Friday, August 31, 2012

Melissa Ross Photography Photo Charm Giveaway! - CLOSED!

Closed!  Congratulations Tracey!  Comment #2

So we all have our precious angels that we love more than anything.  Whether it's our kids, our husbands, our pets, or (who knows) your favorite professional ping-pong player - it could be, don't knock it.  I don't know about you, but I like being able to look at my little angels' faces whenever I want and I especially like showing their precious-ness off to anyone who is willing to look at them.  Of course, I never have any pictures available and the ones on my phone are not only poor quality, they're old.  Besides, my phone is either not with me or not charged, sometimes both.

What I really need?  Something that is always going to be with me.  Something that will be pretty to look at.  Something with a little bit of bling.  Something like this:

Pretty, isn't it?  How perfect!  It can be for yourself or for a gift.  Christmas is quickly approaching (too quickly in my opinion) and this would be a wonderful gift.

Melissa of Melissa Ross Photography is giving away this adorable picture charm, perfect for your bag or purse and readily available to ooh and aah over. 

Melissa Ross Photography is a full service portrait provider located in southern California.  She will go on site for weddings and family portraits.  She also offers an array of extras, including birth announcements, ornaments, and Christmas cards.  Best of all?  Melissa is a wonderful woman who enjoys her job and it shows in her pictures.

Rules, because there have to be rules: you will have 48 hours to respond and claim your prize.  I will choose the winner via  The giveaway will end on Friday, September 14 at 8:00 CST.  Please leave your email in the comment field so I have a way of contacting you.  This charm retails at $38.

There are 4 ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment!  That's all, just leave a comment saying who your own special angel is you would place in the charm if you win. Don't forget to put your email in!

2. Head over and visit Melissa's  website.  Come back here and comment about something you liked.  (You may also want to check out the giveaway she's doing on her site!).

3. Tweet about the giveaway!  Leave the link back here.  You can do this once a day.

4.  Leave a post on Facebook, leave a link back here.

Good luck to you all!

Thank you Melissa Ross Photography for your generosity.  All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Enjoy our vacation! Friday


Friday.  Our last day.  Well our last day to really do anything.  So we decide to visit a botanical garden.  It was a smaller operation run on donations.  Since it was smaller, there weren't many of us there and we were able to wander the area without bumping into anyone or finding yourself stuck in a group of people.  Hubby was in still life photo heaven.  If there is one thing that everyone in my family knows about Hubby, it's that he likes taking pictures, LOTS of pictures.  Flowers, spider webs, patterns in trees, if it's in nature, he's taking a picture of it.  This is why most of the pictures on here will have been taken by him (I'll make sure I take credit for those I did take).  The place had some nice flower beds and wildflower areas in front and then mostly walking trails beyond.  It really was perfect though, the kids could hike without worrying about hurting themselves or falling down the side of a mountain.

I have always loved black eyed susans.  I'd never have the guts though to make a large area along my fence dedicated to them.  Somehow they look pretty here, I think in my yard I'd manage to make them look like weeds.

Look carefully!  There is something reddish flying around that flower.  It's wings are flapping so quickly they are a blur.  It hovers and we saw it flying up and down as well as backward.  It was going into the flowers with something long from its front end.  What could it be?!  I thought it was a small hummingbird.  I've seen the little bitty ones at the museum before and thought for sure that's what it was.  Hubby said he thought it was a huge bee.  That big?  No, Hubby, that's huge!  That can't be a bee!  We asked the person at the visitor center/gift shop about what it was that we saw.  They got the bug guy and he told us that it was a mimic.  It was a giant moth mimicking a hummingbird and he had seen one at the same spot that we saw this one.  Apparently he had done a double take and thought it was a bird as well until he saw the two feelers coming off the top of its head.  I guess you could say we were both right, it was a bug (not the right one) and it was mimicking a hummingbird (not really the bird though).

I took this one!

Anyone who has ever tried walking with Bug knows that this walking session was way overdue.  He did not like it at all and ran around me in a circle.  He did hold my hand after that though and has since been holding my hand much better than before.

So apparently I had been wrong when I told Hubby that there was no way a bee could be that big.  I have no clue what kind they are, but they are both nasty and look like they came out of the Jurassic Era.

A rough day walking requires a walk around the downtown area.  They had some... interesting... art there, including this giant iron.  What a great reminder that I need to iron my clothes more often.

While we were downtown we visited All Fired Up Pottery.  The kids were able to pick out a piece of unpainted, unfired pottery, paint it however they want, the store fires it and you can pick it up or they ship it to you.  They both enjoyed it, they both picked out practical mugs.  Practical as in they can use it.  Not so practical since Monkey's is quite large.  Oh well, 10 days later they were done and we received them in the mail.  The kids were like Christmas morning opening the very well wrapped box.

After that it was quite late and of course we hadn't eaten.  So we stopped at the Early Girl Restaurant.  All organic food and locally grown or bought.  They also had the absolute best banana walnut pancakes.  Sunshine was nice and said she liked mine better but I know she was just giving me a pity compliment.

For absolutely fabulous fudge and ice cream, they also had a Kilwin's fudge.  I love fudge, but I'm particular with it.  I could have eaten the full box we bought.  We came home with 3 2" thick x about 7" long x about 5" tall of different types of fudge.  I know the kids helped pick it out, they gave us free samples of them that were big enough that all 4 of us could sample the same piece, but I don't know if they actually had any once we bought it.  I think Hubby and I ate all of it.

Time for bed, tomorrow it's time to leave and drive another 12 hours.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rain, rain, come and play!

Sometimes we forget to take pictures of the simple things in life.  Or, those simple things become children making goofy faces, saying "cheese", and not taking that extra 5 seconds to look at what you're photographing before you click.  I love, love, love my digital camera, you can take 500 pictures of your kid watching the paint dry and delete them all, however, I've noticed that because I don't have to be perfect and don't have only one chance, I've gotten sloppy.  I used to pay more attention because I knew I wouldn't be able to recreate any of my moments when I realized the film didn't turn out.  A friend helped me with photo basics 101, tips of the trade that everyone can use to capture those special moments.

Sunshine and Monkey love playing in the rain and jumping in puddles.  I don't have a problem with this but usually the rain is cold or is accompanied by thunder or lightning.  So when the opportunity to play in the rain arises, you must quickly put on the rain gear and grab the umbrella.

 It was raining pretty hard at this point.  I was grateful for my own umbrella!


Bug got to come out at the end when there was a break in the rain.

Ok, this isn't the best picture, but he was not being cooperative!

I remembered to get those pictures that my memory won't keep.  You can see the line above Sunshine's ankle.  That's the water line in her rain boots!  So much for keeping her feet dry.

If you'd like to take some awesome pictures too, you can get tips from Melissa.

Thanks to Melissa Ross Photography for all your help.

Enjoy our vacation! Thursday


This was our second day that we had with Hubby.  It was a different start, one that was much more laid back and went a bit slower than I'd have liked, but I wasn't too surprised.  That seems to happen when we don't have a specific place to go at a specific time.

Hubby hadn't been to breakfast with us except that one morning and, for some reason, didn't seem to be expecting the awful world of children and buffets.  They are a God send that have the curse of the parent getting up and down.  As long as both parents are getting up and down, it's not too bad, it's when one parent is the sole plate filler, drink filler, fork getter, napkin refilled.  You get the idea.  Hubby is pretty good about it though, it's one of those things that I think many moms end up doing without asking the dads to do.  I'm not one of them and have no problem asking for help.

So Thursday we decided we would go on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Not going on the Blue Ridge Parkway when you are 15 minutes from it is just plain wrong.  It's a beautiful drive with occasional spots to get out and hike or have lunch.

Visitor's Center, meaning you could find out where you wanted to go and buy stuff.  Monkey got a stuffed animal skunk he lovingly named Stinky.  Sunshine got a pair of binoculars that she's been asking for for about 2 years.

Sunshine and the new 'noculars.

Our standy-by lunch of PB&J

Trail head.  Unfortunately we were about 2 weeks too late to see all of the flowers, but it was still very pretty.

Bug loves being carried around but then again, who wouldn't want to be carried around with a view 66% higher than what you normally are able to see.

Nice hiking trail.

I was quite impressed with my children.  There were bees everywhere at one point you could hear the bees better than you could hear the person ahead of you and the kids were quite calm.

Sunshine and Monkey.  Sunshine didn't want Monkey touching her and getting this picture wasn't easy.  Please enjoy it.

Absolutely gorgeous field of black eyed susans.  We found out later that we weren't supposed to be back there.  Oops, it was beautiful though.

We got back to the Craggy Gardens visitor center as it started drizzling.  Within minutes there was an absolute downpour.

Bug was sleeping in the car.  We jumped out and had our picture taken.  We also took another couple's picture.  Monkey decided that he also wanted to have his picture taken with them and went over and took hold of the lady's hand.  She thought it was so cute and wanted to have the picture taken with him in it.  When we asked him why he wanted his picture taken with those people, he simply responded, "Because I like having my picture taken."  Fair enough.

That evening we took the advice of some of the fellow conference goers and ate at a pulled pork place called 12 Bones.  I love pulled pork but for some reason I wasn't in the mood for it.  He talked me into it and we drove to some obscure location and saw this rinky dink little restaurant with a parking lot 3 times the size of the building.  The parking lot was packed and the line went around the corner of the building.  Apparently many people are told about this place because there were license plates from all over the US, including TX, NY, OH, IL, FL.  There was some other car that had a license plate I didn't recognize.  It was one of those longer plates that I picture being in Europe although I think they are also in Canada.  All I can say is, "The food rocked."  The menu says that their food is good so that we come back and the prices are low so we come back often.  It was cheap and excellent.  There were sides that must be pretty popular in southern states and we were both at a loss as to what exactly what they were.  We decided that mac and cheese would be a good choice and it was the best mac and cheese I have ever had in my entire life.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Enjoy our vacation! Wednesday

Well this day was kind of a blessing in disguise.  We were supposed to go to this bouncy area (I wasn't real thrilled with the idea, but figured it would be fun and they would fall asleep at night) but when we got there, I found out that Bug couldn't go on the bouncy things, even though I called and asked.  Whatever.  They had a display of things you could do in the area and one was for a Wildlife Nature Center.  It wasn't far and it was basically a small zoo with native animals, including wolves, bears, and cougars.  Hey, they said native at some point, not native as in you-might-see-this-when-you-go-for-a-hike-this-afternoon.

It was built on the side of the mountain which made it so you were walking through the trees.  Literally.  We were walking on wooden pathways in the middle canopy of the trees looking down at the bears and deer.  I was amazed at how Sunshine handled it.  Normally terrified of heights, she went right up to the edge and looked over.  I wasn't too concerned about her falling in, they had, as Hubby called it, a secondary cow catcher.  A sturdy chain link fence that kept people from falling/jumping in with the cuddly teddy bears.

They also had a small petting zoo there with a some crafts for the kids but by this time, Bug was not going to sit still.  Downfall, there was no snack bar, only a vending machine.  Kind of a bummer since I didn't pack any food.  As I said, I was planning on going to the bouncy area which did have a snack bar.

They had a nice bench/step stool all around the edges so even the littlest of kids could look at the animals.

Sunshine and Monkey, enjoying the hands on and speaking with one of the volunteers.  The poor guy was asked about 1,001 questions.

Bears on the right side but about 30' down.

Chasing after Bug, again.

It was a cooler day and the cougar was nice and active,

but when he decided to stop and rest he was less than 10' from the kids.  No glass and no huge ditch, we were close enough to see his claws as he was gnawing on them while he was grooming himself.

You need to be fast when taking pictures of Bug.  This required me telling the other two to hold still, plunking him down and scooting back before he could run out of the picture.

Once we were done, we had to pick up Hubby from the conference.  I had been driving past a hoagie place, Two Guys Hoagies, each day on the way there and back twice a day and wanted to stop.  It was 5:50 and the place closed at 6:00.  Hubby didn't want to stop, he said they were about to close, I said they were still open and we should go in.  All I can say is, WOW!  These are the best hoagies I've ever had - EVER.  They put the big chain places to shame.  The amount of meat and extras was absolutely amazing.  I wanted to go back again the next day but Hubby said he wanted to go to another place he had heard about.  If they shipped, I'd be ordering.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Enjoy our vacation! Tuesday

I saw some pictures on the internet before we left about some amazing park.  When I looked at the street view on google maps though it didn't show anything though.  I asked the lady at the hotel desk and she didn't know what I was talking about so I was kind of stuck.  I really wanted the kids to get out and play and run around some.  I decided to just find a park that might have some green space and or hiking trails as well as a playground.  I did an eenie meenie miney moe and chose the one that sounded a little better.  Pack up the kids and drive the 45 minutes to get to the park.  To my surprise, it was the park that I saw online!  May I just say that it was the most awesomest (yes, you can use that phrase when it's something like this park) park I have ever seen in my entire life.  The kids get there and there are about 15 other kids and it didn't matter.  The playground was so big and spread out that there was ample space.  It was a little muddy because of the rain and the humidity wasn't letting it dry, it was also in the shade (which is a HUGE bonus especially with fair skinned kids).

How do you know a playground is awesome?  If the parent can be there for 2 hours and not be bored out of their brain.  I found out that the playground was designed, built and paid for by the neighborhood that it was in.  Apparently it made the papers even.  It had all the 'necessities' that many moms would want.
1. The whole playground was fenced in with only the one entrance so your kids couldn't escape as easily.  It was much easier and less stressful when you're fairly confident they can't get past you.
2. It's also almost completely in the shade of these huge trees.
3. There aren't any random openings that your child can fall through when they are running.  Bug has this obnoxious thing he does where he likes to stand at the edge of these openings, hold onto the metal bars, and lean waaaay out as far as his arms will let him.  This playground?  No scary edges, also it wasn't made of metal, it was made of wood.  That meant that it didn't get painfully hot.
There weren't any faux rock climbing walls or any fireman's pole, but it was a sprawled out castle looking fort that made me wish I could run up there and play.
When we finally left, the kids were exhausted and smelled of sunshine.

I loved this, there were no open spots that led to a 7' fall, every opening was staircase down with lots of turns so it wasn't a dangerous staircase.  It was fun to go up and down those little landings.

The little kid's section, Bug liked it, but he preferred the larger play area

This is what

happens when the

kids have the camera

while you change a diaper.