Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Twin Gender Reveal Party!

I love a good themed party. And what better excuse to throw one than to announce the genders of the Twins to our family and closest, like-family friends?

I'm not even sure where I first heard about gender reveal parties, but I instantly loved the idea and may have gotten just slightly carried away with planning one for our babies. For our party, Devin and I decided we wanted to find out the genders before hand (more often the parents find out the gender at the party along with their guests) and then throw a party for our family and friends to let them in on the secret in person and all at the same time.

It all started with my polka-dot and question mark themed save-the-dates and invites:

Templates for this invitation and decoration pieces can be purchased here.

From there, the decorations and party treats just sorta took on a life of their own... 

Our guests had fun suggesting baby names for us. Some of the more "memorable" were Cassius, Smeagol, Voldemort, Sweet Pea and Sweet Pickle, and my personal favorite (courtesy of my dad): John Paul Hanson and Ringo George Hanson for twin boys. 

My best friend Megan hosted a "Wives' Tales Gender Prediction" game which calculated (very scientifically as you can see below) that I had an equal amount of baby boy "symptoms" and baby girl "symptoms." One-of-Each perhaps? 

We asked all the guests to "predict" the genders by wearing either blue for boys, pink for girls or yellow for one-of-each. Once again, One-of-Each took the lead.
The Big Reveal was planned by Devin and everyone loved his creative idea! Guests paired into teams of two and were given a thumb-tack and a black balloon filled with confetti (blue for boys, pink for girls, yellow for one-of-each).

After a veeeeeery looooong, suspenseful countdown, everyone popped the balloons and revealed the colored confetti inside....

And the result was: BLUE!!! 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Goal #91 COMPLETE - Barry & Steffani's Wedding

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here.

Goal #91: Shoot at least five weddings with Devin - COMPLETE!

It's a good thing that I completed this goal when I did, because photographing a wedding while doubly-pregnant is way more tiring that I would have guessed - and I'm only 19 weeks along! At one point, Devin even put me in a "pregnancy time out" because he felt I was over-doing it. I had to sit at the DJ table and drink at least half a bottle of water before I was allowed to get back up and take more pictures. (Yes, my husband is a little bit protective of his preggo wife, but only because he knows me well and knows that I tend to push myself way too far. He's done a great job keeping a loving eye on me since I've been pregnant.)

The finale of this goal was the incredibly fun wedding of our friends Barry and Steffani. Barry was Devin's best man and the two of them have been close since middle school. Steffani is a sweatheart with an ever-ready smile who also happens to be a huge Disney fanatic - which makes me happy. Their wedding was our favorite kind to shoot - well planned, but super relaxed, a little bit silly, with lots of wonderful personal touches and laughter abounding.

Barry and Steff's ceremony was by far the most fun one I've ever been too. Made so primarily by a love-song medley that the Bride and Groom arranged. It was full of sweet, romantic and very hilarious snatches of famous love songs from just about every genre imaginable.

Towards the end of the song, the Maid of Honor took the mic from Steffani and joined in with "Kiss the Girl" from Disney's The Little Mermaid. The arrangement ended with the whole bridal party singing the final chords. What else could the pastor do after such a number but to pronounce them man and wife and tell Barry to kiss his girl? 

Here are a few more of our favorite shots (see more on Devin's blog.)

Congratulations Barry and Steff!! We are so thrilled that you are finally hitched!

This wedding was a blast and the perfect way to finish off this goal. I'm so looking forward to shooting more weddings with Devin in the future... but probably not until I'm done being two-for-one pregnant. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Goal #96 Complete: Last Call for Airplane Rides

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here.
Goal #96:  Take a trip to South Carolina to visit Stephanie, Daniel and Mia - COMPLETE (more or less)
Okay, so this is one of those goals that had to be "firmly set in Jell-o" because, well - airplane tickets are expensive, vacation time is scarce and I won't be allowed to board a plane in about two more months. So technically, there was no Daniel and there was no South Carolina, but the goal ended up being much more than I envisioned originally. 

(Stephi and I in each other's weddings)
Stephanie is my cousin on my mom's side and we have been extremely close ever since we were on the brink of puberty (we didn't care too much for each other prior to that.) For most of my life, she was the closest thing I had to a sister and the fact that I had not met her precious baby girl Mia was killing me, so on The List this goal went!

The original plan was to fly to South Carolina to see Stephanie and her (awesome) husband Daniel, meet Little Miss Mia, as well as see Stephanie's new(ish) house. However, because airfare to South Carolina continued to be outrageous (I've been watching the prices for over a year) and because somebody got pregnant with twins unexpectedly and wouldn't be able to attend the big Yoder reunion in July (because of the aforementioned "rules" about heavily pregnant women flying) Stephi and I decided to meet up for a visit in Ohio (where we are both originally from). This way, I could meet Mia, spend some time with Stephi and see some of the relatives I would miss out on this summer (most of whom I hadn't seen in two years). 

We had a blast! I will give you the short version because there was just too much fun had to blog about it all:

• I got to see my cousin Marla (Stephanie's sister) who I've up-until-recently had a bit of a trying relationship with. I was so blessed to be able to spend time with her now that we like each other so much. God is so good to restore relationships! 

    • I was able to spend lots of time with Stephanie's immediate family (some of my favorite people in the whole world) - my Aunt Chris and Uncle Ron, my cousins Marla, Bethany and Josh, plus their spouses and kids. We had a hilariously, fun and loud time as only Yoders can. This included, but was not limited too - a picnic, a tornado warning, a dance party, tons of good food and one rather loud lunch at Bob Evans (Oh. Yum!)  

    Stephanie and Bethany threw me a surprise baby shower, which I was very surprised (and blessed) by. My Aunt Susie and my cousin Camy (who is due three days after me with her third) were able to to join us too, which was great. 

    I had a short visit with some of my closest, life-long friends and we had such a perfect time together

    • I spent some precious moments with my sweet Grandma Yoder and asked for her advice on parenting (she has seven kids). She told me, "Accept them for who they are and love them to pieces!" The last time I saw Grandma, Devin and I were soon-to-be married so I asked her for marriage advice (she had been married to my Grandpa for 60+ years when he passed away.) She replied with a twinkle in her eye, "Don't wait you energy fighting, save it for more important things." Again I'll mention - they had seven kids... just sayin'.

    • Stephanie had the privilege of feeling the babies kick for the first time! I felt a little bit close to awful that Devin wasn't the first one to feel them kick (he took the news very well). But being that Steph and I live so far apart and miss out on so many of each other's big life events, it was a very special moment for us to share. (I was one of the first people to feel Mia kick when Stephi was pregnant with her at my wedding.)

    While this goal was not executed in the way I had originally planned, it ended up being such a huge blessing to me and I'm so glad it worked out how it did. I feel incredibly blessed to be loved by so many wonderful people, who while far away, can still be such a special part of my life.

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Praise Report: Hubby's Bringin' Home the Bacon!

    After nine long, discouraging (but at the same time faith-producing) months of unemployment (with the exception of working 10-15 hours at Sozo Coffeehouse for the past month), Devin landed a second part-time job working with FedEx! He starts tomorrow at 3:30AM. 

    Minus the 3:30AM part, and the not-so-great vacation/sick time off (four days total for the whole year) this job is a perfect (for now) blessing from Heaven. Because of the early hours (3:30am-8:00am), we will still be able to survive as a one-car-family. Devin will be able to work part-time at FedEx, keep his part-time job at Sozo (which he loves) and still have the flexibility to pursue his passion of running his own photography business. The FedEx job has decent starting pay and Praise the Sweet Lord Jesus - has health benefits!! The cost of which (for our whole soon-to-be family of four) is about 1/3 the cost of my job's current health care plan (which covers me only). This lifts an incredible burden from my shoulders as, until this FedEx job arrived, I would have needed to continue working full-time after the babies came in order to keep my benefits and provide the Twins with health care as well. I have no definite (or even half-baked) plans in regards to my job as of yet, but it is nice to know that we could survive without my benefits and without a portion of my income if I decided to cut back my hours.

    We are so grateful for the way that God provided for our every need during this time of Devin's unemployment and for His timing in bringing this new job before the Twin's arrival (Devin should qualify for benefits about a month before the babies come). The past nine months have been a journey of faith and frugality that, while not the way we would have planned it, has brought with it lessons that we will continue to apply to our lives and that of our little growing family. 

    As for me specifically, I am so thankful to have such a hard-working husband who is willing to get up so early and lift heavy boxes at a not-so-glamorous job in order to provide for his (rapidly growing) family. I got me a good man. 

    Thank you to all of you who lifted up many a prayer for us on this account. We appreciate this interception so very much. Continue to say a prayer for us now-and-then as we adjust to this new schedule and the creative carpooling that will make it possible.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Goal #72: Designing for a Cause

    Goal #72: Find a ministry that needs graphic design and donate 20 hours of service. COMPLETE 

    (2002 - The Original Drama Team,
    aka "The Great Eight" with our director Aimee)
    (2005 - Abstinence takes on Hollywood
    at the Abstinence Clearinghouse)
    (2006 - BreakDown American with BreakDown Uganda)
    When I was in college, I worked with an incredible group called BreakDown: a peer-to-peer youth outreach ministry that presents the message of abstinence through drama, hip-hop dance and motivational speaking. Their mission statement is, "Breaking down society's lies about sex, love and relationships." It is a seriously cool organization and my life was hugely impacted through my involvement.

    During my time with BreakDown, I was privileged to be on the original drama team (2002), direct the first expansion team in Phoenix (2004), attend the Abstinence Clearinghouse in Hollywood where BreakDown was launched nationally (2005), and travel to Uganda, Africa (my first trip) to help establish the first international team (2006).

    (I was recently interviewed for a BreakDown promotional video and spoke about the impact that being a part of BreakDown had on my life. You can see my portion of the video here.)

    Needless to say, through my involvement has been small in the past couple of years, I am still very passionate about this ministry. When BreakDown's founder and director Aimee Dobbins (a close friend and mentor of mine) asked if I would be willing to complete Goal #72 by designing a logo for the newly launched BreakDown International - I was thrilled to comply.

    The new tagline for the international branch of BreakDown is "Catch the Fire, Carry the Flame" - a motivational reminder to teams worldwide to boldly carry the message of true sexual freedom (sex without regrets) to their peers. With this in mind, Aimee wanted to see a torch worked into the logo and stationary materials.

    After many moons (okay, twenty-hours worth) of designs, re-designs, tweaks and changes, I was able to develop a logo that stayed true to the original BreakDown brand, while bringing into the design the new mission of the international branch. I also provided BreakDown International with an "emblem" version of their logo to be used on stickers, hats, embroideries, etc. Lastly, I created a new letterhead for them. Here are the results: