14 February 2009

Valentine's Day(s)

We let Valentine's Day, admittedly one of the most over-blown, commercialized, pointless holidays of the year, leak over into the day before. Friday at work Mandi bought the girls a little dessert called a "pupcake". Essentially it's two cupcakes covered with enough icing to make it look like Paris Hilton's little dog. Needless to say, it was a big hit with the girls. Well, the idea was a big hit with Lily. She'd fallen asleep on the playroom floor before Mandi arrived with the dessert, so she mustered up enough excitment to take a couple of licks of the icing before deciding to save it for tomorrow . . er, today.

In the morning, we passed off the leftover shortcakes from our dessert Friday night as "heart-shaped scones". Lily of course thought we said "heart-shaped stones". Yeah, that's what we said Lily . . dig in!

Apparently, she hated them.

Later on, after an early morning rain shower and some household chores, we decided to head out and participate in this year's Great Backyard Bird Count. I didn't have overly high expectations for our destination of choice, mostly because I'd never birded there before and don't know what to look for where. The girls found some walking sticks right away and were ready for our 2/3 mile trek.

Signs of the impending Spring were all around.

Plenty of opportunity for the girls to get all of that pent-up energy out.

When we got home, Mason hung out in his Exersaucer for a good half hour, just wow'ed by all of the noises and colors. He holds himself up really well, and can just about reach his feet down to the base. He wore his cute new Valentine's Day outfit, and it was the only thing in the room more red than his hair.

Overall, it was a fun holiday. As stupid as it is in the grand scheme of things, it's fun to see the kids "get it" and get excited about something. I hope yours was good as well!

Do I Suck At Photoshop?

There's a reason behind that title. In case you haven't seen it, just head over to YouTube and search for "I suck at Photoshop" and watch a few of the results. That's not to insinuate that I don't suck at Photoshop, because the reality is that I still probably do. That's not the point here though . . the point is to show off one of the first REAL attempts I've made to substantially edit any of my photos. I've done the "quick fix" on a couple of bird photos just to see what it'd do, but I've yet to really take the time to learn how to use the program. Tonight I was just playing around with some of the snapshots I took today and I really liked how this one turned out. What does everyone think?

11 February 2009

Monk Chin

My girls LOVE their baby brother. Each morning when he wakes up I sit on the couch with him and talk to him while I have my coffee. He is very vocal in the morning, and he gets louder and more excited the more people are around to talk to him. I guess between that and the uncanny physical resemblance there'll be no doubt he's Lily's kin, eh?

The girls both love to hold Mason, although I'm sure if he was given the choice of whether or not to be held (around the neck) multiple times per day, he may decline. For now though, he doesn't object right away, so I give them their shot at him before Avery leaves for school. Does this pose look familiar? I think Lily has a future as a wrestler, and Mason as a survivalist.

When Lily finally gave him up this morning she said, "Daddy, isn't Mason such a cute little monk chin?"

"Yes Lily, yes he is indeed, cutest little monk chin I've ever seen."

Avery does quite a bit better with restraining her instinct to choke Mason into submission, but often it's at the expense of his posture. Lily holds him up, Ave tends to let him slouch a bit. But, since he's not under quite as much duress when Avery holds him, he tends to be a little more photogenic. These are pictures the kids will look back on and treasure . . especially when Avery's 23 and her little punk 14 year-old brother is bugging her to drive him to the mall. Avery will just tell him "Listen buddy, if you don't back off and ask Lily to take you, I'll show all your friends those pictures of her choking you out when you were a baby!" Or something like that . .

10 February 2009

Phil, I Disagree!

With all due respect, Mr. Punxatawney Phil, I am going to have to disagree with your findings. 6 more weeks of Winter might seem like the right prediction to make . . after all, everybody else who gets on the news nowadays seems to want to forecast doom and gloom as well. But I've gotta tell you bro, I've got a sneaking suspicion you whiffed big time on this one. Care to hear my rationale? Good.

Let's start with the weather. I know anomalies happen, and that our current warm spell may be just that. But it's topped 70 degrees here in the Charlotte area for 4 straight days, and I'm not the only one who's noticed. Until recently, Lily had insisted on wearing pants on a daily basis, something that's completely out of character for her. Today, however, was a skirt and sandals kind of day. Well, and a coat in the morning.

Exhibit B? This guy. As I milled around in my room this morning getting my gym bag ready, a familiar song filled the air. Familiar, and yet not quite perfect. I knew it was a Song Sparrow, but there was a lot of variation. My guess is that this little guy is a 1st year bird, just getting the hang of his vocal abilities. He sang from atop my house and in the willow tree, but was too shy to pause there for photos. The small Cedar tree in the neighbor's yard was apparently a good enough alternative, and far enough away from me that he didn't feel the urge to flee.

For Exhibit C, I give you said weeping willow tree. Apparently it's got enough confidence in my point of view that it's decided to start pushing out its tender new leaves. Would a tree as wise as the willow be so foolhardy as to expose its new growth to 6 more weeks of cold and snow? I think not.

And Exhibit D? The Eastern Bluebirds have been spending more and more time investigating the nest boxes these days. According to my records, last year they started nest construction on March 18th, which is a scant 5 weeks away. I'm interested to see if this early warming pushes that date up at all this year.

With that, Mr. Brownhog (a bit of an inside joke, Avery used to call it Brownhog Day), I rest my case. I suppose the jury will need to deliberate until the end of your 6-week period to determine whose prediction was more accurate. I have to tell you though, I believe I am currently the leader in the clubhouse.