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Happy World Penguin Day!

25 Apr

Did you know that this was today?  I sure didn’t.  And I should know these things.

See, Maura loves penguins.  LOVES penguins.  But apparently only sarcastic ones that blow stuff up, as she loves Penguins of Madagascar, but “Happy Feet” doesn’t do much for her.

I’m okay with that.

Maura also owns a herd of penguins.  It’s really all my fault, I started buying different ones, and she loved almost all of them (though she doesn’t like non-black and white ones, she doesn’t do pink penguins, she wants the real deal.)

Needless to say, penguins are a part of our life.  We have the shows, we have the dolls, we’ve had the tee shirts, and the Pillow Pet.  They’ve traveled around the U.S., to Ireland, Scotland, England and Rome.  Where ever we go, we pack at least one little penguin for Maura.  She loves her dolls, her princesses and ponies, but the penguins are her oldest loves.  Some of them are worn, one’s missing a fin, one has a wonky beak from where Maura would sometimes gnaw on it.  We have big ones, little ones, and one gigantic one.  If we could get her a pet penguin, we would have by now.  (BTW, apparently penguins are really easy to kidnap, according to the woman at the one wildlife center we went too….they fit into backpacks…not that we’d ever do that…)

So in honor of World Penguin Day, here are some shots of Maura’s love affair with these flightless, black and white creatures -

This penguin came to the Great Big Sea concert with us

This penguin came to the Great Big Sea concert with us.


The pillow pet penguin, who traveled to Ireland and back again, to make the transitioning easier

The pillow pet penguin, who traveled to Ireland and back again, to make the transitioning easier


When you're feeling bad, a penguin is always there to snuggle with

When you’re feeling bad, a penguin is always there to snuggle with


I had to buy this shirt for Maura.  Had to.

I had to buy this shirt for Maura. Had to.


Maura, in penguin pj's, with her giant penguin.

Maura, in penguin pj’s, with her giant penguin.


Penguin migration happening in our house...

Penguin migration happening in our house…


The princesses and the penguins get along.

The princesses and the penguins get along.


At the Dublin Zoo, Maura finally caught a penguin.

At the Dublin Zoo, Maura finally caught a penguin.


Happy World Penguin Day!

Happy World Penguin Day!



P.S. – if anyone knows where I can get my hands on an Opus doll, I would get it for Maura in a heartbeat.  I think she would love Opus.

Opus, by Berkeley Breathed

Opus, by Berkeley Breathed



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The Tale of the Christmas Picture

21 Dec

Originally posted in December 2003, this is the tale of me, an optimistic younger mother, with four beautiful children and a digital camera, on a quest to get the perfect Christmas card photo.  What could go wrong?

It seemed like a good idea at the time – take a picture of the kids to put in the Christmas cards. You know the scenario – dress them in red and green and put them in front of the Christmas tree, snap a couple pictures, pick the best one for the card. Simple, right?


So we got the tree up, the kids had fun decorating it, I got out the camera. Shined them up, arranged them tastefully, and started snapping pictures.


The first picture was okay, but it would be nice if Maura was looking our way and Collin wasn’t making a weird face. But that’s okay, the night is young and so are the kids….


Hmmm….it would be nice if we had all the kids faces in the picture.


Okay, three are still happy, but again, it would be nice to see faces…but Collin’s not cooperating.


At this point, Collin is done with pictures and Maura’s unhappy. I think we need a break. So we stop for a few minutes while I cheer Maura up and Josh talks to Collin about how he needs to smile for the camera.


See, I can take a picture of a happy child. But apparently, just one.


Okay, everyone’s happy again, but not looking in the same direction. Hmmm…


Not bad, but not quite what I was hoping for…maybe the next shot will be better. Yes, I’m an optimist.


Now why is the baby the only one looking at the camera?


Apparently something more interesting was going on above my head.


And now only Collin’s looking towards the camera. Sean is looking at Josh who’s behind me standing up, Maura’s checking out Collin’s arm, seeing if it looks good enough to chew on, and who knows what Miriam is doing.


Much better! Except you can’t quite see Maura’s face. I decide to carry on. Because silly me is certain that the next shot will be that wonderful picture perfect for the Christmas card.


Two out of four…sigh…


Well, this one looks good! Wait….upon further study, I realize that the position of Sean’s hands on Maura’s head makes it look like she has some weird Princess Leia thing going on with her head. And it would be nice to have a picture of her without her hand in her mouth. Sure, she’s teething, but we don’t need a photo record of it, do we?


If Miriam didn’t look like she was in pain, this might have been the one.


Oh for crying out loud! That’s it, no one’s allowed to move anymore until I get my picture!


We’re losing the baby here people!


*sigh* Okay, Miriam, let’s try to pretend you’re a dainty female, now put your hand down.


Great, now Collin looks like he’s in pain. And I’m now contemplating taping the kids into position.


We decide to take another break while Josh stresses to Collin why I really want this picture and how much his cooperation would be appreciated.


And again, we start over again….and again, we lose the baby. Not to mention that Sean’s looking a bit scared now – but it’s a great picture of Collin and Miriam.


Two happy, two bored…not the best image, but hey, no one looks scared and the baby’s in the picture.


Now this is a good picture….wait….okay, where did Miriam wander off to?


We found Miriam, got her back in the shot. But it would help if certain people had their eyes open.


Aw, isn’t that cute? Sibling love. What you don’t see is that Miriam shoves Sean away from Maura, Sean starts crying, we pause to calm people down, I contemplate drinking, Josh is contemplating running away….


This isn’t bad…heck, in comparison, this is a freaking work of art. But still, I carry on.


I ask you, how hard is it to get four, just four kids to all look in the same direction with their eyes open? Is that too much to ask?


I swear, there was no drugging of children involved in this photo shoot.


And just when we thought it couldn’t happen…a picture that’s almost right….can it be I might just get that picture?

Well, I did get a picture for the card, but I’m not going to spoil it and post it here. You can just wait until you get the card – or after Christmas, when I post it for the rest of the world. And for the record, I took 74 pictures trying to get that one #^@$!$^#@! picture for the card, so you better love it!

Thank goodness for digital cameras though.

Next year, I’m taking a picture of the dog. When you tell him to sit, he sits. He doesn’t get goofy, pick his nose, complain his cheeks hurt from smiling, wanders off, push his brother…no, the dog just sits.


December 23rd, 2003

I finally got most of the Christmas cards in the mail (I have a few more to do…hey, there are 12 days of Christmas, right?) So here it is – the eagerly awaited final result of the whole photo shoot!


Look at them – what a sweet bunch of children…everyone’s looking in the same general direction almost, you can see the baby’s face (I gave up on her smiling, settled for just her face without her hand in her mouth)…a little red-eye fix and I was happy.

Note – ten years later, and I still can’t get all of them to smile AND look at the camera at the same time.  But I’ve learned to take what I can get and move on.

photo by Elisha Clarke

photo by Elisha Clarke

Happy Halloween

31 Oct

Who misses the good old days of “fun” masks that were creepier than some of the creepy masks of today?

Here’s me, as a plastic-faced princess and my brother as Darth Vader.    (I’m pretty certain that I probably insisted on this horrible costume, because my mom made some pretty awesome costumes back in the day…)

Faces are hidden to protect the innocent!

Faces are hidden to protect the innocent!


Here’s me, in a much better costume, sewn by the great seamstresses in my life (mom and grandma), and the photo that inspired my Facebook feed to go “Holy cow, Maura looks JUST like you did!”


Me, back in the day

Me, back in the day


Also note that each costume came with a coordinating jacket underneath.  I grew up in Chicago.  The Warm Costume was necessary.  Any Halloween it didn’t snow on us was a good one!




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