Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Kiss - Nature's Version

Earlier this summer I happened to see two birds perched on our swingset out back. They were so cute sitting there together that I got my camera.

Then I saw the two kiss, eyes closed and everything.

That's when I decided to go back inside and let them have their privacy. :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ten on Tuesday - the Rest of the Summer

Summer is coming to a close. Less than a week until the bus pulls up and takes the kids off to school. I am feeling bittersweet about this. We have had a great summer, but I am ready for routine again.

I have blogged all of the bigger things we did this summer, but there were still a lot of things we did that I didn't have time to mention. are ten of those things!

1. One thing we saw lots of for the first half of the summer break was rain!!! We got through baseball season without any cancellations, but there was so much rain early on. It was getting pretty depressing. On July 3rd we had a storm come through and there was a lot of hail. The kids thought that was pretty cool. The only good thing about all the rain was that our grass was greener than ever, especially through July.

2. Not soon after school ended we had a great visit from a niece. She stayed with us a couple of days and the kids had a blast with her. She was awesome with attentive to Chica and yet sporty fun with the boys. Here she was with Jack and Ben, synchronizing the cannonball.

And here was the crew at mini-golf.

3. As if it wasn't enough that I proved to be a cool mom when I had this birthday party for Jack last summer, I took Jack and Little Chief to Jeremy's house in the early part of the summer so they could see all of his cool snakes and reptiles. So I stood in Jeremy's 'reptile room' while he took out nearly all of his snakes to show the boys. I'm still amazed at Jeremy's incredible knowledge of his snakes. He is one amazing guy.

Jack and Little Chief finally got their hands on one of the snakes. Jeremy let them hold a milk snake and the stinker ended up biting both the boys. That was a little nerve-wracking.

And here is an Argentine Red Tegu. This thing was crawling around on the floor and I was admittedly hiding behind a child gate. He actually was very tame and fun to watch.

The boys left happy...but still sort of in shock that they got bit!

4. I feel pretty lucky to have been invited to two Red Sox games this summer (thanks again, K!). One was on a girl's night out and one was to accompany my friend to her son's birthday party. The were truly amazing seats and there is nothing like a night at Fenway Park!

5. Ben completed a full day soccer camp early in the summer. It was his first full-day camp and he did an amazing job. He took home "Camper of the Day" honors one day and MVP for his team at the 'world cup' closing ceremonies. I was a very proud Mom.

6. Jack completed his very first week of full day camp too.....but in a sport new to him - Lacrosse! He was itching to try it after his best buddies played in the spring. So next spring will be very interesting if he wants to give it a try. I never envisioned another spring sport other than baseball in our house. Stay tuned!

7. Luke completed a VBS camp at a church in town. He had a great time and was really a trooper about going. He was very enthusiastic about the crafts he made and songs they learned. The last evening they had a show and he was right up there on the stage showing his stuff while we all watched.

After the show the church provided hot dogs, snow cones and other treats for the kids. Luke and his buddy Ani ("Chiefette") posed for a photo.

Right after this photo was taken someone pointed out the most gorgeous rainbow I have ever seen. This first photo was what the sky actually looked like....pinky-orange.

This photo was taken first when the white balance was set incorrectly for inside florescent lights. It's not what the sky looked like, but it came out beautiful just the same.

The frustrating part of this was that the rainbow was a humongous half-circle. It stretched a full 180 degrees right over the church. My camera lens would only capture small pieces of it. A wide-angle lens would have showed the enormity of this amazing site.

8. I took my first day trip to the beach with all of the kids. Our good friends and we packed up and headed for Scarborough Beach. It was a beautiful beach day and the kids had a great time in the waves, digging in the sand and playing paddle ball.

The big boys on their boogie-boards

Luke and his buddy playing paddle ball. It was a miracle they didn't whack anyone.

And this is a photo that shows the love that Jack has for Chica. He brought her in the waves and here he is planting a big smooch on her cheek. This is a common site for these two.

9. I went to see Kenny Chesney as part of Country Fest. My seat was in the nose-bleed section, but he still sounded amazing and I am an even bigger fan now. Here he was coming into the stadium. Love him!!!

10. We have an annual festival in town that we stopped by. As usual, it was a bazillion degrees and, as usual, it costs way too much money for games and rides for the kids. And our favorite part (the parade) was cancelled. So our visit was short and sweet, with the highlight being watching the kids do the Pedestal Joust. Jack battled Ben and Luke battled a friend.

Chica had fun getting her face painted and playing some games.

So overall a very fun summer!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Anniversary

I'm proud and excited to announce that today is the one year anniversary for my blog. One whole year since I decided to make the leap and put myself out there. Gradually I learned how cool it will be when I can download and print my blog into a book....which I plan to do very shortly!!! As I write this I have 6,892 hits to my blog. Thank you to everyone who has checked in on me and a special thanks to those that have left me comments (my very first one was from a stranger from Brazil!!) or who have mentioned that they follow my blog. It gives me more inspiration to keep it up!

I look forward to the next year too. I hope to expand my knowledge of photography, make more blogging friends, better my writing, and just document fun stuff that my kids won't remember when they are my age (since I don't remember too much from my childhood)!

Hope you'll stay along for the ride!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My New Title

This month I became a football mom. Jack opted away from soccer this fall and decided to give football a try.

It's ALL new. The equipment, the people, the positions, the terminology.....and particularly the photography. Good news......we both like it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A is for August....and Architecture

Well, my picture of Chica at the bubbler didn't make it to the Top 10, but thank you to everyone who may have taken the time to vote!

August's contest is Architecture. And the other requirement is that the photo has to be taken this month. Normally, you could use any photo taken whenever.

So for Architecture I submitted a picture of my favorite boathouse taken on our recent trip to New Hampshire. I took a bunch of different photos of it, but for some reason I liked this one the best....and it's not even in focus! We'll see how the judges like it. It'll be fun to see all of the different submissions for Architecture because it is such a broad topic. Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dogs Days of Summer

If you know me, you know that I'm a huge dog lover. I've been storing away some doggie pictures that I've taken over the summer. I think it's finally time to share them. Coincidentally enough, it's an interesting time related to dogs. Just about every friend I have has gotten a dog. And this includes even the friends who never had dogs growing up and said they would probably never get a dog.....ever. I think most of the families realize how wonderful it is to have a dog for their kids....despite the time and effort it takes.

There is also a generation of dogs in the lives of my friends and family who have passed recently. Most have been lived long lives, thankfully, but will be missed terribly by their families. Rest in peace Chance, Teika, Von and Gabe.

Here are some neat dogs I encountered this summer!

Meet Ellie. She belongs to our special friends we visited this summer on Cape Cod. Ellie is a mixed-breed dog that our friends adopted in Guam. They are a military family who lived in Guam on two separate occasions. Ellie is the second dog that they got from Guam. When I first saw Ellie I thought maybe she wasn't being fed or had some parasite because she was so skinny! But then I realized that this is just her body structure and she is probably part Greyhound. There is actually a race track on Guam and some of the dogs are released and are running stray. This girl just has to be part Greyhound!

One of her adorable characteristics are the ears that won't stand up. Well, one sort of does :). My friend named Ellie after the character Eliot from the movie Open Season. Eliot was "a scrawny, fast-talking one-horned wild mule deer". Very creative and appropriate name, I thought.

Regardless of her funny ears, this is one sweet girl who is a lot of fun.

Here she is chasing after our Chewie. Look, both ears are up! She might think Chewie is a rabbit from the track!!!

Ellie really wanted to play with Chewie. Chewie wants to play...but is always on guard.

Meet Izzy. She is a 12-week old pup owned by our NH friends. I thought I knew a lot about dogs/dog breeds until my friends told me they were getting a Small Munsterlander. Anyone ever heard of this breed?!? It's a hunting/retrieving dog in the spaniel family.

Well Izzy is about the calmest puppy I have ever met in my life. She was so calm and quiet I didn't even know she was there half of the time. She just snoozed under the adirondack chair while we enjoyed the lake. She has the most stunning green eyes I've seen on a dog.

Izzy has a cousin and her name is Lexi. They aren't really related, but their owners are. Lexi is a springer spaniel. I got a big hoot out of her because she reminded me of Chewie - completely and utterly possessed by her ball. She never relaxed when her ball was around. She would drop the ball under her mom's chair and stand there until she threw it. I got the ball once or twice and threw it in the water because I wanted to see her swim and get it.

Here is Lexi, with her beloved ball.

And here she is, totally focused for a photo because I am holding that ball above my head.

Meet Sully. He is pup of one of our baseball families and is a Havanese . I enjoyed seeing his cute face at many baseball games.

And finally, meet Minnie. She is believed to be a rat terrier belonging to another baseball family. Her personality was sweet as pie.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Vote for Chica!

I was very excited to see that a judge picked my photo of Chica at the bubbler for the Top 50 in's RAW monthly contest!!!! Now it's time to vote!! Pretty please click on the following link and chose my photo!! It's easy to vote - just click and drag your favorite photos to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd boxes and then press "Cast Vote". There are some pretty neat pictures to see anyway!

Click here to vote!

Here's what you are looking for!

Thank you!!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Hampshire Vacation Part II - Camping

We happen to live in a great neighborhood filled with great families, many of which enjoy camping. A couple of years ago a sort of 'tradition' began where a bunch of these families and other good friends decided to go camping together. Last year was the first year my family joined the fun. Chris took the boys and Chica and I stayed home. I was not yet prepared for camping with the entire family, particularly a napping two year-old in diapers.

This year, however, I did not want to miss the fun. One family picked a campground in North Woodstock, NH which was not far from where we had our lake visit. We no sooner packed up the car from some fun on the lake and drove about 35 minutes south to our next destination - Lost River Valley Campground.

I didn't bring out my good camera many times, and the picture quality is a dead giveaway. I also borrowed pictures from good friend and fellow photographer, "Lee".

The camping group got quite big this year. There were a handful of new families who came. This picture (worst possible lighting scenario) includes everyone but two families (one left early and one came later). Including them, there were a total of 12 families and 31 kids (not including our cousin CC who joined us for camping too!).

I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't been there: 31 arguments, no injuries, no issues.

Highlights from the trip...other than lots of campfires, food and drinks, bike riding, manhunt, singing, dancing, scavenger hunts, playing in the river....

Almost the entire group went to the Lost River Gorge and Caves which was an amazing adventure. There is a pathway of staircases built throughout a gorge. Along the way are "caves" which are pretty much tunnels through rock formations that you could climb through. The caves were not for the weak, claustrophobic or overweight. Some were pretty crazy to get through. Since I shared ownership of Chica, I only went through one or two. But the kids had a blast hiking through the gorge and climbing through the caves.

Chica and daddy, Ben and then Luke exiting caves:

And here is a glimpse at some of our group walking along the staircases.

Another fun time for the kids was riding the paddle boats, swimming and salamander catching at the nearby pond.

And here are some random photos of other activities:

Chica came out of the tent one morning wearing this outfit which included her bathing suit and new pink boots. Quite the slave to camping fashion:

My crew and some buddies one morning. I was en route to Dunkin Donuts for my coffee. (Huge trip bonus)

Jack and CC at the evening campfire.

CC and Luke

Jack demonstrating how cold the river water is.

Ben and his buddy posing for me.

And the beautiful river right along the campsites near us.

We had wonderful camping weather....clear and cool! The nights got very cold but my crew did well in the tent in their layers and sleeping bags. I got three very good night sleeps which were unexpected.

After this trip, I look forward to using some of the new ideas I have about improving our family camping. But all in all we had a blast. Anyone have some ideas of other great family friendly campsites in Northern New England?

Next stop......winding down summer and preparing for school!