Owl and the family

I was taking out the trash this week and this beautiful owl landed right above my head in the front yard. I've seen him once before from a distance.  I hurried inside to tell the kids to come outside and see the owl.  As we were coming out the backdoor to sneak up on the owl he flew around the back of the house and landed right above us on this branch.  He swiveled his head from left to right and he watched us.  He was curious.  The kids were thrilled.  I raced inside to grab my camera. 

 My photos were not turning out!  My 50 mm portrait lens was on the camera, my White Balance was set for day and my ISO was at 100 for a sunny day.  The owl was patient.  He hung around watching us long enough to give me time to change my lens, set my White Balance and struggle with finding the right ISO for the dusk.    

We were so excited to see the owl in our yard because I recently finished reading Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat to my children.  My son's teacher read the story to his class and my son begged me to read it at home because he thought his little sister would love the story.  She did.  This old story is about a boy and his pet owls.  If you like sweet old fashioned stories about kids, pets and the trouble they cause this is a fun read.

He was as curious about us as we were about him.
My kids and I moved upstairs and opened my daughter's window to get a birds eye view of the owl.
I like how the red buds on the tree brings a pop of color to this soft photo.

The sun was setting and I used my flash. 

The bluejay chased our owl friend away. You can see the bluejay in the branch behind the owl.  


Tae Kwon Do ~ A great sport for girls ~ lessons learned

Tae Kwon Do is a great sport for my kids to do together that builds both their self-confidence and body awareness.  My son loves the physical aspect of sparring and the tangible achievement a new belt after testing.

When I think of reasons why I like Tae Kwon Do so much I think of something interesting a friend told me once.  Kids today are not allowed, as much, to have rough and tumble playing time.  My friend who was raised in another county said "Americans don't let their boys be boys."  She explained that we often tell our kids at play dates "don't touch," "hands to yourself," "no tackling."  She said that is fine but some boys need an outlet.  Tae Kwon Do sparring provides this type of outlet for my kids.  At the end of a sparring day they are worn out and happy.  

My daughter started Tae Kwon Do when she was 3 years old and it really brought her out of her shy shell.  She is much more self-confident and I see how this confidence works for her in school.  During a school recital a teacher once told me she put my daughter next to the disruptive boys because she knew she could handle them.  I like to know that she can handle difficult people at a young age.  This is a good life skill for a girl to have as they grow up. 

Recently, my kids tested for their new belts.  My daughter told me that I was really embarrassing her by taking so many photos.  She said I was not allowed to take photos during the testing, so I had to sneak these photos of her testing from a distance.  I hid behind a wall and swung out around the door jam to take some shots spy style.  I used my Nikon D7000 and my Nikkor 70-300mm lens.  I turned my ISO up really high so my flash would not go off.  My shots are grainy because of the high ISO.  After testing she said, "Mom, I saw you taking pictures."  Who me?  "I could see you in the mirror peaking in the room with your camera." Busted.

The week before belting testing I brought my kids into the basement and moved the furniture so they could practice their forms.  They stared at me with blank looks.  They could not remember their forms outside of the classroom.   Hmmm.  What to do?  I had to learn their forms to tutor them at home.   I learned the forms and helped my kids.  My husband was very impressed.  So was I.  My son said, "Mom, you can take Tae Kwon Do with us.  I won't be embarrassed."  Oh my, pitter patter my heart, what a sweet boy.   I told him, "Yes, you would."

Her kicks are getting higher.

She watches herself in the mirror...a lot.
My white balance was on auto.  My photos turned out orange tinted.
A friend suggested to set my white balance to fluorescent.
Huge improvement the next time I tried.

Concentrating to keep the foot flat.
I am leaning out from the door jam to take a photo
and not let her see me or let the flash go off.

This little girl knocked my daughter flat on her rear three times during her first ever sparring day.
She lay on the ground in shock, fighting back tears.  I saw a range on emotions cross her face.
 Fight or flight.
I thought "what did I do?"  She got back up each time and continued sparring.
 My daughter had to spar with her for the testing.
  I saw her overcome a fear that day.

Sister and brother.

Her first ever wood break.  Finally!
 She failed a few times before.
Confidence builder. 

A trophy!
 She tenderly arranges her trophy, certificate, and belt.
 I'll keep my opinions to myself (for now) about trophies.

A confident, tough, happy little girl.