Sunday, March 31, 2013

Headshots take a village... sometimes!

“You don't take a photograph, you make it.”
Ansel Adams

On July 3, 2010 Grant came home from Iraq - his flight landed in Bakersfield after 15 months and we were reunited at his unit just a few hours later. Standing there waiting for that first 'HOME' kiss and hug were excruciating for everyone there; more than 145 families waited for their soldier.

Through Operation Love ReUnited I met Jess and David Cadena - Jess Cadena is a Bakersfield photographer that donated her time and expertise to photograph homecomings for military families. Jess and her wonderful husband met us at Grant's unit bright and early and took hundreds of photos showing all of our nervous anxiety, every gasp when the glimpse of ANY bus came down the street and our AMAZING first hugs and kisses... even my favorite photo of Krystina showing her daddy all of her lost and wiggling teeth. Jess became a part of our family that day - a woman that I couldn't be more appreciative for. So when I knew I was headed to Bakersfield for the Bakersfield Pageant I contacted Jess to shoot some more photos and she happily agreed.

When I got to the Cadena's home I met their sweet daughter Abby, a new little princess friend of mine. We giggled and tried on my crown before we started shooting... a great shoot that was both relaxing and fun with some great pictures. I am grateful to Jess and David for their gracious hospitality and talent. I look forward to shooting with them again!

Also a HUGE THANK YOUo to Sylvia @ F.L.Y. Cosmetics in Bakersfield for my beautiful makeup and Moony Love for my hair!  You both make this relaxed mommy feel like a real Queen!  Sylvia also did my makeup for the Mrs California Pageant - my winning look!  If you need hair and makeup in the central valley these are the ladies to call!

With Jess and David's beautiful daughter Abby

Yes - Even Mrs California has her silly moments

Being Mrs California still feels like a dream

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Moments that last forever!

“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.”
Karl Lagerfeld.

It's been a whirlwind of a year already. During one of our first titleholder meetings we discussed attending the Bakersfield Pageant and that seemed like a lifetime away... and here it is!

Miss California, Tiffany Allen, and I were able to spend some time together and cheer on contestants as they competed for the Teen, Miss & Mrs. Bakersfield titles. Being in the audience and not on stage is a different feeling; the nerves are lessened but the excitement is overwhelming. The winners will be competing for our titles in just a few months - boy did it make everything so real for us both. I am blessed to have such an amazing sister queen to share my year. We missed having our other sister titleholder, Miss Teen Jayne Geist, but she was there in spirit.

At the end of the night there were 3 new titleholders ready to hit the ground running for their year to make a difference.

Being a titleholder has been more than a life changing experience, I have been able to meet some of the most amazing people and that night was no different. When I first arrived I met a sweet and very shy little girl named Ava. I found out through the course of the night that Ava had cancer and was just growing her hair back from treatment. By the end of the evening Ava was my new friend and we had a fantastic time talking about our love of pizza and tacos. It's in moments like those that being a 'Princess' means so much. I know that I will hold these memories for the rest of my life.

with our glasses - only cool girls wear glasses

Saturday was full of fun! I met up with Jess Cadena and her family for my ad page headshots. Jess is the photographer that was there the day Grant came home from Iraq. She caught the most amazing moments with our family, the nerves involved in waiting for the buses and the first hugs and kisses once they arrived. She and her husband will forever be a part of our family. After makeup by Sylvia @ Fly Cosmetics (incidentally she is the one that made me beautiful for the Mrs. California state pageant) and her friend Mooney on hand to do my hair I was ready. I am excited to see my photos and grateful for the time with these wonderful people who have supported my reign.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Softball with the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team

I am the first to admit that I am not overly athletic; I have the heart but not necessarily the skill. I was invited to play on the celebrity softball team during the exhibition against the national Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team; I was terrified of letting the team down especially with members like Leah O'Brien who is a 3 time Olympic gold medalist in SOFTBALL.

The Youth Athletic Park at Lake Mission Viejo was the site of the Second Annual Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball game against the Orange County Veterans & First Responders softball team. All proceeds from the game went to the WWAST.

After the Wounded Warrior team lost to the OC First Responders they were on a mission to show the celebrity team whose field it really was. We gave them a run for their money but came up short in the 4th inning of this exhibition game. The WWAST hit themselves to a 15-7 victory over players including former Anaheim Angels Pitcher Justin Speier, 3-time Olympic softball gold medalist Leah O’Brien-Amico, and Servite High School graduate former Indianapolis Colts defensive player Chris Gallipo.

First baseman Josh Wege was caught dancing and even going into the splits trying to catch a pop fly during the game while catcher Matias Ferreira ran the bases with glee after hitting his first homerun of the game, even when the umpire joked it wasn't a homerun. There was no shortage of joking and enthusiasm during the games, maybe even a little trash talking. Before the WWAST versus Celebrity game, the catcher Matias Ferreira came up to me and smiled.... "Is the Princess ready to get dirty?" I laughed it off until I realized I was playing outfield in the MUD. I will say though, I was the only outfielder that didn't fall in the mud so I call that a win.

I was so thankful for the support of my family and friends that came out to cheer me on, and maybe poke fun a little. I am grateful to the Red White and Blue Warriors for including me in such a wonderful event. I am honored to have been on the same field as the Wounded Warrior team; they were both gracious and humbled.

I look forward to next year - hopefully competing on the celebrity team as Mrs. International.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Another WONDERFUL Ducks night

“We must not be defined by what we do, but we must be what and who we are, then only happen to do what we do!”
C. JoyBell C.

Being the West Coast events coordinator for the Got Your Back Heroes has proved to be one of my favorite hats. I have the ability to talk to our families and see what events they want to do and ones that they would find beneficial. From fun nights like the ones we do with our local sports teams or local businesses to our upcoming Financial Literacy Program I am amazed by the opportunities that we are able to provide.
I absolutely love supporting our home town sports teams, especially when they support the Got Your Back Network and families of our fallen so purely. On Wednesday, March 6, the Honda Center and the Anaheim Ducks donated another suite for 5 families to enjoy another hockey game. We were able to meet a new family, Rachel and her awesome son. Spending time together and watching the other families welcome Rachel and provide her with information is what we do. Something that makes it a little extra special for me is when my daughter is able to join us.

Enjoying time with Dala & Jace, Rachel & Christian, Sandra & Lily as well as Salina and my daughter Krystina.

We look forward to more nights like these... nights where we are able to be moms, providing needed bonding time; Nights where we are there for each other as women and military wives. Once a military spouse, always a military spouse.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Priorities in Pageantry

“The Principle of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.”
Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Pageantry has taught me so much about priorities in life – I am often reminded to make myself a priority.  You cannot be an effective titleholder if you don’t have priorities – you cannot say yes to everything nor can you double and triple schedule yourself and run yourself ragged.  At the end of every day your life and your year as a titleholder is what YOU want it to be.  Yes, you may have directors and coaches or sister titleholders and responsibilities but unless you prioritize your life how effective will you be? 
Before I competed for the Mrs. California title in September my husband and I had many conversations about how we would manage our life and add something else.  I simply told him I would have to do better about prioritizing  and organizing our day to day life.  After I won, he just smiled knowing that I now had to make good on that promise.   As a titleholder with a child’s schedule, a husbands schedule and my own it can be tricky but that is where team work comes in to play.  Prioritizing in our house often involves lengthy conversations however boils down to this: Grant and my work schedules are first consideration, then Krystina’s schedule (school, tutoring, soccer and track), then the Army (monthly drill, schools, etc.) and then my appearances.  It’s not that my passion isn't extremely important however my family has to come first because they are the reason that I can do what I do.  Sometimes it’s just not feasible to do it all and that is ok – I am not Super Woman no matter how hard I try I cannot be in 2 places at once.

 As we move into our new soccer season, along with preparations for Mrs. International and a LONG list of appearances and events prioritizing is even more important.  The beautiful part is that I have a wonderful husband, mother in law and daughter that are always in my corner to help out anywhere they can.  Truthfully I do not schedule things from 8-12 on Saturdays because that’s soccer day and it means the world to our family to watch Krystina follow her love of soccer, I make sure that if my husband only gets one day off with the family that I am home with the family.  Priorities are what makes us a family, what makes us strong and what makes me a wonderful Mrs. California...