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  • Monday, December 28, 2009
  • Toya
  • Since I was a young girl I have had an interest in photography. Knowing that my family just didn't have the money for such an interest I didn't even bother to tell anyone. After adopting Jasmine into our family, I gained an extended family I never dreamed would be so wonderful. They introduced me to the world of scrapbooks, which led to taking more pictures, which led to my pursuit of my interest from years ago. I have been blessed with a wonderful husband who has supported my many interests over the years. He is coming along for this ride too. He bought me my first (and only) digital slr camera. I love my Canon. After taking a class recently to get to know my camera more it left me hungry for more. I still have so many questions and I am slowly finding the answers to some of them thanks to the world wide web. I have met (in my head they are all totally my friends cause they let me into their family by way of a blog) Mckmama . She is awesome. She is a well known and loved blogger. She happens to have a section on her blog about photography. Woo hoo, I was on cloud 9. Finally I found someone to explain the cool tricks I see people do online. I was wondering why the eyes in everyone's pictures look so clear and brilliant. She totally let me know that I'm not just a sucky photographer. I too can have clear and brilliant eyes in my pictures if I have photoshop. It just so happens that I do. The next question I had was about how people put pictures together in a layout. Guess what I found out last night? Mckmama knows how and she was willing to teach me how for free. So, I grabbed some shots of my nephew that I posted earlier this month and tried out the instructions. It may seem like a small thing but by golly it was one of those small things that bug me. So I can mark that one off my list of things to figure out. Now I'm gonna hop on over to The Pioneer Woman's blog and read her photography lessons.

    Merry Christmas

  • Friday, December 25, 2009
  • Toya
  • Merry Christmas Everyone! We actually went to bed before midnight last night. This is an unusual thing for us. Christmas Eve is usually a very late night for Jeff and I. We always spend that night charging, building, wrapping, and setting up santa's stash. Well this was the first year we didn't have anything to put together. No one needed or received a bike/scooter. The kids all got exactly what they needed/begged for. I spent the day in the kitchen and got rave reviews from my hubby and children on the dinner. Daddy spent the day playing wii with the kids. The kids are all tucked in bed now probably wishing they could do it all over again tomorrow. I am tucked in my recliner under two blankets wishing I could smell. Daddy is still playing wii. Good night. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.

    I'm Santa's Head Elf

  • Thursday, December 17, 2009
  • Toya
  • For the last 8 years I have put together the children's party for our rescue squad. I look forward to it all year. Swalker, Catie, and I head up to Roanoke for a day of shopping. My favorite thing is the look on the cashier's face when we walk up to her register with buggy full of toys and gift cards. It has become a tradition to guess the amount. A huge brunch is prepared the morning of the party by Ricky.

    The kids show up giddy with the excitement of seeing Santa. They get started on crafts and activities.

    Mrs. Claus always makes an appearance first to read a story. Twas the Night Before Christmas, of course...

    While she is reading, the kids hear the sounds of hoofs on the roof. As she gets to the end of the story a loud "Ho, Ho, Ho" comes from the hallway. The squeals of happiness are deafening. Santa walks in the room and some children run to him while others run away. The kids quickly get silent so they can hear from the big man. There is the occasional child who just can't help but ask Santa to be the first to get his gift. Santa is only too happy to grant the wish. Each child goes home with a special gift that was hand picked with their name on it. How does Santa know what they wanted? He really IS magic!

    It is a great time for family. My camera can't catch all of the smiles and happiness. It really is the best time of the year. I look forward to this day all year. The fact that I am dead tired at the end of the day doesn't matter at all when I have mental pictures of these faces.

    Thanks to Sarah for letting me steal 3 pictures from her smugmug account. She is my co-unofficial photographer.

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

    Christmas pictures

  • Tuesday, December 8, 2009
  • Toya
  • I love everything about Christmas. From the mess of pulling out the decorations to the busy shopping centers. I love figuring out what will be the best presents for the kids. This year it has been fun watching Booga examine the ornaments on the Christmas tree. He has been pretty good about not pulling every ornament off. He isn't like his cousins who thought all ornaments within reach should be promptly removed. I've even seen him trying to put back the ones he'd removed. I was able to catch a few shots of him near the tree.

    Yesterday I was able to convince the hardest child to take pictures of to actually sit still under the tree. The other two were only too happy to pose for the camera. I was able to get one shot where Taylor wasn't holding Booga in a choke hold. He wasn't interested in posing for the camera. He wanted to play with the camera.

    A friend allowed me to take some family pictures of them. It was quite the experience.

    I had tons of fun with this great family. This photography thing is kinda fun.
    Merry Christmas

    The day Jesus went to fourth grade

  • Thursday, December 3, 2009
  • Toya

  • This is baby Jesus. He belongs in my nativity above the fireplace. So imagine my surprise Tuesday morning when I noticed he was missing. All of the kids were on their way to school and I had just finished a quiet breakfast. As I was taking inventory of the many tasks around the house that needed to be completed by 3:40 when the big yellow bus dropped off my precious angels, my eyes rested on an empty spot on the mantel. Hmmmm, where oh where has my Jesus gone? Well it didn't take long to figure out who the culprit was. For those of you who know my oldest child you know of her love for babies (real or ceramic). I did a quick survey of the room knowing I wouldn't find my Jesus. I decided Sarah would be the perfect person to share this little ditty with. She was quick to remind me that Taylor shouldn't have taken Jesus to public school because He wasn't allowed there. After having a chuckle with Sarah, I called the school. I informed Kelly, the secretary, that I needed her help because my Jesus was missing and I believed he was in fourth grade. This was immediately followed by gasping for air while stifling a laugh. I let her know I was aware he wasn't allowed in public school and I needed him found asap. She said she would go search for my Jesus and would send him home with a note. I told her this would not be necessary because I was coming for my Jesus. I got dressed and headed to the school. On the way I wondered if any miracles had happened at school since 9 am because Jesus was in the house. Once arriving at the school Kelly let me know she searched high and low but was unable to locate my Jesus in the culprits backpack. Unfortunately the culprit was in the middle of a class presentation and could not be questioned about it. Due to the fragility, I wanted Him found before something awful happened. School nurse Janet wonders if Taylor was just trying to start her discipleship early. I left the school with reassurance He would be searched for as soon as possible. When 3:40 arrived, my little culprit got off the big yellow bus only to be met by serious mommy. "Taylor, where is baby Jesus?" A smirk comes across her face. She quickly disappears and reappears with Him safely in her tiny little hand. While she never told me where He was for 7 hours, I knew I had to explain something very important. She needed to know that Jesus needs to live in her heart not her pocket.

    Faces I Love

  • Thursday, November 5, 2009
  • Toya
  • Click here to view this photo book larger

    Halloween and Happy November

  • Wednesday, November 4, 2009
  • Toya

  • Is this not the cutest bear you've ever seen? My kids wouldn't hold still long enough to take pictures. Taylor was Supergirl. Jasmine was a cat. Jaden was a ninja. We started off the day getting ready for the Maple Ridge annual Halloween Parade and party. I got the ambulance and met the neighborhood kids at my house. They all paraded up the street behind the ambulance while I flashed the lights and fired up the sirens. A party followed the parade. After the kids were all fed they went home to prepare for the major attack on the neighborhood for candy. I rushed off to church to help set up for "trunk or treat". Oh my goodness there were a lot of kids there. The town of Blacksburg is serious about their candy hunting rituals. We ran out of candy 3 times. When the clock struck 6 I was due back at home to help my own goblins rush out of the door for tricks and treats. It was daddy's turn to supervise our gremlins. He even got into the act and dressed up.
    Yep, my husband can still wear his Marine uniform. Oh how I love a man in uniform. The kids finished their candy seeking and literally passed out after consuming as many pieces as they could stuff in their little mouths. It has only been a few days but they have managed to officially break every rule about the candy and daddy has stripped their little butts of all of it. I am now going through the bag picking out my favorites before I give it away. This halloween thing is paying off.

    You gotta love these eyes

  • Tuesday, October 27, 2009
  • Toya

  • This is my nephew Richard. This poor child has so many names he will be very confused when he is old enough to talk. He was born Richard James. His mother calls him RJ. He also answers by the names Jamie and Booga. To be honest, he prefers Booga. Next month he will be one. It is so hard to believe a year has gone by. He is the most loving baby you will ever find. He loves to give me kisses. Today he called me Tee Tee. It was awesome. It is an aunt's version of "mama". I love my role as Tee Tee. I look into those big eyes and I can't help loving him.

    The problem with lying

  • Friday, October 16, 2009
  • Toya
  • So I'm thinking this parenting thing is kind of messed up. They should have come with an instruction manual. Our current challenge is lying. Jasmine isn't very good at it. Oh don't get me wrong, she tries really hard. Today I walked in on her with a big glob of lotion in her hair. After several ridiculous excuses she decided to convince me that that same glob had been there since 7:30 this morning. I had two problems with this: 1. It was 4:30 pm and 2. I had combed her hair and found no lotion at 8:15 am. When I pointed out the holes in her story she decided the lotion just jumped in her hair and she has no idea how. Why don't they just tell the truth and get it over with? I remember encouraging her to talk only 5 short years ago. I need a time machine to go back and slap myself.

    Today's adventures with Sarah included searching for the perfect picture for photography class. We grabbed our favorite responder and found an excluded spot to get motion shots. After 30 cold minutes outside, we were able to obtain some fun shots.
    I then moved on to find a cute kid to take pictures of. My neighbor's little girl was only too happy to volunteer for the job. She is soooo darn cute. As soon as I got started I realized I was creating a monster. She loves the camera. It was so fun watching her play in the leaves. When we were done with the leaves I had to see just how fast she could go on her scooter. As you can see she moves pretty fast.

    I am so suppose to be in bed right now. Jeff and I are going to my Rescue Chief's wedding tomorrow and I can't wait to try out some of the knowledge from class. I will post pictures tomorrow night.

    So far in October...

  • Tuesday, October 13, 2009
  • Toya
  • We are only a couple of weeks into October and I'm still trying to figure out where summer went. Blacksburg weather is behaving its usual ADD way. It can't figure out if it should be hot or cold. We have been able to have some great mommy/daddy time. We went to the football game this past Saturday. Yep, VA Tech beat the pants off Boston College.

    I started taking a photography class last week with Sarah It has been an eye opener. We had homework so Sarah and I went out to find things to take pictures of. Here are some of the things I found:
    Yep, this kind of homework will be more fun than the homework I had 12 years ago.

    I've only done a "Not Me Monday" once. I wish I would have done one yesterday. If I had, I wouldn't have written about my 9 year old who bites her nails. While showing my 9 year old how to open a clementine orange, I explained that nails come in handy and maybe she shouldn't bite hers. I did NOT find her later using her sharp toe nails to open another orange. I did not then hurt myself laughing at her and find it quite impressive that she came up with that option.

    Jasmine started cheerleading. My biggest regret is that I didn't take video of her first practice. OMG that child has NO coordination. Her little legs look like a new colt with big tennis shoes on. Now picture those same legs trying to jump and kick. Yep, I'm a horrible mom because I almost wet my pants watching my child and encouraging her to keep going while holding in my laughter until I almost cried. She will never know my smiles were hiding amusement. Oh who am I kidding, I will so tell her when she is old enough to handle my humor.

    I must go now and dash the hopes and dreams of the other two.


  • Sunday, September 6, 2009
  • Toya

  • 20090903_9999_118
    Originally uploaded by toyjsu
    The girls and I spent some time at the horticulture garden on campus. We had a great time playing in the flowers and watching the fish. I kept holding my breath everytime Taylor leaned close to the pond to see the koi. I fully expected us to drive home with one of them soaked. But, everyone stayed dry.

    Stay at home mom, yeah right!

  • Monday, August 31, 2009
  • Toya
  • I'm not sure who decided to coin the phrase Stay at home mom. They clearly didn't know what they were talking about. I'm rarely at home. After getting them off to school I rushed out to get some grocery shopping done, order Jasmine's birthday cake, drop off groceries at home, teach a cpr class, grab lunch, pick up written prescription from the doctor's office, pick up Pampered Chef order, drop Sarah's order off at her house, and rush home to put away some laundry, get kids off the bus, help with homework, make dinner, and go to rescue related meeting. I started my morning at 6:45a and I finally stopped moving at 11p. I honestly believe my husband thinks I do nothing all day long. He has no idea! Being a mommy is hard work. I don't get a vacation or a decent break. Even on my business trips I'm still being a mommy but from a distance. Tomorrow will be here only too soon. I will get up and run around some more because I love my family and they would have a hard time surviving if I didn't do all I do. So, moms you are doing a great job no matter how unappreciated you may feel.

    What really happened

  • Wednesday, August 26, 2009
  • Toya
  • I started out the morning as usual, hoping the children would wake up wanting to do everything to please me. Well that didn't happen. lol After suppressing my desire to scream so much that I'm sure my head did pop off a little, they all got on the school bus with butts still attached. I got the pleasure of hanging out with little Patrick today. Patrick is 15 months old and full of curiosity. We explored ALL of my cabinets, Jaden's room, and the new play set. He made sure every one of my doors worked appropriately. He was just as excited about eating grapes for the first time as I was that he didn't have an allergic reaction to them. While heading out to the swings we listened to the rescue radio as Miss Sarah suddenly called for a policeman to respond to Main and Ellett for a pedestrian on bike vs. vehicle. Since her voice was 5 octives higher than normal I figured she must have either seen it or been involved in it. Not to mention she was sooo excited she couldn't even remember who she was on the radio. Patrick found enjoyment as I paced back in forth in front of the swing waiting for more voices on the radio to tell me everyone was ok. I finally got enough info to make me feel better. It turns out Sarah is a magnet for special people on bikes who don't have brakes. Love ya Sarah but you can't take out members of our community with the responder. It just doesn't look good.

    Not Me Monday

  • Monday, August 24, 2009
  • Toya
  • So my friend Sarah fell in love with a blog where people talked about what they "did not" do. She loved it so much that she has started a similar blog and convinced me that I need to join in the craze. So here I go.

    I started out last week with great anticipation of the kids starting school and getting my house back. I did not dance in my front yard when the bus drove away while my mother took pictures of me. I did not have to convince my Polish neighbor that it was too early to start drinking alcohol to celebrate the kids going to school. I had such great hope and long list of things I was going to accomplish that first day. Well, I did not completely lose that list and spend the morning comforting my friend who just sent her first child off to school for the first time while realizing I too was a little sad about my last child starting school too. I did not squeeze in a quick birthday lunch with the hubby and rush off to do grocery shopping including finding him a present. So the college students are back and the parking lot of Walmart was deceiving. The aisles were packed full of rude parents and their clueless freshmen. I did not dream of running over them with my buggy full of after school snacks. I did not giggle while listening to parents explain to these same clueless freshmen how to do things my 5 year old already knows how to do like shake the orange juice container before they pour it. I did not whisper morons under my breath while walking by more clueless students who's mommy was explaining that buying the extra large box of goldfish was not a good idea just because that what mom buys for home. I mean really, are they that stupid but they made it into Tech. I did not then tell everyone I know about how pampered and clueless the new freshmen I ran into appear to be. After fighting the crowds in Walmart and reminding myself to have the doctor prescribe me xanax before I ever go back in that store again, I rushed home to put away the groceries and sit in silence for 10 minutes before the bus arrived home. I did not welcome them with open arms and admit openly that I really did miss them.

    CKC Charlotte

  • Thursday, August 13, 2009
  • Toya
  • So it has been 3 years since my last CKC. I'M BACK!!! I have escaped the nut house and am on the loose with Sarah. We arrived this evening and having been enjoying the freedom of no rescue pager, children, or dishes. I will go to bed tonight without telling someone 100 times to get back in bed. I will sleep tonight without the soft roar of snoring beside me. The best part is I don't have to change any diapers. We have a class bright and early so it isn't a sleep in vacation. I'm ok with that cause I get to use paper and scissors and I don't have to share.

    Where did the summer go

  • Thursday, July 23, 2009
  • Toya
  • So I realized today how quickly the summer has gone. In only a few short weeks I will be packing lunches and shooing kids out the door. I remember my summers being much longer. We got out before June and went back after Labor Day. There were so many activities I wanted to do this summer and now I have less time to do them. Oh, well there is always next summer. lol

    Today one of the restaurants in our area honored first responders. We were given free meals. I took the kids and met up with my partner in crime, Swalker Paramedic, and a few police officers. My kids aren't ever gonna be able to do anything wrong in this town when every police officer knows their mommy. They will immediately be hauled home. lol I almost feel sorry for them. It is nice to live in a small town where everyone feels like family. The kids had a great time surrounded by cool people in uniforms. There was even a clown there who painted faces.
    They were willing to let me wash their face after I took these pictures. So, thank you Texas Roadhouse for the honor and the free steak. It was very yummy.

    What now?

  • Wednesday, July 1, 2009
  • Toya
  • So a few months ago I decided the store was more than I could deal with right now in this economy. My focus was so scattered any way. So the question comes, what now? I am finding myself scrapping more and stressing less about advertising, shipping, researching... Having a store was awesome while it lasted. It allowed me to do fun things and buy awesome stuff. I can happily say I was able to go to CHA. It was a blast. I have a nice amount of scrapbook paper left over to use and share with my friends. It was an experience I'm glad to have had. Now I turn my focus to the husband, kids, and rescue work.

    The play set
    After many years of begging, pleading and whining, the husband finally bought the kids a play set. We spent the entire weekend putting it together. Every ache and pain later was worth the squeals of laughter that float through the air. I have gotten more "thank you mommy" and "I love you mommy", than I ever have before. The neighbor kids are peeking out and waiting for my kids to emerge so they can come over for a little outdoor fun. Jasmine decided it should be titled, The Earley Monkey Gym. I think I like that. It fits!

    Playing Catch Up

  • Thursday, February 26, 2009
  • Toya
  • Ok so it has been a while. I have had some time to scrap but not as much as I want. So much has happened in the last few months. On Christmas Eve I got a new niece. Her name is Chloe Lynn. She is just beautiful. I can't wait to meet her next week.

    My adorable nephew is still living here. As much as I love him he has helped me get over wanting another baby. I didn't realize how much I'm over the middle of the night feedings, diaper changes, and projectile vomiting. This cute little bundle looks like he needs an exocist after a feeding. I didn't realize such a small baby could spew vomit so far across the room. The diapers clear half the house. But his smile will melt you into a big puddle of goo. Jamie is 3 months old now. He is at that age when he thinks the ceiling fan is the funniest thing in the world. You can't find a more proud aunt than me. I even have his laugh as my ringer. He gave me one of the first chuckles. I found the tickle spots. He has become my favorite photography subject. My kids are still cute but they move to fast. Jamie isn't mobile yet so he has to suffer through my snaps.

    We have had so many days out of school but no real snow. How am I suppose to get these snow layouts out of my head I we don't get snow? We keep getting the dusting/sleet/single digit temp without the real stuff. My feeling is give me snow or give me heat.
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