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Monthly Archives: September 2013

Daddy, Can We See the Moon?

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I had no idea that the moon would become such an exciting part of my girl’s childhood.  They both have always been excited to see the moon, but recently, it has become a nightly tradition to go outside just before bed to look at the moon.  The stars are part of this as well, but it’s really more about the moon.

It is really sweet to see the girl’s laying on the front lawn with their Daddy talking about the moon.  I love the magic that exists in this experience for them.  And even though I know they will likely not stay this fascinated with the moon, I hope they never lose the ability to get that type of joy out of some of the simple things in life that most of us overlook or take for granted.

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Wanted: Photographer

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Those who know me, know that I love my camera.  I love photography.  (I can thank one of my college roommates for this one.)  I love taking pictures and I do so just about daily.  I even had a brief stint as a wedding photographer once upon a time.  (Very brief… I didn’t really enjoy that kind of pressure on my amateur equipment and skill level.)

However, I do love doing mini, low pressure photo shoots.  I subject my own kids to them often and have given this service as a gift to friends over the years.  I enjoy the challenge and I enjoy the art.

I also feel like the majority of people do not have the spare finances to pay for most of the expensive photography sessions.  And I am not knocking those… you get what you pay for in professional experience and editing.  But, it’s not something most people can afford to do on a regular basis.  I should know… our most recent family photo is from when Meredith turned one and I splurged.

So here is my proposal.  I am offering low maintenance, low cost photography to anyone who may be interested.  (Obviously you have to be local.)  I figure with the holidays coming up, it might be good timing for those wanting Christmas card pictures.  My thought was $25-$50 per session depending on time spent and what your specific needs are.

But, before you take me up on this offer you should know the following.

What I am:

I do have a BS in Fine Arts, my concentration was photography.

Decent camera skills.

A creative eye for composition.

Basic editing.

Emailed or disk of photos to do with what you please.

What I am not:

A Photoshop expert.  When I got my degree it was still down and dirty darkroom photography.

A professional.  This is not my career, it’s my hobby.

What follows are some pictures I have taken over the years.

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If interested, feel free to message me on Facebook or comment here.

Glimpses of Fall

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We are in that transition time, where summer is starting to fade and there are little glimpses of the new season coming our way.

Fall is my favorite time of year, so these little teases… the cooler days that will slowly become more frequent, the beginning color changes in the leaves… these things make me happy.

This morning, Meredith and I went to a local park and we found this tree, with one beautiful red branch.

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It was actually a fairly warm, muggy morning, but this tree was waving it’s brilliant red arm in defiance, promising more Fall beauty to come.

I love Fall because of the weather, the colors, the excuse to get cozy in jeans and sweatshirts.  I love Fall because of the feeling I get inside.  I get a feeling of promise and new beginnings… something I think most people associate with Spring.  I also love the activities that come with Fall.  Apple picking, pumpkin patches, trick or treating, hiking, Oktoberfest, hot cider drinking, corn mazes, hay rides, soup and chili cooking and simmering on the stove.  Most people love being outside in the summer, but I love being outside in the Fall.  I love being slightly chilly, when the air smells crisp.  It’s good for my soul.

I am looking forward to enjoying more Fall days with this little cutie and her sister.

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Cream of Potato Soup

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I have tried many different recipes for potato soup over the years and have not been incredibly impressed with any of them.  Until I found this one.  It’s easy and has good flavor.  It’s also really easy to make it semi-vegetarian for myself, while Dave can still eat it with the bacon.

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This recipe was not originally mine, but I have added some additions (and subtractions) so what follows is my adapted version.

Ingredients

6 slices of bacon, diced

1 onion, chopped

1 Tb all-purpose flour

6 cups chicken broth

6 potatoes, thinly sliced

½ cup instant potato flakes

1 cup half and half

Directions

  1. Saute bacon and onions in a medium sauté pan, set aside.  (I cook the bacon separately and then sauté onions in same pan once drained of grease.  This gives the soup some bacon flavor without the bacon.)
  2. Over low heat, in a medium sauce pan, cook flour in 1 Tb melted butter until pasty, slowly add chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in onions and bacon (I leave the bacon out and make my husband add it to his own servings later on.), stir in potatoes and instant potatoes.
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender, then blend in half and half.
  5. Top with shredded cheese and scallions.

Home Improvement

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It seemed like it took forever for us to find our current home.  My husband wanted something we could put some work into and get some equity out of as a result.  I wanted something that we could move into, which wouldn’t be a complete nightmare with two small children.  He wanted location.  I wanted more space.  We both wanted a garage and a fenced in yard.  I also wanted an upstairs laundry room.  I didn’t get that last one.  I’ll live.

Our house is not perfect and we compromised on some things to get others.  But, in the end, while it is not our “dream home”, I think we got pretty lucky.

It was a foreclosure, so obviously in need of some TLC.  This included all new windows (ouch) and some minor roof repairs from where a squirrel had made himself at home.  The bare bones were good though and someone had already put some work into trying to fix it up a bit, so it fit my criteria of being livable.

This process has been a mixture of fun, satisfaction, stress and frustration.  We have learned a lot.

Home renovations are 100% more difficult and take 100% longer with children underfoot, especially small children.  It is hard to get the large chunk of time needed to get the big projects crossed off the to-do list.  We basically ended up taking turns.  Dave would go to the house one day, I would go the next.  And once we moved in, I would pick a day to lock myself in a room to paint and he would do the same with outside projects.  But, the girls were pretty good considering, and Meredith has developed quite the love of tools.  She even sleeps with them sometimes.

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You have to be prepared to make sacrifices.  I got up early on Christmas Eve to go paint the upstairs hallway because the carpet was set to be installed the day after Christmas and it just made sense to get the upstairs painting done while the floors were still plywood.

Fixing one thing will inevitably make you realize that you have to fix something else.

Don’t forget the outside.  Landscaping is more daunting to me than inside stuff.  And it’s just as expensive.  We are still slowly addressing the outside.  Since it was a foreclosure, the yard was neglected for quite some time.

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Be prepared for unexpected things to pop up.  Days after we closed on the house, there was a wind storm and one of the giant branches from a tree in the backyard fell onto our neighbors fence.  This was not how I wanted to meet the neighbors.  They were very nice about it and even said they would take responsibility for fixing it, but it was our tree at that point, so we just threw it on the house to-do list.

It takes time.  Even the things you think will be “easy”, aren’t.  It took months to finally get the right drawers shipped to us for the kitchen island we ordered and were installing ourselves.

You are capable of way more than you give yourself credit for.  I actually don’t mind painting walls, and have developed a pretty decent system for it.  Dave (while SLOW) is actually pretty handy and the fence gate he built from scratch, having never done it before, is impressive.  I am now very capable of using a stud finder, drill and laying laminate flooring.  Dave can hook up lights (though we did hire an electrician to run wires) and now adept at using a chain saw and wood chipper (see landscaping project comment above).

It’s worth it.

Some of the more impressive before and after shots.

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I don’t think home improvement is ever finished… but we have accomplished a lot.  I am pretty proud of us.

Rediscovering Meredith

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Let’s talk about Meredith.

Meredith was born during one of the rainiest Spring seasons I can remember, but she was such a ray of sunshine.  As a newborn, she was calm and easy.  She didn’t sleep well at night but otherwise, she was such a great baby.  She ate well, was easy to take places and adored her older sister and her Daddy.  She has always been a Daddy’s girl.

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Meredith has grown to be sweet and sassy, stubborn and loud.  She is cuddly and smart, rough and tumble.  I am not sure when her calm demeanor left her, but she roared into her toddler years with a vengeance.  She has spent a lot of her toddler life in “time out” and there is very little that is delicate about her now.  She is not lacking in personality… at all.

Since Nora has started preschool, I feel like I have been given a gift.  I am getting to know my youngest in a much different way.  Experiencing Meredith without the competition and sibling rivalry is amazing.  I have always known that she is insightful and perceptive.  I have always known that she takes intense joy in the world around her as she does nothing and feels nothing without a ton of energy and passion behind it.  I have always known that she is affectionate and gives the absolute best full on bear hugs on the planet.  I know that she is funny and spunky and adventurous.  I know Meredith.

But, the reality is that without the one on one time, I haven’t been able to fully appreciate it.  In our mornings together we are able to play, read and have conversations with each other.  We enjoy each other.  I am treasuring this time with my youngest and feel guilty that I haven’t given her this type of attention before now.  That I didn’t realize this was something we both needed.

Recently, we enrolled Meredith in gymnastics.

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She loves it.  She talks about it all week and calls it her “school” or her “nastics”.  I love watching her in her class and experiencing this new adventure with her.

I am incredibly grateful for both of my children, but I am so glad I am getting to know and spend time with my youngest right now.  She is still my little ray of sunshine.

Love This Family

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Sharing a friend’s blog post today because I can relate to it so well and it made me smile.  Her little munchkins are pretty close in age to my two rugrats and I love watching them grow up almost as much as my own children.  These little guys (and their Momma) will always have a special place in my heart reserved just for them.

http://carpewhatever.blogspot.com/2013/09/that-happened-fast.html