I feel so behind in updating about Abby and what she is up to. I have been swamped with work (teaching work), busy with photo sessions and holiday sessions (definitely a good thing, but editing is time consuming), prepping Emi’s Japanese school stuff (more about that when I update on Emi), and just getting ready for Christmas! The list gets longer and longer, both with gifts and Christmas cards, but I really do enjoy doing all of it. So now I get to sit and breathe and write this, although it is in the car as I am waiting for a family to arrive for their Christmas photos! You have to take whatever time you can get.

The past few weeks have been a bit challenging, especially since Abby has been teething constantly. Her molars popped out, even before what my mom calls the vampire teeth. She broke a high fever and it did concern Taro, although I kept on reassuring him it was her teeth. In total Abby has 12 teeth (as far as I can see). Tooth #11 came out on November 8th and I noticed #12 on November 23rd. Her gums are still pretty swollen so I am sure the next two are coming out soon. I definitely get cues when Abby is teething since she sticks her finger in her mouth and will even stuck her spoon all the back to chew on.

Speaking of food and eating, Abby loves to eat! She wants to try everything, even salad. She literally had a piece of arugula yesterday and she kept on pointing at my pizza. When Abby wants something she points. It’s a matter of guessing what she wants. So far Abby has enjoyed the following: porridge (both at restaurants and when I make it at home), udon (Emi and Abby shared a double portion at Maragume!), eggs, pancakes, rice crackers (The same ones Emi eats all the time!), tofu, fruit, Cheerios, shrimp (Yes, completely random, but enjoyed it.), chicken, beef, tomatoes, rice, pasta/spaghetti, graham crackers, bread – croissants, rolls, any type is good, cheese…she eats it all. I hope she continues on this path, although I know it can easily change. However, she does eat more things than Emi did at this age, and she started solids far earlier. I still nurse Abby, but she definitely loves to eat food, especially anything I am eating! Both Abby and Emi now steal my food.

Abby is not officially walking, but she can take about six steps on her own. Her feet are flat on the floor, but now it is a matter of confidence. She will take a few steps and then resort to crawling. I’m definitely afraid of what kind of trouble she will get in, especially since I caught her sitting on the small chair backwards after going to get something in the kitchen and then another time standing up on that very same chair! Abby likes to get into everything so once she figures out this whole walking thing…oy vey. Despite not walking, Abby is able to maneuver herself well, even “walking” on her knees, which she does rather quickly. She is able to get on top of a box or can even seat herself in the push car. Abby even knows that the seat belt needs to go on and grabs it. We do laps around the dining room and race with Emi. I get a lot of steps in when I do this! She is definitely a curious one. Update: I started writing this on Sunday, December 6th to get a jump start and as of today, December 12th, she is fully walking around the house! She has walked all around the dining room and kitchen. Abby can walk across the living room, the length of the rug. And now, here comes trouble!

Abby is my fighter. She is the I-don’t-want-to-sit-in-my-car-seat girl who stands up, the one who stands up on the changing table, the girl who I feel like I am having a battle with just to put on a diaper, the baby who crawls away when I am trying to change her or put on clothes, and the girl who tries to crawl away after bath time…naked.

But Abby is also super sweet, who gives hugs or leans her head on my shoulder. She snuggles up to feel safe and her warmth is just…all kinds of wonderful. She makes me laugh whenever she responds back to Emi. When we are in the car and it might be close to nap time or bed time, I always ask Emi to see if Abby is sleeping. Emi always says, “Aaaaa-bby?!?” and follows it up with a laugh. Abby always copies Emi’s laugh and then they both start laughing and copying one another. This definitely makes having two girls awesome. Besides that, I love seeing how attached Abby is to my dad. She loves waving to him and makes it a point to go to him when he comes over. As far as my mom, Abby is actually afraid of her! I mean, she loves my mom, but when my mom says, “No!” Abby actually frowns and cries, but stops pretty quickly if my mom just looks at her. Tiger Mom. As for me, Abby just looks at me and continues doing what she is doing!

I look forward to celebrating Abby’s 2nd Christmas and spending time at home for the holidays. It was nice having Halloween on the weekend and trick-or-treating with the girls. Abby was a strawberry this year and she made it to a good number of houses, although we didn’t bring a bucket for her. Our neighbors still have her candy, though, and just put it in Emi’s pail. Abby enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family and enjoyed Taro’s cooking (chicken and rice). I am sure Abby is going to enjoy my mom’s cooking for Christmas – I am definitely looking forward to it!

My baby is growing up too fast. I just received her one year book that I made in the mail and it is crazy to see how much she has grown, changed, and developed. It feels so long ago and it is definitely a reminder to hold on to both Abby and Emi as tightly as possible.

Until the next update…

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I connected with the Minami family through the Dang family (Thank you, Krysti, for the referral!) and for our session, we headed to the beautiful Cal Tech campus. I love coming here because there is a variety of backdrops to work with and for kids, they love running on the grass, looking for the turtles, or admiring the water fountain and lily pond. All of this happened, but the best part was seeing the two sisters hug and hold hands, laugh together, interact and take great care of their baby brother, parents enjoying the time spent with their kids but also with one another (I think taking couple photos are an important part of a family session as a reminder of that love and bond.), and at the end of the day, rice balls being devoured and the lil one knocked out and comfortable, napping on a blanket on the grass under a tree.

I had so much fun chatting with the girls, learning about their likes, talking about Japanese school with their parents, and just embracing the love that exuded from the Minami family.

Thank you for the opportunity to photograph your family! I had a ton of fun and look forward to seeing all of you again!

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I’ve known Elle and her sister, J, since elementary school. In addition to that we took piano lessons with Christina Marcu (Oh, to reminisce about those days!) and pretty much quit all together. Although I kept in touch with Elle in college, eventually our lives took to different paths – I was at UCI, Elle was at UCSD – but we remained in contact via Facebook. So when J contacted me regarding her wedding, I was super ecstatic for the possibility of seeing J, Elle, and their parents once again.

What was fun about hearing J’s plans for her wedding was that it centered around family, close friends, but also J and J’s love of food. Although they would have loved to have sushi as part of their dinner service, it would have been challenging, especially if some guests did not frequent sushi places as much. And then Bouchon was thrown into the conversation, and I got super excited because Bouchon is one of MY FAVORITE PLACES! Before J could even tell me her vision, I just imagined what it would look like, how beautiful the location would be, and how awesome the food would be for everyone. And once I hear what J wanted – a simple, but intimate ceremony on the terrace with guests surrounding them, food to enjoy prior to dinner service, a coursed meal, and then a walk through of the kitchen to mingle with the chefs and after dinner sweets and treats – I was secretly crossing my fingers and saying, “Pick me, pick me!”

Lucky for me, I was there to document everything – the funny and silly jokes and banter between J and Elle as she was getting ready, the surprise and delight with the bouquet and florals, J showing her mommy love, the sweet words exchanged between J and J (So close to shedding tears, but I held it in!), the love of family, both big and small, the intensity of the kitchen to push out dish after dish, the beautiful piece of meat before it was cut, the dance performance from J’s nephews, the wonderful friendships that the couple have, the delightful macaroons that Bouchon is known for, J’s beautiful shoes, the rings set upon the bar counter while Justin Williams, the general manager, told me about how the counters are made specifically for Thomas Keller’s restaurants, and the private moment when J and J stepped out on to the patio just to embrace it all (I was going to the car to get something and I saw the two of them walk out and I quickly pushed the button down to capture that moment!).

Everything was just magically perfect and I cannot thank J and J enough for letting me be a part of their celebration. It was great seeing some familiar faces, running into a friend who happens to be a long-time church friend of J, and celebrating love, friendship, and great food. I cannot thank the staff of Bouchon, especially Chef David Hands, enough for allowing me to be behind the scenes and giving me a tour of the kitchen and allowing me to witness all the prep and hard work it takes to create beautiful dishes.

Congratulations again, J and J! I wish the two of you many years of happiness, love, and continued friendship! Enjoy French Laundry, which will be just magical and heavenly!

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