Monday, February 28, 2011


It wasn't all Palm Trees and Sunshine...

Okay, so the weather was absolutely gorgeous! Highs in the low 80's, lows in the high 60's. Low humidity, too! Why did I move from South Florida again?

But we weren't there for vacation. Instead, we celebrated the life of my Grandma Elsie Jane Staska.

It was a small, but meaningful, service.

My brother Jeremy accompanied my cousin Tara on the guitar while she sang, "What a friend we have in Jesus". My grandmother specifically requested this song to be played at her funeral. My cousins Brett and Matt performed an original song entitled "Jammin' with G'ma in the Living Room" which was based on a poem my Grandmother wrote while living in their house one summer. It was so amazing :)

I also accompanied my cousin Tara on the piano with the musical arrangement "I Stand All Amazed", except there wasn't a piano. I used a tiny little keyboard at the last minute that my Uncle Dave grabbed from his house. Let's just say that its a good thing my cousin Tara has an amazing voice and let's hope that my piano playing could not be heard. I could, however, hear my brothers laugh at me every time I hit a wrong note. Just goes to show you that "big" brothers never do grow up! My Aunt Liz reminded me that my grandma would have just been happy with my participation :)

From left to right:
My Uncle David, My Dad (holding my Uncle Mark's Ashes), My Uncle Joe, My Aunt Liz.

10 out of the 19 Grandkids:
Me, Tara, my sister Jami, my brother Jeff, my brother Jason, Dustin, Jon, Brett, my brother Jeremy, and Matt.

After the funeral, we all trekked over to "The Pyramid", as my grandmother always referred to it. See, my grandpa died in 1984 so my grandma went ahead and bought a double vault space for both him and her (when she needed it). She paid $2,500 for it back then. It now costs $15,000 to be buried here. Way to think ahead G'ma! :) There was also room for my Uncle's ashes.

I love this picture of my aunt talking to my uncle. She's holding a flower from her mother's casket spray.

I'll end here tonight. Next time I'll post some pictures from the receiving of friends at my aunt Diane's house.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Valentine's Day Parties

When I first started my  blog, "Keep It Together" was the perfect title for it. Its taken from one of my favorite band's albums. Lately, however, it would be much more appropriate to entitle my blog, "Lost and Gone Forever", which is another Guster album. I certainly feel like I've been gone forever from blogging!

I have so much to catch up on! A week ago found me in Atlanta photographing a 60th Surprise Birthday party. The next day I had the honor of capturing a Greek Orthodox Baptism. The day after that was Valentine's Day complete with all the craziness of school parties.

Believe me, we were all candied out by the time that day was over!

The rest of the week passed by in a blur. Did I mention that I'm keeping a 3 month old (well, almost 4 month old by now!) during the day? She's a doll. Because of privacy stuff, I'll just call her Baby H. I've taken a couple of cute photos of her but would like her mom's permission before posting them :)

Then, last Friday, I took off with my mom to Ft. Lauderdale, FL to attend my Grandma Staska's funeral. It was a lovely service and a wonderful family reunion. We were there for a little over 24 hours and in the car a total of 24 hours, but it was worth it. It deserves a post of its own which will be coming soon.

I've caught up on reading blogs but haven't had a spare moment to comment. I hope everyone understands!

Till then....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Flashback

Because I'm too tired to upload our pictures from today, here's an oldie (but goodie!) from Valentine's day last year :)

May your days be filled with love from those that you love :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Alli's Sweater

Yeah, there's a story behind this alright :)

Ever since Brian got Alli, he's been taking her to The Dog Groomer for her monthly grooming. Rita is quite, um, eccentric, shall we say. And very very opinionated. And we just love her to death :)

On Thursday when we went to go pick Alli up from Rita's, she was wearing this pink and white knitted sweater (with skirt!) over her freshly cut fur.

Supposedly Rita used to be a knitter back in the day. She started this sweater over 20 years ago and just recently found it amidst a bunch of old patterns. She finished it and immediately thought of us.

Then Rita requested that I take a portrait of Alli in her new sweater and give it to her. She has no idea that I've started my own photography business. As I was walking out the door, she told me that I could get Brian to help me take a nice photo of Alli :) To my knowledge, Rita has never seen what Brian can do with a camera! It was too funny!

Anyway, I'll let you know if she likes her pictures! I can tell you that Alli couldn't wait to be free from her clothes!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Elsie Jane

Like most Grandmas, mine was a pretty special lady.

Her name was Elsie Jane Reed Staska and she was born on August 20th, 1922. She married my grandpa LeRoy (Roy) Frank Staska, Senior on Sept. 5th, 1942 and my dad, LeRoy (Lee) Staska, Jr. was born on Jan. 13th, 1944. Their little family was living in Nebraska at the time they joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, after receiving a visit from a missionary that was going door-to-door. My grandparents were sealed at the Salt Lake Temple in 1952.

Nothing was more important to my grandma than friends and family. She lived to serve others. She was very active in her church callings and in the Sunrise, Florida community where she raised her family.

And what a big family it was! You can't talk about my Grandma Staska without figuring out exactly how many grand children and great-grandchildren she actually has!

Let's see...

Her first son Lee (my dad) married Paula and then later married Kim. Out of both marriages, there were 5 children:

And then there's Joe next, I believe... He married Kathy, who passed away, and then later married Ricki (and adopted her boys). Together, they all have:

I think my Aunt Liz comes next. She's married to Dane. They have 5 kids, too...

Then there's David, married to Diane.

And the baby of the family, Mark, who married young, and died before his time.

That would be 19 grandkids. Not too shabby! Glancing through the list of all my cousins, I believe I count 10 great-grand children. It could be more since I'm not very close with anyone except Justin from my Uncle Joe's family.

I expect many, if not all, of those children, grandchildren, and maybe even some of the great-grandchildren will be making the trek to Southern Florida next weekend to pay tribute to this beautiful soul.

Even though she had so many grandkids, she never made you feel like you were one of 19. When you were at her house, amidst the decor of royal blue in every room, she made you feel like you were her only grandchild.

Almost all of the photos I have online are from 2007/2008. This is the last year that my grandma still recognized some people, despite being diagnosed with Alzheimer's before then. Soon after she left her two sons in the South (Lee and David), she traveled out west to Utah to stay with her only daughter Liz. Liz's family took care of her for the past 3 years, despite the tremendous care that she needed when her memory of daily tasks completely failed.

I think, to honor her, I'll be wearing something blue to her funeral next week. She'd like that.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Hello? Is this thing on?

While I've been sick, I've done some major catching up on my favorite (200) blogs that I subscribe to. I might not have commented on each and every post, but please know that I've enjoyed reading them just the same.

And my own stale blog has been staring me in the face every time I log into my blogger dashboard. "Damn, I really need to update this thing" I tell myself. And then quickly realize that I have absolutely nothing to update about.

Well, I could tell you that although my fever is gone, I still feel like I have a head cold. I can't taste my food and I've been going to bed at 8 PM every night.

Exciting stuff, I tell ya!

As we all try to recover from our sickness and get back to our normal routine, we just haven't done anything fun. I haven't even taken any pictures with my camera! I think I have cabin fever from the winter. I'd much rather take photos outdoors in the sunshine.

I do have a bit of news to share, but its not happy news. My dear Grandma Staska passed away over the weekend. When I feel up to it, I'll give my grandma her own blog post memorial that she deserves. If you are friends with me on FB, then you probably already know this news.

So, its my goal this week to do *something* fun with my kids and keep building those memories. 'Cause that's all that matters in the end, right?

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Flu in pictures

'Cause its totally normal to take pictures of your sick kids. Right?

Jaina came down with the flu on Saturday morning last weekend. We didn't know it was the flu, though, until much later on Sunday afternoon. So for Saturday, we just loaded her up on children's motrin and went along our merry way. See, we had some important friends to hang out with that weekend :)

 There was no time to be sick!

We love our friends SO much, we decided to share germs with them! (And yes, this family so far only has one with the flu... but give it time).

I took Jaina to Urgent Care on Sunday afternoon because she was just miserable. I was not thinking "Flu" at all. I was convinced it was strep. After waiting for 3 hours (with many others who did indeed have the flu or strep), Jaina got swabbed for both strep and the flu. Flu, Type B, was positive. We got a prescription for Tamiflu and went on our merry way.

Jaina was better in 48 hours. Boy that tamiflu works fast! I kept her home from school Monday-Wednesday in order to make sure she was completely well.

Then I got a phone call from the school nurse on Wednesday morning for this little guy.

(he's eating goldfish in bed, in case you are wondering)

Thank goodness we have the "medicine cabinet". Or "medicine counter". Ignore the Allegra, though. Our allergist switched the kids to DAllergy instead. 

Despite my use of my friends lysol and clorox, I still managed to come down with the flu myself this morning. My appointment is at 11:40. Hopefully I'll be better in 48 hours, too!