Coffee, Conga, & Hawks!

You know you’re doing the parenting thing right when your twelve-year-old is looking at you with a combination of doubt and amusement. At least, that’s the way I figure it. So the other morning, my beloved dog woke me up at 4:30 as she paced back and forth down the halls and up and down the old wooden staircase of our house over and over. I finally convinced myself to give up on the tossing and turning bit and groggily ventured downstairs and to my fuel, ahem, coffee maker at 5:58. As I was pressing start on my favorite kitchen appliance, the electricity went out. Noooooooooo!

The first five minutes of the power outage I was optimistic. I lit some candles, chatted with my ten-year-old, (who was so excited to be using her new flashlight in the dark), and I decided to start my Bible study. But all I could think about was that coffee. So when the power came on about forty minutes later and I had the first cup of deliciousness in my hand, I was dancing across my kitchen. Now, some people know that kitchen dancing is kind of my thing, but this morning I got lost in the moment. All I know is that I glanced up mid-one-woman-conga-line to see that look I mentioned a minute ago coming at me from my 12-year-old. I was singing the Conga beat, (da-da-da-da-da-da), coffee in hand, my favorite cozy robe on, dancing across the kitchen and in place of shouting “Con-ga! Con-ga!” I was singing, “Cof-fee! Cof-fee!” What can I say? I like my coffee.

A little while after my earlier than usual kitchen dance party, I had just finished my yoga and was at the sink, when I spotted a hawk on my neighbor’s fence. I got excited. I always do when I see hawks. I think they’re so cool I had to include them in my teen fantasy book series, HARMONY RUN. I showed my daughters, who both thought the bird of prey was neat, and enthusiastically alerted my husband. Meanwhile, the hawk flew to another tree. By the time Charles got to the window all he could see was, “something black.” Based off his description, I gathered he didn’t quite seem convinced his dream woman had seen a hawk. (Maybe her overactive imagination had gotten carried away again?) To be honest, I think he was only on his first cup of coffee, so maybe he wasn’t as alert as yours truly. Still, in my ongoing quest to prove to Charles I’m holding onto a bit of sanity, I tugged my boots on, grabbed my camera and a winter coat to go with my yoga pants, and headed out into 23-degree weather.

The hawk moved from branch to branch despite my stealth-like approach, (snow boots snapping every twig and crunching every leaf in my yard), but I kept praying that I could just get one picture to show that man. And voilà. I got one, and only one, picture. But thank you, Lord- that’s all I needed!

When I went back inside, my 12-year-old was laughing, the doubt still lingering on her beautiful face. She nodded towards my yoga Capri pants and shook her head. “Cold, Mom?” she asked. “Yes, but I got the evidence I needed for your dad,” I declared triumphantly. The girls were impressed with the photo. And Charles…well, he took one look at the photo and said, “Oh…wow!” surprise evident in his expression, and that made my dash into the cold worth every freezing moment.

I may be a coffee-chugging-one-woman-Conga-line, but I’m not seeing things. Well, not all of the time, anyway. 😉 Don’t forget to look out your window, friends. You never know what you may see. And the next time your morning cup of coffee brings a smile to your face, why not consider doing the kitchen Conga line? I promise I won’t judge. I’m too busy amusing my children.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Hey there, beautiful hawk! 🙂

Watching you, watching the water

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret



The day is here,

The people pass,

Hurrying down the shore.

There are sights to see,

Things to do,

Always hungry for more.

Look for dolphins,

Look for boats,

Some must exercise.

But urgency is not for you,

Patient bird with yellow eyes.


You calmly watch the gentle waves

And rarely even move.

The world goes on,

Breezing past,

Hardly noticing you.


Yet something beckons me to pause,

Admire your intricate design.

I take a deep and cleansing breath

As people keep passing you by.


I think I’ll sit here for a few,

Reflect and learn from the watcher.

There’s something strangely magical,

watching you, watching the water.



~Sarah Elle Emm

Tormenting Shorty the Wonder Dog





As we drove away from our house the other morning, my youngest child cheered enthusiastically from the backseat.  “Look, Mama, ibis!”  Sure enough, to the right of the vehicle was a group of them.  I smiled, proud my kids are learning to point out varying birds they see along the way, just like some of their great-great grandparents taught their grandmother to do, who in turn taught her children to do.

The next moment she asked, “What are they saying, Mama?”

I smiled again, laughing to myself.  I’m not sure if their great-greats taught anyone that.  In an effort to entertain my children, I tell them stories pretty often, and usually ibises and other birds we spot along our drives end up in my stories.  I tell them tales about the ibises spying on our house, to see when we leave so they can bother Shorty the Wonder Dog, our household hound.  They love these stories because they’ve seen how Shorty reacts to a flock of ibis, or any type of bird in our yard for that matter, and it is always a comical spectacle.  While Shorty might not have the same reasons, one thing is for sure, she is interested in birds.  From the patio door she growls and barks at them, and when I open the door she takes off like lightning, chasing them out of her territory.  After her mighty chase and from pure exhaustion at having worked her tiny legs so strenuously, she goes back to her bed, returning to dreamland.  The dog likes to sleep.  So naturally, when my child asks me what the birds are saying, I tell her they are watching us leave so they can go hang out in our yard and irritate Shorty, who is only concerned with protecting her family from the big bad ibises.

This morning, there were ten of them in our yard, and Shorty was dying to go after them, but I snuck out first and took a couple of photos.  I thought about my youngest child as I watched them.  What are they saying Mama?  The ibises seemed to tolerate my presence but studied me cautiously.  I’m quite certain they were discussing whether or not I was going to let them enjoy their breakfast in peace or whether I would release Shorty the Wonder Dog to disturb them.  So after a few minutes I went back inside, and did what all good pet owners would do I suppose, and I let Shorty out.  😉  Those birds were gone within ten seconds, and Shorty could go back to sleep with a burden lifted.  She had defended her family from the tormenting ibises.  😉

Egret Entertainers

snowy egret

Snowy Egrets

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Meet a pair of snowy egret entertainers, if you will.  My mother was visiting recently, and we watched as these two stealth-like creatures took bait from a fisherman’s bucket… when he wasn’t looking.  They were quite comical, these two, and had my mom laughing for a good hour.  I enjoyed the show as well but didn’t want to give them away to the fisherman, so I waited patiently to photograph them when he was packing up to leave.

It was quite nice to watch the birds with Mom, especially considering the peacefulness of the afternoon.  The first half of my life includes a movie reel of near collisions and off-road adventure thanks to Mom excitedly pointing at birds along the drive.  Inheriting the bird watching trait was inevitable, though I prefer to watch birds from a stationary position myself.   😉

At the risk of upsetting my Facebook friends…


Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

I’ve seen a lot of snow pictures from my friends in the north on Facebook lately, and I’m starting to feel left out. It’s the Indiana girl in me, I guess. You can take the girl out of Indiana, but, well, you know how it goes… Now, some of my Facebook friends have threatened to delete me or hide me from their page if I post anymore photos from the sunny beach.  I am certain they are just teasing because WHO would want to delete their friend in Florida who is jogging to the beach in 70-80 degree weather every morning and sharing beautiful beach pics while they are digging their car out of ten inches of snow and freezing to death? 😉 But seriously, I’m really jealous of those snow photos my friends are sharing. I love the snow! And the photos this year are great… I’ve seen snow-covered trees, sledding adventures, and someone even made a snowman to look like the snowman ‘Olaf’ in the new Disney movie, “Frozen.” Wow, that was creative…

So, I haven’t got any snow, just a little rain lately, but in an effort to join in the snow pictures and not irritate my northern pals, I took a couple shots of this SNOWY egret, hanging out at the beach.  Yes, technically, it is a beach picture, but the SNOWY bird has to count for something, right???  I mean, the Snowy Egret is the closest thing we’ve got to snow here in Florida. Well, besides the snow birds.  You know, the people kind.  So, here I am- at the risk of deletion- joining in the fun and sharing my snow pictures.  I won’t bother you with details about the warm breeze, the sunny day, the gentle sound of waves lapping the shoreline or how warm it was when I took these photos.  Who needs all of those boring details?  Just focus on the SNOWY egret.  😉  I hope I haven’t upset any of my shivering snowed-in friends up north again! 😉

In my dreams, I can fly…














I had so much fun watching this Osprey fish the other day, I felt like putting the experience and my silly thoughts about the flight into a poem… 🙂 Just for fun…

In my dreams, I can fly.
I soar high above the sky.
With outstretched wings like an Osprey
I glide from seashore to the country.
Taking in the world from above
My heart swells with gratitude and love.
Cool air refreshes me, filling me with energy
Life is anew at last, all from the view of the Osprey.
I swoop down and back up as my imagination runs wild
This playground in the sky makes me feel like a child.
Far from the dreams of my youth I have drifted
But cruising with the Osprey, my spirits are lifted.
“Perhaps I will chase them again” the thought becomes clear.
Though it’s been long since I believed in them, they were dreams that I held dear.
As I coast higher and higher and into the clouds,
I can see them in front of me, and I abandon my doubts.
The flight comes to a close as my feet touch the shore.
But I’m filled with strength, zest for life, and a longing for more.
The voice that says ‘What if?’ and ‘Why not?’ I will no longer deny.
Because though it may just be a child’s dream, I believe I can fly.

Chasing birds…(and pirates!)

Osprey in flight

I’ve been away from my blog for a bit, and let me tell you I’ve got some excuses. 😉  I’ve been in ‘book promotion land’ for about one month now, heavily promoting my books on Kindle as the three of them are on sale.  I’ve been writing, which means at any given time, I’m having a “conversation” with one to five extra voices in my head if you know what I mean.  But mainly, I’ve been keeping up with my darling pirate children.  (I am a chef’s wife, so keeping up with children is different for me than for some moms out there.  No offense intended for anyone.  If you need further clarification regarding this issue, simply Google the words ‘chef’s wife’ and a plethora of reading material with everything from the blog ‘Desperate Chefs’ Wives’ to  support groups for them will come up.  There is even the site called the ‘Chef’s Widow,’ which to clarify is not referring to a woman married to a man who has passed away.  You get the picture.   And our children…well, let’s just say you’ve got to keep an eye, or twenty, on them.

What are they like?  Do you remember that eighties flick, GREMLINS, where you can’t get them wet or feed them after midnight or they’ll turn from cute little fuzzy creatures into monsters?  😉  Yeah, the main difference is that mine ‘change’ earlier in the evening.  When we’re at the grocery store, strangers typically say something like:  “They sure have lots of energy.”  Yes.  Yes, they do.  And they hate the idea of their mother sleeping.  The eldest thinks she needs to stay up two hours past her bedtime with me every single night. “Sleep is the worst thing in the world!” she says as she turns cartwheels beside my desk.  The youngest thinks that between 2 and 4:30 a.m. is a grand time to wake-up.  “Mommy, it’s morning!” she says.  While technically, she is correct, I can’t handle that hour and oh so sweetly tell her to go back to bed.  But like clockwork, she’s there, between 2:30 and 4:30.

The youngest pirate’s three favorite items in our house are my black PERMANENT Sharpie marker, a roll of packing tape, and glue.  She also claims she is an artist, (at five I have to admire her for already having this figured out), and as you can imagine with the Sharpie, in particular being the first thing she finds in the morning, I never know what creation of hers I am going to discover.  Or how long it is going to take me to remove it from the wall.  Recently, she took empty paper towel rolls and decorated them as Santa Claus miniatures and hung them with glue and string to the bedroom wall.  I’m still trying to figure out where she got the string from or what shirt of mine is missing that could have produced said string.

My sister quite regularly asks me over the phone, “What is happening at your house?” because the noise is so loud.  The other day I had to lock myself in the closest so I could take a phone call.  I’m sorry, but I hadn’t talked to my friend who called me in over three months, and I wasn’t letting anything get in the way of our conversation.  A few days later, the youngest was chanting.  Yep, there really isn’t another way to describe it.  She was repeating some strange sound over and over as I combed her hair and though I asked her to quiet down a little, the louder she got until I exclaimed, “I feel like I’m in the crazy house!”  This was immediately followed by a voice, (my eldest- at least I’m hoping it was her) in the other room announcing, “You ARE in the crazy house!”

A few days ago my five-year-old called from behind me in the hallway, “Wow, Mommy your butt is SO big.”  If you ever visited my old blog site, you might realize these are the same words that my seven-year-old said to me when she was four, which prompted the launch of “My Name is Sarah,” my first blog.  As the words of my second born registered, a million thoughts flashed through my already heavily trafficked mind.  Now, the second one is saying this?  Thank the Lord we stopped at two.  I slowly turned around, calculating my response and how I was going to handle her latest observation only to discover she was peering at me through a magnifying glass.

Anywho, that’s what I’ve been doing…  Welcome to my life. 🙂

Do I have any other excuses for my extended absence?  What else have I been up to?  Oh, you want wildlife photos? No more glimpses into mommy world?  Okay, fine.  Thanks for listening. 😉  Well, this brings me to today’s photos…  Recently, I attended a Book Festival in Matlacha Park, in Matlacha, a tiny island on the way to Pine Island, Florida.  I told myself I would wait until the day was over before going after any wildlife photos, but…well…that just didn’t work out for me.  I was one of sixty Florida authors in attendance but probably the only one who abandoned my table over and over to take photographs of birds.  I’m cool like that.  A rebel without a cause.  Probably where the pirates get it from.  It was a windy, unusually chilly Florida day, but I sold some books, met some amazing authors and readers, Chef Charles took the morning off to watch the pirates, and I got to chase birds. (Finally, some photos for my lonely, ol’ neglected blog.)   🙂



Am I getting a dirty look? ;)
Am I getting a dirty look? 😉


Osprey with fish





Book Festival

There’s something about a pelican…


I love watching pelicans fly.  And maybe I’ve seen one too many animated films, but they strike me as goofy, and I can easily imagine them chatting away with a Disney princess or cartoon hero.

My seven-year-old sighs wistfully when she sees a pelican, or any bird, fly by.  “I wish I could fly, Mom.”

Her little sister echoes in agreement.  “Yeah, me too.  I wish I could fly, Mom.”

Needless to say, I usually join in, “Yeah, me too.  Wouldn’t that be cool?”

We’ve had our fair share of, “If I were a bird…” conversations.  Where would we fly, what kind of bird we would be, and though I tease them that I would obviously be a graceful, sophisticated bird, like a swan, ha, ha, ha, I think Audrey and Sabrina would disagree.

In fact, Audrey just came home from school a few days ago telling me how silly her music teacher is.  I said, “Really?”  And she said, “Yeah, he’s goofy– just like you, Mom!”


That’s my word for pelicans.

So much for being a swan.  Of course, there’s just something about a pelican.  And I really do like watching them fly.  So maybe, if I were a bird, I’d be a pelican…    😉


What’s on your to-do list?

Shore birdsShore birds

I’ve been busy lately, among other things, getting the kids ready for the new school year.  Of course, setting the to-do list aside from time to time is good for everyone in my household.  My to-do list is quite long and includes everything from laundry to sending emails to packing lunches to finishing my latest book.  My kids have created their own to-do list and at the top of their list?  Play tricks on Mom.

It’s true.  It really is.  They spend hours playing tricks on me, and they almost always get me with their fake lizard.  They hide it in my bed, shower, on top of my mail, and their personal favorite- my office chair.  No matter how many times they trick me and I promise I won’t ever fall for it again, I always find myself screaming at the sight of the lizard under my pillow or on the toilet seat.  It never fails.  On occasion, I catch them plotting.  I hear them whisper, “Let’s scare Mom.”  Those are the times I know I’ve got to act fast…

I’ve learned that if I keep them extra busy with FUN activities, the terrorize Mom plotting subsides…a little.   One of the best solutions?  Going to the beach.  So, naturally, I try to work ‘going to the beach’ into my to-do list as much as possible.  At the beach, they can spend hours playing in the sand, collecting shells, and running into the waves.  Best part?  They forget their plot to scare me to death.  And sometimes, I get to snap photos of birds!

This shore bird was the only one willing to cooperate for a photo opp the other day, but I am so happy it did.  I’m sure all of my bird experts out there can help me out with this.  I think this is a Sandpiper, but as I’ve mentioned before, I’m new to identifying birds.  So please feel free to help me out!  Have a great day, and I hope you can add something FUN to your to-do list from time to time, too.  You might not have the same motivations as yours truly, but it is worth it! 🙂

In the mood for a Fresh Seafood Dinner…


Just last week, that Chef husband of mine opened our new restaurant, Mereday’s Fine Dining, at The Naples Bay Resort.  In a pre-opening family outing, he took us out for a fresh, seafood dinner.  What a treat to spend some family time together -during the launch of a restaurant, which I promise you can be intense, and what an even bigger treat, if you’re ‘a crazy bird lady’ like moi, to see two Osprey on our way home from dinner.  Turns out, we weren’t the only ones in the mood for fresh local fish.  😉  Check out the menu at our new place at, or visit the Facebook page to see what sort of fresh food the chef is serving. 🙂