Thursday, May 21, 2015

Project 52 - Denny - Week 20


My dad used to live in my house - well, he owned it and then rented it out and eventually sold it to me. But when he moved here in the 1950's (and lived here for 20 some years) he made some life long friendships with some of the neighbors. One of them was Denny.

I saw Denny as a character. He was a talker and always so excited. These are things that weren't typically a part of our household. We were reserved introverts. Denny stirred things up for us and I have to admit, I sometimes found it a little exhausting, but I loved his enthusiasm and his constant smile. I swear there was always a twinkle in his eye. I loved him for being so... him.

Denny was a devoted friend to my dad and would often show up at my dad's to go out to breakfast. I knew that if my dad stopped by my house he was probably going to stop over at Denny's too. I found comfort in their friendship. Many of their friends and family were gone, but at least they had their friendship.

Denny once took my dad to the hospital and then came over to my house to tell me... against my dad's wishes. Turns out my dad was totally fine, but I appreciated what Denny did and counted on him to look out for my dad.

Yesterday, Denny passed away.

It breaks my heart in so many ways, but I knew this day would come. I just didn't think it would be now. Denny's had his health issues, but seemed to be doing quite well lately. He even made the solo trip (with his sidekick cat) to Nebraska to see his granddaughter graduate from high school. And that's where he had a massive heart attack.

Regrets abound, of course. Why didn't I stop by his house on my own, show Riley his prized model train collection, listen to more of his stories, bring him dinner... the list goes on. Fear is there too. My dad is healthy - will he be gone without warning? Could be. I know this. Death always stirs up these thoughts for me.

Anyway, yesterday I ran outside and took pictures of these chives, holding them up in varies parts of my yard; looking for the best light and background. I'm sure I looked silly to my neighbors, but I didn't care. I wanted to capture a moment - one of beauty, but one of life. Here they are, buds about to burst open - full of life. Of course, at the time, I thought I'd be posting something about our food haul from our CSA, but they seem so peaceful, colorful, potent, and charming with the sun twinkling from behind that they seem a fitting representation of Denny.

RIP, Denny, you will be missed.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dance Pictures

Riley had her dance pictures taken this past weekend. I'm debating about whether I am going to order any since I took my own pictures. However, it might be nice to have the group picture. I have a couple of those from when I was in dance and appreciate having them... of course, they are the only pictures I have so there's that distinction.

I'd actually been dreading this day since we discovered that this dance company wanted our 4 and 5 year old's to wear makeup for the pictures and the recital (which is June 12th). Jesse and I were not comfortable with this at all so I reached out to the dance company owner and she was totally respectful of our decision. I wondered what other parent's thought about this, but never broached the subject while our little dancers were in their class.

So Sunday I was relieved to see that only one girl had makeup on (that I could tell). Only 5 of the 8 (I think) girls showed up so maybe more will be made up at the recital, but it's nice to know that we aren't alone on this.

Please ignore my nasty garage floor and my 5 going on 15 year old.

I was also stressing a little about her hair which was supposed to be curled in a high pony tail. Her fine hair doesn't really keep a curl and I don't have anything to curl it with. Plus I couldn't get it all up in a pony. I was about to leave it down, but then found some hairspray and bobby pins from when I got married six years ago and was able to get her hair up in the back. Guess, it's a good thing I held on to that stuff.

Gah! I love her little freckles.

Anyway, no surprise that Riley and I had our own little photo shoot. I never think my yard is all that great in terms of a backdrop, but I did find a few new spots that I am excited to use again in the future. Plus, I think I want to 'make' a floor I can use for photos in the garage with a spot where I can pull down a backdrop.

We probably won't go back to this dance company, but we'll see... Riley's done really well with dance and she sure enjoys it so you never know. We did like her instructor, Miss Carrie, as she was great with the girls.

In the end, it was a good experience for her to participate in something she enjoys, to be able to learn the skills and coordination of dance, follow directions, and cooperate with her classmates. She can put on her own recital anytime she wants at home and now she has the 'special' dress to do so.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Project 52 - Dad - Week 19


My dad stopped by this week and humored me when I asked for a picture. He's good about those things. Thanks dad.

"Do you want me to smile?"
I told him "do whatever you do". The expression is so him.

A little about my dad...

Name: Frank

Age: 87 or slightly older than sliced bread.

1. My dad has worked many jobs including at Coca Cola and installing electrical poles in the South, but worked at his last job in HVAC for over 40 years. 

2. He's the hardest worker I've ever known. We rarely vacationed when I was a kid probably because there was always work to do. Some people had cabins; we had a farm we went to on weekends and if we were lucky we might be able to walk down to the Apple river or go snowmobiling in between cutting wood, and mowing the grass.

3. My dad has been retired for 24 years, but has kept busy by walking daily, staying connected with friends, fixing things, and scraping cans and other metal items. He recently declared that he's giving up scraping since it's too much work. This announcement doesn't sit well with me as it seems a sign that he's slowing down. #don'twanttofacethereality

4. He likes to watch 'wrastling' on TV and pronounces 'wash' as 'warsh'.

5. He'll tell you that the "golden" years are not golden and when you ask him "how's it going" he'll respond "slow and steady". However, he's still the strongest, most active 87 year old I know. I can only hope I have half the energy he does when I'm that age.

6. As I kid I always remembered him squishing around a ball of mud in his fingers like it was a stress ball.

7. He peels his tomatoes before eating... preferably sliced and salted.

8. He was drafted into the Army during the Korean War and was stationed in Baumholder,Germany. He helped build temporary bridges to replace all those destroyed during WWII.

9. He uses duct tape for band aids. 

10. He may seem old fashioned and hard core, but he's got a big heart. His caretaking ways show up constantly and I am amazed at how much he can give of himself. I'm incredibly lucky to call him dad.

And because I wanted to try something a little grittier I gave the Dragan editing effect a try...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

Mother's Day really started for me on Thursday as my boss told me to take a half day one day last week. I'd been working really hard on some new products and was picking up extra work since a couple members of my team transitioned to new roles. So on Thursday I left work at noon, ran some errands which took no time at all (is that what it was like pre-kid?), and then headed off for a massage. I was in dire need of a massage as I was dealing with a pain flare up that was on week 2 and didn't seem to be letting up. I decided to book the massage at Benessere, a place a friend recommended as they provided myofascial release massage. This is EXACTLY what I needed, but so many places don't know how to do it right. This place was right on - not only did I feel like she worked my trigger point/knot out of my back, but I felt totally zen when I left the place. I will be going back for sure (for those in the Minneapolis area, this place offers your first massage at half price).

Since I had a little bit of time (and my camera with) I went across the street and took some pictures of the river. I used to live in this area and walking down by the river is one of the things I miss most. Note to self: come back here soon when you have more time to stroll (and take more pictures, of course).

Then on Friday, Jesse and I got some alone time when Riley went to a carnival with a friend and her family. The carnival was at the school Riley will be attending next year so I think it was good, not only because she had fun, but because it provided her with more exposure to the building she'll be in for kindergarten. She had a blast, and came home with a goodie bag, her nails painted, a butterfly temporary tattoo, and her face painted like a cat. 

On Saturday, I basically told Jesse some of the things I wanted to do for the weekend and we did them. I got time to myself, time as a family, one on one with Riley, time to work on a project, dinner out, and a visit to the park to take pictures - it was a busy day, but we pretty much did everything I wanted to do.

We started out the day at the gym, then went to Menard's to pick up some paint for Riley's room, and some pillows for our new deck furniture. Afterwards, while Jesse mowed the lawn, Riley and I hung out on the deck while she had a snack lunch (she absolutely did not want lunch - she wanted a snack. So I made her a snack lunch in an ice cube tray. It was a hit). 

At some point we all headed inside where Jesse and I ate some of the beef stew he made and then I got some free time to work on Riley's room. We are doing some updates and the first step was clearing a few things out of her room and washing a wall where there used to be a wall sticker. I know it doesn't sound like a glamorous or relaxing time to myself moment, but the fact that I could be productive and not worry about what my kid was up to (or have guilt that I wasn't hanging out with her) was marvelous. 

Riley eventually needed to rest so I was kicked out of her room and think I watched an episode of Vikings, some photography tutorials (I learned like 3 more editing techniques - so exciting for me!), and probably did random stuff around the house like laundry until I had to go wake Riley up. 

We had yet to go to a park and take pictures as I requested so we decided to get dinner at McCoy's which is right next to Wolfe Park - one of my favorite places for Riley to play and for me to take pictures and it's close to home so that's a bonus.  

They cut down all the weeds and grass around the pond which made it look a little rough, but it allowed me to get fairly close to these turtles. Glad I decided to bring my 50 mm lens for these pictures as my 35 mm lens has been living on my camera lately (the 35 mm is a great lens, but the 50 mm was better for these pictures).

My wish out of all this picture taking was to get a picture with my daughter. I don't have a lot of pictures with my mom and realized that I'm usually behind the camera myself so I am trying to be more intentional about getting in front of the camera, especially with my family.

I had to tickle her here to get a genuine smile out of her.

And then it turned into this.

Ok, I'll play along too.

This may look like a quiet father/daughter moment on the edge of the pond, but if you look closer you will see that they are spitting into the water. Apparently, the fish would all rush to the surface thinking it was food... and maybe it was for them. 

Not sure if I'm proud of this or not, but she was pretty talented at this.

Riley was really into us taking pictures and often made suggestions as to where we should stand. She asked to wear my scarf so I had to capture a picture of her in it. She was beyond giving me a 'normal' face and was deep into goofball status at this point. So dramatic, this girl. "Hey Riley, can you bring it down a notch?"

"Like this mom?" Ugh, apparently my aristocratic daughter is ready for prep school, daaarrrling. I should also note that the next day Riley 'helped' me edit these photos. I tried to show her a little of what I was doing and would ask her for feedback, but her favorite part was when I asked her to name the picture for when I saved it. This one she dubbed "Mr. Face". Lolz.

Might as well capture pictures of my husband however I can. 

Trying to leave the park, but silliness continued to prevail.

More turtles! Usually we see more ducks here, but this was certainly a turtle night.

We passed by a stage on the way out and I thought "this would be perfect for her silly pictures", but when she got on the stage she was suddenly all business. Go figure.

Saturday was really a great day. Seriously, a great day. It wasn't so different than other days except I felt way more productive. I think it also made a big difference that I knew I could name what I wanted to do and then I did it (guilt free). I really need to do that more often (and not wait for Mother's Day weekend to do so).

On Sunday, Jesse got up with Riley while I attempted to watch network TV in bed, but there wasn't anything worth watching so I headed downstairs and decided to make french toast. My crew had already eaten so it was all for me, but Jesse couldn't resist the smell and had a small piece himself. Such an easy thing to make - why don't I do this more often?

Jesse and Riley also gave me the sweetest card ever. I totally got all teary eyed as it listed out "what we love about mom". My favorite was when Riley wrote "she reads stories with meat night". Lol, actually, it said "she reads stories with me at night", but it looked like the first version which is almost better. Because of it, Jesse has suggested we start a meat night. Uh, ok. Another favorite was "we take pictures with mommy". Yes, we do.

Gifts with sentiments like this are the best. Its not so much about getting a gift, but being made to feel special. And these two made me feel super special. I love them so much. (Side note: I should mention that Jesse and I celebrated our 6th anniversary recently and he got me a book and a card while I got him nothing. I mention this since I totally called him out for not getting me anything for my birthday. We've never really given gifts before on our anniversary, but we always try to do something special. I've realized that the anniversary for Jesse is probably like the birthday for me. It's just a really special day.)

The rest of Sunday morning was pretty lazy - although I will say I transitioned out of my PJ's and into jeans way too early. That was a big miss on my part - I say one should stay in your pajamas or comfy clothes as long as possible. At one point we went to Byerlys, ate lunch and both Riley and Jesse took a nap before we headed out to an early dinner with my in-laws. We came home and went on a walk where we barely made it back home when it started pouring seconds after we got in the door.

Such a great weekend which ended with a tasty cup of tea and an intended half (but really an entire) scrumptious chocolate cupcake. The best way to end this wonderful weekend. I'm one lucky mommy.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Project 52 - Girl Time - Week 18


This past weekend wasn't an official mother/daughter weekend, but Riley and I sure did spend a lot of time together - just the two of us. On Saturday morning we went to papa Frank's house (while Jesse worked on patching some holes in our ceiling) and in the evening we snuck out for frozen yogurt. Jesse had the boys over for game night so it seemed like a fun thing for us girls to do. Riley was especially excited (and astonished) that we were going for a treat after she had her bath and was in her pajamas. Obviously, it's not something we do regularly, but that's what makes it so special.

Showing off her jammies

On Sunday, Riley and I headed out again - just the two of us - to the park with a ball. We had a blast kicking the ball, throwing the ball, hitting it with a stick, chasing after the ball... and laughing the entire time. It was fun to spend so much time one on one with my girl. I know these are the moments that really count as I can see how she lights up when she gets my full attention, or when we do something out of the ordinary together. Mother's Day may be next week, but it sure felt like it was this weekend.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015


I've been purging and it feels soooooo good. I think it really started when I was sick in December and watched a bunch of tiny house type shows during my long confinement on the couch. I couldn't actually envision myself living in 180 square feet, but the thought of getting rid of that which wasn't essential was appealing.

I don't consider myself a pack rat, but compared to my minimalist husband I guess I am a little (we might need one of those 200 + screws stored in the basement or that extra wood in the garage). I often compare myself instead to my depression era born dad who is a bit of a pack rat and feel like I have the appropriate amount of stuff compared to him (he's been purging too, but that's another story). And for the most part, I still feel that way, but think that from time to time one has to purge. Things get unused, out of fashion, and as new things come in sometimes old things just need to go out.

So a few months ago I started with a purge of trinkets and such. Old candle holders, vases, etc - stuff that I essentially stored in a closet and never used. I even started reading about capsule wardrobes and was determined to pare everything down. But the draw of dark, winter evenings caused me to fall back into unproductivity and nothing else was disposed of.

But then there seems to be something in the air when spring rolls around that causes productivity and cleaning and purging - at least for me. It started innocently enough with cleaning out the freezer and apologizing to all those freezer burnt strawberries (and other items) that we didn't eat. Such a waste. Poor little strawberries that never got to live up to their full potential in some sort of sweet desert.

Anyway, I think my husband fell in love with me even more when he saw the emptiness of the freezer.

Next, in an attempt to find my cousin's email, I ended up cleaning up my email inbox. It got waaaaaay out of hand. I don't know what I started with, but I'm pretty sure it was close to 1000 emails just in the inbox. Now I have 8 emails. It is exhilarating (except that I have another email address that has 863 emails that are pretty much just emails between Jesse and I - that one is next on the list to tackle!). Oh, and I never did find my cousin's email (but I did get it from a different cousin so I'm all good).

And finally, I am one step closer to that capsule wardrobe. My closet has taken a serious dent, but isn't down to the 'capsule' yet. I clean it out from time to time, but now that I work from home it seems that I repeatedly wear the same items and many items just haven't been worn in at least a year so it was time for a major cleaning.

When sorting this time, I put clothes into several piles:

  • items I'm pretty sure I want to keep
  • items that I maybe want to keep
  • my comfy shirts that are comfortable to work in but not necessarily fashionable
  • and then I put all items that were to be given away right into a bag

I didn't want to leave the 'no' clothes out to tempt me as there could have been a chance I'd move them to the yes pile so in the bag they went. Once I had my piles I started trying on clothes in the yes and maybe piles and this helped me decide that a number of them no longer fit (or maybe never did) so they became goners. In the past I'd get maybe a paper bag or two, but this time I cleared out 5 overflowing bags. Yeah, I had a lot of clothes... and really still do, but it feels much more manageable.

Some of the clothes were faded and a little worn. In the past, I wondered if I should end up donating these items or if the staff at Good Will was cursing the bags I brought in as they were more suited to the trash. My nephew now works at Good Will and said that pretty much everything gets sold at the store, reused, or donated elsewhere so in the bag everything went (except those old stinky slippers - why did I have those? I rarely wear slippers anymore. Into the garbage with them).

Another thing I noticed is that I got rid of a lot of brown stuff. I've always wanted to successfully have a stylish, earthy fall outfit, but I can never quite put one together. Brown frustrates me since brown isn't just brown. Turns out there are a ton of different shades of brown... but only one black. I can trust that if I buy black I have black and it will match with my other blacks. I kept a couple brown items, but I'm not sure they will survive the next round. I should say, Jesse, on the other hand owns nothing black. I was astonished when I realized this. Not a belt or a shoe - nothing. How is this possible?

I almost pulled one (brown) sweater out of the donate pile when Jesse commented on how much I used to wear it when we were dating. His comment was dripping with nostalgia and it made me think I might wear that sweater again, but I held strong since 1. I haven't worn it in at least a year, 2. it was brown (with a weird green tint - what's up with you brown?)

(Imagine me in the brown outfit I was going to post here, but Blogger refuses to do. Blogger doesn't even want the world - or the 5 people who read this - to see me in brown. Wait, you can see me in brown in this 'style' post.)

At any rate, I now have a better grasp on what I have and if it works together or not. I will certainly be purchasing some new items, but it will be with the intent to be a part of a select number of clothes. I'm sure much of what I have now will transition out as I get items that are more fitting to my lifestyle and comfort level and of course go well with other items. Even though yoga pants and tank tops are my main uniform it would be nice to have some other items that are just as comfy, but a little more stylish and don't make me look like I am headed to the gym.

I also, probably, won't have a true capsule wardrobe. Let's face it, this is Minnesota and it's cold and I run cold so I layer. It's possible that I could wear a traditional capsule wardrobe all at once in an attempt to stay warm. I will certainly have a loose interpretation of the capsule wardrobe, but it will be a vast improvement over the mass of clothes I had before.

I've heard that successful people wear the same thing all the time (or give themselves limited options) so that they don't have to expend energy on making decisions about clothes. I can certainly appreciate this since I already sort of wear the same thing over and over, but one of the greatest wins out of this is I can already say that I have less clothes than my husband. Whose the pack rat now, honey?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Project 52 - ClickinWalk 2015 - Week 17


This past weekend I did something completely out of my comfort zone. I met up with a bunch of strangers for a walk. Introverted me plus strangers usually equals a big 'no' especially, if I don't have at least one person I know. Of course, it wasn't just any walk - it was the 2015 Clickinwalk put on by Clickin Moms. I told myself I was going to challenge myself this year with my photography so this seemed like a good way to do so while possibly making connections with local photographers. I knew there would be a combination of professional and hobbyists, but I still found it a bit intimidating. I was a little nervous leading up to the day, but when Saturday came around I didn't think about it too much. I just went.

And guess what? I was ok. I didn't acquire a new photography BFF, but I did just fine connecting with people and even went for drinks and appetizers afterward with some of the group. This has also motivated me to check out Clickin Mom's forums more often too (which I have been terrible at doing) because now I recognize the names of people I met.

We met at the Walker Sculpture Gardens in Minneapolis (along with hundreds of prom goers we weren't expecting) and walked around for about an hour and a half. It was nice to be out for the sole purpose of taking pictures, but I have to admit I can't wait to bring Riley and Jesse to see this park (they've never been).

Honestly? I can't wait to do this again next year and perhaps see faces I already know, but also meet some more strangers. I took a lot of pictures so for more of my walk click here.

There is also a contest associated with this walk that I may or may not enter (not sure what pictures to submit), but it's been fun to see other people post their pictures in the forum and see how different or similar they are to mine. I've learned so much just by viewing those other pictures. It's good to find my (photography loving) people.