Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer is Calling Me

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The lazy days of summer are beckoning.  This week I have found myself dreaming of preschool ending, and me and my little ducklings trucking up to the pool, parks, and spray places.  No crazy agenda.  Just whatever we feel like doing or not doing that week.  I am sure after the first two weeks I may be pulling out my hair and wondering what things I can do with the kiddos.

Bradley will do a week in June, July and August at his preschool summer camp.  They swim each morning at a pool at the preschool and do lots of fun activities.  I feel like this will be good to keep him familiar with school once things kick back up in August. 

In July Bradley is going to try “real gymnastics” at the big gymnastics studio on Thursdays.  They have a boys and girls summer camp that I hope he enjoys.  I have looked up a few other little fun things to do, the library summer reading program, a magician and reptile man coming to the elementary school, and of course the pool.  We will be biking, strolling or driving up there everyday.  And I am hoping that Bradley will become a better swimmer this summer.  No more water wings, just a little fish and his friends.  Fingers crossed on that one.

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We have gotten a few little hints of summer this week.  The sun has been shining, and the days have gotten longer.  The heat has also turned up just a notch.  We pulled out the new sprinkler yesterday, and I think we are going to splash in it again today.  Tuesday we ventured out with a bunch of buddies to the strawberry patch.  It was an interesting trip for me, I don’t know how I will go with three kiddos.  Bradley spent most of his time digging through and eating strawberries, so I was attempting to hold Ellie and pick berries for the family.  After I decided that wasn’t going to happen, I plopped her down in the dirt and dug in. 

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It didn’t take Ellie very long to figure out where the berries were located.  I would no sooner give her a big juicy strawberry to chomp on, she would have finished it, and found a nasty berry half mushed up to squish into her mouth.  I did a lot of digging out stems and green strawberries from her sealed tight mouth, and wasn’t able to find us many for the house.  I told Chris that we will have to go again with two adults.  One to man the baby and one to find the berries.  There is just nothing quite like a fresh picked strawberry!

We made it back home in one piece, covered in fresh strawberry ice cream and dirt covering Ellie’s entire body.  I threw both this kids in the bath and they slept for hours afterward.

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I hope you are enjoying your first taste of summer time.  Love, Clare

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Sunshine After the Rain

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The sun came out in a beautiful way this weekend.  After almost five straight days of rain, it was a welcome sight.  We ventured over the mountain by our house to one of the most beautiful National Parks, Sherando Lake.  I was completed in awe of our surroundings.  A bustling creek, tons of vegetation, and of course the lake itself.  This was Bradley’s first “real” camping trip.  He has camped out in our neighborhood, but this was the real deal.  He was over the moon excited about it.

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After being outfitted with his first lego man headlamp from Uncle Adam and Aunt Kim, he was ready to party.  We made our way down to the water after getting the camp site set up.  The lake was actually busy with some people swimming (it was FREEZING) and some people canoeing. 

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Bradley decided that looking for fish and salamanders was the cool thing to do.  Daddy caught three different salamanders for his inspection.  I was actually shocked to see my little boy pick all them up by the tail, give them a good looking over, and then heave them back into the lake.  Isn’t this the same boy that used to hate sand and getting dirty?  I think we have a really grown up boy on our hands now!!

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Did I mention how gorgeous this place is??

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You even have your own private island, if you are brave enough to swim in the freezing cold water!  After some great exploring, we hopped back to the campsite to get ready for dinner and smores.  What more could this pregnant girl ask for?  Roasted marsh mellows are delish!!

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You have to wear your head light when you are chowing down on grilled hot dog!

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All in all it was a great trip, and I can’t wait to go back when we can bring sweet Ellie too!  She was just too little for this camping experience.  Lindsay watched her for the weekend, thanks Lindsay!!!  I will say sleeping in my king bed last night was very nice after sharing an air mattress with a  four year old who kept shimming out of his sleeping bag and whacking me in the face in his sleep. 

Gotta love roughing it!  Happy Monday friends!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Splashing Around

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Even though it feels like it has rained here day and night, we have had a few little glimmers of sunshine.  As soon as the sun started to peak through the clouds yesterday we ran out with our rain boots on to find some good puddles.  They were at every corner, and I was able to capture Bradley splashing away.

Thank you for all of your sweet comments and support about starting my own photography business.  I am so excited about what this new adventure can bring.  I have officially booked my first portfolio building client, and have a few others in the works.  I got off the phone with my first client last night and couldn’t hide my cheesy excitement and my nervousness.  We are meeting at the local university campus in two weeks.  I am going to do some research before we meet, to see where the best places will be it shoot.  I hope that they are pleased with the photos, and I can slowly grow a portfolio over the next two years, get better and better, and be ready to start an official business sometime in 2012.

Instead of going out and about, we had all of our buddies over yesterday for homemade pizza and a big show of batman, spiderman, and super girls.  Chloe and Gigi split their time between being super girls and following Ellie around the house.  I think they are part fascinated with her and her little crawling antics. 

Unfortunately baby girl has come down with a yucky case of a runny nose and seems unsatisfied by everything in her path.  Her cold and the yucky weather don’t leave us much choice in things to do.  I always hate to be “that mom” that drags the snotty baby to the bounce n’ play or the museum just for the chance to get out of the house.  So it looks like we are in for another day of playing inside, as I glance at the dark gloomy skies out of the window.

A few weeks ago, we got to go to an awesome local event called The Big Gig.

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It was the perfect chance to get dressed up, I mean Really dressed up.  Although in this photo it looks like I don’t have on a dress at all!  Cali and Rick invited us to this fun silent and live auction to raise money for the local Boys and Girls Club.  There were some famous guests and hosts for the dinner and live auction…

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The hosts of Fox Football were our special auctioneers, and the money was flying out the window.  Not by our table though!!

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We spent most of the evening enjoying the great food, friends, and watching people spend tens of thousands of dollars on trips to Colorado ranches, French villas, and beach vacations.  It was a sight to see!  Then Dave Mathews Drummer auctioned off a signed guitar along with some other band items for $20,000!!!  The buyer decided that he didn’t really need all of that stuff, just give to to the Boys and Girls club.  So it all went up for auction AGAIN and sold for $16,000.  I have never seen anything like it.  What fun!!

These guys are such great friends, I feel so lucky to have them in our lives.  Thanks for the awesome evening!!

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Stay dry out there!!  Love, Clare

Monday, May 16, 2011

Follow That Restless Urge to Find Yourself

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I found this quote in a Chinese fortune cookie recently.  I tucked it into my planner, because it really spoke to me.  Today I was making a doctor’s appointment and it fell out.  Sometimes since I have entered the phase of motherhood I have wondered what more I will do with my life?  What are my passions and dreams? 

It is true that since having Bradley I have delved into a few different passions.  First there was Stampin’ Up.  And oh how I still do love a handmade card, Chris did call it the “money sucker.”  The amount of time and money it took to put on a party, you could have very little profit in return.  So after two years of trying out that I gave it up.  I have hoards of supplies, and will still sit down and make a ton of cards, but it isn’t a money making business that is for sure. 

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Then I thought, well I love to work out, why not become a teacher at the gym?  After 6 months of training and prep I became certified in Body Step.  It wasn’t an easy process that is for sure.  I got a job at the local gym and quickly learned that I had fallen prey to another “money sucker” as Chris would call it.  You get paid $15 to $20 a class, and you may spend 5 to 6 hours training for a new 60 minute routine.  Yikes!!  Not to mention that the classes were in the late afternoon, and I was missing dinner time.  Leaving that all for Chris to handle just didn’t seem right.  Not quite sure that is what I signed up for.  After having Ellie I have had some of my friends that work at my gym ask me if I was interested in teaching Body Step again.  I just don’t think so.  I don’t want to spend every waking second of naptime down in the basement memorizing movements, hand motions, and which foot to start on. 

After writing all that I feel like the quitter of the century.

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Maybe that is all part of the restless urge to find yourself.  In the mist of diaper changes, play dates, and bowls of cheerios, where do I fit in?  When my children are out of the stage of “hands on” parenting I don’t want to be left in the dust.  I also want them to know, that as much as I LOVE being their Mommy there is more to me too.  I have interests, dreams, and at the heart of that I think it is good for them to see a more complex me.

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Through all of this trial and error, something has emerged.  A talent that was hidden beneath the surface, that I didn’t know existed until Bradley was born.  My love of photography.  My never ending desire to capture the moments of their growth.  It has developed over the years.  First I broke my point and shoot camera.  Then I purchased my first Nikon SLR.  A few years spent shooting in Auto, not knowing why my pictures did look like the ones on photography websites.  Wanting my camera to do more for me.

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Pushing myself to get off of auto and into manual was a big step.  I took lots of pictures that were black, the white balance was off, they were overexposed.  But, slowly it happened.  I got better.  People began to notice.  I started to get emails and requests for me to take pictures of their family.  After a lot of discussions with Chris I feel ready to dive into this head first.  I am ready to take my pictures to the next level, and see what adventures are out there for me. 

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I am hoping to set up some sessions this year that I could use as part of an official photography website.  All of this wouldn’t be up and running for another year and a half.  We will be fully immersed in Baby #3s arrival for the next year or more.  I don’t want to rush this in any way at all.  I want to give myself plenty of time to set up a website, logo and business name, and all of the other important details that go along with starting a small business.

In the meantime, I will be taking pictures.  Taking lots of them, editing them, and trying to improve my trade.  I will also be setting up sessions with anyone that would like to be a “trial run” for me.  I will charge a small fee, and you will receive all of the good edited photos we take digitally.  You can use these photos in any way you like, in return for me to put them on my photography website or use them as advertising in the future.  If you live by me and would like to be part of starting my business, please contact me. 

You can find me on facebook here.   

May you fill that urge to find yourself too.  I think I have uncovered mine.  Please join me on this journey.  If you don’t follow your dreams, you may not know the amazing things awaiting you.

Love, Clare

If you have any good ideas for getting started, or other helpful hints, I would love to know too!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Adventures of Childhood

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I love days when we just stay home.  No agenda.  No rushing back to put baby sister down for her nap.  No driving to town to meet friends.  Just us.  Our neighborhood.  And one great adventure.  I know these days are numbered for me and my littles.  Bradley will be in pre K next year, and our lives will be busy with another baby in the house.  I have turned down play dates lately, and found myself sticking closer to home.  It is also just the simplicity of it.   I get sick of all of the running around.  Life is sweet, and I just want to soak it up.  Not feel rushed.

After morning naps, chores around the house, and Bradley’s first experience with shrinkie dinks (do you remember those?!!) we decided a walk down to the creek would be great fun.  Here we are.  Just me and my little family walking down the gravel path.

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You never know what you might need on your adventure.  A soccer ball and some Keen’s are necessities.  The baby joins us of course.  She is always game for a walk in the stroller.

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Her necessities are a sun hat, pacifier, and veggie sticks of course.  Don’t forget new stride rite sandals that get kicked off in the first five minutes of our adventure.

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Then the big boy finds something worth investigating further.  The soccer ball has now been abandoned. 

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This is all very exciting, but we decide to go further up the creek to see what else we can uncover.

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After a long walk and some rocky gravel stroller pushing, we find it.  The perfect creek spot.  Can you tell by the big one’s face?

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After some encouragement he makes his way into the creek.  Deeper and deeper by the minute.  The water had to be freezing, but he insisted that it “wasn’t too cold mama.”   Next he discovered the lost childhood art of rock throwing.  The bigger the rock, the bigger the splash.  He even would find two rocks and make a game to see which one would give us the biggest splash. 

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I think once his feet started to freeze, he took his rock throwing to higher ground.

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I have been loving these moments lately.  The no agenda time tables.  The warm sun and the fresh breeze has been calling me.  Get out and explore our beautiful neighborhood and all it has to offer. 

Bradley decided on the way home that our new favorite creek spot is WAY better than the playground.  We will be back.  That is a given.

I don’t want Bradley to miss the adventures of childhood because we are so busy carting, rushing, driving, etc.  It is nice to be home.  Home for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Relish it.  I definitely struggle with this in motherhood.  The balance of it all.  Exposing him to different sports, people, and social situations, and balancing it with just plenty of free time at home. 

I think this week, we hit the sweet spot.

Hope your week starts of wonderful.  We are in for a week of rain.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gone Fishin’

Mother’s Day Weekend was excellent!! Lots of beautiful weather and time spent outside in the fresh air. 

Chris fixed an amazing breakfast, and then surprised me with some new charms for my Pandora bracelet.  I got a “B” and a letter “E” which was so thoughtful.  He also bought me a little house, he said it would be good to have something that represents what pays the bills around here.  Gotta love his style.

We visited the strawberry patch on Sunday.  It was a bit early for picking, but we did manage to get some delicious strawberry ice cream.  Then lunch at my favorite Gourmet Deli and Grocery Store.  Toasted sandwich with portabella mushrooms, arugula, and spicy pimento spread.  Can you tell that I think about food a lot?

I just reached the point this week that my pants are getting a bit too tight and won’t button.  16 weeks.  Wow, it already seems like it is going by so so fast.  I know this summer is going to fly by, and then we are going to be welcoming this new baby to our house. 

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 These two boys got to live it up on Saturday morning and fish off of the dock.  It only took five minutes before they realized that fishing is a boring sport, and it much more fun to splash sticks in the water.  This probably lead to the fact that we didn’t catch a fish for a while.  Until all of the sudden Lindsay reeled this little baby in…

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The boys were really intrigued and got some up close and personal fish time.  At first they weren’t so sure…

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Then they came around.

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Chris couldn’t be out fished by my little sister, so he spent the remainder of the morning trying to catch something bigger and better.

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Only to be out smarted by little boys with better plans.

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All in all it was a great morning fishing off the dock, and celebrating Mother’s Day. 

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happy mother’s day to all of you fabulous mommies out there!!

 

 

Friday, May 6, 2011

This and That

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Life has been good this week.  The weather fabulous, giving us lots of opportunities to venture outside.  Trips to the park with friends we haven’t seen in a few weeks.  Walks around the neighborhood, ringing doorbells to see who can come out and play. 

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These pictures are from last month, hidden away in my computer files.  They remind me to get out there and enjoy all of this sunshine. 

Bradley’s favorite activity in the car is to watch the progression of the pool.  First they drained it.  Cleaned it.  Now it is filled to the brim with fresh water and the fountains are running.  It is hard to explain to a four year old that it still won’t open for a few weeks.  He tends to think that days are weeks.  So, we are slowly counting down the pool opening at the end of the month!

We bought a new car this week.  I am now officially a minivan mom.  It is still growing on me.  So easy with the kids.  Bradley thinks it is AWESOME.  He has told everyone that we have a minivan.  Even the bagger at Harris Teeter.  I can’t wait to tell him this when he is 13, and thinks our car is the dorkiest thing even.  And he doesn’t want me to pull up to school, but meet him down the street to pick him up.

When I was running this morning I saw 9 deer in the golf course in our neighborhood.  They were so close, and just looked at me run by with their ears perked up.  So amazing!

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You may have guessed, but I have given up on my “Project 365.”  Sad, but true.  The first trimester kicked my butt in a big way.  I was more tired than I had been these past two pregnancies.  Granted I had two children to watch.  But, I just couldn’t pick up the camera.  Thinking about taking pictures felt like an enormous task.  Just thinking of the right thing to eat that wouldn’t make me sick felt like an enormous task.  Maybe next year, right?  All of you readers with three kids are laughing at that right now. 

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Along with my 365 break, I have been taking a bit of crafting break too.  It took all of my might to finish Ellie’s house for her birthday.  I did make the memory game for Easter, but I will tell you that watching TV has become a good activity for now.  The sewing machine has been packed away since Ellie’s birthday, and I’m not sure when it will come back out.  I do have two different fabrics to make throw pillows for the couch which I really want to do.  That might be my first project, but not until this summer sometime.

I have become an obsessed reader again.  I don’t think I had picked up a book in six or so months.  The poor battery on my nook called it quits.  After finishing Night Road, I was back in the reading mood.  I am now 300 pages into Fall of the Giants, and completely addicted again.  I have been going up to bed at 8:30 or 9, just to have enough time read before I fall asleep.

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Spring is here, and strawberries are ready to be picked.  Mother’s Day is around the corner.  So much to celebrate this mother’s day, that is for sure. 

So there you have it.  This and that from our lives right now.  Happy Friday!