Monday, August 30, 2010

Melt My Heart...

More preschool photos and recap to soon follow. You know, after I recover from the melting of my heart the sweetness of this photo caused.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Into the Woods...

Yesterday, sparked by the beautiful weather, we took a drive down to check out Ahquabi State Park. Several people have recommended it as a great place for hiking, swimming, and camping, which we are considering doing over the Labor Day holiday weekend. Plus it's only about about a 20 minute drive so afternoon trips for a hike or a swim are totally possible. There is also a mountain biking trail and the trails are open in the winter for cross country skiing, which means fun possibilities for future adventures.

With tennis shoes, Tilde, a water bottle, and my camera with only my new Lensbaby Composer attached, we headed into the woods for about a 45 minute "hike" before checking out the beach so the girls could take off their shoes and cool off their feet in the lake. I still have lots to learn about using my Lensbaby...says the fact I took about 35 shots and have only 2 I felt were OK enough to share.

I'm sure with time we will figure out how to work together better. I think part of my trouble is the Lensbaby is a full time manual focus lens and I don't know that I have ever owned a camera with a manual focus only lens.

I don't know why, but I find all the different types of mushrooms in the forest at this time of year simply amazing. (And the moss and the tree snail shells we found laying all over and...) I mean look at the stripes of colors on that first photo. (Wouldn't they make cool knit socks?!)

On our way home we make a special stop at the request of Scott, as sort of an early birthday celebration, for some frozen treats...

Glass mugs, service to your car...doesn't get much happier than that.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

High School Football Fridays...

Last night we went to the opening home football game at the High School. It was nice. We found our neighbors, whose son plays on the Freshman team, in the stands. It was fun to have some familiar faces around us. For once I was the one waving at people and Scott was the one asking "Whose that?" thanks to my part time work in town. It was a weird switch of roles.

The stadium is great and there's plenty of room in the stands so you don't have to snuggle with the guy next to you, unless you want to. Lexi even had a new friend from school come sit with us for a bit. We met a nice guy next to us whose oldest son, a Sophomore, is on the team. Brea's preschool teacher and her family were sitting behind us. Brea crawled up for a visit to let her know just how very excited she is to start school on Monday. Carlisle is starting to feel a little more like home.

The band, well, let's just say there is room for improvement as the season plays out. HOWEVER it warmed my heart to see a sprinkling of cheerleader and football uniforms throughout the band both before the game and at half-time. The ability for our kids to be involved in a number of activities as they grow and explore various interests is exactly why we wanted to be in a school district of this size. Brea loved the band, dancing away anytime they played. She also informed Scott during the second half that she "loves this game." She decided she would like to be a football player. Lexi informed us she would rather be a cheerleader. I tried to keep my thoughts to myself...mostly.

I'm sure we'll be spending many more Friday nights at the football field in the coming weeks and years. I've already decided I need to put a small, portable knitting project on the needles to drag along next time. Luckily I happen to know someone, a new family member of sorts, who could use some new hand-warmers to keep her hands warm in the cool of Oregon winter.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Poor 2nd Child...

You know how the story goes. The first born child gets all the attention, all the photos, all the neurotic parenting...and then the second child comes along and life relaxes. Apparently in my case that meant relaxing so much as to have NO idea where I put Brea's birth certificate...a necessary document for the start of pre-school next week. I have: her SS card, the receipt from her emergency trip to the hospital at 10 days old for treatment of Jaundice, a letter from our state representative wishing us congrats on her birth, a copy of the newspaper the day she was born. But no birth certificate. In fact I don't remember ever even receiving said birth certificate. I mean one would think if I had I would have put it in the same spot as all the other important documents in our lives...marriage license, Lexi's birth certificate, the dog's vet know, all the important stuff. But as everyone who has gone through the first few weeks of new parent life knows, one's memory of that time after the fact isn't necessary always historically correct on how things REALLY were. But I digress.

So yesterday Brea and I took a field trip to the state office of vital records to request a copy. Luckily we now live a short 15 minute drive from said offices. And it gave us a chance for a photo opp in front of the Iowa State Capitol.

I've now lived in Iowa 11 years and I don't know that I will ever (even now that we see it more often) get tired of the beauty of the capitol building. Next summer the girls and I are going to make a point of going look INSIDE the capitol.

It's the 3rd day of school and I'm already making a list of "things to do next summer." Nice. As much as I love fall and the return of school I'm obviously having a little trouble letting go of the freedom of summer. Maybe just a little...


Monday, August 23, 2010

3rd Grade...

Lexi is off being an official 3rd grader today. There has been a lot of excitement for today. A new school, new friends, learning. I love that my daughter loves to learn. She's kinda geeky like that. (It's OK, so are her parents.)

I'm not sure why, but today was a little teary for me. Maybe it's because she's in a new school. It's partially because I am so happy that she is so happy to be headed to school. And I'm sure it's a little because she's growing up so fast, choosing to head into the building on her own instead of having one of us walk her to her room. We stood outside watching her put her bag in her locker, remembering to get out the papers that she needed to give to her teacher this morning.

I can't wait to hear all about her day this afternoon when she returns home. To learn the names of her new friends. To find out if indeed the rumor she heard was true...that third graders only get ONE recess. To find out if she likes her top open desk as much as she thought she would. (She was SERIOUSLY excited about her top open desk.)

And yes, for those of you who noticed, she is wearing the same outfit today as on her first day of 2nd grade, with bigger shoes! It was her compromise to me vetoing her first choice...jeans. (Seriously, it's suppose to be in the upper 80s today. Not what I would call "jean weather", especially during that one recess!)

One down, one to go. Brea has her day next Monday as she embarks on her preschool experience. She's eagerly counting down the days.


Sunday, August 22, 2010


Tomorrow is the first day of school.

We went back to school shoe shopping today.

Apparently we are not the only ones who waited till the last minute to buy new shoes for the start of school.

Each of the girls came home with two pair of shoes.

Both pair are closed toed tennis shoes because I have this thing about letting them wear sandals or slip-ons to school.

I just don't allow it.

We can currently shop for both of the girls in the same size section of the store, which means they can come home looking like this.

I'm pretty darn happy that a new pair of Converse has been deemed as a back to school necessity.

They are SOOOOO my daughters.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

A New Toy...

So...I may have done a little online retail therapy lately...twice. (I know, not necessarily smart considering the whole unemployed thing...which is why I've needed the comfort of retail therapy. It's an evil, evil cycle I tell you.) Only the first time I didn't end up jiving with my purchase so it went back so I could get credit so I could choose differently. It was a FABULOUS decision to make the switch.

I present to you a few play photos taken today with my new Lensbaby Composer. Lensbaby offers (in their own words) "...a whole line of creative effects camera lenses..." and I've been wishing for one ever since I borrowed one from a photographer friend in Grinnell last fall. I love how the selective sweet spot focus of this unique line of lenses allows one to bend light and create mood and attention to detail. What I'm discovering is that my photography style is pretty up close and personal. I love to find new ways to make close interesting. Some people love landscapes and wide open spaces. I apparently prefer a little more intimate relationship with my subjects. I've never really thought about that aspect of my shooting style before until earlier this month when it became very apparent when my first attempt at expanding my lens bag was with a wide angle lens. A lens that went back because it just didn't feel right on my camera. The pictures I took with it were nice, but not me. However, one day of play with my new Composer and I'm in love...and excited to get out shooting MORE!

Today's subjects were just things around the house. I simply experimented with a few shots here and there as I went about my day. First off, this delicious melon Aunt Pam brought us from her garden that was part of our lunchy goodness.

And then there's my new hat, compliments of my new part time job...

(For those of you who don't already know this fact...I love hats. So does Scott. So do our girls. Which means we own...just a few.)

And, remember this little guy?

While the focus is not quite right in this picture, I love, love, LOVE the colors on display by the books in Danbo's background. This was a simply quick snap, but I think an area of the house I will revisit for inspiration in the coming weeks.

Funny, my camera bag now has just as many "play" lenses as "serious" lenses...and I'm, surprisingly, pretty darn happy with that fact. Interesting what you find out about yourself when you take the time to really explore an interest. I'm quite enjoying this particular exploration!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Just Looking at That Makes Me Want To Puke...

Those were the first words out of Lexi's mouth as we started our trek into the Iowa State Fair grounds via the mid-way. (She definitely gets that from her father.) Generally we are not big State Fair goers, but Scott's employer is a big sponsor at the fair each year, which means the need for employees to help staff the "community relations" tent. For two (interesting) hours last night Scott and I applied temp tattoos to young fair goers among the smells of fried foods on a stick and the sounds of mid-way rides, free entertainment stages, beer tent DJs, and dirt track car races across the street at the Grandstand. (Talk about sensory overload!)

While maybe not my first choice of activities, I would be lying if I said it was a completely un-enjoyed experience. It was fun to see just how exciting a friendly smile and a free bear tattoo can be to even a hot, tired toddler. Plus it's nice to get a chance to meet some of the people Scott spend's his days around while he is at work.

I am so, so, SOOOO thankful for my friend Kim and her daughter Emma and their willingness to hang out with our girls and show them the fun side of the fair while we were stuck at the tent. They enjoyed the giant slide, making spin art, going through the kid's experience farm (Brea's favorite), checking out the butterfly tent, and walking through the animal barns (Lexi's favorite). Brea has already asked several times when we will be able to go back again. (Next year will be soon enough for me.)

After our tattoo shift was over, we did manage to collect the girls and walk past the butter and ice sculptures on our way to check out the photography salon before bringing our tired selves home. I am always amazed and inspired by the selected images. I could spend way more time viewing them than I generally have time for with tired kids in tow. I have decided to make it a personal goal to submit my own entry (or entries?) for consideration next year. I'm really interested in continuing to develop my photography skills and what better motivation than by participating a little friendly competition? Game on!


Monday, August 16, 2010

If Dogs Could Talk...

I'm pretty sure this is how Jasper would describe what heaven must be like.


Sunday, August 8, 2010


Sometimes I have to remind myself to keep perspective on the happenings of life. While our move this summer has been hard for me emotionally as I try to find my place in our new community, I also have to remember to appreciate the good it has brought into our lives.
  • Our house simply makes us happy. It has such a great spirit with its old house character, open spaces, and lovely light thanks to the many big (old) windows. We simply feel at home here. With the cooler fall months ahead I'm looking forward to digging into some yard work and getting out the paint brushes to start adding some new color to our interior walls.
  • My husband is the happiest I have seen him in a long, long time. The shorter commute, occasional picnic lunches with his girls, and increased family time in general are obviously doing good things for his spirits. I look at his smiling, relaxed face and I feel like I am falling in love with him all over again. After 18 years, his smile, his touch, and a glance from those big soft eyes can still make me melt like a Popsicle on the 4th of July.
  • We have lovely new neighbors. The family just to the east of us even donated their swing set, which hadn't gotten much use over the past few years as their kids have have reached middle school age, to our backyard. The girls are super excited to have a slide. I should have known it would only be a matter of time before they figured out they could do this...

I have started working part time at the Snap Fitness here in Carlisle this week. While I have very limited hours and am not much more than an over qualified cleaning lady/receptionist, I've started to connect with other community members and have got to share a little of my professional knowledge. Plus, we get a free membership! This coming week I have several conversations scheduled to try to establish some yoga business space.

School starts in 3 short weeks which excites the girls to no end. And to be totally honest I am looking forward to a few kid free hours several days a week while Brea is at preschool.

I will always miss Grinnell, but slowly I'm starting to feel a bit more comfortably a part of Carlisle. I just need to give it time...and keep perspective.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Just Floating Along...

This weekend the National Balloon Classic kicked off in a short 15 minute drive for us. Saturday we went to watch the "Open of the Skies" mass balloon ascension. At last count we could see over 80 balloons floating along in the mostly dead evening air. It was amazing...and I didn't have my camera.

Tuesday night with Mom, Rod, and Uncle Jason in tow we returned to watch the evening's flight. This time I took my camera. Granted we choose not to go to the actual balloon grounds avoiding both the traffic and the cost of entrance, and there were many fewer balloons taking flight, but even so it was well worth the trip.

Mom and Rod (who arrived Sunday evening for a short visit) and my brother Jason (who has been in Iowa for the summer) took off today to head west. Their departure has hit me hard as it somewhat signals the end of summer for me. From this point forward I seriously need to focus on getting my business re-established in our new community as well as tie up the loose ends from the move, especially those that need gathered for the girls to start school in just a few short weeks.

For the past 2 months I kinda feel like I've been floating along just catching the wind currents of the moment. In some aspects it has been lovely and free. In others it has been super scary not really knowing which direction I will be headed at any given moment. I don't know that I can yet predict which way I am traveling.

I don't know that I'm wired to live without a set course for a very long length of time. I feel the uncertainty starting to weigh down my emotions. I'm craving predictability. A schedule. An income. Some professional outlet. Something that can feel normal after a period of time when not much has felt familiar.

I was hoping the period of transition would come to an end with the unpacking of boxes. When in all reality I think it simply marked the beginning.