely updated and replaced parts of the house. They've done the major replacements - roof, windows, and A/C units. The three of us (kids) destroyed their carpet and it was replaced by wood flooring. Like any home, my parents' house has been a work in progress that is constantly evolving. What still lingered is the wallpaper. The wallpaper was gorgeous and chic... in 1986. Now, it was peeling and outdated. So, my brother Nate and I convinced our parents to let us take down the wallpaper and paint the walls. This
turned out to be a bigger undertaking than either of us anticipated.

To give you an idea of what we were working with, here are some before pictures. Please excuse the mess. My mom and I had already started prepping for the wallpaper removal.

Dining Room




Computer Room

We thought we'd have the job done in less than a week. Supposedly, if we used a wallpaper steamer, the wallpaper would come right off. Riiiiiggghht. Not a chance. It took us 3 days to remove all of the wallpaper and adhesive from the walls. We were treated to 3 days of scraping, spraying and scrubbing. If anyone ever tells you it's easy to remove wallpaper, I suggest you smack them and call them a "blasphemous liar".

Here's some of the work in progress.

This little bit of paper was the last hold-out. It took Nate HOURS balanced on the ladder to scrape that tiny section off.

After the wallpaper removal, came the priming and painting. Nate and I suggested some modern color palettes, but it was vetoed by our parents. Dad wanted everything in Antique White. Mom wanted everything Peach. We compromised by selected warm neutrals with orange/peach undertones. Poor Dad was completely overruled.

The color palette

Because the wallpaper removal put us behind schedule, I ended up working on a large portion of the project by myself. Nate was had to go to his job and I didn't want my parents to work per se. I put in 12-14 hour days. I have never felt so tired in my life. Alleve, IcyHot patches, Epsom Salt, and Pomegranate Juice were my friends. Despite the physical exhaustion, it was satisfying and fun. I loved my parents' reactions as the job progressed. They went from being skeptical to just plain excited. My mom, Nate and I had lengthy conversations while Nate and I worked. And there were many instances were Nate and I weren't sure whether to laugh or cry at the enormity of our task. My only disappointment is that we didn't finish the job in time for my return to L.A.

Here are some photos of the nearly completed job.




Dining Room



Computer Room


I'm pleased with our handiwork, but you're probably wondering why we undertook such a big project. Our parents did not put us up to it. They were a bit incredulous when we volunteered. As I have mentioned numerous times before, we are not a demonstrative lot. Hugs and kisses are not part of our family's emotional lexicon. If you dare say "I love you", you are met with a look that says "What is wrong with you? ". We're not unfeeling, just not showy with our emotions.

So, Nate and I did all this because we wanted to show our parents that we cared and because they deserved something like this. We thought our actions would be speak much louder than anything we could say. The job wasn't perfect and incomplete, but I hope that it spoke volumes to how much we cared. Let's hope Nate will have the job finished by the time I go back out to visit in September.

102 Reasons to Celebrate

I am on the road yet again. When I had hoped that this year would be filled with lots of travel, I got more thoan I bargained for. I flew out to Virginia for my Lola's 102nd birthday. My Lola loves birthdays so much that there was no way that I was going to miss it.
This year's celebration was low-key. As much as she loves the company, Lola gets a bit overwhelmed and exhausted by the excitement. I don't blame her if I were 100+ I'm not sure how energetic I'd be. We've told our relatives to spread their visits apart. This allows Lola to really enjoy each person's company and also gives her something to look forward to.

The Birthday Girl sits and enjoys the conversations

Lola is a very spirited and lively storyteller
Instead of visits, Lola received quite a few phone calls. Each call was from a different part of the globe.


Lola's Faith has sustained her through many of life's trials and tribulations. In recent years, she has been unable to attend mass as often as she used to. Fortunately, Father Gerry Markey an old family friend came to visit. He had a mass in Lola's honor at home.


Because of her hearing difficulties, Father Markey sat close to Lola and spoke loud enough for her to hear.
Father Markey gives Lola a special blessing

Uncle Bo (Lola's son who lives in O.C.) greets Lola after mass

Uncle Bo and Franky offer to help Lola blow out her candles...

... but Lola doesn't need any help

Even Father Markey offered to help

Ethan tells Lola he has a gift for her

His gift? He tells her he loves her
Happy Birthday to my Lola, who has been teaching us all how to age gracefully!