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Monday, August 18, 2014

Our 33rd Week ~ 2014

This is going to be quick.  I have LOADS of editing to do.  Especially after having my computer go flaky on me Sunday morning.  I was able to have a friend fix it and I am back in business, but not having it for almost two whole days has put me even further behind than I already was.  :)  I have to admit that I am looking forward to the kids going back to school soon.  That way I won't have so many interruptions and distractions throughout the day.

Just a reminder - I am still participating in Fat Mum Slim's photo a day challenge.  I really enjoy having a prompt every day to try to interpret.  Here are last week's photos ...

{August 10: Art}
August 10: Art
The best art is made by the Creator's hands, not human hands.
I got to stop and visit my love, Slick, this evening. (Our neighbor's baby horse.) He's getting so big. He even came up to see me and let me feed and pet him, which absolutely made my day. He still has a blaze in the shape of an F on his face. All natural artwork.

{August 11: Mirror}
August 11: Mirror
When I was cleaning out one of my containers of Monarch caterpillars and giving them fresh food, I found these two snuggled up together on a stem. Looking like a mirror image.  (I think I shared this one before - maybe for Scavenger Hunt Sunday - but it fit this prompt and I hadn't shared it there yet).  :)

{August 12: Gather}
August 12: Gather
Had to head out today to gather some leaves for my hungry caterpillars. These big guys can really eat! 
We released two more butterflies today - both males. Still have LOTS of caterpillars, as you can see. Believe it or not, this is just a small sampling.

{August 13: Inside}
August 13: Inside
I love seeing the butterfly inside its chrysalis just before it emerges. Today we had two beauties joining us. Happy day!
Did you know that the chrysalides are actually clear and what you see is the caterpillar (then butterfly) inside? There have always been questions about the gold dots on the chrysalides. While they are still a mystery, I can tell you that they remain there after the butterflies emerge.

{August 14: Give}
August 14: Give
My friend, Reva, who also happens to be a relative, shared a photo of a ducky night light on her page last week. I instantly fell in love (yes, I am 5 years old :) ) and asked her if she would buy one for me and I would gladly pay her back. Instead she graciously offered to give one to me. It arrived yesterday from sunny Florida. Isn't it the cutest?  :)

{August 15: Clouds}
August 15: Clouds
Saw these lovely clouds the other evening while walking around our neighbor's property.

{August 16: Clean}
August 16: Clean
I was totally drawing a blank on this one until I stopped to fill the car up with gas and saw the car wash. So this is my $4 photo for the photo-a-day prompt. Hey, my car needed cleaned anyway.  :)

Linking with Tamar:

Have a great week!  I will be editing my eyeballs out!  And prepping for another wedding on Saturday!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Our 31st & 32nd Weeks ~ 2014

Brace yourself for two weeks worth of photos since I totally missed last week.  We had such a fun and busy week that blogging just didn't happen.  :)  

Still participating in Fat Mum Slim's photo a day challenge ... and thoroughly enjoying it!  For July I challenged myself to not only photograph something for the prompt, but I included at least one family member in each of my photos.  Even if it was just fingers or toes.  For August I'm back to just interpreting the prompt.

{July 27 - Ten}
July 27: Ten
Ten Monarch chrysalides ready to be moved to a different enclosure. I had too many containers taking up too much space on my counter, so Keira helped me get these ones moved to a cage that Doug helped me make. They are now hanging from a branch inside the cage. Can't wait for butterflies! 

{July 28 - Cool}
July 28: Cool
July 28 Photo a Day: Cool. I think it is really cool that we are raising Monarchs again this summer. I also think it is cool that I found this big guy this morning along with 4 eggs.

{July 29 - Repeat}
July 29: Repeat
July 29 Photo a Day: Repeat. Lather ... rinse ... repeat if necessary. Does anyone actually repeat?  :)

{July 30 - Lost}
July 30: Lost
July 30 Photo a Day: Lost. We may have lost a caterpillar, but we gained a butterfly. (Yeah, it is a stretch, but I needed to show off the beautiful lady that joined us today! We kept her overnight due to chilly temps and torrential downpours.)

{July 31 - Rise}
July 31: Rise
July 31 Photo a Day: Rise.

A butterfly hovers closely
And then quickly moves away,
Swiftly going wheresoever
Her heart may freely say.

A butterfly lowers and *rises*
With the wind’s gusty breath,
As if coupled within a dance
Of a loving tenderness.

The butterfly only knows
How it feels to have wings,
To kiss the petals of flowers
In such elegant flitterings.

To have but one moment
Of such an exquisite flight,
Would be like a dream
Where all seems so right.
{Author Unknown}

We set our first girl free this morning. She sat on my finger for a few minutes, taking it all in, pondering what to do. We walked up to the garden in our back yard where she took flight and I cheered her on with tears in my eyes. This is always the hardest part about raising Monarchs - letting them go to live their lives. But I thought - how cool it would be if I am able to raise some of her babies? I'll never know, of course, but still.  :)

And that concludes the month of July.

{August 1 - Landscape}
August 1: Landscape
The view I see when I walk out my front door in the evenings. I just love our neighbors' mulberry tree. I think it has so much character.

{August 2 - Lunch}
August 2: Lunch
Monarch caterpillars eat milkweed for lunch ... and breakfast ... and dinner.  :)

{August 3 - "S" is for ... }
August 3: "S" is for
"S" is for ... sharing. This swallowtail butterfly and these bees seemed to be sharing this milk thistle pretty well.

{August 4 - In the middle}
August 4: In the middle
In the middle of these Monarch butterflies is a gorgeous female. 

{August 5 - Pile}
August 5: Pile
We decided to pile in the car and spend the day at Idlewild. We had a blast! We took a pile of "ride selfies" with Doug's little pocket camera. This one of myself and Nick on the Tilt-a-Whirl (one of the few rides he will ride) was among them.

{August 6 - Grateful for}
August 6: Grateful for
I am grateful for many things. My savior Jesus, my family, my friends, my health, etc. But as far as what I have taken pictures of today :) I am thankful for this handsome fellow. He is one of five Monarch butterflies I was able to release today. Four males and one female. Today's count: 18 butterflies, 18 in chrysalis, 102 caterpillars in various stages, and 9 eggs. What a summer!

{August 7 - Spot}
August 7: Spot
Monarch butterflies have many spots on their bodies. Which is interesting to me since the caterpillar is striped.

{August 8 - Pet peeve}
August 8: Pet peeve
While Pennsylvania has many strengths - rolling hills, beautiful farms, the opportunity to enjoy all four seasons (sometimes all in one week :) ) - it is a pet peeve of mine that it is difficult to find a good spot to take silhouette photos. We are surrounded by trees and almost always the trees end up as part of the silhouette. Even when laying on the ground with the camera.   (This photo was actually take on Thursday at the small family wedding I had the honor of photographing.)

{August 9 - Mix}
August 9: Mix
Such a mix of emotions on your wedding day. Excitement, anxiety, anticipation, nervousness. Even with all that, this bride handled everything so well. She was such a pleasure to work with. I wish her and her new husband all the best!  (From Saturday's wedding.  It was a long, tiring day but we had a blast!)

Just a quick recap of the last two weeks (more for me than for you :)) ...
Hung out with an artist friend and learned some graphic design
Shopped with another friend
Visited a new-to-us state park about an hour's drive away with the kids.  We plan to go back when we have more time.
Went to a play with Keira - A Midsummer Night's Dream.  It was an outside, moving play where we had to move from location to location to watch each act.  LOVED IT!  My friend, Rainey, was part of the production.  We honestly didn't understand most of it but we got the basic concept of the story.  And it was funny!  I really hope that production group does more of that type of play!
Had a family date to our local semi-pro baseball team's game.  They lost but it was still a lot of fun.  Wishing we had gone sooner in the season, because we are already talking about going next year.  Several times.
Spent the day at Idlewild.  FUN!
Had another family date at our local farm show.  (So much family togetherness this week!)
Then started my busy photography schedule - which is why we crammed in so much fun earlier in the week.  
Thursday - wedding at a local lake.
Friday - 50th anniversary party for a wonderful couple.
Saturday - wedding at a park; reception at a banquet hall.  Long, tiring but fun day!

If you made it this far, kudos to you!  Thanks for stopping by!  Have a great week!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday 08.10.14

I realize it is actually Monday (my time) when I am posting this.  Things have been a bit busy around here.  Good, but busy.  I won't bore you with all the details because I will be sharing photos of all the busyness soon, so let's get right to the Scavenger Hunt photos.

{bathroom selfie}
bathroom selfie
I realize this isn't a "bathroom" selfie.  And technically my daughter took the photo, but this is all I have.  We went to Idlewild on Tuesday and took my husband's waterproof camera along so I didn't have to lug my DSLR.  We had fun taking "ride selfies".  This was taken on the Loggin' Toboggan.  Nick hates this ride so he sat out.  :)

{hop, skip, or jump}
hop skip or jump
One of my reasons for busyness ... This lovely family got married on Thursday evening at a local lake.  I had the honor of capturing their memories.  We had some fun taking family photos after the ceremony.  The three teens on the left belong to the bride and the two teens on the right belong to the groom.  Now they are one, big, happy family!

{creative angle}
creative angle
I photographed a 50th anniversary party on Friday evening for a wonderful couple.  They are becoming like family to me and I've only been around them twice.  :)  They are just so sweet and kind.  I couldn't resist photographing their cake in the mirror that was on the wall nearby.  The cake topper is the one that was on their original wedding cake 50 years ago.  How cool is that?!

{box or package}
box or package
Another from the anniversary party.  The couple's daughter-in-law made up these beautiful favor boxes for everyone to take home.  They were filled with minty chocolate chips and candy-coated almonds.  Mmmmmm.  :)

My best friend sent me an email with this quote in it, so I added it to an out-of-focus photo I took of my one hydrangea bloom.  I plan to print it as an 8x10 (or maybe bigger) and give it to her.  (Sure hope she doesn't see this before I do!)  :)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Scavenger Hunt Sunday 08.03.14

Time for another Scavenger Hunt!  We are up to our eyeballs in Monarchs this year!  If you've been following along at all here or on Facebook, then you would know that we are raising LOTS of butterflies this year.  At least we are hoping too.  We have released one butterfly so far and have many more Monarchs in various stages.  Anyway, much of my time this week was spent feeding them and cleaning their containers.  On Tuesday after I left a friend's house, I decided to do more searching (since I was without kids) and found LOADS of eggs and nine (I think) caterpillars.  I plan to do a blog post soon on our progress so keep an eye out for that.

Moving on to this week's finds ...

{two things}
two things
When I was giving these guys some fresh milkweed leaves to eat, I found that these two were hanging together on what once was a leaf.  Looks like a mirror image, doesn't it?

Honey is the only animal we have.  Unless you count the frog, two salamanders, 6 or so snails, giant millipede, and over a hundred Monarch caterpillars we are currently housing also.  :)

I write the Scavenger Hunt list down every week so I can remember the prompts.

This was a late-Saturday-night, I don't have a photo for "frozen" yet, photo.  Keira didn't complain though, because she got to eat ice cream.  :)

We are well beyond the age of naptimes in this house, unless you are Honey who sleeps 22 hours a day :) so Keira pretended to nap for me during our hike Saturday afternoon.

That's all I have for now!  Be sure to go visit Ashley for more great finds!  Have a wonderful week!

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!