Thursday, March 2, 2017

Moving on

A lot has changed since starting this blog. My initial purpose was to provide a spot for my family to catch up on our lives. It was mostly a spot for grandparents to read about Riley and the details of her life.

As time went on, I spent more time exploring photography, and the two (blogging about Riley and photography) started to blend. She became my main model and I am so grateful for, not only the ability to grow in my photography skills, but the opportunity to capture all these life moments with her.

Along the way, I connected with other bloggers and non-bloggers and photographers and family. Sometimes I was excited to keep this journal of our lives, and honestly, it sometimes felt like a chore, but I am so grateful to have it... to look back on all those special memories.

I've thought a lot about how I want to move forward and decided that I would create a new site... one that focuses a little more on my photography, but still captures the moments of my family's life. I won't likely blog as much, but I will still be sharing over at

I'm still working on building the site and have already changed it many times, but come on over and check it out. I'd love to see you over there!

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Minnesota - January - Winter Walks

I have to admit that we didn't do much exploring of Minnesota beyond our neighborhood during the month of January. I guess that isn't too surprising since it's the middle of winter and just plain cold, but not too cold to walk to the local library which is a few short blocks from our house. Riley discovered the Spiderwick Chronicles books recently so we made multiple trips to the library this month while she plowed through this series.

Make sure to check out where Erin explored this month and follow the blog circle around.

This was a puddle 6 days prior to this picture. January's temp has fluctuated a bit.

Now I have to decide where to explore in Minnesota next! Where are your favorite Minnesota places to check out?  Any places you'd recommend for spring break in March?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

February 4 on 4

Each month I join a group of talented women from Clickin Moms to create a 4 on 4 blog circle showcasing 4 of our favorite images from the last month. Be sure to click the link at the bottom of the post to follow the circle around.

So, this is the year that I've decided to go for broke and attempt to complete a 365 project. I've done various photography projects over the years, but this is the first one I've committed to taking a picture with my DSLR every single day. I take a lot of pictures as it is so it doesn't seem too hard, but let's face it, it's January... it's dark before work and it's pretty much dark after work as well. Who wants to take pictures in the dark?

Since I'm working with limited time frames and limited light, I've discovered that this first month pushed me to find a variety of light sources to work with. Window light is my favorite, but I even found myself navigating to windows that I've never used before. I've even started to embrace artificial light more, well... because I needed to. Turns out I love artificial light way more than I thought.


 Only 11 more months to go... Hopefully, my daughter continues to be a willing participant!

 Make sure to check out the talented Chrissy Mazer and follow the circle around.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Day in the Life - Winter 2017

It's time to document another day in the life. Thanks to My Life in Transition for hosting this round up.

Saturday, 1/14/17
Riley is almost 7 years
Jesse is 42 and I'm almost 45
Lucy the cat is 12
Frank, my dad, is almost 89

The night before, I take a pain pill and a muscle relaxer. My chronic myofacial pain has been acting up bad this week so I take some meds to help me sleep and help my body relax. I make sure my camera batteries are charged and discover that I haven't deleted pictures off my point in shoot in forever. There are pictures on there from my last day in the life and a bunch that I never saw, but were taken by Riley. Always fun to see her perspective on the world, but also a little horrified.

See? Apparently, I have no shame since I am posting it here. Also, I'd like to think that my daughter still thinks I am a cool mom. I'm sure that will change soon enough if I keep this sort of behavior up.

Anyhoo, my husband can't sleep without a fan, but oddly, it isn't on so I get that running. I hop into bed a few minutes after 10 pm. It takes me awhile to get comfortable, but I fall asleep 20 - 30 minutes later.

11:31 - I'm up already. Go to the bathroom and go back to bed. I fall right back to sleep.

2:56 - And I'm up again. I usually sleep very heavily when I take the muscle relaxer, but I still wake up a couple times a night to use the bathroom.

I take more pictures of the clock each time I wake up, but you get the point. Plus, they get progressively blurrier.

4:11 - I wake up with a cat on my neck. Lucy is being super annoying. I'm not sure what she wants at this time since we have an auto feeder and I know she has fresh water. I move her off my neck and go back to sleep.

5:00 - Lucy wakes me again. Something is up, but I'm not sure what. She keeps walking all over my pillow which she knows is a no no. I move her and try to go back to sleep

5:18 - Lucy walks on Jesse's pillow and he has no patience for that. Off the bed she goes... and then goes over to the door to our deck and starts batting on the curtain. I get up and chase her out of the bedroom, but since we don't have a door on our room I can't lock her out. I prepare myself for ripped up toilet paper, or cleaning up puke or poop off the carpet. Jesse gets up shortly after this since Lucy obviously isn't going to let us sleep. After he leaves, Lucy moves over to his side of the bed and behaves herself.

6:19 - Riley gets up and comes into my room. Usually, I would tell her to go downstairs with her dad and I'd go back to bed, but I really never fell back to sleep since 5:00 so I just give up. She gets into bed with Lucy and I and we hang out for a bit.

6:32 - Riley goes downstairs and I make beds, get my gym clothes on and find shredded toilet paper in the bathroom... as I suspected I would.

6:48 - I head downstairs where both Riley and Jesse are in the computer room. Riley is playing 'student resources' on my computer. Basically, her school has a list of (mostly) educational kid websites that she likes to explore. I go into the kitchen and clean up the dishes that were left from the night before. I turn around and see that Lucy has puked next to the back door. I reluctantly clean it up.

After a bit, Riley comes into the dining room and asks for breakfast. I give her Rice Krispies, apple, and crunchy peaches as she requests. I make eggs and eat them with some apple as well.

7:45 - Riley and Jesse get dressed and we prepare to leave for the gym. Riley is so slow about everything so we leave about 20 minutes later than I hoped to.

8:17 - Arrive at the gym. It was probably my 'leg' day, but I didn't have it in me this day so I do triceps and abs. I start on the stair master for 5 minutes, move to triceps, do 15 minutes on the treadmill, then my abs and finish with a lot of stretching which is what I really need to stay on top of to keep my myofacial pain in check.

9:34 - Head home where we all eat a snack, and Jesse and I take showers. We both have errands to run so we decide to split up. Riley goes with Jesse and they get the truck washed, go to Home Depot, the liquor store, and stop to see the cats at Pet Smart. (Side note: my daughter is cat obsessed right now and I'm not sure why she doesn't beg us to get another cat. I'd love to get one, but am scared that Lucy's behavioral stuff we're dealing with now will only get worse. Maybe one day.)

10:37 - I leave about 15 minutes after Jesse and Riley. I have to head to the bank so they can make copies of my ID. Back in November someone took $3300 out of my account. Apparently, they had an ID with my name and they had my bank number and pin. They went to a bank branch in New York and tried to get $2500, but were stopped. They went to another branch and got the $3300. Plus, it looks like they got another $50 someplace else. At any rate, I was told a claim would be made at the time and they had me change my checking account and pin. They said my card didn't seem to be compromised so I didn't change that. Fast forward to January and I'm still waiting for my money to be returned when I call and they tell me a claim was never submitted. Gah! This wasn't the first time I was given wrong info (and not the last). While at the bank I also ask to get a new card.

No pictures at the bank, but I took this awkward selfie.

11:04 - I leave the bank and head to my dad's house to help him set up his new cell phone. I listen to Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me and Tom Hanks is guest hosting. It's nice to not have anyone else in the car dictating what I listen to. It reminds me of my last job where I did a lot of driving and listened to NPR shows on those long treks.

The weekend before, I took my dad to get a cell phone, but we weren't able to get everything set up at the time so he's been without voicemail for a week. My dad had one of the first mobile phones back in the '80's. I remember him carrying around a big black box with a phone and cord attached to it. I never thought I would see my dad with a cell phone, but I think his retired buddies that he meets for coffee at McDonalds might have got him thinking about how nice it would be to have one. His is nothing fancy, but I still needed to go over and make sure the voicemail was set up and I had to enter his contacts. When I walk in, my dad is fast asleep in his reclining chair while the TV is loud enough for the neighbors to hear. #oldguyproblems

We hang out while I program his phone and I ask if he wants me to write anything down, but he just asks clarifying questions so I think he knows what to do.

12:56 - We go to Panera for lunch and hang out for a bit after we're done. It feels weird not to have my kid there as she often dictates how long we can stay in a spot before she gets restless.

2:06 - We go back to my dad's and he shows me how his pocket door is finished off. We are remodeling our basement bathroom and he and I have been talking about what I need to pick up to finish off the door. I've already done my research online and have two other pocket doors at home to reference, but I know he wants to show me so I let him.

2:25 - Time to go home to my people. I listen to Radio Lab on NPR on the way home. They're talking about end of life decisions when it comes to things like natural disasters... like how do doctors decide who to give medications to when they are running out because of something like a hurricane or a flu epidemic. It was an interesting look at the decisions we make and why we make them. Once home, I sit in the garage for a few minutes, but decide to go in the house before I can hear the end of the show. I arrive just in time for Riley to perform a song Jesse wrote, Rosy Cheeks. I help her change into a dress for her 'show' (and as usual, she gets a little distracted by the cat). Then, Jesse and I sit on the couch and watch her sing. When she's done she tells us the next show will be at 3:13.

After her performance, I come across some stories she and Jesse wrote and am giggling inappropriately about her story (and I'm totally disturbed by it). It's so outlandish that I'm wondering why she came up with it. Needless to say, Riley couldn't figure out why I was laughing when I read it:

"I am driving in a car with my mom out of Marta Burns swim school. The truck in front of us opened its back doors. There stood a man with an ax. 'Show me your cats' said the man. He was planing to kill cats. Out of a car stood a yellow haired man holding his cat Axel. 'Here's one!' said the yellow haired man. He didn't want Axel. The ax man put his ax up. 'Never mind' said the yellow haired man. Axel growled when you said her name. She preferred Ax. Not my cat!"

3:12 - Riley asks that I draw a picture of a photo I just took of her. I make my best attempt and then she turns that into a sign for her show. She makes Jesse and I wait in the basement and now says the show will start at 3:30.

While in the basement...

3:29 - Jesse and I are allowed up to view her next performance. She makes up a song on the spot which was mostly about Peacocks.

See, picture above and below are spitting images of each other regardless of my daughter telling me that it looks nothing like her. Obviously, I am no artist.

Other audience members.

3:39 - Riley sits down for a snack and watches a show on her Kindle while Jesse resumes watching some show on his computer and I watch some behind the scenes editing videos from a breakout I bought on Clickin Moms. So, yeah, we all went to our respective screens and vegged out for a bit.

4:10 - Riley announces that she wants to do something. I offer up to play a board game with her, but she wants to play a pretend game like 'princesses'. I try to avoid pretend games because I'm no good at it and I tend to do things wrong (according to Riley) so I suggest we play school since she usually tells me what to do and I sometimes get 'nap' time. It's still a pretend game, but one that has worked for us in the past. She runs upstairs as she decided she wants the school to be there and I watch more editing videos until she tells me she is ready for me.

4:24 - I am beckoned upstairs and told to pick a name. I become Carla and Riley is something like Mrs. Bumblebee. Jesse comes up and says goodbye as he's going over to a friends house for party. Mrs. Bumblebee and I review the globe, she reads to me, I do a puzzle while she works on paperwork at her desk, and then we eat lunch (which she packed with real food from our fridge). In the midst of school time, my dad calls and asks me how to look up the contacts on his phone and admits that he wasn't listening as well as he could have. Guess I should have written it down.

After Mrs. Bumblebee and I eat school lunch, I announce that I am hungry for a real meal so we end school for the day and head downstairs.

5:23 - I set Riley up with her leftover Jimmy John sandwich, a cheese stick and green beans while I finish off some left over pizza. I watch some more editing videos and Riley comes in and watches with me. The photographer in the video was using Photoshop Elements and Riley notices buttons in the program that apply filters to pictures. The photographer wasn't using them, but Riley asked about them so I open up Photoshop and show her how it works in there. She has fun applying different filters and gets a kick out of the pixilated one that makes the picture of her look like it's from Minecraft. She asks to open other pictures so we play with those and then I show her some overlays that apply clouds, sun rays, light leaks, and bokeh. She finds it all very fun and magical and it warms my heart that she's remotely interested in a passion of mine.

6:20 - I start Riley's bath and she selects a color for the bath. We play with photos for a little while we wait for the water and I allow her to have a Twizzler for a treat. After she gets all cleaned up I let her play for a bit in the tub and I run upstairs to prep for her bedtime. I grab some pajamas for her, and fill up the humidifier.

7:04 - Bathtime is done. Riley gets dressed and brushes her teeth while I dry her hair. We go upstairs where she does her swishie (ACT rinse) and then she reads The Book with No Pictures to me. Lucy, of course, joins us as part of our nightly ritual.

I set up the camera on a tripod and use the remote to take pictures, but I think Riley thought it was on a timer as she kept asking if the camera was done whenever there was a big pause between flashes. Lucy kept looking back at the camera like she didn't trust it, but I think she was just wondering what the flash thing was all about since I never use it.

Just look natural, Lucy... like the camera isn't there.

Blurry, but still captures our nightly hug. 

7:37 - Back at my desk, I want to keep watching editing videos, but I decide to write this down before I forget it. I turn on Pandora and listen to some relaxing music. I get called back upstairs where Riley is trying to figure out the Sudoko puzzle on the back of her daily calendar. I try to explain it and then note that we'll just do it tomorrow (she does some of it on her own, anyway). I go back downstairs.

8:11 - I get beckoned again - this time for lotion on her butt. Winter has given us dry skin and I forgot to lotion her up after bath. So I get the lotion and take care of that task before I go downstairs again. I continue to work on this post and on getting the obnoxious number of pictures from my camera on to my computer to edit. Plus, I am doing a photo a day project so I have to select which one picture out of the almost 500 I took today will that picture. Haha, I told myself I wasn't going to take many pictures today. So much for that. Obviously, I won't edit nearly that many.

9:15 - My eyes are getting dry and sore so I get up and put eye drops in. I realize how late it is so I decide to get a warm compress for my eyes and turn on one of my meditation apps while my pictures are loading. I usually lay down while doing my eye compress/meditation, but I know I will fall right to sleep so I decide to sit up this time.

9:25 - Done meditating so I go back to my pictures. I start culling them and do a few small edits.

9:47 - Still editing, but realize I better step away from the computer so I go to bed at a reasonable time. I go brush my teeth, wash my face and then go back to the computer before I really force myself to turn it off.

10:03 - In bed and on this night, I crash. Next thing I remember is Jesse turning on the fan (which I forgot to turn on) and then getting into bed around 11:45. He stayed at his party far longer than he thought, but he had a good time. I wake up one other time this night, but otherwise sleep hard.