This is Wrangler Country

A couple of years ago, our neighbors bought their daughters a Barbie Jeep Wrangler as a surprise Christmas present. A few days later, they found a steal of a deal on an Escalade and they traded up. The poor little Jeep was now homeless. Our neighbor sent out an email, offering the Jeep at a discounted price. Chloe was only a year old at the time, but we thought she might enjoy it some day.

It has been 18 months and Chloe has finally found the love in her heart for her Barbie Jeep Wrangler. I think it has something to do with the fact that she now has lots of room to drive it around. And because it is in the privacy of her own backyard, she can drive it without any clothes on.

Chloe in her Jeep

Chloe in her Jeep

Here is my little girl posing in her Wrangler sans clothing and sans diaper. Ain’t she cute?

Off Roading

Off Roading

It’s not exactly Rubicon, but there she goes, four wheeling in some serious off road conditions (mostly dried leaves).



Look out Chloe!!! You’re headed straight for the bamboo forest!



The Wrangler has a gas pedal, but no brake. To stop the Jeep, one must simply pull her foot off the gas pedal. Chloe hasn’t quite figured that out yet. Well, it’s only her first day…I don’t expect her to be an expert yet.

Oops, sorry!

Oops, sorry!

After each crash (and there were many, many crashes), Chloe would say “oops, sorry!” and mosey along. I’m so proud of my little girl, undeterred by life’s little road blocks.



And just like that, she is off and riding again.


My Little Mermaids

We have moved into our dream home. It is in this great neighborhood where Gary grew up, 2 doors down from his parents. There are so many wonderful things about this place, I don’t know where to begin. Well, actually, I do. I will begin with the pool. We have a pool!!! It is a bit chilly, but with the 100 degree heat these past few days, it has been fabulous. And just in case you were wondering, yes, there is a safety pool fence up. It is so secure, even the squirrels can’t figure out how to break into it.

Each night this week, we have gone for a little dip before dinner. I shot a few photos of the girls having fun the other night.

Ella testing the waters

Ella testing the waters

I think that Ella is, in fact, a mermaid. She just loves the water! It doesn’t matter if it is the pool, a bath tub, or even a puddle…this girl just loves to splash!

Flying Ella

Flying Ella

And she just loves to fly, too! I was a bit worried when daddy started counting down, indicating that he was about to launch her into the sky…I guess my fears were unfounded because she returned safely to earth. She had so much fun that sister had to join in the baby tossing extravaganza.

Flying Chloe

Flying Chloe

Except she didn’t get quite the vertical distance of her little sister. She didn’t seem to mind though.  By the way, our girls do have some adorable swim suits. It was just way easier to stick a swimming diaper on them and go.

Here is my favorite shot of Chloe from that day:

Mischeiveous Little Mermaid Chloe

Mischievous Little Mermaid Chloe

And here are the girls having fun with daddy, who is the ultimate pool toy.

Weeeeeeeeeeeeee daddy!

Weeeeeeeeeeeeee daddy!

It is getting close to pool time. Once Chloe gets up and daddy gets home, we are busting out the Lil’ Swimmers diapers and going for a dip!

I’m back….almost

Wow. I have had the most ridiculous couple of weeks! It is summer time, which means time for vacation. Not for me (sigh) but for several veterinarians in my neck of the woods. I have been a popular girl lately and have had several offers to work as a “relief vet”, filling in while regular vets get some well deserved time off. Last week I had 5 relief shifts! Which doesn’t seem like a lot to most people, but is A LOT for me, since I am used to working 1 or 2 shifts a month. It was tough, but I had some great cases which made it all worth it.

Oh, did I mention that we moved last week, too? Yup. Packed up the entire house and moved it 7 miles up the road into our dream home. We put in an offer back in February, and it took 3 months to seal the deal. So when I accepted the offers  for relief work, I though we would be unpacked and settled. Nope. As is typical in my hurry-up-and-wait universe, after months of sitting idle on my tushie, everything transpired at once. Which is okay. Except that the stress of last week was apparently enough to end my lactation. In dairy speak, I am now a dry cow. Again, sigh.

Today is the first day that I can actually sit and relax. I am not working, there are no gymnastics or swimming lessons today. Just the phone company coming this afternoon to install our DSL line…hallelujah! I have been using Gary’s laptop to connect to the cyber world to check my emails, which is fine. But it is super duper sloooooooooowwwwww. Too slow to upload photos…especially some of the ones I have that are 8MB a piece. I have some great pictures of the girls swimming in our new pool that I can’t wait to share with you. Perhaps tonight I will be able to post them…wishful thinking! So for the 3 of you fabulous people who visit my blog, I will have photos of my girls up shortly. Thanks for your patience (and good natured ribbing!).

With that, I am off to unpack some more boxes. After I finish up with breakfast…Ella is feeding me some Cheerios.

Lessons Learned

Gary is a mover and a shaker, a virtual tornado of hyper activity. I am more of a gentle summer breeze that can kick up on occasion and die down just as quickly. Much to his dismay, I have a bad habit of not finishing projects. In my pre-kid days, I would leave things unfinished because I became bored with what I was working on. Gary hates that. Now that I have kids, my projects are frequently interrupted because someone is crying or needing something or yelling “help help mommy, I trouble!”. Nevertheless, I am always leaving my unfinished business scattered around the house.

I worked at the emergency clinic for a few hours last night so that everyone could attend a staff meeting. Which meant that Gary was in charge of getting the wee ones off to bed. I got home at 10:30 last night and everyone was sound asleep…ahhh. I didn’t notice that anything was awry this morning until I opened my email and read a disturbing series of messages from Gary’s Blackberry. I will post them to you just as I read them. 

Email #1

What do you get when you have this…

Chloe haircut 2


Email #2

Plus this…..

Chloe haircut 1

Email #3

Nice going (insert unkind nickname here). You might want to put the scissors away when you are done with them Little Miss I Can’t Finish My Projects and Pick Up After Myself! Hope U like Chloe’s new haircut cause she does! Love you.

Chloe haircut 3

I almost vomited when I saw this picture! My little girl's beautiful golden locks were hacked and slashed. I couldn't imagine what sort of monster would do this to my baby's head...was someone trying to punish me for some bad I deed I had committed? Is the universe trying to teach me a lesson? I sent Gary an email in virtual panic, trying to sort out the series of events that transpired last night while I was at work, helping a poor little pug who had been run over by a hit- and-run ice cream truck.

Gary called me back and said “how do you like the bob?”. I was furious, hurt, confused and on the verge of tears. He told me that he was feeding Ella last night and putting her down for bed when he realized that things were a little too quiet (please see my post on Invasion of the Bowl Heads). When he entered the bathroom to see what was going on, he found this scene. He said that Chloe was sitting on top of the counter, scissors in hand, cutting her own hair. He also said that she said something, which he can’t remember, but that it was “f*@#ing hilarious!”. OMG. 

I had left the scissors on the counter 3 nights ago because I had the intention of trimming her hair. But I would always forget, or be interrupted or have a case of nerves…what if I screwed up her hair?!!?

I hadn’t noticed the butchering this morning because Chloe always wakes up with a severe case of bed head. After reading my emails, I marched her upstairs, wet her hair and combed it out to survey the damage. For a split second I considered shaving her head just to teach her a lesson. But then I realized that the only person that would punish would be me. Chloe could care less about what her hair looks like, and would probably think it was cool that she had the same hair cut as daddy. So I picked up my scissors and tried to salvage what was left. She looks a bit like a little Dutch boy, but I guess there could be worse things.

I have learned several valuable lessons today.

Lesson #1: finish the projects that I start

Lesson #2: keep scissors away from the babies. Even though I didn’t think a 2 1/2 year old would know how to use them, apparently she does.

Lesson #3: it could have been much worse. She could have cut bangs.

With that, I am off to put away any and all implements of destruction laying around the house.



Farewell Jingles

The McArthur Zoo is mourning the loss of Jingles today. Gary put her to sleep last night after weighing the options with a heavy heart. Jingles was one of our oldest cats; she and her sister are 18 years old. Gary adopted Jingles and Noel a very long time ago, way before the Nicole Era began. They had been dumped on the vet clinic’s doorstep right around Christmas and Gary eventually took them in.

We have a lot of bold personalities in our house, but Jingles was not one of them. She was the non-descript black cat who kept to herself. She was at the bottom of the pecking order and often faced the brunt of whatever feline rage was happening in the house at the time. We moved her out into the garage several years ago so that she could have her own space, which she enjoyed. Gary would feel bad that she was out there all alone, so he would bring her inside the house…all she would do was try and get back out into the garage. She had a nice little bed with a heating pad, a big ugly green chair on which to lounge, her very own food and water bowl as well as a personal litter box. She relished the times that Gary was home and opened the garage door; she sunned herself in the driveway and watched the action on our court. But mostly she would just hang out in her bed on the shelf, purring as loud as Gary’s diesel truck motor.

Jingle’s health had been declining gradually, but we always chalked it up to getting old. And occasionally I would take her in to work to run some blood work just to make sure her kidneys were functional, as most old cats seem to have some degree of renal disease. She had some minor abnormalities on her last blood work, and her lungs didn’t look very happy on radiograph. So we treated her with some meds, hoping she would magically return to kittenhood. But she continued to decline, wandering aimlessly, getting stuck in corners. We really didn’t feel like putting her through a neuro work up, even though Dr. LeCouteur’s words “age is not a disease” kept echoing through my head. Eventually, Gary made the agonizing decision to euthanize Jingles.

I knew that I would be sad about the situation. I knew that I would be sad for Gary. I didn’t expect to cry when I stepped into the garage and realized that Jingles wasn’t there to greet me with her raspy “Owww” (she never really ever squeaked out the entire word meow). How I took that little greeting for granted. And when I took the trash out back and saw her bed laying inside the garbage can, I had a complete break down. I was sad that she was gone. I was feeling guilty for not having spent more time with her. I was worried that she would be cold in the freezer. And I was scared that Chloe was going to ask me where Jingles went because I’m not ready to answer that question yet.

So here is to you, Jingles the Cat. You squeaky, skinny, loner of a cat. I hope that wherever you are, you have a nice warm bed to curl up in and a long driveway to wander to your heart’s content. You are missed.


Jingles McArthur

Jingles McArthur

More from the Arboretum

While my last post from the UCD Arboretum focused on the blooming love between Ella and Gage, I thought I should share a few pictures of the third wheel who came along for the ride. Chloe spent most of her time chasing ducks and threatening to jump into the water. Which made for some cute photos. And these are the first photos that I have edited with my spankin’ new, super duper Photoshop 4, complete with actions and textures that I had purchased and/or downloaded. I have been waiting for months to buy this and finally decided that I would wait no longer. So here are some samples for you…let me know what you think.




Here’s a shot of Chloe with her feet in the water. She took her shoes of before dipping her tootsies in, which I found funny because her shoes were already wet from jumping in a big puddle. I used a color shift action with the name of “sound of laughter”, which makes me smile. I don’t know that I actually hear the sound of laughter while looking at this, but it reminds me of an old photo that I would pull out of my Grandma’s box of pictures. 


More piggies in the water

More piggies in the water

Here’s another view of the C. Belle enjoying the water. I played with some more color shifts, as well as sharpening (because my photos always look a little out of focus). The straight out of the camera shot had a sickly yellow tint to it that just made me urpy. So it was really fun to play with the colors on this one.


Look mommy, duck!

Look mommy, Duck!

And on this one, I used both color shifts and textures…are you impressed or what? Again, a little of that retro feel going on.

I have been completely inspired by a wonderful photographer’s recent work for Peek…Aren’t You Curious. Her name is Jo Ann Manolis and she does some amazing things with her camera! And she is just the nicest person, too! I haven’t actually met her, but she has been kind enough to answer the moronic questions that I email her. She is the one who guided me towards starting this blog and who told me about the color shifts and textures that I used in these photos. So I give Jo Ann a big “WOO HOO!” for being my personal photography cheerleader. If you have some time, please go visit her website at because she takes some really amazing photos!

I would love to play more with my Photoshop, but I am sleepy and my eyeballs are about to fall out of my head. 

Nighty-night Howard!

The Woodpecker

There is this cool tree near my house. Actually, there are lots of cool trees, but this one has piqued my interest for many years. It is old and dead and is filled with all sorts of little holes that is the busywork of several resident woodpeckers. I have always wanted to photograph it, but always found an excuse to not drag my camera and tripod out there. Until the other day, when the sky was clear and blue. Fortunately, a little woodpecker was out doing his thing. Unfortunately, my lens maxes out at 200mm. But I still got some fun shots.



Isn’t that tree just the coolest? I just love all of the holes in the branches. I wonder how long it took to peck all of those… And look at how proud Mr. Woodpecker looks.



A closer look. If only I had a 400-600mm lens…I would be broke. But I would have had a great picture of the woodpecker!



Anyhow, this is as close as I was able to get. And I just happened to catch him doing his work. I’m not quite sure what he was working so hard for…if only I had a really shwanky zoom. And I knew how to focus.

That is all from the zoo today.

Have a great day!