Archive for the ‘Leela Fish’ Category

  • The First Note Home and the Animal Revolt

    Date: 2016.09.13 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Health, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Norah, Pets, Puppies, Sarah | Response: 0

    One of my coworkers recently told me that she looks forward to Mondays just so she can hear what shenanigans Norah has been up to over the weekend. (Insert embarrassed/awkward emoji face here). But it’s true – she is always up to something. This past weekend it was spreading a combination of sunscreen and toothpaste along the hallway and around the bathroom sink – and that’s really pretty mild all things considered.

    But, last week, she did have her first note home from school.

    Now, Sarah is far from perfect and has her own set of issues, but she’s usually a quintessential firstborn rule follower. In the past three years, there has never been a note sent home from school, though her teachers have all filled me in on some of her antics that resulted in pulling a card.

    But, as we all know, Norah loves to buck the system. And when I was loading her into the car last week, one of her teachers could barely contain her laughter as she began explaining to me why Norah’s face was colored purple. In her backpack found a note that read:

    “Norah found a purple crayon at nap time and drew all over her face with it, colored the floor and ate some of it. The crayon was nontoxic. :) ” I do so love our teachers for being concerned about the crayon’s toxicity.

    Of course she got in trouble and had to make a serious apology to them the next day, during which they worked hard to keep from smiling.

    Perhaps I should gift them both with jumbo-sized boxes of Magic Erasers.

    *****

    And lest we forget the other three individuals who reside in our house, they have been up to their own set of antics. And no, I’m not talking about my other three children, I’m talking about our two dogs, Leela and Bonnie, and Angie Cat.

    We discovered, after having the twins, that Angie Cat protests by peeing on any and all clothes that happen to be on the ground in our room. And while this did finally force us to keep our closet floor clean, any time a piece of clothes would fall out of the hamper, it was game over. We’ve been very diligent lately about keeping all the clothes off the floor. Angie Cat though, refused to be deterred.

    We discovered her next target when Leela started waking up Norah in the middle of the night by climbing into bed with her. (I find it hilarious that she seeks out Norah’s bed at 2am, because Norah often torments Leela during waking hours).  I couldn’t figure out why in the world the dog would suddenly start sneaking into the girls’ room in the middle of the night until I smelled it. Angie Cat had struck again – this time taking out the dog beds. They were so sabotaged that we just had to chuck them out. We’ve made other attempts at making dog beds with blankets, etc, but without fail, nearly every night I am woken up by Norah whining and yelling, “Get off LEELA! GET OFF!” And then it’s often a good 10-15 minutes before I can convince Norah that it is, in fact, still dark outside and too soon to wake up.

    Thinking to thwart this newest set back, I set a pressure gate up outside the girls’ room to block Leela from going in. (Norah won’t sleep with the bedroom door closed). So, of course, the first time I set the gate up, at 2AM, I heard Sarah crying in the hallway. Half asleep, she was standing there by the gate, shaking, telling me she was freezing and her stomach hurt and she couldn’t get to the bathroom.

    Normally, she’d scamper over the gate, no problem, but this particular night it turns out strep had taken over her body. And because bunk beds don’t lend themselves well to vomiting children, I moved her to the couch in the living room. With no place left to block the dogs out, Leela decided that she was just as content snoozing with a sick Sarah, and Sarah, bless her poor, ill little heart, didn’t mind the company.

    Our new neighbor asked me last weekend why we have pets – “Aren’t they so much work with all your kids?” she asked. And while they can sometimes be just as irritable and messy as our children, they are part of our family. They were here before the children were and, despite the sometimes angry revenge peeing, take the kids all in stride and even deign to snuggle with them – on their own terms of course.

    P.S.: That cat pee smell is the worst and so hard to get out, but since we are cloth diapering now, I discovered a whole bunch of awesome things that get nasty smells and stains out, and this stuff is THE BEST at getting out that ammonia smell. I use it all the time. I am not getting paid to promote this stuff, just wanted to share it with my fellow cat/dog/kid parents as a FYI. Click on it to find it on Amazon.

  • Dear Santa

    Date: 2014.12.17 | Category: Baby, Family, Holidays, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 0

    Before I had children, one of the things I got most excited about when I thought about having them in my life was celebrating the holidays with them. And for all the craziness that kids bring into our lives, that aspect does not disappoint.

    Suddenly we’re out on the streets on Halloween trick-or-treating again – watching them don their costumes and excitedly (or sometimes warily) approach each house to ask for candy. We get to put them in beautiful spring dresses for Easter and church, and then afterwards watch them slide under bushes and scamper up trees to reach hidden eggs.

    I feel like having children has totally brought back the magic of Christmas. I smiled with joy as Sarah begged me to “get out Jesus’ house (the nativity scene) and set it up.” I watched with exhausted delight as she pulled up her step stool to put the breakable ornaments high up on the tree so Norah couldn’t break them. And her enthusiasm at helping me bake has made the kitchen a mostly better place (we’ll just gloss over that flour disaster).

    But perhaps one of my favorite moments this year is having Sarah dictate her letter to Santa for me to write and send. She carefully picked out a pink piece of paper, brought it to me with a pen, and then told me exactly what to write. Here’s the result:

    I told her she could tell Santa five things she wanted. And despite the fact that she’s been a “good, fancy, princess girl,” it turns out filling Santa’s shoes is sometimes a tall order.

    Some things were easy. A crown? Easy and cheap. Check! The requested Alexa Barbie doll even happened to be on an Amazon lightening deal. Score! Cinderella was a little tricky, but it turns out that Little People makes a pretty convincing set, albeit without Cinderella actually holding the pony. Now that Elsa doll though – turns out it is the hit toy of the Christmas season.

    Thinking to get an early jump on my shopping this year, I decided to go ahead and order her off the internet about two weeks before Thanksgiving… except that she was sold out everywhere online… except Amazon who wanted $65 for her. Um, no. So we started our ground quest for Elsa. Mark and I visited several local big box stores, only to see that they were also sold out. I admit at this point my inner Grinch started to rear its ugly head. So this is why parents get mad at Christmas… I sort of get it now. But then I checked myself. Elsa dolls are not what Christmas is all about and I hated how materialistic my focus was becoming. Still though, it was the one toy she repeatedly asked for and I decided to just sit, wait and watch. Mark called his mom and she visited a Wal-Mart near her house and low and behold, there were exactly TWO singing Elsa dolls left – all for the great low price of $28. Done and done!

    Now about that last requested item: Star dancer shoes. Just what are star dancer shoes , you say? Well that is a very good question. I asked Sarah very pointed questions about these shoes. We looked at pictures of shoes online, but nothing was matching her description of “shoes that are pink with stars and sparkly that you can dance in.” I came to the conclusion that she had made these shoes up, which presented a small problem. I briefly considered Converse shoes, but didn’t want to drop the money on them if they weren’t the right thing (plus, let’s face it, she’ll outgrow them in six months). I finally found some that sort of matched her description at Target for $7. I guess we’ll soon find out how well honed Santa’s intuition is.

    And Norah? Well Norah just likes her creature comforts. I’m pretty sure she would think it was the best day of her life if we gave her an ice cream sandwich and a satin pillowcase. We did get the pillowcase and a beanbag so she, Sarah and Leela can stop fighting over the one we already have.

    They should know Leela always wins.

  • A Day for Me

    Date: 2014.06.07 | Category: Books, Family, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Me, OMG YAY! | Response: 15

    I am going to give you some insight into the brain of a mother of young children who is also an introvert.

    First, let me start by telling you how much I love my children (as if you didn’t already know by the overwhelming number of photographs and posts about them on my blog, Facebook, Instagram, etc). I love playing with them, doing things for them,  listening to them and laughing with them. But there are many days when bedtime comes around that I am counting down the moments until I can climb into bed, or sit in front of my computer and have some time to myself. That’s how I regenerate: quiet, alone time.

    This also creates a great force of guilt within myself. Because I work full time, I feel like my time with my children is somewhat limited and I need to soak it all up when I get it. And while the thought of some time to myself is intoxicating, it also makes me feel guilty for wanting to spend any free time I have away from my girls. (Side note: maybe this would be remedied if Sarah napped, but she gave that up well over a year ago).

    So, when Mark suggested bringing the girls out to his parents house for one whole Saturday, I experienced the immediate mixed feeling of guilt and excitement. But, I know his parents love playing with them and hanging out with them, so that made the decision much easier. And when loading the girls up in the car to go out to their house, Sarah told me to get out of the car so they could go. That also made me feel…  slightly jilted? better? relieved?

    I will say this, when they pulled out of the driveway, a big part of me wanted to go skipping through the house singing. So much time ahead of me and I had it all to myself. There was no one watching or judging me; no one pulling me in another direction. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to begin. I immediately thought about taking a nap, but then figured that would take up way to much of my alone time and quickly discarded that idea.

    Instead, I changed into some comfortable clothes and took the dogs on a long walk through the neighborhood, enjoyed the sunshine and listened to an audiobook that I love.

    Other things I did because I could:
    1. Ate a Counter Culture Humphrey for lunch while I watched So You Think You Can Dance.
    2. Went to Barnes and Noble and flipped through a book I’ve been really wanting, The Art of Neil Gaiman, only to get frustrated and put it down when I learned they don’t honor their own website’s prices (what the heck B&N?).
    3. Shopped at Old Navy unhindered and bought all things for myself (except some much needed socks for the girls).
    4. Went to the grocery store and bought the following: $5 sunglasses, sunscreen, popsicles and a soft drink.
    5.  Laid out a giant towel in the backyard, put on the sunscreen and read a book while sipping my drink for over an hour.
    6. Cooled down inside afterwards while still reading.
    7. Took a long shower (with no one interrupting me!)
    8.  Ordered the book I wanted off of B&N’s website with a gift card I had (and free shipping).

    Things I did not do because I didn’t want to:
    1. Laundry
    2. Clean
    3. Grocery shop

    And the day isn’t over! In a little bit the girls will be home for the evening and I will shower them in hugs and kisses. We will settle into our usual routine of dinner, bath and bed time. But then, I’m going to put away my introvert shoes, and go out for a girls night for a friend’s birthday. It’s been… years? since I’ve managed something like that. So here’s to a quiet day all for me, followed by drinks and what is sure to be an evening of laughter.

    And guess what? I don’t feel all that guilty after all.

  • Getting My Confidence Back

    Date: 2013.06.05 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Health, Leela Fish, Life, Me, Pregnancy | Response: 12

    We interrupt this vacation story to talk about exercise (I know, boo, HISS back to the New Orleans pecan pie on the griddle).

    You see, back before I got pregnant I was working out a lot, spinning and lifting. I was really proud of myself and got that great endorphin surge on a regular basis. I got to know my workout instructor and appreciated the lunchtime ritual of going and working hard.

    After I got pregnant, the heart stuff started and I was basically told to keep it just to walking. I was bummed, but knew I could keep up the walking at the very least. But then I didn’t. I couldn’t find the time to do it. After work all I want to do is come home, crawl on to the couch and try to muster up the energy to play with my daughter. Lunchtime became out of the question for time reasons and I quickly caved to just skipping it all together.

    As I gave it up, I also started feeling gross and down – my body trying to adjust to life without that boost. And then mentally I kept blaming my heart and the baby. I needed to take it easy after all, right?

    Well then I went on vacation and hiked it all over the city of New Orleans, and then up and down the beach in the sand, oftentimes while carrying my 30-pound toddler. And you know what? For the most part, my heart was just fine and I actually felt a lot better.

    So I decided to have a pep talk with myself and figure out a solution.

    While talking to a coworker about finding time to read, I started telling her about how I used to get up in the mornings and walk the dogs while listening to audio books. I loved the cooler mornings, the happy dogs, and the time to myself. And then it clicked – of course I should go back to morning walks, why hadn’t I thought of that sooner?

    I still had no planned start date for this, however. But this morning, I woke up early on my own. My brain fought me, “You don’t have to start THIS morning.” But I was up and figured no time like the present.

    When I went to the back door with my walking shoes on and my dogs went ballistic. They were SO HAPPY because they know what those shoes mean. I plugged in my audio book, and we took off. We went just shy of two miles, but it was nice, felt so good and the morning alone time was decadent.

    Plus, my postpartum goal is to be able to walk my favorite local 5k – the Pumpkin Run the Saturday before Halloween. I figure I need to at least give my legs some time to prepare!

    So here goes nothing. Let’s hope I can stick to this and continue to tell my brain to shut up in the mornings.

  • 2012

    Date: 2012.12.31 | Category: Books, Family, Friends, Leela Fish, Life, Mark, Me, Nostalgia, Pets, Sarah, Work | Response: 9

    2012 has come to an end, and I must say it’s been a fantastic year.

    We had some firsts:
    • Sarah had a first birthday and first birthday party!
    • I photographed my first (and second) destination weddings.
    • I took a baby to the beach.
    • I visited Pittsburgh for the first (and second) times.
    • We flew with a toddler.
    • We got to be the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.
    • I ran my first 10k with Becki.
    • I led my first big scale donation collection for a family in need.
    • I became a gym regular.
    • I nearly mowed over an NFL quarterback with a stroller.
    • I took Sarah to the zoo (in Indianapolis).

    We traveled to:
    • Dallas, TX
    • Lafayette, LA
    • Indianapolis, IN
    • Pittsburgh, PA
    • Ft. Walton Beach, FL
    • Austin, TX

    I met some of my fellow bloggers for the first time in person including:
    Unapologetically Mundane
    Bluz Dude
    Carpetbagger (and Mrs. Bagger).
    Facie

    We lost Mark’s grandmother, Sarah’s namesake, and had to battle with that grief.

    But there were babies born to best friends: Susan had Olivia and Tammy had Kiriel.

    We learned what Addison’s Disease is when we nearly lost Leela at the ER Vet clinic.

    I read a lot of books. According to Shelfari, 53 total. (I’m going to do a post on the best and worst soon!) And I gained an awesome reading partner in Noel.

    I redesigned a magazine and won awards for design on The Best of Times.

    2012 did have its share of sorrow, but it was also filled with so much joy and love. Here’s to a happier and beautiful 2013!

  • Thankfulness

    Date: 2012.11.21 | Category: Baby, Dogs, Family, Friends, Health, Holidays, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Pets, Sarah, Work | Response: 8

    People have been posting all month about the things they’re thankful for, and all month long I’ve been silently doing the same. Sometimes I find that I get so caught up in my goals and wants that I don’t appreciate the things I have.

    So here are the top 10 things I am abundantly thankful for.

    1. My home. The place that shelters my family keeps us safe and provides all the necessities. I remember reading a book one time about a refugee woman who couldn’t get over the warm, running, clean water we all take for granted in the U.S.

    2. My dogs. Leela has survived a lot this year and I’m so thankful that despite it all, her springy, frisky spirit is still with us. And Bonnie has become the most gentle, loving dog around Sarah, always happily baring her hugs with a smile.

    3. My family’s health. I’ve had years of bad health and hospital stays and seen a number of friends in the hospital with their little ones this year. Sarah had a terrible year of sickness last year. So this year I’m so thankful we’re all ok.

    4. My books. I have a healthy appetite for literature and it helps keep me sane. It is the one thing that I truly do and enjoy for myself without having to consult anyone else. (Though I do solicit opinions on what to read next!)

    5. My job. I love my jobs (day job, freelance and photography). They bring me great joy, push my creative boundaries, and allow me to  meet some amazing and inspiring people. And, with my husband’s work, they provide for my family, allowing us to live comfortably.

    6. My extended family – my sisters, parents, grandparents and in-laws. I’m so thankful to live near most of them and have them part of my life.

    7. My friends, both in real life and online. How have I been so fortunate to know so many wonderful people? People who will have lunch in the park with me, people who will council me through stressful times, people who will share a glass of wine and conversation and people who share my love for a good book.

    8. Mark. As I’ve said before, my husband is my rock. He is an amazing father, a caring husband and a good cook to boot. He listens to my worries and complaints and helps me put things in perspective. Sometimes he’ll even get up with Sarah so I can sleep or let me put my feet in his lap while we hang out on the couch. He is my support and my love and I am so extremely thankful for him.

    9. Sarah. My litte love. Sarah is my sunshine, my light on a dark day and my greatest source of entertainment. She is an independent little thing, but loves a good snuggle every so often. She has her mother’s love for books and her daddy’s interest in how things work. She’s full of smiles, hugs, laughter and joy. I was once told that getting pregnant would be a long and difficult road, and God gave me her anyway and she is one of my greatest sources of thanks.

    10. My faith. Faith is hard. My own has been tested and questioned a lot this year. But I am thankful that I have it in my life every day. It gives me strength when I feel I have none left and continues to help me build myself up and learn.

    I hope all of you have a thankful and beautiful Thanksgiving!

  • Leela’s Great Escape

    Date: 2012.11.03 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Home, Leela Fish, Pets, Photography | Response: 8

    Dear Leela,

    I know things have gotten tougher since we had Sarah and that you’re not all that fond of her trying to hug you. I get it. That’s why we let you lay on the furniture (mostly) out of her reach.

    You’re outside more when the weather’s nice (heck, I wanted to be outside with you today. It was 82 and breezy!)

    Yes, things have gotten a little tougher on you, but that doesn’t mean you had to pull a Houdini and disappear out of our backyard. We love you and we want you with us, we even fork over vast sums of money each month to treat your Addisons Disease.

    And even though that nice apartment manager, her husband and children loved you so much that they took you in, bathed you, trimmed up your hair, loved you and strongly considered keeping you before their consciences caved in and they called us, does not mean we love you any less.

    I feel terrible because you look sort of rough. You like to roll in the dirt, you have a big patch of hair shaved off your rear end from a hot spot and you got out without Mark and I even knowing you were gone. We feel like terrible dog parents. And to think those people didn’t even know you have Addisons Disease and you could have been dead in two months without your regular treatment. The thought makes me heart ache.

    So today, Leela, I’m thankful for you. I’m thankful you are a good dog who didn’t wander far. I’m thankful that Mark and I finally bought monogrammed dog collars with our phone numbers on them a few months ago.

    You genius simply amazes me. The back gate is locked and we have a privacy fence, so we didn’t expect you to be able to escape. How you got to the apartments behind that fence was a mystery to all of us, especially since Bonnie didn’t manage to figure out how you did it and stayed put (or maybe Bonnie was happy with where she was).

    And then we saw this:

    A hole you and Bon had chewed out of the fence. But even then, that hole only led to our neighbor’s backyard. That means you found another hole in her back fence to get to the apartments.

    So Leela, we’re glad you’re back and we’re thankful for the joy you bring to our lives. Please don’t take off again. The next people who find your pretty little tail may not be so inclined to call us.

    Welcome home girl, and please, stay home.

  • 18 Months

    Date: 2012.10.11 | Category: Baby, Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Nostalgia, Photography, Sarah | Response: 17

    18 months. A year and a half.

    Where has the time gone?

    Almost every day, Mark and I stare at our girl and try to imagine how that little lump we brought home from the hospital has turned into this amazing, energetic, intelligent, little person.

    And to think I was worried about speech? Our girl is now enthusiastically saying a number of things, including: “Dog, Kit-Cat, Pretty, Uh Oh, Ow, Today, Star, Shoes, Stomp, Doll, Duck, Go, Tickle, Doc,  Jake and Hotdog (thanks Disney Junior). Oh, and her favorite phrase, “What is it?” Not to mention she can enthusiastically roar like a lion, mew like a kitty and mmmm like a cow?

    She can also identify her eyes, nose, mouth, ears, head, hands, foot and bellybutton by pointing.

    Climbing has become her favorite activity and one of the most difficult phases for us as parents. After a week long assault on the glass coffee table, we finally just got rid of it. She’s taken more tumbles out of her high chair, off the couches, and off her plastic picnic table than I can count, but it doesn’t stop her. Climbing on the arm of the couch and leaping onto the cushions is one of her favorites, as is scaling on to the back of the oversized chair to turn the fan switch on and off.

    We’re starting to see signs of the terrible two’s with complete and utter meltdowns over small things. Take something away from her? Game over. Try to pick her up when she doesn’t want to be picked up? Limp noodle body.

    Did I mention her favorite toy is a neon green and orange rake? She uses it to rake things up in the house, especially while daddy is sweeping. She totes it around the yard and dips it in the kiddy pool water. She combs the dogs with it, and she freaks out if you try to take it from her. That’s why it appears in all these photos.

    Also that head of hair is like woah. You would think we were sprinkling magic growing dust on it or something. Though I am thrilled that means crazy pigtails now.

    She also likes to do the motions to the following songs: “Wheels on the Bus” (especially the babies crying), “Itsy Bitsy Spider” (especially the part where we wash the spider out) and “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (with rousing stomps for the angry part).

    She loves day care now, and runs from us when we go to pick her up. I guess mom and dad aren’t quite as fun as throwing stuffed blocks in the air? Either way, I’m happy she’s happy during the day.

    Food has also become a challenge. She still hates fresh fruit with the exception of bananas (unless I put them in smoothies), and has decided that she doesn’t like a number of things she used to, including cheese. However, foods she suddenly does like include red beans and rice with turkey sausage, and mild Indian food. Who knows?

    All I know is that this kid wears me out and fills my heart with more love than I knew was possible.

    Happy half birthday kiddo.

    P.S. For reference on growth, here’s a few with lambkin over time:

    It’s the incredible shrinking lamb!

  • Doggy Celebration

    Date: 2012.08.21 | Category: Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Home, Leela Fish, Pets, Photography, Sarah | Response: 19

    Bonnie’s birthday is sometime this month. I’m not sure of the exact day, but I do know before the month is out, she’ll be four.

    And I think it’s been far too long since I flooded this blog with pictures of border collies. So, here we go.

    That’s Leela (licking the air in anticipation of the frisbie I’m dangling over my head for this shot), Bonnie and Cooper, who we were dog sitting. Cooper is Leela’s brother from the same litter.

    Tic, Tac, Toe… and the baby, erm, I mean toddler, too.

    I love that while I was taking photos of the dogs, Sarah was rearranging yard furniture.

    Happy Dogs.

    Happy Birthday Bonnie Dog. We love you.

  • Backyard Babe and Borders

    Date: 2012.04.26 | Category: Baby, Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Leela Fish, Life, Pets, Photography, Sarah | Response: 14

    The weather has been gorgeous lately, so we’ve been spending some time in the backyard. I wish Spring weather lasted longer. Sarah and the girls are eating it up!

    Birthday beach toys!

    Bonnie Barrel likes to hide behind the wagon.

    Say Cheese.

    Our beautiful Leela girl is feeling back to her old, happy self.

    She’s going for that windblown look.

    Is the weather beautiful where you are?