Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Year in review

In some ways, 2016 is a year I want to forget (mostly because of politics), but overall it's been a good year. Life has been good to us and I am reminded daily when my kid does something that makes me proud, when my husband makes me laugh, and when I get a call from my dad and know I'm lucky to still have him here. Since it's the end of the year I've been reflecting as so many are. I've organized my thoughts on this in different ways in the past and thought about just posting my favorite pictures since photography has been such a big part of my life lately, but I figure my future self would like to read back on a few more details so here we go with my round up of the year...


Knock on wood, but I feel really grateful to not be sick right now, or for that matter, for much of the year. This has been one of my healthier years and I'm guessing I totally just cursed myself, but I'll take that risk. I had a super low level virus about a month ago that didn't really turn into anything. Before that, the last cold I remember was when I came home from Oregon and Washington... and get this - it only lasted a week. My viruses tend to last a few months so this was a downright miracle for me. Jesse and I called it the "PNW cold" and were ready to move if it meant leaving behind our debilitating viruses.

Other than that, Jesse and Riley have been healthy as have most other people. My dad has had more cancer taken off his ears and struggles with arthritis in his neck, but that guy still works harder than anyone I know.


Jesse's aunt just passed away, but I can't think of anyone else close to us that died this year. Grateful for that.

I did experience another sort of loss and that was my dad selling his farm. I still grieve about this, but am also resolved about it. It is what it is. I have a lot of memories of this place and am mostly okay with that. I think the bigger loss for me is knowing that my brother, Scott, will never be able to spend time on the farm. I should have known when my brother died years ago that it would change the trajectory of this property, but I always hoped for something more for this place. Perhaps the hardest part of letting go is knowing that Scott is buried there. My dad, Riley and I went out one last time before it was sold and scattered his ashes, and even though Riley never met my brother, I was so pleased that she wanted to be a part of it. She seemed to get the importance of it and what it meant for me.


Lets see, Riley turned 6 and asked for a flower themed party. I was happy to oblige.

Riley lost a few more teeth. After the first few, I've lost count. She also transitioned from kindergarten to 1st grade and is doing great in school. Can't think of any other milestones to report, but it seems like there should be more.

Extra Curricular's

Riley took swimming and gymnastics this year. We went through the city for gymnastics, but the classes were offered sporadically so she hasn't been in that since the summer. We are debating about if we want to go to one of the spendier places around here or find something else for her to do.

As far as swimming, we started that before Riley was in kindergarten and have been going continuously since then. She loves swim class, but at some point we weren't sure she was growing or getting the guidance she needed so we just changed to a new swim school that has a different structure. She had a smile on her face the entire time during her last class so I hope that's a good sign.


I feel like we never get in enough camping opportunities, but now that Riley's older I'm hoping to to this more. Plus, Jesse purchased a tent in November that sits on top of the truck that he's already been camping in twice. Before this fancy new tent, we went to Fall Lake in the spring. Jesse wanted to right the wrong that I'd never been to the boundary waters, but knew that we couldn't do a full on boundary waters trip with Riley so we planned a mini trip. We planned to stay two nights, but a nasty storm was headed our way so we only spent a night on the edge of the boundary waters. I can say that I canoed there so there's that. My nature loving husband struggled with staying at a campground where you could hear far too much of your human neighbors, and I made the mistake of reading about bears that attack on the ride north, but other than that it was fun!

I made an unexpected trip to Missouri with my dad in July. My nephew had gotten into some trouble and my sister really needed the support of family so my dad and I decided to road trip to see her. I hadn't seen her in years so I was glad that we could go. I know she and her family were also grateful to see us, especially dad. Turns out, my dad went back down there a month later with my sister's other son that lives in Minnesota so they got to see him twice this summer. I thought about bringing Riley, but wasn't sure it was the right time to do so and immediately regretted it. Next time!

Jesse and I have been talking about visiting the Pacific Northwest for some time... and Jesse had already noted that he would like to move there without even have ever visited. I've had a friend living in Seattle for some time that I always planned to visit, but then another friend moved out to Oregon last year and it just seemed like the right time to go.

First, I have to say that I have some amazing women in my life. They are spread all over, and I sometime go long stretches without seeing or talking with them, but when we do connect I am reminded of how lucky am I to have them in my life at all. Ryann and I had barely connected in the past 10 years, but she opened her house and time to us right away. Riley adored her daughter and asked us to get a new kid so she could stay with them. Haha. #shewasserious.

Joanna also welcomed us into her home and introduced us to some of her friends that we adored. No surprise that she has other awesome friends. :) Besides the wonderful hospitality, we LOVED Washington and Oregon - especially Oregon. It might have been that we got a good fill of nature there from beach to hiking, but we were ready to move. There have been places that I thought would be nice to live, but this was the first time that I could really see myself elsewhere. I won't be moving anytime soon, but I know once I give the thumbs up Jesse will start packing.

Other adventures

Jesse went  on several trips with his truck buddies this year so I feel like I should mention that. This sort of started when we bought a Toyota Tacoma a couple years ago, but kicked into gear when Jesse talked about taking a solo trip to South Dakota. Last year, we went as a family, but Jesse really wanted to go back to camp and hike. I was a little nervous about him going alone when he'd be so far away so I suggested he connect with some of the guys he'd gotten to know on the Tacoma forum. Turns out there is a community of people who love their Tacoma's and want to share their love with like minded people. I don't think this happens with Kia Sportage drivers, but I've never actually checked so who knows.

South Dakota was the start of several trips as they have also been to Michigan and Northern MN. Apparently, there is some ice road trip being planned soon and my husband regularly connects with his buddies to work on their trucks. Another upside is that he now knows some vehicle things that he didn't know before.

South Dakota

South Dakota

Northern MN and the new truck tent

Truck friends


So it was back in 2013 that I decided that I was going to take my photography more seriously and while it's felt like a slow growth overall, I feel like so much has happened this year. I'm still constantly learning and growing, but I feel like I have a real community of people who have this same passion and support me.

In the spring I went on the Clickin walk again, but this time I made connections. The year before was a super large group, but this one was intimate enough to get to know other people. Plus, our leaders shared so much knowledge with us. It felt like I was being mentored for free. One of the participants was a recent transplant from out of state and I love how she's been so welcoming. I've gone shooting with her and am part of a blog circle that she invited me to.

Later in the spring, I posted a picture of my dad on Instagram and hashtagged a number of photography sites and ended up winning a beautiful camera bag from Lilah Snow and will be featured in Dear Photographer's first magazine in January. I know this isn't the best picture, but I think a lot of people got the 'feels' when they saw it. We stopped at the barber on the way home from our last visit to the farm and I feel like my dad's face holds all the emotions I was feeling, and I assume he was feeling too. I felt very honored to be recognized in this way. And I never thought I would be a #hashtag kind of person, but it's really connected me to some people that I wouldn't have otherwise so I am happy that I took that leap.

This summer, I was invited to a BBQ at one of Riley's friend's house. While there, I got to know a mom of one of Riley's other friends that I'd seen around, but never talked to. Turns out she's a huge photography fan as well and she only lives a few blocks from me. I'd been thinking about signing up for an online photography class, but she's the one who really encouraged me to do so and then sent me multiple suggestions throughout the rest of the year. I will blame her for the dent it made in my pocketbook, but am also so thankful for her as it encouraged me to take yet another step in my photography journey.

In my first class, I met a local woman who I'd also recently started following on IG and she's been an inspiration as well. We recently found a couple opportunities to meet face to face, and while Jesse has his truck buddies, I can officially say that I have my photography buddies.

I also completed a couple photo shoots for family this year. I was able to do my nieces senior pictures and my nephew's newborn pictures. Honored that my family asked me to capture these special moments for them.

I finished a project 52 and have been talked into a project 365 for 2017 where I plan to include a self portrait each week. I hope to also build in something where I take more pictures of my dad. We'll see how well I follow along, but I feel like I have the support to (mostly) stay on track.

So yeah, the photography section felt like it took up a huge part of this post, but besides my family, work and an ever lasting bathroom remodel it is such a big chunk of my life. Oh! I almost forgot to mention that in the last days of 2016 I upgraded to a full frame camera and splurged on a lens that is known for being SHARP so there's that. My husband isn't one to pour on the compliments, but he totally encouraged this purchase so I know he supports my photography.

I'm sure there are a ton of things I'm missing here. I know I didn't talk nearly enough about how great my kid is, but I'm holding out for her birthday post which will happen in February. And I probably don't talk enough about how wonderful my husband is, but he helped me feel sane (and not alone) this year when there were times when I was so frustrated by the decisions of our world.

We had our highs and lows in 2016, but the highs outweighed the lows by far. I'm looking forward to what 2017 has to bring our little family.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Project 52 - Snow Fun - Week 51


We have a house with a second story deck and a partial flat roof which means that, after a heavy snow fall, we have to get up on the roof and shovel it off. And when I say "we", I mean Jesse. We thought we could get away with not doing this until one year, when in the middle of the night, we had a drip coming in through our window. Jesse got on the roof at 3:00 am and, after shoveling it off, the dripping went away. We want to avoid visits to our roof in the middle of the night so we make sure to take care of it right away.

A couple weeks ago, I was shoveling the front sidewalk and Riley was playing in the snow when she almost got hit with a pile of snow that came flying off Jesse's shovel from the deck. Turns out she loved getting nailed by snow. She was extra excited when she got to experience this again a week later and I was sure to capture it on camera.


Before we went in, we stopped and caught snowflakes on our tongues... and later I had some fun adding a bokeh overlay to one of the pictures.


But snow fun wasn't over that day. We warmed up and dried off and then headed out to a local sledding hill. Also notable is how much more confident Riley has become in the sledding department. We still went down with her a couple times, but it wasn't because she needed us, but because she wanted us to have fun with her.



I would not recommend face forward. It did not end well when I attempted it. :)


And that was that. At least for that day. Riley's been sledding three times this winter which probably equals all the times she's ever been sledding prior to this year. The winter is far from over so I'm sure we'll be back again.