Sunday, September 30, 2012



We went to the rockin' mass tonight, as Zoe calls it. What a great end to the day.

We started this morning by cleaning our new home for the first time. Which was both exciting and disgusting. All the rain we had last week puddled up on the subfloor and was driving me crazy. First because I'm frequently at the house in work clothes and shoes and it's a nasty mess, and second because despite my GC's assurances that it was fine I'm convinced that all that water can't be good. We shop-vac'd nearly 150 gallons off the floor of the guest room and Zoe's room. I used a broom to push the water in the great room out the back door. I feel much better now.

I also realized that my fear of being overwhelmed at cleaning a larger house is irrational. This house, our home that we designed just for us, means so much to me that today I didn't even mind picking up piles of sopping wet sawdust with my bare hands. Working on it is truly a labor of love.

Picking out appliances, however, is about to send me over the edge. Well, it's not so much the appliances themselves (they are pretty darn cool, actually) but more my darling husband's desire to discuss every possible iteration of a kitchen arrangement. Cooktop? Range? Wall oven? Where does the microwave go? By the end of the day, after an hours long discussion with yet another appliance salesman, I had a raging headache and the overwhelming desire to stuff both my husband and the salesman into the demo wall oven. Or perhaps one of the dishwashers. The one with the special power scrubber feature and the separate silverware tray.

It was a good thing I went to mass. I apologized to God and asked for more patience and gave thanks for the fact that we can even have these excruciating conversations.



We looked at ranges today. Ranges and cooktops and ovens and combination ovens and refrigerators and dishwashers and lights. Lots and lots and lots of lights.

We chose lights, and then we got the prices on the lights. After we picked ourselves up off the floor (who knew lights were so expensive?) we resolved to do some Internet searching and then went to an Oktoberfest party hosted by a family in our parish. I drank some German beer and sang "Ein prozit! Ein prozit! Der gemütlichkeit!" Not that I remember what that means from my two years of high school German and two years of college German. Cheers or something along those lines. It's not asking for the bathroom. I know this because I do remember that this particular phrase is "wo ist das bodzimmer?" I can ask for a beer (Ein bier, bitte!), say cheers, and ask for the restroom. What more does a girl need in Germany?

Tonight, all I know is that I wasn't singing about lights or dishwashers or cooktops or refrigerators or shingles, which started to go on the roof today. My GC had told me they'd start today but I didn't believe that anyone would start shingling a roof after noon on a Saturday and so was pleasantly surprised.

But I digress.

I straightened my hair for the party this evening in an attempt to divert attention away from the home we are building on a main thoroughfare in our community. It did not work. I am now known, and will be forever known, as "that woman building that Frank Lloyd Wright style house." I wanted distinctive...and it appears that's what I'm getting. And I suppose there are far worst things to be known for. Wait til they see it done. It's gonna be so freaking awesome. They haven't even seen the vertical casement windows with the gorgeous chocolate trim, or the beautiful amaretto brick alternating finishes for the subtle stripe. Hell, I can't wait to see it!

The conversations tonight, though, got pretty funny. A friend from my retreat said, "Oh my goodness! You have shingles! Gorgeous!" To which I replied, "I know! Isn't it great!" The new friend standing there looked at me in horror, thinking we were discussing shingles of the medical variety, which are neither gorgeous nor great.

So here I am, up late (per my usual), slightly intoxicated (not so usual), showing a random photograph I made today mostly to document something for the house (per my new normal). Behold: my first choice for the light over the dining room table.

It looks a lot better in person, trust me. It compliments, but does not fight, the chandeliers hanging from the beams that span the clerestory. It will look awesome. I just have to figure out a way to pay a fraction of the price given to me today.

Here's to new construction and old friends and new friends and nosy neighbors begging for a peek inside and German beer. Prost!

Friday, September 28, 2012



We went shopping for house goodies today.


There is a lot out there, including these sparkling gems that caught my eye.

Fortunately we have two things going for us:

1. We have a set design style.
2. We are extremely decisive.

These two things along with some highly specific requirements (wall-mount toilets, wall-mount bathroom faucets, 4 burner + griddle dual-fuel range) means little to no deliberation. We walk in and wander through: "Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. YES! That's IT!"

We are tired, but satisfied. While we won't be going all sparkly, we will get exactly what we need. And it will be awesome.

Thursday, September 27, 2012



Today and tonight I gave to others. I am tired, which is becoming a regular state of being. While I accomplished many things, and while it feels good to keep crossing things off the to-do list, I'm not feeling satisfied. Maybe it's because the list just keeps growing.

I just want to ensure I'm doing everything to the best of my ability, and when I'm so busy I feel as though I'm not doing any one thing particularly well. I feel as though I mailed it in on the newsletter I produce as a volunteer. And I'm definitely mailing it in here. No wit. No spark. Just laundry lists of what I have done or what I need to do.

Has my life really become just one giant list? (And the list doesn't have things on it like "make more pictures" or "play more Uno with Zozer.")

I need a big change. I just can't figure out how to implement it. How do I get it all done and still feel thoroughly alive, enjoying almost every minute? I don't want to wait until the house is built. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I can't wait until the house is built. I need a change before then or I'm just gonna lose my shit all over the place.

I need to clean the debris out of my head. I desperately need to simplify...and I just can't right now. Too much going on.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

oxford grey


We selected our roof today. Boo-yah.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012



It was a dark and stormy night...

Monday, September 24, 2012



Our new home, with this lovely clerestory, needs to get done.

My post-retreat high was severely tested tonight when the pipes under the kitchen sink in The Summer Cottage decided to not be hooked together any more. I was cleaning up dinner when I realized my slippered foot was wet. What the...?! Waaaaaaa!

We flooded the kitchen. And a little bit downstairs.

Somehow we both kept our cool and got everything cleaned up, and I'll say the silver lining is that the kitchen is really super clean now.

And since cleanliness is next to Godliness...

well, we have a very holy kitchen!

(We had this issue with the house we tore down. I pray we do not have this issue in our home. Because we've had our share!)

Sunday, September 23, 2012



I returned from my retreat today with a whole new outlook. Everything is in order, and I have the right priorities. It is good.

We returned for 11 am mass, our families packing the pews to welcome us home and celebrate with us. At the end of mass, the women of my retreat went up to the front of church to stand in front of the altar and our loved ones and sing.

A friend tapped my shoulder and pointed out to the crowd, "A monk is here. Father Augustine is here!" It took me a minute to find him in the crowd, and when I did I nearly fell over. Sure enough, one of "my monks" was out there, in the back pew. When he saw my look of surprise he grinned at me, and I burst into tears (one of countless times this weekend).

After mass we found him, and I couldn't believe it when he said that he was there FOR ME. No one else. He came to MY church to welcome ME home from my retreat. Then he gave me a small silver box with a seal. It contained an absolutely beautiful white jade Benedictine rosary he made, and blessed, just for me.

My blessings abound. I am overwhelmed with love, and graced with more support than I could ever need.

I am humbled, and very, very grateful.



Saturday's image.



On retreat this weekend, where we were banned from using our cell phones.

Missing my 365 commitment was a deal-breaker for me, so I got special dispensation to sneak the iPhone in so long as I used it only to create my Friday and Saturday images.

And I did just that. No texts, no calls, no emails. The phone was turned on, an image was made, and it was turned right back off. I covered up the part of the screen that shows number of emails just in case a few snuck through as I wanted no distractions during my retreat. It was wonderful.

So here is my Friday image, found while taking a quiet walk around the retreat grounds. It's not great, but I did not want to concentrate on photography this weekend, but rather my faith and my relationship with God.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

drop off


Zoe, when I dropped her off at school this morning.

And now I'm getting ready to drop off the face of the earth by going on retreat.

I'm not nervous about going, I'm nervous about severing the electronic leashes. No laptop. No cell phone. No DSLR.

It's freakin' me out. And, to be honest, making me feel a little sick.

Obviously I need this.



I spent half the day doing things for The House, which meant I spent my entire night (and part of Friday morning apparently) doing work for the job that pays me so I can afford to build The House. And I haven't packed for my retreat yet.

So I'm disconnecting the electronic leash and throwing some stuff in a small suitcase and collapsing into bed.

Exhausted but happy, because I have beautiful brick.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012



He called from Vegas today to tell me he has more travel coming up. Another international trip. Which means a full week with a Sunday afternoon departure.

I feel blue.

Monday, September 17, 2012



Father Gregory wound his grandfather's grandfather clock, and I learned that it's an eight-day clock so he comes over only once a week to wind it.

Before today, I didn't know about eight-day clocks.

M left this evening for another trip, and while I was of course upset to see him go, I'm strangely at peace this time. Maybe because it's the end of this six-week stint. Maybe because my personal obligations have settled down and I feel less hectic. Maybe because I'm working in a pretty good groove at work now, instead of trying to play catch-up in learning everything. Maybe it's because I go on retreat at the end of this week and I'm really excited about it. Maybe it's because the monks have been teaching me how to pray. (Seriously, there's a whole lot more to it than what I thought. New worlds are in front of me that I had no clue existed - it's pretty cool.)

Most likely it's a combination of all those things.

It's about time.

Sunday, September 16, 2012



He arrived at 11 pm, hopping from a cab caught at the airport and leaving his luggage in the driveway of the Red Solo Cup Party house. He leaves tomorrow afternoon, and will be gone until Friday.

I won't see him again until Sunday, at 11 am mass, when I return from my ACTS Retreat with the other women, because I leave Thursday night while he is still gone.

This night, this blessedly ordinary, simple, low-stress evening of laundry and catching up on publications and Sunday Night Football, of apples and peanut butter for dinner because we had a big, late lunch, of falling asleep on the floor before the game is over due to jet lag...

is perfect.

on the spot


Never did I think that a porta-potty would grace my blog, but here it is. (Yes, that's someone's car parked on the lawn behind it.)

Went to the Red Solo Cup Party tonight. It was a sign-up party at Zoe's school picnic last spring. A friend came running up, "Go sign up quick! It's the party of the year!" So we did. The friend was right. It rocked. It was everything a Red Solo Cup Party could be. Two kegs, pretzels, porta-potty, mullets, missing teeth, and two games projected on a huge screen in the driveway (Go Mizzou! And WTF Cardinals?!)

A sign-up party is where a family, or a group of families, agree to host a party and cover all expenses. Guests pay to attend, and all proceeds benefit the school. The Red Solo Cup Party was one of three we signed up for. First Grade Back To School Swim Party was in August, and Dancing, Drinks & Dodgeball is in January.

I love these people.

Friday, September 14, 2012



Took the broken lens in today. Nearly $400 to fix. At the last second I remembered my stash of gift cards I keep in the car. Been hanging on to then forever as I've been so dormant in shooting. Thankfully I had more than enough.

I'd have rather walked away with something new, but I'm pleased as punch that I'll get my favorite lens back all cleaned up and fixed, and I didn't have to pay a dime.

Thank you to everyone who gave me Schiller's gift cards the last few years. You made my day when you gave them to me, and you made my day again this afternoon.

In six to eight weeks, I'll thread this filter back on and everything will be back to normal. Or as normal as my life is right now!

Thursday, September 13, 2012



Zoe tried out her new scooter today (thank you Aunt Shelly!) since we actually had time to spare tonight and the weather was great. Then M FaceTimed us and since I pick up our wifi in the driveway he got to see her scoot. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012



I have carted my camera, and its many lenses, up mountains and down. To Europe, across the US, and through my own backyard. It's been in the rain, it's been on sandy beaches, it's been down in dew-covered grass and out in the burning sun for hours. It's been through hell and back with nary a scratch.

Until today, when a 4 foot fall onto the cold, hard cafeteria floor at Zoe's school took out my beloved 17-55 f/2.8. My heart sank.

I think it may be fixable. The focus ring is still smooth as silk. The glass looks fine. The zoom? Yeah, not so much. All jammed up.

I have taken this camera, and this lens, this workhorse, use-it-for-98%-of-my-photography-lens, nearly everywhere, and it was felled by a Girl Scout meeting.

I did manage to not scream in agony and writhe around in pain on the floor, clutching my beloved. I think that may have freaked out the girls. I also managed to refrain from crying, although I sure felt like it.

That was the first thing I told M tonight, when we talked (he's in Paris now). I explained how it happened (all my involved extra large American and Girl Scout flags and extra long flagpoles and a camera strap getting entangled) and told him I felt sick about it. He asked which lens it was (damn! he knows I have multiple lenses!). I told him the truth. It's The Expensive One. He didn't bat an eye or even flinch. "Well, take it in to Schiller's and see if they can fix it." Good man, M.

I suppose in all my years of shooting, and all my bumps and bruises and near misses, that it was bound to happen sometime. My favorite photography forum is chock full of horror stories, most that nearly make me cry as if the gear were my own. I've been lucky to escape catastrophe thus far.

I just wish it'd have happened to the 18-200 is all. That loss would be a little more palatable.

(In other news, my first Girl Scout meeting as co-troop leader went pretty well, except for the lens casualty. Yeah, I needed a beer afterwards, and possibly a Xanax, and was exhausted as hell, but all in all it went well. We even earned ourselves a couple badges tonight. Don't be too impressed by that...apparently when you're a Daisy earning badges is about as easy as tying your shoe. "Make new friends, but keep the ooooold. One is silver and the other goooold.")

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

ocular migraine


Another ocular migraine today, small this time, and thankfully gone by the time I had to drive. This is the type of stuff that freaks me out when M is out of town.

Tired, and nursing a slight headache (not a migraine!) so my bed is calling...

Monday, September 10, 2012



Holy cow...I'm back!

Despite waking up WAY late today (yikes! Zo! We gotta GO!), I had an awesome day of feeling like me again. No pity party, no crankiness, no feeling of hanging on by my fingertips.

I think part of it was coming off a great weekend where I managed to get a bunch of stuff done so I sorta feel slightly caught up, and the other part was that I had only one meeting at work today and therefore was able to get a boatload of tasks accomplished.

After work, I picked up Zozer with energy to spare. We stopped at Walgreens and got her baby pictures for her Mystery Person packet (that's not due until Friday...I am on it!) and tried to stop by the salon to buy some hair product that I'm dangerously close to being out of. They were closed. :-( I better get by there tomorrow or I won't be able to fit my frizz head in the car.

We came home and I whipped up my yummy veggie stir fry with tofu that Zoe loves so much. That and a small salad made a good, healthy meal. About damn time! In fact, I did well all day today, so I might score a mini ice cream for a treat later. Or I might not. It seems my willpower has finally returned. (Why does willpower completely disappear in times of stress? When I'm happy, it's all, "Why yes, I'd rather have that apple instead of a Snickers bar," and when I'm losing my shit it's all, "M&Ms and caramels and toasted ravioli and cheesecake nom nom nom..." Which only makes me stress out more because I'm eating crap and I know it, which makes me eat more's a nasty, nasty cycle.)

Was going strong after dinner so I went out and washed the Corvette. It was spotty from a 10-minute rain when I drove it to work last week. Tsk tsk. Was bugging the hell out of me that it was sitting in there all dusty and spotty. I had magnified how bad it looked in my head and was pleasantly surprised to see it was in better shape than I thought. Still needed a wash though.

Zoe and I had this conversation while I washed:

"Why are YOU washing the car?"
"Because it's dirty."
"Did Daddy TELL you to wash the car?"

Okay, between this chat and her asking me last week why I drove "Daddy's Car," it's evident we need to change some perceptions around here.

Or I need to get my own Corvette. Yes, let's go with that.

So now the kiddo is in bed and the trash is at the curb and West Wing is on the boob tube and I'm a happy camper.

Off to take care of a few other little things before I try to get an early bedtime to avoid this morning's craziness.

Sunday, September 09, 2012



What a great Sunday!

We slept in, which is a rare treat. Mass was at a different church for a cousin's baptism. There is something to be said for attending mass surrounded by a bunch of loved ones. We experienced it last weekend in Chicago and again today. Mass was followed by the baptism (welcome to Catholicism Alex!) and then lunch at a great Italian place (thank you Michelle and Ryan!). After lunch we headed for a car show at the transportation museum, where my dad was showing the '66 Chevelle. Got there in time to see him pick up yet another award. He's five for five with this stuff - it's awesome. He worked so hard for so long on this car; it's great to see him be recognized for it. After the show we ran home to change our clothes for some time at the park. Had to take advantage of the gorgeous weather. While at the park we concocted the brilliant idea of ice cream for dinner. In the new house. Then one of Zozer's best friends from school showed up so we added her to the mix. We ended up eating the ice cream at the place due to little girls' worries that their ice creams would melt by the time we got to the house. It worked out fine as we got to see a freight train go by. Then we headed to the house to check progress. Lovely. (Except those garage transoms still aren't right, which is just bugging the crap out of me and which I'd like them to fix yesterday please.)

Home to do laundry, select pix for Zozer's Mystery Person packet (kids bring in baby pix, favorite things, etc. and they all try to guess who each other is), upload them to Walgreens for printing, work on formatting the wedding slideshow for upload to YouTube, then uploading to YouTube, and possibly a spot of work.

The night air is cool, the windows are open, I got the house vacuumed this morning, my daughter is tucked into bed, laundry is underway, and for the first time in weeks I feel only 85% stressed instead of 110%. Life is feelin' pretty darn good.

Saturday, September 08, 2012



First soccer game of the season today. The final score of 1-0 doesn't adequately detail just how much our girls dominated. We spent 98% of the game at their end of the field, although we didn't score our goal until five minutes from the end of the game. Gorgeous day and the girls were all happy to play - it was a good, good day and a great start to the season.

Friday, September 07, 2012



Attended Zoe's back-to-school mass this morning, then headed over to the job site to drop off the cooler of beer for my favorite carpenters. (It's amazing how fond one can become of Gary, Justin and Tim when one realizes those three men are building one's home for the next xx years. I love those guys!)

I arrived just in time to watch the crane hoist the last two trusses for the garage/project rooms, and then the clerestory. Completely unexpected and a wonderful surprise. I was able to snap shots and IM them off to M in Utrecht instantly. Pretty cool.

We are getting there. Slowly but surely.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

new day


This is the drive into work every morning. The light was exceptionally beautiful today, which helped me start the day in a much better frame of mind than yesterday.

I struggle nearly every day, but I must stay focused on the goodness and keep in perspective that my troubles are hardly worth mentioning compared to real issues of poverty and discrimination and abuse and so much more.

I can only hope that my eyes remain open to all that is good, that I always look for the silver lining, the bright side, or that someone I love gently calls me on my bullshit.

I can only hope for grace.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012



Yup. He's halfway round the world. Again. And today I lost my sh*t. Again.

Our phone call this afternoon consisted of him explaining that he "took the summer off from traveling" and now he has to catch up and me explaining that we must never do this again. His absences need to be more spread out.

I know he has to travel for work, and I'm pretty okay with that. Travel makes him happy, which in turn makes me happy.

But having him gone five weeks out of six? Yeah. Not so cool. Unfortunately we are only in the middle of week four. I have two more after this one.

I just miss him is all.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012



Took a much more fun car today. And had fun driving it.

Monday, September 03, 2012



Up early this morning in Chicago, thinking about what I needed to get done. So I got up and did some volunteer newsletter work while waiting for Zozer to arise. Once she did, I finished packing and we loaded the car before breakfast. A long ride later, we were home. Finished the newsletter (whew! I love crossing that off my to-do list each month as it takes a good 8 to 12 hours of time to complete), and started laundry. Got Zoe fed and bathed, and it was when I started unpacking that I realized we hadn't taken time this weekend to go through her classroom Birthday Bag, which is loaned out for each child's birthday and which involves two books to read and a journal to record birthday events. It is to be returned tomorrow. Well, shit. So we sat down and read the two books, and came up with a plan for her journal entry that she will complete after breakfast tomorrow.

After she went to bed I paid my missed Illinois tolls (I abhor you f*cking Illinois toll system. Highway robbery!), emptied trashcans, cleaned the litterbox and continued laundry. My proofer found an error in the newsletter, so I corrected, re-PDFd (and merged with an addendum PDF) and re-sent. Zoe's flowers are in water, the cats are fed and watered (and their weekend mess cleaned up - extra bowls of food and water set out since we were gone), and email is relatively caught up.

I need to finish unpacking, and finish the laundry, but other than that I think I might be done for the night. And it's only 9:45! It feels like a vacation night!

What on earth could I do with all this extra time?

I will, most likely, fall asleep on the couch whilst waiting for the dryer buzzer to go off. Party animal.



We ate in the Pope Room at Buca de Beppo last night. It's one of our family's favorite spots. Great meal, great conversation, and blessed Parmesan cheese.

Saturday, September 01, 2012



Phenomenal day, full of love, faith and happiness. How blessed was I to be able to share it!

Congratulations to Steve and Kelly. Here's to a great marriage! We love you!