Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Five-O #31 {Something Precious Arrived in the Mail...}

Good Morning, Loves!
I hope this finds you doing well!

I don't know about you,
but for me, this week has absolutely FLOWN by!
This most likely has something to do
with my four-day weekend last Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday :).

Come along with me and I'll tell you all about it on today's:

Friday was the start of my four-day weekend
and I had Christmas on the brain something fierce!
I guess part of that is due to the fact 
that I spent sometime over at my cousins' house
working on Christmas Program plans
in addition to Pastor Appreciation plans :).

Doesn't that photo make you long for the Holiday Season?

Saturday, I along with my Grandparents, Mom, some friends from church,
and the little guy I was babysitting made a trip to Tanner's Orchard.
Visiting an orchard is one of my favorite fall activities!
I haven't been able to visit Tanner's for the last few years,
so this was a real treat for me!

Just in case you didn't know,
I absolutely ADORE all things Autumn! :)

Sunday I was privileged to take 1 Year Anniversary photos
of my dear friend, Amanda and her husband, Chris.
This couple is very special to me for many reasons,
but one of the main ones is that are the first couple I've ever "professionally" photographed! :)

Monday I pretty much sat in my mother's recliner all day.
Now, don't get me wrong, I was working...
I edited QUITE A FEW photos that day.
But it was nice to sit with my feet up
and enjoy a bit of autumn scrumptiousness while I was at it! :)

Just in case you couldn't tell,
that's hot apple cider in that darling little teacup! :)

Tuesday was back to work :(
and Wednesday was an early dismissal day at TJ
(for those of you who don't remember,
this means that I get to work nearly 9 hours 
surrounded by 15+ children...
I will tell you more about THAT experience later!)
Thursday was more of the same
as far as work is concerned...
and, I guess, I just expected it to be a "normal" Thursday...
except that this little darling turned up in the mail
and completely saved my Thursday! :)


How has your week been?
Have you begun planning for Christmas yet?
Have you been able to watch
The Fault in our Stars yet?
What did you think of it?
I would LOVE to hear your thoughts!

Thank you so much for visiting today!
I hope you to see back again soon! :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Blackfish {Spoiler Included!!!!}

I'm going to come right out and say it, "I'm not as aware as I should be". I have a very difficult time understanding politics therefore I generally stay away from anything considered "political". I almost never know what's happening in the news because I don't usually watch/read it. The same goes for happenings in my church and sometimes even my family. I generally do not browse Facebook (although I post quite a bit), therefore, I'm usually the last to know...well...anything! As I said, I'm not as aware as I should be. In some ways this is not a big deal, but in others it's not a good thing.

Keep this in mind when I tell you that I had no idea who Dawn Brancheau was or anything about her story until I stumbled upon the documentary Blackfish on Netflix last Christmas. 

I had no idea that there had been a SeaWorld trainer killed "in the line of duty". Furthermore, I had absolutely no clue that this was NOT the first incident of its kind. Apparently the same whale that took SeaWorld Trainer Dawn Brancheau's life had killed before MORE THAN ONCE. 

After viewing Blackfish multiple times over my Christmas Holiday, I did some research of my own into the subject. Everything I found completely backs up Gabriela Cowperthwaite's version of the story. Tilikum, one of the largest Orcinus Orca currently held in captivity, has violently taken the life of three human beings. 

This information begs the question, "Then why hasn't this animal been put down? If he has killed multiple people, why hasn't he been euthanized?" 

The answer to this question is not a simple one. We all know that the Orcinus Orca are generally referred to as Killer Whales. However, they are not called Killer Whales because of any violent behavior they have exhibited toward humans. Rather the origin of the term Killer Whales is "Whale Killer", referring to wild Orcinus Orca who prey upon other smaller whales. Furthermore, according to David Kirby in his book, Death at SeaWorld, "...wild killer whales rarely, if ever, cause deliberate harm to humans." What I surmise from this information is this: Killer Whales don't kill humans...unless we kidnap them from their families and jail them and teach them to perform circus tricks in tanks that are too small for them. 

But I'm jumping ahead of myself...

What is SeaWorld's position on this? Why do they continue to keep Tilikum around when he is obviously a threat to human life? Gabriela Cowperthwaite, with the assistance of several former SeaWorld trainers and other experts, answers this question in her documentary: SeaWorld purchased Tilikum from Sea Land of the Pacific after he had killed his first victim. 

Yes, you read that right. SeaWorld bought Tilikum knowing full well that he had instigated the death of 24-year-old Keltie Lee Byrne. I'm sure you are wondering the same thing I did, "WHY?!?!"

Well, it's simple really...the answer is blindingly simplistic and is supported by information in the Blackfish film: Tilikum had the potential to be their cash cow. Not only was he gorgeous, and as I already mentioned, one of the largest Killer Whales currently in captivity, he was also a sterling performer when he chose to be. But lastly, and I believe most importantly, SeaWorld needed a male Orcinus Orca for breeding purposes. 

Now, I'm going to admit that I know next to nothing about the breeding of animals. But I did wonder, however, at the wisdom of using a creature that had violently killed a human being for breeding purposes. Couldn't that violent streak be passed down to the offspring? This question is also answered in the movie Blackfish. 

I could go on and on re-answering the questions that Blackfish has already taken care of, but I won't. I think I will just let this amazing, must-see documentary speak for itself. I close with this:

In the midst of the film, Blackfish shows a clip of a newscaster asking this question (and quote to best of my remembrance), "If you were kept in a bathtub for twenty-five years, don't you think you'd be a little psychotic too?" It is upon this question that I base my choice to support Blackfish and anti-captivity. I do not agree with SeaWorld's practices. 

I am not being compensated for this post in any way. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Five-O #30 {Getting Ready for My Busiest Time of Year!}

Good Morning, Everyone!
And a Very Happy Friday to you!
Seeing as how I have the day off today,
for me it is indeed a Very Happy Friday! :)

For those of you who even slightly know me,
you know that I am an avid lover of all things fall.
Therefore, I am very excited for the Official First Day of Autumn
which is coming next week.
I love the colors of autumn, the crisp, cool air,
PUMPKINS, being able to wear scarves and boots,
BONFIRES, and lots of homemade soups!
But in addition to this,
Autumn brings about my busiest time of year.

Christmas plans start making their appearance,
church and family gatherings are more frequent,
my photography "business" (and I use that word lightly) really picks up...
I just ALWAYS have a LOT going on September - December.
And this past week, was sort of the unofficial beginning of it.
C'mon with me and I'll tell you all about it on today's:

Friday night was one of the last "do-nothing-nights-at-home"
that I will be seeing for a while.
So I endeavored to milk it for all it was worth
and spent my evening with some movies
and a steaming cup of cappuccino.

Saturday was a pretty busy day.
Along with regular weekend house cleaning duties,
I set aside time to update my chalkboard.
I was a little nervous about trying to draw some this "elaborate",
but, hey, if you don't try, you won't know what you are capable of.
So I gave it my best shot,
and actually I don't think it looks half bad.
I think it definitely could be better,
but I'm proud of it as it is anyway! :)

Saturday evening, I was privileged to photograph beautiful family:

Even after 13 years of marriage,
Mom and Dad are still mushy enough to completely gross out their kids! :)

On Sunday, it was my turn to work in the Toddler Nursery
(this happens on a monthly basis).
For some odd reason, I have been forgetting my  phone at home
on Sundays quite a bit lately.
Naturally, this throws a kink into my instagramming obsession...
Anyway, I didn't have my phone with me at church on Sunday,
but I did have my Nikon.
Therefore, I was able to snap even better photos of my little darlings than usual. :)

Monday, I made my weekly trip to the Library...

I admit it!
I have a HUGE Library addiction!
While there, I happened upon this inspiring sight:

I believe it is safe to say that Fall is in the Air! :)

Tuesday, I had a meeting with my boss's boss
about the "special project" I eluded to in this post.
This project is still nowhere near ready to get off the ground
(and, if our CEO doesn't approve, never will...).
Therefore, I am hesitant to say much about it at this time.
However, I will say that my boss's boss and I
had a very productive meeting about it
and discussed some very cool options.

I also wore my slippers this very important meeting.
What? My feet hurt! LOL

What's been going on with you?
Are the gorgeous colors of Autumn
starting to make an appearance where you live?
Am I alone in my plight or do you have a Library addiction too?

I would love to hear your stories!

Thank you for stopping by!
Have a Great Weekend!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Book Review {The Night Circus}

Good Day, Friends!
I hope this finds you doing well!

I have been doing a LOT of reading lately
(I guess I've been trying to make up for my lack thereof in previous years...).
Joining the Blissful Bookworms Book Club is partially responsible for this,

but not completely.
I honestly think that I have simply re-fallen in love with the written word
after a long, dry separation.

And, let me just say, 
The Night Circus is one of the best books I've read in a LONG time.

Now, I know what you're thinking... isn't better than The Fault in our Stars,
or The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner or Eleanor & Park.
But then, it really can't be compared to those books.
For one thing, its not a Young Adult book.
And while there is romance in it,
it is a more dark, forbidden seduction than in those works of fiction.
But I'm getting ahead of myself...

You know how occasionally you will read a book
and when you finish it, you're almost relieved to be done with it?
This book was the COMPLETE and TOTAL opposite!
When I finished the final page,
I felt as though I had lost my best friend.
Added to this disastrous feeling was the realization
that the book was due back to the library that exact day.
I didn't even have time to mourn the loss of my new best friend
before having to let it go!
To comfort myself, I went directly to
and added The Night Circus to my shopping cart
(it should arrive any day now!

But anyway, enough of my personal feelings...
on to the official review! :)

The Night Circus is exactly what it sounds like:
a tale about a circus that is only open at night.
But this isn't just an ordinary circus...
rather, it is the venue for two young magicians,
Celia and Marco,
who are locked into the ultimate challenge.
But the challenge isn't of their own design or desire.
No, instead these two skillful magicians were forced into this as children
and were trained for most of their lives for this challenge.
But setting aside the fact of their slavery to this task,
they are both quite fantastic at their jobs.

The Circus in which they host their respective abilities is,
thanks to them, far from ordinary.
In addition to oddity of the circus only being open after nightfall,
further fanciful and dreamlike oddities include:
a blazing, brilliant bonfire that never goes out,
a candle-lit wishing tree,
a marvelous clock that seems to perform rather than just keep time,
a gloriously cold ice garden,
statues that no one can decide if they are alive or not,
and a peculiar hall of mirrors
that seems to reflect what it wants, when it wants.

And I haven't even mentioned the color scheme of this chimerical circus!
Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is black and white.
The flames of the bonfire are white,
the wishing tree is black with white candles,
the clock has been shaded in hues of black and white.
Even the grass surrounding the tents has
had it's colors manipulated to match the setting.
The performers all dress in shades of black and white as well.
There is a spark of color to be seen though...
true lovers and frequent visitors of the circus
distinguish themselves from other circus attendees and performers
with the employment of a splash of red.
A red scarf or a red flower pinned to the lapel
tells of the individual's ardor for the circus
and all of its charms.

It is the magicians' skills that keep the circus running.
However, the inevitable occurs.
Celia and Marco fall in love
much to the disapproval of their prospective teachers.
Then the seriousness of the challenge comes to light:
for there to be a victor,
one of the challenge participants must die.

And, yes, that is where I'm going to stop.
If you want to know the whole story,
you'll have to read the book.
Or if you've already read the book,
I have great news for you.
Apparently, the film rights to The Night Circus 
have already been optioned by Summit Entertainment,
a Lionsgate Company.
According to the author's website,
no further information is yet available.
But can I just say that I'm BEYOND EXCITED to see
what these movie makers can do with this enchanting story!
Summit Entertainment has brought such movies as:
The Twilight Saga
The Hurt Locker
Letters to Juliet
and Ender's Game.

I hope you enjoy reading The Night Circus as much as I did!

Have you read any good books lately?
I'm ALWAYS open to books suggestions! :)

Thanks for stopping by!
And have a Great Thursday!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Five-O #29 {Basking in the Coming Autumn}

Happy Chilly Friday, Friends!
I hope this finds you enjoying 
this crisp Autumn weather as much as I am.
(In case you haven't figured it out already,
this is my favorite time of year 
and I plan to enjoy every second of it!)

I've actually done quite a bit of basking in fall this week...
C'mon with me and I'll tell you all about it on today's:

Friday, my little TJ darlings and I created Skylines out of old book pages
in honor of National Sky Scraper Day last week.

Based on all the positive reviews I'm getting from the parents
-and what I can see with my own two eyes,
I'd say the kids did GREAT! :)

Sunday was Grandparents' Day.

I usually try to MAKE a gift for my grandparents on that day
(I just think that makes it more personal...).
I plan to share my little crafts with you at another time.
In addition to making gifts,
Mom and I also took Grandpa & Grandma to lunch.

YUMMY! Famous Dave's BBQ is the BEST!

Monday,  I worked some more on the fall decor in my room.
I love using real, dried leaves & plants!
I feel this gives authenticity to the decor.

 (Picture above is dried bittersweet and oak leaves.)

Tuesday & Wednesday were VERY Wet days.
Nonetheless, I found the following signs of Autumn to brighten up my days :).

Thursday was September 11. 
I was only 13 when the attack occurred,
but I remember it like it was yesterday.
I don't remember feeling afraid,
but I remember feeling helpless.
I remember praying for all those affected
and for the leaders of our government.
I think that was the day that I truly became a Patriot.
I had loved and honored my country prior to that that terrible day,
but I was more passionate about it afterwards.

May We Never Forget...

In addition to honoring 9/11 on Thursday,
I also was privileged to snap some photos of one of my darling little TJ kiddos.
I am hoping to use this photo of my buddy
(and a few others showcasing him),
for a Project at the YMCA
(will explain more about it later!).

He's such a STUD! :)

How was your week?
Have you done any Basking in Autumn yet?
I would love to hear all about it!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Introducing Lulabelle & Louise {(Another) Autumn Children's Book Review}

Good Day, Lovelies!
I hope this finds you doing well!

I fully realize that its been a while since I've posted anything but a

And, honestly, there's a reason for that
but I don't think I have it in me to go there yet.
Maybe someday...

Anyway, the point of this post is to get me out of the Friday Five-O rut
and back into "other kinds" of blogging.
If you remember from the previous year,
I have published an Autumn Children's Book Review before.
But given my love of All Things Autumn,
how could I limit myself to a single review?
The answer: I couldn't :).
So here we are :).

In addition to this,
I want to introduce a new "attraction" to this blog:

Honestly, I'm not sure how many posts we will see
that showcase these two adorable little girls,
but I do promise that they will make more than once appearance!

I'd say that's a perfect quote/photo combination to start off this book review :).

The first book on the review is a repeat from the last one:

While the tale itself is charming and witty,
I personally think that its the bright, fanciful illustrations that hook the reader.
And Lulabelle & Louise Say:
Lulabelle: "I like this book because it is beautifully illustrated."
Louise: "I like how the cows moo at the moon."

Secondly we have The Little Yellow Leaf by Karin Berger.

As with By the Light of the Harvest Moon,
I fell in love with the illustrations over the story line
(however, the story line is great!).
Whimsical and bold, the illustrations capture the reader's eye like a classic search and find!
And Lulabelle & Louise Say:
Lulabelle: "I think this book is supposed to make you feel sad
 because the little leaf doesn't want to leave the tree."
Louise: "I like when the two leaves who have been left behind fly off together."

Next, we have Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka

This comical tale will keep you and your kids laughing
throughout the entire read!
Names of the Autumnal months get scrambled,
turkey and dressing are passed out for Halloween,
and a Giant Feast of Candy is served for Thanksgiving
and that is just a taste of the silliness in this charming book!
And Lulabelle & Louise Say:
Lulabelle: "I like how the bears gather nuts and geese hibernate!"
Louise: "I like that they eat all the candy instead of turkey for Thanksgiving."

Next we have Hodge the Hedgehog by Amy Sparkes

This story is one of my personal favorites.
Not only is it about one of my favorite seasons,
but it also teaches a very important lesson about sharing
and taking care of others.
A lesson every child (and adult!) needs to learn!
And Lulabelle & Louise Say:
Lulabelle: "I like how all the pictures are so detailed."
Louise: "I like when the other animals clean up for Hodge."

The last autumn book we have is South by Patrick McDonnell.

This book has it's own very special brand of uniqueness:
it is wordless.
Yes, you read that right.
This story is told through pictures alone.
And I think it's adorable!
Regardless of the wordlessness,
the story line is evident.
And Lulabelle & Louise Say:
Lulabelle: "I like how it looks so nice you can tell the story without words."
Louise: "I like how the doggy (cat) gets sad at the end when the birdy leaves."

Finally we have Kay Thompson's Eloise.

Now this book is not a tale of autumn,
it is, however, one of our favorites at Thomas Jefferson
that we read on just about a weekly basis.
This mischievous little girl is a bundle of energy
who has made it her mission in life
to keep the staff of the world-renowned Plaza Hotel on their toes!
Double the fun is had when this book is read with attitude and vocal inflection!
DISCLAIMER: This book is very long. Takes at least 10 minutes to read.
And Lulabelle & Louise Say:
Lulabelle: "I love Eloise because she looks like me & she does silly stuff."
Louise: "I like how she kept going up and down all over the hotel.
This is a very long book, but its not a chapter book."

I hope you found this review helpful!
What are your favorite autumn books to read to your kids?
I'm always looking for new books to share!

Thanks so much for visiting!
I hope you stop by again soon!
And Lulabelle & Louise Say:
"See you next time!"

Friday, September 5, 2014

Friday Five-O #28 {Hello, September!}

Happy September, Lovelies!
I hope this finds you doing well.

As I'm sure you well know,
I've been anticipating the Autumn Season for WEEKS now
and am completely overjoyed that the month of September has FINALLY arrived
so I can cover my space with fall decor
and spend my time doing Autumn Crafts :).

Join me for this

and I'll tell you all about it! :)

Friday, I continued the Autumn Book Review Photo Shoot that I had begun the previous day.

I adore my darling booklovers!

Saturday I was privileged to photograph the First Birthday Party
of this precious little guy at the Peoria Zoo!

I already thought this little dude was adorable,
then I found out about his love for Oreo cookies
and we just bonded further! :)

Monday was Labor Day (Yay! No Work!
Well, no work at work anyway...).
Mom and I got up in the attic and retrieved all of our fall decor
Regardless of the hot glue gun burns,
I had a great time making this new wreath for the front door.

Tuesday I took a moment to snap a photo of my Current Read.

Honestly, when first heard from my fellow Blissful Bookworms
that this was going to be one of our Book Club reads,
I was a little leery.
Mystical and Magical books really aren't my favorite
and I generally stay away from them.
But I had promised myself that I would at least read a bit of each book
the Blissful Bookworms promoted,
so I started reading it.
And let me just say...I LOVE it so far!
I'm about halfway through it and cannot wait to finish it
and have already added it to my Amazon shopping cart for future purchase!

Wednesday, my Lovely Cousin, Madi, visited me at work (again!).
While there, the craft project the lovelies and I were making
inspired her to make this for me.

Needless to say, I fell head over heels in love with it
and framed it as soon as I got home! :)

How was your week?
Are you reading anything interesting?
Have you begun your Autumn Decorating?

I would love to hear your stories!

Have a Great Weekend!