Sunday, August 31, 2014

Yesterday Comes To Soon

This has been a great summer.  Our family filled time with fun, farms and football.  We went on our first family road trip with Little Brother to a reunion in Marshall, Illinois.  I think Sweetheart and the boys enjoyed this mini-vacation.  Sweetheart had fun picking plums and taking photographs of the barns and birds.  The boys went swimming multiple times and they both got to drive a large tractor.  Little Brother especially enjoyed the tractor!  We also have been to the beach countless times this summer at the Indiana Dunes State Park.
Big Brother recently celebrated a birthday in August.  He is now 12 and almost taller than his mother.  He started middle school and he is making new friends.  It won't be long before we are wearing the same size shoes.  He will be playing in his first middle school football game this Tuesday.  He is working hard at defensive end.  I love spending time with him outside. Either playing catch or walking in the woods.

Little brother enjoys puzzles, the beach, dump trucks, Curious George, singing, dogs, cats, road trips, swimming, frogs, toads, hickory tree nuts, acorns, butterflies, deer, tractors, the wind in his hair and to tell his daddy to "drive fast!".  Little Brother also likes doing anything and everything Big Brother is doing.  Little Brother has a great imagination.

Sweetheart is able to find the good in people and events.  She enjoys the simple pleasures of gardening, birding, and Saturday morning farmers markets.  We like finding tree frogs on our windows and spending time together as a family.

Morning Dew

Plum Pickin' Party


Indian Pipes


Cemetery Prairie

Royal Catchfly

Happy Birthday


"No salamanders under here."


Ambler Flatwoods Nature Preserve



Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rivers and Roads

 Summer has come in afternoon-long increments for the last two months or so and we do our best to pack a bag and sprint out the door for fear of missing it.  Between downright chilly days and rainfall too unpredictable to prepare for, we're doing our very best to catch the sun when it makes an appearance.  Big brother will be 12 in August. I had a birthday in July, and D! had one in May. We're all getting older.  We're all working a little harder. The time seems to be passing a little faster.

Moraine back yard.

Our garden here at Moraine has had a bit of a struggle getting moving.  Tomatoes are off to a strong start. Taut, shiny green orbs are now weighing down every available branch and I'm bookmarking every salsa and marinara recipe I can in preparation.  Swiss chard, kale, and spinach are growing faster than we can eat.  Radishes are on their second round. Serrano peppers are finally making their appearance. The tiny, waxy baby peppers are full of promise. My little wildflower patch has made me incredibly happy to watch grow.

 D!'s pumpkin patch will be big this year. We have a lot of blossoms and baby pumpkins already.  His sunflowers are well over 6' tall and only one has bloomed so far. It's not quite done yet, but it's so lovely.

The kids have had plenty of outings this summer. We've been to the beach or the pool almost every available day.  The beach doesn't get old. It's always peaceful. The lake is always moving, in and out. Reliable and steady, predictable and alive, reflecting the sunlight and drawing our bare feet in for a soak. We visited the children's nature museum and zoo downtown one weekend. There are few feelings better than looking at your exhausted children in the back seat.


We had computer issues recently. Our entire hard drive was replaced on our laptop thanks to our warranty, but it was a four-hour-long feat to get all of our programs and documents back on track.  All I can advise, is that if you have an external hard drive available, use it. You'll be so glad you did.

tree swallow.
Unfortunately, we haven't been able to go to many new places to bird lately.  We went to a local county park in May and caught these guys, though.

eastern bluebird.

eastern bluebird.
Moraine wildlife is multiplying and growing, too. We've been lucky enough to be able to spend time since spring watching three fawns grow and play and learn from their mothers all of the ins and outs of the land. These photos are a few weeks old. They've grown since we took them.

We have a lot going on lately. I'm really looking forward to school starting back up for Big brother. 7th grade! He's growing so fast. He's tall and thinning out. I've noticed his sense of humor and personality developing and it's alarming how quickly this all happens. Last week was football conditioning. He has never played on a football team before. As nervous as it all makes me, it's really nice to see him work hard at something.

little brother is a bustling ball of energy and curiosity, ready for anything you propose. He is completely smitten with his dad lately. Echoing every word he says, imitating gestures and sounds. I can't think of anyone better to imitate. He likes to hike and pick flowers. He loves digging holes in the beach. He'll sit in the sand with trucks as long as you'll allow it.

He loves singing and learning new songs. He can properly identify several different plants and birds. Small mammals make him happy. He will tell you if he finds a dog friendly or not. Amazing, this kid. Growing and learning faster than I can always understand.

Sadie has found her place within the family perfectly. She is polite and affectionate, really a joy to be around. She chases squirrels and sits and wags her tail until you're ready to pet her. She recently sprained her tail.  We aren't sure how, but we noticed swelling and took her to the vet.  She was given an anti-inflammatory and seems to be much better now. Silly girl.

 D! and I have been keeping busy between our jobs and other projects.  We've been painting our bedroom in our free time sporadically.  It's a big job, but we're about halfway finished. We've been minimizing the amount of stuff we keep in storage, donating, re purposing, and just throwing things away.  It feels good. I've been going to the gym as much as possible in the mornings and D! has been working hard keeping all of his work properties in line. We had a string of severe weather several days this summer that required him to cut up fallen trees and minimize rubble on hiking trails. Tiring work.

great blue heron.
This weekend, we're taking a short trip to see family, and then August will be in full swing.  I'm excited to see what the fall has in store for us, how things will continue to grow and change, and ending summer with a blast.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Angel From Montgomery

Greetings from Moraine,

Today we went to the beach for the 8th time this summer.  We enjoy going to the Indiana Dunes State Park as a family.  Little Brother loves digging holes at the beach until we reach ground water.  He jumps and laughs and digs his toes into the "mud".  Big Brother played so much Frisbee today and he waded out into the mighty Lake Michigan.  Soon school will be out for the summer and Big will be playing and helping out around the house.

I recently celebrated my 33rd birthday.  I had a wonderful day and Sweetheart and I were able to go on a date to Shoreline Brewery in Michigan City, IN.  The following morning we took Sadie to Sunset Hill Farm County Park to see some bobolinks.  Sweetheart was on camera duty while I enjoyed my stroll with Sadie.  The photograph of the bobolink below was taken by my wonderful wife.

The past few weekends have been fun working in the garden and barn.  I am excited for our first radish!  Each year we get better at the garden layout.  The love for gardening must have been passed down from my grandma Shawver and my mother. I remember working the soil for my grandma each May.

Big Brother has been helping me on projects around the house.  A few weeks ago, Big brother and I built a wooden planter box for Mother's Day.  Little brother helped fill the box with rocks and soil.  Little brother loves to ride in Papo's wheelbarrow.

Moraine and the Dunes are wonderful places to see and hear the birds.  My grandparents on my father's side loved feeding birds.  Grandpa passed on to me the love for watching birds instead of television.  I remember going to their house and spending most of the time outside walking in the woods.  I can remember sitting on their back porch and watching bluebirds.  I also remember sitting with my grandma and watching hummingbirds.  I think of my grandparents often.  They were wonderful people.

Yellow Trout Lily

White Trout Lily

Dunes Nature Preserve

Moraine Nature Preserve

Common Nighthawks

Common Nighthawk

Common Nighthawk

Yellow Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Male Common Yellowthroat

Female Common Yellowthroat

Little Brown Bird?


Green Heron

Turkey Vulture

American Woodcock

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird