Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer List 2014 Update

Each summer, I love creating a Summer List. It gets me excited about the season--about being outside more and soaking up the sunshine and frolicking in water and enjoying time with family and friends.

For the past two summers, I've completed nearly everything on my list. (Here's a look at my 2012 list and my 2013 list.)

And then this summer happened. Things came up I hadn't anticipated. God sent a few large curveballs in my direction. My priorities quickly shifted, and I had to make choices about how I was going to use my free time.

Truth be told, because I'm a Type-A person, that didn't sit well with me--at least initially. I yearn to do, do, do and go, go, go, checking items off my list and accomplishing as much as possible. I get older (and hopefully, wiser), I'm learning to breathe...and just recognize that "it is what it is." I'm learning to be grateful for what I do accomplish, instead of focusing on what I don't get done.

Here's a look at what I did this summer:

1 | Get my Nikon D700 repaired and shoot away!
Check! I did get my Nikon camera fixed, but then I sold it--along with ALL of my Nikon lenses and gear. A few weeks later, I bought a Canon 5D Mark III! Yep, you read that right: This summer, I made the HUGE leap (well, huge for me!) from Nikon to Canon, and I'm really happy I did.

2 | Finish sewing 6 pillows for the family room couches.
Still to be done. I'm slightly embarrassed to write this, but the truth is, I made one pillow cover and it looked s-o-o ridiculous that I promptly packed up my sewing supplies and moved on to the next project on my summer list. Then, a few weeks ago, I asked a seamstress how much she would charge to sew six pillow covers and she said $60. I know that's A LOT of money, but I just may take her up on it, so I'll have some pillows on my couches before say, next summer.

3 | Complete our adoption website.
Check! I put a lot of time and effort into our website, and I'm pleased with it. Hopefully, it will help us connect with more birth parents. 

4 | Start a photo journal, adding one new photo per week.
Still to be done. I didn't get around to creating a photo journal this summer, but I want to make it a priority this fall. 

5 | Visit Oregon with Brian's family.
Check! We loved visiting Bandon, Oregon.  What a beautiful town!

6 | Indulge in a massage.
Still to be done. The gift certificate (from my thoughtful hubby) is riding around in my purse, and I'm hoping to cash it in soon.

7 | Host a play date with friends.
Check! We spent lots of time with friends--at our home, their homes and several local parks.

8 | Go on at least one date per month with Brian.
Check! And we have an August date scheduled for this weekend.  (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

9 | Hike with family and/or friends.

10 | Attend a county fair. 
Check! The photo above was taken at the Nevada County Fair earlier this month.  

11 | Swim with Noah.
Check! We swam at several friends' houses and at two local pools.    

12 | Finish an article about search and rescue dogs and submit to a magazine. 
Check! I'm still waiting to hear whether my article has been accepted.

13 | Create a scrapbook layout about Noah's name.
Check! If you missed it, you can view it here

14 | Explore how to build a free little library for our neighborhood (with help from Brian).
Still to be done. I've pinned ideas to a Pinterest board and I hope to make this a reality in our neighborhood in 2015.

Your turn: What did you see/do/experience/eat/create this summer?

Saturday, August 16, 2014

On My Nightstand

I titled this post "On My Nightstand," but the truth is, my books and magazines reside on my tall dresser. That way, little hands can't touch them or rip them or accidentally write on them--if say, they happen to get their hands on a pencil somehow.

Here's a look at what I'm reading right now:

A Beautiful Mess Photo Idea Book
This is a fun book to flip through, what with its assortment of beautiful photographs and unique DIY projects. I'll definitely browse through it again when I need a creative jump start.
The Conscious Parent
I learned about this book and its author, Dr. Shefali Tsabary, on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday show. I've only read the first few chapters, but I'm intrigued by some of her parenting ideas. In particular, I'm drawn to her beliefs that in order to be good parents, we must examine 1) who we are; 2) how we were raised; and 3) how we want to interact with our children.

The Orphan Train
I've had a hard time getting into this book. I keep picking it up, reading a few pages, and then setting it back down and moving onto another book. 

Parents magazine 
I don't subscribe to very many magazines, but this is one that I consistently enjoy reading.  

Me Before You
I know it's not technically on my nightstand, but I'm currently reading this Kindle book on my phone. Of all the books I listed here, it is my go-to read right now.  I'm 40% in and loving it!

What's on your nightstand right now?

*This post contains affiliate links. What does that mean? If you click on a link and make a purchase, I'll receive a small commission, which helps to keep my blog humming along.  Thanks for your support!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


This month, I'm playing along with Susannah Conway's August Break 2014.  What is it all about? Essentially, it's an invitation to take ONE photo a day all this month.

It's rare that I participate in a photo challenge, but I loved that this one a) includes a daily email with visual goodness (aka beautiful images) and a few photo tips.; b) basically has no rules (think: anything goes!); c) has a decent size community of women and men (1500+) participating.

I learned about #augustbreak2014 from Ali Edwards, but I've been a fan of Susannah Conway since reading her book, This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart.

Have you read it? It's part memoir, part creative journal, and I loved it. Maybe I should use the present tense: I love it.  It lives on my iPhone in the Kindle application, and even now, two years later, I go back and reread sections of it and try out some of the exercises.

I could go on and on about Ms. Conway's book, but let's get back to the August Break.

It's only the first week of the month (we'll see how long I make it), but I'm enjoying documenting my everyday life. My goal each day is simple: To snap a photo, edit it (if I have time), and post it to Instagram.

Here's a look at the first five photos I've shared.

 August 1 | Our niece, Zoey

 August 2 | Jelly Beadz

 August 3 | Cousin Love (theme: window)

 August 4 | Orange Toys (theme: orange)


August 5 | Hello Praying Mantis (theme: three)

Want to play along, too?

Instagram: Use the hashtag, #augustbreak2014.

Flickr: August Break Flickr group

If you're sharing your photos on your blog (like I'm doing here), be sure to add your blog to this blog roll

Happy shooting and sharing!

*This post contains affiliate links. What does that mean? If you click on a link and make a purchase, I'll receive a small commission, which helps to keep my blog humming along.  Thanks, in advance, for your support!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Celebrating 40 Years of Marriage

Today, my parents celebrate forty years of marriage.

That's 14,600 days together as a married couple!

My mom and dad met in high school and began dating during the football season of 1971. (My dad was captain of the varsity football team. I know what your next question is going to be, so I'll just answer it: No, my mom was not a cheerleader.)

They married three years later on August 3, 1974. (They were twenty at the time, so in addition to celebrating forty years of marriage this year, they are also turning 60!)

Congratulations, Mom and Dad, on this HUGE accomplishment!

All of us--your three daughters, two son-in-laws, and three grandchildren--wish you many more happy years together.

We love you.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Goodbye & Hello

Change is definitely in the air around here. 

We've been saying goodbye to some things and hello to others.

One of the biggest changes has been moving Noah from his crib in the nursery to a twin "big boy" bed in my former office. 

It took Noah a week or more to get used to sleeping in his new bed and new room. During that time, he repeatedly asked to sleep in his crib for naps (and occasionally at night), and we allowed it, wanting him to make the transition at his own pace. (Luckily, we had that luxury since there wasn't a baby needing the crib.) Now, a month later, the twin bed, outfitted in a construction-themed sheet set and comforter, is where he lays his head each afternoon and each night.

Noah's room is still a work-in-progress, but I plan to share photos of it once I'm finished decorating it.  
As I alluded to earlier, my office/craft room is no longer in our third bedroom upstairs. It's now downstairs in the fourth bedroom. (A big thanks to my hubby for setting up my new office!) We were able to reuse the tables and drawers from my original office; they are just configured differently. (I'll post a picture of my new set up soon.) 

Because I don't have as much space as I did before (I was totally spoiled for four years with a huge bedroom!), I took a good look at what I was using and what I was no longer using. I also reflected on where my creative interests lie right now, and what I want to focus on more in the near future.

I then sorted through my scrapbooking paper and rubber stamps and other supplies and sold or donated quite a bit.

Purging always feels so good; it's cathartic for me.

Being in a new space is also exciting. I've enjoyed thinking about how to organize my materials and supplies, so that I can easily access them.  I've scoured Pinterest for ideas. I've also reflected on what worked in my old office and what I want to do differently in my new office. 

I still have some work to do, mainly decorating the walls and emptying a few more small boxes, but I'm really pleased with my new space. Perhaps, my favorite feature is that I have a desk with drawers where I can store (ie. hide) Post-it notes, paper clips, my stapler, scissors, etc. I love having these items within arm's reach, but tucked away and out of sight.

I've learned over the years that the cleaner I can keep my desk (and office), the more I tend to get done.

And not only do I have a new office, but I also have a new camera!

After shooting with Nikon cameras and lenses for five years, I said goodbye to Nikon and hello to Canon.

I'm now the proud owner of a Canon 5D Mark III. Yeah, baby! 

I'm slowly learning my way around the 5D with the help of the owner's manual and the Adorama Learning Center.

And when I start to feel overwhelmed or frustrated, I'm gently reminding myself that there is a learning curve anytime I move to a new camera--but even more so this time because I've changed brands.

Tomorrow, my family and I are heading to Oregon to spend time with Brian's family. We'll be leaving Noah's big boy bed and my office behind, but you can bet, my camera will be with me.

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