Long Time Friends - Throw Back Thursday | 2

I had so much fun digging up old photos for last week's #tbt (Throwback Thursday) post of my daughter's first day of school compendium, I culled a couple extra photos.

This could become a weekly feature here on the blog!

Background - I bought my first digital camera in 2003, a Nikon Coolpix. I finally organized all the photos from 2003 - 2010 onto one external hard drive, but most have not been imported into my Lightroom Catalog and uploaded to Flickr. My Flickr stream is up to date starting in 2009, so there are many gaps between 2003-2009 that I can fill.

Before 2003, I sent my film into a company called Seattle Filmworks, who offered a negative scanning / digital archiving option. Seattle Filmworks no longer exists, but it was bought out by Shutterfly and all of my photos from 1998 - 2003 are archived there. I opted to have a CD burned and transferred the files to my trusty (and backed up) EDD.

In short, I have several years of old photos to look back upon, and I really treasure all of them.

Enough with the blabbering, here are two treasured photos for Throw Back Thursday:

Still Friends 10 years later

That's my daughter and her good friend, some ten years ago. The great thing - they are still good friends today! Both girls were at the house on Monday, getting ready to film their ALS Ice Bucket Challenge together (they threw the ice water on each other - it was quite funny). Of course, I had to show them this photo. I will take another photo of the two of them before the end of the school year.

Then there's this photo, taken in 2004:
Instant Friends
Our kids with kids of our good friends, Dave and Dawn. Scott and I met Dave during our first year out of college when we worked for GE Lighting in Cleveland. We got to know Dave's future wife, Dawn and our lives have paralleled each others since. They live in Michigan and while we don't see each other in person all that often, we keep tabs on each other via Facebook.

In 2010, we traveled to Italy (sans kids) with Dave and Dawn and had a blast. Whenever we connect with them, we pick right back up where we left off - a mark of a true friend.


The Brass

I love the brass section of a marching band. They provide a lot of the power for that genre of music.

Sound the Brass

My favorite brass instrument is the French Horn. Unfortunately, French Horns do not play in marching band. Instead, we get an occasional flugelhorn:
At Attention

All three local High school bands entertained us last weekend at the street festival. Prior to their performances, a big rainstorm swept through, clearing the crowds and ushering in a tiny bit of cool relief from the sultry humidity. Of course, school starts and summer decides to show up!


Again, we get another "thumbs up" from my son. It must be his mantra for the year.
Another Thumbs Up


First Day of School Photos - High Schoolers

The last time both kids attended the same school together, they were in elementary school.

Now it's high school for both, and I don't even have to drive them to and from - the girl has her license and a car, so little brother gets a free ride and mom gets some freedom.

The freshmen started a day earlier than the rest of high school, so I did take my youngest to his first day of high school. I don't think I could have not taken him, afterall, he's my baby!

Here he is on that first day. I don't think the cat would enjoy high school, although he looks pretty content at the moment....
 #firstdayofschool #siamese

The next day - we met the very specific time schedule my daughter outlined - photos at 7:30, leave the house by 7:40. She didn't raise a fuss about having her photo taken (you know, sometimes these teens are like "really, do you have to take my photo on the first day of school?" I think she may be getting sentimental on me...).

The boy was ready first, and this is what he wanted:
Ready to Go

Always the jokester:
Positive Thinking

Then there is my "darling daughter who I do not deserve":
Her Senior Year
OK, I know I'm her mother, but she really does look lovely here.

Sister and brother:
Both in High School

And the requisite silly photo:
I Don't Know What To Say

I hope they make the most of this school year - that they work hard, play hard, enjoy their friends and make great memories.


First Day of School - The Retrospective

Perfect for #tbt (aka Throwback Thursday), a retrospective of my oldest's first day of school.

Yes, I have a High school senior, so this year's photo will be the "last of the firsts". I guess it is the start of many "lasts", but what can a mom do - we simply raise them up the best we can.

Here you go - proof that I once was a young mom, too.
Chicago - 2004

But this post is not about me - it's about my "darling daughter who I do not deserve" (that's what comes up whenever The Girl texts / calls me - yeah, she got to my phone and I'm too lazy to change it).

Kindergarten, in Indiana, with friends Sarah and Riley:
Sara, Riley and Erica - First Day of Kindergarten

First Grade:
First Grade

Second Grade:
Second Grade

Third Grade:
Third Grade

Fourth Grade:
Fourth Grade

Fifth Grade:
Fifth Grade

Sixth Grade:
Sixth Grade

Seventh Grade:
Seventh Grade

Eighth Grade:
Eighth Grade Girl
Cameo from her 5th grade brother - doesn't he look thrilled?

Ninth Grade - High school freshman!
High Schooler

Tenth Grade:
Now a Sophomore

Eleventh Grade:
High School Junior

Senior Year: To be taken, later today.

How fast they grow up.....


Cross Country Riding

Yes, more horse photos, but with a twist - my daughter's first experience on a Cross country course. The cross country course consists of various jumping obstacles on a big expanse of land. Very different from an arena setting and, in my opinion, lots of fun to watch. I bet it is a fun ride - more free and organic for both rider and horse. It's not without its hazards - the riders don a protective vest, to protect their torso from potential contact with the ground (yes, in case they fall) and / or horse hooves (in case they fall and get kicked).

I just don't think about the "in case" part of things.

It's a bit of a free for all with the spectators, too, at least during this particular session - we all stood in the middle of the field along with the instructor, while the horses cantered past us. I suspect there's enough room for everyone, and the riders know how to control their horses, but I'm always wary when in the path of a large, one ton animal.

Cross Country Style

These riding stables have the most amazing grounds - rolling hills of green, flanked by fields of corn. Just being there was a salve on my soul.

Cross Country Style
Instead of jumping gates, they jump logs, up hills and over ditches.

Did I mention how serene and beautiful it was to watch?
In the Fields

The weather was perfect - late in the afternoon as the sun started to dip low, golden rays peeking from the clouds that kept us cool.
Cross Country Style

Some other captures with my iPhone:
Out In the Distance #barn #prairie #sky #clouds

Rural Route Address #country #wildflowers

Sighted #fieldaliens #power #sky

It was a great way to spend Sunday afternoon.


That Time of Year

The kids head back to school this week. It seems like just yesterday school let out for the summer. Day are noticeably shorter - it's no longer light at 5:30am and by the end of August, it will be dark, even at 6:30am.

We watched the sun come up Thursday morning - at the end of our run, instead of at the beginning:
Sadly, this happens at the end of the run now. #shirleyruns

My neighbor's second crop of raspberries is starting to come in. Fall encroaches.

More flowers from my neighbor's yard (she spends more time tending to hers). Pretty purple.

The view after morning yoga class - this year's corn / bean crop will set records, the growing conditions have been ideal.
Inner Calm #prairie

Enjoy the calm before the busy season starts.
Purple Calm


The College Visits - Five Things

The Bell Tolls #msu
The Bell Tower at Michigan State University
My daughter and I have been out visiting colleges and here Five Random Observations from our adventures:

1. Every single college she has chosen to visit is a five hour drive. Not close enough to allow for an "out and back" in one day jaunt, but a drive there, stay overnight, tour the campus and drive home experience. I've forgotten how exhausting it is to drive five hours straight at 80 mph through crowded, urban traffic and numerous road construction sites. Then there is the choice of music that gets played while driving. Yes, I like most music, but I did tire of the Cage The Elephant Station on Pandora, mainly because it didn't feature any female artists.

2. Just because two colleges are in the same state doesn't mean they are close. We planned to visit University of Kentucky and Murray State University, back-to-back as they are both in Kentucky. Then I realized the schools are 4 hours apart. The original plan was to get up really early, drive (5 hours) to UK, tour there, then drive 4 hours to Murray and stay overnight. After an early morning Murray State tour, drive (5 hours) home. I've decided that's too much driving for me. And my daughter decided she is no longer interested in either of those schools anymore, so it's all a mute point (and I am secretly relieved).

3. I've discovered those Starbucks Frappacino drinks available at gas station convenience stores are my go-to perk-me-up, keep-me-awake on-the-road elixir. Typically, I'm a Diet Coke person while driving, but these keep me going better. It must be all that added sugar and fat.

4. Certain college demographics, like student body size, are very important when considering a college. My daughter only realized that when we visited the small (really, it was tiny) school in Ohio and she realized that Mom wasn't stupid to ask her things like "how big is the school"? While I have nothing against small schools (they offer a very personalized experience and for some students, that is a perfect fit), when you are used to the Big 10 University across town, a small campus can be quite shocking.

5. Teenagers change their minds. She's already changed her potential major from Equine Studies to Pre-Veterinary. So she wants to go to Vet school and be a large animal vet. I expect there to be more changes as we go through this process. No big deal - in some ways, I'm still deciding "what I want to be when I grow up", so I can't expect my 17 year old to know exactly what she wants to do. I'm glad she is targeting larger schools that offer a wide variety of degrees and diversity.

Those are my five facts, and here are some more things I've noticed since "heading back to school" - those similar iconic elements every institution boasts:
  • The large football stadium
  • The statue / arch / building that everyone takes their picture in front of when visiting / starting school / graduating.
  • A Bell Tower
  • A large courtyard or "Quad" where coeds hang out, especially when the weather turns warm.
  • Lots of green space (very appreciated) or a botanical garden / forested area.
  • Plenty of traditions to wrap yourself in, as college becomes its own metropolis / world, isolated from what I'll call "the real world".

It's a great time in a person's life - a time to discover so many things, to grow, to work hard, to play hard - still not too burdened by adulthood and its responsibilities. I'm excited for my daughter as she explores what opportunities await her.


Send Me The Moon

It's been several years since I've even bothered to photograph the moon, but somehow, last Friday, with the Full Supermoon looming and illuminating the backyard, I pulled out the tripod. The moon shone so brightly that I thought my kids had left the back porch light on.

Send Me the Moon

This is the time I miss having a 300mm lens and a cropped framed sensor, but zoomed in at 100%, there is still nice detail. I just missed the delicate veil of wispy clouds that quickly passed across the moon's face - something to lend some more interest to the shot, which looks just like the moons I've shot before. But I guess there is always next month.

I've been working on some poetry, and have one verse that ran through my head as I moon-gazed.

Full Moon low in the sky
Shadows move with every stride
Warm breath escapes as I
See the Cold Air Rise

And then this song came up on my iPhone as I drove to work and it was perfect.

"Send Me The Moon" - Sara Bareilles

Holding my breath
Last one I’ve got left
'til I see you

Deliver my heart with the
Pieces and parts of me left
Every last day seemed to carry the weight
A life time
Watch from the ground
As the gold fluttered down from the sky

Sweet sun
Send me the moon
Empty the skies out
Bringing me one step closer to you
Send it soon
And I will breathe in, breathe out
Until you come in and out
Of view
Of view

Inches away from you
Scared what I’ll take from you, darling
I can live with your ghost
If you say that’s the most I’ll get

Darkness to light
Moved from day into night to be near you
Still here I stand
I am sinking like sand in your sea

Sweet sun
Send me the moon
Empty the skies out
Bringing me one step closer to you
Send it soon
And I will breathe in, breathe out
Until you come in and out
Of view
Of view

You already do
Never you mind where the evening should find us
Distance can’t take what is hidden here
Safe in my chest

I’ll wait for the day when
We finally say now or never
Till then I’ll be here wanting more
As I settle for atmosphere

Sweet sun
Send me the moon
Empty the skies out
Bringing me one step closer to you
Send it soon
And I will breathe in, breathe out
Until you come in and out
Of view
Of view


Sure Sign of Fall - Marching Band

My son starts high school this month and continues to play the saxophone, so he and his friends participated in Marching Band Camp last week. The week's work culminated in a performance of their official show.

I was an orchestra geek in high school, but had many friends in band, so while the whole marching band thing is familiar, I lack first hand experience. It looks very hard to play and march at the same time.

Playing and Crossing

Like most things, marching band has evolved over the years into a highly elaborate production. I don't think the term "drum line" existed 30 years ago. And if it did, it didn't exist at my high school.

The Riff
Totally cool! And my kids' band program offers guitar lessons to anyone who is interested. That is something I totally would have tapped into in my youth.

My son still needs to memorize his music....
Cross Over

We enjoyed the performance and can't wait to see them from the bleachers at Half Time!


Along My Run | 6 - July Slowdown

After an amazing June, July reminded me that I am human and hit me with an ankle injury that cut into my running. Over the month, I took two separate weeks off, (each week felt like an eternity!), and to add insult to injury, this July was unusually cool, really perfect weather for running.

A Slow July for Running
1. Water Along the Run, 2. Summer Snowballs , 3. It's raining and I'm Running, 4. Flooded, 5. Worth Getting Up For, 6. Simple Things, 7. Out in the Distance #uiuc, 8. Therapy or Torture? I Guess a bit of Both, 9. Fishing for Something?, 10. Consolation Prize - , 11. Stillness, 12. The Rising Sun Is So Red This Time of Year, Signaling Upcoming Change of the Seasons. Bittersweet, as Darkness Starts to Encroach. .

The stats - I logged 56 miles, half of what I logged in June, my lowest monthly total since December, 2013. The silver lining - my average pace was 8:49 min / mile, faster than June and probably the fastest since I started tracking things. The other silver lining - as a result of this injury (Achilles tendonitis in my left ankle), I've made adjustments to my running form and started to work on more strength building for my left leg (which has always been an issue, especially after knee surgery there). In the long run (ha, ha, pun intended) I expect to be stronger.

This slowdown has impacted my Chicago Marathon training - I am 2-3 weeks behind schedule, and if things flare up again, may require me to defer the race to next year. Disappointing, yes, but in the grand scheme of things, not the end of the world.

This month's running quote that made me smile, even if I couldn't run:

For me, like so many others, running is the answer. Out on the road it is just you, the pavement, and your will.
- John Bingham

Every run is a work of art, a drawing on each day's canvas. Some runs are shouts and some runs are whispers. Some runs are eulogies and others celebrations. When you're angry, a run can be a sharp slap in the face. When happy, a run is your song. And when your running progresses enough to become the chrysalis through which your life is viewed, motivation is almost beside the point. Rather, it's running that motivates you for everything else the day holds.
- Dagny Scott Barrios

Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can.
- Lowell Thomas

I truly believe each run is a gift. The same goes for any passion in your life - hold on tight to those passions and never take them for granted.


August 1 - Weather The Change

Beginnings and Ends #sky #sunrise #clouds
Random thoughts as I captured this morning's sky - August 1 ushers in another season of change. "Because it can't be a mistake, if I just call it change". Letting Go and Moving Forward.

Who knew that August would become the new January? It has become the month that signals the start of something new. Summer, with its intoxicating mix of freedom, sunshine, recreation, relaxation, balmy breezes and long days clings on, but can’t overcome the reality of darker mornings, empty beaches and back to school sales.

Who could predict the impact of change within my life, just over the past year? While nothing earth shattering, so many things have changed. My husband started a new job exactly a year ago - that situation, came with many positives but a few not so positive aspects. I go over the past year’s events and can’t help but wonder what’s in store this year.

His mercies never stop; they are new every morning #change
A Year Ago - After Scott left to start his new job. Beauty transcends sadness.

Change, while always present, will be amplified this year as we face major life milestones – both children are in High school, there will be college visits, college applications and a high school graduation. As a mother, there can be no bigger milestone than one of her children leaving the nest - a necessary rite of passage for the child, a tumultuous one for the mother.

Of course, with all change come new opportunities. We just need to see them that way. Let go, trust and enjoy the ride. I hope I can do just that.

The song, Landslide seems to be appropriate today.

I took my love and took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older too

Well, I've been afraid of changing
'Cause I've built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older
And I'm getting older too
Oh, I'm getting older too

I take my love, take it down
I climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Will the landslide bring you down
And if you see my reflection in the snow-covered hills
Will the landslide bring you down, oh, oh
The landslide bring you down


August 2014 Desktop Calendar - Free Download - Scotland

For August, I have two options available for download, scenes from our trip in 2007 to Scotland.

We traveled there for my sister's wedding. She's the one who lives in the UK and married a Scot. This was our family's first trip overseas and it was definitely memorable. Michele and Andrew were married in the west coast town of Oban, a popular tourist destination for those living in the UK (not so much for Americans, who tend to frequent the big named cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow).

After the wedding, we all boarded a ferry (our cars boarded as well) for a trip to the Isle of Mull, where the wedding reception was held, in Glengorm Castle. Along the picturesque journey, we passed several landmarks, including the Lismore Lighthouse:

From the Welcome to Scotland website:

At the southern tip of Lismore, on the islet of Eielan Musdile, Lismore Lighthouse was lit in 1833. Its first keeper was a direct descendant of castaway Alexander Selkirk, the inspiration for ‘Robinson Crusoe’.

Duart Castle is the oldest castle on the Isle of Mull. We didn't get to visit it, but passed by this spectacular structure during our ferry ride:

From the Explore Mull Website:
Duart Castle, home of Sir Lachlan Maclean, Twenty-eighth Chief of the Clan Maclean, stands proudly on a clifftop guarding the Sound of Mull. The ruin of Duart Castle was purchased in 1911 by the current owner’s Great Grandfather, Colonel Sir Fitzroy Maclean. Not only did he spend a fortune restoring the castle to it’s former glory, he restored it as home of the clan, the seat of the Clan Maclean. Today Sir Lachan himself is often at home to welcome clansmen from all over the world.

To download the Lismore Lighthouse Calendar, click on this link from Box.com:
August 2014 Calendar - Lismore Lighthouse, Scotland

To download the Duart Castke Calendar, click on this link from Box.com:
August 2014 Calendar - Duart Castle, Scotland

To view more photos from our Scotland adventure, this link will take you to my Flickr collection:
Scotland, 2007.



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