Brinley Goes for a Ride

5Hi!  My  name is Brinley and I’m taking over the blog today so Momma can catch up on her t0-do list after a busy week!  I wanted to share a little story about my recent ride in the truck when Mom and I got stuck in something she called “construction traffic.”  Because I’m a puppy I don’t like to sit still for very long so being in the truck for a long time isn’t very fun for me.  I tried to be patient and just hang out, but that didn’t last long.

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So I tried to be helpful by cleaning the crumbs out of mom’s cup holder.  I thought I was doing a pretty good job, but she didn’t seem to appreciate my efforts.

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So I tried being patient again.  But like I said, that really isn’t my thing.

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So I tried to take a nap on the center console.  But I’m getting bigger now and don’t fit there very well anymore.  I couldn’t get comfortable so I moved back over to my seat.

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Next I tried giving mom puppy dog eyes to see if it would get us out of traffic any faster. She said I looked cute but it wouldn’t help with traffic.

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After a while I was starting to have a serious case of cabin fever, so I really laid on the puppy dog eyes.  Still no luck.

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So I found a toy and invited Mom to play tug-o-war.

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But she said she was too busy watching the other cars.  How can you be too busy for tug-o-war?

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So I tried to help her watch the other cars.  But when they didn’t move I got bored again.

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This is my impersonation of what Mom and the other drivers on the road felt like sitting in their vehicles on a bright sunny day.

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I thought maybe if I didn’t look the traffic would go away… but that didn’t work either.

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Then Mom started to whistle to the song on the radio.

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I tried to ignore her, but I couldn’t because she was right next to me and I’m trained to listen to whistles!

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She finally stopped, but then she wanted to take a selfie.  Whatever that is….

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I moved back over to my seat to relax and I thought she was trying to shade my eyes from the bright sun, but it turns out she was just taking more pictures!

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Finally the other cars started to move and I was excited to see new scenery out the window.

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Luckily, I could tell we were almost home by what I saw out the window!

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But then we stopped AGAIN!  It was so frustrating!

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I was pretty darn tired from all this crazy traffic, but I tried my best to stay awake and keep Mom company. It was really hard!

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I just wanted to rest my eyes from the bright sun for a moment, but apparently I was more tired than I thought and fell asleep.

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At least I’m super cute when I sleep!

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Mom told me later that this is why we stopped again.  We had to wait for this GIGANTIC metal thing to get off the highway in front of us.  It was bigger than Mom’s truck!
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I woke up just as we pulled in the driveway and told Mom I didn’t want to be in traffic ever again.  She said she couldn’t promise anything but gave me a scratch behind my ear before she let me out of the truck.

12So that’s my story about my ride in the truck with traffic.  I hope you liked it.  Mom will be back later this week with new projects she and Dad have been working on, so watch for those.  You never know when I might pop up in the pictures! 🙂

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Purdy-ing Up the Chicken Yard

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Part of my plans for the yard this year included adding flowers around the new chicken yard.  I placed cinderblocks around both sides of the yard so I’d have a built in row of planting spots and picked up a couple flats of lobelia at the nursery just for this area.

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Tequila stood chicken watch while I planted.  Things were looking so pretty that even the hubs commented on the new flowers and I was feeling pretty happy with the project.  That is until those fluffy cluckers attacked said flowers and had picked them down to the base before I finished planting the other side!  I quickly placed boards against the fence so the chickens couldn’t see or reach the plants anymore in a desperate attempt to save those that had been hacked.

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But this was NOT the look I was going for.  The hodge podge of boards constantly got knocked over and landed on the plants themselves which was just as damaging as the chickens pecking them.  So what’s a chicken momma to do?

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Well a crafty chicken momma makes protective curtains!  I dug out some thick sail cloth material I had in my fabric stash and cut it to size to fit between each of the posts.  A couple of simple slits along the top gave me a spot to use a zip tie to attach it to the panel and keep things taunt.

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It’s not the fanciest option, but it looks and works better than the piled high boards.  And it didn’t cost me a cent!

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The curtains are just low enough that the chickens can still see out when standing on the ground and just high enough that Brinley can’t see in unless she stands on the blocks.  She can still see through the door so that’s become her new viewing spot, which keeps her out of the plants as well.

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I did have to replace a few of the plants, but now things are looking pretty good.  I didn’t make a curtain for the small panel at the back, since those two blocks will hold grass that I’ll let grow just for the hens.  They are temporarily blocked with two small boards, but once they establish I’ll take them down periodically so they can enjoy fresh greens.

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I also got the walkway along the chicken yard cleared of the rock piles that had been there (hint, those are being used for another project that I’ll share soon).  We’d like to put down pavers or some other permanent pathway from the deck to the gate, but that’s probably a project that will happen next season.  For now having a clear established walkway functions just fine.

I’m sure the chickens don’t appreciate my crafty genius solution, but that’s ok.  I plan to take the curtains down at the end of the season and let the cluckers have at the remains of the plants since they are annuals anyway.  Then I’ll wash the fabric and store it away for next year.

I’d love to hear what you think of my little project to pretty up this utilitarian space in our yard, so leave a comment below!

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Welcome Home Brinley!

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This weekend we brought little Miss Brinley home!  We flew down to Portland to pick her up and bring her back to Alaska and had a great few days away from work and projects to get to know her and bond before introducing her to her siblings.  We were too busy playing and getting to meet her when we first met with her to get pictures but on the ride home she slept in my lap quite content to snuggle.

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AWe stopped to pick up puppy food and dinner for us, so while her Daddy and Mimi went into the store I stayed outside to let her stretch and play in the sun with her new toy.

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And she snuck in a few belly rubs too!

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Once at Mimi’s house she investigated the basket of toys that belongs to her Aunt Honey.  Honey didn’t seem much amused by this but didn’t voice any objections either.

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After playing for a bit her Daddy shared his water with her for a quick drink and then everyone watched the animals on the TV for a few minutes.

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All that playing made for one tired puppy, so she had to take a little nap.

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And so did Daddy.  Having a puppy sure wears you out!

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Daddy took her out to go potty a few times overnight and by morning she had somehow moved into the bed rather than her kennel.

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The next day was spent exploring Mimi’s garden.  There was lots to see and explore including every inch of the area under the plants and the hose that made fun puddles on the patio!

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Every so often we’d take a break to rest and just enjoy the view.  But soon we’d be on the go again.

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Eventually she needed a nap to recharge while us humans enjoyed some lunch.

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After the nap she tried to play with Aunt Honey, but she wasn’t in the mood.

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So we played with some of Honey’s toys instead.  A family friend came over for dinner with their dog but she was older and didn’t want to play even though Brinley did her best to say she was friendly over and over again.

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All that excitement sure wore her out so she slept pretty well that night.

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The last day included more exploring in the garden, a couple quick trips in the car and lots of snuggles from Mimi.

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She loaded up in Aunt Honey’s carrier to make the trip to Alaska and was a hit with everyone who met her, from the ticket counter to security.

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She was still very tired from the excitement of the day and fought to stay awake, even if that meant just letting her head hang on the opening so she could see what was going on in the terminal.  She eventually fell sound asleep and slept for the majority of the flight home!

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Since she’s been home she’s getting to know her siblings who were very excited to meet her.  With a moving mass of 4 canines this is the best picture of the interactions I could get thus far!  There have been a few moments of learning who’s alpha and who’s not, but it’s going well.  Sometimes her brother and sister tire of her insistence to play but her new friend Paige – a friend’s dog we are watching – has been exceptionally patient and gentle with her so they have cuddled quite a bit.

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Her kitty sister has met her briefly, but is in hiding until Paige leaves in a few days.  I’m sure there will be a period of adjustment for both when that happens.  For now, she’s coming to work with me during the week so she can have quick potty breaks and walks every two hours along with a romp at the park during lunch.  There will surely be many more pictures taken in the coming days and weeks so stay tuned for those! 🙂

Cluck Club Update

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There are some new faces in our chicken coop!  We brought home four new hens after seeing an ad on Craigslist from someone who was moving and couldn’t take them.  The ad mentioned that they were already laying eggs so I contacted the poster to find out if they were social.  He responded via text with a photo of his young son holding one of the chickens.  He knew his children would be upset that the chickens were going to a new home but after I described our coop and setup he was sure that they would be happy with us, so we arranged for the hubs and I to stop by after work and pick them up before the weekend.

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The new ladies have settled in quite well.  We kept them separated from the other chickens the first day and tried to introduce the two groups the next, but it was very clear that the two would not do well together so we found a new home for the previous flock with another local chicken family where they could be free range and happy.

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We did keep Miss Biscuit who was at the bottom of the pecking order in the last flock as evidenced by her missing feathers and ruffled appearance.  It seems she holds the same position with her new coop mates but after a few squawks and flaps she knows her place and gives them space so everyone seems to be getting along well.  The dogs are loving their new siblings and often go stand at the fence just to watch them.

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These new ladies are very social and friendly.  They come right up to us and stop and wait to be picked up when we come near them.  They were also in right in the middle of things as we did a little tweaking on the yard this weekend, checking out the ladder, hoping in and out of the hen house as we were working in it and inspecting every little detail.

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I leveled out the piles of dirt left from the trenches the hubs dug when he installed the chicken yard, so now everything is mostly level and ready for the grass to grow back.  I pulled as much of the rock and gravel as I could out of the dirt while leveling so those piles will be added to the landscaping going in around the back deck.  I also added cinderblocks around the entire perimeter of the yard which will be planted with lobelia soon to attract potential prey for our flock, and just make things a little prettier.

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The hubs added a few boards over the hen house doors to hold the netting up so it doesn’t catch on the tops of the doors when they open.  It’s not the prettiest setup but it works for now.

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My favorite new chicken is Charlotte, an Easter Egger who has these fun fluffy feathers around her face and lays greenish blue eggs!  The hubs’ favorite is the black and white chicken, Fluffy.  We may change their names once we get to know their personalities more, which we’re doing quickly thanks to their willingness to be held and petted.

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The change has brought a new color variety to our egg cartons too!  Biscuit continues to lay her speckled brown eggs, while the two black chickens, Split and Splat, lay dark brown eggs.  Fluffy lays a light brown egg which is actually a white egg with small brown spots when inspected closely, and of course Charlotte’s green egg.  Sure makes our old plain white eggs seem kinda boring!

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Next up for the coop is some touch up painting, tilling the yard and creating a fun sign for the fence while the hubs builds a new storage area for their food and treats.  Watch for future posts as those projects are completed!

The New Chicken Yard

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Today is the 3rd anniversary of the blog!  It’s amazing to think of how far we’ve come since this journey began, but I’m glad you’re here to share it.  To celebrate I’m sharing a big project that the hubs recently did, the new chicken yard!  Although their coop was pretty big we spoil our critters and wanted them to have lots of room to spread their wings and do their little chicky thing.  Plus happy chicks = constant egg production so we’re all about keeping these ladies happy.

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To get things started the hubs rented this mini excavator to dig a trench around the perimeter of the space.  Although I’m practicing no-spend April he isn’t and since it was his idea and project it doesn’t impact my no-spend goal.  He did have costs for the equipment rental, posts and concrete but the main panels were freebies from Craigslist last fall and we had a gate building kit left over from installing the yard fence so he did save where he could.

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The dogs were pretty interested in this new contraption and wanted to hop on for a ride.  When they realized that wasn’t going to happen they decided to hop into the side by side which was parked nearby with supplies in the back.  Apparently Stoli thought he was going to drive Tequila and his expression when I told him he couldn’t reach the pedals was priceless!

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Here’s how things looked once the trenches were dug.  Like with any project it always looks worse before it looks better.  The chickens were pretty interested in what was going on and watched from inside the coop run, hoping we’d let them out to investigate.

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Next came installing the posts and panels.  The hubs cut a groove in the sides of each post so the panels would nest in the groove for added stability.  I felt bad that I wasn’t able to help much with the install due to photography sessions but I will say he did an amazing job for putting this together almost 100% on his own.

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Above is what things looked like when I left for sessions and below is what I saw when I got home that evening!  All of the posts and panels were installed and concreted in which makes the entire thing SUPER sturdy and predator proof.

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A few days later I helped install this thin bird netting over the top so that eagles and owls can’t attack from above.

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And here’s the finished project with the gate installed.  I’ve started lining both sides of the yard with cinderblocks, which I’ll plant with simple flowers to make things pretty and attract flying insects the chicks might enjoy catching.  It will also help keep the digs a foot back from the fence when they come to visit, which I’m sure the chicks appreciate.

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Now that they have more space I moved their outdoor roost and dirt bath tub from the run out into the yard. The hubs also plans to build a new storage area for the chicken supplies to replace the plastic one we currently have and I’m planning a few aesthetic improvements such as a coop sign, pavers next to the coop door and planting a rose bush to help keep the area smelling pretty too.

I don’t think the chicks will notice most of those things but I’ll appreciate them. They are just happy to have more freedom and room to run around but they are still creatures of habit and all gather back in the hen house each evening to roost, which makes this momma happy. 🙂

Our Family is Growing by Four Paws!

PupBy the title of this post you can guess what the big announcement I promised is!  We’ve been talking about adding a third dog to our family for a few weeks now.  We’ve had time to grieve the loss of Bacardi and feel ready to welcome a new heeler to our home.  For us, pets are family and that means they stay until their last days so we always make sure that any new addition will get along with our other fur babies and be able to adapt to our busy lifestyle before we commit.

We started looking around locally for a young heeler that we could adopt who would be a good fit.  Since most heeler owners in Alaska brought their dogs here from the lower 48 and cherish them dearly there aren’t many who end up needing a new home.  Although we found a couple, there wasn’t a perfect match so we started looking at breeders as well.  We contacted several and found one that we liked in Oregon, just a few hours from the hub’s mom’s house.

This breeder matches puppies with new families based on personality and what is desired from the pet – companion, working dog, etc.  She had just had a litter of pups when we contacted her so we put our name on the list and eagerly awaited the puppies 4 week birthday when the breeder starts to pair pups with prospective families.  Luckily, because we were very open in what we wanted we were matched with this adorable female blue heeler, who will be joining our family Mother’s Day weekend!  How perfect is that?!

The hubs and I will fly down to pick her up and have a quick visit with his mom while there.  The breeder has already been taking the pups on car rides and starting house breaking with good success so hopefully she will adapt quickly to us and her new siblings.

While we wait we’re trying to decide on a name to continue our alcohol theme.  A few of the current contenders are Brinley (from Brinley’s Goldcoast Rum), Brandy and Julep.  We’ve also considered Grenadine, Hennessey, Disaronno, Grigio, Kahlua and Chardonnay but decided they don’t quite fit her.  I also like the names Mojito and Martini but they both sound like names for small dogs to me.  We’re still considering other options so if you have a suggestion we’d love to hear it, especially if it’s rum related since that’s my alcohol of choice on the rare occasions we do drink!  It is pretty ironic that we have alcohol named pets since we aren’t big drinkers, but they are strong lickers! 🙂

Little Moments

Being a photographer, I naturally have a TON of pictures of our fur babies, but it’s not as easy to get those great shots as you might think.  Such was the case when I attempted to get a few new shots of the dogs last weekend.  I had just gotten home from a portrait session and the snow was starting to fall but there was great light.  I thought, “This is a perfect opportunity to get some pictures of them with the wood pile, which will make a unique background I haven’t done before.”  Giddy with the mental image in my head of two smiling pups in front of this interesting background I call the dogs outside and we play for a few minutes as we make our way out to the wood pile.

Once there they are definitely game to investigate the stacks of logs, but forget about posing.  There’s just too much to see and sniff!  Tequila puts her paws up on one of the stacks and I wait for her to look over at me, but whatever was across the driveway was obviously more interesting and .2 seconds later she was over there checking it out.
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I figured I’d give them more time to play since they hadn’t been out for a while and then try again once they burned off some energy.  Ten minutes later I get them both in front of the wood pile, tongues out and excitement in their eyes.  I decided to try to get a shot before crouching down to their level in case this doesn’t last.  In the instant it takes to put my camera to my eye their faces change to this.  Sigh.
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So I tell them to stay, get down to their level and try to catch their interest without causing them to move from the spot they are in.  This is when they decide to play a game with mom called Look Here, Look There.  Tequila went first.
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Stoli went next.
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Then they looked in tandem, but in different directions over my shoulders.
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And then in opposite directions away…
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I said treat to get them focused and Tequila played along but Stoli had to check the other side too, just in case.  Deep breath.
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Tequila decided she’d had enough and went to explore, but Stoli hung out for a moment so I snapped a few solo shots even though he refused to look at me and threw in a snaggle lip for good measure.

2Ok, at least that’s decent and you don’t look like a pirate…
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Tequila came back about then and climbed up on top of the wood pile. While not the background I envisioned, it’s still a fun shot so I get into position and bam, she has to check the woods behind her.
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Next she posed but wouldn’t look at me.
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Then gave in and did look at me, just in time for a huge snowflake to cover her eye.
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Finally I get this shot as she watches a car approach on the road, not bad but still not what I wanted.
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So I move around to where she’s looking and draw her attention up.  Yes!  This will work!  Until she wiggles the moment I press the shutter button…Really?!
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Seeing sister on the wood pile, Stoli wants in on the action and climbs up when Tequila runs off but continues their game of don’t look at mom.
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I get him to sit but still, no looking at mom.  And now we’re going to make faces.  Not the cute kind.  The frustrating kind. This is the I’m cold and I don’t want to be sitting in the snow face.
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This is the what is sister doing that I’m missing out on because I’m stuck here so I’m going to snort my displeasure face.
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This is the whatever face…
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So I say whatever myself and tell them “Go Play” to which they happily bound off into the falling snow running and growling like wild crazed animals.  Heathens I tell you, heathens!

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Cold and disappointed I round them up and tell them to head inside.  A few hours later I download the images just to see what I might be able to salvage and find these two little gems hidden between all the faces above.
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Still not the shot I envisioned, but both make my momma’s heart smile.  And that’s why I always overshoot, because it’s those little in-between moments that turn out the best. But that’s how life is, it’s the little fleeting moments that you forget as quickly as they happen that make it all worth while. 🙂