Something’s Fishy with Heather and Kevin

When I first met with Heather and Kevin, they told me about their love of water, fishing and each other.

We had their engagement session scheduled months in advance and were lucky enough to have a bright sunny evening.

It was the type of evening that perfectly reflected the personalities of Heather and Kevin.

It was warm, sunny and beautiful — just like the soon-to-be-married couple.

We spent some time near a lake.

We enjoyed the rays of sunlight pouring into the background.

Then we headed off to another location to enjoy some fishing.

Many times, people bring props or items that are meaningful to them for their photo sessions. For Heather and Kevin, that meaningful item was a very heavy canoe.

The canoe was a significant part of their marriage proposal and so, it only seemed right that it be there for their engagement session. Plus, it was a gorgeous evening for canoeing.

An evening of fishing and getting engaged to your someone special sounds like a dreamy night to me.

Luckily, they remembered to bring their fishing poles and tackle.

Heather and Kevin caught more than just fish on that romantic outing.

They caught true love.

Congratulations on your engagement Heather and Kevin! I cannot wait for your amazing wedding day to get here. It was so much fun working with you both. Thanks for being such great sports. Find the rest of your engagement session here.

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Mouse Trap

Living in a rural area with lots of woods and an antique barn in a really old house means we are constantly battling keeping nature within comfortable limits. Inside the antique barn, we find the occasional bat, barn swallows, wasps, and of course — mice.

To help control the mice, we obtained a rescue kitty who couldn’t be placed indoors because of potty issues.

However, he has turned out not to be a killer. He is a lover through and through.

So, we have been on the search for an orange kitty because someone has told me that orange kitties are good mousers. Tonight, we went to meet our new orange kitty…

He was born about 11 days ago.

His eyes only just opened up to the world.

Sure, he’s adorable as heck.

But, deep inside, he’s a killer. I can tell.

He’s got a tiger buried deep inside the fuzzy cuteness. I see it there somewhere beneath the fluff. Our future mouse trap.

For now, he’s hanging out with his siblings and his mom. She’s going to take care of him for a little while until he can come by to live with us.

Now we just need a name. The boys have come up with several options: Fang, Mouth, Fuzzy, Peanut, and Skull.

Cross-Combing… A Bee Check

A couple of days after installing two packets of bees into two beehives, it was time to check the hives to make sure the queens were out of their cages and to see if all was well.

I had been peeking into the top bar hive (an alternative form of hiving) through the observations window morning and night. The bees appeared to be in a large ball. I was worried they were planning to leave. So, I started with the Top Bar Hive (TBH) first.

What I had been seeing were bees gathering around honey comb. I took that to be a great sign though I was unable to locate the queen or see any eggs. I quickly re-assembled the hive.

Next, I went on to the Langstroth hive.

I pulled off the queen excluder (a screen that keeps the queen from crossing over into the honey area).

I had decided to remove that altogether. When I removed it, there was honeycomb attached to it–burr comb. It fell off because of the improper attachment. That was my fault for leaving the space in between frames too wide to accommodate the queen cage. The comb was fascinating and pure white. Hard to believe they build that in only two days.

After pulling out a few frames to inspect, I saw they had started to draw out honeycomb on the frames in the correct fashion.

Two weeks after the install, I was due to check the hives again for queens and larvae/eggs/progress. So, I relaxed them with a little pine, lavender and sage smoke…

I pulled out a frame and there was definite progress.

We were able to spot the queen, eggs, larvae, capped cells, drones, pollen, honey, and all sorts of things.

And I also saw something that looked like a swarm cell. This means they are possibly reproducing a queen for some reason… At the time I type this, I am still uncertain what they are planning… I have been advised to take a “wait-and-see” approach which aligns with what I know about not interfering with them too much.

So, onto the TBH with a little smoke…

I pulled out a bar furthest away from the center and saw lots of happy bees holding on tight to one another.

Then, when I tried to pull out one of the central bars to search for “Her Majesty” the queen, I was met with resistance. I slowly eased it out, but the remaining five bars all came out with it…. uh oh.

They had built all of that in only two weeks! While extremely beautiful, I knew that was a problem. If they kept building that way, they would quickly run out of room and pack up their bags and head for he hills with the queen. Plus, not being able to pull out one bar at a time becomes insanely difficult when the combined weight of an established hive is all attached together.

So, I quickly closed up the hive and went in to do some research and phone some friends. The advice I received was that I would have to re-open the hive, cut the comb off of the bars and tie it back on the correct way. Yep, that did not sound like fun.

I didn’t get pictures of this mess because I needed all the help and free hands I could get to hold the comb and bar while I tied. Bees were everywhere. Honey was dripping and running all over our hands and the ground which is sort of heartbreaking if you know how much work it takes a bee to make even the smallest droplet of honey.

I knifed through the comb and stacked it in a clean container. I tied. The string cut through the wax. Sections of the comb bent. Some of it was crushed. Bees were killed. It was awful.

I had to work gloveless because it was next to impossible to tie string with honey soaked gloves. I did not get stung.

Everything was thrown back into the hive and the bees that had fallen into the holding container were dumped back in. I never saw the queen and can only hope I did not accidentally destroy her. There was a queen because the comb was filled with eggs and capped cells.

After it was all closed up again, I looked at the entrance and saw bees lined up with their stingers pointing out… a last line of defense as they desperately tried to protect their home. Little warriors all lined up waiting to die for what they know.

So, I will go to sleep tonight with bees in my brain. I am hoping beyond hope they pull through this. Somehow I think they will. I imagine in two weeks when I check again, they will serve me another challenge.

Lucky

I would think for a lot of adults, something as big as winning the lottery would be considered lucky. For the little ones, something as small as finding a four-leaf-clover is every bit as exciting as winning the Lotto would be to an adult.

The little green shoot with four thin round leaves is representative of luck. So when my boy found one he was thrilled. He is now an official holder of good luck (maybe he’ll win the Lotto someday because of it and take his mom on some fancy trips).

On that very same day, my other little boy captured a butterfly with his bare hands.

What a lucky day!

He was very careful to not knock all of the powder off the bug’s wings and to not accidentally hold it too hard.

Only minutes before finding that butterfly, their grandma had just given them a little bug container with a magnifying glass on the top. What luck! In it went for observation for a few minutes before it was released.

As a mom looking forward to Mother’s Day tomorrow, I can say that I am for sure very lucky. I am lucky because I am a mom of two lucky little boys. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are lucky enough to have the joy of children and to experience the small things through their eyes.

Magic Little Hands

After years of looking for a decent used pottery wheel with a motor that didn’t weigh as much as a car and not finding anything, I finally broke down and purchased one.

Of course I immediately put it together and started playing with it. It was fun, but the best part about it by far wasn’t what I did with it.

It was what these magic little hands were able to do with it.

From watching videos at school, my oldest boy was able to sit down and make a pretty impressive first-time bowl.

Then, he sat his little brother down

and showed him how to do it.

Now I have the most amazing pottery.

The bowls are perfect in their imperfections.

And the best part is that the size of these bowls perfectly fits the size of the sweet little hands that made them.

Installing the Bees

Last week, I brought home somewhere between 20,000 and 24,000 bees (give or take a few) in small wooden boxes with screened sides.

I purchased them knowing full well that I would have to get them from their shipping containers into their new beehives and hopefully do enough things correctly that they would decide to stay to raise their brood, pollinate my flowers and create a lot of honey to feed themselves and maybe a little bit for me.

Since I had never before been around a large quantity of bees or even near a working beehive in real life (I’ve seen plenty of videos), I was plenty nervous. Of course, I was told many times to only work bees on bright sunny days and the next week showed clouds and rain in the forecast. So, the next free cloudy hour I had available was going to have to be the day.

I started out spraying the bees with sugar water so they could keep busy eating while I opened up their boxes.

Next, I pulled out the queens in their little cages and attached them each into their hives where their attendants would free them in a few days.

Then I shook the bees out of their package and into their new homes.

I gently brushed the bees into the hive before closing it off to avoid crushing any of them.

Next, I went to work on my top bar hive.

Shake shake shake… in they go.

The bees were installed in their new homes.

It should be noted that my hands were shaking a bit and I did get three bees under my veil. They tangled up in my hair and stung the back of my head. Luckily, the beauty of still photography is that you cannot see or hear me running around screaming like crazy trying to get them out of my hair.

I should also mention that I had some pretty amazing helpers.

A Sunny Spring Day with Lyndsay and Justin

On one beautiful sunny spring day, I headed off to the wedding of Lyndsay and Justin.

Right on time, they began getting ready for the big day when all of the details and planning would finally bring about an amazing ceremony for two people in love.

Shoes

Flowers

Rings

The guys were ready for the fun.

Justin, a first-class gentleman, was so excited to see his beautiful bride.

The beautiful bride, Lyndsay, was stunning in her white gown.

The ladies were lovely in the fresh spring breeze.

The ceremony took place at The Fountains. It was perfectly perfect.

After the ceremony, there was much celebration. It was a coming-together of friends and family…

…before a good-bye. Justin was scheduled to leave for a future in the military very soon after. So, the celebration was filled with love, gratitude and meaning. Everyone in attendance seemed closer than most people would.

Lyndsay and Justin hardly separated for even a moment the rest of the night.

Congratulations Lyndsay and Justin! Thank you for allowing me to spend your most special day with you. Please find the rest of you online album here. To both of you, a heartfelt thank you for your upcoming journey as you serve our country and provide support for each other.