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Monday, June 25, 2012

Experience Nature, Right in the Back Yard

a cool flowering plant my mom gave me.  not sure what it is?
Robi has taken over as our gardening extraordinaire this summer.  The tomatoes and pepper plants he planted are hanging in there despite the dry heat here, and we ate our first tomato from this year's crop tonight with dinner!  Yum!

Our neighbor plays the bagpipes, and tonight while Robi was putting Flannery to bed, I walked around outside checking on our little plants here and there around the yard, taking some photos of them, and heard the neighbor practicing.  It was such a quirky little calm moment, listening from my back deck to faint bagpipes as I tried to catch the fading light *just so* as it made a flowering plant my mom gave me glow like fire.   Something about the light and the sound together made me really want to hold on to the moment for a bit, to just hold onto the little slice of beauty I'd been given--bits of color and music free for the taking; bits of sleepy laughter drifting from the window upstairs where Robi was reading to Flanna before her bedtime; bits of connection with my family - that a tiny shoot my mom gave me had turned into a plant strong enough to bloom; bits of gratefulness -- that this sweet little life is mine.

That is the power of experiencing nature--that even just a 5 minute stroll in the back yard can spark such gratitude.  I guess it's true, what EBB says...

Earth's crammed with heaven,And every common bush afire with God;         ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

a succulent my mom gave me from her yard in Florida

basil growing like a weed, yay!

green tomatoes

pepper plant that reminds me of a praying mantis shape

a tree in the back yard, with berries that remind me of frog toes.  :)

What part of your home or yard makes you feel grateful?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Make the Most of Summer

Last week, I realized that we had only 6 weeks or so of summer left before Flannery starts kindergarten.  Yikes!  It suddenly seemed that summer was passing us by in a blur!

So I made a point to do something fun and summery each day last week.  After work on Monday, I took Flanna over to Stone Mountain hoping to take her to their little petting zoo.  What a surprise I got when I found out that after 4 p.m. on weekdays, the park offers "twilight passes" at a reduced rate.  We got to do much more than I had originally expected!  We toured the plantation and the petting zoo, and also got to ride the train and the sky buckets!  Flanna hadn't ever been to the top of the mountain before, so that was quite a treat.

We had to make some trade-offs to squeeze in the fun.  We grabbed fast food in the car on the way home, and Flanna got to bed later than normal--both things that are not ideal at all!  But it was worth it to have a special summertime experience together.

Flanna used her $5 of spending money to buy a Davy Crocket hat.  :)

Plantation Garden

on the train

in the sky bucket!

on the top of Stone Mountain!

Someone had carved my maiden name in the mountaintop!  (not me, I promise!)

a snack, among the clouds

How are you making the most of your summer, even if you have to work each day like I do?

Celebrate Traditions: Fathers' Day Fishing Trip

For the past few years, we've taken Robi for a day-long fishing trip every Fathers' Day weekend.  This year, we were lucky enough to be living close to our family, and were able to have a day of fishing with not only Robi, Flanna, and me, but also with Robi's dad (Poppa), brother (Uncle Chris), and sister in law (Aunt Anne).  We met up at Lake Spivey, and the boys fished while the girls swam, read books in the shade, and played in the sand (well, Flanna played in the sand, anyway!).  Flanna fished a bit, but was most interested in the pool.  She is doing so well with swimming this summer--she is careful and cautious but has also been trying to swim more independently and to get her face in the water more often.  She's still not "swimming" on her own per se, but is getting close!  

It was a special Fathers' Day, too, because Chris and Anne are expecting a baby this December!  So, we got Uncle Chris a "dad-to-be" card.  We can't wait for this new little cousin to come!  Flannery is already planning all the fun things she will do with her new baby cousin.  It will be such fun!

Poppa caught some big catfish!

Dock fishing with daddy-o.

Those Ragan boys are so sweet with Flanna. 

Flanna with her Poppa 

Hugs for Uncle Chris

Flanna picked out a card with dachshunds on it, of course.

Flanna sunning by the pool

Poppa treating Flanna to some super jumps

What traditions do you love to keep going?  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Join in Your Spouse's Interest

Robi got us tickets to the US vs. Antigua soccer game while we were in Florida for vacation.  It was a rainy but fun evening--thankfully not too cold.  We sat pretty near to the loud American fan section, which was such fun!  By the end of the night, we knew all of the US soccer cheers and chants!  And the best part was -- the US won!

It's funny--I'm not a huge soccer fan, but I really loved rooting for a team together with all the fans, and being a part of the excitement and energy at the stadium.  I'm so glad Flannery and I joined in Robi's interest and went to the game--I hope it will be the first of many games we see as a family!

Waiting inside during a rain delay

Don't the US players look like little sailors down there on the field?  :)

serious about their soccer

Soaked at the end of the game, despite our ponchos!

How can you join in one of your partner's interests?  You may be surprised to find out it's actually great fun!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Family Galore!

Oh, my, it was so nice to be with so much family on our vacation!   There were cousins galore for Flannery to play with, and she got to know them so much better having extended time to play.  Here are some photos of a morning we went to the pier, and a few of them got to fish.

Uncle Wayne with Cousin John Ethan, who caught a flounder!

Flanna all excited when she caught a fish.  She insisted on throwing
everything back immediately, so I didn't get a good pic of her fish!

Flannery laughing at her Poppa

Cousin Kade with his dad and grandpa

What's your favorite memory of time spent with your extended family?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Experience Nature: Rod & Reel Pier

During our vacation, Robi and his dad went fishing early each morning at the Rod & Reel Pier, and most of the time, Flanna and I just hung out at the beach and pool while they were there.  But one morning, we met them for breakfast, and it was amazing all the wildlife we saw just in those few hours!  We saw a manatee swim under the pier, dolphins jumping by, pelicans everywhere, and even this neat crane who was soooo brave and came right up next to us on a bench as we fished.  Such fun!

What place do you like to go to experience nature up close?

Mini Tour of Mixon Fruit Farm

We just got back from a lovely vacation to Anna Maria Island in Florida.  It was such a nice trip!  We went with Robi's side of the family, and had so much fun with all of them!  Midweek, we went to a place called "Mixon Fruit Farm" and got to tour their orchard and to see many of the animals they help rehabilitate.  Flanna loved the animals so much--she has such empathy for little creatures.  And she was so brave to pet and hold some of the scarier ones!  

Nana & Grammie on the tram to tour the orchard

Fruit Cocktail tree (produces 3 types of fruit in
one tree--lemons, limes, & grapefruits!)

Variegated Lemon Tree

bougainvillea in bloom

Confederate Jasmine - these were even more gorgeous in real life!

Flanna feeling sorry for the hurt deer

Flanna petting Sunshine the Albino Python

Flanna holding Sunshine the python

Flanna with a green lizard

screeching owl (it's full grown!)

orange orchard

What fun places are you planning to visit over the summer?