Monday, February 27, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One Reason I Love Winter!

I adore birds. In the Spring, when it's nice outside, I love to sit on my deck and watch all of their goings-on. They fascinate me. As with most bird lovers, I also LOVE their nests. I find them so amazing. They're always so perfect and you can tell they're made with such care. In the winter, when all of the leaves are gone from the trees, suddenly these sweet little nests are visible to everyone and I feel like we're given a glimpse inside of the private lives of birds.

I took the above photo while sitting at a stoplight. In the Spring & Summer, one might sit at this same light and have no idea that a family of birds is residing in this tree, that little baby birds are chirping for their parents' attention, that the parents are searching for food right around this area to feed their brood. In a couple of months, you best believe I'll be watching this tree when I'm waiting at the light. I can't wait to see who might be flittering in and out of the tree....

On the subject of birds and nests, I've been collecting small bits of yarn, dryer lint, dog fur (from Hubbell), feathers (from Scout & Atticus), etc so that we can leave it out for the birds to assist them in their nest-building this Spring. It will be so fun to see what materials they take and use....and next winter we'll study the nests to see if we can find those recycled bits.....

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Suburban Field Journal

There's a neighborhood not too far from's one of those very planned subdivisions that attempts to recreate an old-timey neighborhood. The houses are extremely close together, they all have large front porches, there are sidewalks all over, there are more green spaces than average, and the houses are every color imaginable. While I appreciate the attempts to create a strong sense of community, there's nothing organic about this place. It feels rather plastic and forced.

This particular neighborhood has a decent sized park area with some trees that were left in place and a small playground. Once we discovered it, we frequented it from time to time to let our daughter play. In the handful of times we've been there, we've never seen another soul in the park.

Despite the emptiness, apparently we weren't the only ones sneaking a visit. Over time signs started to appear....

{I always laughed at the keypad on this gate because you can just reach over, push down the handle and the gate opens. Who thought of that?}

Threats from police? Wow. Must be a serious problem. This just goes to show how desperate people around here are for some green space....

....and how those of us who have it aren't willing to share it!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Hearts Day

On this Valentine's Day, one of my most favorite days of the year, I want to wish all of you a very Happy Valentine's Day. I hope you all have lots of love in your hearts and your lives. To celebrate this holiday of love, I wanted to share a photo of my two little loves.....each wearing their Valentine's shirt at around the same age. Swoon...

Monday, February 13, 2012

Suburban Field Journal

Lately, around these parts, there's a lot of this going on....

....and this....

...and this....

....and this....

....and this.

Because of all of this, nowadays, these are the views I see in the distance as I'm driving....

So, it's no wonder that I often find myself singing these lyrics from Cowboy Take Me Away (a family favorite!):

I wanna walk and not run
I wanna skip and not fall
I wanna look at the horizon
And not see a building standing tall

I wanna be the only one
For miles and miles
Except for maybe you
And your simple smile.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Uptown Girls and One Guy

The family spent all day Saturday in Uptown Charlotte. You see, we had some free hotel nights that had to be used by the 20th of this month. Since it's still a little hard to travel with Clara, we decided to do a staycation of sorts and get a hotel room in the middle of uptown. It was such a nice change from the burbs; the best part being that we got to walk everywhere we went. Go figure that this was the ONE cold day in was freezing cold walking around....but brisk and refreshing at the same time. This morning I took Sophie to the children's symphony. It was delightful and reminded me how much I love seeing a symphony. Alain and I are now making plans to see the adult version soon (yippee!). The four of us had lunch together and then headed to Family Day at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art. Since I'm not a huge fan of modern art, I had reservations about the museum. I was stupid. The space is really great and I actually found many pieces that I loved. We met two of Soph's friends there and they all had fun doing the scheduled kids' activities. Then the entire family ate dinner together at Basil. Yum yum. A lovely day indeed. Here are some of my favorite shots...

INTEGRITY by Hoss Haley

Cute little taxi sign

Nothing says "city" to me like a row of TownCars

Peek-a-boo Baby

Scavenger Hunting at the Bechtler

Sleeping through the art museum

Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture on the terrace

A different view

A facial close-up

Niki de Saint Phalle's Firebird

Barbara Hepworth's Garden Sculpture

Sol LeWitt's Wall Drawing #995

My new favorite photo of Alain

Sophie using binoculars to check out the view from our hotel window

An interesting light fixture at Basil

Friday, February 10, 2012

My 2012 Word of the Year

I don't do New Year's Resolutions. Still, when this year began, even in my sleep-deprived fog, I knew I wanted to do something. Then I remembered seeing a lot of stuff online about choosing a word of the focus on, meditate on, act on, etc. I had barely thought about the idea and THE word popped into my head.


That's my word for 2012. An obvious and very easy choice. What inspired this word? Actually, it was my second very sunny baby, Clara Louise. She is constantly smiling. She even laughs in her sleep. She brings a lot of joy to all of us. I always describe her disposition as sunny. Little Miss Clara spreads her own particular brand of sunshine in her own way, in her own time, generously, freely. It's a beautiful thing. I noticed that I was constantly thinking that I'd like to be more like her.

Along with her birth, I also discovered a constant and deep feeling of gratitude. It hangs around with me even when I'm sick or sleep deprived or overwhelmed. I am just lucky. Not to mention that my heart is overflowing with love and ready to bust wide open. So, in whatever way I can, I want to spread sunshine to others. I don't have a lot of free time but I've already started in small ways. Alain has enjoyed several foot massages as of late. I read extra books to Sophie when she asks. I whisper sweet nothings and stroke her forehead when I rock Clara before her nap. I tell my girls CONSTANTLY how I love them more than they can possibly imagine. I give Hubbell a little massage here and there. I sing to the birds. I called my friend, Leslie, and invited her to lunch with Clara & I. I bought my Dad a cool book for his birthday. I had the best damned dinner with Elizabeth & Nathalie ~ one that made me feel energized and happy. I've been trying to slowly reconnect and reconcile with an estranged cousin. I smile more. I laugh more. Those are my sunshine gifts to myself. All of these things make me feel good inside. I'm old enough and wise enough to recognize happiness and peace when it visits me in my life. So I've decided that I am going to ride this roller coaster of happiness and peace......ride it with everything I have inside of me. And hopefully spread a little bit of sunshine in the process....

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bird's The Word!

Last Friday Clara and I ventured out to a new fabric store. When we left half an hour later, our car wouldn't start. As we sat there waiting to be rescued (thank you, Elizabeth and Nat!), this little bird landed on the roof of the car parked next to us. Before he flew away, I quickly took a couple of photos of all his cuteness....

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The New Toy

Sophie was so thrilled to get a new, life-sized doll this past weekend. She immediately put her in the doll stroller and started to walk her around.....

Uh, wait a moment, that doll looks a LOT like Clara.

Of course, it IS Clara. Except that she's cuter than any doll I've ever seen.

My two girls had such a fun time playing together. Sophie was ecsatic when I told her she could put Clara in the stroller (with many rules, of course!) and Clara smiled nonstop the entire time that Sophie strolled her around.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Suburban Field Journal

Today let's play a little game. It's called "School or Prison". Take a look at the images below and take a guess as to which ones were taken on school grounds and which ones were taken on prison grounds......

Okay, I know, I wasn't being entirely fair. It was a little bit of a trick question. All of these photos were taken on the grounds of two local schools. Yet to me they all look like prison.

As I was driving around the parking lots of one school, all I encountered were locks and fences and a police car. Are people being kept out or locked in? You really can't tell. But it does strike me that this isn't a place where people want to be.

A few years ago I took some LEED courses. I was particularly interested in LEED for schools. There have been many studies done that show a link between access to nature and increased learning. Do we really need studies to tell us this? Isn't it obvious? These schools located near our home certainly don't inspire much of anything. They are drab, cold, industrial. There is barely any nature to speak of. It makes me rather sad. The quality of these schools is supposedly quite high and that is the good news. Still, can't we have the quality and an environment conducive to learning, a warm and nurturing place? Aren't our children worth it?
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