Happiness Is…{big cousins}

My ten-year-old niece Erika and nearly twelve-year-old nephew Christian came up for Em’s birthday festivities last weekend.  I had a chance to take a small trip alone with them in the car, and to take a walk with them and my kids one afternoon.  I’m happy to report that after some much-needed quality time, of course this auntie loves those two more than ever.

And so do my kids.

It was a simple pleasure: I merely sat on the ground with my camera and watched the fun unfold.  First, they each searched for the perfect rock and then began a classic game of hopscotch.  I captured the camaraderie and enjoyed the dynamics between two adolescents and their Mini-Me’s.

I’m not sure why I didn’t get as many photos of my niece since she is just a big a ham as her brother, but she must have been feeling a bit more mature that day, or my attention was focused on my three-year-old wielding a rock.  Anyway, even with the age difference, I sure am grateful that my kids have such amazing big cousins to look up to and play with as often as we can!

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Happiness Is…{malls and carousels}

Do you remember when a mall was just a regular old building with a lot of shops?  I remember loitering there, being a regular old mall rat, with very limited options as to how to spend the time.  Window shop, try clothes on, maybe buy something, flirt with boys, call my parents from a pay phone, repeat.  Now malls are actually pretty with seating areas and so many dining options, gardens and ice skating rinks and even a carousel!

Now, I grew up in a town with a mall.  My children have not.  The nearest mall is 45 minutes away and it it barely deserves its shopping center status.  Think more Kmart and less Nordstrom.  I am not such a hillbilly that I lose my mind every time I see a Target, but give me a few years and I just might reach that status.  I admit I do try to find a Target every time I venture toward Civilization, but malls are rare for us.  My kids, on the other hand, think malls are incredibly fascinating and wondrous places to explore.  Window displays in American Eagle are playgrounds.  Escalators are better than Christmas morning.  But having a real live merry-go-round right there in the food court?  Their heads just about exploded.

So of course, we went on.  All four of us.  It was really fun and sweet and it made me really happy.  One of the better things about having your kids grow up–they start to love the same things you did as a kid.  And they only fought about which horse to ride for ten seconds.

These were their faces before the ride started:

And these are their photos during:

Hilarious!  Joy and fear all wrapped into one.

Then we wandered around the mall, did some summer shopping for the kids, went on a couple of those 25 cent rides and spent 45 minutes in the Disney store.  The best part?  We left the land of Lightning McQueen and Disney princesses without buying a thing and the kids didn’t make a peep.  I think they get so overstimulated in there with commercial overload that they can’t even think straight.  Or maybe they think it’s a museum or something.  It’s not that we wouldn’t buy them something if they really wanted it–they don’t ask.  Seriously.  Sometimes I think living in Vermont is the best thing ever could have done for these kids.  They don’t even know how to pitch a fit in a store yet.  The operative word being YET.

And just when it couldn’t get any better, JDubbs made some excuse to go run and buy me a shirt I had admired but didn’t think was in the budget to buy.  He handed it to me and said, “Happy Monday.”  Now if that isn’t happiness, I don’t know what is!

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Happiness Is…{bathtime b & w}

Something about bathtub photos speak to me in black and white.  I almost always convert them, or make the colors very saturated and high contrast.  I don’t know why–naked babies deserve soft hues and blurred lines–but I love love love drippy eyelashes and crazy hair, and babies wrapped in snuggly towels.

I like my b & w’s bright, and the reflective white tile all over the bathroom certainly helps.  The over-the-top unnatural lighting just doesn’t seem natural to me unless I drain the color out of it.  Maybe it’s the white balance, maybe it’s the incandescent light.  Whatever it is, the converted results sure do make me happy!

Plus, there’s a photo op every night!

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Happiness Is…{kiddie cones}

The weather this March sure has been strange; that’s an understatement!  I have photos of Jax building a snowman with his Dad (that I will share soon), and I have pictures like these:

That was Em’s very first solo ice cream cone!  She wasn’t sharing Mama’s (Mama wanted her own!) and she wasn’t taking dainty slurps off a baby spoon.  Girl had two scoops on a big girl cone, and she is never going back!  PS. Aren’t those cones so awesome?!

And the funniest part was when Jax’s ice cream fell off his cone onto the mulch outside of Friendly’s, he tried in a very sneaky way to lick the ice cream off the ground without a) me noticing or b) eating any mulch.  Good thing I had my phone handy!

If that doesn’t make you smile, what does?!

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Happiness Is…{the everyday}

For us, the everyday is usually beautiful and silly.

Beautiful and silly!

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Happiness Is…{celebrating}

Half the reason I took this week off is because my beautiful niece Erika turned ten on Valentine’s Day and I promised her her first visit to a salon to get a real haircut.

Oh and to get some colored streaks in her hair!

Isn’t she awesome?  I never could have pulled that off in fourth grade.  Or now, for that matter!  We had a lot of fun–can’t wait until we live closer to my family in a few years.

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Happiness Is…{nap time}

Yes, one of my happinesses of the day is when Em takes her nap, and not just because of what you think (although having some time alone is part of it).  Jax stopped napping so I never get to see his sweet sleeping face in the daylight anymore and therefore I never get to get many photos of him sleeping anymore, except for on my phone, which leaves a little to be desired.  So for as long as Em takes her nap, I still have a chance or two to capture the sweetness of a sleeping babe.

The eyelashes, the cheeks, the binkie!  Oh, how I love a sleeping babe.

Sweet dreams!

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