I’ve been a BAD Auntie

Times ARE busy and as I wrote in my previous post that it feels like time is in fast forward.  I work the night shift and live on the opposite end of the clock so to speak.  To make matters worse, I am a miserable procrastinator.  But, when it comes to my 3 little nephews and missing their Birthdays repeatedly, that is just unacceptable and pathetic.   We live in different states and unfortunately my sister and I do not talk often, but I love them all so much and there is no excuse.  I feel horrible.  But instead of feeling horrible and doing absolutely nothing about it, tonight I got a great start on what will be a “Happy Belated Birthday Care Package” to all three of them.

My three little Amigos.

Julian just celebrated his 10th and I missed it, but truth be told- I’ve missed them all so I decided to make a card for each of them.  The smallest card is only 4″ X 2.5″.  LOL!

Inside is a personalized note for each along with a tiny bit of cash.  Then I will bundle up some little goodie bags and get them out no later than this coming weekend.  No excuses!

Love Notes

I’m excited at the prospect of them being happy, of telling them what they mean to me so they know how special they are in my heart.  Life is short and it’s never to late to reach out and tell someone how much you love them.

There is so much I don’t know…

For the first time in my life, I feel very small. Small, inconsequential – tiny. Physically small as if I were peering down from a ginormous skyscraper to the ground below where the cars are barely visible and the people look like ants. That kind of small. I am living in history, history in the making. I can see and feel aware, my senses are heightened. I feel the enormity of situations around me – they aren’t weighing me down, they just make my own personal situations seem insignificant by comparison which is the truth of the matter to begin with. Things seem to be fast-forwarding too and if you told me 10 years ago that this would happen, I wouldn’t have believed you. This world is so big. I’m just one. One little person in a world full of history and knowledge, of secrets and mysteries, of truth’s and lies.

The Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, The Holocaust, World War II, and what could possibly be World War III – The great depression, famine, suffering, and that is just a scratch on the surface of life that I do not know and that I want to know. I have a thirst for knowledge, of truth, of justice – I want peace, I want to help others. I know that I’ve never seen any sort of real pain in my lifetime. I want to turn the other cheek, I want to let things roll off me because in the grand scheme of life, all of the daily drudge and drama are not important.

This is a truth. A truth that I wish I had the foresight to know when I was younger. All of my life lessons seem to become uncovered slowly, unraveled by myself like a great foreign mystery or puzzle that is nearly out of my comprehension. I feel like what comes easily to others takes me much longer. It’s been a long road to get here, and to get to many places in my mind- but once I arrive, I get it.

My God in Heaven, please hear me now my heavenly Father. I am so sorry for all of my fretting, my insecurity, my doubt, and my anxiety. I’m sorry for being petty and mean. I’m sorry for taking for granted the beautiful life you have given to me. This beautiful life that has never known real pain, not a day in her life compared to what others have gone through.

Thank you for all of the blessings that you have bestowed upon myself and my family. Thank you for always looking out for me. Thank you for being patient with me while I slowly process bits of the bigger picture. I wish to get there faster. I’m taking a deep breath Father, I’m learning to let go and to love when hate is being pushed toward me. I’m learning …

Woo-Woo Sitting

I’m dog sitting Woo-Woo sitting for the next 10 days while my niece Terri and her husband Nick are in Ireland with their family.  What is a Woo-Woo?  Woo #1 is Shea and Woo #2 is Nugen and they are Weimaraners, as affectionately called “Woo-Woo’s” by their loving and doting parents.  Loving and doting so much, that there is a 2 page type-written instruction manual for me when I arrived at their home for my first night on the job.

Not only is there a manual from mom and dad, the Woo’s had left me a “Welcome to our home” present.  I’m not sure which Woo because when I asked the Woo’s, they said it was from “both” of them.  Then they became a little shy.  Maybe they over-spent?

Isn’t it beautiful?

I’ve only dog sat for them once before – I’d say these two are very thoughtful and welcoming.  It was like having my own personal Woo-Woo-Welcome-Wagon!  Ok, enough about the gift, would you like to see the Woo’s?  Without further adieu, I present Nugen and Shea:

Nugen & Shea

Nugen is an older boy.  He is also a rescue and he’s sweet.  He loves to retrieve Frisbee’s in the back yard, so when I threw it over the neighbor’s fence I felt badly.  I went to go climb over the fence and thought, “This will probably not end well” and decided against it.  I’m not 20 anymore and did I ever mention that I am clumsy?  Yeah, so- scratch that.  I searched the yard for another Frisbee and couldn’t find one.  I went inside AND HAD A LOOK AROUND, in their toy bin and came up with something that resembled a Frisbee:

Shea

I asked Shea to carry it out for me but Nugen wanted nothing to do with this ragged excuse for a Frisbee.  Turns out he’s a bit of a Frisbee snob.  Who knew?  Luckily he found a large rubber bouncy ball on the deck, he told me I could use that.  I did, I threw it to him 10 times across their long yard just like the instructions said ~ because he is older and if he had the choice he would play fetch all day until his heart gave out on him.  I’ve never seen anything like it.

Shea is completely another story.  She is pushy, needy, and verbal about it.  I’ve Woo-Woo sat only once before and she scared me pretty bad that time.  You have to remember, I have two small Dachshunds.  I’m not use to big dogs, with big deep heart-stopping barks (WOOF!  WOOF!) that come to my eye level when I’m sitting down, with BIG teeth.  I was sleeping over and she blocked me from getting in the bed.  I didn’t know her that well back then and I was afraid she might bite me.  This time, I am more confident and ready for her antics.

My first night I was only there 5 minutes perusing over the Woo-Woo Bible and she came over, stood up on me and poked her big paw right at my collar-bone and told me, “I run this shit”.  I was NOT having it.  Her own mother warned me of this (it’s in the manual!) and I stood up and told her that I was in charge and I was the boss of her!  Funniest thing ever, she sat down and cried.  Literally howled in exasperation and disgust.

I have to say, I really have been enjoying my time with the Woo’s.  My husband pointed something out to me when I was complaining about how pushy Shea is, he said, “She’s just like Bella!” *My little Doxie Bella is constantly poking and prodding for affection, actually demanding it when you stop petting her by incessantly pawing until you rub her some more* – I guess I never thought about it that way before.  She is just like Bella, just on a bigger scale.  I had perceived her size as threatening, but really- she’s just needy, sweet,  and wants attention and there isn’t a mean bone in her body.  Now I know.  And now she is not the boss of me anymore 😉

This time things are going well.  They are eating all of their food so they are not nervous with me (probably because I’m not scared of Shea and Nugen, I’ve gained their trust and visa versa and they can sense the comfort level is good).  They are sleeping well, and when I go to leave the come and stand in-front of me with big saucer eyes and ask, “Where are you going?  Please don’t go!” and when I come back, they are so happy.  Makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy to take good care of them.

More Woo-Woo goodness to come.  Minus the lavish present of course – LOL!

For the ♥ love ♥ of Trees

As a child I remember loving trees.  Especially the kind with a short or funky sideways trunk where I could get up into it and climb around.

I loved the bark, I loved the branches, I loved the leaves changing various colors that brightened up our older, tree-lined neighborhood.  I especially loved raking up the leaves and playing in them.  I use to rake them all into a pile, only to toss the rake off to the side carelessly and jump in, sending my collection scattering and loving every minute of it.  They smelled good; clean and crisp and they sounded good; they were crunchy and “crunkley” and I could hide in them.  My dad even had one of those leaf collectors and I remember standing beside him helping him push it along and watching so happily as the leaves were propelled backward toward me into the collection bin.  All the more to add to our pile of leaves!

It was THE coolest tool, the leaf collector.  It was like a leaf “vacuum” – no power of course but a big long brush in the front swept all the leaves into the collection bag attached.  Then dad would let us dump them all into a huge pile.  At night the neighbor kids would come over and we would play “Ghost in the Graveyard” in that massive pile of leaves.

I have always had a great love of trees.  During the day, they were bright, colorful, alive, and welcoming.  I could hear the cicadas buzzing loudly from high up in the trees but would never see a single one of them (thank goodness).  At night, I can recall walking home from a friend’s house under the moonlight and being terrified of the trees.  Feeling small underneath their long leafy dark limbs.  Feeling like someone was peering down at me from high above.    That fear probably came from watching the Wizard of Oz, which is one of my all time favorite movies but the scene where the tree’s start talking and throwing apples is unnerving to a kid.  Although, at nighttime, once safely tucked in my bed I use to watch out the opened window before falling asleep and trying to make shapes out of the tree’s swaying back and forth.  It was as hypnotizing as watching clouds during the day.

Even to this day, I ADMIRE trees – I love them.  Not your everyday, nonchalant love “meh.  trees.” kind of love- mind you, but the kind where I am driving down the road and I think, “Oh look!  That tree – is so beautiful, would it be weird for me to pull over and hug it?”  that kind of love, LOL.

When visiting down south I noticed they have a kind of tree with no bark.  I had never seen that before so you can imagine that I just couldn’t get over it.  Just smooth wood?  Bizarre.  It was a small flowering tree.  On the Air Force Base, where my son, his wife, and daughter live are the most amazing trees I have ever seen.  I will start off by saying that they are enormous, the trunks so wide with big root systems out on the grass which look like the arms of a ginormous octopus, so big you’d trip on them if you weren’t careful.  Big winding, knotted roots and they literally line the oldest neighborhood on the base.  Stemming from that mass is the tallest trunk and the canopy is so green and wide that it meets above the center of road.  To take a walk down the side-walk is magnificent, well, to me at least.

As I was talking to my beautiful daughter-in-law the other day we started to talk about children’s books.  Having my first grandchild has me getting ready to start a book collection for her.  Here is our little sweetie wearing her owl hat.

I began to talk about my favorite children’s book, “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein.  It’s a story about a friendship between a boy and a tree.  My daughter-in-law hadn’t read that particular Shel Silverstein book.  Shocked by this revelation, I explained to her that the tree gave everything of herself for a boy’s happiness.  When I was younger,  I remember reading it and feeling so happy at the beginning of the book, especially with the illustrations because they are simply joyful.  As the book goes on, it made me sad because it seemed as if the boy became greedy and took advantage of The Giving Tree, and never gave back to her.  It occurred to me while discussing this book ~ that the tree in that book represented my mother or the love of a mother.  It represented motherhood and Mother Nature too.  THIS MUST BE WHERE MY LOVE FOR TREES ORIGINATED FROM.  If not, it sure put me on the “tree-love” fast track.

To me, The Giving Tree was my sweet mother; always happy to see me, always hugging me, always loving me, always giving to me whatever I needed or all that she could for my happiness.  MY mother, who sacrificed so much to raise 12 kids, and did it happily.  Just as long as her kids were happy, healthy, and well cared for.  She always put us first.  Here she is:

Perhaps that is why I see more than just an ordinary tree when I look at them.  I see a living, breathing, giver.  They are so beautiful.  They are older, wise, have stood the test of time, fought to keep their place, they never take from us, they protect us from the elements, give us shade, oxygen, breeze, give homes to birds and other small animals, they give food, foundation, and moisture.  Trees provide beauty in landscape, shady groves, home for wildlife, they absorb harmful chemicals, they filter and trap pollutants, allow our minds to wander and inspiration for our senses!  So, for the love of trees ~ I think I have finally figured out why I love trees so much and it is all stems from a much-loved children’s book written by Shel Silverstein called “THE GIVING TREE”.  God rest his beautiful soul.  If you have not yet read this book, here is an actual video I found on-line and it’s narrated by Shel himself:

The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein

I have never seen this video before today.  I believe things happen for a reason, there is a reason why this book struck me with such awe and wonderment as a child and throughout my life – the message from this book was imprinted on my soul.  This book is the reason I look to trees with such love and adoration.  Thank you Mr. Shel Silverstein.  Thank you Jesus in Heaven for my beautiful mother and thank you to Mr. Silverstein – I am eternally grateful to see the beauty of motherly trees.

I GO BY THREE’S

I Go by Three’s

I got this meme from a sweet friend over at Anything Goes. This is my first meme on my new blog and just as Sheng, I am not going to tag anyone, rather tell you to do it if you feel like it 😉

1. Three names you go by:
Annebella, Annie, or Mom

2. Three facts about yourself:
I am a night owl. I love birds. I love to draw.

3. Three things that happened today:
I stopped at a little boy’s lemonade stand with my daughter – he had friends holding and shaking a sign on a busy road to draw business into his subdivision – I couldn’t resist. We paid him $8- and all the coins we could find in the car. He was thrilled. I cannot resist kids having lemonade stands. I just melts my heart remembering back to those times, they were the best:

I went to Walgreens with my daughter to get nail polish so she could paint Toy Story aliens on her fingernails, she did a GREAT job.

Lexi and I went shopping and bought the remainder of her school supplies to start her Junior Year in high school.

4. Three favorite songs right now:
River of Dreams by Billy Joel, So Much to Say by Dave Matthews Band, & Not While I’m Around by Jamie Cullum

5. Three breakfast foods you enjoy:
Cheesy Omelet with Bacon, French Toast, and a bacon, egg, and cheese McGriddle with hash brown from McDonalds. YUM!

6. Three things on your current to-do list:
Write a letter to my son David in the Air Force. Get my son Zachary all of his school supplies. Pick up extra work hours to save up PTO so I can go visit my daughter and granddaughter in Louisiana.

7. Three colors you like:
Purple is my favorite. Orange reminds me of my father who passed in 2004. Yellow is a happy color.

8. Three words you think others would use to describe you:
Funny. Silly. Artistic.

9. Three objects you can’t be without:
My makeup bag. A Billy Joel CD. My sketchpad.

10. Three ways to win your heart:
Let me blow a flubitz in your neck. Be kind. Be considerate.

11. Three favorite movies:
Uncle Buck. The Sandlot. Somethings Gotta Give (Diane Keaton & Jack Nicholson)

12. Three appetizers you enjoy:
Spinach and Artichoke Dip. 7-layer Taco Dip. Chips and Salsa

13. Three places you’ve lived:
Lombard, Illinois USA. Overland Park, Kansas USA. Western Suburbs of Illinois, USA

14. Three important people in your life:
God. My husband, Scott. My kids.

15. Three things you want to say to three different people:
To my son David, “I’m proud of you and I miss you – I think about you all of the time and I wish you were home”. To people who cannot speak up for themselves for whatever reason, “Just say it on the spot, even if it makes you uncomfortable”, because it’s better that you be a little uncomfortable rather than hold everything in and BLOW on some unsuspecting person one day and ruin a perfectly good friendship. To my sister Paula, “I loved talking to you the other day, I love and miss you so much!”

Through the eyes of Photographer Sushyue Liao

I am so happy as I write this, with a grin from ear to ear.  I have been an admirer of a photographer on Flickr, a gentleman by the name of Mr. Sushyue Liao that goes by the screename of Mirror_Lake, for quite some time now.  I’d like to think, from what pictures he posts that he is a “bird whisperer“.

Asian Paradise-flycatcher (Female)

The array of different species that he has been able to successfully capture has my head spinning, in a good way!  I wrote to him and asked if there was a chance that he would allow me to write a post here on my blog about his photography and showcase some of his pictures that I have come to admire.  He did give me his permission *happy dance*.  The little Bulbul below is doing a dance too, it’s a different kind of happy dance, LOL.  Think about how fast birds move.  How did he capture this next one?  It is beyond my comprehension but I’m so glad he did.

He has traveled to Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Germany, Austria, England, France, Switzerland, to parts of the USA, but my favorites were taken in his homeland of Taiwan.  I can only dream of visiting a place so far away, but dreams are something to aim for right?

If the pictures alone weren’t fabulous enough, I truly enjoy the story told not only by the subject matter but by his commentary.  It’s through his story telling that the observer is able to inherit more than just seeing a new bird species for the first time.  Instead, inheriting an entire environment and understanding some bird communication.  By clicking on the The Gray Cheeked Fulvetta below and viewing a larger version, you will see exactly what I mean by the environment.

Have you ever seen baby birds in a nest looking to be fed?  Mama will arrive at her nest and babies will feel her presence.  With their new weak wobbly necks outstretched, heads turned up toward the sun and beaks opened as wide as possible just waiting for her to deliver nourishment.

The above picture of the mama Bronzed Drongo is amongst my favorites.  What an extraordinary capture, a sweet and rare moment.  You will see all this and more in his extensive photostream.  I think what amazes me most about his photo’s are not only the close-ups of birds that normally you could only hope to spy through binoculars at a distance, is the scenery as well.  If you click on these photo’s I have linked them back to his photostream so you can view them larger, and the details of this next little guy is insanely cool. His feathers appear textured and remind me of wood chips. His underbelly looks like fancy cascading curtain from an exquisite auditorium where a play is about to begin.  These birds are F-A-S-T, to get a great snapshot is nearly impossible.  I read that at times he waits hours upon hours to get the perfect shot.  This is the dedication of a great photographer and makes it all the more amazing that he’s willing to post his work so that people around the world can enjoy birding through his eyes.

What is equally as interesting as these diverse birds is the rich background, I feel like I’m walking through a forest learning about this delicate ecosystem.

The surroundings are surreal and make me think about a secret sanctuary that is moist and thriving with life.  One look and you can see the rock moss, the smaller plant life, the fungi and the new growth. He describes this 3 week old baby brown Dipper as being one of 3 little birds he’s been watching.  Not seeing the other two has him hoping they are alright.  I LOVE this picture, of this little guy hooting and hollering!  I too, hope they are doing well.

I imagine a breeze flowing through the forest making the different textiles of grass and plant life sway back and forth.  These are my exact thoughts looking at this next picture.

It’s a whole secret “understory” hidden below a canopy and he gets it all.  Check out this rare reflection:

I hope to one day be in that sanctuary but until then, I’m just delighted to meander through his pictures and get lost in the digital forest he has created which leaves me with an overall feeling of well-being.

Here are a few more of his photographs that I adore below.  I have been dying to publish this blog post and feel like I’ve been sitting on a gold mine that I simply must share but  picking and choosing a small handful from his collection was torture.  ♥ If you have never been into bird-watching or even not known much about birds – take a peek, I’m hoping that you enjoy this front row seat to what Mr. Sushyue Liao has seen up close and willing to show the world.  It’s truly an amazing gift.

I hope you pay him a visit, I promise – you wont believe your eyes!  Thank you again for allowing me the privileged of writing this, I appreciate it and will cherish your work.

All of the photos on this blog post are Copyright © 2012 Sushyue Liao. All Rights Reserved.

Houston, we HAVE a problem!

Whoot! A package for me!!!!

L@@k what arrived at my doorstep this afternoon!  Recently, I entered a contest to win this over at Aunty’s Tea Room, and I WON!   If you haven’t met her, I suggest you visit her because she is truly one-of-a-kind.  I’ve come to know her as “Teeni”, a remarkable person, writer, and artist.  Amongst her many talents is her mad ability to crochet.  She has started what she calls “Yarndango“, a weekly challenge for herself to crochet, knit, or even sew one amigurumi a week for a year.  She and her husband have recently adopted a sweet little boy kitty named “Chocolate Chip” and to offset his medical costs, she is selling a some of her unique crochet patterns.  Most patterns are free and you can even follow her on Facebook. She is encouraging others to join her by trying the challenge for a month and by participating you will make new friends who share the same passion for crafting and get the “Yarndango badge” for your blog.  What are you waiting for?  Don’t be shy, get over there!

I’ve never won a contest before, ever.  So imagine my happiness?  I opened the box and this is what I found!

My blue alien in his very own spaceship with a complimentary packaging peanut 😉

I took him out and introduced myself as his new human mother, and I told him he could call me Big Mama if he’d like.  He thought that was cool and told me his name is bLUe.

bLUe and I

But wait,… Houston, we HAVE a problem!  Teeni didn’t tell me her little alien had a bad habit.  This is definitely not right.

Bad Boy bLUe and his hand rolled smoke.

Some habits I can handle, like say – a chocolate habit for instance.  But smoking that whacky-tobaccy?  No.  Not in this house.

Bad Boy bLUe, busted

Here’s bLUe, enjoying his last smoke.  He doesn’t look happy but I have to keep him healthy, he is my responsibility now.

Thank you again Teeni!  I love him and will take good care of him!

Love,