About Me

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This is my journey. This is what I see. I am a wife, a mother, an artist. I am on His path.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Searching For Supermom

Here I go.

I am going back to school.

You heard me.
I am really going to do it.

I have applied.
I have been accepted.
I have spoken to advisors........


What the h&!! am I doing?

I may need my cape back.
I need to be organized.
I need to meet deadlines.

I need Art Classes?

Deep breathing exercises.

Fetal position.

Additional hours in the day.

I think I need a super hero cape......
.......it is in the closet somewhere.

I Used To Be A Supermom is where this all started.
The realization that I was failing.
Failing? Is that right?

No. Older??  Let's not go there either.

I have a week to find that cape.
School starts in my classroom in a week.
Classes start online and at the university in a week and a half.

I can do this...but I am sure I will be ranting a lot!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Adventures with the Man Child - Senior Pictures with Ben Shirk!

The difference between getting photos for girls and boys. Girls love to dress up, put on make-up, do the foo foo thing.....

        .......boys, ah, no.  I really didn't know what to expect with the Man Child. He is always behind the curtain on stage or up in the tech booth pushing buttons and switches.  He does not like to be in the limelight AT ALL.  Then the Blue Hair announces, "It's picture time! It IS your senior year and we WILL get photos!"  The look on his face....well, there was no look. It was that mouth hanging open, blank stare thing with small utterance of, "Wha.....no, nope, don't wanna......"

Man Child is the one that always faces backwards in our family photos.  He told me that he hasn't brought home the envelope from school pictures for the past seven years.....huh, that explains why I have no pictures of him!

I gave Ben Shirk of Shirk Photography a call*.  We talked about fifteen minutes in the initial call. Ben does a great job getting a feel for what you are looking for, but most important, the personality and likes of his subject.  We even received a questionnaire for Man Child to fill out with his likes and dislikes listed. In his personality profile for Ben, Man Child said his least favorite feature was.....his face.  This should have been a red flag right there.  I was a little nervous. I really didn't know what to expect out of the Man Child.  I had this image in my head of a mass lump in the middle of the photography studio.....he's a boy! We should poke him with a stick....

By the way....this is child number two for me at Ben's studio.  Frog had a BLAST at her senior photo session (she graduated in 2012). She saw a photo that Ben did with a couch in the middle of a huge field and the princess power clicked.....she had to have her photos there.  He captured exactly what she wanted....vintage!

So, off we went.

We were greeted in studio, bright and early with everything the Man Child owns. We learned from that experience with Frog....take everything, and just a few more props. Nope, take a lot of props. If you like it, if you collect it, take it....you might just use it.

Ben has an awesome eye to put whatever you bring into a situation.  We brought about twelve possibilities of complete outfits for a four outfit session.  He started asking what were favorites of the Man Child and shifting a moving layers around.  We had our final four outfit choices and the ideas were clicking in Ben's head.

The morning was gorgeous and we set out the door of the studio immediately to catch the incredible clouds in the sky.

I do need to interject the sadness of the trip ..... the one "prop" we had hoped to have with us....the Man Child's "new" truck.

The "new" truck was left at home for the photo shoot.

He has worked hard to get this truck in the driveway, and we thought it was up and running....until the fuel pump started leaking. We determined it wasn't safe for him to drive it the thirty miles to Wilton, but Ben had some ideas of places he knew had old cars and trucks parked in fields.

We set off for one farm and hit.......the mother load!  There were Internationals everywhere! Man Child had his pick of a dozen vehicles and pieces sitting around the farmer's pastures.

We even had an audience.
It was International Heaven in the middle of a sheep pasture! Ben seems to have a great relationship with his neighbors in Wilton.  He told me he only found this site a year or so ago. There are hidden treasures all over....if you just slow down and look.  The thing that slowed him down? A chimney standing by itself in a pasture. That is when he saw all of the trucks...what a find! 

Talk about commitment to your client....Ben was willing to
get down and dirty in the sheep poo to get that perfect shot!
Ben was always looking for the color....the textures....
...the angles....to fit his subject's personality!

What did I tell you about those clouds!
It was a perfect day!
Always showing those great shots to Man
Child as we went along...love the attention
to detail and the quest for feedback!
We got some other great shots in different locations, along with a "costume change" in the truck before we headed back to the studio for some of the more traditional shots.

Man Child all suited up!  Thank you
to Men's Wearhouse for a great suit!
We got a few traditional shots to make the Blue Hair in me and the Yearbook happy....and then it was back to some fun shots again.  Ben was constantly on the move, shifting lights, chairs, pianos.....

It was hard to get a shot that
Ben wasn't a blur of motion.

My novice shot of the action....

"Hey - let's stand on the
piano for the next shot!" 

How about some moody jazz shots....
or some jazzy mood shots!
.....and for a finale.....do you want to do anything else?  A trampoline......
      ......what Man Child doesn't want to jump on a trampoline in a suit!

Time to get comfy again and pack everything up. Man Child and I set out for a quick lunch and about an hour later received a text that the photos were ready for viewing.  An hour!  This is one of those awesome perks the Ben is offering for time.  Time that Man Child didn't have to take off work again. Time that I didn't have to lose from vacation....precious time.

It was very difficult to narrow down the photos that we wanted to keep. If I could afford ALL the images, I would have them. Every one a piece of art...and they were still in raw form.  I can't wait for that email that the proofs are ready.  To see all of the images we picked in a clean format with some fun Photoshop opportunities in a couple of the shots.  And I can't wait to see the new piece of art for my wall.

Man Child - I hope you had fun stepping out of your comfort zone for a day. I hope this isn't a once in a lifetime event for you. You need to step into the spotlight a little more often.  You are a bright light in my life.


Thank you for helping my son step out from behind the theatre curtain to show off a little of his sunshine in the lens of your camera. You have a gift in bringing out individual personalities in your portraits.  After the fun of the photo shoot, your patience is gold, dealing with crazy Blue Hair Mamas and what they want and what they can budget for.  You make the selection process fun and easy. I wish I could get every single image that you took because they are all winners in my photo album.  Thank you, thank you, thank you..... for the most wonderful day in your studio. I know the Man Child had a blast.

The Blue Hair Wannabe

*By the way....I love going to Shirk Photography! Check out his website and his images online by clicking on the studio link highlighted.

Ben Shirk is located in Wilton, Iowa and is a three time PPA Iowa Photographer of the Year and a three time PPA International Photographer of the Year.  In other words......he is fabulous!

A big thank you to Ben Shirk for allowing me to photograph and blog the Man Child's adventures in today. It is a great opportunity and, I think one of my favorite things to do, is to watch Ben work.

His creative force is massive.
His smile is infectious.
He is an artist with his camera!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Citizenship 101 Taught By A Child

I hate crowds.

Well, maybe hate is a strong word.  If there is an event where there is a large crowd, I will usually be at home, in a crowd of markers and pencils.

This 4th of July, we had plans to relax a little......until.....

Frog finally found an apartment! We looked at calendars and tried to coordinate a time to get stuff from Iowa.......all the way over to Nebraska.

As the holiday approached, I asked Tall Man if he would take a small break and drive out with me.....honestly, so he could lift all the heavy stuff!

We also surprised Frog with PUPPY!

So happy together......Puppy was glued to Frog the whole time!
I stuck around to help with cleaning and putting some of Frog's things away.  Frog and her beau decided I had to go see the celebrations downtown.  Did I mention that it was the Fourth of July?  And did I mention that Frog lives in "America's Small Town 4th of July City" otherwise known as Seward, Nebraska?

We walked downtown to check out the food, the crafts, the food, vendors, the food, events at the bandshell,  the food, and the highlight was ...... the parade!

I do love a parade.

I love the people watching of a parade,
but I still hate the crowds.

There were some very obnoxious teens and more obnoxious parents, so we walked the parade route.  I knew I wanted to get pictures of this event and blog about it.  We stopped in an open spot, with a nice view of all of the floats!

...and this! We haven't quite figured this guy out yet.
It was all the normal parade stuff. Firetrucks, cars with grand marshals, pretty girls, and....

....this! I wonder if she went beyond peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for this award!

Then I saw her.  See her in the picture above too?

She waved at the parade as it passed by, she chatted with other kids waiting for candy to be thrown, she bartered with other kids so she could get different candies, or maybe her favorite candies.....the joy in her smile, the wonder in her eyes, the happiness of a parade.

What she did next though......
She stood out on the street, gathering, collecting the treasures that were thrown and then she walked back to the curbside and.....

.......gave it all away.....

...again and again.

This is what it means to be a neighbor.
This is what it means to be a friend.
This is compassion.

This is citizenship.
This is America.

I have tears, even now as I write this.
This little girl stirred a passion in me.....
       .......to give without any thought of self.....
         .......to love my neighbor, even if they are a stranger to me.

I bent down and told her mother that she should be so proud of her daughter. She is a very special soul.  Her mom explained that she is actually fifteen years old and she is a special needs child.

I corrected the mom.

Her daughter is a very SPECIAL child!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's Raining Deer

Two weeks ago, whilst on vacation, I get a phone call that the Man Child killed a deer.

My first thought was.....

......CRAP! He was in my car, wasn't he!

As my blood pressure was escalating, I calmly asked about the extent of the damage to the vehicle....
...and, oh yes......is Man Child alright.

"What do you mean, damage to the vehicle?  I didn't say he HIT the deer. I said that the Man Child KILLED a deer."

Okay. I guess I had vacation brain, or something. Isn't that the same thing? I know that it is not deer season, so no tags have been acquired and no shotguns have discharged......

I'll bite then......the story went like this:

Man Child was driving home from work at oh-dark-early in the morning, and a cute little deer was standing in the road.  The cutie patootie was just standing there, in the middle of the road, minding his own business.  I am confident that if there was a mirror available, he would have been admiring his lovely little four-point rack he was sprouting.

Man Child slowed the car.
The deer stood...still minding his own business.
Man Child rolled closer, the gravel crunching under the tires
of my mighty V-Dub.
The deer stood, holding firm to his little piece of roadway.....

Man Child rolled down the window, leaned his head out quietly.....
........and yelped with all his might,


It frighted the poor dear (ha, did you see the switch in the letters from deer to dear?) so badly that he leapt into the air and promptly hopped, skipped, and jumped OVER the bridge.

He plummeted to his death onto the highway below.

The strangest part of this story was, Tall Man was returning home via said highway below, and witnessed the strange phenomena of the deer falling over the bridge.

What are the chances!?!

Man Child as Robin Hood way back when...
Well, I will tell you the chances......

Bambi's girlfriends were standing on the same corner this morning, obviously up to no good.

Man Child, once again, rolls slowly to a stop.
No flinch from Bambi's girlfriends......
Man Child creeps forward.
He must have been using his cloaking device....
He rolls down the window and with the same yelp as before, hollers, "DEER!"

You guessed it......
Jane Doe Number One takes a flying leap over the bridge.

Man Child said it was like watching a slow motion re-enactment of the previous incident.  The sweet thing tried quickly to correct herself, flipping in the air.  She must have thought she could flip around and grab onto the ledge of the bridge.  She forgot a vital piece of information though......

.......deer do not have thumbs!

Man Child quickly called Tall Man and a nice policeman.
He had dreams of venison jerky from this one.
She didn't hit hard at all......and then.....

......she jumped up and ran up the hill, leaping to safety over the fence.  The boys searched for a bit, but never did find her.
Denied venison once again.

The message here?

Watch out folks.....
.......it's raining deer in Iowa!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Preferred Language


We all love filling them out....don't we?

Do you ever feel a little twitchy as you fill in line after line of what is "expected"?  The stress of some of the questions....and the answers we want to give.

Marital Status: Happily

Ethnicity:  Why do I have to be Hispanic or Non-Hispanic?
Why can't I be Anglo European?

Preferred language:

Koine Greek?
Pig Latin?
Swear Like a Pirate?

Any more, if you list some obscure language, chances are the establishment might actually pull the rabbit out of their hat and have someone who speaks that language.  We have become a global society.

So what is the winning answer of Preferred language is........


What do you think that will get me?

God, the Artist

I have been cleaning and moving things around my studio for a few days now.

I have a list....
     .....the art I want to make.....
             .....the ideas in my head........

I almost have a few areas rearranged and even pulled
a few items out of drawers to start brainstorming on.

Giant aerial photos....the possibilities!

My sketchbook from vacation.

....and then I just had to go outside!

Not just ANYWHERE outside,
but a trip out to Miss Effie's for some flowers.
This has been a strange year in my own garden...battling the weeds and not able to find any flowers in the tangles of grasses and purslane (let's not get started on that blasted purslane).

She had already sold fifteen buckets of flowers...
...it was one o'clock!

There wasn't much left out there today....lots of buds though!
Her flower beds are about ready to explode in color!

Miss Effie walked me around and helped me find a few flowers though for about a half a bucket of flowers.  What I brought home though.....God is an artist!

Small bouquet No. 1

Check this one out! A malformed flower.
I think two heads are better than one!

Tiny bouquet No. 2 for my vanity.

Tiny bouquet No 3. for my desk!
The colors!
Bouquet No. 4 for my kitchen table...love that yarrow!

 And then this little one peeked out at me......
                         ......the brushstrokes are perfect!
....and the color!  This little beauty is only about 6 inches tall, so I found a special little bottle my mother-in-law just gave me (she knows how much I love blue glass) and I tucked this precious jewel into it.

God is so talented!

Peace found in nature.....thank you Miss Effie!

You can find more on Miss Effie by clicking HERE for her website,
and find her on Facebook too!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

..heavy sigh.....


It is that time.

Time to start packing the car.

Time to begin the migration.


The sand is still calling.

It is calling my name....louder every day.

So many fun times....great stories......
              many laughs......fabulous food....

So much to share.

For now though, know that the stories and pictures are in my little box on my lap.  They will all go home with me and I will begin to write.....and to share.....and to laugh again with all of you.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Road Well Traveled 2014.3.5: The Rest of the Story

Yeah - I know.  My post about yesterday was just because of the song stuck in my head.  I love that song.....always makes me think about that movie with Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant....

You know me though....there is always another spin to the story.

We rocketed out of Huntsville as early as we could get started.  We really thought that we might hit a "little" traffic around Birmingham, but nothing like what we encountered.

We started rolling along fast.....like "rocket" fast!  Is it something about people that live around Space Centers? Do they really need to drive "that" fast?  I don't want to point fingers or name names, because I don't want to get anyone in trouble.  Let me just say that my darling brother, let's call him OpSec, drives much faster than the posted speed limit, and for some insane reason, Dad decided he needed to keep up.  I hinted around for awhile, trying to be polite, but OpSec just didn't get the clue.

We slowly moved along by zipping and braking....and zipping and braking.......the whole way.  It was truly the idea of "hurry up and wait."  As we drove along, I kept seeing election signs along the roadway.  I love reading the names on those signs....and sometimes you get one that is just AWESOME!  The treat of the day was.....

.....Chip Beeker!  His resume reads: prior to running for office in Alabama, he worked in the laboratory in the Beast's Castle....ha...ha....get it?  I laughed all the way through the state trying to get that picture!

We finally took a pit stop.....remember this picture from earlier?

I had to snap a picture of this strange phenomenon.  As we pulled into the rest stop in a straight line, all of the car doors opened in unison and lines of people began to file into the restrooms. It was like synchronized swimming....or would it be synchronized stopping....or would it be synchronized peeing!  The choreography was fabulous!  I wish I had video for the occasion!

This is when I finally had to say something and told OpSec that he had to slow down.  I seriously thought I was going to have an accident if he didn't back off just a little bit.....it was just too fast for the driving conditions. (I know....I am a party pooper!) I also said something to the Boss (my sister-in-law) while we were in the restroom....I knew she would say something as we pulled out again.

As we got back on the road, my phone rang:

Me: "Hello?"
OpSec: "Are we on speaker?"
Me: ".....no."
OpSec: "What is this about how fast we are travelling?"
Me: "Oh. Don't worry about that anymore."
Opsec: "What?"
Me: "Well....I put some quarters in a machine back there at the rest stop and got myself a pair of OOPS, I CRAPPED MY PANTS!  I'm good now.....don't worry about me.....seriously!  Slow Down!"

(After the laughter cleared in both cars, the speed became a little better...)

We slowed down a little and traffic started getting a little more manageable.  We were moving at about normal speed......and finally crossed the state line.

We continued into the fabulous land of Florida, just in time to see the harvest of......

the Marshmallow crops!  I was so excited to see this elusive crop harvested......

When all was said and done, this ended up being a very long day in the car.  We all needed some humor, a beer, and some pizza.  We all felt like we had been to.....

...... hell and back.....did you know they had special parking for Hell?  But I guess just if you plan to come back.....

            ....but we finally made it to.....


A Road Well Traveled - 2014.3: They Paved Paradise and Put Up A Parking Lot

The interstate was a parking lot most of the trip.

They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot 
With a pink hotel, a boutique 
And a swinging hot spot 

Don't it always seem to go 
That you don't know what you've got 
Till it's gone 
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot

More parking lot....and bridges that don't quite line up?

They took all the trees 
Put 'em in a tree museum * 
And they charged the people 
A dollar and a half just to see 'em 

Pit row at the Rest Stop

Don't it always seem to go 
That you don't know what you've got 
Till it's gone 
They paved paradise 
And put up a parking lot

We're here! Paved Paradise and lines of cars. 

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

lyrics taken from http://jonimitchell.com/music/song.cfm?id=208
© Siquomb Publishing Company 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Road Well Traveled 2014.2: Multi-state Trekking

For the past couple of years, I have trekked across a state with Thelma and Louise....

.....A state.......one.....at a time.....

This is a new kind of trip this year.  A cross-country journey.  Many more days in the car than the typical three days, averaging about twelve hours a day in the car as we run from cool site, to cool site, to cool site.

My travel mates this year are my parental units.  Mom is thrilled with the idea of stopping and seeing some of these American gems.......Dad not so much.  He is trying.  He is attempting to "let go" and be adventurous, but he also wants to get to the final destination and just get out of the car!  I keep hearing the statement, "I never knew this was here!"

We set off on Day Two from glorious Paducah, Kentucky.  The town was packed, the hotels were packed, the restaurants were packed......there was a dog show AND a church convention in town.  Picture thousands of people with a dog leash in one hand a a bible and a drink in the other.  Big hair....on the dogs and the women.....and all those poor dogs in their cones of shame.

We were going to stop for breakfast, but F.N. Hamm did not like out first choice.

He was sweatin' it at this stop!
The special was Ham and Eggs for $2.99!  Eeeek!

We set off down through Kentucky. It was rainy. It was yucky. We didn't wee anything except trees on the roadside....and no fun attractions that we just HAD to stop to see.

I was delighted when we finally saw the light at the end of the short tunnel and saw the sign for....

F.N. Hamm was excited to see the sign!
We pulled into the Welcome Center
and the first place the Iowa boy stops?

The Weather Channel.  You can take the Iowan out of Iowa,
but you can't take the Weather Cannel out of the Iowan....

Dolly was nice enough to hold F.N. Hamm for the picture.

Our official greeter was Dolly!  This is as close as we are going to get to Dollywood OR the Grand Ole Opry, so ....... cheese!

We had one planned stop by Mom.  Beachhaven Winery in Clarksville.  We stopped to check out the unique gift shoppe and to do a little sampling.

Jazz pig!

Wine sampling....can you cure bacon in wine?
We were off and running again to glorious Nashville!  
No detours here....that were planned anyway.

F.N. points out danger ahead!
Warning! Warning!
We did a little of Dad's tourism along the way.....
...quick....take that picture!

Look....it's the Batman Building in Nashville!

Our final have-to stop in Tennessee was to see the Giant Chicken Chef at the Elkton, TN exit along I-65.  We were nervous it wouldn't be there. It was rumored that the gas station was being torn down last year.....but surprise!

Can you find F.N. in the fork?
Guess what's for breakfast?
They built a NEW Shell station and left the chicken!  I was so excited!

We pulled into Bro's house in the afternoon and spent the day relaxing.  We are off on our continuing trip with the whole family now.  I can't wait to see what adventures we have ahead of us.....