Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday and Photo Challenges - Hint of Color & Blue


“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving”

~Albert Einstein

Chelsey's photo challenge this week is Hint Of Color.  Awesome.  I love editing pictures like this, although I don't do it often.  This picture was taken a few weeks ago when we went to Busch Gardens.  Chloe was running through this sprinkler tunnel in the splash zone and she LOVED IT.  This is her excited, I'm having the best time of my life, I want to do it again,and again, and again, face.  She was hilarious and we laughed so hard watching her enjoy herself. 

Visit the Paper Mama and link up or view more fantastic entries with a dab of color! 

The Paper Mama

The challenge this week over at Trendy Treehouse is Blue.  I immediately thought of this picture.  The blue hues from the huge Hippo pool were such an issue for me while editing this photo.  I couldn't get rid of the blue cast on Chloe's face no matter what I tried.  In the end, I decided that's part of the mood of this photo.  It's part of the wonder and excitement as she looks at fish up close and personal for the 1st time.  The reflection from the water is part of the joy of this moment.  So, I sharpened it a little, and I lightened it a little and that's it.  The moment is this picture.

Please visit Shutter Love Tuesday at Trendy Treehouse to see some phenomenal interpretations of Blue. 


Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Mompetitors = Moms who Compete with One Another

I think that most of us can probably identify wth Mompetition.  I find myself in this scenario A LOT.  Often it is by accident, I'll mention that my Little just did something new, and another mom will mention something new that their kid just did, and we'll be in a "healthy" discussion over the things our kids do or don't do. 

Although, I've found that as Littles grow this sort of conversation becomes rougher and harder to digest, "My kid is going to the gifted school, My kids knows all of his letters, My kid can multiply fractions already..."  The stating of simple milestones morphes into a discussion related to IQ and preschool intelligence.  It becomes a quest to one up each other, or assert some sort of superiority over another mom....or worse....child.  Now, this doesn't happen often, but there have been moments where I've left a conversation, with a true and good hearted, friend, and felt like I had the wind taken out of my sails.  There have also been moments where I've thought back and hoped that I didn't sound like a mompetitor...I guess it goes both ways.

Luckily for me, this has only happend a few times, and I recognize where the conversation is going and STOP it before it gets out of hand....actually, I've found that using Chloe Belle as an excuse to interrupt the conversation works brillantly.  I can't say that "Mompetition is the reason that I don't make mom friends" as the video suggests, because I have an awesome network of IRL Momma friends.  Love you girls!  

My girlfriend Kate over at Kate and Khan shared this video with me.  It's hilarious and pretty much sums up mompetition to the extreme!  

You are welcome!

Monday, September 27, 2010

We celebrated the Hubs....being Old and all

I decided to kick off this weekend early.  I left the j-o-b early on Thursday and then took Friday off.  My Friday looked pretty much like this:

This collage was made for Simplicity's Photo Class (button on sidebar).  It was my "Shoot Where You Are" assignment

I ran all day long, grocery store, mall, cleaning, prepping dinner.  I didn't sit down.  I didn't even have lunch, which lead me to the conclusion that if I were fortunate enough to be a SAHM I would undoubtedly be 10 lbs slimmer, and my house would be 10x cleaner...but that's only if my kids stayed in school.  If my kids were home with me all day every day then my house would probably be 10x dirtier, and I would be 10 lbs heavier. 

Anyway, Hubs celebrated his 33rd birthday on Saturday.  So, I spent time on Friday shopping for his big day and wrapping his gifts.  I'm not sure that I blogged about how badly I messed up his Father's Day gift, but I did...he didn't like it at all, and it was promptly returned.  I needed to redeem myself.  I needed to get him a gift that was worthy of keeping.  I decided on 3 things; Workout gear/new socks, etc, because the man wants to lose 20 lbs.  and smelly goods, because he has been out of cologne for a month or two now.  I went with this:

It smells Ah-MAZING!  The next time you are walking through a department store, you have to stop by and take a sniff...I think it even has pheromones in it or something.  Rarrrrr!

And, then for his big gift, I went with this watch:

The 2nd hand doesn't tick, it sweeps, which is pretty darn cool when you see it.

We dropped the girls off for Parent's Night Out at church and then had dinner with friends to celebrate. It was an awesome time.  This was my favorite part:

Oh, and holding a newborn baby at dinner was pretty cool too.  And, made me realize that baby fever is indeed an epidemic and I think I'm infected.  The hubs, however, is impervious to it, he held, and swooned, and didn't become infected....He even started talking about getting "whacked" and I'm not talking, mafia style.  I just don't think I'm ready for that yet.

The Hubs loved all of his gifts, and I've officially denounced my title as the "worst gift giver ever."  We went home and sang the birthday song and put the babies to bed and enjoyed some peace & quiet. 

On Sunday we went to church, had a play date with one of Camdyn's friends from school, and hung at the house all day.  I listened to a ton of football since it was playing from every TV in our house.  Oh, and I played a lot of Memory this weekend too, and surprisingly, I think my memory is actually improving...I nearly beat Camdyn once!

Chloe Belle playing at the park on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 - Look!  She's growing hair all of a sudden!

Happy Monday Y'all!

PS:  I've received several awards lately!   I'm really behind in blogging and the photography class is taking a front seat this month.  Thanks ladies for thinking of me, I truly appreciate the awards, even if I never get around to posting them!  Love ya!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday and My Biggest Surprise Since I found out that Sweet Tea is not Sugar Free

"Your Birthday is a special time to celebrate the gift of 'you' to the world"
~Author Unknown

Last Wednesday I submitted this photo for the Paper Mama photo challenge:

And in return, I received this:

The Paper Mama

Yeah, Baby!  I was/am so excited!  I've never really won anything before...and I mean, ever.  Like, not even a raffle, or a cake from the cake walk at my elementary school fun fair.  So, I guess I was due, and maybe God just thought it was about time to send me a little encouragement to keep forging ahead with my new-found hobby.  Maybe he sees that this hobby is good for my soul.  Maybe he knows that I am happy with a camera in my hand.  And, maybe, the picture was just good.

So, now I find myself in a vote off.  If you could be a dear and CLICKY HERE it sure would be great if I could get a few votes.

Happy Wednesday Friends!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Date Night A La Ritz

Last Saturday night, the Hubs and I booked a sitter for a 24 hour stint at our place.  She arrived at 12:30 in the afternoon, and we promptly set off, kid-free, for 24 hours. 

Much to my surprise, this was very awkward at first.  I felt like I was missing something for the first few hours.  I kept looking in the back seat, and checking behind me for dawdling toddlers.  It felt like I was missing an appendage, total strangeness.

Our first stop was the movie theater.  We wanted to spend our time doing things that we can't usually do with kids in tow.  We saw the movie "The Town."  I enjoyed was suspense, thrills, and a love story all in one.  This was time well spent. 

Then, we went to the hotel to check in.  Our room wasn't ready yet even though it was past 4:00, so free drinks for us and an opportunity to enjoy the view.  The hotel property is located right on the water, the view is extraordinary.  Even though we can enjoy this view any day of the year that we want, it's sometimes fun to see it from a visitor's perspective. 

We check in.  We enjoy a nap, a little TV and then we get ready for dinner.  Dinner was at Bonefish, it was splendid like it always is.  We enjoyed our dinner and our drinks, and took our own sweet time.  We enjoyed conversation that went like this:

Me:  I'll have just one more
Me:  Ohhhh.  I know.  We should go and get Tattoos!
Hubs:  ::side eyes::
Me:  I want four C's all lined up on my wrist
Hubs:  What happens when there is 5 C's.  
Me:  5 C's!  WHAT?
Hubs:  Drink your wine
Hubs:  Stop flexing.  That is the 3rd time you've flexed at dinner. 
Me:  I. have. big. muscles. 
Hubs:  Where's the check...

Then, we hopped in the car and headed back to the hotel.  As the valet was driving off with our borrowed Beamer (Thanks, Liz!) I realized I left my flip flops in the car.  Bummer.  So, we head to the room, and we put on our suits, because this night calls for some hot tub action.  But, my flips are in the car, so I get to wear the Ritz issued white fuzzy slippers down to the pool.  Hubs asked me to throw on the bathrobe just to complete the ensemble.  Yeah.  I don't think so. 

When we got back to the room, we ordered dessert and then watched TV until our eyes were bleary.  I'd like to say that I slept like a dream, but I didn't.  There was that piece of me that worried about the Littles, that peace of me that just couldn't rest easy.

When the sun came up on Sunday morning I was ready to get home.  I thoroughly enjoyed our Day Away (Twice Actually, um hum) but I was ready to be home with the kids.  So, we hit up the IHOP, had some seriously lousy coffee, and then headed home. 

And, I realized that we should really do this more often....well, at least once a year!

Monday, September 20, 2010

To Chloe Belle on her 18 Month Birthday

Dear Chloe Belle,
Just the other day I was joking with your daddy that we should just go down to the courthouse and officially change your middle name.  No one ever uses it, and it almost sounds absurd when I say your full name out loud.  Somehow, in the past 18 months you became our Chloe Belle, our Bellie Boo, or just plain Belle.  It is a nick name that somehow just picked you.  I love it, but I also love that you have my initials and for that reason we won't officially change your name, we'll just keep calling you what we love to call you.  And who knows, maybe one day you'll find that your real middle name suits you better than any other.

It seems to me that time is clipping by at an uncharted pace.  Every time I turn around you and your Sissy are surprising me with yet another milestone hurdled.  You now have several short sentences that you string together, "Where are you," and "What's this" are the most common.  You attempt to repeat almost any word that we tell you, sometimes it sounds just like the right word, "Kenzie" and "Madie" and sometimes it takes a secret decoder ring to figure out what you are trying to tell us.  You still sign for "More" "All done" and "Thank you" but more often than not you are using your words.

Now that you are becoming adjusted to your role as a toddler you are asserting your own will on those around you.  If you don't want to be held you are quick to tell us, either with words, or thrashing around until we realize that you are getting too big to contain.  You often play well with Sissy, side by side with similar toys, but not the same toys.  Sometimes you share brilliantly, especially if it is food or something that you have multiple pieces of.  But, when it comes to sharing your only sippy cup, a baby doll, or something that you believe is solely yours, you hold your ground.  You'll repeat "mine" until the sun sets, and you don't cave in.  You know what is yours and you hold on to that, you'll even bite to protect what is your own. 

At this age, I love watching you love your baby dolls.  How you stroke their heads, nestle them in a cradle, and feed them.  It's the sweetest thing ever, and I like to think you learned all of that from me.  I like to think that you love on your baby dolls the same way that I love on you. 

I also love moments like this:

Moments spent playing in the rain.  Moments where childhood soaks in. Moments where splashing & puddles bring unbridled joy and laughter.

In six short months, we'll be celebrating your 2 birthday.  We'll be blowing out candles and singing you the birthday song, and we'll be realizing that we no longer have a baby in the house.  What I wish for you in the next six months is that you continue to find your words while simultaneously finding your listening ears.  That you'll continue to explore your independence, but that you'll never wander too far away. 

My sweet Belle, I pray that you always know exactly what your place is in our family, exactly how much you are loved, and that there is nothing you could ever do to make me stop loving you.
Love Forever & Always,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hi-De-Ho To the Ritz We Go

I'm going to miss my Lovies, really I am.  But, not enough to make me cancel our 24 hour date.  Yeah, a babysitter for a whole 24 hours!  I don't think I've ever done that before. 

So, what will we do?  I don't exactly know yet.  We may see a movie in the afternoon, run some window shopping errands as we visualize what we will need for the new house.  We'll eat a nice dinner and have date-night conversation.  It's going to be fabulous! 

I'm also going to be taking A LOT of pictures.  I'm seriously behind in my class assignments this week.  In fact, I haven't completed a single one.  UGH.  It's just been that kind of week and the assingments this week are really tough, so that doesn't help much.

I thought, surely, I could get the Portrait shot for the week under my belt before Thursday.  Not really.  I think I can do better than this.

This one is "okay."  She facing the light which is a good thing, but she's half turned, so there is a shadow on her neck.  She also is too centered.  Although, I still think she is adorable.

I actually really like this shot of Camdyn.  I like that she is looking down, and I can see her eyelashes and her perfectly red lips.  I don't really love the fact that the wagon is in the background.

What is it with my kids and looking at their feet?  Love Chloe in a hat.  Don't really love the cheeto mess on her chubby cheeks.  Although, this is childhood, is it not? 
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

There is Always Something to be Thankful For

It's been a crazy week and as we approach my favorite time of year, things will just get busier.  I love it.  I love the excitement of all of the upcoming birthdays and holidays which are smashed in to the next few months.  I love the way the end of the calendar year winds down only to find yourself in January with fresh resolutions and a clean slate. 

Here are the Things I'm Thankful for this week:

{Gatherings with Friends}  Last night we ate chicken nuggets, grapes, beans, and cheetos on a picnic table with friends.  The kids played, and laughed, and cried, and we enjoyed being mommas to healthy and beautiful children.  Then the ice cream truck came and I saw the simple joys of childhood in the eyes of the kids.  It was the perfect ending to the day

{Resilient Kids}  Chloe toppled off the picnic table bench last night and landed on a illogically placed metal man-hole cover.  She cried a bit, but wasn't too phased, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief...that could have been bad...really, bad.

{Camdyn's spirit}  As much as she can frazzle my nerves, as much as she pushes buttons until I feel like I'm sliding in to meltdown mode, she's also an amazing kid.  A kid that crawled in to my lap last night, told me I was "the best momma ever" and then as tears welled in my eyes, she cried with me.  ::heart explodes::

{The Hub's Reaction}  Last night as we crawled in to bed I reminded him that he has been gone four out of the last seven nights, therefore, he is on night-time wake-up duty tonight.  He didn't balk.  And, I slept uninterrupted for the first time in MONTHS!

{Chloe Belle in a Hat}  Photos to come soon.  She won't wear a bow on her nearly bald head to save her life, but the child will rock a hat, and it is so stinkin' cute.

{Our almost House}  The bank accepted our offer on a house.  I am so stoked to move one final time, and finally be in our forever house.  The house that our kids will call their childhood home.  The house where we will raise our girls.  The house that we won't ever grow out of.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Paper Mama Photo Challenge - Brown

"Best friends just won't leave your side"
And even the littles are friends...well, when Chloe isn't biting or hitting, or when Sawyer isn't stealing her crackers....

The theme this week at Paper Mama is Brown, definitely a color of fall.  Fall, a season that we don't experience much this far south.  Well, actually our fall happens around Xmas time and it's fabulous then. 

Camdyn found this ginormous pine cone at the park last Friday and I thought....It's perfectly BROWN!  It reminds me of fall even as I wipe sweat from my brow in this 90+ degree heat.    I love the focus on the cone and her little hands.  I love the fact that she is not looking at the camera and I can make out her perfect profile.  I love how sharp the cone turned out, and I forgive myself for blowing out the background.  I'm shooting manually, y'all.  I'm getting there, one semi flawed photograph at a time :)

The Paper Mama

Head on over and visit Chelsey and check out all the fab submissions this week! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

Snapshot of My Life

Remember how I told you that I signed up for a photography e-course?  'Member?  Well, I've officially completed week one and managed to do all 6 assignments, although some were more poorly put together than others.

I'm sticking to my promise and shooting all of my photos in full manual, which is what this course is supposed to help me learn.  I can't learn if I don't try, so I'm trying, and it's starting to click - literally.  So, I've photographed baby dolls outside in the grass, a teddy bear in my living room, a pepper on the floor, my baby at the park, a faux martini poolside...

The creativity challenge of the week was "A Snapshot of Your Life." Hum...hard. I really had to think about it. Yeah, my life is my kids, and the Hubs, and working, and playing, and how do I communicate that in a photo. This is what I came up with.

My life in a few words:  Faith, Devotion, Commitment, Responsibility, Hope, Enduring Love

And if you look deeply at what these 3 objects symbolize, then you pretty much get my life.

I'm finding that this course is really helping me think about setting up my shots.  Sure that is hard to do when you mostly photograph kids, but I need to look at what's in the background, and think about the lighting before I start snapping, otherwise I'm going to end up with sub-par pictures no matter how many I take.  I'm sure my hard-drive will Thank Faith (the teacher) for this!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Naptime Gone Wrong

It's Saturday, time to catch up on some zzzz.  I put Chloe down for her nap at 11:45 and decided I needed a 20 minute snooze to re-charge for the afternoon.  I woke up at 2:00.  And, this is what I found.

Was it worth it?  AB-SOL-UTE-LY

Friday, September 10, 2010

Always Look Back - A letter to my Lovies

Have I told you lately how much sheer joy you bring to our lives?  Well, you do.  There are moments when the chaos is swirling, when I am competing with the TV for your attention, moments when teeth find their way out of mouths and on to skin, and moments where the squabbling over toys seems endless. 

And, then there are moments that are quiet as we read books before bedtime, as you play side by side in tubby, and moments when I feel like everything is as perfect as it could ever be.  Moments where I stop and count my blessings. 

Last night my heart could have exploded with joy, joy in something as unprofound as a wagon ride.  An after the bath, evening ride, down the block, with the cool wind against our skin, and the pure pleasure of being together.  The simple joy of watching my girls, my lifeline, side by side, enjoying themselves together.  Finding peace in our family unit, and joy in the way we have morphed from a couple into a family.  Life is good.

And, then late in the evening when Chloe awoke I was greeted by an odd and unfamiliar sound from the monitor.  Not the usual screaming and crying that ensues with middle-of-the-night wake-ups, but instead I heard "Mom-mmmyyy.  Mom-mmyyyy.  Mom-myyyy."  I couldn't get out of bed fast enough, to get to you Sweet Belle.  The sound of your baby voice was heavenly.  And, yet another milestone marked off the list.  Although you've always had a voice on you, you are now starting to really use your words, instead of your scream.  My heart melted as I rocked you last night, thinking that is the last first call I'll ever hear.

And, then this morning, Camdyn, you wandered out of your bedroom and found me in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher. You began singing the "Good Morning Beautiful" song to me.  The same song that I used to sing to you when I pulled you from your crib when you were a tot.  I couldn't help but to scoop you up in my arms, your legs dangling down past my knees and sing along with you.  How many more times will we do this?  The clock is ticking.

While I feel that tug and pull on my heart strings as you girls grow up and gain your independence right before my eyes, I also swell with joy watching you do exactly that.  There are moments when a wagon ride between sisters has me envisioning what the future holds.  I look at this picture and I see Camdyn at 16, pulling out of the driveway with little sissy in the passenger seat.  I picture you both taking your independence from wagon rides down the block to car rides to the mall. 

My hope for you as you grow up together, is that you always find a friend in each other.   That you grow up knowing that there isn't anything in the world that you can't confide in me or daddy.  That you grow up with confidence, security, and an overwhelming sense of who you are, where you come from, and what you stand for. 

But, my Lovies, I hope as you grow up and your lives take in you other directions, that you always look back.  That you always know that daddy and I will be standing in the driveway, watching you take hold of your future.  That you look back often enough to see that we are always here.

Love you Forever & Always,

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesay & Photo Challenges: Excitement & Bloopers

All things were made by him; and without him
was not any thing made that was made.
John 1:3

The Paper Mama photo challenge theme this week is EXCITEMENT.  Fun!  I have scores of excited baby pictures, but decided to submit this:

This picture was taken last month at the playground at Siesta Key Beach.  This is where Camdyn's end-of-the-year class party was held.  It was HOT, but the kids had a blast playing with each other outside the confines of the classroom.  This picture makes me want to put a harness around the hands of time, and pull my body weight against it.  The days where blue twisty slides evoke excitement are numbered.  The days when simple pleasures are found in the small wonders of life, are numbered.  Our babies will go to Kindergarten next year, they will be exposed to a slice of the "real world."  They are growing up. 

But, for now, I will appreciate every second of their simple pleasures, and hope to capture the excitement in their eyes as they enjoy their final year as pre-schoolers. 

The Paper Mama

Now, head on over to the Paper Mama and link up a picture of Excitement! 

The theme this week at the Trendy Treehouse is Bloopers & Outtakes.  Wow.  Do I have a lot of those, especially because I suffer from an affliction that makes deleting photos almost impossible.  I think it's a version of photo hoarding...I wonder if they have a TLC show about that? 

Anyway, I give you this picture, of me, Chloe Belle, and Gramma.  We just wanted one adequate photo, and of course, little miss in the baby Bjorn was not cooperating, so I decided to not cooperate with her.  Man, if you can't beat them then join them. 

Please visit The Trendy Treehouse to see some seriously hilarious photos and perhaps submit your own photo! 


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My 4 Year Old is an Adrenaline Junkie

On Saturday, we decided that we would brave the heat, and the crowds, and take the chitlins to Busch Gardens.  The last time we went was in November, and Cam was itching to see the elephants, and since you can pay for a day and go all year for free, we thought, meh.  Why not? 

It turns out that there are a lot of new sights to see at Busch Gardens this year.  Kangaroos being one of them.  The rule is that you have to be at least 5 years old to see the Kangaroos.  I don't like rules much, so with Camdyn grinning, and showing her toothless smile, we walked right past the attendant at the gate, and I let my 4 year old pet Kangaroos.  Shhhh.  Don't tell.  Chloe & Daddy had to wait outside the gate. 

Cam just happens to be working on the letter "K" at school this week, so I took lots of pictures of the Roos and will print them for her class to make "art work" out of.

See how they can fit their whole heads & necks out of the fence?  Maybe that's why little ones can't be in there, because they could get bitten, or they could pull the kangaroos ears....I'm not sure.  I should google it.  Rules. Ah.

And, then we headed to the new Sesame Street section for kids.  Cam rode a roller coaster and I put Chloe in her swimmies so she could get wet.  She loved it!  This is her excited face!  It's, not her "OMG I'm going to cry" face.  The girls played in the water for about 45 minutes, and then I realized it was 1:00 and they must be starving!
So, we headed for the A/C and opened up the cooler.  That's right, they say no coolers, but you know I don't follow rules that much, so we pack one every time we go.  They've never said "boo" to me about it, even when they inspect it at the gate.  See why I love this park?  So, we lunched and then we rode the carousel.  This picture of Daddy snuggling Chloe is so precious, although the carnival lights made it a tricky edit....they look a little orange, although in B&W I'm sure this photo would be hang-able for me...I love a good picture of daddy & his girl.

And, Camdyn was riding the horsey next to me.  So, I snapped a picture of her too.  She kept telling me to hold on.  She was afraid I would fall off.

And, then the Hubs asked Camdyn if she wanted to go on a Loop de Loop roller coaster.  Her response, with a shrug of her shoulders, "Sure Daddy."  So, off they went.  I stood at the base of the loop, my hands were trembling.  She's 4 y'all! She barely makes the 42" height restriction.  There isn't a harness for this ride, just a lap bar.  I was afraid this would scar her and she would detest all roller coasters from here to eternity, and would never trust a word we said again.

She loved it.  She wanted to go again, and again, and again, and again and again.  My kid loves the rush.  My kid is fearless.  My kid is an adrenaline junkie.  My kid is so proud of herself.

And, then we went and saw some hippos.  I'll post more of those pictures through-out the week.  Daddy took this picture of me and Belle da Boo in the hippo cave.  The blue reflection from the water is over-taking this picture.  I like it well enough anyway.

Not counting the tickets, we do Busch Gardens for less than $20, and that includes parking.  It's fun on a budget, and this park is so big, we do something different each time we go.  And, that was Saturday.

On Sunday we were all an exhausted mess and Monday was the best day by far.  It was relaxing, and uncomplicated, I made cupcakes, and we rode bikes.  It was everything a holiday should be.