Small Moments

Today, I read an article written about a famous photographer.  As a photographer myself, I often study the work of other artists that I admire.  Seeing how other photographers capture light, mood, and tone in a photograph helps my own work.  

Last Spring, after I finished up a photo session with a client, I decided to take a little walk around and just take some photos for myself.  Just because.  In the midst of this  large, grassy, thistle filled field was a whole different world happening on a smaller scale.  Although I was surrounded on all sides by bustling suburbia, road noise, and even occasional air traffic, on this small scale no one noticed.  Just two bumble-y bees whiling away the hours going from thistle to thistle.  It was a reminder to not be so concerned with all the extra things around me, but to stop and make that memory, take that photograph before its too late.


The Traveling Zoo

So, the Grandparents came for a visit after going down to see Aunt Laura graduate from college.  It was nice to spend time visiting,eating, playing and running errands together. We were happy to be able to have Gram attend our church's Mother Daughter Banquet with us.  It was the first time we got to bring a Grandma with us! 

The kids also thoroughly enjoyed getting to spend some one on one time with Gram, taking turns riding in the Grandparents rental car, and playing Greed with Gramps(don't ask me why it is blue and underlined...it just did that on its own and I'm not going to fight with it.)
While they were here, it was decided that we should take a little Road Trip to the Indianapolis Zoo.  Our kids have been wanting to go there and see the dolphins and the underwater dome for quite a while.  So, plans were made after much deliberation about where to stay, when to go, etc.  We also were able to arrange to meet the our Aunt and Uncle from Terre Haute at the Zoo since its about half way between both of us.
We divided the kids up between the vehicles and off we went together-ish to Indy!

Much to the delight of the children, we were staying in a hotel with a pool.  Which is always a good way to entertain and wear out children while traveling away from home.  

Since it was a weekday, we pretty much had the whole pool to ourselves.  It was a great!  The boys, and perhaps a grown up, had a contest to see who could make the biggest splash when jumping in the pool. There was NO DIVING because the sign said, "NO DIVING".  However, it failed to mention doing Cannon Ball jumps, which lead to MUCH splashing.  I won't mention by name who made the biggest splash, but I will say that "the bigger they are, the harder they fall splash".                                              As you can see, Emily is not a big fan of swimming.  She is all sparks, fire, and enthusiasm until she gets to the pool and then suddenly...she's struck with the "I'll just sit here and rest for a while" bug.  Truly, there is no middle ground for her feelings...she's really happy, really sad, or completely petrified.  Which is the case with swimming.  No, there has been no traumatic event that triggered her response.  Just life, water, and how she feels about water.

The first thing we went to see was the Dolphin Show!  The dolphins did several neat tricks, dives, and jumps while the trainer lady narrated and rambled on about pollution, conservation and saving the earth.  I'm all for being responsible and taking care of the world around me, but...Just tell us facts about the dolphins, and show us what they can do! We just came to see the dolphins, people!  
Brian, Ethan and Emily went to sit down low in the auditorium so they could be closer and probably get wet!

 A dolphin swimming backwards and balancing on its tail.  I can't balance on the ground, let alone, on water!

From the Underwater Dome, a dolphin swims above in the pool that we sat and watched the show.
 Next up, the Gibbons!  Everybody loves a good show by those Gibbons!  They yell and holler like nobody's business and put on a great show.  They are one of my favorite things to see.
  Titus and Emily found a place near the bats to compare their arm span to the wing span of a nasty giant bat. Too bad, they both only qualify for a medium sized nasty bat.  That means they had a 20-22 inch span versus the Giant Bat that has a 36 inch span!  Oh my, ick!  I would have a  heart attack if I saw a bat that big!  Nasty.

There was a big, brown bear pacing his habitat.  Probably having hunger pangs as he looked out over the crowd of small children gathered around.  Thankfully, there was a rather large, deep ditch that stood between us.  
Emily watched for a while and said, "I think he probably thinks I look tasty!"  
Yep.  A tasty morsel, indeed.  

We saw a Box Turtle and an Iguana sharing a salad.
 Some adorable little lizards hanging out on a shady spot.
 Of course, the Giraffe is always fun to watch.
No trip to the Zoo is complete without seeing some hairy Baboons picking nasty's out of another Baboons hair.  That is so sick on so many levels.

There was a Mama and an adorable baby Elephant.  At one point the baby was playing in a mud puddle and shooting muddy water out of its trunk.  Just like a kid.
I got to touch a shark in the Shark Touch Pool.  They just swim around and around, and around, and you can try to touch them as they pass.  NOT their fins, and NOT their face, and certainly NOT by their mouth.  
For obvious reasons.
 These penguins cracked me up! Particularly, this little fella, he just stood there looking like he was in a game of Freeze Tag. Maybe he was mad and standing there in frozen protest to something.  He didn't move at all.  Even when a guy came in and was passing out fish to all the penguins, he just stood there.  The Penguin feeder guy even came right up to him and put a fish in his face, but nope, he wouldn't even acknowledge the guy or the fish. Funny.  

 Here we see the wild creatures know as the Hayden Clan.  Scary.
Gram and Uncle Boice having a rest in the shade. Sophie was taking a spin on the motorized cart thing that Phyllis used to get around.  
Gramps and his big Sister Phyllis.   Brother and Sister Trouble.
 Obviously related.
We ended our day with dinner at Chick-fil-a, complete with Ice cream!  A yummy end to a fun day.  

Sweet contentment.  Snoozin' and snoring all the way home!


Here, Let Me Help You...

Meal times in our home are often interesting.  
You can imagine the flurry of activity in gathering our 7 family members around the table, drinks for everyone, and a hot meal on the table. All the kids have various jobs in getting things ready...Caleb sets the silverware, Sophie sets the dishes, Ethan places the salt, pepper and any other condiments we need, and Emily puts on the napkins.  Titus somehow escapes the table prep, and now that I'm seeing it as I write it...things may change.  

  As the children are getting older we're trying to make sure that they know proper table manners, how to handle eating certain foods, and things like that.  We also try to help them eat well, without making big messes.   Naturally, kids are messy. Hopefully, the older kids are a bit neater.  Naturally, smaller kids need more help.  For example, Fifi may think she can put just the right amount of dressing on her salad, only to accidentally squeeze out enough salad dressing for the entire family!  Rather than setting myself, or my precious Fifi up for continued failure, I'd rather just help her put it on until I know she is capable of controlling her "squeeze".   Same with ketchup, mustard, etc.  WHY add another possible mess to the spilled drink, dropped noodles, and shmear of sauce if I don't have to?

Now that I've said that,  enter this particular evening, at our cozy kitchen table...

Baked Chicken fingers sizzling in the pan, fresh steamed brocolli wafting its horrid smell into the kitchen, and a  delicious bed of cheesy egg noodles awaiting to be served. 
A prayer of thanks is offered..."Thank you God for my delicious food that Mother prepared for us, for my wonderful flamily, our wonderful house, my beautiful room and for giving us this food.  Amen.
Food is served and all is well.  Kids are hungry and its quiet-ish. Emily asks for mustard, grabs it and starts using it quicker than I can intervene.  Through a rare meal miracle, she manages to escape a reign of mustard terror.  Next, she asks for Ketchup, she likes to mix the two.  THIS time, I intervene. There will be no mass ketchup carnage at my table tonight!   (Enter hero fanfare music here) "Here, Emily...Let me help you with that...", says I, the matriarch of the proper table.  Then, with a slight shake, a quick flip of the cap, and a twisting of parental fate, the ketchup squirts out all over the table and my hand.   Fail.  Epic ketchup fail.  Ha!  
Too funny for this to happen just as I step in to save our table from certain doom.  Well, Sophie got up and got me a rag, I cleaned up, gave Emily her ketchup and the meal continued. 
Approximately 10 minutes later, Emily asked for more ketchup.  This time I was wise to the ketchup's wily ways.  I won't shake it this time.  I'll tip it ever so slightly.  I won't squeeze it at all.  Nice ideas, but as soon as I opened the bottle it happened again!  Turns out, we own a ketchup bottle from the dark side!  No matter how you open this ridiculous bottle it spews ketchup onto whatever is in its wake!! 

We all had a good laugh over my misfortune.  Sophie, the future blogger/photographer raced for the camera, and Caleb blurted out "blog!".  
It was funny,  and in a funny little way, I'm thankful that it happened.  Sometimes our kids make mistakes, have accidents, and make messes that are out of their control.  Us adults, often aren't very understanding. It is good to have an event like this to look back on.  It will be helpful, at some time later, to be able to mention this event to that child who feels like they messed up again.  A lesson in reality for all. 
 And time to shop for a new bottle of ketchup.  


The Wonder of Homemade Shower Cleaner

It all started HERE. Andrea, over at Simple Organized Living featured a post about homemade soap scum/shower cleaner.
 Since I was again, on the quest to be even more cheap frugal than I already am.   It sounded pretty good.  It fit my basic criteria...cheap ingredients, few steps to make, and a tolerable smell. I do have some allergy issues when it comes to scents, so I'm not one who goes looking for heavily scented things.  Most, if not all cleaners that I've ever purchased from the store have made me sneeze...and sneeze...and sneeze.  Cleaning the shower and latrine is bad enough without having to stop every 45 seconds to blow your nose!

Let's say,  you did a search for homemade shower cleaners.  If you used Google, you would come up with at least 10 pages of results.  THAT is a lot.  I chose to take my search to Pinterest instead and see what I came up with there. This one that I chose turned up on Google and Pinterest.  It also didn't have cheesy pictures, which to me, is important. 
In all of the preparations that  I read about there were several common characteristics.  Vinegar, Dish detergent, Empty spray bottle, water.  

Some of them say to heat the vinegar to really hot, some say lukewarm...I chose to not heat mine at all.  Turns out, it works just fine.

Some say use equal parts vinegar and dish soap.  Well, that seems like a lot of soap...so I added about 6 oz. to my 16 oz. of vinegar

Some add baking soda, extra water, borax, or essential oils.  Ya, I got none of that, so we did without...and it works just great!

Some say to only use the original blue Dawn dish soap.  Well, I only use the original green Palmolive dish soap, so guess what?   I used that instead and it works just fine.

Some say to leave it on the area you spray it for 20 minutes to overnight.  Ya, I didn't do that either. However, it worked just fine.
I did, however, notice that if you leave the shower door open with the shower head projected at the open door, you will get wet. 

Since I was so over the moon about how well the cleaner worked on my fabulously evil shower doors, I decided to give it a go on the ever aging eyeliner stain on the toilet seat.
 Back in November, you may remember a certain incident that included Emily and waterproof eyeliner.
It just so happens that I was having a hard time getting some of the eyeliner off our wooden toilet seat. In fact, short of sanding it down and refinishing it, (which was not going to happen) I think I had tried everything! 
Fast forward to April and the newly discovered Homemade Shower Cleaner and we have success.  Normally, one would post a picture of their hard won cleaning success.  However, it seems a little wrong to post a picture of one's toilet seat on the internet.  Guess I'm just shy like that.

If you'd like to try making your own Homemade Shower Cleaner in the same fashion as mine, here is what you'll need...

1- Empty Spray bottle
16 oz. Vinegar (white distilled...the cheap stuff)
4-6 oz. Liquid Dish Detergent (NOT dishwasher detergent)

Mix and clean!

If you're wondering how it smelled... It smelled like vinegar and dish soap...not bad, but not like a field of fragrant wild flowers.  The next batch I make, I might add a few drops of Lavender oil that I have, but that is only if I can remember where I put it. :P


Good Gifts

Today, as I was making my way through one of my favorite stores.
I was delighted to see a brand spanking new pair of running shoes! I have needed a new pair for some time, but was putting off shelling out the cash for a new pair. My current pair have issues.  They squeak when I walk or run. Really, an audible squeak comes from my shoe. Nothing short of annoying.

Not only were the shoes I found adorable,  they were also Brooks shoes, which I often like, but can't afford the sticker shock. 
The shoes retail for around $ 120-140...too many dollars for this chick!
This time, however, they were a price that only The Lord can give me.
This time they were a whopping $ 8.99!
 Talk about shoutin' time! And yes, they were exactly my size. 'Cause my God is like that...Thank you Lord!  
Now, off I go runnin' my little heart out and praising The Lord for his blessings!


Our Greenville Adventure

After arriving late at night and discovering that we were blessed with a great place to stay, we decided to go check out the fine learning institution of our wonderfully talented sister, Laura.  Her schedule for the day was on the lighter side, which was definitely in our favor!  After figuring out how to find the agreed upon "mailbox landmark", we set out to park in the garage and make it to our meeting point. Our goal was to make it there without breaking any regulations that would embarrass Laura in her final days of college. We were also meeting up with the Hayden Sr's (That's George & Martha, not to be confused with the Senior, Laura Hayden) Not that we're often prone to mischief or anything, but you never know what ridiculous scenario we might find ourselves. 
We successfully met up with Laura and made our way through somewhere on campus to visit Laura's Band practice class.  It wasn't as if we could sneak in, after all there were 9 of us, so they kindly set up chairs off to the side and got down to their business.  The children were really impressed and enjoyed listening to the band play, as well as listen to the delightfully animated conductor of the band.  It's been years since I've been to a band practice. It was so fun to hear the conductor speak and instruct with language as only conductors can do.  After having a nice lunch together at a place I'll call Cafe La Bleu, it was decided that we would go to a park.  Gramps was to serve as our tour guide, and he would take us to some park that we were sure to love.  As we made our was through parts of Greenville that we'd best not travel after dark, I was a little less sure if we had chosen the right way to spend our afternoon.  Would I have to use my Ninja skills after all?  No, surely it will be fine...I should just relax and wait to see what we find.  Finally, after driving past a photographer doing a photo shoot in a colorful alley way, I began to relax.  If it's safe for him to carry all his gear down here, that shows promise.  Everything will be fine now. 
And sure as the day is not night, we arrived at our destination.
 We were at Falls Park ! The website boasts, "Far more than a nature lover's paradise, Falls Park, located in downtown Greenville's Historic West End, is one of Greenville's greatest treasures. "   
 The website failed to mention that Laura was almost mugged here one evening, but during the day it was charming.  Truly, it was pretty.  The weather was warm, it was sunny, and a delightful 76 degrees!  Since it had been snowing in Dayton the day before we left, we were pretty much basking in the warm weather.  You can see a nice shadow picture of our family that I took from the bridge.  Can you recognize us? 

 After viewing the falls from the very cool Liberty Bridge, we decided to go take a walk down by the ducks and see the waterfall up close. 
Little did we realize, Spring was in full force down in the green grass with all the duckies and geese!  We arrived to see what looked like a scene from a National Geographic movie.  Typical boy ducky chases girl ducky wucky for the furtherance of all duck kind.                   Emily thought they were playing tag and that the girl ducky, who was quacking her ever living head off, was laughing about how she was running faster than the boy ducky. This is, after all, a family friendly blog here, so that's all I'm sayin'... 
 Hey KIDS, let's go look at the waterfall!! 
 The waterfall was pretty and there were a lot of people who came by as we were there to have their pictures taken near it. I did have a fleeting thought about how the water probably contained mass amounts of toxic waste and therefore we should not touch it, but I am told that is all in the past. Nevertheless, "Swimming is Discouraged" by some carefully placed signs by the attentive folks from City Hall.  

As Ethan was tromping around on the rocks, looking at cool stuff, he happened upon a very small Copperhead snake.  This little fella thought that Falls Park was a fine place to come out for a little sunbathing.  Little did he know, Copperheads are NOT welcome.  I'm not sure what was in store for this little fella's future but, I'd venture to say he may experience relocation, etc.  
Here is a birds eye view of the park, courtesy of Whitty & Al.  (In case you're wondering who are Whitty & Al.. Who knows, but through the magic of google images, I found this picture on their blog and decided to borrow it. Thanks guys, you're the best!)

Also, on this adventure to the park, we happened upon another new phenomenon in Greenville.  It isn't often that you get to view something that many folks have not observed before.  We were so privileged to view this in its beginning stages. 

OH, wait!  That's Laura! What?  Why is she carrying those gorgeous red roses? ...and who is that ever attentive gentleman by her side?  Why, I do believe that young man is Nathan, her new beau!  ...I bet he gave her those roses... 

Stay tuned, for the continuing saga of "Our trip to Greenville".  The future is promising!


Road Trippin' to SC

As many of you know, Laura, my darling, amazingly talented sister will be graduating from college this May (yaay!)  As one of her graduation requirements she was giving her Senior Recital.  This was the reason we were taking our road trip to South Carolina.  Not that we don't want to see her graduation ceremony, but compared to her Senior Recital, it would be soo disappointing, not to mention full of hoards of people that we don't care about seeing.  Not that they aren't fine people, but I'd rather watch one delightful person that I know rather than a thousand fine people any day.  

A Road trip with our family is always a special occasion of sorts.  (You can imagine all sorts of implied meaning with that last sentence.)  However, this road trip was going to prove to EXTRA special because we were adding an extra Hayden to the mix.  No, NO! I'm not pregnant, not that type of adding! (shame on you for going there!)  What I mean is, we were joined by none other than George Hayden.  Gramps.  Brian's Dad, my Father-in-law.  He flew into the Dayton airport on the morning of our departure and was going to drive with us down to Greenville, South Carolina.  Turns out, it was cheaper for him to fly to Dayton than to fly to Greenville and he decided it was worth saving money to take a road trip with us.  (Not sure if he'll choose to save money again like that but...)
So, after an exciting trip to pick up Gramps with Titus and Emily, we began our great journey to the south.  
And as all good road trips include sitting in traffic for an obscene amount of time, we began ours as such. In Cincinnati.  For several miles.  Of course, I had to take a picture of the traffic.  Then, I digressed to taking pictures of the pattern of my sweater with my ipad.  Don't mind me, I wasn't bored or anything.  Its just the sort of thing a photographer does when she's trapped in a car with 7 other people, while surrounded with cars while standing still on the interstate.

How far is it to Greenville, South Carolina from Dayton, Ohio? According to Google, who obviously hasn't made the trip with 5 kids in tow, it was 463 miles and should take approximately 7 hours and 44 minutes. Give or take 7 hours.
BAH! Of course, that is excluding stops for food, potty stops, gasoline, and a couple of um, potty stops. (I even made sure NOT to fill Emily's water bottle to the top or even close because we allll know that Miss Mini Bladder can't go for long without a potty stop if she has a drink!)

 I think they should have a "Travel time with Kids" option on Google Maps.    Highlighting all public toilets, McDonalds, and Starbucks (for the parents) all along the route would be golden. Truly...on the money, people.

After our bout with the traffic jam, it was pretty much smooth sailing.  I can say we went over the river and through the woods, though we did not go to Grandmother's house, we did indeed see her.  She had already flown down to Greenville a few days earlier and was planning to remain there for a few days after we left as well.  As you can see, Grandfather was very happy to be driving along with the troop.  Especially happy to be able to stop at Chick-fil-a for lunch along the way too!  Just look at that smiling face!
One of the challenges of a long road trip is keeping the children occupied so that they don't end up arguing and turning the back seat into a boxing ring.  While I'd like it if they would just sit quietly and gaze out the window just aching to drive 100 more miles before stopping... Reality is, much, much different. I have several minutes worth of video of Emily singing the same song over and over and over again just to prove it.  I will not, because I like you, post that here and now. 

As we traveled through the "mountains", we couldn't help but to notice how much they look like the foothills of the mountains that we grew up around.  Our younger kids were astonished at how big the mountains were...Wow! oh, Wow!  While the rest of us were a little less impressed.  Not to say that we didn't appreciate the beauty of what we saw, we did.  It was interesting that even though the temperature was in the mid 50's, most of the waterfalls along the road were frozen falls of ice.  Just imagine that because I didn't take a picture of it.  I do however, have a photo of  a random semi truck, some hills, and clouds instead.  Maybe not, but that's just how I roll sometimes.

After many long hours in the car, we did arrive at our destination.  We were blessed with a wonderful place to stay, courtesy of the Brown Family.  It was truly exciting to be spoiled by complete strangers.  She baked our favorite treats and didn't even know it!  She stocked our favorite snacks!  The kids were in a wonderland of Ping Pong and bastketball, and I got to watch the Food Network!  
Next up!  The Greenville Adventure!