Archive for March, 2013

On Holiday Photos

What does a group holiday picture say about the members of a family? It is fun to look back at pictures. None of them are perfect and all of them are entertaining. Pictures, for me, are a visual container for memories. The first, and only, time we had professional family pictures done was in October of 2008. Natalie was about a year and a half; Taylor was about 8. Riley and I were sweating when we were done. And, we have never tried that again. We have done family portraits at home when we can use lots of threats encouragement to ensure better compliance.

Today, after the Easter egg hunt, after candy had been consumed, after handsome and beautiful clothes were adorned, we took a picture of the kids. Together. At one time. It was fun looking at the product and assessing personalities based on the best shot.


Taylor – the olders and most compliant; smiles and looks at the camera through all takes; looks pretty happy and relaxed, and photogenic as usual.

Natalie – the independent oldest girl; tries to strike model-esque poses; looks spunky and sweet, and proud of her new toy from the Easter bunny.

James – the third child; makes hero poses or stands timidly, unsure what else to do; looks like he is wondering how long this will take.

Liberty – the baby girl; continues munching on her apple while standing where she was placed; looks like she is thinking about her apple, or her brother’s hat, oblivious to what everyone else is doing, or why they are all standing by the wall.

The dad (not pictured) – quickly and efficiently lines up kids, tries to get their attention toward the camera; looks like he is wondering what the mom was thinking.

The mom (not pictured) – the harried photographer with grand ideas for what this amazing picture should look like with her adorable kids; quickly snaps a few shots as dad lines up kids and removes dogs; looks at the final picture of those adorable kids in a frantic, poorly-framed shot and loves them just the same.

Happy Easter from our family to yours!


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Grampa Gus as a toddler. Looks a little like James.

Grampa Gus as a toddler. Looks a little like James.

My husband opened up my laptop this morning to check his email. He said, “You have a reminder on your calendar. It says ‘Grampa’s Birthday’.” I confirmed that today was my Grampa’s birthday. Even though I knew when his birthday was, and had seen it coming up on my calendar, it was a stark reminder of an amazing man missing from our lives. So, today, as we celebrate Good Friday and look forward to the blessing of Easter, I also reminisce about a hard-working, giving, funny, loving, devoted man who would have given the shirt off his back to a complete stranger. There are probably a lot of people talking about my Grampa in the nursing homes of Allouez. No doubt a lot of good memories about a man who lived to be 95 years old, growing up in a 3-block radius in Superior.

I want to share one of my most memorable times with my Grampa; it was both mundane and slightly frustrating; yet pivotal. We were spending time at the lake. I was probably about 17 or 18. The lawn mower was broken and the yard needed to be mowed. It was mid-morning on what would end up being a very warm day in Iron River. I was still in my pajamas, hair piled in a mess at the back of my head and had my ill-fit glasses on. Grampa asked me to help him with the lawn mower. And, when Grampa asked for something, he wanted it 5 minutes ago. So, I begrudgingly obliged. I stood there “helping”, slightly sweating in the morning humidity, glasses falling off my nose every time I bent down and beginning to get hungry. I was feeling frustrated that I wanted breakfast and a Diet Coke, but wouldn’t be given a few seconds to meet my immediate needs. Grampa tinkered and swore; he tightened bolts, oiled gears, greased the moving parts and I stood, then crouched, then fetched things and held things. Grampa didn’t always use the right words for things, “Get me that watchacallit,” he’d say. I would hold up a variety of watchacallits until I found just the right one, mentally roll my eyes and hand it over. When it was all said and done, he said, “Now, let’s see if she goes,” with that crinkly-browed grin he was so famous for. Please, I thought, Please let the damn thing run. And it did. I was free. But then, then he looked at me, with those bright blue smiling eyes and said, “Thanks, Sar. Thanks for helping an old man out.” He clapped a hand on my shoulder and waddled off, dragging his feet with the notorious gait of Grampa Gus.

One of our last visits with Grampa strong enough to sit at the table to admire newborn Liberty.

One of our last visits with Grampa strong enough to sit at the table to admire newborn Liberty.

I think I physically deflated right there on the spot. How could I have been so selfish? So rude? I hoped he couldn’t read my mind. I smiled weakly and moved along. I grew up. Right there.

Today, Grampa, I would help you a hundred times with a lawn mower or get you a cup of coffee or make you a peice of toast piled with butter. I’d go buy you root beer or get you a bowl of ice cream with strawberries. We love you and miss you. Terribly.

I hope all of the polka bands in Heaven have assembled today to serenade you for your birthday. I hope there is someone who can serve you a nice homemade roast with mashed potatoes and gravy and a nice peice of fresh white bread. I hope you’re up and dancing the day away.

My Grampa touched the lives of many people. Did you meet him? What is your favorite memory?


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This Moment: A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


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Phoneography: the trees

Every morning I cross the Chippewa River and then drive along it’s edge on my way into work. The seasons and the weather play to an ever-changing scene. Every time steam rises off the river, I wish I had my camera. Every time the sun shines through the trees along the road, I wish I had my camera. Every time the frost clings to the branches that line the river, I wish I had my camera.

I embraced the phoneography challenge by snapping a quick picture as I passed by. It’s not as beautiful as the original scene, as is generally the case with landscape photography, but you can get the general idea. Moisture from the rising steam clung and froze to the tree branches; the sun shone through the branches, playing off of the shimmering river. The steam muted the brightness of the sun and everything looked beautiful.


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Liberty might be growing. She runs enthusiastically to the table when food is displayed. She asks for a “bah!” (Protein bar) every night before bed, whether by hunger or habit. One night big Sissy was delayed in joining us at the table. In the foreground you can see an empty plate – the one Liberty already cleaned. In the background you can see a cute curly-haired blonde going to town on her sister’s plate. What really had us laughing is when Natalie came to the table and dropped her jaw at the empty plate sitting by an empty chair. Liberty, always concerned with others’ feelings, hopped down and said. “Sissy plate. I eat.”


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On Calming Jars


Pinterest is a veritable playground of ideas. If you like to do crafts with your kids, or even if you don’t, Pinterest has every idea imaginable. I know a lot of people that spend literally hours browsing ideas on Pinterest. It’s one obsession I haven’t bowed to yet. Facebook – yes; Blogging – obviously. But Pinterest – not yet.

Occasionally one of my friends posts, or pins, an idea that looks neat. That would be cool to do someday with the kids, I think to myself. And then I do nothing.

One idea recently rang out with Love & Logic. Someone posted instructions for making a Calming Jar. Mostly I was curious about how they put calm in a jar. I read on to see that the instructions laid out plans to put glitter, glitter glue and water in a mason jar.

The idea is that when kids are in bedroom time to calm down, they shake the jar and as the glitter calms to the bottom of the jar, so does the child come down.

I wasn’t sure it would work for that purpose but I got to test it out almost as soon as we screwed the last cover on the jar.

The sparkly Calming Jar is not a magical potion, but it worked well to redirect and promote thinking time. The glitter takes less than 30 seconds to settle. But it’s pretty so I reminded the perpetrator that some children like to give the jar another shake or two if they are not feeling calm yet.

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On Feeling Grown-Up

Sometimes it hits me like a ton of bricks, this life I have been given. A fleeting moment when I catch my breath and realize that I am responsible for keeping these young people alive; for feeding them, clothing them; for loving and nurturing them. I am responsible for teaching them and helping them grow; for instilling confidence and independence. I am in charge of making sure they have all that they need to become mature, responsible, contributing members of society. It is in those moments that I realize that I’m a grown-up. Through and through. I’m the mom.


Inspired by WordPress Daily Writing Prompt: When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?


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