Saturday, April 30, 2011

365 Project - Day 120 - The Great Outdoors

It's been a long couple of days cooped up in the house sick again, so I decided it was high time Cadence and I headed outside for some fresh air and sunshine. We walked laps through the yard, picking flowers and finding sticks in the grass. Of course, once Cadence found her dirt hole, she settled in to play while I snapped several dozen photos.

These days, it's almost impossible to get her to look at the camera. She seems to have wised up to all of my tricks. If I wait patiently enough though, I can usually catch her glancing over to make sure her Momma is watching her play.

Here are a few of my favorites from our afternoon in the great outdoors.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to the fresh air and sunshine that always makes us feel better! Let's hope spring is finally here to stay!

Friday, April 29, 2011

365 Project - Day 119 - Prom, Take 2

So, I spent most of my day working on photos from Katie's prom. It's my goal to get them finished up this weekend. We'll see if I make it. So, for today's 365 Project, I'm posting one of my favorite funny photos from the day. Don't worry, no teenagers were harmed in the making of this photo.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

365 Project - Day 118 - The Breaking Point

Yep, it's official. We all got sick again. Don't know exactly what it is or where we got it, but Cadence started running a fever last night and kept us up most of the night just wanting to be held. My scratchy throat turned into a half-clogged nose, an achy body and a low-grade fever. And Steven ended up staying home from work feeling almost as crappy as I am.

I didn't have much time or energy today to pick up the camera and get a good photo, but I did manage to snap this one when I got out of the shower and saw how Cadence had fallen asleep on her Daddy's lap...

Of course, as soon as I got down on the floor and started snapping photos, nosy ol' Electra had to get up and come over to see what I was doing, and managed to wake Cadence up in the process. Cadence rolled off Steven's lap, and just stayed there for a few moments, looking dazed and rather pathetic.

Luckily, it wasn't too much later that her fever finally broke. After a bath and a bottle, she was back to her energetic lttle self, running around the living room, clapping along with Mr. Met as we watched a little baseball and climbing up on the couch to see if she could steal the remote or maybe one of our cell phones.

Between passing Cadence back and forth between us, Steven did manage to get a little work done on my website, and I was able to finish up my last article for the June magazines. Four articles written in four days. Not bad if you ask me. But now I am thoroughly exhausted, both physically and mentally, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I might get to spend a little bit of time tomorrow just relaxing and enjoying some time with my daughter.

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to my sick little family. Here's hoping tomorrow is a healthier day.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

365 Project - Day 117 - Tea For Two

I was in denial most of the day yesterday, even after the slight tickle in my throat became unbearably scratchy. It's just allergies, I told myself. And I went to bed last night believing that I would wake up this morning and feel right as rain.

No such luck.

When I woke, I noticed that not only was my throat still super scratchy, but that I was also starting to feel like I was running a low grade fever. You know that feeling--when your face and ears feel hotter than the rest of your body, and every now and then you'll get a chill, even though the temperature in the room is perfectly normal.

I gotta say, I'm going to be downright irritated if I'm actually getting sick again. It seems like between Cadence, Steven and I, we were sick for a month with the last round of crap we caught back in February. Unfortunately, this evening, Cadence started acting like she wasn't feeling good either and began running a low grade fever. We gave her some Tylenol and put her to bed, and we can only hope that she'll be able to get a good night's sleep and wake tomorrow feeling like herself again.

To ease my throat, I decided to make myself a cup of tea with honey to drink before bed. I've always been a big fan of chai, but it was officially dethroned as my favorite when one of my coworkers recommended Blackberry Sage tea back when I was pregnant with Cadence. I set the kettle on the stove and finished washing the dishes from dinner as I waited for it to boil.

I thought it seemed like a Rosie the Riveter kind of night, so I pulled the mug down from the cupboard. I stirred in some honey and let the tea steep for a few minutes.

All the while, Electra had been in the kitchen, but I hadn't been paying her much attention. Once Cadence goes to bed and we take the baby gate out of the kitchen doorway, Electra usually spends a good twenty minutes sniffing around and making sure there are no stray crumbs on the floor. I assumed that she was just doing her nightly rounds, until I looked down and saw this...

Apparently, I had been standing too close to her cookie container when I was making my tea. Another couple minutes and the strings of drool might have actually reached the floor.

Today's 365 Project entry is the the lovely people that brought me Blackberry Sage tea, and to my crazy dog and her food-induced drooling issues.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

365 Project - Day 116 - Channel Surfing

Things have changed around the Romano house since Cadence finally figured out how to climb up on the couch. We had to do a bit of rearranging (ie moving things up higher or hiding them in the kitchen beyond the baby gate). We also now spend a large portion of our day repeating the words "Sit on your butt!" over and over and over. She thinks it's funny to sit like a little angel just long enough for us to take our eyes off of her, and then stand up and start either dancing, jumping, or trying to climb on the end table the minute we're distracted.

Cadence has also developed quite an obsession with both the TV remote and my laptop. I don't know if it's because she likes pressing the buttons, if it's because she sees Steven and I using them and she wants to try too, or if it's simply because she enjoys our reactions whenever she gets ahold of them and starts wreaking havoc. My guess is it's some combination of all three, and she spends most of her waking hours coming up with devious schemes to get her little hands on them.

Her latest ruse is crawling up on my lap to snuggle and then pursing her lips like she wants a kiss. Oh so sweet! What Mom can resist that, right? But as soon as I pucker up and lean in to give my darling daughter a smooch, she reaches around me and either grabs the remote or starts hammering on my keyboard.

Little turd. I think I must tell her at least a dozen times a day that she's lucky she's so cute.

I love tonight's photo because I managed to catch her in the act. While Steve was cleaning up the kitchen after dinner and Cadence was playing with some of her toys on the floor, I took a moment for a quick bathroom break. When I emerged, there was Cadence, climbing up on the couch. When she saw that I had returned, she dropped down and sat, oh so innocently.

I grabbed my camera and waited.

It didn't take long before  noticed her little hand creeping toward the remote that was sitting beside her. She thinks she's so slick, but tonight, she's totally busted.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to my daughter and her devious ways. I've got my eye on you little girl!

Monday, April 25, 2011

365 Project - Day 115 - Bending the Rules

Grandparents are funny. I get such a kick out of watching my parents interact with my daughter, because she's not yet even 15 months old and she's already got every single one of them wrapped around her chubby little finger.

Had I been paying closer attention, I might have noticed that my parents were gradually getting more lax the older I got, but instead it just sort of hit me when I saw them interacting with their grandchildren how much they had changed. The rules they enforced so strictly when I was growing up were suddenly nonexistent.

They don't get after Cadence for climbing on the couch with her shoes on, or dumping every single toy in the basket in a heap on the floor, and then leaving the room without picking any of them up. Suddenly, snacking before dinner is okay and if Cadence signs "more", they don't even hesitate to give her whatever her little heart desires. And if Cadence has had a hard time sleeping and falls asleep in the car, they are more than willing to drive around and waste a little gas so she can have a nap.

Steven even jokes about how his house was like a museum growing up. "It was cold, and you weren't allowed to touch anything." Yet now when the grandkids show up at Gamma and Pop Pop's house, there are far fewer limits to their freedom and play.

Funny how grandparents can so effortlessly spoil the grandchildren they adore--but I guess it's easy when you can just send the little hellions home with their parents at the end of the day.

While we were in Bertrand over Easter, I took a couple shots of Miss Cadence and her Papa Duane and thought they were just too cute not to share. He might try to deny that this little girl has stolen his heart, but I dare say the photos speak for themselves.

Drinking buddies.

My favorite shot! I love that you can see Cadence's reflection in her Papa's glasses.

Relaxing with Papa Duane.

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to those silly grandparents and the grandchildren they expertly spoil. To Cadence's Gamma and Pop Pop in New York, Pawpoo and Granny in Colorado, Nonna and Poppa in Arizona, and Grandma and Papa in Nebraska. We love you lots!!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge - Pets

Since I first stumbled upon the I Heart Faces website and began following (and now entering) the weekly Photo Challenges, I have been looking forward to a Pet themed week. My entire life has been punctuated with pets, and the very few moments when I have not had one in my life, I felt like there was something missing.

The moment I saw Electra's sweet, droopy hound dog face, I knew that she was mine. My husband and I like to joke that she only has one expression. We've even discussed making a poster called "The Many Faces of Electra" to hang on our wall. Whether she's happy, sad, excited, frustrated, angry, or afraid--Electra always appears forlorn. It tends to earn her extra treats and back scratches from unsuspecting people with good intentions.

There are exactly two circumstance that cause Electra's expression to actually change:

1. When we ask her if she is ready to eat (or wants a cookie),

2. When she spies one of the resident rabbits in the backyard.

The change is subtle, just a widening of the eyes and a sharpening intensity in her gaze, but it's enough.

When I saw Electra sitting at the patio door waiting to be let out, I grabbed the camera and waited, and it didn't take long for my persistence to pay off. Electra pressed her wet nose firmly against the window, as if trying to catch the rabbit's scent through the glass, and I had just enough time to snap the photo before she lunged at the door to get out and give chase. With her short half-Basset legs, Electra doesn't stand much of a chance of ever catching herself a rabbit, but boy is it fun to watch her try.

Be sure to head on over to I Heart Faces to check out the other amazing entries in the Pets Photo Challenge.

365 Project - Day 114 - Easter

Happy Easter! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! We headed to visit Grandma Jayne and Papa Duane in Bertrand, and in spite of the cold and slightly drizzly weather, I managed to get a few shots of the kiddos hunting eggs. Of course, I snapped a ton, but here are a few favorites from the day...

Stevie making sure the yard is landmine free for the kiddos to run.

Hmmm...what do I see here?

Cadence stealing eggs from her cousins Zayne and Jordan.

Miss Cadence counting some eggs.

Love this shot of the girls' pretty dresses!

Zayne and Jordan counting their egg loot, and Cadence just being Cadence! There's something familiar about that face she's making...

Me - Christmas 1981

Saturday, April 23, 2011

365 Project - Day 113 - Sometimes You're the Windshield...

I've always been a big believer in intuition, though I had to learn the hard way to actually trust those gut instincts. Seems like every bad thing that ever happened to me in my life was a direct result of ignoring what that little voice inside what telling me.

It took a lot of trial and error and mistake-making to realize that the Universe has a way of letting us know whether we are on the right path, or going astray. The way I see it, life is a lot like school. We're here for a purpose--to learn lessons, to better ourselves, to evolve.

If we're being lazy, not studying or learning what we should, not doing the things we need to do in order to move on, then we must suffer the consequences. Life starts to get tougher, the lessons get harder, the repercussions more severe. Instead of minor bumps in the road, we find ourselves facing seemingly impossible obstacles and roadblocks, and every day life gets a little more difficult to handle.

If you can learn to pay attention though, the Universe has a funny way of nudging you in the right direction. Whether it's that little voice you call your conscience that just won't go away, or that gut feeling that you just can't ignore, your intuition is always there to guide you--you just have to tune in.

For me, learning to trust my intuition allowed me to open my eyes and see my life with much greater clarity, and I was finally able to leave behind a lot of the fear and frustration. Instead of feeling like I was in a constant chaotic whirlwind, I finally began to feel like I was in control, and that my hopes and dreams and goals were attainable. In short, my life began to look something like this...

I had a road to follow, and a goal in sight. Sure, there were obstacles and roadblocks to maneuver, but they were suddenly not as formidable. I could anticipate them, see them coming, and give myself time to prepare to face them.

It was infinitely better than the way I'd been trying to do things before--ignoring all the subtle (and not so subtle) clues that life was throwing my way, like great big neon warning signs. I guess when you're ignoring those instincts and spending too much time simply reacting to all the crap being thrown at you, it's no wonder that your outlook on life is a little dimmer, a little cloudier, a little harder to navigate. 

These days I do believe that everyone has a choice. You can be the windshield, or you can be the bug. Sometimes the only difference is whether or not you're paying attention.

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to those little nudges that we either listen to or ignore. Which will you choose?

Friday, April 22, 2011

365 Project - Day 112 - Finding God in the Details

"Religion is for those who are afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who have already been there." -Lee Stringer, Grand Central Winter

At one point or another, I think just about everyone goes through some sort of spiritual crisis--trying to make sense of the universe that is larger than themselves, and trying to figure out just what they believe. It can happen during a time of loss, a time of extreme frustration and unhappiness, a time of intense joy. It can even happen out of boredom.

For me, it was a long hard road, trying to find my place and trying to make sense of the world around me. Maybe my beliefs don't conform to just one tradition, and maybe I don't go to church regularly or pray as often as I should. For me, I think my beliefs boil down to Lee Stinger's quote. I've been through hell and hit rock bottom, and what I found when I returned was a renewed sense of strength and hope and faith.

It has been my experience that many organized religions do so much worrying about what other religions believe (or don't) and condemning them that they lose sight of what's really important. I believe in a higher power. I believe that we are all connected. And I believe that we are all here for a purpose. If I can walk through this life loving others, helping others, and leaving the world a little better than I found it, then I have done my job and can be proud of the life I've led.

And for those people who need "proof" that there is a God, or a creator, a higher power or whatever you want to call it), all you have to do is open your eyes, take a look around and start paying attention to the details.

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to all the beauty in this world, and to all of those who take the time to stop and see it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

365 Project - Day 111 - Nose to the

My dog is a contradiction. Come spend an afternoon at our house on any given day, and you would swear that Electra is the laziest hound that God ever put on this green earth. One of these days, I'd like to keep track of how many hours she actually spends sleeping. She is often ready to go to bed long before Steven and I, and if we happen to leave the bedroom door open we will find her sprawled on the bed and snoring when we finally retire for the night.

Like clockwork, she begins to stir around 6:00 a.m. (sometimes earlier) and begins her subtle Wake-Up-Guys-I'm-Hungry routine, which consists of yawning loudly, stretching, scratching, jumping off the bed, jumping back on the bed, stretching some more, and nudging Steven and I with her wet nose. If all else fails, she either lies down between us and groans at three-minute intervals, or she just climbs up and stands on top of one of us (usually Steven) until we're annoyed enough to get out of bed.

After breakfast, Electra heads out for her first perimeter check. Most dogs head outside to play or roll in the grass or bask in a patch of sunlight. Not our dog. 99% of Electra's time outdoors is spent tracking whatever scent her hound dog nose can find. Birds, squirrels, cats, rabbits, frogs, bugs--you name it, Electra will track it. With her nose to the ground and her tail fanning the air so fast it almost sounds like a propeller, Electra yips and barks to let the world know she's caught a scent.

I often wonder if Electra's nose is just untapped potential. I wonder if she could be a search and rescue dog, or one of those seizure-sniffing dogs that can alert their epileptic owners before they have a seizure. Maybe she could be a drug-sniffing dog, or a bomb-sniffing dog. Or maybe when Cadence gets older and thinks it's funny to hide somewhere when she's supposed to be taking a nap, Electra could sniff out her clever hiding spot.

Watching Electra feverishly stalking her unseen prey, it begins to make sense why the hours spent indoors are usually spent sleeping. Our backyard here is a pretty busy place. There are always birds flitting down from the trees to pick through the grass. There are a dozen squirrels that chase each other through our yard and the neighboring trees. Best of all, there is a family of rabbits that make an appearance at least twice a day, and boy do those rabbits drive Electra wild. She has completely given up trying to covertly stalk them. These days, it's an all out mad dash out the door the minute she spies one of them in the yard. Morning, noon or night, and no matter whether it's her first or fiftieth time outside for the day, Electra never fails to find a scent.

This afternoon, I followed Electra outside to get some photos of her doing what she does best.

If any of our neighbors happened to glance out their windows, I'm sure they got a big kick out of watching me run around after Electra, trying to get in front of her and then dropping down on my stomach in the grass to get a good shot. Hey, anything for a photo, right?

Once Electra is in tracking mode, there's not a thing in the world that will break her concentration...well, not a thing except food. When I'd finished photographing her tracking, I headed back toward the house, sat on the patio step, focused my camera on a spot in the yard and called out to her...

"Electra! Electra, come!"

Of course, she ignored me. Then, I uttered the only five words in the world that will stop Electra dead in her tracks and make her come running.

"Are you ready to eat?"

That's my dog.

Today's 365 Project Entry is dedicated my hard-working hound, Electra, the best darn dog a girl could ask for.