The Picture of Summer

Posted by Jen on June 24, 2009 in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of..., Photography |

PhotobucketAhhh … summer is here and has found its way into the You Capture carnival! This week we were all challenged to capture the season of sun and fun.

Summer in our neck of the woods is hot. There are no two ways about it. It’s our least favorite season. It’s just too stinkin’ hot to do much of anything outside.

For the computer nerds in my family (uh, that would be me), it’s not really a huge deal. For the outdoor addicts in my family (yep, that would be everyone else), it’s a very long stretch.

So, all week I’ve been thinking of how to capture “hotter than sin” on film and even thinking about it made me hot. Blech.

I asked Little Man what he thought about when he thought about summer. He just giggled and then asked me when fall was going to get here. [OK, I may have taken creative license on the timing of those reactions, but...]

Like most weeks, the pictures planned in my head didn’t make it into the camera.

Some of my shots worked pretty well, I thought.


this great pitcher of sangria was just screaming summer to me

But, then, I got stuck. I carried my camera around for days … nothing!

Today, with no additional pictures to add, I figured out why! My “pictures” of summer were captured last weekend … by Husband [OK, mostly.]!!!

So, I’m cheating a little bit – wait, let’s call it a guest post. Na, it’s cheating.  [I was going to make a bad joke about us living in a community property state ... thus sort of making all of these mine ... but decided against it.] But these two were having such fun and they are so cute that it’s really worth it! So, I’ll start with one I took.


bk has slurped up an insane amount of water from this pump

OK … let the fun begin! These are Husband’s!

One of the only ways to be outside in the summer here is to be in the water. And, what better way to be in the water than to slip and slide! These pictures are just, well, summer.


little man in an action shot ... he's really good at this!


when you're too small to slide ... crawl!!!


one of our favs ... both kids having fun together in their own way

This is what summer should be about, don’t you think?

By the way, Husband is a lurker so if you like these, let him know!!! Thanks!!!

I'll be hoppin' along now ...

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A Father is Born

Posted by Jen on June 20, 2009 in Family, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of..., Wonder(ful) with Comments closed |

I’ve been looking at this blank page for more than a few minutes trying to decide just which words to use. Trying to craft just the right message to covey just how cool it is to watch the birth of a father. I’m struggling. I want to get this right.

When Husband and I decided to get married, there was never any doubt that we would have children. Although we met and got married “later in life”, it was just a given that we would have a family. We were youthful – if not young – and idealistic. Life was good! [Life is still good, by the way. Very good!]

About seven years ago, Husband and I found out we were expecting for the first time. It was mid-June and just after our wedding reception.

[There's a running joke that we got pregnant between our wedding and reception. We did, actually ... the dates were like 3 months apart.]

We no sooner found out – and had time to get excited – than I miscarried. Six weeks – two days. We were devastated.

Not long after that we learned that we were expecting the second time. This time, we were cautious. We ran tests, prayed, and waited. At about 5 weeks, we knew that I would miscarry. The tests said so. It was Thanksgiving. We gave thanks and prayed that the tests were wrong. They weren’t. I miscarried at six weeks – two days. We were devastated.

I believe that faith and parenthood/fatherhood are necessary companions. We had faith. We had pain and grief and all that goes with miscarriage. We were scared, but we had faith.

The doctors assured me that it was likely that there was nothing wrong – that miscarriages are quite common. We took solace in that and decided to just be faithful and see what would happen.

Several months went by before we found ourselves expecting for the third time. This time we were just plain scared. We were also “activists”. We asked questions, learned a whole lot of medical terms, ran tests, and were cautiously optimistic. Then we started watching the calendar for the dreaded six weeks – two days. The numbers on the tests weren’t right, but the hCG numbers were going up so … we prayed and prepared.

Six weeks – two days. No miscarriage. Six weeks – three days. Six weeks – four days. No miscarriage.

I will never forget the appointment – the day when my OB said, “Looks like you are going to have to raise this one.” Never.


Just about 9 months (and several anxious moments of our own making) later, we were blessed with Little Man. In that moment, in that messy, scary, exciting, crazy moment a father was born as well. It was instant – a sort of rush of all of the emotion that comes with the journey to the moment. He had no idea what do to, but he was hooked.

Husband grew up the youngest of three kids. He never babysat and, until he met me, he’d not spent a lot of time with children at all. Now, he had a little one depending on him all of the time. I’m sure that it scared him to death. But, we never saw it.

Little Man had Husband uncovering feelings that he never knew existed. He was our little bundle of shock and awe. Husband loved him more and more every day and, today, they have a bond so strong that I can’t imagine a power strong enough to tear it apart. I am in awe of their relationship.

Roughly four years later, we decided that Little Man needed a sibling brother. We weren’t going to have another child – you can ask anyone. We were content. And, then, all of a sudden, we weren’t. And, then? Nah, we’re good. But, then? We really should. It was insane.

We really couldn’t decide. And then we did. We decided that we were read to do this crazy dance all over again.

The first month, I just knew I wasn’t pregnant. I just knew it. I didn’t feel pregnant. But, I checked anyway and uh, yeh … WRONG! So, we quickly got a grip and counted on the calendar. Our first healthy milestone was that six week – two day mark.

The doctors tested me out the wazoo – almost 40 with a history of miscarriage earns you a lot of needles in early pregnancy! I was on a business trip and bugged the sin out of the nurses at my doctor’s office. But, there they were – perfectly textbook hCG numbers and, then a strong heartbeat. We were going to have another baby. Little Man was going to have a brother.

Yeh, except that God had some other plans. Little Man apparently needed a sister. Who knew? And, as it turns out? Daddy needed a baby girl.

When we found out BK was not a boy there was some denial going on. Husband refused to buy in to what the nurses and ultrasound pictures were saying. She was a boy. What would we do with a girl? He already had the boy thing down.

But, sure enough, little BK showed up a tad ahead of schedule and full of healthy (if tiny) spunk! At 5 pounds 12 ounces, she was SO tiny and feminine – the complete opposite of her big brother.

And, Daddy? Well, if I am to be honest, I’d tell you that he was just scared. He stayed back this time … loving, but a little standoffish. He loved, supported, took care of … but didn’t really bond initially.

She was so small and so pink … and Little Man needed him … and she was so small and fragile.

Then, one morning in the first part of her second month, I looked over at the rocking chair and saw a father being born once again. In the quiet morning light with eau d’formula floating heavily in the air, I watched my husband fall completely in love with his daughter. I literally watched him fall. It was a precious moment that I will treasure forever.

BK is in love with her Daddy – as it should be. She thinks he hangs the moon – and the feeling is mutual. They have created a wonderful relationship that gives me such confidence in her future. I am in awe of their relationship.

My kids and their Dad are an awesome force. They love each other and hold nothing back. It’s pure and raw and real. They share bonds that will get them through the rough times. I am thankful for this to a point beyond expression. I wrote this post to honor the journey. The bond. The man.

Happy Father’s Day, Husband … and to all fathers everywhere!

We are beyond blessed to have you in our lives.

I'll be hoppin' along now ...

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Emotions in Motion

Posted by Jen on June 17, 2009 in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of..., Photography, Wonder(ful) |

PhotobucketThis time of year produces a rollercoaster of emotions for me. If I didn’t know better – if I didn’t know the root cause [CRAZY work schedule] – I would probably be a great candidate for therapy. [LOL ... please know that I'm not claiming sanity here. I might be a good candidate anyway!] So, when the You Capture challenge for the week – Emotion – popped up, I was a bit, er, uh, well, emotional about the whole thing.

I really wanted to do something that asked me to challenge myself. I wanted to think in ways that would either push my photography skills – lighting and subject and composition, oh my – or my photo editing skills.

What to do? What to do?

Of course, the first thing that came to mind was that it would be fairly easy to catch emotion on film for this little challenge – the kids offer up heaps and loads of emotional outbursts daily. So, I started there.


joy, zest, enthusiasm, zeal, excitement, thrill, exhilaration

Then, I had the idea of finding inanimate (or at least non-human) subjects that would serve to represent – or perhaps be a metaphor for – different emotions. So, I started with the definition of emotion and see where that might take me. [I really love Wikipedia, by the way. I know many educators don't ... but I think it's fantastic!] Then, I looked for other lists and found this one. Yep, got pretty cerebral about all of this. But, these little rabbit trails took me all over my community! And, I’m so glad that they did!!!

I live in a place where there is a lot of new. New homes, businesses, roads … everything. But all of that new encroached on a very old farm community. Driving around, I found that there’s not a lot of emotion to be found in the new … but the old? That’s a completely different story.

Here’s some of the emotion I found today while I was out on the dusty roads [OK, literally ... you should see my van.] with my eyes open!






lost, resignation


despair, hopelessness


defiance ... caution ... pride

I have a greater respect for what was here before all of the subdivided neighborhoods that we call home. I love our community and I love the sense of the past that I found as I was driving around. It made me love my community even more than I did before!

I’ve plunked these into this post in order from least to most favorite – picture of BK all excited about playing in the water aside! [The burrowing owls win partly because they are so dang cute and I was shocked to see them just hanging out.] In looking at the actual photographs and comparing them to last week’s shots … these are not as vivid and “alive” to me. Yet, in so many ways, they are more … ahh, hard to explain. So, we’ll just let them marinate for a tad and see!

Oh, and before I sign off … Andrea over at Prairie Lady posted her capture for this week early and it’s stunning. Seriously. If you’ve not gone to take a look yet, you should!

I'll be hoppin' along now ...

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Am I a Twit?

Posted by Jen on June 14, 2009 in Mommyhood, Online and Lovin' It! |

Being a parent is always interesting. I can hear the collective *sigh* as you process that nugget of wisdom. Yep, I’m master of the obvious. I know, right?

I may have mentioned before that Little Man talks almost non-stop and that listening to him can be very entertaining and enlightening.  He’s told me more than I could ever imagine about topics I never thought I’d even consider, much less talk about … and sometimes he’s right! I actually signed up for Twitter, initially, to keep a running record of the crazy stuff he says! [Which so totally ironic that I can't stand it!]

Every once in a while you get a blog-worthy gem. Something that really deserves a bit more “ink” than the typical 140 on Twitter. Something that makes you stop in your tracks and think – or laugh out loud – or both.

I am quoting here.

Mom, you should do something more with your day than Twittering.

Really. I kid you not. He said that to me at dinner last night.

LMSNS300300I think he should have warned Husband that he was going to say it because lemonade almost spewed all over the kitchen table. Once recovered, Husband looked at me as if to say, “See, I’m not the only one who thinks so!” [Husband and I are exact opposites when it comes to social technologies. That's an odd story for another time.] Between the two of them, there was righteousness and smugness to spare.

Of course, they are right. I should do something more with my day than tweet … and I do.  Lots more. In fact, I’m doing one of those things right now!!!  [Ahh ... the rebuttal, feels so good. Don't you agree?]

I am more than aware that Little Man knows I work on computers all day. He knows that it’s part of my job and he knows that many of my hobbies are computer-based. He’s talked to me about Facebook. He’s been a guest blogger here. I had no idea he knew about Twitter! Color me surprised.

As it stands, I’m going to pack away two important pieces of information from this little discussion of ours.

  1. Little Man hears and processes everything Husband and I say. And … he often gets it right.
  2. Being able to laugh at yourself – and see yourself through the eyes of your kids – is a good thing.

I’ve got one more thought on this before I get back to Twitter. [LOL, just kidding.] My son will soon be of an age where technology will play a bigger role in his daily activities. I expect the tables will turn at least a little before too much longer. I can hear myself saying something like…

  • Little Man, I’ve got a dirty job for you … your room! Turn off Mike Rowe and clean up.
  • Little Man, put down the Wiimote and let’s go outside.
  • Little Man, time to log off … let’s eat.
  • Little Man, don’t tell your Facebook friends that I’m crazy! I’m in your friends list, remember?

Wanna bet that sometime, someday I actually turn the tables and say…

Little Man, you should do something more with your day than Tweeting.

Hmmm … the child’s words used by the parent. I think I like it! Makes for a good tweet … don’t you think?

I'll be hoppin' along now ...

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I Capture, You Capture

Posted by Jen on June 10, 2009 in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of..., Photography |

I’ve been meaning to participate in the You Capture challenges/carnival Beth’s got going over at I Should Be Folding Laundry for a while now. I mean well. I just never have managed to do it! [My self-talk is now taunting me thank-you-very-much.]

This week the challenge was “nature” and I was mulling it around and around for much of the end of last week and the weekend. I thought I’d go for something cerebral and try to capture something of human nature. Good, right? Unique and thought provoking … and lives up to the word challenge!

But, then, the aforementioned human nature reared it’s ugly head and all of the best creative intentions got sucked up in work, the book I’m enjoying, and my family. So, it was looking like another week of NGH. [For those of you playing at home, that's Not Gonna Happen.]

Enter serendipity. Saturday, Little Man decided we needed to go on an adventure to the zoo. [... and friends, I'd be lying to you if I told you that I immediately hatched a plan to save my You Capture intentions. Yeh ... didn't happen that way. Never even crossed my mind as I was trying to figure out what we needed to take for our big day out ... we don't pack light!]

We had a great time! The weather was darn near perfect and the kids were really well-behaved. [ I can't say the same for some of the other park visitors, by the way.] And … as we made our way through the zoo, several very natural things caught my eye and, of course, I snapped a few shots. [Although I still wasn't thinking about the challenge.]

So, here they are … my unplanned acceptance to a challenge.

in bloom




In the end, I’m happy with my shots here – especially the lily pad. They are better than my usual suspects – even before I edited them for the challenge. I still hope to take a crack at capturing the elements of human nature, but that’s a challenge for another time!

I'll be hoppin' along now ...

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