Wednesday, June 30, 2010

There's A Super Giant Owl In My Tree!

We had heard a story about a woman who lives around here who had a bunch of cats and one by one they went missing.  One night she looked out the window and saw a giant barn owl swoop down and pick up the cat in the yard and fly away with it.

I guess I believed it, but at the same time... I've never seen an owl big enough to carry a full sized cat!

Until now!

Jaren came home a few nights ago telling me about a giant owl that was in the yard when he came home with a huge wing span.  I wanted to see it!

So then, maybe two nights later he comes in and takes me outside and points up to a grain silo and there are two of them!  I wished I had my camera because it was just their silhouettes and it was a sight to see.  They were huge!  Jaren walked toward them making a crazy noise and they flew away and I saw how big they were.  It was awesome.

So yesterday morning he was outside setting up the sprinkler (Dooey) in the yard and I could see him looking at something in the tree.  So I opened the sliding glass door and he said there was an owl in the tree.  I told him I wanted a picture so he came in, grabbed the camera and went out and took these:

See the robin flying up above it?  Jaren thinks the wing span is around 4 feet.

So, then later that day I'm walking around the yard with Naomi and we are under the tree and I look up and wam! There he is again!  Scared me silly!

So what do I do?  Go inside, set Naomi down and grab my camera.

I shoot on Manual so I had my settings set, then extended my telephoto lens and was afraid he'd fly away so I took a bunch of pictures without checking them.  Stupid.  My aperture changed when I extended my lens and underexposed every photo.  So I fixed them in photoshop as best I could.
This next one is my favorite

And then he flew away!  We are going to stop bugging him so he will stay because I'm pretty sure he is eating all the mice that want to make our house their home.  Or maybe he is a she?

This morning I looked for him out my kitchen window and found him/her on a higher up branch just sitting.  I think he's about 7ish feet from a black birds nest and so the black bird kept yipping at him.  I wish he'd eat the black birds - they dive bomb at me every time I go outside.  RRRRg.  And it's 3 hours later and he/she is still there - looks like he's trying to sleep.  I really like having such a giant fascinating pet outside - especially when I can spy on him without him knowing.  :)  I decided we needed to name him.  So his/her name is now Hoots.  Because I do hear him/her hoot quite a bit. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Baby Favorites: Part 2

Diaper duty, anyone?  What?  No takers?

First up:
Changing Table
I don't have an actual "Changing Table".  I have a borrowed dresser and put a changing pad on top.  I personally think that buying a changing table with the frame for the changing pad built in is a little dumb.  Because what will you use it for when your kid is either too big for the changing pad or is out of diapers?  I would rather purchase a dresser and put the pad on it or a lot of the dressers that come with nursery sets have a removable frame.  That way when they are older and you still want to use that dresser as a dresser you can and it wont look like it belongs in a nursery.  That's my opinion.

Changing pad.  I received one at my baby shower.  I wanted one because I have a sister in law who has one and always uses it.  I also have 2 other sister in laws who don't have one and just change their kid on the floor.  I wasn't sure if I would use it or not.  It sure looks cute in the room with the matching fabric from my bedding on it.
(I moved it to my family room for lighting purposes)

We have an automen and when Naomi was a newborn it was just easy to change her on that.  I have a diaper caddy (talked about below) that comes with a plastic changing pad - I used that and then laid a receiving blanket over it.  It wasn't until she was over 5 months old that we finally moved her changing station into her own room.  I changed her on the changing pad for ever diaper change.  And gradually in the last month or so, I've just started changing her diaper in the front room.  Before she goes to sleep she get's a bottle and I change her while drinking that - so it's easy to do it on the floor.  But, I still have my diaper cady in by the changing pad.

Do I think they are a waste of money?  No.  They are relatively cheap - here is one for $25 at Target.  I think you have to think if you are going to keep everything for baby in baby's room.  Jaren likes a nice clean picked up home and having Naomi's changing station in our living area bugged him.  Also, do you have hardwood or carpet?  I guess I prefer not to lay Naomi down on super hard surfaces - we have carpet.

Diaper Caddy:  I love love love mine.  I have a J.J. Cole Diaper + Wipes Caddy ($30 at Target) in brown and if I could buy one for each of my friends I would.  It's easy to grab and take anywhere in the house and we even take it on road trips.  I don't carry it to the rest stop (I use my diaper bag), but we take it to the hotel or house or wherever we are staying and have everything in one place.  The plastic mat that comes with it is good sized.  Right now I have it folded and put away in the front room for whenever I need it.  I will lay it on the floor then put a towel over it for when Naomi takes her baths - I put her on it.  Or when we are doing nakey time this is what she lays on.  Always with a towel or blanket because I would think it would be uncomfortable to be laying naked on plastic.  I highly recommend this!
This week I'll also do Diaper ointment/creams/paste's!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Super Fantastic Amazing Cookie Dough

I love cookie dough.  And brownie batter.  My super duper calorific treats of choice.

I have been using the Toll House recipe and wasn't liking the way they cooked flat and the dough would crunch when I bit into it.  I really don't like crunching on the sugar.  I like smooth soft dough and fluffier cookies.

So I Googled; "How to make your cookies fluffier" - I love that you can type anything and it yields results and 98% of the time I find what I'm looking for.

I came to one of those Yahoo question and answer pages and someone had the same question.  Maybe a little more eloquently worded.  Someone answered with a big long answer on how to make cookies three different ways: fluffy/puffy, soft/chewy and flat/thin.  I went for a bit of a mixture between fluffy and chewy, because I don't want my cookies too cake-like.

Except this time, with this recipe the dough is so unbelievably good and exactly what I have been dreaming for I'm not even making the cookies.  I'm just going to eat the dough.  And half of it is already gone.

So, if you love dough more than the actual cookie - here is the recipe (I changed the amount of flour from the original.  I also used regular flour instead of bread flour):

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
Parchment paper
Baking sheets

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
Pour the melted butter in the mixer's work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Here is the question and answer page.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Did You Know?

First, let me say thank you to all of the nice comments on my 2 posts below.  I've been so nervous about what the reaction would be and I'm so happy to hear that I'm not a looney who is out of my league.  If you haven't, vote on my poll on my sidebar on which name sounds better for my business name.  Man that sounds weird...

And here is a picture I took today of Naomi playing outside for our first outdoor playtime.  The weather has finally been good enough (no wind) for me to take her outside!  Joy!
And back to my Did You Know? post.
  • That I am a certified Aerobic instructor? I really enjoy it. I just don't have a building to teach in or time in my schedule at the moment.
  • That I know how to fix everything on the header of my swather(tractor that cuts hay/alfalfa) back home? I always felt so handy out there with my tools replacing blades and guards and screws.
  • My toenails are never naked
  • My fingernails are always naked
  • I like my hair blonde better but hate the grow out and it's so spendy to keep up with it
  • I had half a treatment of laser hair removal back home in Washington on my underarms. Then I moved and never went back to finish it. It would cost $75 here to finish - something I really want to do
  • I have sprained both of my ankles. One tripping on an apple and the other playing soccer - both during soccer season taking me out for the rest of the season my 9th and 11th grade years. 
  • I hate mustard. Jaren loves it. He tried to get me to eat it while pregnant because he was convinced Naomi would like it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Courtney's Maternity Shoot

If you haven't already, read the post below.

I noticed all of these places around my house that I wanted to take pictures of someone in front of. I immediately thought of Courtney, my roommate from when I first met and started dating Jaren in March of 2006. She is expecting her first, a little boy early this fall.

This was my first "real" photoshoot and I enjoyed every second of it. Her husband Jordan came and I am so glad because some of these smiles wouldn't have happened without him there. And we got some sweet shots with him in there, too.

I like so many of them I am having a hard time choosing what to put up.  So here are a whole lot.

And probably one of my favorites:
What is the most amazing thing is that I took these pictures next to my fence, fiber glass, overgrown bushes, cellar door, shop door, grain silos, a ditch, side of the road and sand dunes.  Totally random places that came to life.

There you have it.  What do you think?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Me? A Photographer?

This is something I've been thinking about and thinking about for a while now.  I have always loved taking pictures, but didn't discover such a love for it until I got my DSLR May of last year.  And even then I had no idea what it would turn into once I discovered how to actually use it!

Starting January of this year I started reading everything I could come across on aperture, shutter speed, ISO and white balance.  I wished I had discovered this obsession in college so I could take classes.  I probably would have minored in it.

I bought a book called "Understanding Exposure" off of Amazon and that is when the rest clicked for me.  I started using my light meter (bingo!) and I just practiced and practiced and practiced.  So much that we had to buy a desktop to fit all of my pictures on.  I used up every ounce of space on my laptop and we have moved most onto our external, but I needed a desktop to work with.

I've also been using Photoshop Elements since January of last year, but just for scrapbooking.  Then last winter after Naomi was born I discovered editing pictures with it.  And so then I began to mess around with that.  Now I'm using CS5 and am learning how to use that.  I cannot believe the amount of things you can do with it!  It's very exciting.

So.  I was sort of sure that I didn't want to become a photographer.  But then I fell in love with it.  I really didn't want to be one of those girls or SAHM's who get a DSLR and call themselves a photog and charge and take mediocre pictures.  So I practiced some more.  And I had my first real "shoot" last Friday with a former roommate of mine who is now pregnant and I had so much fun.  I have been scouting locations for this particular shoot for weeks and have kept my eye out for places for months.  It was so awesome to see the fence in my backyard come to life!  Or the bushes I thought I would rip out.  Or the fiberglass under my porch!  Simple things started to stand out to me and had such potential.

My confidence has been boosted by this and my roommate.  She has nothing but such good things to say about these pictures and I would like to think she's not just saying it :)  I know I have a whole lot of room to improve but I want to.  I want to take more pictures and learn and improve and get better and experiment.

This new world is exciting and fun.  If you want me to take your pictures email me!  I am looking for more experiences to build on.  I am also trying to decide on a name;  Whitney K or Whitney Rae.  K is the initial of my middle name and Rae is my Mom and Grandma's middle name as well as the beginning of my last name(Well, it's Ray, but I like the look of Rae (the middle name) better).  I'm going to put a poll up on my sidebar to see which sounds better.  Let me know :)

Tomorrow I'll post pictures from Courtney's Maternity shoot!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Project Clean House

Is underway.  Since I've been done with my race I've not ran more than a mile and a half....  I feel a little guilty, but I'm getting so much done around my house!

My sister has come out and helped me a bit and I am so grateful.  I'm planning on totally ransacking the entire thing then putting it back together again room by room.

First up is the kitchen.  That has been cleaned, but just needs to be maintained.  Oh man how I hate unloading the dishwasher.  Only takes 5 minutes, but for some reason drives me crazy.  But I don't mind loading?  So weird.

Next is the family room.  Lindsey dusted and wiped down all of my shelves.  Just need to fluff cushions, switch cushions, vacuum couch, vacuum floor, clean windows, clean blinds, scrub floorboards and...  umm.. re-decorate.  But that wont happen for a while.

Thursday I cleaned out my closet.  Something I had been needing to do since I could fit back into my old wardrobe.  I have quite the give-away pile.  I still need to organize and dust.  And re-decorate.  Which is something that may happen in the near future! Wahoo!

Bathrooms.  Basic cleaning and need re-decorating.  Cleaning will get done this week, re-decorating may take a few months.  If only money grew on tree's.....

Naomi's room.  STILL have not hung her stuff.  I'm annoyed every time I walk in there because of that.  But I need 2 people!  It's a problem because either she is sleeping or Jaren isn't home.

Dining room.  A work in progress.  Needs picked up and a rug and the hutch sanded and re-painted.  Oh, and new chairs for our table.

Should I post before and afters of everything?  I plan on doing it with the decorating thing.  But maybe not the cleaning thing.  Cause that would show just how messy I've let things get in my quest to run really far really fast consecutively. 

Thursday, June 17, 2010


  • I woke up at 1:00 a.m. and stuck a bottle in the babe's mouth and she downed almost 6 ounces in her sleep.  (so proud)
  • Woke up at 5:50 a.m. for the day - touched up my previous days make up and washed the rest of my face, got dressed, pop tarts in toaster and packed the diaper bag
  • 6:20 a.m. woke up the babe, changed her, put her in her car seat and headed to the hospital
  • 7:20 a.m. nurse comes in to take Naomi away - she is NOT happy to be taken away from me in a strange place, by a strange lady - so I walk her to the O.R. doors - my heart breaks
  • 7:35 a.m. Doctor shows up while we are watching and playing along with Dora the Explorer - surgery went great - just some fluid in her right ear, she'll be back when she wakes up
  • 7:40 a.m. Naomi comes in and is not happy with us
  • 8:10 a.m. find the faucet entertains her enough to stop screaming her feelings at us for a few minutes
  • 8:50 a.m. We check out of the hospital and she is still not happy with us or anyone else
  • 9:30 a.m. Finally home after getting her prescription ear drops - she is happy happy to be in her room, in her crib and goes right to sleep
  • 10:30 a.m. after eating some toast and having a "feelings" (as we like to call them) talk with Jaren I lay down and sleep for the rest of Naomi's nap
  • 12:00 p.m. wake up, Nae is up, feed her some pear's and raspberries (which she loves) and fight with a bit of her fussyness 
  • 1:00 p.m. playing with the babe - still fighting the fussy's, but is still a happy girl
  • 2:15 p.m. lay her down again for her second nap and think, "Oh man, I hope she is sleeps longer than an hour and a half"
  • 2:20ish p.m. answer formspring questions
  • 2:45 p.m. clean out my closet.  Put away clothes, try on clothes and have a huge pile of "give away" clothes.  So happy to see my closet less heavy.
  • 5:00 p.m. Naomi is still sleeping... starting to wonder if she will ever wake up
  • 5:09 p.m. she wakes up
  • 5:10 p.m. happy, happy, happy baby
  • 6:30 p.m. eats her green beans and beef gravy mixture and is still happy happy happy
  • 6:45 p.m. is in her Jumparoo while I unload the dishwasher only to notice she is currently pooping her pants
  • 6:46 p.m. take her out of jumparoo, put her on floor, take off her diaper. let her finish pooping (she really likes emptying her bowels freely)
  • 6:50 p.m. put her back in her Jumparoo and I clean the kitchen
  • 7:15 p.m. give her a bottle and grab her pajamas
  • 7:20 p.m. put her in jam's and hold her and sing to her until it's time for bed
  • 7:35 p.m. lay her down and she get's angry when I try to put the drops in her ear - give her teething tablets and that makes her happy
  • 7:40 p.m. eat my dinner
  • 8:00 p.m. Jaren comes home and we talk and we laugh
  • 8:20 p.m. I eat some cookie dough
  • 9:13 p.m. watching the Real Housewives of New York reunion and blogging
  • 9:14 pm. Happy for tomorrow with a happy pain-free-in-ears baby

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Teton Dam Marathon

Half Marathon for me!  2 hours, 14 minutes 39.6 seconds. 32 minutes behind the first runner.  I averaged a 10 minute 16 second mile. 

Friday night I was so antsy.  I ate a giant plate of spaghetti, 2 slices of garlic toast, 5 meatballs and a big glass of milk.  It's been a long time since I've ate that much and felt that full!

I made a running play list for my iPod.  And went to bed around 9:30 which is early for me.

Woke up at 5:50 the wind screaming outside my house.  20-30 mph.  I was immediately filled with dread for how the run was going to go.  I was planning on wearing shorts and changed my mind to capri's, a tank top and then a long sleeved shirt over that.

I pumped, made breakfast: hash browns, kielbasa (mmmmm...), eggs and toast.  Jaren and I ran around the house looking for safety pins to pin my number to my shirt.  We managed to scrounge up three.

I left at 7:00 a.m.  The Half Marathon started at 7:30.  There was a lot of people there(377).  I was surprised at all the different ages.  Teenagers, 30 something Mom's, 20 something college girls, 40 or 50 something men.  I thought it was awesome.

When it first started I felt a little claustrophobic.  I didn't like that I had a hard time setting my own pace with people in my way in front of me, people passing me, bumping shoulders.  And it was that way for the first 3 miles.  Ironically, the first 3 or 4 were the hardest for me.  I had never trained on hills and the entire first 8 miles was a constant steady incline and some steepish hills.  

Right away I regretted wearing the capri's.  The wind wasn't blowing as bad around town as it was out at my house.  And within the first 15 minutes I got hot.  Around mile 4 I pulled up my pants so they were up past my knees and that cooled me off a lot.  Then at mile 5 I took off my long sleeved shirt and tied it around my waist.  All while running!  I had to undo my iPod and put it back on.

It was around that 5th mile that I started to feel good.  At the 6th mile I ate my gel and got it on my fingers.  I kept trying to lick my fingers and wipe them on my shirt so they wouldn't be sticky.  It was annoying.

At mile 7 I had a banana and somewhere during that 7th mile into my 8th mile I felt amazing.  I couldn't believe what a difference half a banana and that gel made!  The hills didn't bother me and I was passing people every few minutes.  My pace picked up and I got excited.  I think being out in the country and not having so many people around me made a difference, too.

The course leveled out and started to do some down hills around mile 9.  That was nice.  Nice that they put that at the end because it was quite the spirit lifter.  Not that I needed much - I was flying.  I felt so good.  So happy.

I had another half of a banana at mile 11 and it was around mile 10 I thought I needed to pee.  But I was so close and didn't want to add to my time so I just kept going.

There was one point that I was running down hill a little and looked up and saw the sand dunes, the Junipers, the beautiful blue sky and thought about all of the blessings in my life and felt so grateful.  Grateful for this experience because I was actually enjoying myself.  I was almost done with a huge accomplishment - something I had wanted to do for such a long time.  I smiled at every volunteer I think.  :)

The last mile and a half to two miles were totally downhill and I almost sprinted those.  I just picked up momentum and kept going! 

I had told Jaren to take pictures of me crossing the finish.  I also told him he didn't need to be there till 10 because I was sure I couldn't run it in under 2 1/2 hours.

I looked for him and didn't find him.  I was sad, but still happy and in a good mood because of what I had just done.  I found a friend and he let me borrow his cell phone and I called him - that's when I saw the time.  9:50!  I had ran it in under 2 1/2 hours!!  Jaren was just getting into town.   He felt bad.  I'm saddened that I finished such a monumental thing for myself and no one was there.  But I understand.  How were we to know I would be that fast?  I've never ran a race before.  He promised next time he'd get there an hour and a half before we think I'd be in :)  There was a professional photographer out on the course and I think at the finish line.  They will post pictures online and I'm hoping there are some of me on there.  I'll buy them.  They are priceless to me.
This was the first picture he took when he saw me.  I'm in the pink.

Random Thoughts
  • I think it was during the 7th mile that there was a clump of grass rolling across the road and I caught a glimpse around my feet and jumped because I thought it was a mouse.  I felt a little silly and laughed.  I wondered what the people behind me thought. 
  • I also had a wedgie for 9 miles.  I didn't want to pick it because there were so many people behind me!  Then at that ninth mile I was far enough ahead of the people behind me that I didn't care anymore.  I can't believe it took me 9 miles.
  • After I took my long sleeved shirt off I remembered I didn't shave my armpits.  I hoped no one noticed.  Such a silly thought, I really don't think anyone did.
  • Around mile 8 or 9 we ran past some of Jaren's fields up on the hill and I wished there was someone to say, "Those are my husbands fields.  Those are potatoes poking through and that is his grain."  But I didn't.  So I just looked and smiled. (anyone seeing me smiling so often probably thought I was a weirdie)
  • Two of the four times I drank water from a cup when I passed the stations I choked on it.  I didn't want to stop running so I tried to drink while running and I ended up splashing it on my face and inhaling it.  So then I would cough and cough and feel silly. 
  • When you pick up your water you just toss your cup when your done with it.  The volunteers pick it up after wards.  But each time I tossed my cup I felt guilty for littering.  Even though I guess I really wasn't.
  • There was a lady with a visor who had candy taped to it.  I wondered if she would notice if I casually picked the small Hershey bar off of it.

Oh yeah! My feet!  They started bugging me at around mile 8 (I took three ibuprofen), but didn't really start to hurt bad until the down hill.  All that pounding took it's toll.  And now my left foot is killing me and my right feels okay.  So weird.

My legs are so so so very sore.  But everything else (except my feet) feels fine!

In the end I am so happy I did it.  So happy I just bit the bullet and signed up for the half.  Because I did it and I felt good (after the first 3-4 miles) and I was SO incredibly happy while running it.  I am so proud of myself for setting a goal and reaching it.  So impressed with myself for keeping a 10 minute mile pace and not stopping (except for the 2 seconds or less to peel my banana and throw it in the garbage(the one thing that would decompose I took the time to throw in the trash... ugh).

The thought of running a full scares the bajeebees out of me.  But the thought of running a half did, too.  So, who knows?  I would consider it a huge huge life accomplishment if I ran a full.  We'll just have to see!

Yay for me!  Naomi was especially excited I got a metal.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Countdown: 1 Day

My race is tomorrow.  I've never ran a race before, at least an organized official one.  I had always hoped to build up to a marathon by starting with a 5K, 10K, half marathon and then hopefully full.  I have started training for a half marathon twice, one of the times I didn't get further than 2 weeks and the other I should be finishing tomorrow. 

I originally started training to help lose the baby weight and then it turned into something a bit more.  I learned I could push myself and see results.  That the human body is an amazing thing.  In school I minored in two things: Child Development and Exercise Science.  I know what the body is capable of, I know down to the molecular level what it does during exercise and how to condition your body to certain degrees.  But to learn is one thing and to experience is another.

The biggest struggle lately has been dealing with my feet.  My Chiropractor adjusted them today (did you know you can adjust feet?!).  And they feel better. Weird.  That's what I'm most nervous about.  Is having to stop running because of my feet when I feel good enough to keep going, cardiovascular wise. 

Tomorrow morning at 6 I'll wake up, eat a nice big starchy breakfast, get dressed, brush my teeth, put my hair up, tack on my number and head out the door.  My goal is to finish below 3 hours, but what I would really like - considering everything goes well is to finish in under 2 hours and 40 minutes.  I haven't taken any ergogenic aids (gels, energy bars, gummy bears, Gatorade, etc.) while running before so I'm hoping those will help and give me enough of a boost to keep a steady pace.  I also hope I don't need to pee more than once since the clock doesn't stop for potty breaks.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hidden Treasures

Monday night I went around my house and took a few pictures after an inch of rain had fallen.  The greens were so vibrant and the lilacs were beautiful. 
Then I looked up and saw this:
That's when I decided to see what else I could find.  I walked behind my house and looked under our deck.  I know I've seen this little wagon before, but somehow it struck me as a pretty neat item.  I decided I was going to get it out, clean it up and use it for something. 
Pretty awesome, right?  If I repaint it I'll lose the wee wagon name and I want that.  So, I'll just find some use with the rust.  Apparently it was Jaren's when he was younger which means it has probably been sitting there for over 20 years.