Puppy love...

If you had told me ten years ago that a dog would be part of our family, I would have laughed... You obviously didn't know me very well!  Dogs jump on you, mess up your yard, and get hair everywhere!  Plus, they scared me.  I hadn't always felt that way, though.  I grew up loving dogs.  As a little girl, our dog, Georgie, would meet me halfway down the street after school every day.  She was so sweet.  I wanted to pet every dog I came across.  One day, though, when I was fifteen, I took the two little girls I was babysitting for a nice stroll around the block in Land Park.  Someone left their gate open, and all of sudden, this big labrador came barreling down the driveway towards us and bit the five-year-old right on the bottom!  I had a terrified little girl, and a screaming baby.  They both wanted to be held and I didn't know how I was going to get them home.  Luckily, a nice couple riding their bikes came along and helped us.  I had to call the parents home from their dinner, and listen to the poor girl cry hysterically as they disinfected her wound.  It was awful.  From that point on, I was afraid of dogs.  I would cross the street when I was out running and came across someone walking their dog, even if it was on a leash.  I always thought dogs could smell fear, and that made me more nervous.  I tried to be brave with friends' dogs, but I just couldn't get over my fear.

Then I had a daughter, and she basically wanted to BE a dog since the time she could walk.  Claire pretended to be a dog, hopping around with her tongue hanging out, yipping at us.  I stuck to my guns... I did not want a dog.  They made me nervous.  As the years passed, Claire's love of dogs grew stronger.  Our cousins gave her a book on dog breeds for her 4th birthday... And she studied it religiously, making us read it to her at bedtime over and over.  That book has gotten so much love over the years that its pages are falling out, and there are circles around all the dogs she liked (which is almost all of them).  I was able to stave her off for a while longer when her brother was born.  I told her maybe we'd get a dog when Sean was four, or when I was ready for another baby.  Claire collected dog stuffed animals like it was going out of style, read book after book with dogs as the main characters, played video games with puppies, and continued to bark.  I began to soften... We all started reading the dog breed book, figuring out which one would be the best fit for us.  We watched the dog competitions on TV.  After Sean turned four, I knew I couldn't put it off anymore.  Then it was a matter of what kind of dog to get.  Everyone had their own idea of the perfect dog.  Claire liked dalmations and poodles best, but she simply wanted a dog... any dog!  Once I got into the search, I found my favorite... beagles.  They're the right size, great with kids, healthy... and they have those adorable faces and ears!  It's good to be the mom... you get to sway the vote :)  But I still swore that any dog we got would be an outside dog.

We brought our puppy home when she was seven weeks old and about four and a half pounds.  She was named Sundae for the day we got her and because she had the colors of a hot fudge sundae (and Claire insisted we spell her name with an "ae" at the end).  It was definitely like having a new baby!  I wouldn't leave the house for more than an hour or so because I wanted to get back and make sure she was okay.  She had her little area in the kitchen, and I was afraid to let her in the backyard alone.  She ate bark that I worried she would choke on.  I thought it was the cutest thing when she tested our her baby howl.  I followed her around to see where her hound nose led her.  People laughed at me for being so over-protective.  I couldn't help it... she was my new baby.  And, sure enough, I love her like one.  She sleeps inside, and we tuck her in at night with her cozy blanket.  Mario is thoroughly amused that after all those years of disliking dogs, and my swearing up and down that the dog would not be in the house, Sundae is cuddled up on my lap every evening.

Sundae is two years old today.  She worked her way into my heart right from the beginning.   And, thanks to her, I got over my fear and learned to love dogs again :)

CONNECT with Janel         visit my WEBSITE         find me on FACEBOOK         EMAIL me


Happy Anniversary Baby!

To say I feel lucky to have Mario as my husband is an understatement.  I am aware every day that my life is fuller because he's here by my side, living this life we've made together.

13 years ago today, Mario and I vowed before God, our family, and friends, to love and honor each other for the rest of our lives.  Where did the time go?  At first it doesn't seem like it could have been that long!  But then I realize, these have been some pretty eventful years!  Since our wedding day, we've moved to Monterey and back, had a daughter, bought our first home, bought our second home, had a son,  built careers,  and added a puppy to our family. We've had some wonderful times, and we've also had to mourn the loss of dearly loved family and friends.  We've struggled to keep our heads above water when our world seemed to be falling apart around us.  I have to admit the last five or so years of my life have been the toughest, and I feel like I've come out of it a better, happier person... Something I owe completely to Mario.  He's my champion, my rock, my sweetheart, my best friend.... My family.  I couldn't have found a more perfect person to spend my life with.  I love you, Baby.

CONNECT with Janel         visit my WEBSITE         find me on FACEBOOK         EMAIL me


Say hello to Chris Briggs! - Sacramento Headshots

I headed out with my good friend, Chris Briggs, Sacramento realtor extraordinaire, last week for some fun, casual headshots. Chris wanted new photos for his website, business cards, and marketing materials that reflected his personality better than the old stuffy ones he had (his words, not mine!).  Chris is a super-likeable guy... personal, approachable, funny, and kind, and I wanted to shoot images that showcased those qualities.  We spent the afternoon in Land Park and midtown, and simply had a blast.  Chris posted a lovely comment on my Facebook page, and again, I'm always extremely flattered when clients tells me I made them really comfortable during their shoot, and they're thrilled with their images!  It just makes my heart sing to hear they had fun during their session, and I captured them in a way no one has before.  To be able to make that connection with people, and get genuine images of people that not only look great, but really show their personalities is honestly such an honor :)

Here are some of my favorites from Chris's session... Doesn't he look handsome?!


CONNECT with Janel         visit my WEBSITE         find me on FACEBOOK         EMAIL me


Five Feet of Perfection...

My daughter is eleven years old today... Eleven!  And I just measured her this morning before sending her off to school, armed with cupcakes for her classmates.  4' 11"... almost five feet (it sounded good for the title).  She's grown three inches since August!  That is simply amazing!  We have a door jamb in the kitchen that is covered with pencil marks, names, and dates... And lots of finger smudges.  Every once in a while I have to go back and re-mark everything, before it gets completely rubbed off by grubby little fingers and the information is lost.

I took the opportunity to "interview" Claire this morning...

Janel:  How does it feel to be eleven?
Claire:  I don't know; I just started.

J:  What makes a good friend?
C:  You get along together.  Caring, kind, and fun.

J:  What are you and your friends going to do at your sleepover?
C:  Have fun!  Play "Truth or Dare"

J:  Do you choose "truth" or "dare"?
C:  Dare

J:  Why?
C:  Because "truth" is too dangerous and risky!  People can ask the wrong questions and then you're like, "Oh no!"

J:  Like asking you who you like?
C:  Maybe

J:  So, do you like someone?
C:  (At this point, her head went under her covers... and the interview was over) 

Claire Elizabeth Hope came into the world eleven years ago... 19 days early with little chicken legs.  6 pounds, 3 ounces of pink perfection.  It seems like so long ago; I can't really remember what it was like to have merely myself to think about, to sleep like I'm not listening for a cry in the dark.  When I look at my daughter, I see everything that is good in the world... everything I want the world to be, for her.  I see innocence and hope in her big brown eyes.  She is perfect, but not because she is intelligent and beautiful (which she completely is), but because she is pure kindness and love.  She swears she will never wear nail polish, and make-up is just gross... I know that will change someday, and maybe sooner than her father and I think!  I know that her occasional eye rolls may become more frequent in the coming years, and that "sweet" might not be the first adjective that comes to mind all the time :)  But who she is won't change... and as she's testing the waters and "trying on" different attitudes and ideas,  she will choose the ones that truly fit her.  I want so much for my daughter to like what she sees in the mirror, and to be proud and confident in who she is.  Her perfection will be measured not by the way the world sees her, but by how she sees herself.

CONNECT with Janel         visit my WEBSITE         find me on FACEBOOK         EMAIL me