Monday, December 12, 2011

Rachel Loves Santa

We went to a Christmas party last week, and Santa was there giving out gifts.  I was not sure what Rachel would think about him.  We have not gone to sit on Santa's lap since Leah was one.  She was always afraid of him and so we just quit going.  I figured Rachel would not like him either, since she has been slow to warm up to things that are new.  Just in the last year, Rachel has started recognizing Santa in pictures, and this month she started talking about Santa and Christmas.  When her name was called to go see Santa, she ran right up to him and gave him a huge hug.  I guess it is fair to say that she is okay with the jolly man in red! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Time, Again, For Christmas Card Pictures!

Allison wanted to try to get the dogs in the picture again this year.  We tried last year with just Cookie and couldn't do it, so..........

.........It was not to be.  Needless to say, the dogs had to go.  Just too many uncooperative personalities!   Okay, now let's get down to business.......

Whew!  That was fun wasn't it?!?!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Rachel Loves To Climb!

A friend here in town has created a group that gets together to teach rock climbing to children with disabilities.  I have known about the program for a couple of years, but had never considered it since Rachel would not even attempt to climb the small rock climbing wall at gymnastics.  That is until just a couple of weeks ago when she went to the wall and climbed to the top!  Just after this, my friend, Barb, emailed me and asked us if we wanted to give rock climbing a try.  Perfect timing!  I told her that I thought Rachel would enjoy it and I would love to see what she would do.  So one Saturday, recently, we headed out to the local rock climbing gym and let Rachel give it a try.

Here Rachel gets hooked up to the lines. 


 Finally it is time to give it a try.  She was quick to get started. 

After a quick start though, she was not too sure this was going to be a fun as it looked.  The steps could get pretty far apart and she had to struggle to reach some of them.  She needed a lot of encouragement from the volunteers and a few reassuring looks from mommy. 

In the end, she made it to the top!!  Way to go Rachel!!!  She has talked about rock climbing ever since.   

This past Saturday, we were able to get back to the gym and let her go again.  She really seems to enjoy it, even though it takes quite some time to get her to the top.  The volunteers deserve lots of praise and credit for their ability to encourage and refocus Rachel.  They are wonderful and their patience is to be admired.  Thanks, Barb and Andrew,  for giving Rachel the opportunity to learn something new and have fun while doing it and for helping her build selfconfidence!  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rachel Loves To Take Pictures

Most of her pictures look like this........thank goodness for digital pictures that allow you to delete the bad pictures. 

But sometimes she gets it right.  Some pictures are of family..........


 Some pictures are of the house.........she seems to like to get pictures of her movies. 

Some are of her toys.......below is a shot of her FAVORITE doll and her Rapunzel tower she got for her birthday.


No matter what the pictures are, it is always fun to see things from Rachel's perspective. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

You Can Never Get Too Much Nature!

I sat down to transfer my pictures from my camera and noticed quite a few pictures of our local wildlife that I have collected in the last month or two, so I thought I would share.  Below is a white egret.  He is scoping out the shrubs in the neighbor's yard, looking for lizards.  Shortly after this picture was taken he grabbed for something.  Not sure if he was successful or not. 


Below is a polka-dot wasp.  Even though it is called a wasp, it is actually a moth.  The desert rose plant on my front porch became infested with caterpillars that were killing every single leaf on the plant.  I began to wage a daily war on them to try to save my plant.  I couldn't bring myself to kill the caterpillars, but I would flick them off the plant and hoped they would not return.  Each time I flicked them off, fewer of them made it back.  After a while, the girls decided they wanted to bring in a couple of the caterpillars to watch them go through their metamorphosis.  We looked up the caterpillars to see what they were, placed them on the counter in our bug box, and watched.  About three weeks later, we had adults.  Below is a picture of one of our moths before we released it. 

No real story to go with this guy.  He is just a little spider I saw as I was walking through the back yard.  He is called a crablike spiny orb weaver.  He is not as big as he looks......if you notice he is sitting on a blade of grass.

This is a Mediterranean gecko.  He hangs out on our screen on the back porch sometimes at night catching bugs.  It is not too unusual to see them on the walls of houses around here, but it is always a treat.  Unfortunately, our puppy found this little guy first, and Allison had to rescue him. That is why he is missing his tail.   

Here is a real treat.  This is a Crested Caracara.  It is actually the national bird for Mexico, but they can also be found in southern Florida.  I am not aware that they migrate, but we usually only see these guys around here in the winter months.  They are pretty big birds, standing about two feet tall.  Every time we see them, we see two.  I wonder if we see the same pair from year to year.

When we first moved into this house, we saw Mallard ducks frequently on the lake behind us.  For the past few years they have been noticeably absent.  This year we have seen some around from time to time.  Last weekend we had a male swimming around with nine females.  He was really busy trying to keep them all in line.  His ladies were not good listeners, and by the time I got this picture, most of them had headed off on their own. 

Nest we have the ibis.  These guys are around all the time, and in this case there were about fifteen of them marching through the neighbor's backyard.  If you look close, you can see there are a couple of black ones in the middle of the picture.  They are immature birds and will turn white as they mature.  Like a lot of the big birds here, they are not too fearful of people and will let you get pretty close before they take flight.  This drives my dogs crazy!  They love to chase these birds when we go on walks.   

This little softshell turtle was found in our pool.  Mike noticed him swimming around in there one morning.  Allison was still in bed, and Mike yelled to her upstairs to come catch this little guy.  She broke the land speed record getting down stairs and out on the back porch!  Wish I could get her up that easy every morning. 

I saved the cutest for last.  These three little guys were born in our neighbor's flowerbed.  The kids discovered them while they were still hairless little black blobs.  We got the joy of watching them over a period of about two weeks.  Boy, did they grow fast!  It was so hard to stay away from them and to keep the kids from touching them.  The blanket pieces surrounding the babies in this picture were courtesy of the neighbor.  She was worried the bunnies would be too cold one chilly night.  I am guessing mom new how to keep them warm, but it was hard not to worry about the little guys.  The last we saw, they were venturing out of the nest and getting around pretty quickly.  I hope they made it!  Not that we need anymore bunnies in the neighborhood.  We see at least three on every walk in the summer evenings.  The dogs love to try to chase them too!