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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Our 30th Week ~ 2014

We finished up Keira's third and last week of summer gym on Friday.  Yay!  She's happy to be able to sleep in once again.  Even if only for a little while since school starts back up in about a month.  And she has an early bird class, which means she starts at 7:20 every day.  Which also means I have to drive her.  Which means I have to get up early every day.  :/

Anyway, we had a family picnic at our home last Sunday, then a church picnic yesterday.  Both were fun!  The boys and I went swimming on Saturday and had a blast!  (Keira was babysitting for a friend).

We are also going strong with the Monarch raising.  As of today we have 21 in chrysalis, 18 caterpillars in various stages of growth, and 4 eggs.  I check for caterpillars or eggs every chance I get, which is why we have so many.  I even found 3 eggs on a tiny milkweed plant that was growing in my garden.  I had planted hundreds (thousands?) of seeds but didn't fare well with plants.  Of the 3 eggs, only one hatched.  But still, imagine how many more I will have next year when I have much more milkweed growing in my garden!  

Okay, so onto last week's photos.  Still playing along with the Photo a Day group on facebook.  And still loving it.  If you will remember, I challenged myself further to include at least one family member in my photos this month.  Even if it is just fingers or toes.  See if you can spot the person or body part.  :)

So without further ado, here they are ...

{July 20: Moment}
July 20: Moment
I wasn't there the moment our Monarch caterpillar formed its chrysalis, but I hope to be there the moment it emerges as a butterfly.

{July 21: Basic}
July 21: Basic
Spent some time teaching Alex the {basic}s of playing jacks. Including how to spin them like a top. He was impressed when learning of my hidden talent.  :)

{July 22: I wore this ...}
July 22: I wore this ...
I wore (and still wear every day) my Fitbit band. It keeps track of my fitness and gives me my "happy buzz" when I reach 10,000 steps in a day. It is very motivating!

{July 23: Macro}
July 23: Macro
I had promised a macro shot of our Monarch butterfly's chrysalis to the PAD group. The trick was getting a person in the shot to keep up with my personal challenge. So, I managed to get part of my finger in the shot - lower right corner.  :)

{July 24: Water}
July 24: Water
Even at 8 years old, he still loves to take bubble baths.

{July 25: Home}
WARNING! GROSS BUG ALERT!  Scroll on by if you need to.  I will understand.  :)
July 25: Home
This cicada decided to make his temporary home on our pine tree. The boys discovered him shedding his skin/shell this afternoon. I'm not a fan of cicadas but I have to admit this is cool and gross at the same time.

{July 26: Fun}
July 26: Fun
This is not a photo you will see often - me in a swimsuit.  :) But the boys and I went to the pool this afternoon to swim. I don't normally swim with them but I did today. And I'm so glad I did. We had a blast! (Nick took this photo of my with my husband's little waterproof Fuji camera).

If you missed Sunday's Scavenger Hunt post and want to see a few more pics from last week, head over and take a peek.  Here's the link ... Scavenger Hunt Sunday 07/27/14.

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week!

Linking with Tamar.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday 07.27.14

Hello!  It's time for another Scavenger Hunt Sunday!  We had a beautiful week here.  Lots of sunshine and comfortable temps.  And finished the week out with a thunderstorm or two Saturday night.  Just about perfect.

I didn't play along with the hunt last week, but I managed to get all the prompts this week.  Kind of.  Almost.  Well, you'll see.  :)

Nick can't open his eyes under water without his goggles, which he forgot to take.  I love this picture anyway.  :)  (Taken with a Fuji FinePix XP60 waterproof camera - because someone will probably ask).  :)

{upside down}
upside down
When a Monarch caterpillar is getting ready to form its chrysalis, it hangs upside down in a J form for about a day.  We currently have 19 in chrysalis as I type this.  We also have 22 caterpillars and 2 eggs.  I love raising Monarchs!

{from behind}
from behind
I crept up behind this butterfly in order to get this shot.  And this is the only one he let me get before flying off.

Alex and I took our dog, Honey, for a walk on the bike trail.  When I saw the way the sunshine was hitting on this particular spot, I asked him if he would cooperate for a few photos.  As you can see, he did.  :)

Cup, frog, whatever.  :)

That's it from me.  Be sure to visit Ashley for more great Scavenger Hunt finds!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our 29th Week ~ 2014

Another fun week under our belts!  Another week of summer gym has passed.  One more week to go!  I met with the couple that hired me to photograph their wedding in August.  Super sweet!  I can't wait for the wedding!  I was supposed to have jury duty selection on Thursday and made all the arrangements for the kids - where they were going, what time everyone needed to be there, who was picking up Keira, etc. - but when I came home from running errands on Wednesday, there was a voice mail saying that they had no cases and I didn't need to report.  WOOT!  That was an answer to prayer.  The kids were laughing at me happy-dancing in the living room after I got that message.  :)

On Friday Doug and I took Alex to Altoona to a train museum then to a place called Horseshoe Curve.  Alex was in his glory.  Everything train related.  We ate lunch at Cracker Barrel since we don't have one near us and just had a really nice day.  Saturday it was raining and miserable which was okay because I spent the day at a friend's house crafting.  I am almost done with my 2012 Project Life scrapbook!  It was a great time!  I am looking forward to doing it again.

Before I get to last week's photos, I have a book giveaway going on right now.  The book is PERSECUTED - based on the movie that just got released on Friday.  No one has entered yet, so go check it out.  It was a great book and I can't wait to see the movie!

Now onto the pictures!  I am still participating in Fat Mum Slim's photo a day challenge and really enjoying it!  It is really making me think creatively, which is the push I need right now.

{July 13 - Look Up}
July 13: Look Up
Honey will only look up at the camera when persuaded by a treat. In this case, a juicy apple slice.

{July 14 - Old School}
July 14: Old school
Alex loves to play with my "old school" cameras.  He said, "I'm taking a picture of you taking a picture of me!"  :)

{July 15 - Torn}
July 15: Torn
Torn. About so many things. The biggest of which is how I spend my time. Time that is so fleeting. Time that I can never get back.
(I'm okay for anyone that might be concerned.  I don't normally do selfies, but I had this one in my head so I had to do it.)  :)

{July 16 - Listening to ...}
July 16: Listening to ...
If you get very quiet and listen closely, you can hear the sound of Monarch caterpillars munching on milkweed, their one and only food source.  In fact, I can hear my caterpillars munching right now as I put this post together.  :)

{July 17 - Sunshine}
July 17: Sunshine
What better thing to do on a sunshiney day than play in the sprinkler. And since no one else would cooperate with me for today's prompt, sweet Honeybuns did.  :)

{July 18 - Admire}
July 18: Admire
I admire Alex's loyalty toward his love for all things train related. He was in his glory today as we spent the day visiting two train museums in Altoona and Horseshoe Curve where we saw several trains passing by up close.

{July 19 - Curly}
July 19: Curly
Woke up this morning to find our biggest Monarch caterpillar in J form. They curl up like this for about a day before shedding their skin for the last time and forming their chrysalis. Won't be long before we have a butterfly!

And just a couple more random shots from the week ...

Common Milkweed
On the photo a day group on Facebook, someone asked to see what milkweed looks like.  This is the Common Milkweed that we have around here.  We have another kind also but I have never found an egg or caterpillar on it, so the Monarchs must like this kind best.  Milkweed is the only food source for Monarch caterpillars so it is important not to chop it down or use weed killers on it.  Let's help the Monarch butterfly population build back up, k?  Oh, and the flowers that bloom on milkweed smell heavenly!  No wonder butterflies, bees, and lots of other bugs like to hang out on milkweed!

Photobomber Bug
The kids and I went for a nature walk on Friday after we picked Keira up from summer gym.  I took lots of pictures but this is my favorite.  When I was getting set up to take a photo of this flower, this tiny little bug decided he needed to photobomb my shot.  I think I like it better with him in it. :)

Linking with Tamar.

Have a great week!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

PERSECUTED ~ Book Review & Giveaway

UPDATE:  The winner of the book is Sam.  Congratulations, Sam!  I'll make the necessary arrangements to get your book out to you.  Thank you!

I recently finished reading the book, PERSECUTED.  Wow!  Did I love this book?!

This is one of those books that you just don't want to put down!  It is based on the Daniel Lusko film by the same name that is being released in theaters on Friday, July 18.

Some information about the book and author ..

About The Book:
The Question Is Not IF Attempts Will Be Made to Limit Religious Freedoms, But When
And When That Day Comes, Will You Stay Silent?

The most popular evangelist of his day, John Luther, simply wants to share the Gospel and enjoy a quiet life with his family. He never asked to be at the center of a political controversy, but an ill wind has been blowing through the halls of Congress, and supporters of a new religious-equality bill see Luther's endorsement as critical. But when Luther refuses to lend his support, he unknowingly sets in motion an explosive plan bent on destroying his reputation and undermining everything for which he stands. His once-normal life is turned upside down as he becomes a fugitive left with only one dangerous option--putting everything he holds most dear at risk while he fights to expose the truth. It is a mission that brings him face-to-face with the coming storm of persecution that could threaten the very fabric of our nation's freedoms.

About The Author:
Robin Parrish is a journalist who's written about the intersection of faith and pop culture for more than a decade. He's also the author of Offworld and The Dominion Trilogy . Robin and his wife and children live in North Carolina. Visit Robin's website...www.robinparrish.com

Be sure to check out PERSECUTED the movie at a theater near you, July 18th!
Visit the official movie website: http://www.persecutedmovie.com

When I think about persecution, I think about other parts of the world.  Not here.  Not in the United States.  But persecution has many forms.  We are seeing it more and more, whether we like to admit it or not.  This book brings to light some forms of persecution right here in our nation.

Despite the heavy subject material this book is very easy to read.  And, as I said, hard to put down.  I highly recommend it!  And if you're not much of a reader (or even if you are), go see the movie!

Here's the fun part ... I get to give a copy of the book PERSECUTED away to one of my lucky readers!  Just comment on this post and let me know what the last movie was that you saw in the theaters.  Easy peasy!  Hmmm, thinking about what we last saw ... I think it was Monsters University.  It has been a while since we have been to the theater.  :)

Last day to comment is Thursday, July 24.  A winner will be chosen randomly and posted at the top of this post on Friday, July 25.  I will also email the winner if there is an email attached to their profile.  Or you can always leave it in the comments.  I promise no SPAM from me!  I don't have time for that!  :)

Finally, the fine print ...
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Thank you and good luck!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Our 28th Week ~ 2014

Another fun week has come and gone.  We started out the week with church (as always) and a birthday party at a good friend's house.  The boys had a blast launching water balloons with this sling shot thing they had.  Then Keira started summer gym on Monday.  For 3 weeks she has to attend since she doesn't have room in her schedule for gym once school starts in the fall.  Funny thing happened though ... Keira told me that summer gym was from 9AM-noon Monday through Friday, so I dropped her at 8:55 Monday morning and went on my merry way.  When I picked her up at noon, she told me she was actually supposed to be there at 8:00 and was an hour late!  Her teacher was easy on her though and isn't going to make her make up that hour that she missed.  So the rest of the week, we made sure she got there before 8:00.  :)  It was tough on both of us since we are both night owls and don't like to get up early.  Though I have to admit it is harder on her because she has four hours of gym class where I go exercise for 30-40 minutes and I'm done.  :)

On Monday my new camera body was finally delivered!
Nikon D610
I had ordered my new camera on June 30.  With Amazon Prime I get things in two days typically.  So when I checked the tracking on the package on Tuesday and it hadn't changed from the shipped status, I began to wonder.  All day Wednesday we stayed home because I had to sign for the package.  But the man in brown never came.  I was so disappointed.  Tracking still showed the same.  Thursday I got onto a chat with a customer service rep from Amazon only to find out that my camera got lost somewhere between Amazon and UPS.  She placed a new order for me and told me it would arrive on Monday, July 7 because of the holiday.  More disappointment.

The main problem was that I knew I couldn't stay home all day Monday and wait for the UPS man.  Keira had to be dropped off and picked up from summer gym.  So I prayed that the UPS man would come while I was home and he did!  I know that may seem like a silly, petty prayer, but God answered it.  I was able to sign for my package and try out my new baby!

Another funny story, on Thursday the UPS man pulled up our driveway, which puzzled me because I hadn't ordered anything.  He needed me to sign for a package, which he thought was odd also.  When he handed me the package, I knew exactly what it was - the lost camera!  I brought it inside and went immediately to Amazon to contact customer service.  My boys, in the meantime, decided to go ahead and open the box.  Grrr.  Not the camera box, but the shipping box.  After some checking and discussion it was decided that I needed to ship the camera back (well, duh!) and that they would reimburse me the amount I would pay.  So Friday I took the camera to the UPS store and shipped it back.  I just find it funny that it eventually turned up.

Anyway, as I still play along with Fat Mum Slim's Facebook photo a day challenge (remember I am challenging myself this month to include at least one family member in my photos), here are last week's photos ...

{July 6 - View}
July 6: View
This was my view of Alex playing on a caboose - now a tourist information center.  He loves trains so much and was in his glory!

{July 7 - First}
July 7: First
 I am super excited about tthis photo for a couple reasons. The photo is of Alex holding a milkweed leaf containing a teeny, tiny Monarch caterpillar. The first of hopefully many we will raise this summer. We hatched this one from an egg that I found on July 4th. When we got up this morning, it had hatched! The second reason I am so excited is because this is the first photo I took with my new Nikon D610 - my first full-frame DSLR. I was still trying to get it all set up at this point, but so far I love it!

{July 8 - I've never ...}
July 8: I've never ...
I've never been a fan of taking selfies.  I always look like such a dork.  :)

{July 9 - Alive}
July 9: Alive
Our new little Monarch caterpillar is alive and well!  Eating like crazy and cuter than ever!

{July 10 - Sharp}
July 10: Sharp
Sharp(ies) are fun to color with.

{July 11 - Gold}
July 11: Gold
Gold(en) hour is my favorite time of day to take photos.

{July 12 - Interior}
July 12: Interior
Alex was excited to see the interior of the mill at McConnells Mill State Park the other day. He was very curious about how everything works. However, he wasn't patient enough to listen to the tour guide who was teaching about the history of the mill.  :)

We also took Honey to the vet for her yearly checkup.  She is doing well.  I had a family photo session Thursday evening.  Will post that session soon.  Friday Keira and Nick both had sleepovers.  Since I couldn't get anyone to take Alex so Doug and I could have a date :), Alex and I snuggled up and watched a movie on Netflix.  Then on Saturday morning, Doug, Alex, and I went for a bike ride.  And Alex took me on a lunch date to Applebee's.  But somehow I ended up paying.  :)

Linking with Tamar.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday 07.13.14

Hello!  Welcome to another Scavenger Hunt Sunday post!  Not much to say today, so I'll get right to the photos ...

I had to dig into the recent archives for a sunglasses shot.  This is Nick sitting on our Virginia Beach condo's deck in the morning having his coffee.  Wearing his shades.  Looking super cool.  :)

Don't fireworks just scream summer?  We love watching them every chance we get.

I was outside checking this milkweed for caterpillars when I spotted this hummingbird moth.  Actually there were two, but I was only able to photograph one.  There were also about a million bees so I cut my search short.  I will look another day earlier in the morning before they are so active.

Monarch caterpillars are green(ish) when they first hatch.  Later they will develop their distinct yellow, white, and black stripes.

Yeah, so, I had nothing for this prompt, so you get to see the rainbow we spotted this week.  Rainbows are healing, right?  :)  I mean, I feel better when I see a rainbow.

Thanks for stopping by!  Be sure to visit our host, Ashley, for more great Scavenger Hunt finds!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our 27th Week ~ 2014

It is hard to believe the year is half over already!  We had a great end to June and beginning to July!  Relaxing and playing and learning and reading.  Of course there is always some whining and bickering and fighting thrown in for good measure.  We are only human, after all.  :)  But, I have to say, for the most part, the kids are getting along well this summer.

Continuing with Fat Mum Slim's Photo a Day challenge, here are my photos for last week ...

{June 29: Delight}
June 29: Delight
Obviously this was taken while on vacation.  I was having a hard time coming up with a "delight" photo and this verse kept coming to mind, so there ya go.  :)

{June 30: The end}
June 30: The end
Staring down the wrong end of the barrel.  :)  Nick was excited to help me with this prompt.  And, don't worry, all safety precautions were taken in the creation of this photo. Except for the whole pointing a gun at me thing.  :)

{July 1: Red + White}
July 1: Red & white
Keira doesn't usually wear red lipstick and she's not this pale (I lightened her up a bit in PSE) but she agreed to help me make this idea come to life.

Oh, and I have challenged myself further for July ... I am trying to include at least one family member in each prompt.  Even if it is just a finger or toe.  :)  Wish me luck!

{July 2: Something beginning with K}
July 2: Something beginning with K
King.  Too bad I don't know how to play chess.  :)  Doug does though, so this is something he does with the kids.

{July 3: Match}
July 3: Match
Or in this case {mis} match {ed}.  :)  (These are my feet, by the way).

{July 4: Stars}
July 4: Stars
Keira and I had fun with sparklers in the back yard.  And then we watched our neighbors set off fireworks.  They were LOUD!  :)

{July 5: On the table}
July 5: On the table
My cousin had this old typewriter that she wanted to find a home for.  I knew my kids would love it (and they do) so she dropped it off on Thursday.  It has been sitting on our dining room table ever since.  The kids are having a blast messing with it!

And just for fun, here are a few fireworks photos from the show we watched Saturday night.  A friend invited us to the home of the person who hosts the show every year, so we had front row seats.  It was cool!  (No electrical wires in the way this year).  :)
DSC_1088w   DSC_1106w

Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week!

Linking with Tamar.  
(can't grab the button today for some reason)  :/