First Birthday Portraits – Ariella

This is our birthday girl, Ariella

This is Ariella with her brother Brady.

Let me tell you, to get either one of these sitting still for more than 2 seconds is quite the achievement!

So it was Ariellas first birthday and her mom took us all to the park where after a few pictures, she let Ariella play with her very own cake as is tradition in some families for a first birthday.

From here, I’ll just let the pictures tell the story. 

Nom, Nom, Nom, mmmmmmm.

“HEY! What are YOU doing here?”

Nom. nom, nom, nom, nom……mmmmmmmmmmmm (x 2)

And this is where the picture is blurry because I couldn’t help but laugh my butt off at the fun mess this little princess was making! This was all her doing, no help from us or her brother!

Thanks for joining in Brady!

Happy First birthday princess!

I AM the Crazy Neighbor Lady!

A few months ago I was a bit bored and when I’m bored, I sometimes decide to find something around the house to take pictures of. While meandering around, I found a little dandelion in my front yard growing up against the landscape block in front of my house. I decided that since this little guy had somehow escaped the perfectionist yard tending of my detail oriented husband, G1, I would see about getting up close and getting some pictures of it. In fact, I had decided to see if I could somewhat, re-create this .

So I went and fetched a cup of water and G2 (my beloved camera) and proceeded back outside to my front yard. I glanced around,  saw that my neighbors all seemed to be inside, so I, a grown woman, laid down on my stomach, reached my hand in the cup, submerged it in the water, then pulled it out to sprinkle it on this tiny dandelion. Soon, as I was sprawled on the front yard, facing a block wall, G2 and I were snapping away, trying to find the ‘just right’ angle at which to shoot this little guy. I was in my own little artistic world, both creating and at the same time marveling at the intricate detail and the frail beauty of this God forsaken weed when suddenly I was pulled back, into the dimension of consciousness with the words “What are you doing?”

I, flat on my stomach, feet stretching towards the street, turned my head to see my neighbors, a nice, young couple standing next to each other in their driveway, her, with their precious one year old son in her arms, looking at their crazy neighbor lady with bemused smiles on their faces. Initially, I felt my whole body as well as what dignity I thought I had, cringe at the thought of how I must look. I clumsily got to my feet and stuttered out “T-taking a picture of a, a um, dandelion?”

They looked at each other, chuckled to each other as if their previous conversations about their “not right neighbors” were somehow backed up by this newest piece of evidence and said “Ok”. I, started laughing at myself (with them) and told them I’d email them the link to my picture. I promised them that as ridiculous as I know I looked, I hoped that they would see that something so tiny could be a thing of beauty. We ended with a good laugh as they took their son for a walk around the neighborhood.

Yes, I too think I am crazy at times but honestly, once I get past that initial cringe of self consciousness, I don’t care. I enjoy getting down and close up to things most pass by. It brings me peace, and reminds me of the beauty in all things, even the little ones.

They’re Growing Up Quick

Days 5, 6 and 7 of the Robirdsons

If you missed it, here is my first post on the Robirdsons.

And here is my second post.

I will have one last post after this one about my little birdy family.

Seriously, I try so hard to stay away from this little family in my back window but I just love to watch them.

 Does this mean I need to get a life?

Um, nevermind, don’t answer that, it was a rhetorical question, I don’t think I really want to know.

 

These hungry little piglets seem like they grow by the hour.

 

We had a couple of days of damp and colder than normal weather and momma took her place on her nest in order to keep her babies warm.

 

I feel as though I am truly blessed having a front row seat to this little life event. 

 

 

It’s rare to see momma and pappa at the same time on the nest but I was happy to get the rare shot. 

Ok, now admit it, they are (finally) adorable!

 It’s getting close, I can feel it, they are getting old enough to go out on their own.

 

My first Quadruplet newborn session – The Robirdsons

Ok, so my quads aren’t exactly human newborns but still amazing and adorable (eventually) in their bird way.

 Earlier this spring, about a week before Easter, I had planned on replanting a new batch of flowers in the hanging pot outside my back door. I admittedly let the darned thing hang outside all winter long where the dainty annuals from last year became nothing more than withered sticks.

My plans for fresh new annual colors soon changed as I noticed one evening while cooking dinner that the flower pot had new residents moving in, Momma and Pappa robin were making a new nest in MY flower pot.   As I watched their hard work I through the upcoming days I eventually dubbed this sweet little family, the Robirdsons.

Every day for close to a week they flew back and forth, several times a day, carrying sticks and grass and the makings of a new home for their little ones that were soon to arrive. They placed their building materials carefully and packed them down.

Easter morning, I climbed up on the kitchen chair and peeking into their nest from my side of the glass saw this:

 And then I re-focused my lens a little past my original target and saw an Easter character standing close by.

 Could the Easter bunny have dropped these here? Surely not.

 So as this was my first close up experience with this species, I wondered how long it would be until we had little baby Robirdsons in our nest.  Curious I was,  so I did what any modern human would do and I Googled it to find out that our babies were due 12 – 14 days after the last egg was laid.

Momma was a good momma bird and barely left her nest, especially during that second week and I, strangely enough, found myself growing excited and impatient in anticipation of their arrival.

Sure enough, 2 weeks later, on Mothers Day none the less, our hatchlings arrived, 4 in total and lets just say they were definately the kind of face only a mother could love.

 

Momma Robirdson sat on her nest to protect her new flock but would occasionally fly off to find food and bring it back to her babies. 

 

 Momma also didn’t really like the fact that I was standing on a kitchen chair on the other side of the glass so I would try to get my pictures quick, then leave them alone. Only over the next few days, my quick little picture jaunts have become more and more frequent because I am just so fascinated. I tried pulling my fake Ficus tree out of the corner to cover me and to try to make the Mrs. more comfortable but this is one smart momma who can still see me taking quick peeks into their little family world.

The last 3 pictures above were taken on May 11th and as I write this only a few days from then, I am amazed at how fast my babies Mrs Robinsons babies have changed, you will be too. 

More details to come soon!

Days That Weren’t …. Winter

Although I do love living in a place with a change in seasons, this winter has been longer and tougher than most in my memories past.

A few weeks ago I showed you some picts from last spring, now I will show you a few that I took of the Missouri countryside before it turned blah and wintery.

A beautiful day in Autumn.

I should have been at work that day, but took a vacation day.

I wish I could get paid to drive around this beautiful country of ours and take in all of the beauty.

Now THAT would be awesome.

 

But wait, 

I guess since it was a vacation day, and I got paid for it, I did (technically) get paid to drive around and take pictures.

Sweet!

Always have to look at the bright side!

Grown Up Snow Day

 

Yesterday  I walked out my door to this:

 

 

I’m not usually too worried about driving in the snow, but yesterday we received about a foot of the fluffy cold stuff and so I decided to play it safe and take a PTO (personal time off) day from work.

Its the other people driving that scare me.

So, I realized that yesterday was an unofficial Grown Up Snow day and I felt like a kid again (except for when I needed my readers glasses to read tiny print).

G1 got out to clean off the cars, our driveway and 5 other neighbors driveways, he’s such a good neighbor.

I walked around taking a few pictures along the way.

 

 

This is our back patio where on warm days a few Margaritas are sometimes enjoyed.

Oh how I long for those days now.

 Then I walk around the corner to see that one of my neices or my silly nephew left a little hot handed artwork on my storm door from the suprise birthday party G1 threw for me a few weekends ago.

It pretty much sums up my mood for this grown up snow day.

Really? That’s What They’re Singing?

I’m sure most of us have done it before,

 we’re singing merrily along thinking we know darn good & well what the words to the song we are singing are.

Until,

 someone starts laughing at you.

Not because we can’t carry a tune (which could very well be the case with me)

but because we’ve managed to mutilate the lyrics.

I can think of 2 songs off the top of my head that I’ve done that with.

Don Henley – Boys of Summer

These are the real lyrics:

Nobody on the road,
nobody on the beach.
I feel it in the air,
the summers out of reach

Empty lake, empty streets,
the sun goes down alone.
I’m driving by your house
though I know that you not home…

And I can see you
you brown skin shining in the sun
you got your hair combed back
sunglasses on baby.

And where they say “Your brown skin shining in the sun”, I remember thinking it was “Your breasts keep shining in the sun” (Like bikinis people!) That’s what I thought until one day my friend and I were riding along in the car, singing at the top of our lungs, and she stopped, mid lyric, and started laughing hysterically at me.

Good times!

Then there is a song most of us know, Winter Wonderland.

This time of the year always brings back this memory.

One of the verses’ goes like this:

Later on, we’ll conspire,
As we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
The plans that we’ve made,

Walking in a winter wonderland.

(I hear you singing!)

As a child, I remember our family riding home in the car singing along with the radio to this very song when my mom, stopped & started to laugh hysterically and my older brother muttered “What a dork” when they heard me singing;

“Later on we’ll perspire, as we dream by the fire”.

I don’t know about you, but I can see where MY lyrics make perfect sense.

In fact, I still sing MY lyrics sometimes.

Who among us hasn’t gotten a little too warmed up by the fire and had a little perspiration?

So now that I’ve shared some of my embarrassing lyric mishaps,

What songs & lyrics have you messed up in the past?

Mom’s Got Cooties!

Approximately 8 years ago, my husband was getting up at 4 am to get ready to go in to work and while he was getting ready, I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.

It was a Friday,

 not just any Friday,

THE Friday,

Black Friday.

As I sat and drank 2 of my overly large cups of coffee, I felt a sudden burst of energy and started looking at the ads that sat taunting me on my table. I had never gone to a Black Friday event before, I thought those people who did had completely lost their marbles but I wondered if I were missing something, I secretly wanted to try it and there were some great prices on toys that would save me some money and hey, I was all ready up, bonus!

While I was still contemplating this, my eldest daughter got up to use the bathroom and I spotted her as she walked back towards her warm, comfy bed obviously still 3/4 of the way asleep, her eyes seemingly still shut.

 I, in my highly caffeinated state, said, “Amber, do you want to go shooopiingggg?”

At that point, my daughter stopped, and, in slow motion, turned to look at me and the look on her face was priceless. She looked at me as if I were an alien who had just landed on Earth and asked her if she wanted to go to Mars. I honestly wish you could have seen it. She then, in an equally incredulous voice said “Mom, it’s still DARK outside!

I then had to guide her sleepiness over to the couch where I was sitting and explain to her the concept of Black Friday. I assure you, she was wishing at that point in time that the woman who gave birth to her wasn’t a bit of a nutcase. In fact, if I read the expression on her face correctly, I think she was trying to figure out if she were living a nightmare. All she wanted was to make her way back to slumberland. She just sat there….speechless, trying to figure out how to get out of this.

I didn’t give her the chance. It’s the ‘attack while the brain’s still sleeping’ strategy.

Next thing we all knew, I went in, woke up her younger sister, told them “Get dressed! HURRY! Oh and dress warmly, we’ll have to wait in a really long line in the cold until the store opens!” Good times!

 My poor, defenseless daughters

So I too readied myself, bundled us all up, grabbed the ads, some hot chocolate & we bolted out the door. Ok, I bolted, they dragged their butts still in utter, complete shock at the abuse I was inflicting on them.

As we  arrived at the store and saw the line, the adrenaline hit me. It’s that feeling that we Black Friday shoppers know all too well, the “OH no! I have to hurry, the line is getting long and I may not get the things I came for” feeling. I believe my main shopping goal was a radio for an unbelievable low price and a few games for my nephew who was 4 at the time.

So we made our way to the line. Ahhh… here we are, we’ve now assured ourselves amongst at least the first 100 or so to get in the store! The girls, a little more awake now, shivered beneath their layers of clothing. I got the ad out and we huddled & strategized.

Ok, I strategized, they glared

and shivered.

 Before we knew it, it was time. The line was moving. I told them to stay close, and hold on to my clothing so that we would all stay together. (For the record, I purposely did not take my gentle offspring to one of the stores that are known for causing violence during this tradition. I took them to one of the milder ones for all of our safety.)

So there we were, shuffling along with the line, towards that open door,

and warmth

and good deals

and chaos.

As we passed the “late arrivers” who were kept at bay by security so as not to rush to the front of the line that we early birds had spent freezing our noses and our toeses off, I couldn’t help but feel a little bratty schoolgirl come out in me and I secretly wanted to yell “Ha ha! No butting! WE actually got here EARLY” but now that wouldn’t be a good example for my impressionable teen & preteen would it? So I spanked that bratty schoolgirl and sent her to the corner of my mind while I walked exactly 2 inches from the lady in front of me, grasping my children the whole way.

Once through the doors, we hurriedly grabbed a cart and walked quickly towards electronics.

The adrenaline & excitement were palatable.

As we neared the area where the radios were, I could see a palette of them towards the back of the aisle. I guided the girls to a safe area out of the flow of traffic “Wait here and hold on to our cart. I’m going in there” and pointed towards the huddle of about 40  sandwiched people sardined in the aisle waiting to get their deal, the same deal I wanted. The girls looked at me with that all too familiar “Are you crazy” look on their faces. I do believe I also saw fear for the safety of their caretaker,

 their mommy. 

I think they thought I may not come back. I assured them it was ok. I will return to go on to our next goal. And with that, I left my young to guard our cart while I threw myself into the hoard of feeding shoppers.

Making ones’ way towards the loot is not for the chlosterphobic. You are squished in a small area with strangers, your fellow humans, all hoping to get a good deal on an item that will make you the family hero, all while saving a few bucks.

As I emerged from the crowd, holding the radio above my head, not in victory but because there was no room to hold it in front of me, my girls spotted me and I could see the relief and the pride on their young faces. I had gone into the fire and emerged not only in tact to feed them another day but also with loot! They started jumping up and down cheering “YAY MOM! You got one!!” because they’re a little crazy too.

 I felt like the champion provider of tunes that day! I think it was that moment that their attitudes changed. Something in their minds ‘clicked’, I had created 2 little black Friday monsters.

 NO time to waste relishing this moment though, this store had games like Ice Breakers and Cooties for $1.88 a piece! What a STEAL! Carry on to the toy department!

Again, the loot we wanted was at the very back of the toy aisle, as I swiftly set my youngins in a safe, quiet place just steps away from the chaos, I said, Wait here, I’m going in! And this time I did not see fear on their faces, I saw pride! They too were pumped with anticipation and adrenaline. I even heard them chanting as I walked into the hoard of people “GO MOM, GO MOM” I was never prouder to have 2 supportive nutcase daughters.

I again, made my way back to the poor, defenseless underpaid workers at the back of the aisle handing out these games off of big palates. I grabbed the game “Cooties” for my nephew and holding it above my head (this time for victory’s sake) made my way back towards the edge of the crowd. Before I reached the end of the crowd I heard my youngest exclaiming at the top of her voice “Mom’s got COOTIES!!! Mom’s Got Cooties!!!” When I finally reached her, through my hysterical laughter I told her she may not want to yell that too loud and the 3 of us laughed our butts off as I saw the realization of what she had been saying fall across her face.

Good times for sure.

I thank God for my little nut cases, they’re the best daughters in the world.

In the end, we stood in an all too long line for the check out, relishing our victories as a team, packed our loot into our car, went to breakfast and relived it all, giggling the whole time.

Now, years later, with my oldest away at college, I called her a week ago to tell her how much I couldn’t wait for her to come home for Thanksgiving. When I asked “So, should we plan to get up at 3 am to go Black Friday shopping?” She answered without hesitation “YES!!!!!!!”

 and so it continues.

Wish us luck!

 

Wrangling Rascals

I recently had the opportunity to take 4 little rascals that have a strong hold on my heart, to the park for pictures.

Taking portraits of kids, any kids, can be a bit of a challenge at times.

Children are so full of energy!

 I’m one of those few million people who wishes I knew how to bottle that energy!

And so, you can’t expect when you have 4 bundles of energy, to get every shot just right.

I don’t care whether we’re talking kids, or adults, when you have more than one person, it can be difficult to get them to look the same direction, pose the way they should, smile at the same time, not blink, not scratch, I could go on and on and on,

but I won’t,

I’m sure you get the idea.

Oh and you also have to beware of those other pesky photographers! (Notice the upper right  & left corners?) Yes, they just stepped right into my frame. Not that I did that to anyone that day, no way, not me!

 (Sorry if I did!)

And then you always have the wise guy…or girl in this case.

Dang I love these kids!

Then, you get the photos that you came for, Cheesy smiles and all!

I was fortunate enough to get some pictures that captured their individual personalities. We have here a ball of energy & the slightly more subdued and reflective one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end was able to also take home a photo that shows the connection & comfort they have with each other.

 Thats a wonderful day.

Taco Soup

This is a tasty recipe that is good for you.

I started making this when I was on Weight Watchers.

It is low in points yet filling. It’s even lower in points when you make it vegetarian style, without the burger. I personally, like a bit of beef so that is how I’ve made it for you here.

Am I crazy when I say it felt good to cook a little again?

It’s just so much better than ordering out.

Unless you’re incredibly busy, as I’ve been (and honestly still am), but sometimes you just have to make time for things like a good home cooked meal and after ordering out so much, I need some seriously low-calorie meals like this.

1 lb (or less) of lean ground beef (optional)

1 medium yellow onion (chopped)

1 Tbsp minced garlic

3 cans diced tomatoes

1 Can Great Northern white beans undrained

1 can corn drained

1 package McCormick Taco seasoning

2 cups chicken broth

 

First if you are going to cook with beef, I recommend buying a pound or less of the leanest burger.

Brown your hamburger, drain the grease and add chopped onion & cook for a few minutes on medium heat.

Add all other ingredients.

 Make this recipe for your heart, it’ll thank you.

I know, I’m not right.

Don’t drain the beans, put the whole can in the pot.

 

Add the chicken broth. I state 2 cups in the recipe, use your judgement for your liking.

Stir ingredients until combined well.

Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

 A filling, light, warm lunch. Yum.

If I recall correctly, 1 Cup of this soup (vegetarian style) is only 3 points, with the burger it’s approximately 5 points per cup.

A slightly higher calorie option is adding a little light sour cream to your individual serving, top with a little shredded cheddar.

I hope you enjoy!