My 3-year-old Niece’s Dress Up Party


We celebrated my niece Eliza’s third birthday with dress up clothes. What a perfect set up for fun photos!

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Happy 1st Birthday, Iris!


Today is my niece Iris’ first birthday. I’m bummed that we were not able to celebrate with our Pennsylvania family. Sounds like the party on Sunday was fun and the pictures and videos through text message will have to suffice for this aunt. I’m thinking I should whip up some cupcakes in her honor!

Happy Birthday, Iris! You got through your first year of babyhood; now onto toddlerhood! Aunt Martina loves you and can’t wait to see you at Thanksgiving!!

(Picture above is my brother Aaron with his son Eli and my sister Jessica with Iris…snagged from a text message. I don’t even know who to credit for this photo!)

Welcome to the Fam!


I have a new niece! Her name is Iris Kathleen and she was born Sunday 10/9/11 at 4:31 pm weighing 6 lbs. 14 oz. I’m so happy for my sister Jess and her husband Jeff. I wish I didn’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to meet my adorable little niecey. She’s the first baby to be born among my siblings, which is super special.

Welcome to the family, Iris! Your Auntie Martina can’t wait to spoil you. 😉

Phone Photo Friday


My niece was born yesterday afternoon! Her name is Eliza Kiley. Not the most flattering photo…she was still pretty fresh. I have better ones in my camera. But it is Phone Photo Friday after all. Eliza is absolutely adorable and I am totally smitten. She has soft, fuzzy brown hair and stunning, big blue eyes. I already LOVE being her aunt. We’re going to have lots of fun together. Uncle Jason and I even got to change a poopy diaper last night.



On Saturday I had the privilege of snapping some last minute pregnancy pictures of my brother- and sister-in-law. They were going to have a photographer friend of ours do some portraits but it never worked out and we’re down to the wire (2.5 weeks to due today) so I offered my free but mediocre photography skills. I was happy to try out my new Nikon in a portrait setting and I’m pleased that a few good ones emerged. Not bad for a point and shoot.

I played with some different photo treatments in Photoshop. Mama-to-be requested some black & white and some without her face in the shot. (Full term pregnant women are always a bit self-conscious about looking puffy in the face. I think Ginger looks radiant!) Photographer friends – feel free to offer your constructive criticism on my skillz (or lack of skills).

I think she looks so lovely in this one:

They’re silly. I’m glad I captured this moment because I don’t think it could be reproduced. Their house is always full of laughs and I know they’ll be super fun parents.

This is one of my favorite shots because Dan didn’t know I was taking it. I was setting up for the next shot while Ginger when to change clothes.

This is the only shot that I actually had a vision of creating the night before. I think it works and captures them fairly well. Daddy Dan, the thinker, a man of few words, a planner. Mama Ginger, always rubbing her baby bump and speaking sweetly to her daughter, lovely and content.

Marty can’t wait to have another master to lick…

Jason and I are so excited for them and excited to meet our niece. It’s been really cool to see how Dan and Ginger have grown so much the past 9 months in maturity and spiritually. I know that they will be great parents. I’ve been so encouraged and inspired by how positive Ginger has been through the entire pregnancy. She hasn’t had any complaints and has enjoyed every moment of carrying a baby (except maybe for that couple of hours early on when the mid-wife said she couldn’t find the heartbeat, but that all worked out). Her pure love and joy for their baby girl is contagious. Or maybe it’s just that as her auntie, I already have a lot of love and joy for her, too.

We love you guys and are looking forward to walking with you into this new adventure!

A Baby Shower for Eliza!


Two Saturdays ago I hosted a baby shower for my sister-in-law and my little niece, Eliza (with lots of  help from Ginger’s friends and Eliza’s grandma and my mom.) Baby girl is due around Valentine’s Day so we decided to go for a love-hearts-valentine theme. I didn’t take as many pictures as I should have but thankfully our dear photographer friend, Beth Rose was there with camera in hand. Here are some pictures I did take.

One of the food tables, before guests arrived:

(Do you love IZZE as much as I do? Just fruit juice and carbonated water. And it’s pretty, too!)

Tables set up before guests arrived:

The favor and craft table. We had two crafty activities: a hair accessory making station and a bunch of handmade Valentines and a mailbox for welcome notes and prayers for baby Eliza.

My beautiful sis-in-law Ginger, the mom-to-be!


We played two games. The first one everyone had 5-10 minutes to sculpt a baby out of playdoh. That’s all the instructions I gave. Once everyone was done, I asked Ginger to select the most realistic, the funniest and the most hideous. The other game we played was baby shower bingo, where partiers mark off items on a pre-made bingo card as the mama is opening her gifts. I downloaded the bingo cards free from here.

In the hallway we set up a photo “booth” with silly props to encourage ladies to pose in front of the camera. It turned out to be a lot of fun. These photos were taken by Beth Rose Goin:

Ginger and me:

Ginger and her sister Crystal (Eliza is the one with the glasses and mustache):

I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the photos BR took. But not as much as I’m looking forward to meeting my baby niece in a couple months! It was a really fun time and most importantly I think Ginger felt the love for her, Eliza and dad-to-be Daniel from their friends, family and co-workers.

Popular Names


Last week I found out that I’m getting a NIECE in February. I’m so excited! I hope to have a daughter of my own someday but the next-best-thing has got to be having a niece! Baby names have been a topic of discussion lately and I always like to whip out the Social Security Administration census list to check the popularity of a name. I guess it’s because I have an unusual name, but I have always been fascinated with names. I’ve had a running list of potential names for my future kids YEARS. Can anyone relate?

The reason I check the SSA list is because often people think they’re choosing an uncommon name and the name is in fact coming up in the trends. There is nothing wrong with having a common name, of course. But in case you are wanting your child NOT to have friends and classmates with the same name, here are some of the current trendy names to avoid:

Jayden, Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Madison, Chloe, Mia, Aiden(+other spellings), Logan, Addison, Alexis, Ella, Grace, Lily, Alyssa, Elijah, Madelyn(+other spellings)

The most popular boy names are still pretty classic like Jacob, Michael, Alexander, Joshua, Daniel

Wikipedia also has a good list of popular names broken out by ethnicity and accounting for varied spellings.

My brother- and sister-in-law decided on a beautiful name for their daughter. It was #278 on the SSA list last year. And hey! I just noticed: my name made the list last year for the first time ever! #922.