Sunday, July 28, 2013

Photo a Day | July 2013 | Week 4

July is almost over and I've still been able to take a picture every day for Photo a Day. I hate to say it, but it kinda makes me want to get a smartphone, but I don't think I'm quite there yet.


Blah. This is my place of work and a neighboring empty cube. They don't get much better when someone decorates them. They are still grey and blah. Plus, the closest window looks out at a brink wall. Not exactly cheery.

I drew this!

I sat down with Riley as I was going to draw something new (not like the last time I had a similar prompt where I took at picture of a drawing I did in the 1980's). I suggested to Riley that she draw a picture of herself as I was drawing a highly crafted stick person. She drew this accurately, large eyed figure with a huge smile and yellow hair and topped it off with the sun. Love the extra touch.

Not sure how well you can actually see her drawing so I'll make it bigger.

Ok, not sure that helped either, but you know... proud momma over here.

D is for...

Diablo the cat with a special appearance of Lucy the cat in the background. Jesse has suggested we find a new home for Lucy since we've caught her pooping where she shouldn't and she is a bit on the needy side (when she wants love she shoves it on you). It's been hard to give the cats the attention we used to before having a kid, but I'm not ready to give up on her. Besides, Diablo has pooped on the carpet and no one has suggested kicking him out the door. He's just a little more mellow (read: coolest cat ever) and has health issues so he gets away with it.


I don't know - what do you say about the ground. Waiting for the bus stop I looked down and saw this and thought it looked pretty cool except for the cigarette butt I kicked out of the way and the other garbage just off to the left. Nothing special - it's the ground. 

The everyday

Just hanging out after I got home from work. We occasionally pull up educational (I swear) YouTube videos on the TV. OK, maybe more than occasionally since she's not only memorized the songs, but also the order in which they play. This one was about measurements and after I took the picture I realized that the words 'every day' are on the screen. Totally unintended. But the silly face on Riley was totally intended and an everyday thing. 

Black + white

I'd been meaning to implement the rock jar for some time, but it took a night where Riley hit me and threw a toy at me for me to go into the basement and bust out a jar and some rocks then and there while she was in a time out. I explained to her that she would get two rocks when we caught her being good and when we filled up the jar we could do something special together (she wants to go to the zoo). The jar has slowly filled up, but we've often been focusing on her recent reluctance to go to bed each night which results in no rocks. I need to remember that this jar isn't all about that and make sure I am calling her out for her good daytime behavior. She gets very excited about the jar and about getting "two rocks" - no more and no less at a time.

This is new!

My husband's brother, Rich, and his family moved to Luxembourg for his job last year. They just arrived for a visit and brought all sorts of goodies like the above (oh, and lots of wine). For anyone whose had Biscoff, Speculoos is the same thing - it tastes like a spread made out of biscuits or graham crackers. Delish.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Raspberries, Swimming and Haircut adventures

I really wanted to go strawberry picking this year, but it just never worked out and the season passed. So instead, we headed out for raspberries. To be honest I grew up with raspberry plants and have a love/hate relationship with them. For years, I wanted nothing to do with them since I associated them with standing in our garden getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, and poked by the plants while birds fought me for the goods. In the height of the raspberry picking season I was expected to get a gallon ice cream bucket full each day and if I didn't I was likely sent back out because I obviously didn't do my job. 

As time went on (read: years after I moved out and didn't have to pick berries anymore) I learned to appreciate this fine fruit. I could do without the seeds and sometimes find them a little bitter, but my favorite jam is raspberry and I even have a few plants of my own now. 

On Saturday, we decided to check out a raspberry picking farm.It seemed little silly going to a farm to pay for raspberries since I can still go to my dad's to get eaten alive pick them there, but this was more about the experience.

I searched for raspberry farms here and found one I wanted to go to. They had pick your own raspberries, but other fun things like goats, chickens, eggs, mushrooms, and motocross. Yup, motocross. Anyhoo, I'm glad I called before we left because they had to unexpectedly close that day so we went to Berry Hill Farm instead. Berry Hill was actually a little closer, but it didn't have any of the extra fun things that the other place did (apparently Berry Hill has pony rides and the such around pumpkin picking time, though). It was incredibly peaceful here and would be the perfect place for a wedding. It was very calming and I didn't get attacked by bugs or birds. If there was one thing I would change it would be to make sure the porta potty was on leveled ground - let's just say it's a struggle to go to the bathroom at that angle. TMI? Perhaps.

On Sunday, we planned on two things to accomplish: go swimming with Riley and get her haircut. We belong to a gym that has a pool so it seemed to make sense to take advantage of that. We called our local gym, but their hours were limited. So we called another location not to far away and found out they opened at 10 am. They have an indoor and outdoor pool with zero entry and it's just better all around. 

Our kid hasn't been very confident around water and is more likely to freak out than enjoy it. A couple weeks prior, my husband took her to the pool and after about 20 minutes of hanging out he was able to get her in the water and "swimming" around while he held her. She loved it. He had some challenges with finding the pool hours at both of the above gyms online and when he called they told him one thing only to show up and find he wasn't given the correct times (after already changing into bathing suits).

So again this time we called, got the hours, and headed out to the gym... only to find out they gave me the wrong time. Grrr. Nothing like having to really work your kid up to be ready for something to have to turn around and say it wasn't going to happen. We weren't ready to totally give up so we ran some errands and got Riley's hair cut before heading back to the pool.

I was going to cut Riley's hair myself this time, but we have family pictures next week and I didn't want to be responsible for screwing up her hair (although, now that I paid a stupid amount to get her hair cut I am sure it is crooked - whatever). I have too many horror stories of when my dad cut my hair as a kid. You'll probably never see me with bangs since I had to live few years with severely crooked bangs as a child and am scarred by it. Thanks dad.

This was Riley's third haircut and the only one she seemed a little nervous about. I had to hold her hand pretty much the entire time. She didn't cry, but certainly seemed to need some assurance.

You can't see it here, but along with the braid she got glitter in her hair. She looooved that. I was a little scared to chop off her hair so short, but I love it even though it makes her look so much older. Seriously, when did she stop being my baby?

We went back to the pool (where I didn't get any pictures because I was in the water, you know) and hung out for awhile. About 10 minutes after we got there the life guards took a break. There were about six 16 year old life guards hanging out playing jump rope while we sat on the sidelines trying to explain why we had to stay out of the water to Riley. I understand they get breaks, but since there were only two posts and 6 lifeguards you think they could rotate. I don't know. Perhaps someone can explain it to me. I found it strange.

And I thought the jump roping seemed unprofessional. Or maybe I've just become an old curmudgeon. Yeah, that's probably it, isn't it?

All in all, another great summer weekend. If only summer could last forever...

Monday, July 22, 2013

July 2013 | Photo a Day | Week 3

Week three and going strong with the Photo a Day pictures...

Outside the window

The sore throat that came on Friday night was still sticking around so I felt I had to go get something cool and soothing to make it feel better. At lunch I headed out to get some frozen yogurt and then found an unused space at work with a good view to pig out on it. I filled my cup a little fuller than usual (it was for health reasons!), but was a little stunned when I spent over 7 bucks on this serving. Yikes! When I told my healthy eating husband how much I spent I thought he would be horrified. Instead, he was jealous that I went to Yogurt Lab without him. Go figure. (Oh, and I still have the ever so slightly better sore throat over a week later. You can bet there was another frozen yogurt run later in the week - this time with my husband).


Really excited to try this organic wine I recently picked up, but that persistent sore throat is putting that plan on hold. Note to self: feed the cat immediately when you get home before you attempt to do anything or she will be all up in your stuff.


Oy. This one had so much potential and in the end I feel like I cheated. I posted old pictures and a quote by Mary Anne Radmacher. In my defense, I did take pictures of Jesse and Riley together, but Jesse just looked mad. Not every day is a winner, but in the end this still had the same message, My dad, Jesse, and Riley are some of the biggest inspirations in my life.


This was simply a random number I wrote on a chalkboard in our basement and then added a fancy filter. I was going to pick a number with significance... 27 - the day of our first date, 9 - the day she was born, 21 - the day we were married, 11 - his lucky number, 72 - the year of my birth... but there were so many to choose from that a random number seemed most appropriate.


Luckily, I had an early lunch this day so I could sneak outside without the lunch crowd milling about and wondering why I was holding my iPad up to the air (to take this picture of my work building, of course). Since I was outside I grabbed lunch at one of the many food trucks downtown. To be honest, I've been turned off from food trucks lately after a couple cases of gut rot, but the fish tacos at Velle Deli were awesome (with no side effects). Plus, it was beautiful outside. Earlier in the week it was soooo humid and hot, but this day I could actually breathe comfortably outside.


Yeah, so it was even cooler today than the previous day - it was still warm, but not nearly as hot as the beginning of the week was. I stepped out on to our deck which does get quite hot and was surprised to find the cat still out there cause I wouldn't be if I was covered in black fur and all. And then I was not surprised to find him inside the house about 2 seconds later. He's no dummy.

Fav Food 

When I mentioned the prompt for this day to my husband he immediately suggested we get food from Christos Greek restaurant. So I totally thought that was going to be the shot of the day. We did get our Greek food (after a little friendly reminder to the hubby), but in the end I picked this shot because not only do I like raspberries, but I just like fresh food. And perhaps this is a reminder to myself to eat a little healthier because I almost always feel better when I do. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013


From age 9 until 18 I grew up in a small-like town about 30 minutes west of the Twin Cities. My dad still lives there so we obviously get out there on a regular basis, but I haven't really partaken in many of the activities they have in town in a long, long time. This is mostly because they often happen during Riley's nap time or after bedtime and we typically don't mess with sleep. But since her sleep habits have been crap lately we thought... what the heck.

This past weekend was the big Hamel Rodeo and one day I hope to bring Riley there, but we decided to take her to the parade instead. If we were going to skip a nap I wanted an easy out if things went south (which you'll see I ignored anyway).

The parade starts on a side road and then heads down main street which is where most of the folks congregate to watch. We decided to walk through my dad's back yard and into the neighbor's yard to sit under her shady tree on the side road.

In the end, Riley exclaimed that the "parade was FUN!" which was hard to believe since she cried during at least half of it. There were a lot of loud vehicles: police cars, antique cars, motorcycles, tractors, and at least six freaking firetrucks with incredibly LOUD sirens. We actually heard the first siren before we saw the parade start and at that time I heard the first of 392 "I want to go home" comments. I'm fairly certain if Jesse was there he would have said "ok, let's go home" after about the 5th time, but I wanted to fight this demon head on.

That, or I'm a bad mom.

Anyhoo, one siren in particular was super loud. It scared the crap out of me. I held Riley tight and put my hands over her ears trying to ignore her pleas to leave. After that incident it seemed that many of the firetrucks would stop the siren once they looked over and saw me cupping my hands over the ears of my terrified kid. You'll notice that there are no pictures here of the firetrucks because my hands were busy being noise mufflers. In fact, I didn't capture much of the parade and many of the pictures I did were blurry as my kid immediately grabbed my hand when it was away from her ears and told me to "put that (camera) down". Ha.

But then there were horses and a couple different groups of them. Some of them trotted, but some did a little dance and this was apparently enough to make this parade a success in my child's eyes.

Oh, and there was candy. Copious amounts of candy. Most people were sitting up next to the road, but we were a ways back taking advantage of the shade. I mean, I was with my elderly father, and my daughter who might just be the whitest child on the earth so the shade was the best place to be. And not that Riley would have let us get any closer to the (loud) action.

Pretty much all the trucks that were in the parade were throwing candy out to the townsfolk, but since we were so far back and no one else was really sitting by us, most of these fine people brought the candy to us. What they didn't, the neighbor lady picked up for us (I was too busy holding my kid's ears). We left most of the candy behind, but I let Riley pick out some to bring home - which we've hidden and she's completely forgotten, but not before a complete meltdown when we got home. FYI: a child demanding "I want candy" in between breath gasping, blubbery cries sounds a lot like "I want daddy". Don't mix up the two.

Wait, I thought I was at the Hamel Parade. Filler float?

This was also a highlight for our kid. Did I mention it was over 90 degrees this day?

Riley even got a Hamel baseball t-shirt. It's a little big, but incredibly exciting for me since softball/baseball was such a big part of my life when I was growing up here. Go Hamel Hawks!

As mentioned, after the parade was done Riley couldn't stop talking about how "fun" the parade was. I'm hoping this is a sign that my kid is a 'glass half full' type of person and not that she has some short term memory issues. Now, I'm off to buy some headphones so I'm more prepared the next time I torture my child with a parade.

Monday, July 15, 2013

July 2013 | Photo a Day | Week 2

Week two of Photo a Day has continued to challenge me - mostly because I am taking all these pictures with the iPad. Doing so limits when I can take pictures and makes me feel silly when I do pull the iPad out in an attempt to catch a moment. At any rate, I still ended up getting a picture every day so there is that. 


Recently, I looked back at some of the pictures I took last year for this challenge and I came across some of the same prompts. Turns out we were camping last year when this one came up and there were plenty of paths near us. I suppose I could have gotten really creative with this one, but all I could think of in terms of a 'path' was a hallway at work or a sidewalk. This seemed way more interesting than the drab hallways at work and I worked in a way to show off my polka dotted dress. 

Three things

I'm used to working a later shift one day a week, but recently work has change that shift by a half hour. As in, I start and end a half hour later. You wouldn't think that would be a big deal, but its amazing what a half hour will do for you. What does this have to do with wine? Not much, but it sure makes that late night a little easier to swallow.


This is one of those prompts I struggled with. I had a hard time figuring out what picture I wanted to capture and in the end it was right in front of me as I sat outside with my kid as she played. I've been loving these summer nights where we can hang outside for a bit without the bugs bothering us too much. Riley has even asked to eat dinner outside multiple times. Fine by me. 

I wore this!

I'm not sure why this prompt has an exclamation mark. I mean, I took pictures of what I wore, but feel like I let this prompt down because my outfit wasn't necessarily exclamation worthy. And most of the day I just had that red blanket (lower left picture) draped over me as I attempted to stay warm at work.

A bad habit

Not to sound all perfect or anything, but this was a hard one to identify. I eat generally well (perhaps some more veggies and fruit could make it into my diet), I exercise, I have a drink here and there, but not that often... so this is the best I could come up with. I spend way too much time in front of a computer. Granted this is my job, but I could at least leave it over lunch. And I actually did this day after eating. Just taking this picture has made me more mindful this week about sitting here for too long. 

4 o'clock

This has been a less than favorite week when it came to body pain. Lots of aches and pains and low level migraines, but this day the headache was worse and it was apparent I might have a virus coming on as indicated by the itchy sore throat I had. Jesse and Riley were napping upstairs and I decided to do a round of yoga nidra and of course fell asleep too. I woke up moments before taking this picture and was in total nap fog.


My new favorite meal (see 7.12.13 for additional proof). English muffin, hummus, feta, avocado, and tomato. Also suggested: fresh basil. Delish.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Family Fun and the Fourth

A couple weekends ago I was determined to check out a farmer's market, but didn't want to deal with the crowds of the big one in Minneapolis. I did a little Googling and found another one close by that seemed to have food, wares, and even music. Sounded good to me so we headed off to Golden Valley's farmer market.

It's a little early for certain food items, but we still found some goodies to buy such as radishes (a Jesse fav), small potatoes, and fresh bread. We picked up these fantastic pretzel rolls and even went back for more.

Num, num. Pretzel bread.

Once we made our purchases we sat down to listen to some music. At some point Riley started singing along  (in her own words, of course) to the joy of everyone around us. She's always loved music, but she's been embracing singing lately. She might find a familiar tune and then makes up her own words to the song. She's totally her father's daughter in this regard. I don't know how many songs Jesse had made up and sang to me so I love that she does this too.

Also, had a caprese kabob from that food truck to the right which was delish

We tried to leave, but Riley wanted to go back and listen to the music. Ok, fine by us. We found a grassy spot and laid down while she sang, jumped all over us, took pictures on her own, and just hung out. It was rather nice.

Photo by Riley
I'm learning all sort of things you can do with thin, fine hair that I could never do with my thick hair.
Reluctantly leaving the farmer's market

Want to find a local Minnesota farmer's market? This site is the place to go. 

A few days later we tried another neighborhood treasure hunt, but brought daddy along this time. It started out well enough until there was a pretty traumatic 'knee to concrete' incident. But even after that happened (and the blood was still flowing) Riley wanted to make sure she got in a swing ride before going home. Go figure.



Bloody knee! *not on the treasure hunt list

And then there was the 4th of July - Independence Day. It was a day I used to love, and hope to again, but now it's just nice to have a day off of work before I start cursing the neighbors for setting off fireworks that freak the F out of my kid. Plus, (on a sad note) the 4th of July brings back so many memories of my brother, Scott, who passed away 5 years ago. He loved the 4th and wanted to make it an incredibly fun event especially for the kids. Gosh, I miss that guy.

At any rate, we tried to get outside a bit with Riley and headed over to a local park to kick a ball around.

Riley actually stayed up until almost 10 PM this night, but not like most kids who were trying to stay awake for the fireworks. She was just freaking out like she has been all week on the sleep front (thank you for being consistent on that kid #dripping in sarcasm). Luckily, she fell asleep with Jesse sleeping by her side just before the bangs and booms started. It was a fairly uneventful day, but was really nice to get a break in the work week and hang with the family on a nice day. That alone made it worth it.

One day this kid will love fireworks, right?