Saturday, July 30, 2011

Jellies at Shedd

Incredible exhibit. We are now big fans of jellies.
I added no color to these. It's how they lit the tanks. Love love love the color! Makes my spirit happy.

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Sweet Home, Chicago

I have been remiss in posting here. Too much travel (if there is such a thing). Home now, for at least a few weeks. I want nothing more than to vacuum my house tomorrow.
Going to try to get this space up to date, too. No promises, though. Cleaning the house comes first!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Waiting for breakfast

Zoe's first time hanging out in the Observation Car.

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Waiting for our train

It's delayed about 1.5 hours. I'm amusing myself by making photographs.
One of the many reasons I love photography. I'm never bored as there is always something to look at/shoot.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zoe's Big Day

Big day for my little girl yesterday.  I took a half day (figured it was fine since I worked all weekend at a trade show downtown...three 15-hours days in a row suck, but at least that last one was capped by an awesome U2 concert!) and we did our thing.

First up: the dentist.  We took her to our dentist last year, who barely managed to get a pano x-ray before handing me a business card and saying, "Here's a pediatric dentist.  She might do better there."  As luck would have it, a few days later one of my preschool mommy friends sent an e-mail to the group of us asking for a pediatric dentist recommendation.  Of the five women who responded, four gave rave reviews for the same practice.  Sold.  Because they're so popular, they book up pretty far in advance.  I was content to wait, though, and just wanted to ensure she went before she started kindergarten.

Holy crap.  This practice is extraordinary.  Every single person is friendly and happy.  They made everything insanely easy, which doesn't seem to ever happen these days.  Zoe was sent a little activity book, "My First Dental Visit," in advance of her appointment.  I suppose they, like us, don't really count that first one at the grown-up dentist.  Could be the screaming involved.  Whatever.  So we read the book together and talked about it, and she talked to her friends at school who go to that practice.  She was pumped about yesterday.  Going to the dentist, miraculously, has become a thing to celebrate.

We waited for her to be called, watching "Up" on the flat panel.  The assistant came out and said her name, and Zoe hopped off her chair and took off.  I had to call her back to get a kiss.  Poof.  She was gone.  Smiling and laughing.  Forty five minutes later, I am called back to meet the dentist, where he tells me that she has no plaque, no cavities, and that there is absolutely nothing to change with her brushing habit as she's reaching everything well.  We looked at her x-rays, which show her adult teeth coming in nicely...just about ready to start pushing out her baby teeth.  I held back the tears.  And then laughed when he said that she'll most likely require braces.  Yep...figured that already.  Just like her mama and her dad.

Zoe was shown into the room, where she clutched her goodie bag and grinned like a maniac.  She's big into showing off her "sparkly" teeth.  She waited patiently while I finished my conversation with the dentist, and then I thanked him and asked her if she had anything to say.  "Yes!  I love you!"  He seemed pretty surprised to hear that, and cracked up laughing.  He told me she had her mouth open before he even sat down, and she instructed him to count her teeth.  And then told him she has 20 before he could even start.  It's the engineering genes, I think.

After the dentist, we went to the apparel store that sells school uniforms for our area.  Time to be fitted, and uniforms purchased/ordered as kindergarten is just around the corner.

Oh.  My.  Gawd.  It took everything I had to not weep through the entire experience.  My little baby...  Such a big girl now with her plaid jumper and white oxford with the Peter Pan collar.  So freakin' adorable.  You can guess what happened next.  Since Mommy didn't go to Catholic school, Mommy went overboard in the store and Zoe now has her official school sweatshirt, an extra jumper, five short-sleeve shirts and one long-sleeve (the other four are on order), plus a matching plaid headband, a plaid scrunchie, and a fabric headband with the name of her school embroidered on it.

From there, it was on to Wal-Mart to purchase school supplies for the charity backpack program.  Our church participates in this program every year.  We select a laminated list of school supplies (by grade) from the bulletin board, buy a backpack, then stuff it full of crayons, pencils, paper and the like.  We chose kindergarten this year, as we have our own kindergartner.  I realized as we were walking in to the store that the dress code policy sheet I had in my purse for the uniform fitting also contained her list of school supplies, so we knocked 'em both out.  Zoe thought it was pretty neat to pick out identical supplies for herself and our unknown friend.

It was an afternoon all about Zo, all for Zo.  And it was amazing.  We had such a great time together, and I'm so proud of her.

Off on the train to Chicago tomorrow, so more good memories await.  I can't help but think that I must be the luckiest girl in the world.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011


So much going on these days, and hardly time to document it all!  I've been shooting a ton, which makes me happy happy.  I am slowly getting over my "it's not really photography with an iPhone" hang-up, which is another one of my purely self-inflicted notions.  I see all the wonderful images continually posted on Instagram, and I consider that photography, so why not my own?  Still, clutching the Nikon for three days straight in Arkansas did me a world of good.

This weekend is jam-packed with work (giant industry conference in town - my town!) and the concert to end all concerts.  Then a couple of hectic days before we head out for a long weekend in Chicago.  We're taking the train, much to Zoe's delight.  It's her first train trip, and while it's not an overnighter, both legs are booked on a Superliner so we may get a chance to eat in the dining car (versus the cafe car...big difference).  We get back from that and I flip the next day and fly out to NYC for site selection for my company's bi-annual global convention.  It's rough to stay in the finest hotels and eat at legendary Manhattan restaurants and visit huge landmarks, but someone's gotta do it.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll at least be posting iPhone images here regularly, so stay tuned.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer 2011 Trip #1: Queen Wilhelmina State Park, AR

Some images from our trip.  M gave me some blessed (much-needed!) alone time by taking Zozer to play miniature golf Saturday afternoon.  I sat downstairs at the lodge and edited images.  Heaven.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

And I'm off...

We're off to Arkansas tomorrow.  What's in Arkansas, you ask?  Well, if you're uptight and snobby and sophisticated, you'll think nothing but sticks and hicks and ticks.  If you're open to it, though, open to the uniqueness that every new place offers, well, then there's a whole new world.

I am reading a new book right now on contemplative photography.  It's not so much about photography as it is about viewing the world with an open mind and fresh eyes.  And recognizing the beauty in darn near everything.  And there's a lot out there to recognize.  It's how I tend to view the world anyway, when not weighted down by the tasks of daily life.  It's just nice to have a label for it.

It's kind of like being a kid again where anything new is exciting and you don't have the adult filters of expectations (self-imposed and otherwise).

We are going to The Castle in the Clouds.  Or that's what it's called by the promoters.  It sounds lovely and rather romantic.  Arkansas, romanticized.  Well, now there's a notion.

Really, what is is, though, is not so much about the destination but the journey.  It's about spending time together, just the three of us, experiencing new things.  It's about seeing someplace new.  It's about breaking up the routine of work/school/housework/bills.

There are three things I would like to accomplish for myself this weekend.  Three things beyond the family stuff.  I want to read, write, and photograph.  Not necessarily in that order.

I haven't been writing much for myself lately, and I miss it.  I need to get back to it, if only to document my child's childhood.  (She has learned to swim.  Doggy paddle, granted, but it's enough to get her out of the pool should she fall in.  Swim lessons where we concentrate on freestyle and breast stroke be's about basic survival.  Now that's she's mastered that, we're stopping the lessons and giving all of us a break for awhile.)  I need to express myself in ways beyond my iPhone Instagram snaps, although that has been great fun.

I have been thinking a lot lately about my favorite writers.  There are the Greats, the ones everyone lists. Shakespeare, Hemingway, Salinger.  Then there are the guilty pleasures (I've been known to snap up the latest Tom Clancy the day it hits the shelves) and the popular (hello, JK Rowling).  But there are also my personal favorites, the writers that hit me in the solar plexus almost on a daily basis.  These include, in no particular order, Kate Inglis, Jen Lemen, Marty Winkler, and the national sales manager of my company whose e-mails manage to draw the line while being intensely motivational (and grammatically correct - yay!  And sad that proper grammar alone is something worthy of cheering.)

I love good writing.  Love it.  I don't just enjoy it.  I lap it up like it's the last ice cream in hell and I roll around in it and revel in it and celebrate it.  I was going to say that I wish I could make a living as a writer, but in essence, I do.  My job is centered mostly on writing and editing.  Does it matter that it's for a corporation?  Does it matter that my for-pay writing is determined by someone else?  By a whole industry?  Are corporate writers any less than those artistic souls who slug away to bang out fiction that sucks you in and makes you weep or laugh out loud or, best of all, actually think?

I struggle with all these notions of who I am and who I want to be and who I think I should be.

Well, now, that's a good thing to think about on an 8-hour ride to Arkansas.

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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Downtown sights

Yesterday, when it wasn't raining.

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Independence Weekend Snaps