Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Peek...

(Our first Feliz Navidad at the Snyders!)

(Christmas PJs, 2011.)

(Surprise mini Lego people were hidden in the tree waiting for us to find and assemble on Christmas Eve.)

(The girls were so excited about the gift they found Daddy at RAYGUN.)

(Chatting with Uncle Jason.)


Friday, December 23, 2011

The Iowa I Know and Love...

Now that the pressure valve has let off some of the steam that had built up and resulted in yesterday's pot of sarcasm, I thought today I would post links to a few additional articles posted at the Atlantic that describe the Iowa, and rural middle America, with which I am much more familiar.

In Defense of Iowa Food
by Kurt Friese

Look to Iowa's Future, Not its Past: A Response to Bloom by Bernard Sherman

And quite possibly my favorite response that you simply must read with a bit of a southern accent, sugar...

What Stephen Bloom is Missing About Iowa by Lynda Waddington

Sure Iowa has its problems...just like each of the other 49 US states and the nations beyond our borders and across the oceans. But let's face it, the life my family lives as Iowans in a small town once built on the back of agriculture and industry is one mostly of comfort and privilege. We live in a beautiful old home with a history of its own that I hope will continue to be written well after our time here comes to an end. We are fortunate to be surrounded by caring neighbors who keep an eye on our girls as they walk to school or play for hours on end in our unfenced back-yard. Neighbors with whom we have traded snow shoveling duties, a quick friendly wave in passing, or a beer (or bottle of wine) on the patio at the end of a beautiful summer day.

It's no secret that I have my own grievances with the community we now call home. Carlisle has had a tough, tough job in becoming a place that I embrace as much as I did (and still do) the community of Grinnell. That being said this town is full of what helped make Grinnell the community I loved so much...real, caring, and amazing people. Some who have lived here their whole lives, have raised their families here, and who still choose to be active promoters of this community. Some who, like me, are transplants looking for a good school district and affordable housing in a small community near the employment opportunities of the big city. We have different religious practices. Different political affiliations. Some of us hunt. Some of us don't. Many of us have grown up in rural communities and now see the benefits of raising our kids in a similar small town. Some have transplanted from a larger urban area in search of a simpler life. Yet in the end, despite our differences, we all seems to be working towards the same goal: creating a community in which we can all live rich, safe, long, healthy, engaged lives.

That is the Iowa I know and love. It's the part of being a proud born and raised Midwesterner that will ALWAYS bring out the "mother bear defending her cubs" side of me when someone bitterly judges the blessed, simple life I have made a very conscious decision to live...right here in the middle of good old rural Iowa.

Now with that all said and put out of the way, it's back to the more immediate task at hand: giving this old house a good cleaning so we can get down to the business of fun filled holiday activities such as pizzelle making, gift wrapping, and scrabble playing. (Thank goodness I don't actually have reason to figure out how to creatively wrap a shot gun!)


Thursday, December 22, 2011

I live in Iowa. Oh the horror!

Earlier this month U of I professor, and author, Stephen Bloom posted an article in the political section of the website the Atlantic addressing the upcoming caucus season and his observations about Iowa, and Iowans, from the past 20 years as a resident. Being a busy time of year, and as one who tends not to pay much attention to politically focused matters, I didn't get the urge to read said article until I started seeing frequent references to it on my friend's Facebook feeds. So last night just before bed I set aside some time to sort through Mr. Bloom's many, many, MANY thoughts about the state of our state.

Today I wanted to take a little time to write this post to thank Mr. Bloom for sharing his wisdom. Until I took the time to decipher his big, fancy words I didn't realize I was doing this whole "living in rural Iowa" thing (or by extension my whole existence as a lifetime rural Midwesterner...minus those 15 glorious months of living in civilization in the KC metro area) COMPLETELY wrong. As someone who graduated from both high school and college with an A average, I can't stand the thought of not performing to the best of my abilities. Luckily I have a few days off over the next few weeks so I can make some adjustments to our lifestyle to better conform to the Mr. Bloom's picture of rural Iowa.

Apparently when Scott and I decided to leave the civilized world of the Kansas City metro to start and raise our family in rural Iowa, we were unaware that we were dooming ourselves to a toothless, digitless, meth addicted existence where instead of using, and even quite possibly extending, our education for gain and betterment of the world around us, we are simply expected to sit around waiting for death to relieve us of the horrors of our life. Today I informed the girls that, like it or not, their Christmas wish lists were to be adjusted to include nothing but hunting riffles, shot-guns, and camo-wear. I mean we are currently living in a state of emergency being as we do not possess one single gun, or ounce of deer meat, in our house so we must all put aside our personal interests for the good of the whole. Instead of going to the traveling Mummy exhibit at the Science Center next week, we'll need to take time to learn how to use our new gifts, so I guess I should probably get out my knitting needles and make up some new cation orange trigger-fingerless gloves to help us stay warm. I'm sure the dogs will be quite surprised when they find themselves in canine hunters' boot-camp, as apparently they can no longer get by on their existence as loving pets alone.

While we are on the subject of food, I can't believe how many years have gone by without someone fully explaining the rules of acceptable potluck participation to me. I now know that the olive-cranberry-walnut tepenade with herbed goat cheese on French bread crostinis and the chicken-quinoa-root vegetable stew that I took to recent potluck events were in clear violation of the "must contain jello, pork, or meat shaped like a loaf" rule, and I will be sure to mend my deviant ways from this point forward. And let's not forget the famed Red Waldorf cake, a delicatessen I can not BELIEVE I have not had the honor of ingesting. I'm thinking I'm not the only one who didn't received a Potluck Participation Guidebook in my new rural Iowa resident welcome packet. I'm not sure how my vegetarian daughter will take the news that she will now be expected to ingest an acceptable number of factory farmed pork chops each month, but maybe the introduction of hard drugs to her system, and the slow subtraction of digits from her limbs, will eventually break her spirit enough that she will agree to conform.

As for me personally I will be looking for a 12-step-program to help me end my yoga practicing/teaching, gay marriage supporting, spiritually tolerant ways. I now understand that I was wrong to think that Christianity was one of many ways for a soul to find spiritual peace, one that until this point I haven't felt was the right spiritual practice for me personally. Apparently I don't get that choice as a rural Midwesterner. I feel fortunate that we don't have to venture out onto a highway to get to a number of places of worship close to our simple, drab home, though I'm not sure our employers are going to quite understand why Scott and I can no longer make it into work since the use of highways must now be reserved for rare and special occasions. Plus, as new residents in THIS rural Iowa town, we need that extra time we would spend at work getting to know each local resident (as not to be strangers) and trying to figure out how we can form a web of family relationship with someone around these parts.

Mr. Bloom's article was so enlightening I could go on and on here about how much we are going to have to change our lives to fit the definition of rural Iowan, but before we have to give up our high speed wireless internet, laptops, and smart phones to conform to the bleak life we are suppose to be living (which is just as well since it's gonna become very hard to type once we start our accelerated digit removal plan), I thought I would share one last picture here on my blog about my life in rural Iowa. The girls and I went out for sushi today while we did a bit of last minute Christmas gift shopping in the heart of Iowa's biggest city.

It will be a wonderful memory to take with me as I slowly slip into my standard issue rural Iowan meth induced haze...


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Cheap Therapy...

*** I've been writing this post on and off for over a week. I've decided it's just time to put it out there and move on.

It's that time of year. The time when days are getting shorter. And colder. The time of year when we move our activities inside and have a tendency to become a bit like hermits snuggling up with movies, knitting, board games, books, and cups of warm beverages. And it's that time of year when I find myself making my way back to the gym to pound out the miles on the hamster wheel known as a treadmill for some heat creating, calorie burning and cheap mental therapy.

Every year I think OK, I'm ready for this. I know what to expect. I have the tools needed to handle the variety of emotions I find myself facing this time of year. This year IS going to be better. Despite my attempt at positive thinking, I'm amazed at how easily my optimism can be be derailed.

I have a lot of random thoughts running through my head these days. I have a hard time defining them all. Maybe that's my problem, maybe definition is not what I need. I'm trying to face them in a way that both honors my inner being and keeps perspective on the privilege that is my life. In one word I'm feeling...unsettled. And as we have established before, that's not a feeling with which I can sit with very well.

Hence the trips to the gym for cheap therapy.

This too, as the seasons always do, shall pass.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Morning Silly...

Once in a while Dando's curiosity urges him to venture off the bookshelf so he check out other toys in the house.

I think he thinks Froggy is missing a few marbles.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Guts...

As much as I enjoy celebrating Halloween, we're not really big pumpkin carvers. I think it's because the girls are not really big on the mess that is pumpkin carving...mainly the sticking their hands inside a slimy pumpkin to pull out it's guts part. (Need proof? Watch this.) But this year we have special pumpkins from Nebraska that were grown by the girls' Great Grandpa, so there was no question as to if there would be carving or not.

I'm thankful for Scott's help in both getting the pumpkins ready for carving (which some how ended up being my job) and a little clean-up detailing after I got the designs cut in.

We cheated a little with the design step, using free templates we printed from cyberspace rather than coming up with original designs. But in the end the girls were each very happy with their chosen designs and that's all that matters. After cleaning up I washed and roasted the seeds, half of which I spiced with some salt, smoked paprika, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and Sarracha. The are only slightly addicting.

(Now if only we had a handle on this year's costumes.)

Happy haunting all!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Bit Off Balance...

Hello dear blog. I imagine you were wondering if I would ever again stop by for a visit. I've been wondering that myself lately.

To say I have not had time to write might not be 100% true. The time, if I made use of it, would be available. I've more been lacking the energy for words after my days spent in an environment where I hear and say so many, many words. In fact a lack of energy to tackle just about anything at the end of the day has me feeling a bit off balance recently. When I took this job I maybe didn't fully grasp that I would be spending my days with a school full of energy vampires.

Now that the newness of our new life schedule has worn off I'm starting to really notice how fortunate I was to be able to balance both the somewhat mundane tasks of day-to-day life (grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking, bill paying, etc) while having time to be inspired to involve myself (and my family) in more creative and active endeavors without the time and energy requirements of working full time. I know I'm very fortunate to only be working a 32-35 hrs/wk schedule that allows me to be available for the girls outside of our hours spent at school while providing our family with a much needed income. I guess I still need to work on finding a balance that helps me feel more like myself, or the self I have come to really like being over the past 5 years, through it all.

If all else fails, winter break is only a little over 2 months away...


Monday, September 5, 2011

Photo Drive...

I took my camera on a drive today. I had heard that in a small township nearby there was an old historic church. I couldn't pass up the BEAUTIFUL day and a few hours to myself to go check it out.

As part of my trip I decided to do a little self-portrait project. Unfortunately as I was pulling together my equipment, I realized my tripod was in the trunk of my Scott's car...which had just left to take Scott and the girls to the last I-Cubs game of the season. Sooooo...I borrowed a beanbag pillow from the girls' room and hit the road hoping I could find safe places to nestle my camera. Here are my 2 favorite shots...

What I discovered undertaking this project is a remote trigger would have REALLY come in handy AND it's really hard to fine tune focus when you are trying to work the role on both sides of the camera.

I'm really uncomfortable being the subject in front of a camera...but I have to say, I had quite a bit of fun this afternoon.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Day 1...

Fun was had by all.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a MUCH easier time getting to sleep tonight than I did last night. *YAWN*


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

School Eve...

Earlier today a friend on Facebook posted a picture of her girls, and their last day of summer activities, with the simple caption "School Eve." I thought it was fitting for today's post because we too are celebrating School Eve in our house. Tomorrow while Brea heads to Kindergarten and Lexi starts 4th grade, I will be going back to 5th grade...this time as a Paraeducator. It's both super exciting, and creating a few butterflies in my tummy.

It's hard to believe that it's been 5 years since I said good-bye to my last full-time job and hello to full-time Mom and entrepreneur. Even with all the ups and downs, challenges and stresses, that have played out over those 5 years I wouldn't go back and chose a different direction. The gifts I have received by focusing on my family, and my dream of making a living by helping people live healthier lives, are priceless. But even then I knew that once Brea was headed to school full time, I more likely than not would be ready for a change. At that time I didn't know what that change would look like, but then again at that time I had no idea just how much our lives in general would change over 5 years time. But I did know me. I knew that once both of our girls filled their daytime hours with school, I would want something more to do with my 8-3 hours as well. So in a way facing tomorrow's adventure is a little less scary because I've been anticipating it for 5 years.

I couldn't have asked for a better job to help me re-enter the working world:

  • My work schedule perfectly matches the girls' school schedule, which was one of the biggest sources of anxiety I faced when I started job searching this spring. Working for the school means snow days, inservice days, holiday breaks, and early outs are covered from a childcare perspective.

  • The principal in the building in which I will be working was the first person we met in Carlisle after we knew we would be relocating here. He spent over an hour with us on our first school visit introducing us to teachers, talking about the school district, and answering our questions about the community in general. He's an incredibly warm and welcoming person that played a large part in helping us feel confident in our decision to relocate to Carlisle. I feel pretty lucky to now call him my boss.

  • The school, like in many small towns, plays a pretty big role in bringing together members of our community to support sporting and performing arts events. As someone who really appreciates the role of education and how much value strong school programs can add to a community, I'm super excited to be working to support the district "on the inside", as well as my role as a parent.

  • As someone who wishes Professional Student was an ACTUAL career path that could provide a living wage, I'm excited for a new challenge. As with any new experience, there's going to be LOTS of opportunity for ME to learn while I'm, hopefully, helping to enhance the learning experience of a few 5th graders. It may be a little selfish of me, but that fact right there is maybe what excites me the most about the fact MY alarm will be going off at 6:00 AM tomorrow for the first time in many, many moons.

The love, support, and excitement that so many around me have shown me as I start this new adventure has also helped to calm my nerves a bit. My family, bless them, have been so patient with me through the past year as I've had a plan, and then not had a plan, and now have a revised plan of how I can best help provide for them. My husband has been THE best cheerleader. Seriously. He understands, and values, how important it is to me to feel passionate about what I am doing with my time outside of our time together as a family. I'm sure he's had moments of being super frustrated with me and my lack of direction (and paycheck) over the past year, but he's never once let that color his words of love and encouragement. It's just one of the reasons I love him more today than I ever would have guessed I could when we first met as teenagers. How lucky am I to have found him? Damn lucky I tend to think.

The back-packs are packed. Lunch bags are ready to be filled. The camera has been prepped for 1st day photos. Because tomorrow morning it's off to school we go!!!

(I hope I don't get lost on my way to class.)


Friday, August 12, 2011

Camera for Hire...

I'm so thankful my Aunt asked last winter if I would shoot my cousin's senior pictures. It took a lot of trust on her part (in my opinion) and was, I guess, part of the push I need to take the steps to put myself out there as a photographer for hire. As I have touched on here a couple of times, I've approached this "going pro" with my photography very cautiously. Partially out of protecting what I love about the photographic process and what it means to me creatively. Partially out of fear.

I started teaching yoga because I loved practicing yoga. I loved what it offered my body, my mind, and my soul. Given my background in fitness, and specifically in group fitness, teaching just felt like part of my growth as a practitioner. What I wasn't ready for, and what I've found is not an uncommon occurrence when someone makes the jump from yogi to yoga teacher, was how my relationship with yoga changed when it became my job...especially when I made the choice to lean on my teaching status to provide necessary income. This past year has been especially stressful on yoga and I's marriage. We are in a bit of a trial separation at the moment. I'm confident that we will make amends and once again happily co-exist. We always seem to figure out how to find common ground in the end.

Knowing what I know about how my relationship with yoga has changed after I "turned pro" has been a big reason I've been very reluctant to do the same with my photography practice. Not to mention I think any time you put yourself creatively out into the world it's a little scary. When photography is your hobby you shoot, process, print, learn and play to please only your own heart's desires. Paying clients, while initially drawn to your services by your style, get to interject their own ideas and critiques. While I generally play well with others, when it comes to my photography I can be a little selfish.

But in the end, I just really like taking pictures. And honestly, people are my favorite subjects. And well, everyone around me has always been so supportive and encouraging for me to at least consider "going pro". And I will never expect my photography business to generate any more income than what's needed to to support my habit (which I know will make my hubby happy), and buy me a cup of coffee now and then. And now that I've done 5 different shoots for people who are not my immediate family members with great end results (both in product and experiences) for all involved...I'm jumping.

The website has been created.

A Facebook page has been posted.

And here are a few of my cousin's senior pictures that helped to get the ball rolling...

As you can see it was very vehicle intensive. And very casual. And very much my style...full of color, bold contrasts, and fun details. Thanks Paxton for being a very patient and cooperative model. Thanks Aunt Kathleen for putting your trust in my skills. And thanks to all of YOU for your continued love and support.


Thursday, August 11, 2011


Saturday evening we went to watch the last night of flight at the National Balloon Classic in Indianola. It was...


Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Week in the West...

The girls and I took advantage of no commitments last week to go spend an extra week of the summer with family in Western Nebraska. While the miles traveled were many, so were the laughs, hugs, and good times. Our first stop was a couple of days at my Aunt & Uncle's in Gothenburg for some senior portrait work. (Which have yet to be processed so don't expect to see any in this post.)

(We love the Jeep.)

The Gothenburg portion of our trip had been planned for the whole summer, it was part 2 of the trip, the long haul out to the valley, that was a bit of a last minute decision. The extra miles allowed us to see Uncle Jason, Grandpa Rod, and for the girls to spend a little time learning about Nebraska farm life. They both went out with Uncle Jason irrigating at the crack of dawn (while Mommy enjoyed sleeping in) and were always happy to lend a hand in the garden. Wednesday we enjoyed new potatoes with supper, grown by Uncle Jason and Grandma, harvested by eager little hands.

We also go to meet Canch, the dog that randomly showed up at the farm a few months ago and who has decided to stay. He is a great farm dog and he loves, loves, loves attention...which he got plenty from our puppy lovin' family.

We broke up the long drive home yesterday with a stop at The Great Platte River Road Archway on I-80 at Kearney. We have driven under it several times commenting that "someday" we should stop and check it out. It's actually pretty cool, though apparently a little overwhelming when you are 5. A trip through the gift shop to get a souvenir (Buffy the stuffed Buffalo) helped eased the anxiety a bit.

This picture pretty much sums up Brea's opinion of the self guided tour. I don't have one single picture of her looking at the camera since she was too busy looking out for danger along the trail.

Upon entering the lobby you are greeted by this old pioneer, who is AWESOME. I could try to explain how he is awesome, but really I wouldn't do him justice...just go visit him yourself if your in the area. By the end of our visit Brea was finally comfortable enough to snap a picture with him.

Overall a great time was had by all, though we missed (and were greatly missed by) Daddy who we had to leave at home for this trip. We don't get to spend near enough time with our Nebraska family, so this extra trip was a special little treat before we have to settle into the school year routine in just 2 short weeks. It's hard to believe summer has passed so fast...but what a great one it has been!