Baby G Turns 2 Yrs. Old!

Little Gianna celebrated her 2nd birthday the only way she knows how- with a photoshoot, duh! 

She's animated, full of energy and brave as heck! This girl needs to be a kid model! Shortly before our shoot, Gianna gave herself a black eye while climbing. Instead of editing her black eye out, I left it! Why? Because she rocked it and that's what being 2 is all about! 

Here are just a few good ones out of hundreds that are adorable and make me laugh! 

My brother's engaged!

The loss of my grandfather this past August has made December less of a holiday to be jolly. Last year at this exact time my family and I were celebrating my grandpa's 88th birthday. My grandpa was the cornerstone of our family. Because of him (and my grandma), generations sprouted to form my now family. So of course his passing would have a ripple effect through all of us. Even though I lost a family member this year, 2015 did not end in tears. I also gained a new family member. Sarah. And one day Sarah and my brother will be the foundation of a whole new family that I will get to be apart of.

My brother proposed to Sarah this past weekend and we could not be more excited to plan and watch these two join in holy matrimony. The strongest bond they'll ever share, forever and after. Our family is so lucky to add Sarah to the Chavez clan. She is as pretty inside as she is on the outside! I'm so grateful my brother found someone who is beyond thoughtful, generous, always cheerful, and  A L W A Y S  welcomes you with a warm hug. Although not a requirement, I consider it a bonus that she also loves to dance to latino music and is always down to take a shot of tequila. WEPA!!! I think every family should have a Sarah in it- but you can't have ours, sorry.

Last year around this time I took my bro and Sarah out on a couple's shoot to make a crafty Christmas gift for them. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the shoot! Not much has changed from when I took these pictures a year ago- except the ginormous, gorgeous rock that now lives on her left, fourth ring finger! Holler! <3 


Emma's Baptism

What a beautiful day with a beautiful little girl!

I had a blast inviting, attending and shooting the baptism of Emma Kaylin. Watching her learn and grow has been such a blessing. I never know what will come out of her mouth or what she'll think of next.

 My favorite part of the day was watching Emma's reaction to everything. When she saw the big Baptistry in the back of the church- she ran over to it and said "Fishies!!" only to find there were indeed no fishies here. When it was her turn to have holy water poured on her forehead she looked super uncomfortable, but right after she was blessed, she said "Again!". She looked like such a little angel in her white dress and she knew it too! I can't wait to see her spiritual journey and watch her complete each sacrament. 



Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015!

2014 has been quite the adventure! I recorded a total of 83 hikes this year and saw a glimpse of how amazing my home state is. Thanks to all the homies that came along and shared in my explorations from sunrise, sunset, scalding hot to moonlit!  

They say life isn't measured by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away. Whoever said this hasn't climbed high enough- my number of breaths this year were well worth the view and rib pain! #ThighsGetTheGuys


Thanksgiving Decor!

I was feeling the holiday spirit early this year! I even set up the tree and all of our inside Christmas decorations BEFORE Thanksgiving! 

To make it feel more festive I made these super cute name tags for the special day! Luckily we only had a 16 people over otherwise I would have ran out of supplies!

You can buy them at Target, $3 for a pack of 6 name tags.

It took me about an hour and a half to make all of them. I wrote everyones name on the front and on the back I wrote "I'm thankful for you." 

Since I'm from a large family, name tags come in handy for everything- plates, cups, wine tags, etc. 

I can't wait to make some for Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving from our pumpkin patch to yours! :) 

Bragging Rights.

For weeks Tracy and I have been working on her bowling strategy and technique. Tracy took second place in her bowling lane at the Four Peaks Special Olympics Bowling Tournament! She was stoked to get her medal but even happier to get her free hotdog and bag of chips. 

Special Olympics Bowling was unique for a few reasons.

  • I had never seen anyone in a wheelchair bowl before. The ramps made available to these participants were really cool! Tracy and I even ended up using a ramp because she couldn't throw the bowling ball down the whole lane without getting a gutter ball. 

  • I saw a participant who wasn't able to walk bowl by sliding on knee pads. Someone would set up the ramp for him. He would slide to get his ball, then slide to the ramp and bowl. It was moving to see someone so determined. While he refused to be wheelchair bound- I, myself might have given up or gotten lazy and used a wheelchair. It made me appreciate the fact that I am able to do such a simple thing as walk- which I don't give enough thanks for. He was a truly inspiring person to be around. 

  • Intimidation Nation. Quite a few participants were really good at bowling. I saw more strikes, spares, turkeys than I ever have! 

  • Pure Bliss. Watching participants celebrate their own and each others accompaniments on the lanes was awesome. Whenever someone bowled well it was like they had just won the lottery. So many high fives, hugs and shouts of joy. Even when someone bowled a gutter ball or only knocked over a pin or two, they still received praise. Everyone deserves compliments and praise, it makes you feel good inside. This is something I need to do more often. We live in a world where criticism comes often and unwanted, why add to that? 

Everyone should volunteer or help out with Special Olympics. It'll open up your eyes to so much and be well worth your time.  

Underwater Bliss

I set out to San Diego expecting to swim with the sea community that basically looked a little like this in my head....

I quickly learned I wasn't as graceful as the Little Mermaid with my newly acquired fins. 

And also there were no sharks. You can't expect sharks to just show up because you're pouring fish scraps and blood in the water. They are highly intelligent animals and also sometimes too classy for fish market scraps. 

I wasn't disappointed or upset! I have to remember sharks are part of wildlife. One thing I love about nature and wildlife is it's unpredictability. When you get those awesome shots you can really appreciate them because part of it is luck and being able to trust yourself and the equipment.

The ocean requires patience. The animals aren't in captivity like at Sea World where I can walk through a glass tunnel and see them swimming all around me. They aren't paid actors that show up on cue. Or paid models who pose for me when I point my camera their way. 

I was lucky enough to see dolphins, whales, flying fish (which are really amusing), jellyfish, and I even spotted an underwater ray which is rare to see. The most unique part of the trip was seeing tons of Sunfish commonly known as Molas or Mola Mola. Coincidentally, I've wanted to see a Sunfish as far back as I can remember. I even made a list in 2011 of "Sea Creatures I Want to See" that included a Sunfish! 

I got a lot of awesome footage and can't wait to go through it all! Here's a screenshot from a video I took on a GoPro Hero3+ of SD Expeditions owner Kyle photographing a Mola Mola! 

More to come! :) 

 

My Sea Adventures Continue!

IT'S OFFICIAL! I will be snorkeling with sharks in San Diego this Sunday! I can hardly contain myself! Big shout out to SD Expeditions for having me on board. I will be lucky enough to be snorkeling alongside shark diving expert, SDX owner, guide and photographer Jimi Partington as well. I can't wait to learn firsthand about sharks and experience their majestic beauty. 

The tour I'm going on is called: Blue Shark Diving & Mako Shark Freediving/Snorkeling where we will be able to swim freely with Blue and Mako sharks. I'm hoping for some Hammerheads and other sea creatures to join the party as well! 

The confirmation email sent by the company had guidelines and procedures about shark behavior and how to "re-direct" their path if they get too curious. I cannot wait to be face- to- face or hand-to-snout with these animals, something I've dreamt about thousands of times! 

Life is too short, but so sweet! :) 

DIY Halloween Fun!

Every year I make my own Halloween costume but this year was by far my favorite costume/s and the most fun to create!

First off- I'm obsessed with all things Tim Burton, he's my idol. I love his creative mind and the spookiness of all his characters. One of my favorite movies of his is The Nightmare Before Christmas featuring a good-hearted Pumpkin King named Jack Skellington

This costume was cheap and easy to create.

  • I purchased the shirt and gloves from Hot Topic 

  • A cute, fitted pair of black shorts from Forever21 

  • Black & white make-up from Spirit

  • My tuxedo shoes are from England so unfortunately I can't tell you where to get those. Pairing this costume with black/white converse or black boots would be my suggestion! 

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Jack & Sally! 

Who doesn't want the love that Jack and Sally share in The Nightmare Before Christmas? I know I do! <3 Creating this perfect duo from scratch took more time than anticipated but was well worth it! 

We can live like Jack and Sally if we want. Where you can always find me. And we’ll have Halloween on Christmas, and in the night we’ll wish this never ends... wish this never ends.”
— Blink-182

For my Sally costume:

  • A yellow dress from Savers for $3
  • Fabric markers from Joann's 
  • Blue and white face make-up, red hair spray/dye from Spirit
  • Brown moccasin flats 

I filled my kitchen sink up with two hot pots of coffee and let my dress soak in it over night. I recommend using a pot for this instead. Make sure you use a wooden spoon to move the dress around and push out any air pockets. The coffee will dye the dress to give it a dim look similar to Sally's rag dress in the movie. 

Once I dyed and washed the dress, I was ready to start drawing! The picture of Sally below is what I used for my design. 

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For my face make up I used a blue base coat and a white powder to achieve Sally's skin tone. Then added stitches, sprayed my hair red with two bottles of spray and I was done!  

For my boyfriend's Jack costume:

  • A black pair of pants from Savers- $6
  • A red sweater from Savers- $2.50
  • Two bottles of puffy paint- $2
  • Black and white make up from Spirit 

  • Santa Hat
  • Jack Skellington shirt & gloves- Hot Topic
  • Black & white Converse

I laid his pants flat on a table and used the fine tipped puffy paint to draw white lines on his pants to make the pants looks like they had pinstripes. I made sure the stripes were the same width apart as the stripes on the shirt. 

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I wanted this Jack costume to have the Halloween on Christmas vibe so I added the Santa Hat and red sweater for more character! 

Final product! The skellingtons! :)

California Getaway

My partner in crime- Sammy- and I decided to go shoot video for our friend's wedding in San Luis Obispo, California. I went up early to make a trip out of it and had way too much fun for a "work" weekend. 

Day One: County Line & Beaches

On the drive up, my new found friends Matty and Kyle (whom I literally stumbled upon) drove us to Malibu to visit the famous Neptune's Net. This restaurant was a filming location in the movie The Fast and The Furious. Pretty dope, right?!

The beaches in Malibu were beautiful. The water was divided by layers, each a different shade of blue. I had never witnessed such ocean glory before. I was mesmerized- blue is my favorite color!

Sand Fleas or Sand Crabs? 

Mole Crab huddle! 

Actually they're "Emerita", a small genus of decapod crustaceans known as mole crabs, sand fleas or sand crabs.  One of my friends swore they were sand, biting fleas she had come in painful contact with while vacationing in Florida. But these little guys didn't bite or bother us at all.

A ton of these crabs were dead on the shore which immediately caught my attention and even made me sad! Looking closely at the sand were visible "V's" after the waves rolled in where the live ones were burrowed in the sand. Every handful of sand was full of life as these guys squirmed trying to escape through my fingers. One of my friends captured a crab that was molting and it was awesome! It took this guy about five minutes to break free into his new "skin"! (No idea if it was a guy or girl, just guessing!) 

Mole Crab molting! 

More pictures from day one....

Day Two: Water Day

A group of friends and I went Standup Paddleboarding commonly known as "SUP" for short with a company called Avila Beach Paddlesports. This company was great, inexpensive and our guides were so cool and friendly! They took over 400+ photos of my friends and I- emailed them all within a day of our adventure. The best part- the photos were included in the pricing! 

I always think to myself there's no greater feeling than being out in the ocean, whether it's on a boat or catching a wave. It's unknown- animals are invisible to you, curiously swimming around, inspecting you, hopefully not taking investigative bites out of you. It's uncertain- the wind, the waves, if you fall in the water, the size of swells. My favorite part of the ocean: it's unpredictable- the fog, the animals, you never know what you'll see or get. It's truly something I could be around for a lifetime. I wish mermaids were real! 

#SeaLionSelfie

I've been surfing and deep sea fishing, but SUP was definitely a more intimate experience for me. I was able to take a GoPro out and shoot some awesome videos and photos. Watching sea lions and otters up close made me giddy inside since I had never been that close to them in the wild. It's the same starstruck feeling you get when you see someone famous, for real. A part of me wanted to impulsively jump into the water and swim with them or reach a hand out to slap them five. The more logical part of me realized these animals probably use their teeth when threatened, so I just stayed on my board. Either way- we enjoyed observing each other and even managed to pose for a few selfies together. 

Besides the awesome sea lions and otters, our group spotted some translucent creatures washed ashore. Our paddle board guide informed us that they were Velella Jellyfish. With further research I discovered a lot of people refer to them as "Sail Jellyfish" or "Blue Sailor Jellies" and it's not hard to see why. Their triangular shape allows them to live half in and half out of the water making them "pleuston". Their structure allows them to move by wind, the way a boat catches wind in its sail. They feed mainly on plankton by means of tentacles that hang down into the water. These pretty jellies are usually not harmful to humans, although itching can occur if your skin is exposed to their tentacles for too long. The blue area felt squishy and sticky, while the more translucent part felt crispy like Pringles, but strong to touch. 

New jelly friends and I! 

Not all of the creatures I spotted were in the water. At one point I was paddling down a line of huge rocks where tons of birds perched. As I paddled by them, one by one they took flight so it felt like I was in the eye of a bird tornado. Below me was a reef of life ranging from plants to fish. The water become visible enough for me to get a glimpse of the amazing ecosystem just feet below me. 

Wish I could be part of that world.
— Ariel, The Little Mermaid

Halfway through our adventure we stopped to take a little hike up to a lighthouse. We also got a mini geology lesson about the California state rock Serpentinite- which was everywhere! Apparently Arizona doesn't have a state rock, just a state mineral and gemstone (copper and turquoise) incase you were feeling guilty you didn't know your own state's rock! 

 

Shout out to our tour guide and photographer Vincent Shay!

Check out his website: http://www.vincentshayphotography.com

Exploring SLO!

Bed & Breakfast Fun!

Sammy and I stayed at the cutest B&B! Luckily the other guest were also wedding attendees! The one thing I didn't do that I wish I did was take advantage of the free wine and cheese offered at our B&B... but other than that I fully used and enjoyed all of its other amenities. Pictured below you will noticed a plaid robe... those came with the room, super cute, right?! Out back was downhill, where a flower patches existed, chairs overlooking a river and lots of green to satisfy my eyes. It didn't feel like California, it was like being instantly transported to a vacation campground. 

Day Three: Wedding Day!

A day to remember by all participating and observing full of love, tears, drinking and laughing! When the shuttle to pick up the bride and bridesmaids was 45 minutes late, I knew this day would be a tad stressful.

Actually, the night before a groomsman was arrested while we were exploring downtown SLO... so I knew this weekend would be anything but ordinary! But fortunately the groomsman was released at 7 am with time to catch a $60 cab ride, some shut eye and a shower. As it turned out he was also missing the proper shoes! After postponing the groomsman photo shoot for half an hour a knight in shinning armor pulled up with a pair of brown dress shoes for our groomsman.

The other minor setback was the bridal party not being able to "bustle" the wedding dress which I learned is very important. Those of you who don't know what that means- it's a way of pulling up the train or back of the wedding dress. From what I understand there are different styles such as an American, French, Victorian, etc. After these minor setbacks, the wedding day went smoothly although not according to the written out plan, but sometimes the best days don't always follow our plan to a tee. Overall everyone had a great time, I didn't miss the first kiss as a couple which always stresses me out and no one else got arrested!

Here's a few screenshots from my video footage! Video coming soon! 

Goodbye California, until next time! 






ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

A lot of people on social media have been bashing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge because it's blowing up their news feed and wasting water. The challenge aims to spread awareness while marketing the ALS Association- BOOM, genius. How people can have a problem with that really perturbs me. I fully support the challenge and am glad to see everyone participating, young and old. 

If the challenge is annoying you then maybe you should:

A) Not watch them

B) Get a life and spend less time on your newsfeed

C) Reevaluate your own personal happiness 

D) Educate yourself on how people who are actually affected by ALS feel about the challenge (I've already helped you out by posting a video right here, you're welcome.) ---->

I apologize for my rant and for my tears, but if I simply dump ice on my head I don’t think you’re really gonna get the point. This is the first successful advocacy we’ve really ever had, and I am so, so grateful. You have no idea how every single challenge makes me feel, lifts my spirits, lifts every single ALS patient’s spirits. You’re really, truly making a difference.
— Anthony Carbajal

To personally donate to Anthony Carbajal visit: http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/for-anthony-with-love/133001

As for the wasting water complaints... get real people. If you're that concerned about water conservation then you would be on some type of committee rallying against car washes, sprinklers, bottled water, swimming pools, long showers, water balloons, baptisms, household animals, etc.

If you are also really concerned about other countries not having fresh water then why don't you do something about it? Instead of suddenly becoming an advocate for saving water via Facebook status or posting a meme visit: http://thewaterproject.org to really make a difference. 

I would also like to point out the Water Project participated in the bucket challenge with full support of ALS. --->

Don't just do the challenge to dump water on your head and nominate three people. You should actually take the time to research what you're spreading awareness for. I've seen too many videos that don't even mention ALS or that people should donate- celebrities and average joes included. Let's not forget the reasons behind this challenge going viral. 

Lastly, you don't need to be nominated to donate. 

Since I was nominated twice for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge I decided to do one big dumping to satisfy my friends. I tried to make my video as creative and educational as possible. I hope you enjoy and learn something about ALS. To donate visit: alsa.org/donate/ 

Viewer tip: Make sure to click the HD icon to watch video clearly! 

This was one of the most satisfying emails I have received. Every donation makes a difference, no matter the amount. 

Here is my adorable nieces' ALS Ice Bucket Challenge! So awesome to see little ones get involved! 


Memorial Weekend Hike

Even though Arizona has been on fire, my friends and I wanted to escape the Phoenix heat and find a hiking adventure.

We decided to go up to Flagstaff for Memorial Day weekend because why not. Here are some awesome shots from our epic weekend! 

Day One: Coconino National Forest

Bell Trail

Wet Beaver Creek

 

Day Two: Page, Arizona

Antelope Canyon 

Horseshoe Bend

Day Three: Flagstaff, Arizona

Kachina Trail