Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's The Weather's Fault

It's been a "couple of days" since I posted anything on this old blog of ours. And as God would have it, we've also had a "couple of days" of weather.

Coincidence? I think not.

Actually, on Monday, I was pretty sure my head was going to explode right off of my shoulders. I've never had a headache quite like the one I had all that day and part of Tuesday, so I excused myself from writing any new posts. (I also excused myself from cooking, cleaning, and teaching -- but that's water under the proverbial bridge now, right?)

As soon as I got up and felt the cool temperature outside yesterday, I just knew we'd have to make the most of it. Autumn is hands down my favorite season of the year. I love the cool weather and I adore the crisp breeze, the sound it makes as it whisks past the leaves barely hanging onto the trees above. So once we were all up and fed (breakfast out on the back porch, of course), we hopped in the car and drove with the windows down to the park to savor the perfect weather. I mean, look at that sky!

At one point, Izzy just stood -- perfectly still -- on top of the playset and let the breeze rush past her for a while. That's my girl.

The sun was a bit harsh for great photos, but the flare I got on this one of Jack was perfect.

Those eyes get me every time!

After we had played on the playset for a while, we decided to do a little rock-climbing -- preschool style.

Apparently climbing wasn't of much interest to Isabel, so she opted for rock-sitting...

There was, of course, the daily required game of "peek-a-boo"...

...and plenty of picture-taking. Once Abby had reached the "summit" (the highest point of the rock she was climbing was at least two feet off the ground), I grabbed her for a few shots.

The way the light was hitting that blonde hair of hers was so gorgeous!

I asked Jack to hop up with Abby for a picture, and he definitely brought a different dynamic to the photo. This is so Jack.

I really love these next two photos of Abby -- they're so perfectly quirky. Her hair is a complete mess, the wind is blowing everything in her face, and she's got the most adorable, goofy expression in the first one. Perfect!

And these last two are just so sweet, I could cry.

From the park, we stopped by the pediatrician's office for a slightly less enjoyable visit. Jack had has three-year checkup, and after measuring and weighing in at a hefty 75th percentile, it was back home for lunch and naps for the little two. Since our morning had been so busy, Abby and I used the quiet of rest time to catch up on the previous two days' school work. And, of course, we had school outside...

...but not before I rang the bell. I started this goofy thing on our first day of school where I rang the "school bell" to start the day. It's a little bell I got from my great aunt's house when she passed away, and I've held onto for all these years. Now it rings almost everyday.

School is always a special time for Abby and me, but it was particularly wonderful for us yesterday. We made a pallet out of blankets and pillows, and we did the whole three hours' worth of work cuddled up together under a quilt.

Have I mentioned how much I love the fall? And homeschooling?

How about homeschooling in the fall?

Before I turn in for the night, I'll leave you with my very favorite shot of the day.

I hope you like it. Because once I can catch up with editing sessions and designing invitations for a couple of orders, it's about to become our new header. :-)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

So Her Head Doesn't Explode

So I saw my friend, Michelle, this morning at church. Michelle and her family are the ones I shot this weekend for our nearly-rained-out photography session. I had told her when we parted ways yesterday that I would put a sneak peek up on the blog as soon as I had some photos ready, so when I told her this morning that I had started editing them and was in love with these pictures of their growing family, it was obvious that she wanted photos. And she wanted them now! :-)

Michelle is completely over the pregnant belly thing. She's tired, she's hot, and she's ready for their newest little one to make an appearance. I, on the other hand, think her belly is absolutely gorgeous, and I loved incorporating the new baby into our session.

I've been playing around recently with a new look for some of my photos. It has a really soft and sweet feel, and it worked perfectly for these shots of Big Sister and Big Brother's interaction with their newest baby (via Michelle's tummy).

Michelle, I've got lots more photographs -- lots more! And the best part is, these aren't even my favorites. You'll have to wait a little longer for those. Hee-hee!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

It's Every Three-Year-Old's Dream

As I mentioned late last night, our little guy turned three years old today. I asked him about a week ago what he would like to do for his birthday this weekend. I was expecting an answer along the lines of "eat ice cream" or "go to the zoo", so I was a bit perplexed when he thought for a second, then leaned in really close to my face and whispered, "I go eat at Cappin Deeeeeeeees!".

Really?!? I thought he might have confused his third birthday with his eighty-third birthday, so I suggested a couple of other places I thought he might like. But he stuck to his guns and asked for Fish Sticks 'o Fat for his birthday meal.

I could hardly wait all week.

I had a session scheduled for this morning, and while we thought we were going to have to cancel because of the weather, we decided to go ahead and risk it while there was a break in the rain. As it turns out, the weather was perfect, and I think we got some fantastic shots (preview to come). As I was driving home from shooting, the bottom fell out of the sky...but nothing was going to stop me from picking up the rest of the crew and heading to Captain D's for Jack's birthday lunch.

Please note the enormous piece of fish that's invading the bottom right shot. Nasty.

Our original plan had been to really make the most of this Captain D's thing by doing the full cupcake and present drill there -- and perhaps I was hoping the employees would think it was so cute that Jack wanted to do his 3rd birthday celebration at their restaurant that they would give us free pie. Perhaps. But the weather went from bad to worse, so we decided to head back for the house. Since he went to pull the car around for us, poor Josh got the brunt of it.

The grease quickly overpowered Isabel, and she was out like a light.

You might think that the dreary weather made for a dreary little boy...

...but it was nothing that some new firetruck bedding couldn't solve.

Jack's one other request was for a cake with yellow icing. I couldn't see paying for a whole cake to dessert five people (yes, I just used "dessert" as a verb), so on the way out to Girl's Night last night, I grabbed a few cupcakes at Publix. Yellow and blue for Jack...

...and yellow and pink for the girls.

Izzy, of course, made a royal mess with hers.

As soon as the inhalation of sugar was complete, we headed upstairs to put Jack's new firetruck bedding on his bed. Here's the final (albeit temporary) product:

Izzy hung out on the other side of the room...

...and practiced stretching in what will be her new crib when the baby comes home.

Happy Birthday, little buddy. We love you so much, and we're so proud of you! (It's naptime now.)


I just got in from having coffee with some girlfriends. The house is quiet, and everyone is asleep but me. I glanced down at the clock and saw 12:04.

It's September 26, 2009 -- Jack's 3rd birthday. I crept into his room, kissed his little cheek, and whispered happy birthday into his dreams.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

On Life, Love, and Loss

The kids and I were playing in the living room this morning when they made a most fascinating discovery. There was a big, colorful grasshopper just outside on the screened-in porch, and he was putting on quite the show. He did a little ceiling-walking and displayed some very impressive high jumps as he tried to figure his way out of the contained space. Of course they all ran for the back door so they could try to catch Jumper and keep him for a while in a plastic storage container (while I grabbed my ultra-zoom lens so I wouldn't have to get anywhere near him for a picture).

We spent a while talking about the fact that grasshoppers are insects and that one of the characteristics of insects is that they have two antennae and six legs. We all got real close to the container and counted the little guy's legs together.

When we were counting his antennae, he started to scoot out of his container toward my hand, and I lost any semblance of Wise Teacher when I threw the bowl and ran into the house squealing something to the effect of "His antler touched me!"

Needless to say, he got loose. They caught him again -- he escaped again. (Please excuse the unclothed ones...I had just wrapped up a marathon dirty diaper session before the kids discovered Jumper.)

Actually, the little two cheered Abby on as she did all the work. They didn't want much hands-on involvement, but they sure enjoyed watching the show. Check out Jack's face...

At one point, the little grasshopper got between some of the slats on the porch, and I was worried Abby would squish him while she was trying to catch him with her bowl... I suggested she try to pick him up with her hands rather than smash the bowl in there to capture him. Much to my surprise (and slight disgust), that's just what she did.

Knowing exactly what happened here is key to understanding how the rest of this story played out. Take a good look at this picture...

If you look really closely, you can see that one of the grasshopper's antennae is pointing north while the other is pointing east. Not good. But worse than that is that one of his big jumping legs in the back is no longer visible. It was still there -- I'm afraid it was just a bit damaged.

Abby was completely clueless about all of this. She was just so excited to be spending some one-on-one time with her new friend. I told her we should probably put him back in the bowl to give him a break, so while she got him situated, I went in to put my camera away.

That's when I heard the wailing.

I ran back outside (with camera still in hand) to find Abby holding the container right up to her face and crying, "I'm sorry, little guy. I'm so, so sorry!" Apparently, Jack wanted to play with Abby, so he grabbed her dress and started running in circles. Abby was trying to hold the bowl steady, but unfortunately, Jack's sudden burst of activity was a bit much for Jumper.

And he lost the leg.

Centrifugal force is no laughing matter, people.

Abby's been particularly sensitive to people with leg injuries or people in wheelchairs for any reason since Josh's accident in February. But this just about did her in. A broken leg is one thing, but a completely missing, disconnected leg is a whole different ballgame.

I first chose not to take any pictures of this part of the story, but one of the qualities we love so much about Abby is her deep compassion for those who are hurting. So I decided to grab these two quick shots to capture that precious part of her heart (not because of my photographic OCDness!)

My heart was just breaking for her, so I told her something that, at the time, I thought was true. Now that I think about it, though, I might have made this up.

I told her not to worry one bit about Jumper's would just grow right back. Hey, if lizards can do it with their tails, surely grasshoppers can do it with their legs.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm Sure There Was An Audible Click

We've officially been homeschooling now for right at a month. While some of it has been a breeze (Abby could practically teach math herself), other parts of it have required a bit more diligent effort. We had that first hurdle of the denial of N's existence in the alphabet, but most everything else has just been the daily work of learning completely new academic skills.

Take reading and phonics, for example. We've been playing around with letters and their sounds for a while now, but this is the first formal teaching Abby's ever had in the subject. She's been working hard, but the progress has been a bit slow going. Then last week, she started to get how the letters and their sounds work together to actually form words, and she was able to sound out simple three-letter words such as cat, hid, dot, and hug.

Then today, something just clicked. She would stare at her book for a few moments, and you could hear her slowly, methodically sounding out the words in front of her...

...and then poof! She could carefully, but accurately, read short sentences!!!

Granted, the sentences are something like "A cat sat on the log" or "Meg had mud in the milk" (which is my personal favorite...couldn't we choose something that actually makes sense?), but she was reading nonetheless and was obviously thrilled with her new skill!

Of course, we immediately grabbed the phone to call Josh...

...who hooted and hollered as loudly as he could without alerting his whole office to the fact that Abby could now read a whole sentence. Then he sent her a little note over e-mail (this is a running joke with our family and Josh's side of the family)...

Oh, what a joy to have this time with my daughter. I love homeschool!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

What? You've Never Heard of a Car Picnic?

If you live anywhere in the southeast, you're probably aware of the fact that it's rained a good bit lately. In fact, I'm pretty sure it's rained for right at a straight month. We love going to the park, the zoo, the gardens, and lots of other places that are under a foot of standing water right about now, so to avoid the cabin fever I could see slowly creeping upon us, we tried something new today.

I called Josh and asked if he could meet us at McDonald's in 15 minutes for lunch. Now anyone who knows me knows that I would rather drop my children off to spend the day in a landfill than take them into the McDonald's PlayPlace during flu season (which is in full swing in our area!), but we were all looking for something fun and inexpensive to do on this soaking wet day.

So what could possibly be that exciting at McDonald's? Why, a car picnic, of course!

I backed the car into a corner spot near a nice little patch of trees while Josh went inside to raid the $1 Menu of Wholesome Goodness. And with the exception of the dumpster, the light post, Walgreens, and the Pile of Unknown under the tarp, the view was quite nice...

When we were finished eating, we all enjoyed just sitting and chatting under the shelter of the open trunk while listening to the rain.

Then while Josh ran back in to get a refill (one of the perks of picnicking at the restaurant), the kids and I had an impromptu science lesson. Jack and Abby were pulling leaves off of the tree that was drooping into the van, and she asked what the "little lines" were on the back of each leaf. Well, my dear, let me teach you...

Izzy wasn't nearly as interested in root systems or photosynthesis as she was in making us all laugh with her adorably goofy "cheese" face...

But after a round of hugs and kisses, it was time for Josh to go back to work...

And after a couple of parting shots, it was time for us to head out as well.

Oh, and Bethany, I know you were quite concerned (and morbidly amused) about Izzy's rough day yesterday. I don't know if this is considered good news or bad news, so I'll give it to you both ways:

"Oh Bethany, poor Izzy dropped a book on her own face today and made her nose bleed. Again."


"Guess what, Bethany -- Izzy only bled one time the whole day today!!"

It's glass half-empty or glass half-full, I guess. Regardless, Josh prayed specifically for protection for little Isabel tonight. She's clearly in need of some sort of help!!