Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Love of Nature, Sacred Pathways

My dad grew up in Connecticut and we still have family there, several cousins included. Little did I know that my cousin Ken is involved in some incredible wildlife photography. He sent us the link to his website and I was thrilled looking at his work. What incredible pictures! If I had to pick a favorite, I think it would be the butterfly gallery. I really enjoyed spending time going through these looking at his pictures of birds, flowers and landscapes. You can visit the website here at Hawks Crossings Wildlife Photography. Feel free to share this link with other nature lovers!

I really love nature, bird watching and just being outdoors. It's something our family likes to enjoy together, and I'm especially thrilled that my son J has really taken to it. I found some pictures from last April when we went hiking at Natural Bridge State Park in Sauk County, Wisconsin. I posted them below. Up until that trip, I had always put J in my backpack carrier for any hiking we did. Yet this time he insisted he really wanted to walk it on his own. So we got him a pair of little binoculars, found him a walking stick and away we went. He absolutely loved it. I had fun looking through all these pictures again.

A friend of mine introduced me to a book called Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul's Path to God by Gary Thomas. It is a Christ-centered book that helps you find and embrace the unique way you interact with God. As I thought about that, it resonated with me that being out in nature, enjoying the Lord's creation, is one of the main ways I feel closest to God. I love hearing the birds, feeling the warmth of the sun, admiring all the flowers, trees and plants, watching the clouds. I find I'm really able to let go of any stress or anxiety through the time I spend there and just rest in Him. I also enjoy days where it's cold and rainy outside and I'm tucked away inside and spending time with the Lord there. A time where I read a few verses of my Bible, reflect and pray and then express my heart for the Lord in song. I miss those days when J took two naps and I had those lovely times of refreshment on a regular basis. Now my time with the Lord is more piecemeal and interspersed throughout my day. During this Lenten season, I am looking to get back to that. By spending less time on the internet and getting away from unnecessary distractions, I hope to have more of those times to come away refreshed. I'm also looking forward to warmer days ahead and getting out more.

Just a few things that have been going through my mind lately ....

Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hello Blog World!! (Life in Pictures - Fall/Winter)

What you've all been waiting for - 
Ladies & Gentleman:   

OK, so we went to the circus for the first time this weekend and we loved the ringmaster. (It was so cute to see J pretending to be him when we got home.)  Only one small problem, I forgot to bring the camera for that!! So anyhow ... here's the post!

We finally got the computer back in late January and somehow the weeks have flown by and I'm just sitting down to put something together. I decided to do a pictures post showing how we've been spending our time these past several months ... now that the computer is back and I was able to finally upload all my pics!! The computer went on the fritz in November so these pictures are from late fall through the beginning of this month. 

I have all sorts of post ideas floating around in my head ... it'll be interesting to see what comes together in the next week or so.

So grab a cup of coffee and put your feet up .... while you enjoy "Life In Pictures"!

We've had a "resident" blue jay for the past several months .... he must be on vacation since we haven't seen him for at least a month now. Occasionally he would bring a friend along too. 

I held this leaf up to the light to take this picture. I love the color.

A lady at our church created a group called "Horses for the Horseless". She lets us come out to her little acreage and hang out. Here we are getting ready to go get the horses from the pasture.

Some lovely chickens.

Cute brown and white goat and a couple chickens.
These two goats are from the same "herd". She got them about a week before the picture was taken. I love how they stopped to look at me and I snapped this picture.

My favorite part of the farm ... the horses. They are Shires, which have the neat feathering around their hooves like the Clydesdales. They're just beautiful. J had his first horseback ride on the bigger one last summer.

Happily grazing just before we got out to get them.

J just LOVES the huge sandbox she has with all the fun sand toys. He could literally spend hours playing in it. The next several pictures are of the sandbox and the view.

Here's her mischievous goat deciding what trouble he's going to get into next. He likes to come up and butt his head into you. Not enough to knock you over, but enough to be a troublemaker!!

She had about 3 or 4 ducks that are on the outside of the fence here.

Now ... on to Thanksgiving pictures. These next several pictures are at my oldest sister's lovely home. I always feel like I'm at a resort when I go there. Here's her kitchen table with a neat cork placemat.

The fire pit area was so nice to hang out at. The weather was perfect for catching a few moments at the fire.

I often refer to my sister as Martha Stewart. They just do an incredible job hosting our holiday gatherings. This was a picture of the table setting she and my bro-in-law put together.

Beautiful centerpiece.

I love the lights they hang around the house. It's so festive.

More cool decorations.

Here are a couple pictures of my hubby reading to some boys before my Mom's group started. My husband's men's group meets right before we do so he took a few minutes to read while I was getting some things ready for our meeting. 

I had fun putting up some new decorations around the house for Christmas. I put these ornaments above our doorway and really liked it. It's funny how something small can add such a nice touch. I also had bells on the door that jingled when you opened or closed it.

Our Christmas tree with J standing in front. Interesting story ... before we had a child, my husband and I never got a real tree. I always had one growing up, but we just never went through the work to get one of our own. I always decorated a big tree outside our living room window and that satisfied me. My oldest sister always felt bad and she noticed how I always liked her "fake" tree. It's one that has all the ornaments and lights on it already, you just pull the tree up onto a pole and VOILA, it's all decorated. Well, she purchased one for us and had it delivered to our home in WI. It has been our Christmas tree ever since. We actually have to put it on the landing upstairs, since we really don't have a lot of room!

These next few pictures of when we went out Christmas caroling. It's been a tradition in our family for the past several years and I love how little J enjoys it so much. We go to different friends houses and this year we even sang for an 89-year-old woman who still lives in her own home (with hired help that come in). We always find some fun Christmas hats to wear too.

I had so much fun making homemade gifts this year!! These were some of the mason jar cookies that I put together. I found a kit at our crafts store. I can't wait to figure out what homemade gifts I'll do next year.

J holding one of the finished jars.

A close-up shot to show how cute these labels were.

These were the wreath ornaments I put together. I just used a Styrofoam wreath that I wrapped and wrapped with different types of yarn. My little helper held these up so I could take the picture.

Close up pic of the wreaths.

This is a great shot I took one night when J fell asleep waiting for me to take him up to bed. I told him I would take him in just a few minutes, but he was so wiped he just dropped off to sleep.

Close up of my little sleeper. Love this position he's in with the leg extended!

We celebrated Christmas at my oldest sister's home where we spent Thanksgiving. Here is the mound of presents for the 7 adults and 5 kids just before we opened them on Christmas Eve.

J surrounded by a sea of gifts ... getting ready to open!

Hard at work ...

A totally cool space shuttle complete with astronauts and count down/lift off sounds.

He finally has a place for all his tools! He loves this little work bench.

We have had such a MILD winter! We are usually inundated with snow (which I love) but we've had less than a foot or two all winter. Here are a few pictures of the first snowfall of the season, after Christmas!

He loves making snow angels.

This was unbelievable. We went out to dinner one Saturday night in January and J fell asleep in the car! I carried him in and he literally stayed like this THE ENTIRE TIME!! I was amazed how he could sleep with all the noise around us. He only woke up as I was carrying him out the door. He asked "Where are we?" I said, we just finished eating at the restaurant, and you slept right through it!

I just love watching the snow fall outside when I'm warm and snug inside. This is the view where our bird feeders are set up. I took a few pictures trying to capture some of the birds in the photos.

The chickadees are our most faithful visitors - a pair or two visit EVERY day. I always know when they're here because of their sweet Chick-a-dee dee dee song.

The sparrows are, of course, another faithful visitor. I like them for their simplicity and I always think of the verse in Matthew (10:29) that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father knowing it.

This was after our biggest snow of the season. J had his "robot" in one hand and igloo maker in the other!

Here he's holding another "robot". This has been the best present I think he's ever gotten. It's a bunch of interchangeable robot parts (arms, legs, robot head, dog head) and he just loves it. He is making new creations all the time and likes to take them everywhere.

Here he's about to launch a huge snowball at mom. 

The greatest snow angel!

Admiring his work ...

Our happy snowman. 

Wow, you made it through all those pictures!! Thanks for visiting :o)