POTD - St. Louis High Rise [Architectural Detail]

Taken during our Spring Break jaunt to St. Louis. We were in one of those horse drawn buggies, moving slowly down a street near the Arch and Loft district.

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123/365 - Erica's turn for a Haircut

Like me, Erica goes for long spells between haircuts - I think her last cut was in June 08. She doesn't fuss about her hair, but decided it was time to chop a good portion of it off. This time, I took her to the stylist who cuts my hair, Coco, who runs her own salon out of her home. I love how Coco cuts my hair, which still looks great after 4 months.

After some consultation, Erica decides to have 4 inches cut.

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But it feels so nice and light afterwards, with lots of swing.
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POTD - Garden Obelisk [Architectural Details]

My attempt at trying to find something "architectural" in the backyard.....I bought this pyramid shaped obelisk for the clematis to climb on, and it provides the garden with some structural interest. There is another metal bird on the very top point of the pyramid.
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122/365 - Lego Cave In

I can't seem to go to the Wal-Mart with Brian and emerge sans some new Lego toy. Today was no different - Brian and I went to the Wal-Mart while Erica was at riding lessons (she rode the new horse, Sammy, for the first time).

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Brian did pay for the Bionicle toy with his own money. And he spent the rest of the evening building the thing until Scott came home from his business dinner.

Do your kids obsess over any particular toys? Obviously, for me, my grown up toys include scrapbooking supplies, photography equipment and electronic gadgets. Erica loves books. Scott loves coins and golf equipment. I guess we all have our vices. So what's a few more plastic lego pieces?

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Speeding on Past

Today's rain and mist gave the prairie a dreamy feel. Out the passenger's side window, it all seems to be speeding by all too fast.

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I guess this would have been appropriate for the weekly theme on "motion".....

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121/365 - Poetry to my Ears

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A special event today at school - a poetry reading.

The culmination of their current literacy topic - poetry. I think it is wonderful the kids are covering this literary art form. Brian has been quoting poems these past several weeks and penned his own poem for today's reading.

Not the best picture, but Brian was quite theatrical during his reading:
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Best bud George read a poem about a kid feeling sick - until he realizes it's Saturday. A very "current events poem", with all of the hullabaloo around the Swine Flu.
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Brian and several of his classmates declare that "Poetry is Awesome":
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120/365 - Here Comes the Rain Again

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Scott brought out the patio table and chairs on Sunday - inviting us to enjoy the outdoors in comfort. Oh, maybe not today.


We seem to be in caught in this weekly weather pattern - cool, rainy Mondays and Tuesdays, clearing Wednesday and then dry and warm Thursday through Sunday. Really, not bad for the weekends, but a little bit feast / famine (either sopping wet or bone dry). So another typical Monday has passed - wet.

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119/365 - Hot and Windy

So it went from wet and cold to hot and windy just like that [snap fingers].
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Today's temperatures maxed at 85degF and I think the wind gusts today topped 40 mph. At the ball field, the wind whipped up the dirt and sand on the playing field, blasting us spectators full on. The one good thing - Brian's team won the game. The rest of us are still trying to get the sand out of our ears.
A nice end to the weekend.

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118/365 - Yard Work Results

I spent several hours re-edging the west side of the backyard landscaping. That's only about one quarter of the work I need to finish before getting mulch to spread on the beds. I also divided some of the irises and cleaned up the dead growth from last year.

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Looks like the next several Saturday mornings will be more of the same! Just glad the weather cooperated this weekend.

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117/365 - Possible Mommy and Daddy birds

These two might just be the mystery parents of the nest in our front door. If you haven't seen the pictures of the mysterious eggs, click here.

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117/365 - Birdspeak - Are You My Mommy? And a Mallard.

She was hanging out in the Dogwood, the closest tree to our front door where the nest filled with 6 eggs (3 blue, 3 brown speckled) sits. A Daddy bird was there, too.
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No peeks into the nest today.

The mallards are back, too. We call the males "Gary", after the mallard duck in "The Pacifier". And since we know a couple, Gary and Sharon, we call the females "Sharon". Yeah, we're weird. They like to swim in our pond and the other waterways in our neighborhood. I liked how the morning sun emphasized his green head and orange feet (somewhat covered by our grass)
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POTD - Run Me Over [Earth]

3rd base, before the start of tonight's game, freshly chalked.
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Even with a team effort, the Cyclones didn't win. We get to try it again on Sunday.

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POTD - Dandelion Field of Dreams [Earth]

Dandelions cover this empty lot in our subdivision. I think the lot is the LAST lot available in the development, but since it is sited along the major thoroughfare, and is irregularly shaped, it may stay empty for many more years.

The yellow flowers exploded in bloom yesterday and they caught my eye this afternoon driving home from work. Just a small, small sampling of this yellow "field of dreams":
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[yes, that is sarcasm - I really feel sorry for the folks living next to this empty lot. At least we are down the street, and I don't want to hear how a little dandelion seed can travel up to 4 miles]

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116/365 - Park Bound

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Erica and Mia head to the park this afternoon

We are fortunate to live close by our subdivision's park. During the development of the major subdivisions in our "city", the builders are required to donate a portion of the land to serve as green space.

Our park has several large play structures, a pavilion, benches and a basketball court. Of course, there is plenty of additional green space for Easter egg hunts, neighborhood wide picnics and summer concerts.

No surprise, the place was hopping with activity this afternoon, with the warm breeze blowing.

Yeah, I had another picture of the girls at the park, but the picture did not pass Erica's standards. Maybe tomorrow....

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115/365 - Baseball Practice

More baseball pictures. What a difference a day makes! Yesterday the rain came and ushered in the cold, damp-in-your-bones weather. But today, the skies cleared to make way for the afternoon sun.

Baseball practice tonight, at a different park. The change of venue was nice, although a little noisy (the park is sited along the Interstate - how did THAT happen?).

So Brian is "hanging tough", waiting for a pop fly or grounder to come to him.
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After practice, we headed to the Ice cream shop where Brian's school was running a fundraiser - 20% of the night's proceeds go to the school, and the teachers take turns mixing the ice cream together. As if we needed an excuse to go get ice cream!

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POTD - Sky, Moon and Venus

I read in the paper the other day that Venus would be visible this week, by the moon, in the morning. I was up early today and saw the crescent moon with a bright spot next to it. I did what any normal person at 6am does - I grabbed my camera and tripod and set it up in the cul-de-sac. Nobody was around to wonder what I was doing, (they were all sleeping!) so I didn't feel too conspicuous.

An excerpt, from Staerkel Planetarium's Sky Tonight:

An interesting event occurs on Wednesday morning. Arise before dawn and look eastward to see a waning crescent Moon very near Venus. As the Sun comes up, see if you can still see Venus with binoculars. Venus will pass behind the Moon at roughly 7:40 a.m.


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Not as dramatic as my Full moon shots, but I thought it was cool that I got to see it this morning.

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114/365 - POTD - Evening Sky

A cold, dreary day. Time to retreat back under the wool blankets. Today's baseball games were canceled due to the rain and wet fields. So I was exempt from working the Snack Shack in the cold. Even the kids just want to burrow on the couch and watch TV. We're watching the the Cubs play the Reds. Thinking about it makes me cold.

The evening sky as the clouds start to clear away:
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My orchids are starting to bloom again. Attempted macro without a macro lens.
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Nest update:
Another light blue egg has appeared, so we're up to 6 eggs. Of course, we'll take another peak tomorrow.

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113/365 - More eggs! And Some Herbs.

I took another peak into the nest. Lo and behold - more eggs! One more light blue and two more speckled brown ones. The nest is still being tended to, as the bird flies away when we open the door. So we plan to avoid using the front door for now.

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And my lame attempt at this week's POTD theme, Earth, Wind and Fire. Think "earthy" herbs.
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Fab New Camera Strap

I ordered this beautiful custom camera strap off Etsy - my first Etsy experience. You can find so many cool, unique and neat homemade goodies up for sale there. I chose this strap because of the Asian pattern - fits me, for sure.
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Once I received it, I realized I can convert my normal Nikon strap by stitching a ribbon on to the front. So I'm now searching for some cool jacquard 1 1/2" ribbons. I'm thinking something in Blue / Green / Brown to serve as a contrast to this strap.

Do you have a custom camera strap? I'd love to hear more about it!

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Feeling Scrappy Blog Party



The gals over at Feeling Scrappy are celebrating their 2nd year birthday with a week-long Blog Party! They have daily and weekly giveaways, so head over there to check it out and play along.

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112/365 - Little Nest

Look what I found in our front door flower arrangement bucket thing (you know, the Flower Market hanging bucket from Southern Living - I swear, every other house here has one):

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I tried to discourage the bird once before by removing the nest from the bucket, but then she rebuilt it and the eggs showed up. One yesterday, and another one today. But the different egg colors? Has another bird taken over? Such mysteries.

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111/365 - Baseball Jamboree

Today marks the official start of the Baseball season. I know I've probably made that statement several times now, but today's difference is the teams actually play against each other in the Little League's "Jamboree".

But the coach refers to today's games as "practice games" (they are just 3 inning games), so there may be yet another "official start of Baseball Season" on Tuesday, when the Cyclones play their first "real" game.

Another element of today's Jamboree is the formal Team and individual pictures. Here are some of Brian's teammates, waiting for the team picture:
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The actual Team picture:
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Of course, the Professional Photographers also took the same picture and I paid $9 for a 5x7 print. Of course, I will compare my picture with theirs. I decided not to purchase any of Brian's individual pictures, because I am sure I can take my own, go to the Sam's Club and purchase the same trading cards at a fraction of the cost.

And I won't set up my shot with a big mini-van in the background.

Can you tell I am picky about some of these things? My philosophy - the difference is in the details......

OK, a couple more pictures from the actual games:
George is ready in the outfield
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Brian, ready to steal from 2nd to 3rd base (which he successfully did):

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The kids did a great job, learned from the two mini-games and split the two games - one loss, one win.

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Random Picture Challenge

From the Random Picture Challenge posted over at 4 Little Men and Girly Twins.
Today's rules:

APRIL 2008
or
13th folder
42nd picture or 4th if you don't have that many



Brian at bat, during the start of baseball season, last year. Interestingly enough, today was the start of baseball season (the league has a kick off "Jamboree"). Yes, I have pictures from today's games, but I'm too tired to deal with them right now.

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POTD - Wildlife at Work

About once a month, I have to be at work by 7am in order to help assess the day's maintenance and contractor activities. I work at a chemical manufacturing site, so we make sure all the permits are filled out properly and make sure there aren't any safety concerns associated with the job.

Today was my scheduled day, so I'm at work as the sun is coming up, which I do enjoy. One of today's maintenance jobs is at our site's Fire water pond. This is the source of water to be used in the event of a fire. Needless to say, we never want to utilize the pond or the fire water pumps, but it's there on site.

It was my first trip out to the Fire water pond. Imagine my surprise when I found out what was out there:
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A peaceful, wildlife pond, complete with ducks, geese and birds:
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The birds were chirping, the sun was shining and it was a nice discovery. I guess if I get stressed out in the office, I can always take a hike over to the Fire pond.

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110/365 - Early Friday morning

My turn to go into work early this morning. One of the benefits is seeing the sun rise. Today's sunrise picture taken on the Interstate overpass. The fancy lights were erected not too long ago.

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Today's weather was gorgeous - our first real Spring day. Erica departed after lunch for church retreat in Indy. I spent the afternoon cleaning out the fish pond and had a nice steak dinner planned when Scott suggested we eat out. We were headed for Za's, but then decided that the Sonic might be a better choice - we could eat in the convertible (the top was down, of course) and enjoy the warm spring breeze. It was a great decision. A perfect evening!

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109/365 - 'Round the Bases

Oh, Spring has sprung in central Illinois! Scott even drove home with the top down on the convertible. The kids love to run around after dinner and baseball in the backyard is a perennial favorite. They set up makeshift "bases", hit the whiffle ball and RUN!

I shot these with my 70-300mm VR lens, which allows me to hang out a distance away from the action (for my safety!).

Straight off a hit!
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Heading to home plate:
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Hannah decided to lay low. She loves this time of year, with all the birds and bunnies running around the yard. She thinks of herself as quite the hunter (even though she runs into the house when her food dish clanks with fresh food). I think she's got "the look" down pat.
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POTD - Perfect Catch [Motion]

With the beautiful Spring weather, the kids and Scott played baseball after dinner, and gave me lots of opportunities to capture some things in motion. Kids, bats, balls, just to name a few.

I liked this shot the best, with the ball in motion, on its way to Scott's glove:
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Perfect weather and a perfect catch.

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108/365 - POTD - At Bat [Motion]

Today's baseball practice focused on batting, something both Brian and George are fairly competent at.

George practically hit every ball that Coach Scott pitched to him.
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Good cut, Brian (I have NO idea what a "cut" is, it's just what people say about the batters when they swing).
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I had to shoot through the chain link fence. I used my 70-300mm VR lens, so I had to zoom in in an attempt to blur that fence. Next time, I'll use my other lens, and place myself closer to the fence. That should help. (Tonight, I was too lazy to get off the bleacher).

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107/365, POTD - Rolling boil

Another cold, dreary and damp spring day. Perfect for Split Pea soup, something I only make after Christmas and Easter's Ham dinner.

Maybe you can see the rolling boil of the water and the steam coming off the surface.
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And what happens when the water boils over a little? These cool yellow flames erupt. Of course, if too much water boils over, you snuff out the flame and have a mess. I didn't let things get too out of hand tonight.

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Only Scott and I really enjoy the soup. The kids are turned off by the green color and the knowledge that peas (and carrots) went into making the soup. Just more for the two of us!

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106/365, POTD - Action shots?

I took nearly 20 pictures today, trying to capture some "action" or "movement". Blurry movement is what I ended up with!

Brian spins his Bo Staff:
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Chopsticks, anyone?
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12 on April 12 - Easter Sunday!

The day (for me) started bright and early at 6am. I had to get up early to prepare our Easter meal, and set out the Easter Candy.

The sun is just starting to rise - looks like it will be a beautiful day!
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The Easter Candy centerpiece is ready. Let's see how long it lasts in this form:
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Brian awoke early, at 6:45. He couldn't contain himself and he dismantled the Easter candy by 8:00:
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All of the Easter fixings were ready by 7:30. We don't eat until 11:30, so why get things ready so early? Our church held 3 Easter services, and we attended last night. But I was scheduled to teach Sunday School this morning, so I went in for that. While I was at church, Scott put the ham into the oven.
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Scott did a great job getting that ham into the oven!
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Brian's drink - Sprite in a martini glass - because he likes "classy":
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For desert - cherry pie. Erica "loves" cherry pie, but doesn't like the actual cherries. She separates the fruit from the sauce and just eats the sauce and crust. I end up eating the actual cherries. [how this constitutes "loving cherry pie" escapes me. Seems like she just likes cherry flavored sugar syrup and crust].
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After Easter dinner now, time for some basic chores. Cleaning out the pond filter of leaves, and general goo:
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The lilies show some sign of growth. I'll need to clean out the bottom of the pond, too.
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The viburnum also showing signs of impending bloom. I love the heady scent of these flowers when they bloom:
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Washing the cars:
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Finally, we all settle into the family room to catch some of the Masters. Hannah has been spending more time hanging out with Brian:
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Oh, I took a nap. After all, I was up really early! Hope you all had a great Easter day!

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