Day Fourteen: Denial

Instagram: Earlybird

Steve keeps the Oreos on the top shelf of the pantry. He buys them in twelve packs so he can keep count of them. The first is aimed at keeping the kids out of them. The second is aimed at keeping me out of them.

Whatever. I didn't want your stupid non-Double Stuf Oreos anyway.


Day Thirteen: You Choose

Hipstamatic: Lucifer VI, BlacKeys SuperGrain

Last night, our family dressed up our trunk in a jungle theme and went to the church to participate in Trunk or Treat. Auburn had a home game that we all had tickets for, but this is what the kids wanted to do and so it is what we chose. The kids had a lot of fun running around with their friends and so did we giving out candy to all the cute kids. I mean, Steve was dressed as a banana...who wouldn't have fun hanging out with that? Highlight of the night was the three year old who said to Steve, "Cool costume." I guess he had heard that all night and decided to throw it back to the adult.

Afterwards, when I found the kids asleep together in Maury's room, I felt like it had been a very good call indeed to skip the game. Seems really appropriate to post pictures about this on "you choose" day for the challenge, then.

Hipstamatic: Jimmy, Claunch 72 Monochrome, Standard

You see Sazzy, Mollie? Booger's in the bed, too, but you can't see him.


Day Twelve: Art(?)

Hipstamatic: Helga Viking, Blanko
Collage made with Diptic

These are my Sips n Strokes paintings (clockwise from top left):

Aubie, who was done on a night where you could paint Aubie or Big Al. I was with a friend who painted Big Al. I did nothing more than we were told, which was basically coloring in the line drawing that had already been sketched on the canvas. My friend painted the whole stadium behind hers. I'm not one for stepping out there like that because I never know when to stop and I end up with a big mess.

Funky Circles, which was done one day with Lizzie. You can read about it and see her painting here on my scrapbook page about it. I think if they hadn't told us it was time to leave, Lizzie would still be painting on hers. She loved adding and adding and adding to it.

Funky Squares, which was my first painting at Sips n Strokes. I didn't enjoy this too much because there was too much left for me to decide...colors, fabric pieces, patterns in each square. Blah. Aubie was way more my speed.

Funky Tree, (see a theme with their painting titles, by the way?) which I did one day with Lizzie, a friend of mine and my friend's daughter. Literally. We were the only ones there. That was kind of cool. And, my friend? She didn't even paint a tree. She painted something totally different. TOTALLY different.

The best Sips n Strokes painting in our home is this one painted by my husband, who went with a group of women he was in grad school with one night at least a year before I went the first time and right as Sips n Strokes was getting started:

Hipstamatic: Helga Viking, Blanko

He claims the puff paint that one of the instructors did on the painting is what makes it look so good. I think he is underselling what a really nice job he did...painting flowers in a room full of women.


Day Eleven: Glittery

Hipstamatic: Helga Viking, Claunch 72 Monochrome

When you are the mom of a dancer, glitter is a big part of life. Glittery costumes, glittery makeup, glitter in the hair. How about a glittery song that was used in last year's dance recital, then?

Go, go, faster wider
More, more get it down yeah
Dance, dance
Take me over glittering clouds
Glittering Clouds by Imogen Heap


Day Ten: Nature

Hipstamatic: John S, Ina's 1969

Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
-Ecclesiastes 1:4-5

In context the above scripture is talking about the futility of our lives on earth. Nothing is ever changed by the toils of any one of us. As the author notes repeatedly, all is meaningless and a chasing after the wind (e.g. Ecclesiastes 1:14). We come into the world, we leave the world, and it is as it always was. Even the sun is engaged in a rut of daily activity with no new results to show.

Not to brashly rebut what a wise man wrote, but I do believe that we can change the world, one person at a time. In fact, I believe that is why we are here.

"...go and make disciples of all nations..."-Matthew 28:19

"...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."-Matthew 25:40

And, I think that there is constantly something new and different about our world. Sure the sun rises and sets every day. But, every sky painted by the sun's rays piercing a new arrangement of clouds and meteorological conditions is different. In the same way, each tree is robed differently and vibrantly with separately grown and colored leaves.

Just as each of these is different from one another and from day to day, they are constant. As I gaze up at pine trees that reach so far into the sky it is hard to see the topmost branches during my morning walks and as I watch the sun dipping towards the horizon each afternoon as I drive home, I take comfort in knowing that they were there long before me and will be long after me.

I see God's hands in nature and, rather than making me feel futile, it makes me feel loved and connected. As Jesus said:

"If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you...?"-Matthew 6:30

(I am not a fan of lifting snippets of scripture out of context, so I encourage you to read them in full context as linked above. The links will take you to the New International Version (NIV) at Bible Gateway. It is easy, once there, to switch to any version of the Bible you are most comfortable reading.)


Day Nine: Interview

Hipstamatic: JohnS, BlacKeys B&W, RedEye Gel

What an odd choice for a photo challenge: "interview". Ironically, this word has a fullness to it for me right now. In a couple of weeks, for the first time in many, many years, I will be the one in the chair on the other side of the table being interviewed.

This is not a job interview, so don't go thinking that. It is more important than that in lots of ways, though. After much agonizing, I've decided that this is about all I'm brave enough to publish on the internet for right now.


Day Eight: Newspaper

Instagram: Lomo-fi

I'm not a newspaper reader. Never have been. I get my news online...and I'm not a big reader of it there, honestly. I'm more of a headline reader than anything. Does that reflect poorly on me as a citizen of the world? Perhaps. Well, probably. Especially considering the amount of celebrity gossip that I do manage to ingest on a weekly basis.


Day Seven: Scattered

Hipstamatic: Kaimal Mark II, Float

Leaves are everywhere on the trail now. And, as you walk, you hear more leaves, acorns and pinecones falling. Sometimes I think the squirrels are in the treetops playing a game of Plinko...seeing if they can hit us as we walk by with all the stuff they are busy knocking down from up there.


Day Six: Treasure

Hipstamatic: Helga Viking, Blanko

My great uncle, Robert Herrmann, was an artist. This painting of his, the only one I have, hangs over our mantle. When I doodle, it's kind of like this painting...a continuous line swirled upon itself and then colored in spaces on it. If you browse the gallery of his work, you'll only see one other painting like it, although I think he did many. His gallery has many architectural paintings, which I also love. They appeal to the part of my brain that loves Frank Lloyd Wright patterns and the movie (500) Days of Summer (see the trailer below around the two minute mark).


Day Four: Jewelry

Camera+: Timer
Picnik: Orton-ish filter

I wear six rings nearly every day. My wedding and engagement rings I always wear. I asked Steve for this anniversary band style engagement ring rather than a solitaire. I don't know what about it appealed to me more than a solitaire, but it did and it still does. It's just right for me. And, by the time we got engaged, the number of stones (5) represented how long we had been together, so that was kind of neat.

The ring on my right index finger is a poesy ring Steve gave me for Christmas in 2009. It came with an incredibly sweet note, but it's really enough to say that the ring says "My Love Always". I'm a lucky, lucky woman.

On my right ring finger, I wear a trio of rings. One says "What would Jesus do?", the one in the middle is a rosary ring, and the other says "I trust in you Jesus".

I feel prayerful when I put these rings on every day. That's a good way to feel as I get ready to face the day.

Now, for extra sap factor, a song that makes me think of my marriage:
I used to believe in love
But now I believe in us
Cause we've got no need to hide
We're made of flesh and bone
But this house is made of stone

The Ballad of You and I by Melee


Day Three: Fly

Hipstamatic: Top-Lucas AB2, Cano Cafenol, Dreampop
Left-Lucas AB2, BlacKeys SuperGrain, Berry Pop; Right-Roboto Glitter, Claunch 72 Monochrome

Meet my daughter, Lizzie. Or, as I will call her today, Elsie So Fly. Per the Urban Dictionary, that means "A unique girl who is funny, smart, wise, random and crazy. She is also known as Elsie Extraordinaire."

That. Is. Lizzie.

Now, I didn't know that particular phrase, but I did know "so fly" and thought of it and my daughter right away when I saw today's theme. I did a little Googling and this definition was just perfection. And, even more perfect..."Elsie" is a version of "Elizabeth".

Here's why I know (and love) the phrase "so fly" (and, oh yes, he uses "Adonai" as one of his rhymes)...

TobyMac-Feelin' So Fly


Day Two: Something I Love

Hipstamatic: Jimmy, Kodot XGrizzled, Standard
SwankoLab: Jerry's Developer, Grizzle Fix, Vinny's BL04

I love the Robert Jemison Trail. This spot in particular. Right here, the trail takes a dogleg that not everyone who walks or runs it takes. It goes further away from the road at this point and it runs right next to the stream. This is where I've seen the great blue heron several times. The picture above is really dark and moody because it was taken shortly after sunrise Tuesday. That's my usual walking time so the picture feels right even though I went there just to get some pictures for this post. Here's a picture from March of this year in this same general area, also edited in a moody way, but I like it:

(Truth time: I am writing this post on Tuesday evening and setting it to post on Wednesday at right about the time I should be walking on the trail. I like the feel of that.)



Yesterday I took another lunch break at the botanical gardens. This time, I took just my iPhone with the Hipstamatic camera app and I relinquished control of what lens, films and flashes would be used to the "shake on" feature of the app. I just snapped pictures and moved on, not even waiting to see how they developed. (You can see any of the pictures above bigger by clicking on them...which is always the case here.)

I strolled back to the fern glade yesterday, which I usually don't venture to. It's still lush and green. There were a few crepe myrtle blooms here and there and even some camellias flowering. And, of course, roses. But, on the way out, I saw berries on the trees near the entrance. Fall is here.

Day One: Open Door

Hipstamatic: John S lens, BlacKeys B&W film

I like the sound of "open door". It makes me think of opportunities, which resonates particularly with me right now. It also makes me think of being approachable, which is something I appreciate in other people and which I try to be myself. I'm not sure I'm as approachable as I think I am. At least that's what my boss tells me. Darned honest man. Speaking of work...the door above is to a conference room where 90% of the meetings I attend are held. I love this conference room (but not the meetings). It's that view. Do you see all the trees? And the gorgeous light?

As you can tell, I'm participating in another 30 day photo challenge. Jennifer and I discussed doing another one at lunch last week. She just finished the first one so we are starting up again today! She has the list posted on her blog. Of course, I haven't read the list, but you can if you would like. In fact, I would love it if you would join us. (Mollie is in again, by the way.) Let me know in the comments if you do decide to do this. I want to stalk you if you do. Ahem. I mean follow you.


Things I learned from the middle school carnival

When you have a child like Maury, you can't possibly remember all of the things you have to tell him to do or not to do before he goes somewhere unchaperoned. Case in point: meet Cameron the fish and his/her unpictured companion, Bruce.

Yesterday, Maury attended the middle school carnival during the after school, students only session. I'm sure Steve gave him a list of do's and don't's before he got on the bus yesterday morning with a pocket full of spending money. Nevertheless, Steve goes to pick Maury up and he is holding two goldfish.

Whoops. Forgot to tell him "Don't try to win any fish". I guess we're lucky he didn't come home with a rabbit. Well, there's another lesson learned.

Off to Pet Smart they go. Once there, just to add to the humor, Steve is told that these fish will grow to be a foot long (!) and they try to get him to buy a huge tank. He opts for the goldfish bowl, some gravel and some food, thankyouverymuch.

I arrive home and Maury proudly introduces me to Bruce, the gold and white fish, and his friend, who he has decided to let Lizzie name. She is thrilled when she gets home after dance to do just that. Cameron, she decides. (Because that could be a boy or a girl and who knows what this fish is.) We get them all set up in their new home, complete with a piece of coral Maury used in a science project last year, and go to sleep happy.

I'm the first one up in the morning and I peek in on Bruce and Cameron before waking Maury. Cameron has, of course, croaked overnight. I alert Steve to the tragedy and then wake Maury up. I hope he won't look in the bowl before we go downstairs but you know he does. He stares. He smacks the side of the bowl. Cameron doesn't move...just lies there on his/her side at the bottom of the bowl. Bruce is chillin' out behind the coral, not looking at the atrocity on the other side of the bowl. Maury is very unhappy, but not unconsolable. Whew. Oddly, he seems most upset because he thinks Lizzie is going to be mad at him.

As is my routine, I get Maury fed, finish getting my stuff ready to go workout, and then I go in to say goodbye to Lizzie. I hope she won't get out of bed before I leave. (Is that wrong to hope that stays on Steve's shoulders? Probably.) She doesn't. She comes downstairs and stands practically on top of me, hands beside her mouth, and begins this whispered conversation:

"Did you look in the fishtank?"
"Yes, sweetie. I'm sorry."
"Does Maury know?"
"Yes, he knows."
"He knows HIS fish is dead?"

Gulp. I had hoped at the start of this conversation that she was really OK and was just worried about her brother's feelings. Nope. Once she realized her fish was the goner, she gets really upset. Tears flow. Maury tells her she can rename Bruce if she wants. No good. It's sad, sad, sad.

After I left home, Steve and the kids spooned Cameron out and flushed him/her. Steve says Cameron may have just been faking...it may have been his/her plan to escape a'la Finding Nemo. Anyway, they fed Bruce once the crime scene was cleared.

Bruce didn't eat.



After the storm

And there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.
After the Storm by Mumford and Sons


The Gospel All Around Us

I went to the gardens Wednesday for some quiet time during lunch. I had spent several days working on something that was very exciting, but also a little draining. Time at one of my favorite places was warranted. I worked my way past the Kayser Lily Pool where I was soon joined by a group of school kids who were wondering just how deep that pool was and what would happen if one of them stepped in.
Moving on, I headed to the Dunn Formal Rose Garden. This garden was given to the gardens in memory of William J. Dunn, Jr. When I worked at my prior job, I had the absolute pleasure to work with his family and his lovely, lovely widow. One of my favorite things to do every year was to meet with her about her personal taxes. She was a giving woman, supportive of several small town churches and their pastors. It's nice to think about her and her family when I stroll through this beautiful garden.
My favorite rose is the Mardi Gras Rose. I'm not big on taking note of names of roses, but this was one I spotted at the Mable Ringling Garden (it's the rose at the top of that post). I was quick to look for and find it at the Botanical Gardens. Look how beautiful the colors blend.
There were many other roses in bloom still so I had to stop and take a few more pictures.

I wound my way through the Ireland Old-Fashioned Rose Garden and up past the lily and iris gardens and found a place to sit and reflect on that day's Path Finder task. The bench at the top of today's post is where I was. It was shady, some azaleas were in bloom and the temperature was perfect. However, my back couldn't take sitting on that bench for as long as I would have liked. After a few minutes' pause, I headed back out.

This morning, I found this quote which perfectly sums up why I love the gardens and the sky so much and why I take so many pictures of them:
God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.-Martin Luther
Happy Saturday, everyone! I hope you each can get out and read the Gospels in the beauty God surrounded us with!


N is for Novels

Above: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming by Joshilyn Jackson, Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson, The Conferacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters by Elisabeth Robinson, and A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel...all outstanding and any I would be happy to loan to you to read.

I love to read. I grew up in a house that was blissfully full of books. My dad read espionage novels. (We used to joke that he would read any book with a swastika on it.) My mom read epic historical romance novels. (Not Harlequin romances.)

I remember my mother reading the Little House on the Prarie books to me and I seem to remember, in turn, reading them to my sister and also rereading them myself.

I remember having lots of classics in the house. Tom Sawyer. Black Beauty. The Last of the Mohicans. All of them really beautiful books with marbled endpapers that just made me want to curl up in my favorite chair and read.

I remember when I got my own room, there was one panelled wall that had bookshelves on it and the books that were there just stayed when I moved in. One whole shelf was full of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot novels. I devoured those.

I always read before bed and, in fact, can't get to sleep if I don't. Currently reading: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: A Novel. (My dad would be proud, huh?) Book I'm most looking forward to: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. (Joshilyn Jackson is amazing. I repeat: amazing.)

Anyway, when I was making my life list, I knew I had to pick one of the many, many book lists and work on reading as many books as I could from it. The one list I kept coming back to was one I had done a Facebook meme on: the BBC's The Big Read list. So, that is the list I've put a pin in on my life list.

I've been able to cross off quite a few books already. While I'm thinking about all those books I have read, let me say thank you to Ms. Dodd for that AP English assigned reading of Crime and Punishment...I don't know that I would roll up my sleeves for that one now. And, as much as we love Les Mis in our house, that book is a doozy, too. So, thanks for that one, too.

This list is great, in my opinion, because it has such a hodge podge of things on it:

1) It has a lot of books I would consider to be "should reads". Things like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Grapes of Wrath. (Where is Huckleberry Finn, though?)

2) It has some great recent young adult books like the Harry Potter books and the Alex Rider series as well as older classics like Treasure Island. I love young adult novels, so I respect a list that includes some from the genre.

3) It has some quirky picks like Bridget Jones's Diary and Flowers in the Attic. I like a list with stuff like that because it keeps it interesting.

4) Since the list is a BBC list, it has a plethora of books by certain British authors. Some of those are fine with me (Roald Dahl is wonderful); some are staring at me just daring me to try again (more Terry Pratchett...really???); and some I've never heard of so I'm hoping to find someone new I love (Jacqueline Wilson?).

I would love to hear from any of you about what books on this list are ones you love...particularly if they are ones I haven't crossed off yet! Or, let me know if there is one neither of us has read and you would like to tackle together...maybe something meaty like War and Peace (ack!). Heck, on the list or not, I love to hear about books other people love, so leave me a comment!



On my vision board for this year, you'll see two pictures of Ellen DeGeneres. In choosing images for my vision board, I was instructed to take a few of the images I had collected and to write down why I had chosen them. This is what I wrote about the pictures of Ellen: Seeing Ellen makes me smile. She exhibits a freedom that comes from being at peace with herself. She loves to dance and laugh. I wish people would see me and smile like I do when I see her.

Please enjoy this little snippet of Ellen that I saw today online. I hope she makes you smile...