Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Around Here | June 2015

Around here...
  • Noah is officially addressing Brian and me as dad and mom. No more daddy and mommy.
  • I'm overcooking pork again. Don't you hate it when you buy a huge chunk of meat from Costco and then cook it just a wee bit too long? Ugh. Wouldn't you know that during that same meal, I fried our instant read thermometer, too. I seriously think our kitchen gadgets get very, very scared when they see me enter the kitchen. I imagine they're thinking -- that is, if they weren't inanimate objects -- Oh no, she's back! Which one of us is she going to break this time? Ha!  

  • Noah still loves to help with the dishes. 
  • Noah wants to know if there's a surprise for him every time a package is delivered to our home. Oftentimes, the answer is no, but last week, Noah got SO excited when a new ukuele arrived just for him. 
  • Noah and I are listening to a Spanish CD in the car, and learning lots of new Spanish vocabulary as we cruise around town. (And I love that it's from the library!)
  • Noah completed four private swim lessons (and loved everything about it -- especially teacher Natalie), and then proceeded to get his very first ear infection. Connection?  I think so.
  • Brian completed the chicken's fenced yard, giving them 700+ square feet to run around and eat bugs and fly up into trees. (By the way, we discovered that we have 11 hens and one rooster. A rooster who loves to cock-a-doodle-doo at 6 o'clock every morning. Anyone want a free rooster?!)
  • Noah is saying all kinds of cute and funny and silly things lately, so I've been busily jotting them down in his green quote journal. He's also asking, Why? A LOT, and Where does ______ come from? Insert: babies or cereal or paper or dogs or ...
  • I'm so very, very excited that my youngest sister is going to be a mom at the end of November. (Congrats, Kate + Preston!)
  • Brian and Noah fished at a kids derby and have been out on Brian's fishing boat twice now. (No fish yet, but lots of fun memories!)
  • Noah is enjoying driving his John Deere motorized tractor around our front yard -- especially now that he's in the faster 2nd gear!
  • Noah is dressing up as Jake and Santa and Buzz Lightyear and a monkey and a pilot. Our dog, Rudy, is not so sure about dress up. Ha!
  • We're planting veggies in our side yard, and dreaming of ripe zucchini, tomatoes, and bell peppers fresh from our garden later this summer. (We're trying out liquid fence this year to keep the deer away; I'll let you know how it goes.) 
  • We're reading stories and poems in High Five magazine over and over again. It's a seriously great magazine for toddlers. We keep a bucket of issues on the dining room table, so they are easily accessible before and after mealtimes. 
  • Brian and I are preparing to sell our rental home. Roof repairs are happening this week and we hope to list it this weekend.
  • Reading All the Light We Cannot See (thanks for the recommendation, Gina!), and loving that I've already come across two BIG words that I had to look up in a dictionary. I'm such a logophile!


*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!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer List 2015

Over the past few weeks, I've seen a number of summer manifestos online and in magazines. I liked this creative one by blogger Elise Blaha Cripe and this simple one from Ali Edwards. I always enjoy seeing other people's lists as well as creating my own summer list.

In fact, it's becoming a tradition of sorts; this is my fourth year making a list and posting it here on my blog. Here's a look at my previous summer lists: 2012, 2013, 2014.

Just like last year, I've written activities on our list that I think I'd like, Noah would like, and perhaps, Brian would like.

However, there's nothing that says all of us have to do every. single. activity. together.

And even though Noah is nearly a 3-1/2-year-old, (what?) there are a few "firsts" on the list -- like seeing a movie in the theater and taking private swim lessons.

This was the first year that Noah had a suggestion for our summer list. Here's the back story: A few weeks ago, he and I watched as a group of kids tossed water balloons back and forth at the park. He turned to me and said he really wanted to try it. I promised him we'd do it this summer, and as you'll see below, I added it to our summer list.  

In the past, I often felt like if I placed an item on the list, I HAD to check it off by Labor Day. That's not the case anymore. I just brainstorm a bunch of ideas, narrow the list down to 15 or less, and then go with it. If we don't get to one or two of the activities this summer, we can always do it in the fall, winter or even next summer.

Here's a look at our 2015 summer list:

Visit our local splash pad ✅ 
Take private swim lessons ✅
See a movie in the theater
Attend storytime at the library ✅ 
Participate in the library's summer reading program
Work on potty training
Attend Brian's cousin's wedding
Spend time with Noah's cousins
Go tent camping for the first time as a family
Play catch with water balloons
Attend a 4-week gymnastics class
Sell our rental home
Attend our county fair
Listen to some live music 
Finish decorating the nursery 

Your turn: What's on your summer list?

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Rest of the Story

Back in late April, I wrote a post about how I saw Chris Young in concert while I was in Texas.

It was such a fun night with my youngest sister, Kate. 

It occurred to me last week, though, that I didn't tell the rest of the story.  (Whenever that phrase runs through my head, I totally hear Paul Harvey saying it.)

So, here it is...

The night of the concert, Kate and I were sitting in the stands chatting, and she mentioned that she would be guest bartending for Bacardi that coming Thursday night. She was all excited because she'd be in the compound (I think that's what they call it) where the artists park their buses and relax for a little while, away from the crowds.

She read me the list of stars who would be possibly stopping by, and it was an impressive group of country artists. I recognized nearly all the names on the list -- even the singers who were more popular five or ten years ago -- because 1) I've been a huge country music fan since high school; 2) I listen to a lot of country music on Pandora and the radio; and 3) I watch the GAC Top 20 Country Countdown (with Nan Kelly -- who seems like such a doll!) every Friday when I run on the treadmill.

So, I was super excited for Kate to have such an awesome opportunity, and I told her as much. 

Four days later, I was back at home sweeping the floor in our kitchen, when my phone vibrated. I pulled it out of my back pocket, and there was a text message from my sister with this photo attached.

Photo Credit: Katie Meredith
Ladies and gentlemen, the broom hit the floor. And I do believe my jaw dropped as well.

Then, I texted as fast as my little fingers would go: "SHUT. UP." (Yes, in all caps like you're never supposed to do. But in my defense, I was yelling in my head.)

Yeah, I know my response wasn't very eloquent or original, but it was genuine.

I really couldn't believe it! Seconds earlier, Chris Young had been standing right in front of my little sister, talking to her.


I wish I could have texted, #Imcominover. Ha! 

And not only did she meet Chris Young, but a friend of his -- you might have heard of him -- Blake Shelton. (For you non-country fans, yes, he's the tall and funny guy from The Voice.)

Kate loves Blake Shelton. (She said it was so cool to hear Blake's laugh in person.) But she really adores his wife, Miranda Lambert, who unfortunately, didn't make an appearance that night. (I hope Kate gets to meet Miranda one day.)

And of course, I'm all about Team CY.

I can't lie: When I saw the photo above, I was just a teeny bit peanut butter and jealous. I mean, Kate did get to meet my favorite country music singer. ever. (evah! is how I say it.)

But the jealousy disappeared as quickly as it had arrived, and I wanted to know details. Like...what did you say? What did he say? And who's that guy on the right? (She had no idea.)

Kate said Chris was just the nicest guy. She told him that she attended his concert a few days before in Grand Prairie, and he said it was a record crowd. He tipped her $20 (way to go, CY!) and she snapped this shot. 

Totally. awesome. Amiright?!

For the next hour or so, Kate texted me each time she saw or met a new country music artist.

It was fun for me because, even though I was 1500 miles away, it felt like I was kind of there with her. And let's be real: it was a heck of a lot more interesting than the laundry I was folding or the carpet I was vacuuming or the dishes I was scrubbing.

And if that wasn't cool enough, Kate (and her husband) also attended the 50th Annual ACM Awards Show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium a couple of days later. (Working for Bacardi clearly comes with some awesome sauce perks!)

Oh, and one more thing -- if you'll indulge me.

Today happens to be Chris Young's 30th birthday (he's a fellow Gemini), so I'd like to send out birthday wishes to him.

Here's wishing CY 30+ more years of writing and performing music, good health, and an abundance of happiness.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Introducing My New Blog: jennie's journey

I'm super excited to share my new blog, jennie's journey, with you!

jennie's journey has been in the making for months now, and it feels really great to finally be posting content and telling people about it.

I know many of you have been reading my blog posts at The Life and Times of Jennie Rose for years. (Thank you!) Rest assured, I plan to continue writing here, but perhaps, not as frequently. 

Why the need for a second blog?

To be honest, I wanted a space on Wordpress (since it's pretty much the industry standard now) where photography would be adored, and words and stories would be celebrated.

I shared my vision for jennie's journey here in my first ever post.

On jennie's journey, you can expect to read posts about photography (my experiences + tips & tutorials), fun products for kiddos, DIY home decorating, scrapbooking, and an occasional piece about adoption.

Here's a look at the four posts I've published so far at jennie's journey:

How to Create a Photo Back Drop and Floor Drop for Only $40

Hello Jelly Beadz

5 Ways to Sell Your Used Photography Equipment

Noah's Gadget Board 

Feel free to read through these posts at your leisure, share them on social media, and even pin the images on your Pinterest boards. 

And if you're interested in receiving my blog posts by email, head over to jenniesjourney. At the top of the homepage where it says, Subscribe, type in your email address and then click Go! From there, all you have to do is confirm your subscription on email, and voila! my next blog post will arrive in your inbox.

I'd love to have you join me on this journey!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Day in the Life | May 2015

I always enjoy participating in Ali Edwards' Day in the Life. It's a great excuse to pull out my big camera, snap photos with my iPhone, and jot down details of our day in a notebook.

Here's what Tuesday, May 12, 2015 looked like for us. 

8:00 | Noah (and I) slept in until 8:00 am. I awoke to my 3-year-old bellowing for me, "Mommy!" I'm so grateful for days when he sleeps in since I'm such a night owl!

From there, we put the dogs outside and I made breakfast for Noah and me. Life cereal, 1/2 of a bagel with cream cheese and some blueberries for him; yogurt and Grape-nuts and 1/2 of a bagel for me. (Brian left for work around 6:30 am.) 

Conversation at breakfast:
N: "You are growing down, Mommy." 
Me: "I am?"
N: "Yes, I’m growing up and you’re growing down and Daddy’s growing down.”

After breakfast, I took my vitamins and allergy meds and gave Noah his allergy medicine. (Just hayfever, luckily.)

Our dog, Lucy, barked to come in, so we opened the front door for her, but our other dog, Rudy, is nowhere in sight. Probably wondering the property like he usually does.

8:30 | The alarm on my iPhone goes off, letting me know that it's time to feed our dogs. I call Rudy in to the house and feed them. Lucy burps and Noah happens to be standing right next to her, so he turns to her and says, "Excuse you, Lucy!" Ha! I give Lucy her insulin shot, and Noah says, "Did it hurt, Lucy? Just a little bit. Oh, good. You're a good girl, Lucy." (It's so cute when he "talks" for Lucy.)

9:00 | Rinse breakfast dishes with Noah's help. There is water everywhere, but he's having fun and the dishes are super duper clean. Lucy is barking--at what I have no idea, which is not unusual--and Noah is covering his ears.

We head back to the master bedroom and I turn on Jake and the Neverland Pirates for Noah. He's holding his milk, his sword, and a random Mother's Day card he grabbed off the entertainment center in the family room. I clip his fingernails while he's distracted.

9:15 | I start the shower, check my email, and enter the Chris Young sweepstakes on my phone while waiting for the water to warm up.

9:30 | After a quick shower, I get dressed, blow dry my hair, and apply my makeup. I can tell I'm a little too in my head this morning and worrying about things that are totally out of my control. So, I turn on an affirmation track from this Belleruth Naparstek CD, which in the past has helped bring calm to my mind. It works, thankfully.
9:45 | Get Noah dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and jeans because it's cloudy and windy outside. 

10:00 | Noah and I drive 20 minutes to Music Together. Along the way, we listen to Pirate Pete's Giant Adventure for the 6,392nd time! Noah and I strike a deal: He gets to listen to his book once through, then I get to listen to 2 country songs on the radio, and then he can listen to his book again.

10:30 | Music Together class starts. It's full participation for all, including moms and dads. I rack up a lot of steps in this 45-minute session (woohoo!), and I think I have just as much fun as Noah. I'm definitely in my happy place when I'm singing.

11:15 | Noah and his friend, Alex, play with sticks (ie. swords) and rocks after class while I talk to Alex's mom about adoption stuff. (She and her husband adopted Alex at birth, and she has several friends who are hoping and praying and waiting to adopt.) We chat about how hard it is to wait, especially the first time around, and how discouraging it can be to not be picked by birth mothers.We talk about how important it is to share your feelings with other families who have been there, too. And how you simply must remain hopeful.

11:45 | Off to Target we go for a few items. Noah wants to ride in the super long cart with the two kiddie seats, which means we'll probably hit an end cap or two while I try to successfully maneuver it through the aisles. Watch out, people! Ha!

12:00 | We can't find an eye patch for Noah at Target (he's been asking for one for days), but he seems content with a pirate hat, a lollipop, and a sticker. (Thanks to the two sweet Target employees for showering him with goodies!)

12:30 | On the way home in the car, Noah wears his new pirate hat and sings, "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me" over and over again. Can't wait to take him back to Disneyland, so he can experience Pirates of the Caribbean.

1:00 | Put away the Target stuff. Make lunch for Noah and me. Leftover sausage and rice for me; pb+j and fruit for him.

1:30 | I make an eye patch for Noah using construction paper and pipe cleaners. Arrr!

2:00 | Bought Chris Young’s new song, I'm Comin' Over, on iTunes.  

2:15 | Randomly felt inspired to write a country song. This is a first for me. I stood at the kitchen counter and jotted down lyrics in my notebook. It's really only the outline of a song, and let's be honest, it kind of stinks, but I had fun and I hope to flesh it out later.
2:30 | Play trains with Noah and listen to kids' music on Pandora. 

2:45 | Brian sent us a few photos from his day. Noah loves seeing photos of Brian's ladder truck, and having seen them, he now wants to go and visit. (Isn't that a cool shot of the moon below?) 

3:00 | Throw a load of sheets into the washer. Pull clean laundry out of the dryer and fold.

3:15 | Head outside. Brush both dogs--they are shedding like crazy right now. Water the grass. Check the step count on my FitBit. I'm only at 5,167 steps, so I make a mental note to walk around as much as I can outside. 

 3:30 | Sail in Noah's pirate ship. Peer through the spyglass. Turn the wheel. Fire the cannon.  Say "Oh, coconuts!" and "Ahoy, matey!" and "Pirate Island straight ahead!" in my best pirate accent. 

4:00 | Check out Brian's fishing boat. After I take a picture of Noah near the boat, he asks if he can take a picture with my camera and I oblige. I keep the camera around my neck and Noah slips in front of me. I show him how to press the shutter release button. He shoots away. Like rapid gunfire. I show him how to gently touch it, so he only takes 1-2 pictures at a time instead of say, 54. 

We view the pictures together, and I tell him they are fuzzy because there is one more step to taking a picture with my camera. I push the * button on the back of my camera (which enables back button focus), and then he presses the shutter release button. He views his photos and he's really excited.

He says, "Mommy, let's take a picture of the trees Daddy cut down!" And off we go on a photo walk of sorts. 

He's clearly hooked. 

And I'm loving it.

4:15 | Noah takes a photo of this fawn walking down to the creek. (I helped him zoom in.) From there, he shoots the canal, the picnic bench, the creek and some dandelions--which he simply calls "lions." Then, he asks to wade into the creek and I say okay, provided we push his pants down into his boots. (To be honest, that didn't really help; he was covered in mud, pretty much from his waist down by the time he was done playing. That happens when you sit down in the creek, silly boy.) While Noah was traipsing through the creek, I shot photos of the flowers and the plants, in and around the water.

Noah joined me near these flowers for a minute, picking one and bringing it over to me. (That's the shot at the very top of this post.) 

I loved the way the light illuminated some of these reeds, creating beautiful texture and depth.

4:45 | Time to take a break from shooting and go inside, so I can start dinner. I strip off all of Noah’s clothes in the garage, and then make a quick trip to the laundry room where I spray his clothes with Oxiclean and throw them in the washing machine.

5:00| Noah watches one more episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates on the DVR while I make dinner.

5:30| We say grace and then eat chicken, rice and broccoli for dinner. Surprisingly, Noah is a big fan of broccoli, especially when we roast it in the oven.

6:00 | I rinse the dishes, load the dishwasher and clean off the counters.  I'm listening to I'm Comin' Over on repeat. Noah is back playing trains at the train table.

6:15 | I pull the sheets out of the dryer and make my bed.

6:30 | Bathtime. Early, I know, but when Noah doesn't take a nap, he's usually ready for bed by 7:00 pm. While Noah was playing with his ship in the bath, I snapped the shot below.

This photo requires some explanation. I took it because it documents growth--both literally and figuratively. It's embarrasing to admit it, but I've been a nail biter for years. I know, I know: Nail biting is a disgusting habit; I've tried to stop several times, but have never been able to go more than a few days without starting up again.

In late April, I decided I really wanted to kick the habit for good. I bought a bottle of Bite It and painted it on my nails. (I've included the Amazon link, but it's super expensive there, so you'd be better off buying it from your local drugstore instead. I bought it at CVS for $6.) Later that day, I made the mistake of accidentally biting one of my nails and I was thoroughly disgusted by the taste. Which is, of course, exactly what it's designed to do. 

When I snapped this photo on May 12, I had gone 14 days without biting my nails. That's a record, folks!
7:00 | We read two stories (Pirate Pete, followed by The Itty Bitty Kitty Rescue), and then we said a quick prayer and turn out the lights. Noah is asleep in just a few minutes and I tiptoe out of his room.

7:15 | I change into workout clothes, but because I feel like I'm coming down with a cold, I opt to walk on the treadmill instead of run. I watch the Top 20 Countdown from last Friday while I walk.  My FitBit vibrates halfway through letting me know that I've hit my daily goal of 10,000 steps. Smile.

7:45 | I head into my office, check my email, Facebook and Instagram, and then start writing a Father's Day gift guide for Improve Photography. I've found that when I write on my desktop computer, I MUST close up my email, so it doesn't distract me each time a new message comes in. Same with my iPhone.

8:30 | The alarm goes off on my iPhone, reminding me to feed the dogs and give Lucy her insulin. I send a few text messages while I'm waiting for Lucy to eat her food.  

9:00 | Talk to Brian on the phone. He went on a fire this morning and had a drill this afternoon. He sounds tired. 

9:15 | Back to my desk to continue writing my article.

10:00 | Upload photos from my big camera. Edit photos on my iPhone. Send the photos from my phone to my email account. 

10:30 | Head upstairs earlier than normal because I'm not feeling great. Best to get some extra rest. Take the dogs out one last time and gaze up at the stars. That's one thing I love about living in the country: there are so many stars visible in the night sky. It's pretty magical.

10:45 | Read for 15 minutes and then it's lights out.

All square photos were taken with my iPhone 5S and edited using PicTapGo.

All rectangular photos were taken with my Canon 5D Mark III and 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

*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!
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