Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Tricks and Treats

We had a rockin time trick or treating, despite the cold weather and the crazy wind.  It started out slowly at 4:00 with very few porch lights on (I think most people were still at work), so we took advantage and visited the grandmas who were all too happy to give out some candy to their cute grandkids.  
Before you know it porch lights were on all over town and the Halloween pails were getting heavy.  Grace decided she'd had enough around 5:45 so daddy took Grace and Molly home while the boys and I stuck it out until the very last minute at 7:00.

The boys' buckets were so full that we had to pass up most of the houses on the last half mile home.  They were such troopers and so enthusiastic with their "trick or treat"s and so very polite with their "thank you"s.  I was a happy mama.

The last few blocks before our house were pitch black without any street lights and I pointed out The Big Dipper and the North Star.  The boys oohed and aahed and complained very little about their sore feet and heavy buckets.

Dinner was had, candy was eaten, showers were taken, and kids were tucked into bed.
Now Todd and I are kicking our feet up enjoying some Chinese Food and cocktails, watching Survivor.   Later I'm raiding some candy.

Man, I love Halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Even all the way over here in the midwest we are feeling hurricane Sandy's wrath.  The winds have been blowing, seemingly bending trees in half, and kicking up 20 foot waves on Lake Michigan.  The wind is smashing against the house and even from inside I can hear the waves roaring from below the cliffs.  It is a wicked one out there today.

Nothing like what those on the east coast are experiencing, of course.  I was glued to the tv, watching it all unfold.  I think what struck me most was how overwhelmed the shelters were with homeless children who don't have parents.  Kids who live out on the streets had no where to go.  Truckloads of children were shipped into the shelters.  Some of the kids even had their own kids.  Homeless kids with kids.  I want to adopt them all.

But here I sit in my warm, safe house with my own children playing LEGOS behind me. Lucky is the word that keeps running through my head.  Lucky, and unfair.

Instead of trying to figure out where we will live, or how we will stay warm, I am wondering what faces to carve on the pumpkins, and what costumes will be worn tomorrow to combat the cold and wind.


So we make each day count.  We don't take each other for granted.  We hug our kids a little tighter.  We pray for all of those affected by tragedies and those who have such hard lives.  We pray that we are able to be there for those that need us.
We enjoy each day because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Friday, October 26, 2012

For The Birds

Yesterday the weather was glorious.  The kids played outside all morning until the rain called them inside late afternoon.  

As the kids played I sat on my patio and watched the birds come to the feeders, checking to see what was left.  

It reminded me that I still haven't shown you all the bird photos I'd captured this summer. Once I began taking note of how many different birds were coming to my feeder I was shocked to see all the different varieties we have right in our own back yard.  It reminded me that sometimes I need to stop, slow down, and look around once in a while. 

Without further ado, these are my birds:

One of the first birds I notice in spring is the mourning dove.  Their coo in the morning is such a comforting sound.  They are always in pairs, so it is a surprise that I got this one alone.  My boys love these guys and call them balloon heads.
A pretty male cardinal picks up the seeds underneath the bird feeder.
A female cardinal eats above her mate and next to a house sparrow on the other side of the feeder.
After a few weeks of careful observation I FINALLY got my shot of the beautiful oriole in our yard.  This guy is so quick and skiddish that it was near impossible to get him.  He was gorgeous.
Two colorful birds eating side by side, one red house finch, one indigo bunting.  It isn't the best quality picture but I liked the two colors together.
Here is a better shot of the female bunting.
Of course we have many robins in our yard.  We even got to keep a close eye on a mama (and very protective papa) bird and her nest of babies this summer.  When it got really hot mama would come over and cool herself off for a while.  I don't think you can watch a bird taking a bath without a smile crossing your face.
This is just a simple chipping sparrow, but I liked this picture because of how well the little guy blended right into the seeds and woodchips.
A white crowned sparrow.  One of the MANY varieties of sparrows we have.
Daddy robin eyeing me to make sure I don't get too close to mama and the babies.  If I would go anywhere near their tree he would dive bomb me.   Good daddy.
This is a crazy story.  Immediately after I snapped the photo of this awesome rose breasted grossbeak he flew up, headed straight for Ben and I at the patio doors, and SMACKED into the patio door glass right in front of my face.  Ben and I screamed!  I was so worried he was going to be hurt, but he just flew away.  Whew!
Another little common house sparrow.  I just thought he looked so cute all puffed up on the birdbath like that. 
A red-winged blackbird.  They were everywhere in our backyard, but for some reason I don't have a great picture of any of them.
I think chickadees are my all-time favorite bird.  I love them.  They aren't the most colorful, but they are gutsy and friendly and so stinking tiny and cute.
A beautiful goldfinch.  These are another favorite, and we have a ton of them.
The sassy blue jay.  I was shocked when I looked out my window and saw 9 blue jays hanging around my birdfeeder one day.  The other birds were not happy.   I couldn't believe how BIG blue jays are.  Wow.  Pretty bird, too.
This is a female red-winged blackbird.  No fancy colors, but I still think she is pretty.
This guy is one of the boys' favorites.  This is a downy woodpecker, and he loves our suet.
This is the female downy woodpecker.  She looks much like her male counterpart, but does not have the red patch on her head.
A little house sparrow sunning himself on our rock.  Cutie.
When I walked up to look out our window one morning I nearly passed out when I caught this bright, almost neon blue, out of the corner of my eye.  I didn't even know what it was or that we had such colorful birds as this in Wisconsin.  I looked it up in my bird book.  Apparently they are pretty common.  This is a male indigo bunting.
 Another beautiful male goldfinch.
Another little house sparrow.  This one has a seed in his mouth.
This is a young female cardinal.  I like this shot because you can see her crest so clearly.
This is a pretty little junco.  I love this bird just for the solid color.  Although when he flies away he has white that flashes from underneath somewhere.  I don't think this photo captures it that well but he is a very pretty grayish blue.
Here are three of the sassy blue jays conspiring together.  They are so beautiful.
I actually had to update this post because I finally got a picture of a pretty little red-breasted nuthatch.  These guys are hard to capture because they are very fast and don't sit still for long.
Usually I can get a few good shots of a hummingbird, but I was out of luck this summer.  This is one of the only shots I got of a female ruby-throated hummingbird.  She is taking a very rare break and not flying in this shot.
This is a far away shot, but I took it for my bird-loving Joey (who had to help me name all these bird photos for you).  His favorite bird is a cedar waxwing and when he spotted this guy WAY up in the tree he made me grab my camera.
Another updated photo for you.  When I was looking through my photos I found another picture of a cedar waxwing that was taken at the Manitowoc zoo and it is nice and close so you can see his beautiful markings.
And I'll leave you with another of my favorite.  Mr. Chickadee.
Okay, fine.  And another one.  Just because he looks so cute and fluffy.

There you have it, folks.  I didn't take any pictures of all the crows or seagulls around here because I hold grudges.  They always tear our neighbors' garbage open and make a mess out of the street so I am refusing to post their pictures.  I also didn't take pics of all the different sparrows and finches (I think it would have been impossible) because they are all so common.  Though I wish I would have gotten a pic of an ovenbird.  They are so pretty.

Hope you enjoyed a little bit of summer from our yard.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012


One week until Halloween and the kids are at an all time high excitement level.  There is no school today and tomorrow and last night was the annual Halloween party at school. The kids rushed home from school, threw their costumes on, and then sat around for three hours waiting for the big party to start.  

I can't say I blame them.  Who doesn't love Halloween, dressing up, and parties?  I think I was just about as excited as they were.  
Finally, after much waiting and many pictures, it was time to go to the party.  It was nice to find out that we all had original costumes.  We were the only ghostbuster, scarecrow, angel, zorro, and ghost there.  Love when that happens.

It was a fabulous party.  There was a haunted house (put on very well {scary} by the 8th graders), games, crafts, good food, and dancing. The kids had a blast and I had a ton of fun watching them.

We ate pizza together, except for Joe who is now old enough to want to eat with his friends, and then the kids ran out their energy for the next three hours.  Even Sister Betty (the principal) dressed up and was having fun dancing and going through the haunted house.
It was a successful night and a great practice run for our costumes before we head out trick or treating next week.  I think I may be a witch instead of a scarecrow next week, but I won't be scary like last year.  I may or may not have given the kids nightmares.  Oops.

Are you as excited for Halloween as we are?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012


I can be a nag, nag, nag, nag, nag.  And I am moody and harpy sometimes too.  These are the hardcore facts, and it is not even surprising.  What is surprising is that I have a whole handful of lovely people who love me anyway.

I have a husband who wakes up extra early so he can arrange my favorite color roses (peach) for a faux anniversary of ours, on a made-up holiday, before he takes the boys up north with him at the crack of dawn.

I have a little girl that doesn't mind missing a quick trip up north (though it is one of her very favorite places on earth) for the simple fact that she wants to be with her mama. Apparently I am her most favorite thing in the world and she is thrilled to be doing whatever I have planned as long as we are together.

I have three little boys who, no matter how much I nag and scold them the entire previous week, still come home from one short little overnight trip up north and tell me how much they missed me.  How up north is even better when I'm there.  How he kept saying, "hey mom!" and when he realized I wasn't there felt like, "aww." They wanted to talk to me. They wanted my hugs.  No matter how grouchy I had been they still wanted me there.

How did I get to be this lucky?  What on earth have I done to deserve this?  I just don't know.  But I do know that I will try my best to be my best for them everyday.  And sometimes I will fail.  But they'll love me anyway.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Sometimes I just really feel like I stink at this.  

Sometimes I just wish I were the type of mom that didn't mind cleaning up the boys' disgusting messes in the bathroom for the hundredth time in a week.  I wish I was the type of mom that didn't freak out when my kids came home with yet another hole in a brand new pair of pants.  I wish I could shrug it off when my son, once again, forgets to bring home an important part of his homework.  I wish I was the type of mom that can remind my kids to do something a million times a day and then doesn't freak out when it still isn't done.  I wish I was the kind of mom that can just brush off one more lost jacket, broken zipper, ruined backpack.  I wish I was a patient enough mom to ease my child back onto his chair after he makes yet another excuse, another distraction, not to do his homework as the 20 minute assignment drags on for an hour.  I wish I could handle my kids yelling, wrestling, fighting, hysterical laughter, craziness, forgetfulness, and not listening first thing in the morning and get them ready for school (prepared and with everything they need) in a timely manner without having to yell and rush.

Apparently, I'm just not that kind of mom.  Not this week anyway.  I feel like I have been yelling and scolding and begging and pleading and chastising all week.  It has been a long week.  And I feel like a crappy, impatient, cantankerous mom.

There is only one thing to do when these types of weeks happen.

Cookies.  And lots of them.  At least Gracie had fun.  I had less fun as I was waiting for a serviceman to come the entire time and he never showed.  Now I am ornery mom again.  But at least I have cookies.

Maybe if I eat them all at once I'll feel better.
If Gracie doesn't eat them all first, that is.

Here's hoping for a cheerier, calmer, and yummier weekend.

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Words To Live By

Be grateful for each new day.
A new day that you have never lived before.
Twenty-four new, fresh, unexplored hours to use usefully and profitably.
We can squander, neglect, or use them.
Life will be richer or poorer by the way we use today.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could;
some blunders and absurdities crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day.
You shall begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be
encumbered with your old nonsense.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson