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Friday, July 3, 2015

Meet Mr. Pancakes.

Meet Mr. Pancakes.

Time for a long overdue introduction. Meet Mr. Pancakes - he's a Syrian or "teddy bear" hamster. Lauren has been begging us for hamster for sometime now. We had been hesitant to give into her on this one because our inn is quite full here with the two dogs, a cat, several fish and chickens.  To convince us, she wrote an essay all about teddy bear hamsters and promised that she would take care of him all by herself and on top of that, wash dishes.

Cuddlin' with mama.

We have yet to see any dishes being washed, but Lauren has been a great mama to Mr. Pancakes.

 Littlest Bucco fan.

 And apparently he's a Pirates fan, so he fits right in with the rest of the Ross Family!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Bucco birthday.


Since I've become obsessed with baseball, I decided that I wanted to spend my birthday at the ball park. I even splurged and bought the best seats available - no peanut heaven for me!

Helmet nachos.

My birthday dinner - After I saw a fan on tv with them, I had to have helmet nachos. I'm slightly embarrassed by how much they cost, but hey, it was my birthday. And I will say that they give you so many chips, that you could easily split the cost with four friends and have a reasonably priced concession.

 Me @43.

Here's the view from our seats. We weren't quite as close to the action as I thought we would be, but we were right at field level.
 My glove still in use.

Our seats were in one of the sections where you're most likely to get a foul ball. So Lauren brought her glove, which is really my old glove from when I was her age (See the initials). Unfortunately, three little kids were sitting around us and scarfed up all the balls. As Charlie Brown would say, "Rats."

 Parrot frisbee.

 Little fan.

T-shirt toss.

 Our seats also afforded us lots of close-up Pirate Parrot action.


Ballgame with dad.

PNC Park on 6/9/15

In the end, we didn't get a ball and the Pirates lost to the Brewers, but it was still a great way to keep my birthday from being just another Tuesday.

Monday, June 8, 2015

What we did in May.

 On the verge.

After Lauren's birthday weekend, May continued to be a busy month. The next weekend we went to Phipps Conservatory's May Market to browse the plants, flowers and other horticultural items sold by local vendors.

 Locks of love.

On the way over to Phipps, I had to get a photo of our very own "locks of love" display on the Schenley Park Bridge. They've been doing this in Europe for years, but Pittsburgh is always about 3-5 years behind trend.


For Mother's Day, we went to see the Pirates play. Baseball has always been my favorite sport, but I've become a little obsessed with it lately. I've either watched or listened to almost every Pirates game this season and already have tickets lined up for several games this summer. Anyway, it was an incredibly hot 90 degrees that day, which made it impossible to sit comfortably in our seats.  We ended up standing underneath the stands in right field for the majority of the game, but it didn't really matter because the Pirates won and I got a free tote bag just for giving birth to Lauren.


After showing her the trailer for The Birds, Mark convinced Lauren to go see the full movie at the Row House Cinema, a new single screen theater in the hipster Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. There is nothing more terrifying than having to listen to the children of the Bodega Bay School sing what Mark calls, "the song you hear before the birds peck your eyes out as you're left kicking and screaming helplessly on the street."


When I came home from work on May 21st, I was surprised to see Lauren's photo on the cover of our local newspaper! Her GATE class was being featured for their project where they built a simulated lunar colony out of duct tape, plastic and fans. Alison, the girl next to Lauren, is also in my Girl Scout troop. You can read more about the project here.

Bronze Award!

Speaking of Girl Scouts, our troop earned their Bronze Award, the highest award you can earn as a Girl Scout Junior. For their service project, girls collected donations of comfort items such as toiletries, socks and towels and assembled care bags to give to children in foster care.

Strewing petals on Memorial Day.

For the second year in a row, we attended our local Memorial Day ceremony. Our area Girl Scouts strewed petals to honor and remember those who served.

Stuffed donuts!

Lastly, after seeing giant stuffed donuts given out as prizes at Kennywood's impossible to win games, Lauren decided that she would just make her own and give them to her friends. She did most of the work herself, and they turned out awesome!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

She's a 10.


I've come to the conclusion that I'm just not feeling the 52 weeks project this year. Part of it is due to just being busy with other things, but it's mostly due to the fact that I've been really struggling lately to produce any photographic work. Anytime I try to pick up my camera I feel like I'm shooting the same old things, and I just don't feel motivated to put in the effort it takes to stage a photo either. So rather than fight it, I'm going back to my old way of blogging and share photos when something interesting is happening. After this post, I'll do a month-in-review for May (Because a lot good stuff happened last month!), which should catch us up just in time for my birthday.

But first, we have to go back to over a month ago when Lauren celebrated her 10th birthday. She had asked me to draw a tiger for her. :)

Opening presents.

We started the day off with presents.

Lil Bub!

Lauren follows a few of the internet celebrity kitties, but her favorite is Lil' Bub.

Not sure what to make of him.

Happy with Bub.

She's almost as good as having the real Bub.

Lauren's birthday fell on a Saturday this year, which also happened to be our school district's annual picnic at Kennywood. So instead of a party, she wanted to go to the park with a couple of friends. The weather was perfect and the girls had a fantastic time. I wish I had some photos to share, but for the second time, I managed to lose a valuable piece of electronics at Kennywood. You would think I would have learned when I lost my Coolpix on the Kangaroo a few years back, but no. This time, it was my iPhone on the Thunderbolt. I realized right away that it must have fell out of my pocket, but it was no where to be found. I did my best not to let it ruin the day because it was just a phone (and an older model one at that), and once we got home, I changed all my passwords, disconnected my Apple ID from it and reported it lost to my carrier. Live and learn - me, electronic devices and amusement park rides don't mix.

 Glitter Eiffel Tower centerpiece.

On Sunday, we had a family party for Lauren. This year's theme was the Eiffel Tower, because that's the design that Lauren had picked for her cake.

 Eiffel Tower birthday mantel.

Keeping the tradition of the homemade birthday banner!

Eiffel Tower birthday decorations.

Eiffel Tower cake.

And here it is - I practically wept at the sight of it. Best. Birthday. Cake. EVER.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 

 I also carried the theme into my sketchbook journal for this week.

Opening presents with Grandma and Pappy.

Then it was time for more present opening.

 Pappy giving her the business.

Pappy was giving her the business about something. If I would have wrote this a month ago, I would have remembered what it was!

 We close with the big moment! When did this:

1st Birthday

Become this:

 10 at last.

 Here it comes!

10 wishes made.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 16

 52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 16

After a very, very long hiatus, we're back to blogging. No reason for it, other than a combination of being busy with other things and procrastination. But I'm all caught up now - for realz this time!

This week's theme was "It's a Song." So here we have Marcus watching America's favorite pastime. As for the song, I guess I could have picked "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," but I like this one instead:

Oh, put me in coach, I'm ready to play today
Put me in coach, I'm ready to play today
Look at me, I can be centerfield

--Centerfield, John Fogerty

I think he could do it. You should see him catch flying cereal out of the air.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 16 

Can't get enough of the magnolia trees. I wish they could look like this all year round, but even as I'm writing this, they're just about done.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 15

 52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 15

This week's theme was floral, which made it easy since all the trees are in bloom right now.

I have to admit that there are times when I get the exact shot that I want, it makes my entire day. This was one of those times. There are sparrows that nest in our birdhouse every year, and I thought it would look amazing if I could get a shot of them with our neighbor's magnolia tree in the background. So in the evening I headed outside with my longest telephoto lens and prepared to wait. I think I was out there less then ten minutes when not one, but two birds decided to come home to roost. I actually got several shots of them, but this one is my favorite.

Yellow magnolia.

This is Mark's extra special yellow magnolia tree. It gets more and more blooms each year.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 15

This week was the Pittsburgh Pirates home opener at PNC Park. They had a gorgeous day for it, with temps in the 80's! I didn't get to attend, but I do plan on going to several games this year. Mark and Lauren are already sick of me making them watch baseball on television every night.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 14

 52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 14

This week's theme was blessings. I don't think I need to explain my photo choice any further.

 Almost 10.

Last year for Lauren's birthday, we bought her a new bike. Because she was in between sizes, we decided to get her a bike that she could grow into. The downside was that it was just a little too big for her to ride. This year, it's just right.

Relaxing on her chair.

Some bonus photos of Kitty Coco. I noticed how her eyes coordinated with the aqua accents in the background, so I had to take some photos.


She's got the life. First it's bath time...


...then it's nap time.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 14 

No significance behind this week's sketch. Lauren has these really cute bird toys that sing and repeat what you say, so I just decided to draw one because I liked the colors.

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 13

52 Weeks of 2015 - Week 13

This week's topic was "in the kitchen." I had a quite bit going on this week with Easter preparations, but nothing more daunting than this lamb cake. Although I like to bake, I'm not much of a decorator because I don't see the point in putting in so much stress in effort into something that's just going to be eaten anyway. Or maybe it's because every time I try to decorate a pastry, it's a failure. Anyway, no one was more surprised than me when my lamb cake came out awesome, if I do say so myself. Cool Whip for the win!


I also made a flower arrangement for the very first time. Flowers courtesy of Trader Joes. They just opened a new store, and I love that it's located on my way home from work!

 Color wheel.

The obligatory annual dyed eggs photo.

Sketchbook Journal 2015 - Week 13

 Easter theme was an obvious choice this week. Check out the cutie photo of Lauren dying eggs!