Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas wishes do come true!! :-)

Ava got her dream gift.  That sweet little angel even let her sisters join in on the fun. :-)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

December Staycation: The Beginning

I can't help it, I just love my girls & my family.  I love it when the girls smother me with their stories about school.  I love it when they snuggle with us in bed.  I love family movie nights.  So, of course I was so happy when I picked them up from school on Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday Bronwen & Ava had their final Fall hip-hop dance class, which ended with a performance for the parents.  Conrad, my love, came straight from work so he could see them perform.  What an amazing dad.  Bronwen & Ava did awesome, as always.  It's so fun to watch grow in their skills -their movements are smoother & they definitely have a sense of rhythm now.  That evening we stayed up late & I read them a few chapters of a little Christmas book called "True Gift" in our bed.  It was cozy!

Friday, we had a whirl-wind of a day.  Conrad went to work, I took the girls to the gym, then we made a pit stop to buy Conrad some Christmas presents.  He's going to be happy!!!  We had some lunch & I showered, but by the time we were all actually ready to go to the grocery store I was pooped.  Funny how all the effort into getting ready makes you too tired to go anywhere haha!  I told the girls I needed to just sit for a few minutes.  They had the great idea of building our gingerbread house.  We had a blast.  Charlie & Cate enjoyed sneaking in all the little candies they found. :-)  Bronwen & Ava too, for that matter. 

We went to the store & got our groceries & Christmas Eve dinner prep & finally came home.  I made Chicken Corden Bleu (Yum!), pasta & green beans.  We celebrated when Conrad came home -he sold two cars that day -Hooray!- & ended the day with more reading on the bed & hugs & kisses.  It's been a great staycation so far.  I'm filled with such joy to be home with the girls & Conrad. 

To everyone out there, Merry Christmas from the Douglas household.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

This year I wanted to make sure I got our family photos out. Fortunately for us the weather held (something I added on my "Things to be Thankful for" list). Truth be told, I was only going to use the bench & chalkboard sign as props for our photos, but at the last minute I grabbed a drawer of ornaments from the garage & literally tossed it into the back of my Jeep. I'm so glad I did. It's the perfect blend of formal portraits with a touch of whimsy. Christmas magic. :-)

I took these photos using my Canon 5D Mark III, 28-135 mm lens, tripod & remote trigger (Saved my life!). From left to right is Ava (7 yrs), me (Michelle Douglas), Cate (2 yrs), Conrad (my husband of 11 yrs), Charlie (5 mo Australian Shepherd), & Bronwen (8 yrs).

Happy holidays, from our family to yours.
~Michelle Douglas

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Reaching for the Stars~

Conrad & I went to Bronwen's & Ava's parent-teacher conferences yesterday. 
Bronwen received "4's" in almost every area (exceeds grade-level expectations) & is off the charts (literally) in her reading & math scores.  There was one benchmark where children were supposed to be at 70 to be on target & Bronwen was at 156.  OMG! 
Ava... out of her classmates, she is the best reader in her class (no surprise as she is taking lead from her big sister in their shared love for reading).  She was the only one who got a perfect score for her reading comprehension test.  She is 1 out of 5 in the class who are already into subtraction story problems.
Conrad & I are incredibly blessed to have daughter who are so intelligent.  The sky is the limit for them. :-)

Ava's Birthday :-)

Since Ava was my little baby, she has always been my heart with feet.  The love she feels for other people & animals is incredibly beautiful.  She is kind, compassionate, incredibly smart with her uncanny ability to recall facts & her photographic memory, imaginative (she still loves to show us how she growls like a jaquar & runs like a bear), a talented artist (Her pictures have so much life in them!), empathic & loving.  The best way to describe her is that she just feels so much in her little heart.  Ava, Daddy & I are so proud to be your parents & love you very much.  You are a blessing.

Halloween 2012

This year mama got to take the girls (plus Charlie) out for Halloween! We had so much fun getting ready & an even better time gathering candy.  Bronwen was brave enough to go into the neighborhood haunted house this year, while Ava, Cate, Charlie & I waited eagerly for her to come back out.  I think next year Ava will be ready.  What a great time!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Funny ;-)

 The night before last, Conrad, the girls & I were watching The Amazing Spiderman. The movie was almost over, but Cate just couldn't stay up any longer. She grabbed her blankie ("Fluffsies") & laid on the floor. She fell asleep with Conrad & I tickling her back. Now that his tormenter was asleep, Charlie came over from the kitchen & curled up right next to her. It was definitely a photo moment. Conrad & I both took pictures & sent them to my sisters. Within a few seconds my phone buzzed with a text. This is what my sisters did. Hahahahaha (Natasha took the photo of Bianca). I swear, this was one the funniest & most clever responses. :-) I love you guys! :-)


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Storybook Theater

What to do on a lazy Saturday when daddy is at work?  Go see a play!  Today I took the girls for their first ever "real" play (with the exception of Ava, this is her third, as her preschool went to a couple).  It was an adaptation of The Three Little Pigs.  The wolf was hilarious!  We laughed out loud & Cate thorougly enjoyed clapping after each song. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The real reason why the girls are so smart...

We read a lot in the Douglas household. Need I say more? :-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Conrad's Birthday

Conrad's birthday was like the 12 days of Christmas haha!  At the beginning of the month I asked him what he wanted.
Running Shoes - We've been running together 3 miles 4-5 times a week & his shoes were starting to wear out.  He needed to order his shoes online & since we were running anyway, I told him to just go ahead & order them.  They arrived 3 weeks before his birthday. 
Me, " What else do you need for your birthday?"
Workout Clothes- We did the vinegar trick several times with our workout gear, but it was time to get new clothes (no amount of washing/detergent/vinegar was going to get the sour smell out).  We went to Target & it was one of those trips where everything fit perfectly & was a great color & cost.  We hooked him up.
Me, "Conrad, I want you to have something for your actual birthday though."
Protein Shaker- The perfect gift the girls wrapped up for their daddy on his birthday.

On Conrad's birthday morning the girls & I decorated the kitchen with streamers & signs for him while he was at the gym.  He was incredibly happy & surprised when he got home.  Then he had to work.  While he was working we made him a triple layer chocolate & vanilla cake.  The girls put the layers together (they even frosted everything) & put the candles on.  We made him his favorite dinner -enchiladas.  God, I love that man. 

Terrific Tots Playground

"Rolling down the highway!  Looking for adventure!" 
OMG, is this the funniest picture of Cate or what?  Every Tuesday Conrad & I take her to the Terrific Tots Playground at our local community center.  For an hour children get to play in bliss on all kinds of play equipment that fills one of the center's basketball courts.  Cate reminds me of one of those balls in a pinball machine as she bounces from one fun thing to the next.  Her favorites?  The "Lighting McQuing" car as she calls it & a springy rocking horse.  It's a great program (only $28 & the kids get to play every Tuesday in September through December -adds up to <$2 a visit).  We're so fortunate to have such a robust recreational program.  :-)

Smile Train

Bronwen & Ava came downstairs the other night showing me a picture of a baby who needed surgery for her cleft lip.  Underneath was a form where people could donate money for the Smile Train co-op.  They asked what that was all about, so Conrad & I explained how people's donations could help provide surgery for babies like the one in the photograph.  Bronwen got her money.  Ava got her money.  Ava said, "I want to help this baby because babies are the most important people & they can't help themselves.  If we don't help them, then they never get a chance to grow up."  I get tears in my eyes even writing it.  Conrad addressed the envelope for them.  I live with angels.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Happy October!!

We're ready for Halloween!!  Conrad is working weekends (taking Mondays & Tuesdays off), so this leaves plenty of wonderful time for me to spend with the girls.  We decided that on Saturdays we'd run any errands, but Sundays would be left to relax & have some quality time together.  I got out the mower, did the front & the back lawn as the girls drew on the sidewalk with chalk.  Then we pulled out the Halloween decorations.  One of my favorite things of being a mom is that you get to relive the magic felt during the holidays.  Bronwen & Ava actually hammered in the stakes to hold "Scary Scarecrow" the inflatable in place & Cate enjoyed pushing him down.  After the decorations were up, we pulled weeds, & cut branches for about an hour.  Charlie kept trying to pull all of the weeds out of the bucket OMG!  Even though I threatened about four times that we were going to put him back in the backyard, he somehow survived haha!  Then, ironically, because we are in Seattle & it is October, we watered the lawn.  I'm happy & thankful for the dry weather though.  First, the sun gives me so much energy & second because I have my preschool photo shoots on Wednesday & Thursday.  They're going to be outside -pumpkins, colorful leaves, water, trees, adorable children...  I'm excited to share the final product on Friday. :-)  Until then, happy October from our home to yours!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

The good news!

Conrad & I were talking in the bathroom the other night about how amazing it is that even though it may not seem like it at the time, God is always taking care of you by laying out the right path for how your life will go.  This discussion came upon the heels of a few things.

Life at T-mobile seemed to get turbulent almost immediately after we moved up here.  Within a few months of Conrad starting his new job, he had to lay off 20 people in his team.  Then his boss was let go.  Then his boss's boss was let go & replaced.  There was reorganization after reorganization.  I think he counted he had 8 leadership changes within 4 years.  Worries increased last year when the announcement of T-mobile's merge with AT&T came out.  This was significant because T-mobile's corporate office is up here, where Conrad worked, & rumors were already spreading about massive layoffs to the area (why would AT&T keep two corporate offices...).  The deal fell through though, which ended up leading to even more job losses.  7 call centers were closed down, impacting thousands of people.  Finally, the layoffs bled into the sales teams, & Conrad's job was impacted.

When we heard the news, it was sad, but in a way it was almost a relief to finally know what was going to happen.  It felt like we could live again instead of function under a constant shell of worry.  It was as if God was firmly shutting that door saying, "No more of living like this.  It is now time for you [Conrad] to follow my lead & take this chance to pursue a career that you will be successful & happy in."  It was that strong.

Fast forward a few weeks...  Conrad came across a job posting at Barrier Mercedes.  If anyone knows Conrad, you know he is a car fanatic.  During our marriage, he's had, in order: Jeep Laredo, 330ci BMW, Grand Cherokee, 530 BMW, 540 BMW, Trailblazer SS, Porcshe 911 Turbo, Landrover & Jeep SRT8.  This doesn't include his two motorcycles LOL.  He actually went around saying he had a "car disease" as if it were an actual medical condition.  We're laughing now as I told him what I just wrote haha!  Anyway, the point is that he adores cars.  He memorizes everything about them, "Ah, Michelle, did you know my SRT8 goes from 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, whereas the Porsche Turbo does it in 3.9 with a tiptronic transmission?"  His ability to memorize & recall car facts is uncanny.

So, back to the job... He knew his corporate background may be odd to someone looking to get into the car business & he kept thinking about it.  Next thing I knew, he was getting dressed in his formal attire, printing off his resume & cover letter & declaring to me that he was going to go down to the dealership to introduce himself & deliver his information in person.  He went.  They were impressed.  They flat out said normally they don't take resumes in person, that all applicants needed to go online & go through their human resources department, but in this case they were going to go ahead & pass everything along. :-)  Conrad did go through the online process just in case. :-)  A few days later, he was called!  The interview process lasted about a month & the miracle came.  He got the job!!!  With no experience with dealerships, they chose him!  What a blessing & a sign from God that this is what he should do.  I firmly believe God gave Conrad his photographic memory for car facts, passion for cars & charisma & was just waiting for the right time to give Conrad his dream job.  Ironically, our T-mobile service ended the day Conrad got the job, which felt like that chapter in our life was officially over.

Another beautiful photography business exploded this month, right when we needed it. :-D

Then more great news, my close friend, who's been trying to have a baby for almost 6 years is finally pregnant, with twins.  God is so good!!!  It reminded me of my own struggles to have a baby.

All these events got me thinking & realizing more & more that God is always looking out for us & is taking care of us.  It isn't always apparent, especially during difficult times.  It is usually after, when we are blessed, that we see how his path through hardship was what we needed to go through in order for things to be right in our future.  I know for me, I realized after I had Bronwen, "Oh, this is why we needed to wait to have children," though it was so hard to be patient at the time. :-)

Anyway, we all go through hard times, even those who seem like their life is perfect.  The cool thing is that having faith & realizing that God is in control makes these burdens bearable.  Isn't it such a wonderful feeling to realize that you are just following God's plan & that you don't have to worry so much about trying to take control by yourself?  This is not to say to sit around waiting for things to get better on their own, or to not be proactive & help situations, rather to pray about what you can do to help things, then to listen to what God is telling you in your heart.  Kind of  heavy for a Friday, but great to think about.

Here's to a beautiful weekend!  Happy Friday!


The Douglases

Monday, August 27, 2012


What could be more wonderful than going to Maui?  Celebrating 11 years of marriage there!  Being in your sister's wedding there!
Hawaii was for lack of better words, unreal!  Every time I look at our pictures I want to go back, it was that fun.
We hopped on our nonstop flight via Hawaiian Airlines & headed to Maui, a jewel of a place.  The girls were wonderful!  Bronwen & Ava packed up several books to read, coloring books & crayons.  About 3 hrs into our flight we decided to rent out a couple digi player so the kids could watch cartoons (one for Bronwen & Ava since they were sitting together & one for Cate).  Cate fell asleep, so then Conrad & I decided to check out The Hunger Games (I was in the middle of reading this great book anyway).  It was fantastic.  The best part of the flight was when the flight attendants came around with our little meals.  They came in these cute black trays & everything was so miniature I loved it!  We had rice & chicken, salad, chocolate cake & water.  Yum! 
We got in at 1:00 p.m. Maui time & picked up our rental car (a maroon Nissan SUV).  We got to our little condo village & were greeted with a welcome sign that had our family name on it.  We opened the door to our condo & couldn't believe our eyes.  The whole east side of the condo was covered with floor to ceiling windows.  The ocean was 40 yards from us.  We had a full kitchen, washer & drier, jetted tub, the girls' room had three twin beds side by side (like the seven dwarfs). ;-)  The liberty of buying groceries & being able to eat whenever we wanted & wash a billion loads of clothing was awesome! 
We unloaded, took a quick swim in the pool & got ready for my sister's wedding rehearsal.  The rehearsal was followed by dinner at Mulligan's on the Blue.  Delicious.  We went back home & fell asleep listening to the waves crashing on the ocean.
Wedding Day!  Conrad, the girls & I headed McDonald's for breakfast then went to the local grocery store to stock up.  $210, but worth the freedom of snacking/eating normal food.  We ate some lunch then drove to a nearby beach.  We found some coral, but later found out it's bad luck to take coral home, so we had to drive back to put it in the ocean again. ;-)  We went home, showered & Cate napped while I got Bronwen, Ava & myself ready.  She woke up & did her hair in adorable braids, which she promptly took out.  Ack!  We drove to the wedding, had a great time, danced & came back.  My favorite part is when Cate was on the dance floor she began to twirl around.  When she'd stop, everyone would clap & she would take a bow.  Hilarious!  I took some formal portraits & Conrad helped me with the rest. 
Happy 11th anniversary!!  We celebrated family style!   We headed to Whaler's Village (a little cheesy, it wasn't authentic & had a Sunglass Hut, Coach & other typical stores).  I guess I envisionsed more local shops...  Anyway, the museum there was cool so we checked that out.  We went back home to swim & got ready for a luai!  The dancing was great, especially the fire dance finale.  The pork was good as well.  I think Conrad secretly wanted to get up there with the men when they were doing their war dance LOL!  There was a cute part in the ceremony where the hostess of the show asked everyone to stand up if they were celebrating their anniversary.  Conrad & I did & she said, "Are those your children?  You brought them too?!"  It made me happy to know the girls will always remember celebrating with us. :-)
We started the day off visiting the largest banyan tree in the world in Lahaina. It was impressive! If you look closely you can see how branches extend from the main trunk & grow into other trunks. We browsed some local stores & got anklets & had shaved ice. Afterward we got a text from Tash & Bianca telling us to meet them at Napali Beach.  Unbelievable!
Conrad & I put snorkeling gear on & headed out.  We only swam about 15 feet & suddenly fish were swimming by us.  Then came squid.  Then came the sea turtles!!!  We looked at each other & couldn't believe what we were seeing!  It was so magical to enter that world together.  It's one of my favorite memories!  If that wasn't good enough, when we swam back in to get the girls & went out again, we were in only waist-deep water & two of the turtles came toward us & were within five feet.  Cate got to see Crush in real life!  It was awesome!  For the rest of the time we turned each other into sand creatures & swam.  We showered at home, took a long drive & swung by Taco Bell.  We brought our food & lawn chairs to the beach & watched the sun go down.  We watched Shark Week haha!
Headed back one last time to Napali then boarded our plane to get home. 
What a beautiful time.  I can't believe my life is this.  Heaven on earth. 


I actually laughed when I wrote the title for this post because it should really be called, "No Charlie!  No!"

Charlie Bear Douglas is our spunky new addition in the Douglas household.  He's an Australian Shepherd, 9 weeks old.  He nips our feet.  Despite all the pee he has made outside, as soon as his little paws hit the carpet he manages to squeeze out at least another ounce.  He tries to hump my leg.  In a matter of three days he transformed himself from an indoor dog to an outdoor one. 

To his credit though, he is incredibly cute & playful (he is playing when he nips, but with his razor sharp teeth none of us appreciates it). ;-)  We can tell he's a very loving dog & can't wait for time to speed up a little bit so he can more more of a part of the family (i.e. no more marking).

Bronwen & Ava are such responsible & good girls that we had to say yes. :-)

My Husband The Great!

I posted this status in Facebook, but it is so wonderful & makes me feel like the luckiest woman in the world to be married to Conrad that I feel the need to document the events of this morning on our blog.

"I am married to the best human being on the planet. ♥ Our 75-year-old neighbor came over this morning asking us if we wanted his new "old" lawnmower. It was smoking like crazy & he told Conrad he believed the motor needed to be repaired. Conrad took the whole thing apart, fixed it & went over to the neighbor's to give it back to him. The guy, a retired First Sergeant mind you, offered to pay Conrad, which Conrad just smiled at. Less than five seconds later, the old man was out there mowing the rest of his yard. My man!!"

Just when you think it's impossible to love somebody even more... :-)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Leaving Las Vegas

I've never been the frou frou type to get all gaga over weddings.  Case in point, when Conrad & I got married, he went with me to pick out my dress.  Our venue for the reception was our favorite restaurant we'd been going to for years.  The wedding was small, & honestly all we cared about was having our families there.  At the time, we were saving for the down payment for our new home, had rings to pay off, had a wedding to pay for, & I was working part-time.  We decided to forgo a traditional honeymoon & do fun trips around the state instead.  I didn't care about it until last year, when my youngest sister got married.  Suddenly I was mourning the honeymoon we never had.  I mentioned it to Conrad.  He could see the sadness in my heart about wanting to feel special.  He got on the computer that night and booked tickets to Las Vegas.  Just the two of us.  He called my beautiful sister Bianca to make arrangements to watch the girls.  We were going, alone.

Alone is a big deal to us.  Since the day Bronwen was born (she's 8), we've never left the kids with anyone overnight.  In fact, we have only gone out four times on dates without the girls.  Here's why.  We are a close family.  We enjoy each other.  I always get sad in my heart thinking of experiencing something without the girls seeing it as well.  I know it may sound strange, but that's how my parents were with us, so I think that's where I get it from.  Conrad & I always have "alone time" together.  Just recently though, we've realized it's okay to experience things together too, just the two of us.  On the agenda was Criss Angel's "Believe," Cirque du soleil, "Beatle's Love," slots :-), shopping (mostly window & gifts), dinners & cocktails. 
Criss Angel was amazing!  We watch his show, "Mindfreak," all the time & Conrad wanted to see if Criss could really make him float (exnay on that lol).  Instead, he performed fantastic illusions with birds, saws & other stuff.  During an audience participation segment, Criss heard Conrad calling his name & threw an item in his direction (it fell on the floor in front of a lady next to us, but she looked too horrified to participate and gave the paper to Conrad anyway).  That was pretty cool. 
We were still on the high of seeing Criss when we saw "Beattle's Love."  Honestly, that show made Criss look like shit.  He definitely needed to step up his game.  The choreography, music, stage of Beattle's moved me to tears.  It is that good. 
Slots, Conrad won $60, I lost $100. ;-p 
Shopping, I found the Converse brand of Uggs & I love them!  As a matter of fact I wore them today for a photo shoot.  Thank you, Conrad!
We had a memorable time thanks to my husband.  It's never too late to do anything in life.  I love you, sweetheart.