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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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When Delilah set up her photo session, she informed me that it was going to include her sister, brother, and mom. It was a special family session, one that would take place before Kyle headed off to the military, and a reminder of how important family is. It was great to see how Delilah interacted with her siblings and mom, and also to see how Delilah’s kids are so connected and loved by their aunt, uncle, and grandma. The meaning of family truly came out in this session and I was glad to be able to provide some great memories before Kyle’s deployment.

As always, it was great seeing your kids and family, Delilah! I appreciate all the opportunities you have given me to photograph and interact with your kids! I love seeing them grow up and look forward to our next session!

{Know someone interested in a family session? Feel free to share my phone app: Andrea Takeoka Photography}

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September to October was pretty crazy. First, my parents had a birthday party for Emi so I was busy getting ready for that. Second, Taro was in India for two weeks for work so I stayed at my parents’ house to make things a bit easier. Once October began, it was a matter of getting ready for the party for both Emi and Abby and it was down to the night before the big day. I was getting last minute goody bags ready, printing large letters on the Cricut, and that didn’t even include all the craziness the day of! All in all, everything was perfect – from the Mickey Mouse décor (as requested by Emi) to the water slide jumper to our usual food (tacos from Omero’s Tacos, grilled cheese sandwiches from Mix n’ Munch, and of course Porto’s). We definitely had a lot to celebrate – Emi who turned four in September – and a big milestone, Abby’s first birthday.

I cannot believe how fast the year has passed. It doesn’t feel all that long ago I brought Abby home, but at the same time, it feels like Abby has always been a part of our family. I cannot imagine not having her around and even though we had our lives before she was born, my life feels so much more complete with both Abby and Emi. When I look back at this past year, I feel very lucky to have been home with Abby to take care of her and build such a strong bond with her (in addition to hanging out with Emi). It definitely is hard being away from her when I am at work, but my days are swamped with grading and planning that I don’t dwell on what I might be missing out on. I am still there for the milestones and I very much enjoy how she crawls to me when I walk through the front door at my parents’ house. For some reason she also says, “A-da!” and the joke is that that is how Abby addresses me. When she says this Emi says, “Meme is home!” Clearly there are differences between Abby and Emi, the first being what they call me. I am sure she will eventually copy and learn from Emi, but for now I am “A-da.”

I love that Abby is her own unique person and that my experience with Abby has been so different compared to Emi. Abby is definitely much more social and will let almost anybody hold her. She likes to look at people and has recently started to wave both hello and bye. She doesn’t do it all the time, but she at least is doing it now! Abby has a great laugh and it comes out if you tickle her, especially after a bath. She also has a great smile and apparently the biggest smile came out recently when my dad put a bowl of Cheerios in front of her. Abby loves food – baby food, yogurt snacks, rice cakes, fruit – watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapes, apples, oranges, pasta and noodles – takes after Emi and loves udon, and anything I eat – she even wanted to try my salad! Emi never cared for baby food and eventually tapered off from eating vegetables so it does make me wonder what Abby will be like later. However, I feel like she will just continue to eat and try everything. This girl has even had bits of pizza and mac n’ cheese from Luggage Room! She is eating fancy and having good eats already, like 85 Degrees bread! Abby is my good sleeper, crashing out between 7-8 p.m. and can go until 7/7:30 a.m. She likes being in the crib and prefers sleeping face down, although she moves a lot throughout the night. Abby is stubborn and can be feisty, especially when she doesn’t want the bottle or wants something in particular, like a sip of water, a different snack, or my food. She is affectionate and loving and gives me hugs. Abby is Grandpapa’s girl and loves giving him hugs, too. (She is totally his favorite because Grandpapa watches Abby five days a week!) She loves Emi and will look for her, especially when I pick Emi up from school. Abby will turn in her car seat just to look at Emi. Abby is my troublemaker and gets into everything possible – speaker on the tv stand, vacuum cord, outlets, anything placed on a table, a cup of water…you name it, she will get into it! She is a mover and on the go, whether it is crawling or assisted walking with the help of the couch or chair. Abby is able to stand without support for a little bit so it will just be a matter of time before she walks on her own and oh how that will be even more trouble! Abby still has thin, fine hair and sensitive skin. Since she started crawling more and attempts to walk, she did lose some weight and is just shy of 20 pounds. There is so much more, but all I can really say is I am lucky. I feel so happy and so fortunate to have two absolutely wonderful, healthy girls and they honestly are the light in my life.

I am excited to see what this year brings. Although I am ready for most of it as an experienced mom, I know that things will also be a bit different. I know it won’t be long before Abby isn’t a baby anymore, but until then, I am going to enjoy this time. Here is to more adventures and more fun, Abby. I love you with all my heart.

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