271/365 - Sam Hosts Downstairs

While we are asleep or out of the house, Sam is confined to the basement - but he shouldn't mind because it is a finished space with all the comforts of home. It's truly "Sammy's Lair", and he takes ownership of his space by "Hosting" visitors.

For example - in the morning, he "works out" with me - while I'm grooving to a workout DVD, he runs up and down the stairs. When Scott brings home the High School Boy's Bible Study Group, he takes up residence in the chair next to the study leader, intently listening, or at least appearing to be involved.

Tonight, as Scott was reviewing the Colts vs Broncos game on the DVR, Sam was there, keeping him company. I joined in and Sam jumped on my lap and proceeded to lick my face. I tried to take a picture of him on my lap, but of course, Sam was very interested in the camera. He finally settled down next to me on the couch.

10.09.30 - Sam Hosts Downstairs


Team Up Thursday - Transportation

With all the grain trucks, construction trucks, and harvest equipment on the roads this time of year, I picked this week's Team Up Thursday Theme of "Transportation".

The story behind Lee's picture on top - this is the first year her kids are riding the school bus, due to the construction on the roads. I love how she captured Caden just about to get on that big yellow bus.

I was hoping to get a stuck behind a big combine (they are such amazing vehicles), but I got a construction truck instead. These gravel trucks are the worst - they transport all sorts of stuff that can fly out and ding your car, hence the "keep back 200 ft" signs.

Team Up Thursday - Transportation

Each Thursday, Lee and I create a diptych based on a theme. You can view the other great diptychs at the Team Up Thursday Flickr group.


Time for Fall

After the "back to summer" photos I recently posted, I thought it would be appropriate to post something keeping with the current season.

Pumpkin Top

Ah, the start of Fall. I'm loving the change of the season.


270/365 - S'mores with Big Marshmallows

The kids sent me out to the store this evening to buy marshmallow, graham crackers and chocolate. In return, they cleaned the kitchen after dinner!

I found these HUGE marshmallows - Campfire Giant Roasters. Think double size marshmallows.

We roast the marshmallows over the gas stove, burning them for a campfire taste.

10.09.29 - S'mores Time


Two Windows

Here's the third and last Window based challenge, hosted by Puna at LifeSignatures.

This week, I'm featuring two window views:

Windows from my son's newly assembled Lego Blacksmith Shop, part of the Medieval Market set:
Even the Windows Open and Close
I love that the little windows open and close.

And the view from my car window, after a perfect Fall day. Taken when I was stopped at a light.
10.09.27 - Autumn Sunset


Back to Italy - What Happened in Modena, July 26, 2010

Continuing on the story of our trip to Italy. Please note that I am still only on Day 2 of the trip. At this rate, I'll still be recounting the trip a year from now! For previous entries, click on this handy-dandy Italy Trip Link

We followed the road signs to the “Centro” of town. [We found the road signs very helpful while navigating the cities we visited – when in doubt, head towards the “Centro” and you’ll get there]

We parked by the city park, on the edge of the "medieval or historical" center and set off to find a place for lunch – accomplished by Dawn asking complete strangers on the street.
[Dawn is not shy when it comes to talking to complete strangers – she had her Italian phrase cheat sheet in her camera bag.]

Of course, some of the details are always “lost in the translation” (Like the word “coniglio”, which means rabbit, but for some reason, we thought it meant “expensive” – imagine the quizzical looks on the Italians when we asked if a certain item was “coniglio”).

We were able to wind our way through the streets of Modena, but could not find the restaurant we were seeking. Until we walked around the block twice, and then down a random side street and viola – there it was!

Of course, I don’t remember the restaurant’s name – there are no big, neon lit signs in front of most establishments here. We enjoyed our meal with our funny server – to read about that, you’ll have to head over to my photography blog where I originally outlined our lunch experience when the trip was still somewhat fresh in my mind!

But I won’t leave this post without new pictures....

Gates to a private courtyard:

Looking into the Modena Duomo through a side window:
Through the Duomo Window

Before we headed back on the road, we knew we should all “go to the potty” and I had spotted a sign for a public “WC” in the park area. And thus we experienced our first paid WC encounter. Very bizarre and not such a good deal at 1 Euro for a trip to the loo. I’ll admit, we shared…..
We Paid 1 Euro to Use This Thing


269/365 - El Juggo

Brian's latest masterpiece - El Juggo, an Ugly Mug, created in art class, using coils of clay and paste.

10.09.28 - The Ugly Mug

The mug's smile incorporates Brian's signature "buck teeth".


Oudoor Seating

Another "back to summer" photo, one of my remaining photos from Florence, Italy - the edge of an outdoor eatery.

Eatery Edge


268/365 - Autumn Sunset

I love days like today - sunny and crisp with just enough clouds in the sky to make things interesting.

10.09.27 - Autumn Sunset


267/365 - Sun Beams

Our first real fall-like day, complete with bands of clouds that let the sun's rays pass through, beaming down on the prairie fields.

10.09.26 - Sun Beams

It's days like today that make me appreciate the flatness of this area, and the beauty from its simplicity.


Boys of Summer - The Delta Kings

For some reason, I remembered I hadn't uploaded these pictures I took back in August during a local street festival. The band is called the Delta Kings.

Belting Out the Song

The Delta Kings - On Stage

Taken when the temperatures were sultry and summer was in full swing. It's nice to look back, now that the weather has turned to Autumn.


Day 266 - Soccer, More Legos and Fall Festival Recap

It's Saturday, which means soccer. This morning's game was scheduled for 8:30, so I didn't get my long run in this morning. The weather was perfect - a crisp 50 degF and sunny.

I positioned myself along the Teams' side of the field, which is the east side. So much better for taking pictures of the action.
10.09.25 - Address The Ball

The green team won again, 4-0. Erica had a couple of opportunities to score on goal, but it didn't happen - she played the wing position towards the end of the game.

After the game, Brian set out to complete the Medieval Market Hotel. Once he finished, he set up market square scene and we took a picture of it. Oh, I stand corrected - Brian took the picture. We set the camera on the tripod and he clicked the remote control.
The Medieval Market

Last night, Brian's school held its Fall Festival Fundraiser. Games, dunk booth, inflatables, silent auction, raffles and lots of goodies. Erica served as a Middle School National Honor Society volunteer all night, working several of the games, and the Face Painting Area.

And she coerced Brian into her Face Painting area so she could paint a skull on his cheek. I was amazed by their cooperation!
Face Painting
And the finished product -
Finished Art Work
It was a great event and lots of fun!


SOOC Saturday - The Elusive Goal

I was hoping that my auto focus would somehow lock on the player with the ball, but it picked that web of netting around that elusive goal.

Elusive Web

If I wasn't so busy trying to capture more of the game action, I might have taken the time to delete the picture before downloading it to the computer, but I'm glad I didn't - I don't mind the focus on the net, and you can still make out the action on the field. I guess that's why most photographers don't delete anything until they have had a chance to view it on a bigger screen. I'll admit to deleting pictures before downloading, so that's something I'll need to remember.

Today's shot is SOOC (Straight Out Of the Camera). I have lots more soccer shots to go through and maybe I'll keep them SOOC too. I hope you have a great Saturday!


265/365 - Medieval Market Lego Details

Brian has the Blacksmith house finished and set up little street people from the Medieval Marketplace. I love the details of this set. Even Erica started to play with the characters in the street.

Street Scene

The Fish Monger

Knights Carry The Treasure

Tomorrow Brian will complete the Hotel. I'm sure I'll take pictures of it, too!


Team Up Thursday On Friday - Signs of Change

While Megan and Melody are Flying today - oops I mean yesterday, Lee and I chose the theme "Signs of Change".

Not really a congruent diptych today - Lee's beautiful hydrangea blooms are about to enter stage 3 where they'll turn a glorious shade of rust, red and purple. I took the picture of wires at work, where we are currently changing over our automation system from an old, circa 1990's system to a modern one. All of those wires were pulled from the old system and need to be reconnected to the new system. I'm glad I'm not the electrician who has to sort through that tangled mess.

Team Up Thursday - Signs of Change

Megan and Melody's Flying theme is very cool, modeled after Jan Von Hollenben's "Dreams of Flying". They really rocked this theme. Lee and I will have to pick a week to execute it too.

Each Thursday, Lee and I create a diptych based on a theme. You can view the other great diptychs at the Team Up Thursday Flickr group.


264/365 - 1600 Lego Pieces

With some of his birthday money, Brian ordered one Lego set from lego.com (and I thought B&H Photo’s on-line store was dangerous – but this one certainly tops it, or at least it seems more dangerous for an eleven year old Lego fan). The package arrived today and Brian got right to work putting together the 1600+ pieces of the Medieval Market Village. At the end of the day, he had the bottom section of the Blacksmith shop put together. The buildings are hinged to open and close, giving you access to the details inside as well as outside.

10.09.23 - 1600 Lego Pieces

If he doesn’t put it all together by the end of the weekend, we’ll have to move it to the dining room table as the cleaning lady is coming on Monday. But he may just get it all done by then!


The Weather Outside My Window

In keeping with Puna's What's Outside My Window Challenge, I am posting the view outside my bathroom window, taken early in the morning.

Morning View

I can see the window as I lie in bed, and though I can't make out distinct shapes outside, it supplies me with so much information.

Based on this view, I can

  • approximate what time it is
  • tell if it is cloudy or clear
  • tell if it is raining or sunny
  • tell if it has snowed overnight [really! if the entire window looks white, there's snow on the ground]

Today, with the faint red in the sky, I expected rain. And we got rain. That's what I love about this window.

If you have a window view to share, make sure you head over to Puna's at LifeSignatures. With Hello Canvas, she is giving away a 24x36 photographic canvas to a participant of her What's Outside Your Window challenge.


263/365 - The Details

Upon tucking Brian into bed last night, I again bemoaned, "Oh, how can my Baby be Eleven years old now?". This statement is usually met with an eye roll of sorts or a pillow over the head. But last night, as Brian was reading a book (Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters), he simply ignored me.

I looked over at my "baby boy" and marveled at his eyelashes and the spray of freckles across the bridge of his nose. I knew then I needed to capture these details before they faded away. And he let me take his picture today.

10.09.22 - Eyelashes and Freckles

What details do you want to remember? Make sure to capture them now.


262/365 - Look Who's Eleven

I say this every year with Brian -

"How can my Baby be [insert current age here]??"
10.09.21 - Birthday Boy

Sigh, they grow up so fast.

To celebrate, we ate dinner out and Brian ordered his traditional Fish and Chips. He's so predictable!


I Heart Faces - Smirk Photo Challenge

With eight boys here for a sleepover birthday party this weekend, the silliness and smirks were quite plentiful.

The Silly Pose

Today marks my son's 11th birthday, so I thought it was appropriate to share a little bit of the fun from his party.

If you have a smirk you want to share, head over to I Heart Faces and enter yours into their photo challenge.


The River Through The Fields

This swath of grass resembles a river cutting through the prairie. It's less pronounced in the winter and growing season, but now, with the beans ripening to a golden hue, can't you see it?

River of Grass


261/365 - Party Remnants

Well, not 100% true. These discarded balloons are scattered on the grass because of the winds Saturday afternoon, before Brian's party. I had planned on a water balloon toss contest, but when the wind took them away, I punted on that plan.

But I liked how colorful they looked in the grass. And that glob of light green was some silly string from the party - a gift from George.
10.09.20 - Party Remnants


260/365 - Fresh Basil

The warm spell has caused my basil plants to produce huge leaves, even this late in the season. I'm lazy - I don't use the basil in bulk until late September, when I'm ready to make a big batch of pesto, which means I am constantly pinching back the plants to prevent them from going to seed.

I hadn't planned on making any pesto today, but when I pinched back all of these gorgeous leaves, I went ahead and made a small batch.

10.09.19 - Fresh Basil

Hopefully I have more time next weekend to make a Big Batch of pesto. The weather forecast calls for hot weather, so I expect a great crop of leaves.


Day 259 - Soccer, Silliness, Cake and Dating Perspectives from a 5th Grader

Another Saturday in September, meaning another day chock full of activities.

I got up and ran 6+ miles.
Then I cleaned out the pond - I didn’t work on it last week, so this week there was a lot more to clean out.
Scott and Brian went to the football game.
I took Erica to her soccer game. In today’s game, she acted as one of the Team Captains (meaning she and two other Team Captains get to observe the starting coin toss). During the game, she played defense and wing positions, giving her ample exposure to the ball. The team won 3-1 against a strong opponent.
Over the Shoulder

After the game, I vacuumed the basement, family room and kitchen, in preparation for Brian’s big bash later on. Then out to the store to buy treats, food and (most importantly) the cake. I ended up with two cakes – an ice cream cake and a chocolate sheet cake. How I ended with two cakes would take too long to explain – just chalk it up to my poor planning skills and a picky birthday boy.

Before you could say “what time is it”, the doorbell started ringing with parents quickly depositing their kids at my door. The reality chaos of eight boys running around hit me like a tornado. Thank goodness for that bounce house! And the plethora of stuff we have in the basement. At least boys don’t go around screaming like girls do. Sometimes they will even sit still long enough for you to take a serious picture:
All Smiles

As long as you let them goof off, too:
Silly Gift Openers
They make the most interesting faces at this age – no “trying to be a cool teenager”. Adorable.

What I enjoyed the most was the conversation the boys engaged in as I drove them to the Laser Tag place.

“I heard that Alec is crushed because Emily broke up with him!”
“Were they going out together?”
“Yeah – for 15 minutes! Then Emily broke up with him…..”
“I would like to go out with Olivia, but I am WAY too scared to ask her. What if she says no? I’m just too scared.”

I, of course asked the question “Are you guys going out on dates with these girls?” and the answers I received: “Oh, we’re not old enough to go out on a date! We can’t even drive! In 5th grade, you get to hold hands and hug. In 6th grade, you might get to kiss on the cheek. I can’t imagine kissing a girl on the lips – I think that’s what you get to do in 7th or 8th grade. Eww!”

Ah, out of the mouths of babes.

As the Laser Tag attendant (a young, cute 17 year old lad) so succinctly summed up, “Things were so much simpler at the age of 10.”

Yes, indeed.


All In A Day's Work

Seen on my way into work last Friday – workers replacing the guide wires on the 310 foot high structure. Their work was delayed on Thursday due to high winds (and you don’t want to be suspended from a crane that high up with winds whipping along the prairie). But Friday morning it was perfectly calm with a beautiful, cloudless morning.

Elevated Work

I wish the company was allowing rides up to the top. I can only imagine the view from there.

In the Basket


258/365 - Start of A Fun Weekend

Neighbor Bob is so nice to allow us to use his bounce house this weekend. The special occasion – Brian’s 11th birthday party. Somehow, I got roped into hosting 8 boys (including the birthday boy) for a sleepover party. I’m expecting nothing but high energy from the group, so hopefully, the bounce house will help them work it off.


Bounce Up and Down


The Rear View

Reflected Sky
Sometimes the best view is the one looking behind.

After searching for a "deep and meaningful" quote on the web, I just made that one up. I hope you have a blessed Friday.


For Today - September 17, 2010


Outside my window.... the combines are harvesting corn and beans, taking advantage of this beautiful end of summer day – clear blue skies, mid-seventies.

I am thinking.... September is more than half way gone? How did that happen?

I am thankful for…the changing seasons and all that comes with it.

From the kitchen…I need to make my big batch of sweet basil pesto this weekend. I hope I can squeeze it in on Sunday.

I am wearing…jeans and a dark brown tunic.

I am creating … still working on those Italy pictures! The last day in Florence – will I ever get it done??

I am going…to pick up the Bounce House this afternoon in preparation for Brian’s birthday party on Saturday.

I am reading…nothing right now, with the exception of the blogs I peruse. I need to get started on the Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest.

I am hoping…I can get it all done this weekend. So much to do.

I am hearing…my current favorite song – Uncharted by Sara Bareilles. And I am hearing it played in my head. Favorite line in that song –

Compare where you are where you want to be and you’ll get ... nowhere

Around the house…I need to vacuum the basement and family room so the boys sleeping over on Saturday won’t breathe too much cat hair in!

One of my favorite things…Pumpkin Spice Coffee for this time of year!

A few plans for the rest of the week…Book Club tonight, Then Running, Soccer, Cleaning, Brian’s Birthday bash, complete with Laser tag, bounce house and sleepover on Saturday. I think I’ll collapse on Sunday!

A picture to share -
Mostly Pink
After a prolific start, the hydrangeas faded quickly in the heat of the summer. Then the blooms started to dry and turn a deep pink, almost rust color. A sign of the impending fall.


257/365 - Open House

It was Open House night at Brian's school. The last one we'll do at his current school! I think the highlight of the evening was the boys playing on the jungle gym:

10.09.16 - Yoga Poses?

Goofy kids!


Team Up Thursday - Micro

After a month of sporadic Team Up Thursday participation, I think Lee and I are back on track. Only because I had Lee pick out this week's theme! She picked out "micro" and I love the small drops of water on her leaf. I shot the spider's web in my neighbor's backyard. This the best time of the year to find these guys.

Team Up Thursday - Micro

Each Thursday, Lee and I create a diptych based on a theme. You can view the other great diptychs at the Team Up Thursday Flickr group.


256/365 - End of Fall Baseball

Tonight's game ended the Fall Baseball season, and the our 2010 baseball experience. The boys won their game, and the coach placed Brian 2nd in the batting line up, so he was able to bat three times (three walks, although on one of the walks he was hit by the pitch, so I'm not sure what that's called).

This Fall Team wasn't as successful as the Spring Team, but Brian gained more experience playing with bigger kids, faster pitchers without the restrictions of the younger teams.

Brian with one of his coaches, Coach Lon:
10.09.15 - Brian and Coach Lon

And we'll start it all over again in the Spring!


Don't Look Now - Inside My Window

Puna at Life Signatures has started a fun photo challenge - Don't Look Now - What's Outside Your Window.

And since I'm really bad about following instructions, I took a picture of what's Inside my Window.

OK,in reality, the first picture I took from my office window was awful - the dirty window looks out to a brick wall and the entrance to my workplace - a chemical plant. Not pretty at all.

I thought this was a little nicer:
Inside the Window

I used PW Woman's Soft and Faded Action for PSE, added on a linen texture and removed the texture from the orchid blooms.


255/365 - The Tomato in the Sky

At the end of tonight's baseball game, we watched this hot air balloon rise in the distance. It was a perfect fall evening.

10.09.14 - Tomato in the Sky


Harvest Time

Due to a warm April, wet May, and hot, hot, hot June, July and August, harvest has come early this year. Especially when compared to last year, with its colder than normal summer.

Most of the farmers rotate crops each year - if they plant corn in a field, the next year, they will plant soybeans in that same field. I remember this field was filled with corn last year.

Ready for Harvest


254/365 - Soccer Practice

More like big sis bossing around little brother.

10.09.13 - Soccer Clinic

Yes, we ended said Soccer Practice after the kids started punching each other.

Next time, I'll just send them out to run a couple miles. That will tire them out enough to hopefully prevent physical blows to each other. Maybe.....



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