Through the Lens Thursday: Twisted

I realize you’re all sick of seeing my dog. I know that. But I have had a long week and my creativity for the prompt was nonexistent, so you get action shots of a tug of war game with Louise’s twisted rope toy (she’s all better from the surgery and allowed to play again).

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(Ivy took that last one)

Again, I apologize. I’ll try to be more creative next week.


Through The Lens Thursday is a self-improvement photography project that Alison of Writing, Wishing and I are doing this year (again!).

Don’t forget to join our Flickr group or share your own posts if you’d like to follow along and work on your own photography! And use the hashtag #throughthelensthursday to connect with others working on it, too.

Next week’s prompt is WORDS.

What’s Up, Yo.

I’m eating my breakfast now, the breakfast that I forced myself to finish cooking before I sat down to write this. I’ve had a super annoying habit lately of burning my food when I get even the slightest bit distracted, so while I cooked it, I thought of all of the things I wanted to tell you about. Because it’s been quiet here, I know. Other than TTLT, I’ve hardly written anything since 2015 started. I’ve been completely unable to sit down and write anything. So what have I been up to? Well, I‘ll tell ya.

I’ve done a whole lot of laundry (not a fan of winter layers). And dishes. And cleaning. And working.

But mostly, I’ve  done A LOT of reading. I start a book, read it mildly obsessively until I’m done, then wait a few hours before starting the next. The only problem with this is that sometimes in the beginning of the new book, I have to stop and sort out the characters of the previous books so as not to confuse them. Who was it that had the migraines? Oh yes…the sister. And which high school student was in boarding school? And which husband was the cheater? But since joining Goodreads and reading recommendations from fellow bloggers and friends, my library check-out list gets shorter only as my hold list gets longer.

book weasel

I just finished Big Little Lies this week, and it was one of my favorites so far. I fell in love with all of the characters, and the suspense, and the truthful, vulnerable way Liane Moriarty wrote about domestic violence, toxic relationships, what it’s like to try to form friendships with fellow school moms, and small town gossip. I also finally finished Gone Girl. I started it some time last year, put it down, picked it up, put it down, over and over and over. Everyone that talked about it got a “I just can’t finish it!” from me. But after so many positive reviews about the movie, something clicked and I picked it up one last time and finished it in two days. It seemed like people either loved or hated the end of the book, and I loved it, personally. I thought it was absolutely perfect. Not good, not heartwarming, but perfect for those particular characters. And now I’m more than ready to see the movie. Oh! And the Perfume Collector. The incredible book that made me want to become rich and contract out a custom, expensive perfume. I don’t wear perfume anymore, though, so instead…

I’ve been wearing and using essential oils. And I love them so much. I get them from Simply Aroma, and this week, the girls and I even made up some “perfumes”. Basically, they’re just fractionated coconut oil with a single oil or blend or two in awesome little roller bottles I found on Amazon (affiliate link). All three of us were super excited to make them and start using them.


And mostly, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Erv, who thinks he can go off to preschool in August, and Louise, who’s the sweetest, lickingest, cuddliest, fetchingest puppy ever. Every day, the three of us try very hard not to kill each other, and so far, we’ve succeeded.

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So. Thanks for letting me catch up. Now excuse me while I go get my diffuser, book, and blanket.

Project 365: Week 52 (and a 1/2)

Yeah. This is late. Motivation around the holidays is tough. I’m just going to finish up there year here, kay?

Dec. 21

Christmas celebration #1, with our family in AR.

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Dec. 22

We went to see a movie with my good friend and her kids, Aunt Ginny and Vic, and Nana and Papa (Night at the Museum 3). Afterwards, the girls tried on their new Elsa hats from Nat.


Dec. 23

Louise made herself at home at my brother and SIL’s house, and met a couple of new friends: their two giant dogs and squirrel.


Last minute Christmas shopping and a movie with one of my best friends (and one of my favorite reasons to visit AR).


Dec. 24

Christmas Eve. We drove home from AR and made it to a late lunch and the afternoon Christmas Eve service at church.


Dec. 25

Christmas! We are always home on Christmas morning (it’s my own personal rule, so we have a bit of an anchor in the middle of the busy holiday break and travel).

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(That lovely spot on T’s shirt is batter from making breakfast for us all. Sexiest thing ever.)

Dec. 26

We celebrated Christmas with T’s parents at a hotel in KC. There was A LOT of swimming, shopping, eating, etc that took place.

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Dec. 27

The girls and I went with grandma to see Annie while the boys went with grandpa to a WWI museum, and then….MORE SWIMMING.


Dec. 28

Home again. Baking with my best helper for a Christmas party with my parents the following day (she did all the work).


Dec. 29

One last Christmas party! (We’d normally have two more but our schedule didn’t work out so nicely this year, and we missed them).

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Dec. 30

Play and lunch out with Essie, my nephew and my niece. I think we can see where they get their cheeks.


Dec. 31

New Year’s Eve! We did nothing out of the ordinary….ate finger foods for a late supper and played video games, watched movies. Oh, and I read a lot with a sleepy puppy on me.


So, how were your holidays? NYE more exciting than ours (I hope)??

A Look Back Over My Shoulder at 2014

Ah, 2014. I think it was a good year. It was often uneventful, but challenging. I had some failures, and some accomplishments, and hopefully, they balanced each other out.

2014 was the year I sent another kid off to school all day, every day, when Essie went to kindergarten, and ended up with one at home all day every day (for one more year, at least). Erv and I struggled sometimes. He challenged me, for sure, but we had fun and went out and started a new job together, and I think finally, FINALLY, we’ve gotten into a routine of sorts. Henry went to a new wing of the school for third grade, and the reality of that hit me when we realized that he no longer participates in Polar Express day (and it was Ivy’s last one, in second grade). Both Ivy and Henry developed or strengthened a love of reading and discovered favorite new series like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Junie B. Jones.

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I started a new job in August, working with the local community college, as sort of a middle-woman between the college and the high schools in my area. Again, it’s not without its challenges (hello, lots of balls in the air all of the sudden), but I hope I’ve proven to be able to rise to the occasion and not make them regret hiring me. My brain is being used much more regularly now for things other than “is there a bottom I need to wipe?” and while that definitely takes some getting used to, I’m learning (slowly) to juggle it all. It definitely helps that I can do a lot of it from home, and take Erv along with me for half of the stuff I can’t do from home.

2014 was the year I started reading again. Seriously. Since, probably, giving birth to my second child, reading had been put on the backburner and replaced by TV and movies and the occasional magazine (although those are now rarely even opened). But this past year, I got involved with MomsReading, a Facebook-based book chat, and started looking forward to those discussions  every month. I even started going to the book chats at our local library, too. I spent the summer reading more than I had in years, and just kept doing it. For the first time ever, I’ve made a reading goal for  myself of 25 books in 2015.

Speaking of goals, I failed. In 2013, I ran 640 miles, blowing my 500 miles in 2013 goal out of the water and surprising myself. I ran the Disney half marathon in January of 2014 and had a blast, immediately starting to train for another half in the spring. But a funeral the weekend of the half took the wind completely out of my running sails and I never really got it back. I went on to try all kinds of different workouts, like Rockin’ Body, PiYo, Zumba, and more of the Turbo Fire that I had done before, and got in better shape than I’ve been in probably ever, but this fall, I lost my mojo and have yet to get it back. If you find it, please….let me know. My jeans have gotten snug again.

In this blog-world, 2014 was a bit of a roller coaster. I got burned out and started posting only twice a week usually, until I decided to try Nablopomo. I succeeded at that (!!) but went right back to not writing again on December 1. I miss it…I had fun in November, looking for things to write about and stretching my writing muscles a few times. My Listen To Your Mother essay was also selected for the upcoming anthology, and let me tell ya, that made my whole year. Seeing my name in print come April is going to be amazing. AH-MAZING. I succeeded at our first Through the Lens Thursday year and grew as a (hobby) photographer, but I also ended my run as #iPPP host, essentially ending it altogether (and still miss it sometimes).

I traveled more in 2014 than I have in my whole adult life. I started the year at Disney World for my LLS run. I went to California twice, once for my very first BlogHer conference where I met so many of my best blogging friends, and once for the very first Shiftcon conference where I learned a lot about reducing chemicals in our home and food. I also went to Sandusky, Ohio for the first time for another blog conference and met (or saw again) a few more of my best blogging and mamavation friends.

I solo parented A LOT again this year, with my husband traveling for work often weeks at a time. Towards the end of the year and the onset of winter and holiday stress, I realized I couldn’t handle it on my own anymore and went back to my doctor.

2014 will go down in history as the year one of my children (I won’t name names but she knows who she is) became so very helpful that she learned to make us coffee (start to finish), made supper and/or lunch for the first time (first of many times), and learned to change the toilet paper roll (and is still excited about doing it!). I feel like I’ve won the lottery, y’all.

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But one of my very favorite things about 2014, and possibly the direct result of my kids getting older and the reality of no more babies in our family, was the addition of my #geezlouise. Louise, the puppy we brought home shortly before Labor Day has attached her tiny little self to me and we’ve bonded….hard. She’s ornery and sometimes doesn’t listen, but she’s so very sweet and I love the little girl so much.


Whew. So, 2014. Things happened, things didn’t happen. I worked, I read, I didn’t run. My kids grew older, which means I guess I did too.

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Project 365: Week 50

Dec. 7

I just can’t even with the Build A Bear vest and the sleeping puppy face.

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Dec. 8

I don’t seem to have taken a picture, but I did share this one of Erv at 8 months old.

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Dec. 9

Reading some bedtime stories in the morning.

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Dec. 10

My oldest daughter did this. She changed the toilet paper roll while I was in the shower. I AM NO LONGER THE ONLY ONE IN MY HOUSE THAT WILL DO THIS.

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Dec. 11

This is his “you’re STILL trying to take my picture? No means no, woman” face.

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Dec. 12

Company Christmas party. You can just see the excitement oozing out of us, can’t you?

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Dec. 13

We finally had family picture day, because we finally had our whole family back together. I asked my husband to take my picture (of course I did) because dressed up with red lipstick calls for it.

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Project 365: Week 47

Nov. 16

Even after the kids go to bed, I’ve still got somebody wanting thisclose to me.


Nov. 17

I love bloggy friends, and I super love when they send me lovely things in the mail, like this stripey hand-painted card from Clare of Girl Fifteen, who has been playing along with Through the Lens Thursday all year!


Nov. 18

Peanut butter jammie time.


Nov. 19

Another dear bloggy friend sent me a couple of books from my new very favorite author and totally made my day.


Nov. 20

She had to “disugise” a turkey for kindergarten, so in order to make him part of the family, we funked him up…complete with coffee-dyed afro, glitter feathers, star shades, and brown felt jacket.


Nov. 21

Kindergarten Thanksgiving skit day.

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Nov. 22

The girls and I went with my mom to walk the Winter Wonderland 5K. Every year we go to Topeka to see the huge Christmas light display at Lake Shawnee, and this year we finally were able to do the run/walk (last year we registered but it was way too cold).


My Personal Bubble Has Been Popped

So, I’ve been solo parenting for a week now, and it’s not going to end any time soon (relatively….you know, for a mom of four young kids in the beginning of winter….another week and a half feels like FOREVER), but the hardest part this time around isn’t just the lack of energy or patience to do allthethingsbymyself.

It’s the personal space issue.

When my husband is here, after work or on the weekends, the kids and animals like to climb on him, lay on him, touch him, be near him. I like to watch from across the room. By myself. With my space bubble intact.

When he’s not here, it’s all on me. LITERALLY.

personal space is nonexistent

no personal space. noneno personal space

Through the Lens Thursday: Shine

It was a sun-shiny day, and I had plans to try to capture my favorite swing photos, but from another angle to try to change it up.

I ended up with very different pictures, though.

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The dog and two kids trying to shoot her…in very different ways, but both concentrating very hard.


Through The Lens Thursday is a self-improvement photography project that Alison of Writing, Wishing and I are doing this year.

Don’t forget to join our Flickr group or share your own posts if you’d like to follow along and work on your own photography! And use the hashtag #throughthelensthursday to connect with others working on it, too.

Next week’s prompt is GLOOM.

Through The Lens Thursday: Tall

Before I get into this week’s prompt, I just wanted to make sure that everyone knew my co-TTLTer’s news…Alison had her babies! She delivered her twins this week at 34 weeks, and they’re doing great. Still in the NICU but growing and feeding and getting stronger every day. Go show Alison some love on her Facebook page!

I was at Bloggy Conference this past weekend, and I thought (briefly) about taking my DSLR. I didn’t really have room for it, though, and then forgot anyway. It would’ve been really cool, though, to get pictures at the amusement park, Cedar Point! I’m kind of sad that I didn’t. I did take this photo with my phone, from the top of the ferris wheel (which I edited a little in lightroom, since this is a photography project):

tall bloggy con

And then I came home and got my DSLR and tried to work with the prompt. With the same subjects. (I know, I know)

Erv and Louise are with me all day, every day, though. And they’re both getting taller. (Louise is almost as tall as the cats now!)

I got down on the floor for these, to try to emphasize just how tall they both are. And then I went to the corner and wept for a while about just how tall they are.

tall 2 iso800 35mm f3.2 1-50tall 2 iso800 35mm f3.2 1-50


Through The Lens Thursday is a self-improvement photography project that Alison of Writing, Wishing and I are doing this year.

Don’t forget to join our Flickr group or share your own posts if you’d like to follow along and work on your own photography! And use the hashtag #throughthelensthursday to connect with others working on it, too.

Go Out and Play!

The kids have been back to school for about two and a half weeks. I’m exhausted, frankly, and so is the toddler that’s not yet in school. But the kids that ARE in school? They’ve got energy.

I don’t know where it comes from. They work hard all day, they have two recesses in the heat, they learn and play and learn some more. So why is it that at bedtime, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to settle down and go to sleep?!

I have to get them outside. Even though they’ve been outside probably more than I have during the mornings and afternoons, they’ve also been sitting in a classroom, working on projects, talking with their friends and sitting still. If they don’t run around before bedtime and work off some energy, they’ll be talking to each other and playing with LEGOs in their beds an hour after they should’ve been asleep. Then they’re exhausted the next day and can’t focus on all of the fun things they’re supposed to be learning at school.

They go through phases playing outside, just like everything else. For weeks, they’ll do nothing but jump on the trampoline. Then they’ll want nothing to do with that and will only swing. Or jump rope. Or dig in the sand box. Or draw on the sidewalk with chalk.

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An awesome bonus is that the puppy goes out to play with them, too, and the more she runs around, the better she sleeps at night. And we all know that puppies are like babies when it comes to sleeping (or not) at night.

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We’ve got an arsenal of outside toys now, thanks to KaBOOM!, the company that makes it a blast to get outside AND gives back to make sure kids everywhere can play, too.

KaBOOM!’s philosophy is this: Play Matters. Play can transform children – from sedentary to physically active, bored to mentally active and solitary to socially active. When we make sure that our children’s lives are filled with play, we all benefit: our communities will be healthier and happier today, and our society will be stronger and more resilient tomorrow. 

I couldn’t agree more, and I am crazy about all of the super cool toys on the Imagine Toys website, including the Go Out and Play Collection from the non-profit KaBOOM!*. Like the Essentials Kit full of, well….outdoor play essentials in a durable, roomy backpack, perfect for keeping in the car or next the door and grabbing when the mood strikes or the energy overflows out of their little pores.





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How do your kids like to burn off their crazy back to school energy?

*KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to ensuring that all children get the balance of active play they need to grow into successful, healthy adults. 

I recieved a Kaboom essentials kit to review, but all opinions are 100% my own.