365 Week Two and Three Recaps

And now you know why I absolutely hate New Year’s resolutions. I am the worst at sticking to them. I haven’t even kept up with the documentation of my daily pic challenge.

I didn’t even make it to the second week!

How lame am I?

But alas, I am going to do my catch-up now. Then I am going to print these so I can update my book.

On another note, as life keeps moving along fairly quickly, I have decided to embrace my phone camera and other technology in keeping up with this endeavor. So I am including screen shots (which I just learned how to do on my Mac after having one since 2008–don’t ask!) and what not. I am hoping this will become more of a habit and I will get better at carving out a part of my day for the taking of pictures. Then it will be my ultimate goal to use my big camera and really take more time with the subject matter and the details.

January 5

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First day back at work after the holiday and it was a full one. I snapped this coming over the hill in my neighborhood to my house. I had left the house at 7:45 a.m. and this was when I was finally getting home. After working most of the day, then running the kids to the dentist, then getting my car’s oil changed, I was finally going home and collapsing.

The ironic thing is that looks like the sun setting but it’s really just a streetlight.
Cool effect though.

January 6

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A little lettering practice with two new brush pens that arrived in the mail.

Still need to practice more.

A lot more.

January 7

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Driving home from piano lesson with the girl and saw a fabulous sunset.

Love displays of God’s glory in the little moments.

January 8

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So I got a new iPhone for Christmas and it has the slo-mo video capability. And guess who loves to make little vignettes for me to find?

Yep, this guy!

What’s a mom to do?

Take a screen shot and keep it as evidence to embarrass the boy later.

January 9

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Bad mom alert–I made Sarge get the kids pizza for this Friday night and then take me out for a steak dinner.

To quote the youth of today, “sorry, not sorry!”

January 10

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Laundry. The never ending battle.

No other explanation necessary. 

January 11

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Lunch date with this boy to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet while Sarge works weekend duty.

After their Friday night pizza dinner, it was just too much pizza for the girl to tag along. 

January 12

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The ubiquitous car selfie.

P.S. You can see the gray hairs that I’ve been growing out-no more color for this girl (at least for now). May dedicate a whole separate post to the saga of going au natural!

January 13

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I got a Fitbit for Christmas and even though I had been wearing it since December 30, I had never hit the daily goal of 10,000 steps.

Until today! I felt this screen shot was worth counting as a photo since I viewed this as a big accomplishment.

January 14

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I have the Bible app on my phone. While working in my office this day, I thought I had put the lock screen on but lo and beyond, I looked down to find this verse.  I had to screenshot it as it spoke to me, especially as I am still trying to work through work issues.

January 15

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This was another late night for me. I left the house at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t get home until 10:30 p.m. As I was locking up for the night, I found my boy’s little study area lit up like this.

His move into middle school has been very interesting as he takes more of an interest in his academics. Love that he is finding his groove. 

January 16

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Movie night with the nieces (and their dad) and the daughter. Photo creds to my girl.

I know this probably shouldn’t count as I didn’t take it but I wasn’t as on the ball with picture taking on my Friday! 

January 17

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I made the whole family go to a huge antiques show this Saturday and for once, Sarge and I were in agreement about a piece of furniture.

This table.

It was as if the stars had aligned for a perfect harmonious, marital moment.

It didn’t last.

January 18

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It was the birthday of one of my closest friends from college and I found this little gem on Pinterest. I sent it to her and will be keeping it for myself.

So that’s the summary for the last two weeks!

Here’s to building that habit and really honing those subject matter choices and photography skills.

365 Week One Recap

So this seems a bit premature because I just announced my New Year’s challenge a mere three days ago. But in the interest of developing a good habit and creating some accountability for myself, I am going to post an update at least once a week. And hopefully/consistently on Sundays too.

My main goals are to keep this project going and help me stretch my photography skills. The whole documentation aspect of my daily life though is definitely a big plus. And I’ve even started a memory book to make sure I print these out (I will cover it in a later post once I have a little more content).

January 2 365 Day 2This is Brando, our sweet rescue dog. I said it five years ago and I will repeat it again. He continues fit into our family life ever so perfectly (along with his sister). Ironically though, winter is when his talents really shine. You see, he is a super cuddler and extremely warm.

It was pure luck that he had snuggled up right against Sarge in such an adorable position (like he was a little human baby!) and that he remained in said position while I tried to snap a good picture without a flash. It took whipping out my mini-tripod to get a decent focus. Not the best or most sharp photo but hey, I’m working on it.

January 3365 Day 3This was taken yesterday (a Saturday) while out for a date night (of sorts) for Sarge and me. It was a little gathering of Sarge’s friends from high school. And even though we went to the same high school, we were not friends with the same people so I didn’t know a lot of the people who came. The guy who arranged the dinner/get-together scheduled it for the same night that Driving and Crying (a band very popular when Sarge was in high school) was playing at a venue attached to a restaurant. The plan was to eat then go to the concert (we just did the dinner because we’re old and fuddy-duddies).

The truly ironic part of the night was that a very good friend of mine from high school (I even dated him for a few months but we were much better friends than romantic interests) was there to go to the concert. So while Sarge was re-connecting with his friends–I got to do the same thing. Totally random but very fun!

January 4365 Day 4In addition to trying new things for the new year, my family has started the great purge of 2015. And it signaled the end of an era in my house.

My boy-who is now 11-cleaned out his closet and asked that the last few bins of his Legos that had remained in his room be moved into the attic. We’ve had some truly epic moments in our house with Legos–too many to even hope to cover. So it was with a fair amount of sadness that I packed away his bins.

These two little mini figures though were in my car from Christmas day when I gave my minions and their cousins a little extra something. I just had to snap a few quick pics to document and remember the day the Legos went away.

Because like I mentioned, they really have shaped so many parts of our life.

Happy 2015!

I hope it was a happy (but safe) New Year for all!

In the past, I have tried to participate in a variation of making resolutions by doing the One Little Word challenge. I am amazed at how much it has expanded since I tried to participate in the endeavor many moons ago.

It even has its own hashtag now. #OLW

This year I did not select a word as I have fallen by the wayside in utilizing this mode of self improvement. I also do not generally participate in making other resolutions because I want to avoid that feeling of failure if and/or when I don’t stick to them.

But . . . I am going to try something different for 2015.

Not different in that no one else has ever done something like this before. Let me assure you, it’s been done loads of times by a plethora of people.

This different thing though is that I have asked my sister to participate with me.

And we are going to embark on a 365 photograph a day challenge.

The fun part is this decision was made this morning while I was doing my daily perusing of Pinterest (Nothing like last minute spontaneity!). Just as I was starting to glance through my home page, my sister had just pinned a few pins about how to successfully do a 365 daily pic challenge.

So I texted her and this was how it went.TextswiththesisJust a quick disclaimer/explanation–the blacked out part was a very inappropriate comment that Sarge said that I then relayed to my sister.  It really does not need to be shared with anybody and I probably shouldn’t have even sent it to my sis. But as she has known me for over 42 years and Sarge for almost that long, my and my hubby’s odd sense of humor isn’t too shocking to her.

So today, at various points during the day, I tried taking a few selfies with my phone. But as I stated in my text to my sister above, I’m never satisfied.

Then later this evening after dinner, I decided I needed to do a realistic selfie. For example, one where I’m not trying too hard to cover up my double chin. And even though I haven’t showered today or put on any make-up or fixed my hair (it’s a holiday!), I still pulled out my good camera and took a picture with my timer to show how I spend the majority of my evenings. 365 SelfieYes, this is a posed picture but it’s pretty darn close to actual reality.

Well, except for the sepia tone. I decided to go with that effect because it was a wee bit more flattering to compensate for my lack of hygienic efforts today.

But seriously, if you look at the reflection of my computer screen in my eyeglasses very, very carefully, you can see I’m looking at Pinterest. That is about as real as it gets with me.

Now the challenge has officially begun.

The next question is what hashtag should my sis and I dream up for this last-minute “resolution.”

Creative Juices

Here’s hoping you and yours had a very blessed Christmas and a wonderfully peaceful holiday. IMG_1945As 2014 is about to come to a close, I’m trying to keep my creativity flowing over here. IMG_1918Starting right after the 2014 New Year’s, I realized I was too immersed in the negatives of my life (work stress, over-scheduled daily life, too many demands, and so on and so forth).

So I slowly began making some changes.IMG_1779I’ve been trying to do things around my house that make me happy. For examples, take these old shutters a friend brought me from an older house. I painted them with chalkboard paint and they have served as my seasonal canvas now for several months. IMG_1781I was even able to make a set specific to my girl’s color guard dinner we hosted.IMG_1948

I use quotes that mean something to me. Because ironically, this is strictly a selfish project.

I need the daily reminders.

I need the inspiration.IMG_1947

For 2015, I hope I can continue with focusing on the positive. And for those days that I can’t remember, may my quotes help guide me in the right direction.

The things we do as parents . . . (or is it the things we force our kids to do?)

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Here is my boy at the marathon swim meet we attended this weekend. You see, he swims year-round for a small but very competitive organization. And by competitive, I mean the coaches and the director. Our family–not so much.

This weekend was a big meet for the boy. He aged up last May into the older kids group (11 and over) and this was his first preliminaries/finals meet. This means if you make it into the top 20 during your morning swims, you have to return for finals the same evening.

Friday afternoon, we had check him out of school to swim the longer-distance  events (not a prelims-final thing). That was about four and a half hours at the pool. Saturday morning was over five hours at the pool–after a lovely wake-up time of 6:00 a.m. Sunday morning was only (ha-ha) four more hours with the same pleasant wake-up time.

I feel I should add in right now that this is not a shocking time for Sarge because he wakes up at 5:45 a.m. every day to get the girl off to high school. But for my boy and me, this was painful! I am in charge of getting him on the bus so we drag ourselves out of bed around 7:00 a.m.

Anyway, because they had final sessions, we got to go back not only Saturday night but also Sunday night. My boy was very excited since it was his first time “making finals.” The only drawback was that he only made it in one event each night. And to add insult to injury, the one event he made it in Saturday night was the absolute LAST event of the evening. We had to be at the pool beginning about 5:00 pm and we didn’t leave until after 9:30.

Talk about exhausted!

Because in between the various swim sessions, I worked on my Christmas cards, wrapped presents, did several loads of laundry, and tried to clean house.

I ended up crashing today about 2 p.m. and slept for over two hours. Probably not the best decision as I am sure I will pay for it tonight when I try to go to bed at my regular time.

Plus, I have to confess that I didn’t go to tonight’s finals. Nor did I go to the Friday afternoon session. Sarge took the boy for me on Friday so I wouldn’t have to take time off from work and then again today so I could try and finish all of my various chores.

And don’t even get me started on my poor girl! We have barely seen her this weekend. Which may have been an okay thing as she has finals this week and needed to study. Thankfully, she spent the night with a friend last night so she wasn’t home alone the WHOLE weekend.

During our very numerous instances of waiting for the child to swim, Sarge even whipped out the old adage that we need a weekend to recover from our weekend.

I couldn’t agree more.

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(sorry for the blurry photos--I was working with my phone)

But I do have to brag on my boy just a little. He was a trooper through all this driving back and forth, waking up at the crack of dawn, swimming in a poorly heated venue in the freezing temps, and eating fast good on the run.

AND he improved his times in almost all of his events!

All in all, a very impressive performance by an even more impressive kid.

Now if only we could add one more day to this weekend for ALL of us to rest!

#gohikingjustdontwalkbehindus

1380675_10201550707443974_196310975_nTonight at dinner, I let Sarge and the kids know that I am plunging back into the world of blogging.  And hopefully doing so with some regularity, unlike the past few years. 

Sarge’s one recommendation was to change the name of my blog since there wasn’t a whole lot of policing going on in his life right now. But I’m stubborn and I don’t like change so I’m sticking with what I have. 

I also let them know I created a new hashtag as it related to our hiking adventures (reference title above). I then received a few suggestions from them in return. 

#Ifyouarenotabouttodieitisnotagoodhike was my particular favorite. Ah, my family members can be a little dramatic at times. 

988316_10201550705523926_967171145_nAnyway, completely unprompted by me, the daughter starts to rank our various hikes. So to follow with her idea, I am going to start with her least favorite hike. The irony of this ranking is that the girl didn’t even go on this hike.

You see, this was in October of 2013. Two months prior, my girl had had surgery to repair her torn ACL–an injury which occurred a month prior to her surgery (and a whole other story for another time). So her rationale about this being her least favorite hike is that she wasn’t even allowed to come along as she was still in a knee brace. 

988719_10201550707923986_1062039536_nThis hike was dreamed up by my brothers at the last minute. Yet executed flawlessly regardless of the late planning.

To provide a little background, when my younger brother was in his twenties, he got the hiking bug and ended up hiking the Appalachian Trail as a thru-hiker (i.e. he did it all at once). He then passed on his fondness for hiking to my dad who then started hiking the Appalachian Trail in increments when he was 59. Over the next ten years, my dad would hike big portions of the trail over the summer months. He finished the trail right around the time he turned 69 and it was a huge accomplishment for him.

My oldest brother then got into the whole hiking thing as well and the three of them took both of my oldest nieces on overnight back-packing hikes several times before my dad got sick.

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But because my brothers are all about creating memories and honoring a legacy, they took my boy hiking and Sarge and I tagged along. My oldest brother’s daughters (and a friend) also came along for the ride. And what a ride it was!

 1381355_10201550709484025_1007537970_nNow to be completely honest, I am not the most athletic person. AND I am also smack dab in the throes of middle age. So walking a few miles with several pounds of stuff on my back while climbing up and down mountains was not quite as relaxing and soothing as one might like on a long holiday weekend.

And don’t even get me started on having to use the facilities outdoors for two days straight. 

But I really had a great time. The best part though was seeing what a natural my boy was at all this outdoor stuff as well as how in-shape he was! He carried his own pack and even with all that weight, he was quite a speed demon. He had no issues keeping up with the extremely experienced hiker brother. 

1383163_10201550707763982_1130925935_nThe scenery was beautiful. This shot above was taken off a mountain called Wolf Laurel.

By the way, I didn’t even bring my camera so the majority of these shots were taken by my oldest niece. She deserves major kudos for capturing these moments. 

I was more concerned with surviving while carrying all this junk on my back. Hence, my camera did not make the cut because I didn’t want any more unnecessary weight. 

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Yes, I even had energy for selfies with the second oldest niece. It was this element of fun that made this hike so enjoyable. And also why it is going down in history as the least favorite hike for my girl.

Because she had to miss out on the funny moments like when the coyote was creeping right outside my tent at the crack of dawn. Or how both Sarge’s and my snoring kept both my brothers up half the night–so much that they moved their tents very far away from ours on the second night.  

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So here’s almost all of our motley hiking crew (minus the oldest niece who is the photographer). In order from left to right, Oldest Brother, Second Oldest Niece, Second Oldest Brother, my boy peeking out, me, Niece’s Friend and Sarge in the back. 

Yes, I have included a full view of the man but since his face is in shadow.
I figure his identity is still safe. 

1395899_10201550707283970_808210676_nThe good thing is we are definitely going to do another overnighter hike here in the near future. And this time, it is my plan to take my whole family!

I will also be taking ear plugs for all because I don’t want to hear all that complaining about my snoring again!

You know it’s time to get back to writing . . .

When you create imaginary blog posts throughout your day.

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Like when you are supposed to be working and you are thinking about how you can tell this story or relate that incident, it might be a sign to get back on track.

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When you are supposed to be going to sleep and you think of random hashtags that could apply to a series of posts related to your family foibles while hiking . . .

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#gohikingjustdontwalkbehindus

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#innappropriateconversations

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When you have finally started to re-embrace the love for your photography that you once had lost in the hectic hubbub of life . . .

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Now to be honest, the last two plus years have been a struggle. In October 2012, my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer (stage 4) that had spread all over his body, mostly in his bones. After an eight month battle, my whole family had to say good bye to my dad and then go through all the transition and grief that goes with losing someone you dearly love. Even these few words will never seem to encompass all that goes with a life event like this.

Almost immediately after my dad’s death, I also returned to work full-time (40+ hours a week) after working part time (a very strictly maintained 30 hours a week) for over 12 years. Needless to say, that transition was a nightmare. For so many reasons!

So I am social worker by training and by experience. I am in my 22nd year of doing social work and up until last year, I could say without the tiniest shred of a doubt that I loved my job. I loved the kids I worked with, I loved the challenges inherent in this type of work and I loved feeling that through my job, I had responded to a calling from above. But recently, I have encountered that dreaded state of “burnout.”

Yes, as defined by my favorite reference source, Wikipedia:

Burnout is a psychological term that refers to long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work. Burnout has been assumed to result from chronic occupational stress (e.g., work overload).

And I am not sure how to handle this feeling of exhaustion and ineffectiveness that I have been carrying like a thousand pound weight on my shoulders.

Then I remember a similar time when it felt another kind of exhaustion and I started blogging. It was the best form of therapy I could ask for and oh, so successful! So I am going to try this again with a few tweaks.

Sarge is no longer on the road or in narcotics or in vice so the police-related stories are going to be sparse. But there is a lot swimming around in my head so here goes.