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Monday, July 30, 2007

Support for Lauren

I have a friend, and she is suffering. It isn't fair!

Lauren is my friend. I have never met her in person. I have never talked to her on the phone. However she is my friend, and I hold her near and dear to my heart. I have "known" Lauren through my online baby board for several years now. She is a wonderfully devoted wife, mother and friend. For much of the time I have known her, she has suffered from many health ailments, but she has never been a complainer. The last week of June, she finally got some answers to what has been plaguing her. She has Lyme Disease. Even though I have known this diagnosis for a little over a month now, it has taken me this long to process it. I know very little of this disease, and it is said to be a secret epidemic. Through Lauren, I am learning so much more. Here is one of the sites she has found most helpful!

Lauren is brave. Lauren is a fighter. Lauren can beat this and be healthy again. I just know it. I do believe, however that she needs support. I believe that she needs lots of positive support to keep her mind on the healing path. An inner voice is urging me to help her make this happen. Lauren has been on my mind a lot lately, and I finally decided to take some action. She is just embarking on this road to recovery, and I feel she can use all the love and support she can get.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Please join me in supporting Lauren in fighting this disease. Please take this Support Icon I made, and post it on your blog, or Internet community. Help get the word out about this disease, and Lauren's journey. You can simply right click on the icon and save it to your computer. Then upload it to the host of your choice, and place it on your Blog. You may choose to make it clickable, as I have, so that it will lead people to Lauren's Blog of her Lyme Disease journey. If you need help creating this link, please let me know. I'd be happy to help.

I appreciate your taking the time to learn more about this disease, and give a little support to my friend. If you are interested in another way to support Lauren, please contact me for the details at: Thank you!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Whoopie....I Won AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

NO WAY! YESSSS WAYYYYYYY!!!!! I totally won again. I just got an email from Kerry over at The Ten o'clock Scholar, and I won her super cool Mother Goose Book. Woo Hoo....winning is fun! I feel like the chosen one. :) I guess the hours I spent fighting a Dial-up Connection to enter as many contests as I could has paid off.

I'd like to encourage you to go on over and check out her Blog. She has some interesting posts where she really encourages you to think.
I personally enjoyed this post a lot. I can relate to it very much. Sometimes it seems that as we grow and take advantage of modern technology, we can forget our roots.

Thanks again Kerry! I really look forward to getting this book. What a great prize!

A Creek, Some Cows....and A Sugar Bear!

What a fabulously fun day. What a perfectly country living kind of moment. A girl, some rubber boots, a creek, and some cows for an audience. What a wonderful time to wade around, and experience a little slice of nature. You go girl! The whole time, Kenna kept saying, "Hey cows! Watch me!" or "look at me cows! Come on!" Gosh darn it, folks....I love this kid!

As I have spoken of before, our family has a Century Farm. I lived there from the time I was seven, until I left for college. Even, then I was home for summer and the breaks. I moved 1.5 hours away in 1996, when I got married. On average I visit my parents there at least once a month. Nothing is better than going back to the fresh air, and wonderful childhood memories.

One particular summer memory from my childhood greatly involves this creek. You see, this creek runs through the farm. It twists and turns it's way down the mountain, through the fields, and finally spilling into the slow moving river. In most places, the creek is shallow, and fairly fast moving. However, in some rare points where the creek takes a wide turn, or the beavers have built a dam, there are pools of water usually no more than 4 feet deep. The rocks are slippery, the water is COLD, and the creatures that call it their home are plentiful.

Several summers during my pre-teen years, my cousin Dan from the Big City, would come spend a few weeks on The Farm. We are three weeks apart in age (My being older USED to be a good thing, tee hee), and as children we got along famously. He was the listener, and I was the talker. He was the city kid, and I was the farm girl. He was....well...a HE, and I was a SHE, but all of that didn't matter. We could play all day for weeks, and I hardly recall a moment of disagreement. One of our favorite summer past times was exploring the creek. We would disappear down to the creek for what seemed like all day, but my mom insists it couldn't have been more than 4 hours. I still think I am correct, as I remember it like it was yesterday. We would head either up or down the creek, pretending to be back in the "olden times". Often we were Lewis and Clark, yet others we were Indians. We would each find a walking stick, and trudge our way through the waters. It was always a challenge. There were many slips and falls, yet we were never really hurt. (As a parent, I often wonder how my mom let us go there alone, but....I digress!)

We saw fish, deer, and lots of wild and crazy cows. tee hee...well it is a cow farm, you know. I don't recall ever seeing a beaver, but we surely made more work for those poor little suckers. There is nothing more thrilling than destroying a beaver dam, and watching the water rush over the rocks in search of the river. Thinking back now...I wonder why those silly beavers built there. It wasn't their "home", as it was always a simple dam barely a foot thick built of sticks and blackberry vines. Maybe they just wanted a swimming hole, or maybe they were just bored, I don't know...but it sure felt powerful to tear it apart, and let the water loose. I am sure they were hiding in the bushes watching us...and cursing our names. Poor Beavers.

Looking back at the hours, days.....weeks I spent in that creek, I recall it with much fondness. I was outside, experiencing, learning, exercising, and having fun. I wasn't inside playing video games, or watching TV. I was in the REAL world learning much about it, and in the long run learning much about ME! As a parent, I am constantly trying to bring such moments into my daughters life. I want her not just get though her day, but to really experience her day. I want her to not just let the world go by outside, as she wanders aimlessly around inside. I don't want to her to sit and wait for the world to entertain her. I want her to use the world around her to entertain herself. The possibilities are endless.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Breast Cancer Touches So Many Lives

The Day after my daughter was born in 2005, my Mother in Law had a double mastectomy. She went radical, as she didn't want to spend her time wondering if they got it all. Over two years later, things look good, but I am not sure she doesn't worry. How can she not worry?

Selfishly, I quickly realized that my newborn daughter now had a direct link to Breast Cancer. This scares me. I am not sure it should scare me anymore than if she didn't. Breast Cancer isn't all that discriminatory as to who it attacks. It attacks so many.

While blogging this week, I ran across some friends of this wonderful woman who is fighting a supposedly "RARE" form of Breast Cancer. WhyMommy, was blindsided by this disease, and wants to make a difference. She wants to educate the world about this type of Breast Cancer, and I'd like to help.
The following is an excerpt of her blog. Please read this and do your part to pass on this information.

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?

I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.

Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.

Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her. Now you know what I wish I had known before six weeks ago.

You don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer.

P.S. Feel free to steal this post too. I’d be happy for anyone in the blogosphere to take it and put it on their site, no questions asked. Dress it up, dress it down, let it run around the place barefoot. I don’t care. But I want the word to get out. I don’t want another young mom — or old man — or anyone in between — to have to stare at this thing on their chest and wonder, is it mastitis? Is it a rash? Am I overreacting? This cancer moves FAST, and early detection and treatment is critical for survival.

Thank you.

WhyMommy will be in my thoughts and prayers. I know I don't have that many readers, but I just wanted to do my part and help spread the word.

AND the Winner is.......................

I am so please to announce the winner of my Giveaway. I feel so blessed that so many bloggers stopped by and showed interest. I am appreciative of your time. :)

The winner is........Mom In The Know!!!! Congrats! Email me your mailing address, and I'll pop the L O V E in the mail for you. :)

I'd like to encourage you to pop on over to her Blog, and have a look around. It sure looks like she has a good thing started. I enjoyed reading about those yummy cookies. I certainly am craving a few bites myself.

Thanks again to everyone that participated. Slowly and surely, I plan on visiting everyone's blogs that entered my drawing. It may take me awhile, since there were 102 of you...but I have a goal....and I will follow through.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A BIG Thanks to Ribbon Rock Star.

Seriously people....This is like the bestest day ever. tee hee...okay so maybe not the Bestest, but it sure is Rocking Awesome. I won another Giveaway. :) ME...."Miss Never Win Anything"....won again. woo hoo! I am on cloud nine. This time I am privileged enough to be receiving a handmade Boutique bow from Linda over at Ribbon Rock Star.

Some of you know that I have dabbled in bow making. I am thrilled to have a chance to get a wonderful bow from a fabulous bow maker. :) Thank you so much Linda. :)

I would love to urge you to go on over to her blog and check it out. She sent me down memory lane with a wonderful post about donuts. My grandmother made these much the same. She just left the biscuits whole, and whipped up some maple frosting. YUMMO maple bars baby! :) Check it out. I would link to more of her awesome posts...but I am having trouble finding her perma-links. I saw an super yummo looking Apple Enchilada recipe in Sept. 06. I sooooooo need to try that.

Thanks again. I am thrilled. :)

Thanks to the Stretch Mark Mama!

WOO HOO! I won...I won...I won....something. :) I tend to think that I am not blessed with the random winnings sort of talent. I rarely win drawings. I have come to except it. This is why I was SO THRILLED to get an email today from Lisa letting me know that I won the Giveaway from Stretch Mark Mama. I am excited to get this book and check it out. Thank you Lisa!

I'd like to urge you to go on over and check out Lisa's blog. I have been browsing around there and she has some pretty awesome posts. Go here to learn alittle about who Lisa is. She sure sounds like someone I'd love to know in real life.
I also LOVE this idea for Squirt guns. I love that it is all the fun, but doesn't really encourage the use of guns. :) Why didn't I think of this cheap and awesome way to water play?
Oh and you certainly HAVE to check out this beautiful baby girl! Oh my yes.....I can see why she has her heart. Congrats on your precious girl.

Thanks again for your generous giveaway Lisa. I appreciate it very much! It has been wonderful to "meet" you!

Still time to Enter....

Hey friends! There is still time to enter my drawing for the fun L O V E letters. I am thrilled with the amount of people that have come over to check it out. :) Thank you all for your support. This Giveaway hosted by Rock in My Dryer, has been so fun. I am so excited to see if I have won anything. I am not certain how many of the 500+ giveaways I have entered, but I know it isn't as many as I would have liked. My Slowness problem, definitely has not been very helpful in this situation. ARGH!!!!! I do hope many of you have entered and will win! :) Gotta love FREE stuff! :)

As for my drawing, I will close the comments on Friday at 11:59 pm Pacific time. This is different than what I originally said, but the rules now suggest being done today, so I will go wtih that. I will scan through the comments and delete any duplicates. I will then call my mom, who doesn't read my blog, and ask her to pick a number between 1 and ??? (whatever number of comments I received.) That number will be the winner. Yes, I am too lazy to type out all the names and put them in a hat. Sorry, but I have other things to do. Things I am soooooooooooo behind on. Like editing pictures from the end of MARCH until NOW! EEEEKKKK!!!!!! So behind.

Anyhow, keep on entering. I am so excited to see who won. :) We all know that everyone can use alittle bit of LOVE!

Four For Friday!

Seriously it just me or are the weeks going EVEN faster? I only have two more weeks of summer vacation, and I am back to work! boo hoo.....say it isn't so!!!!!
If I had not wasted an hour tonight trying to figure out how to get a signature on my blog, I would have come up with an awesome Four For Friday. Instead we will fall back on probably my most desperately pathetic attempt at this yet. I am simply going to list four things that make having a week home, while my hubby is away on a Jeepers Jamboree, AWESOME. Now you might want to remember my situation this summer to fully appreciate this list. :)

1. Cold Cereal or Ice Cream for dinner.
2. At least 3 hours of uninterrupted computer time each day. Totally WHINE free.
3. I get to watch what I want to watch on TV without having to hear how stupid is.
4. As much cuddle time with my girl as I can possible handle with out a jealous 35 year old whining about taking turns!

Life is good baby! Life is GOOD!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gone Fishin

Last weekend, my brother and his family, and Sugar Bear and I went to our family's Century Farm. Since 1981, my immediate family has lived there. My dad purchased some of the property from my Grandfather. Since my grandfather's passing, and my grandmother's moving to a retirement facility, my parents have been the caretakers of the entire farm. Both my brother and I have so many fond memories of growing up on a farm. It truly is a blessing to experience the Great Outdoors as a child. We are both quick to give our children every opportunity to relish in the farmy lifestyle as well.

This particular weekend, our intention was to take the girls to the mouth of the creek named after our family. It is a lovely swimming spot, as the cool water from the creek meets the warmer water of the river. There is an ever changing sandy beach to set our stuff on, and a rare spot to enter the water with out slippery rocks making it difficult. I personally, wanted to share this spot with my daughter, as I have so many great memories of being there as a child. I was, however, nearly in double digits when I first started swimming in that particular spot, but never the less, I wanted my girl to play there with me.

It was an overcast day, but muggy and warm. The trail leading down the river is steep and a tad perilous, but we made it fine. We proceeded to wade, swim, sit in the sand, get sand in places it isn't comfortable, and eat lunch, while my brother did a little fishing. Being the tender hearted freak that I am....I have developed an issue with any sort of harming of animals, so fishing has long lost it's luster for me. I realized this about 5 years ago when I kept getting teary eyed every time my husband or brother caught a fish. I just can't stand the thought of those poor innocent fish swimming along, having a lovely day, then BAM....a sharp barb is lodged into their lip and some brut is ranking it out, man handling it...and who knows what else before either killing it or setting it free. YUCK!!!! so not for me. You can laugh if you want to...I understand my degree of freakishness, and I am not afraid to share it. some point I needed to go back up the treacherous trail to the vehicle to fetch something we hadn't had enough hands for the first trip down. Being the ever cautious mother that I am, I led my daughter over to her uncle and asked him to keep an eye on her as I will only be gone a few minutes. As I left, I heard him ask her if she wanted to hold the fishing pole. Just as I was starting back down the trail to return, I heard much whooping and hollering for Sugar Bear as it appeared that she had snagged a fish. Being the ever obsessive photo taking mother that I am, I nearly killed myself trying to get down the trail to capture this moment for her. Luckily....that one got away! Whew...okay, so I am a bad mom, but I was thrilled I hadn't missed the big moment. Patiently she fished some more, and soon there was another bite. This time I was ready with camera in hand. As my girl caught and reeled in her first fish, I caught some great snaps of the experience. She was pretty excited to see it come out of the water, and to touch it. However, she must have been a tad unsure of it all, as in the pictures I notice her hand coming up to her cheek/mouth in a self-soothing behavior.

The amazing thing in this whole moment was that I didn't shed a tear. In fact, for the first time in years, I didn't even feel one darn thing for that silly little fish. I was simply overwhelmed with joy for my daughter's pride in her catch. What happened to my tender hearted feelings about fish? What does that say about me? I am not entirely sure. I just hope it doesn't mean that I am as wishy washy about other things just because Sugar Bear likes them. Can't you see it now? "oh honey...usually I think that whacking other children when they steal your toy is a bad thing, but since you are so proud of yourself for getting the toy back, I am thrilled!" tee hee....I guess time will tell, and you can be sure I'll share it with you when I find out. In the mean time, enjoy the pictures.

Catching fish number one:

Going after fish number two:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dear Mother...Thanks Mother!

Once again I am participating in a group writing project hosted by Mamablogga. Be sure to check out all the great entries. :) The theme this month is: "Thanks, Mom." After learning of this theme, I sat here stumped. I wasn't instantly inspired like I have been with the last two projects. In fact I nearly decided to just let this one go by. However, tonight, the need to put something together crept up on me, and I am glad it did. Writing things like this help me process, and sometimes helps me grow as a person. This turned out very rambly (yes I made that word up). Sometimes, I is through the rambling that I learn the most. However, I am not certain this will mean anything to anyone else.

Dear Mother,
As far back as I can remember, I can not pin point a single moment that stands out in our relationship. I have no horror stories of a mother that just never understood me. I have no heart wrenching thoughts of a mother that hurt me. I have no stories. Everyone knows that I am a story teller, yet when I think back on my life I have no stories about my mom and I. Isn't that strange? Nothing stands out.....NOTHING.

You have always been there, so I have no memories of your absence. You were a wonderful caregiver, so I have no stories of being deprived. I don't recall your anger, your frustration, or your discipline. However, I also don't recall your happiness, your affection, or encouragement. Don't get me wrong. I know you loved me, and wanted the best for me. The crazy thing is....I don't remember your showing it, nor my missing it. It is as if you were so very there....that I don't really remember anything at all.

As a grandparent, you are adoring. I don't remember you adoring me. As a grandparent you are very affectionate. I don't recall your snuggling, nor hugging me. As a grandparent, you are encouraging. I hardly remember your support. However, I don't remember your despising me. I don't recall you pushing me away. I don't remember your discouragement. When I think back on my life, I just don't feel anything. It is a puzzlement to me. Why is there such a lack of emotion in my memories of you?

I am grateful that my childhood was so blessed without tragedy, hurt, and abuse. I am grateful that as an adult we have a friendly and easy relationship. I have so much thanks for this. I am just so very confused by my lack of a definitive description of our relationship as I grew up. If asked, "did your mother love you as a child?" I would most definitely answer with a yes, but if I was asked, "how did you know?", I would be stumped. I just knew, but I don't recall needing to know. Does that make sense? I don't recall hugs and kisses, nor hearing the words "I love you!", but I also don't recall missing it. Isn't that strange.

May my words not hurt you, my mother. I am not saying you did anything wrong. I am just exploring how it can be that as I look back, I see and feel nothing, when at present I see and feel so much. Is it possible that my childhood was so middle of the road, with no great pains, yet no great joys, that I can not pinpoint a single moment that defines our emotion? Were you such a constant, even keel in my life, that nothing at all stands out?

I feel as if I am rambling...and I can't find an end to this thought process I am on. It seems there is no conclusion....there is no ending. Much like my memories of my childhood, there just isn't anything that stands out to define my relationship with you, my mother. Now as an adult this makes me sad. As a mother myself, I yearn to have a delightful and amazing relationship with my daughter. I sit here and wonder if you felt the same. Someday, will Sugar Bear look back and not have a story about me? Will our relationship be forgetful, or non-descript. I know that you never intended ours to be, so can it happen beyond my control? I pray this isn't so.

I thank you mother for being who you are today. You are constant. You are helpful. You are very there. You are an amazing Grandparent, and I know my daughter is as blessed to have you as am I. I thank you for raising me up in such a way that has led me to strive to be a good mom. You have always been a good mom. Of this I have no doubt. I just struggle with the disconnect I feel to our relationship as a young child and her mother. I struggle understanding it all. I am grateful that I don't doubt who you are now. Thank you!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Dog Days of Summer!

I am thrilled to be participating this week in a Fabulously Fun Bloggy Give away!
After learning about this super cool project, I began to rack my brain for something to giveaway. If you know anything about me you'll know this....I tend to spread myself WAY too thin. So for this week's festivies I will not be promising something homemade. I know...I are all saddened by this news, but I have to resign myself to giving away something I already have, but I find it needs a new home.

These fun wooden letters were purchased long before I decided what I wanted my daughter's room to look like, and as it turns out, this just doesn't fit the theme. I love how sweet this little word of love is. Each letter is about 5 inches high. The colors are pretty fairly represented in the pics. They are sort of natural pastels. Very pretty.

If you have any interest in making this phrase at home in your house, just leave me a comment on this thread. Make sure that I have a way of getting ahold of you if you win. I will randomly draw a name next Monday. I will then mail your prize to you ASAP. How easy and fun! WHo can resist a free drawing? Yippie!
Now if you are reading this post, and thinking...."gee I want to play too!" Go right ahead you have all week to post your Giveaway!


Friday, July 20, 2007

Four For Friday

A little late, but at least it still is Friday here. I have been struggling to find computer time these days. Unfortunately, I am still battling some of the same issues I had at the beginning of summer. Oh well...I am surviving.

Today I'd like to focus on Four things Sugar Bear loves about the beach. When I am talking about the beach...I am talking about the west coast....and towards the north. 90% of the year not only a jacket is required but a stocking cap. It can be cold cold cold. The other 10% of the time, you can wear a t-shirt and long pants. tee hee....yeah baby...good times! Here are four reason's my girl has recently found to love the beach!

1. Chasing birds. You may recall, that I have a nature girl on my hands. At the beach it is no exception. The girl loves to experience the wildlife. As the rest of us sat on our hiney's eating lunch, Sugar Bear entertained us chasing the seagulls. This was a day that fit into the 10%.

2. Flying a kite. This was on a fair day. We still needed a sweatshirt, but it was pleasantly breezy instead of full force gale winds. Sugar Bear enjoyed flying her Dora Kite very much. I have to admit, I smiled to much that day my cheeks hurt.

3. Running into and out of the water. The poor girl has to find a willing victim to accompany her though, as mama just can't handle the freezing water. Seriously, after like 3 minutes your feet have the icky stinging feeling. I am not a fan, but my girl loves it. This day, her cousin K was a great sport, and Aunt A followed suit. I didn't mind hanging back to take pictures. :)

4. General running around and exploring all the sights and sounds. She loves to find rocks and shells and throw them back into the ocean. She enjoys running, hopping, and climbing on the drift wood. Certain days, all she wants to do is explore the dunes and tall grass. To Sugar Bear it is obvious that there just isn't anything a girl shouldn't experience while at the beach.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Little Girl and Her Mama

Firstly, I want to thank you all for your wonderful help on my Four For Friday last week. It was so very wonderful to get so many opinions. :) I wasn't kidding when I mentioned that I had been "after" that type of photo for quite some time. In fact I had been a little obsessive about it. I know...I are shocked. I hardly ever get obsessed with something. tee hee

After loving the results of my first attempt at a silhouette, I just had to go back and get something I had been pining for. I set the shot up, and asked my mom to push the shutter for me. I could have used a tri-pod and timer, but the trek up the hill to the top was to long to beat the timer, so I am grateful for my mom's help.

I love these. Yes, I wish it didn't accentuate my need to lose a few pounds, but all in all, these pictures bless my heart. I love how it captured our interaction. I love the mood. I love...well everything. I can't wait to choose a favorite and get it framed for my office at work. :)

Which one do you think I should frame? I appreciate your help!

Monday, July 16, 2007

ARGH! The Slowness....Is KILLING Me!

I just can't take it any longer. The slowness in my life. I am a born multi-tasker. I simply can not just do one thing at a time. I must be doing 2-4 things. I MUST! If I am on the phone, I am also cleaning house. If I am watching TV, I am also crafting (knitting, crocheting, etc.), flipping through a catalog or magazine, or on the computer. If I am on the computer, I am doing at least 3 things at a time. I am always editing pictures, and usually on the Internet. I could be doing 3 things on the Internet alone. I HAVE to multi-task. I HAVE TO!

The slowness is killing me. I am currently venting about the computer thing. My computer has decided that having..oh say....100,000 pictures on it makes it extremely unhappy. So I am constantly in the process of backing up on CD, then putting them on an external hard drive. It is a long slow process when your computer is unhappy in the first place, but adding like 300 pics every other day makes it hard to keep up. Another great joy is that half the time my CD burner decides it is on vacation and won't work. ARGH. I purchased more RAM, and for awhile it really seemed to help, but lately, my computer is so slow that I could SCREAM! I find myself clicking from one thing to the next over and over and nothing is loaded up.

That brings us to the INTERNET! Apparently I live in the sticks. Some sort of annoying person or committee has decided that rural folks don't need high speed Internet. Ummm THANKS! I appreciate that. I have resisted getting DSL or Satellite Internet for quite some time as I suffer from a fear of spending. However, last week, I finally had enough of this slower then slow dial-up. I decided that if I reduced our cell phone plan, and cancelled the long distance on our land line I could re-allot that money towards higher Internet costs. I started making some calls, and geez freaking'd think I lived in Antarctica. NO DSL offered in my area, and get this...all the satellites that serve my area are FULL! arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! How can this be?

So here I sit tonight...frustrated beyond compare, because I can't edit pics, play on my photo message board, and my baby board, and read blogs at the same time. WHY ME????? Is it a sign I should be cleaning house? Say it isn't so!

Okay, my totally aimless rant is over, and you can expect to find my usual chipper self back tomorrow. It feels better just having let it out.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pretty Please, Mama!

"Oh Mama....I don't wanna go! Pease, Mama! Pease stay!" I hear things like this more and more frequently these days. As some may recall, I have a very polite little pumpkin on my hands. I love it, but recently it has started to make things difficult. So very difficult to resist her precious politeness. How excruciatingly hard it is to NOT give in to her when she asks so very nicely! Give me a tantrum any day, but a sweet little honey saying, "pease mama!" oh knees go weak. Help me!

As a parent, I find myself pulling out my bag of tricks often. The trick and tips I learned while obtaining my degree in Human Development and Family Science with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education. Though my studies I found a philosophy that wasn't necessarily how I was raised, but it still spoke to me. I learned techniques for getting a class of pre-school aged children to participate in the classroom activities successfully with few behavior issues. I was given the opportunity to see the power of giving a child respect while fully expecting them to respect others as well. I observed how children thrive on structure, predictability, and consistency. I was able to hone my skills in truly communicating with these young human beings.

As a parent, some 10 years later, it isn't surprising that I have found myself falling back on these techniques and skills. I believe in gentle discipline. I believe in teaching my child to love and respect herself, and those around her. I believe in building her self-esteem, and doing my best to set her up for success. I believe in giving her a predictable schedule, and doing my best to be consistent. I understand that she needs guidance in learning how to deal with her emotions, and I strive to help her learn how to appropriately express those feelings. Raising a child isn't easy, but I am dedicated to fulfilling my promise I made when I delivered her into this world. I will not abandon my post. I will be vigilant no matter the challenges.

Our most recent challenge is one that I assume several parents face. However, it is one that I never saw coming, and it takes "supermom" strength to withstand. It is the battle between the mom and the super sugary sweet politeness monster. Seriously, this monster is a toughie. The toughest so far. I am forced to pull out my big strongest muscles....I must put my heavy foot down. I can not give in to the super powers of a toddler asking NICELY! read it right! ASKING NICELY!!!!!! OH dear lord give me strength to resist.

It often goes like this:

Mama: "Honey, we have to go now!"
Sugar Bear: "Okay mama!"

but sometimes it goes like this:

Mama: "Honey, we have to go now!"
Sugar Bear: "I don't wanna go Mama!"
Mama: "I know you don't baby, but we need to get home!"
Sugar Bear: "Pease, Mama! Pease stay here!" (in a darling voice with hands clasped)
Mama: "Oh honey! I know you are asking nicely, but we still have to go!"
Sugar Bear: "oh pease, Mama!" (even sweeter, and blinking eyes at me)
Mama: )Deep breath....) "I am sorry sweetie. Thank you for asking nicely, but we really have to go!" (with anxiety in my voice)
Sugar Bear: (Shrugs her shoulders forward, gives a little pout, and trudges for the door.)
Mama: (Cries a little on the inside.)

Where do they learn this stuff? How does she know just how to pull those heartstrings? Seriously, it takes everything I have not to give in to those sweet little pleadings. It is the super annoying whining type. It is my tiny little love asking me so nicely to just stay. It literally hurts my heart that I have to stand firm. I do my best to acknowledge her feelings, yet explain my need to not change my mind, but gosh darn still breaks her little heart. I hate that. Give me a tantrum...give me an outburst that makes me roll my eyes and grit my teeth. I can stand firm on those. Those do NOT stir my heart, nor make me at all want to change my mind. Those offer up a battle of the wills that I am prepared for. It is the little angel that makes me shake in my boots. Where do they learn this stuff, and where can I get the superpower to resist it. HELP ME!

It fascinates me that my biggest struggle these days is trying to teach my daughter that even though we want something...and ask so very nicely, it doesn't mean we will always get it. I had prepared myself for teaching her the lesson that throwing a fit will not get you what you want in life, but teaching her that being nice doesn't work either???? That right there blindsided me. Man, this parenting stuff is hard!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Four For Friday!

In keeping with my theme from yesterday, I'd like to focus this week's "Four For Friday" on photography. This picture is one that I have been after for quite some time. I have been searching for a situation that would lend itself to a perfect silhouette. It isn't easy to find in state that is so full of beautiful mountains. Everywhere I turn, the backdrop is mountainous. I love it, but it frustrated me trying to find just the right sky backdrop. This particular location I just happened upon. I was standing down a trail, while Sugar Bear waited at the top when I looked up and gasped. THERE IT WAS! I began snapping in glee.
When I downloaded this picture onto my computer I was so giddy with excitement. I set to work finding the perfect crop for it. This is where I ran into a problem. I couldn't decide what crop lent the most to this photo. I posted it on my photo board and boy was there a WIDE variety of opinions. It ranged from LESS black at the bottom, to needing MORE black at the bottom. Some liked it horizontal, and some liked it vertical. I smile at the different perspectives. IT got me wondering, what you all might think. Here are four different crops of the same picture. I'd love for you to leave me a comment and give me your thoughts on which one you like best and why. I can't wait to hear your thoughts.

1. The picture as I took it:

2. The picture less centered:

3. The picture with MORE black ground at the bottom:

4. The picture with LESS ground, so it is horizontal:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What Makes A "Good" Picture Anyhow?

I have been thinking a lot about this lately. In fact, it goes way beyond thinking. I have been absorbed by this for some time now. I am not sure when it all started, but it has become quite a distraction. Everywhere I go, and everything I see, I find myself evaluating it. In some ways it has heightened my awareness of the beauty we live in. However, it has taken a little piece of my "ignorance is bliss" lifestyle, and squashed it like a bug.

Sometime in March, I joined an Online Photography Board that specializes in Child Portrait Photography. I have learned so much from this amazing group of photographers. I feel that the most important thing I have garnered is INSPIRATION! I love having the opportunity to view some pretty amazing pictures. It gives me a sense of challenge and purpose. I strive to capture a photograph that might inspire someone else. I always appreciate a good challenge.

One of the things I noticed in the vast group of both professional and novice photographers, is the wide range of creativity, and the amazing span of opinions. It is sort of a thrill to post a picture asking for Constructive Criticism. You better have your hard hat on, because you are likely to hear some things that might sting a bit. There certainly are members that are real sticklers for the "Rules of Photography", and having a technically perfect photograph. You can learn a great deal from reading their points of view. Through this process, I have been intrigued by the true sense of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" philosophy. One person can gaze upon a picture and see something that really appeals to them. Another will only see the flaws.

One day a few months ago, I saw the words, " that looks like it should be in a magazine!" It got me thinking...what kind of pictures are in a magazine? So being just who I am....I started looking. Now I find myself hardly reading a magazine at all. Instead I am studying the photographs in the advertisements, and in the articles. Guess what? There is a real variety of types of photographs published in magazines. The most shocking realization was that MOST photos I have seen have at least one technical error. WOW...this got me really thinking again...why would magazines publish technically imperfect photographs? I mean, I am sure they can hire photographers with the abilities to capture a "perfect picture", right? Why then am I seeing photos with blown spots, and focus issues, and non-even lighting? Why am I seeing dappled light that leaves supposedly "unattractive" shadows on people's faces? WHY? Why? Why?

Is it because it is possible that a photo can still "speak" to someone even if the lightening wasn't even? Is it possible that a message can still be conveyed with the perfect expression on the subjects face even though they aren't looking directly at the lens? Is it at all possible that small blown out area of a white shirt doesn't ALWAYS distract from the rest of the picture? These are things that I have felt in my heart, but after spending just a few too many hours reading "constructive criticism" of photos that I admire, I began to waver. I began to think that if there had been an error it was meant for the trash can. I am certainly glad that I started paying attention to the real world. I am glad that I can accept that sometimes there will be flaws, but it doesn't mean it isn't worthy of viewing.

As I go about my day lately, I look at the world differently. I find myself trying to see it from different angles. I suddenly kneel down to see just what that fence looks like from that view. I lay on the grass and look up at things. I notice the light, and how it changes the look of the world around me. There is so much to see and learn. It is fun. However, on the flip side, I wish I could just sit down and flip through a magazine and not think, "why did they use that photograph? Couldn't the manage one where both children are in focus?" I might be getting a little cocky also, as I often find myself thinking, "I could have taken a better photograph than that!" tee hee.....I find it is a fun learning tool though. I like to imagine what I would have done differently to make the photo better.

I think it is worthy to note that although this post suggests that I might be trying to make excuses for photography errors. I am not. I am simply saying that I have discovered, that technically perfect doesn't have to be the ultimate goal. I need to stay focused on that. It is finding the creativity in photography, while striving to improve your technique. We just can't lose sight of what moves us.

The photo I have posted in my side bar this week is a perfect example of what I am talking about. One side of her face is darker than the other. Her outfit is crazy, and the chest of her jammies is blown out. It would be sweeter if the bright orange bubble container weren't there, but I LOVE this picture. It speaks to me. Yes, I know how it could have been "better", but that doesn't take away the moment and memory. It isn't perfect, but for is close!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Wh...wh....wh.....wh...WHY Does It Bother Me So?

Wha..Wha...Wha...Wha...Wha...What is wrong? Wh...Wh...Wh....Why is it bothering me so very much? Why was I so upset? Why was I so self-conscience about it? Why can't I get over it, even though everything is back to normal? Wh...wh...wh...why can't I just let it go?

Two weeks ago, Sugar Bear woke up as her typical fun loving self. She met my smile with her usual string of words. "Hi mama! You tired? Let's lay on couch. I have some na na's!" However by the end of the day, she had experienced a few strange moments of stuttering. It all started with her stumbling over a word she had said many times before with no trouble. As she struggled to get that word out, she looked at me with a sheepish grin, as if to say, "gee....this is silly!" I blew this all off thinking that she was just tired.

The next day, I found that she stuttered quite a bit more. Usually it was just the first word, while the rest of the sentence was normal. Sometimes it was the whole word, and other times it was the first part of the word. Some examples include:
-"Where, where, where, where, where we going mama!"
-"lo...lo...lo...lo...lo...look at my leg"
I have heard, and read that experiencing some stuttering can be developmental, but I also read that early intervention, if it is indeed a problem, is best. So I paid close attention, and unfortunately watched it get worse. By the time the Fourth of July was here, nearly a week and a half later, she was stuttering on nearly 1 out of 4 sentences. Often she would look at me with an expression that said, "what is wrong with me?" It was at this point I really began to feel a sense of panic.

I can not describe how it made me feel to see my daughter struggling on words that she previously had said perfectly. We all know I can worry with the best of them, so I won't surprise you to know that I entertained thoughts of Autism, Brain injury, Stroke, and so on. Sitting there listening to her say a word 6 times before carrying on with the rest of the sentence made me feel so desperate. It really seemed as though she was experiencing a short circuit in her brain. Scary stuff. How can a child that has always been advanced in language just suddenly start this repetitive stammering?

The worst part of the whole ordeal was having to take her to a big family get together where we were visiting with people we hadn't seen for over a year. I found myself so defensive. What were people thinking about her? Some would make a comment, or mimic her. Some would just look concerned. I often found myself whispering, "She just started S-T-U-T-T-E-R-I-N-G last week." I spelled it out in an attempt to not let Sugar Bear know what I was talking about. I constantly felt like I had to point out that she had normal speech patterns just 2 weeks ago. I received all sorts of opinions on the situation. Some were simply not helpful. Most told me...I am sure she is just excited and her mouth can't move as fast as her brain is going. Sure, this is also what I wanted to believe, but why was it that she did it no matter what she was talking about...or who she was talking to? It drove me batty.

Sugar Bear is no longer stuttering. ended just as suddenly as it came on. Actually it ended much quicker. She went from a day of stuttering on nearly every sentence, to only stuttering 3 times the whole following day. Today, none at all. It is so odd. Literally 2 weeks from start to finish. How strange is that? Unfortunately, I sit here...still worrying....still wondering. I have no idea what brought it on...and why it was so severe. The most bothersome part of it, all though, is the fact that it freaked me out so very much. I have always been a huge supporter of Early Intervention, and I feel like I am a very open and accepting person regarding special needs and developmental delays. Why, then was I so horribly FREAKED that something might not be perfect? Why did I find the need to explain how NORMAL Sugar Bear really is to anyone and everyone that heard her stutter? Was I really so worried what people thought of her? WOW....what an eye opener for me. It really is so much easier to talk the talk, than walk the walk.

It makes me feel like such a heel to have experienced so much fear over a simple thing such as this. So many wonderful families struggle with all sort of challenges that are much more severe. So many beautiful children have battled much larger ills and so many more will. This small moment in mine and Sugar's life really gave me a minuscule taste of the worry, the pain, the fear that revolves around families who have a loved one who is ill, delayed, or disabled. My hat is off to those strong individuals.

Friday, July 6, 2007

TuTu Too Much Fun!

What a GREAT Fourth of July. Sugar Bear had a blast, and I took no less than 315 pictures in two days! tee hee I have been glued to my computer since Sugar's bedtime, editing some of my favorites. I am feeling pretty good about that since I am literally 3 months behind on editing the rest of my pictures. It feels great to know that I can share some recent pictures.

I am loving my new camera. It is fun to practice with, but there is always a learning curve and I am finding that I still struggle with focus. I am working on consistency. Presently, I just have to take a billion pictures in hopes of getting several good ones. Hopefully that will change, and I will soon be confident that I can get exactly what I want with fewer shots.

The pictures I'd like to share in this post really make me smile. I made this sweet little Fourth of July Tutu for my Sugar girl. She loves her "pin-cess dess!" (princess dress) I had a hard time getting it off her. She even went to visit Papa's cows wearing it. I actually had to clone out a few cow hooves in some of these. This wasn't exactly what I had planned, but she saw it and NEEDED to wear it right then, so I just followed her around the yard. I still might take her and the tutu on a planned photo outing one of these days, but I am pretty pleased with the results from the impromptu pictures.

Without further blabbering, here is my Fourth of July Princess! If the picture seems pixely or if you just want to see it bigger, you can always click on it. :)

This here....just might be my favorite Papa/Sugar Bear picture yet.

awwwwww Isn't she adorable?

Ummmm...but,this one the REAL Sugar Bear! :) What a HAM!

Gosh I just LOVE this kid!

P.S. I just realized I missed this weeks Four For Friday! OOPS! Hopefully this post makes up for it! :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Sharing the Project

Last week I participated in a great group writing project hosted by MamaBlogga. It was inspiring to read all the great entries. I wanted to share them here. There are some really great kids out there with some pretty awesome mamas. :) If you have some time, check some of them out!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Home of the Brave

"Oh say can you see........" The Star Spangled Banner is one of my favorite songs to sing. I love to belt it out like I know what I'm doing. I love to stand proud, and sing loud, pretending to perform it at a big ball game or something. The louder the better....the cheesier the better. Belt it baby...BELT IT!

I have passed this little quirk right on to my sweet girl. Last year, about this time, I bought her a flag. It is a medium sized flag on a little wooden dowel. Of course I bought it hoping to get some darling pictures of her waving it around. Didn't happen, and I am not sure why. I have "mommy brain" and don't recall things that happened yesterday, let alone a year ago. Anyhow, this little flag has had a permanent home in her toy collection ever since. One day, as she was pretending to ride it like a stick horse, I thought..."She has no idea what this is!" So I asked her nicely if mama could have it for a minute. I then proceeded to plant my feet, stand tall, wave that flag, and sing my special rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner". It should be noted that the last verse MUST be sung with a lot of passion and fanfare for it to be just right. The smile on my girl's face when I finished is a memory I'll never forget. I touched her heart that day. Ummmmm well, maybe not her might have been her funny bone, but I touch something. I flicked a switch....I started something indeed. I handed her the flag, and she gave it her best shot. I have to say, SHE IS GOOD! That girl has pipes!

Since then, Miss Sugar and I, take turns belting out the last verse and waving the flag at least once a week. It is a fun game, and we can drive the dog nuts while we're at it. GOOD TIMES! I've tried to video it a few times, but my girl gets camera shy. It's a shame, because it has to be the cutest thing I have ever seen. She stands proud. She waves that flag. She sings LOUD! That's my girl.
"and the homeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee....of theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee BRAVEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!"

Here she is singing for me! Happy July Everyone!!!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Four For SUNDAY!

Okay, so the sun is shining, and photobucket is working, and I suppose I just didn't want to leave you hanging. Here are the four pictures I promised yesterday! :)

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