Wednesday, June 22, 2011

365 Project - Day 273 - Goodbye Blogger

Okay, so I have been fed up with Blogger for awhile now. If you are a complete computer and internet novice looking to start a blog, then it might be right up your alley. But, if you're looking to do a little something more with your blog and have any interest in tweaking it to make it uniquely your own, you would be much better off going somewhere else.

In short, Blogger just has too many issues for my taste.

So, I am finally jumping ship and moving to Wordpress. Eventually, I will also be upgrading the blog to be more of a website, since I want it to eventually be my writing website--a place to display some of my work and where I hope I will continue to grow as a writer. Right now, it is a work in progress. I am just getting everything moved at this point, and then I will start fine-tuning

If you've enjoyed the blog and the stories you have found here, I hope you will continue to follow me in my new venture. So, for today's real 365 Project blog post, head over to:

I'll see you there!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

365 Project - Day 172 - I Heart Faces Photo Challenge - Let's Hear It For The Boys

There's something about watching a well-orchestrated offensive play unfold--the crack and thud of helmets and pads colliding on the field. There's something about seeing a member of your team running toward the end zone so fast you'd swear he was flying. There's just something about football.

For this week's I Heart Faces Photo Challenge, I am submitting one of the photos I took of my brother Beau's football team as they huddled for a little halftime pep talk. Come on everybody, let's hear it for the boys.

Today's 365 Project Entry is dedicated to the boys who fight their battles on the playing field and to their dedicated dads who coach them.

Be sure to head over to I Heart Faces to check out the other amazing entries this week.

Monday, June 20, 2011

365 Project - Day 171 - Wedding

When I first decided to take my photography and go into business, I wasn't sure that I ever wanted to shoot weddings. It just seemed like such an enormous job, and an enormous amount of pressure. Plus, I wasn't sure that I would feel comfortable taking on a wedding when I had absolutely no prior experience shooting one. But, when I asked to shoot Andy and Henny's small backyard wedding, I jumped at the chance. Not only are they good family friends, but I also knew that it would be a small, laidback affair. It was the perfect opportunity for me to get some practice and to see if I might want to add weddings to my professional portfolio.

Now, I know that future weddings are not guaranteed to be as much fun to shoot as this one was, but I have to say, after spending the day with this gorgeous bride and groom, I'd be willing to give professional wedding photography some serious consideration.

After spending the day uploading the photos I shot at the wedding, I had to pull this shot to share for today's 365 Project post. Here's to Andy and Henny, and a long happy life together!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

365 Project - Day 170 - A Good Time

Besides being able to see my father steadily improving and celebrating Steven's second Father's Day watching a few episodes of The Sopranos, the highlight of my weekend was definitely being hired to photograph the backyard wedding of some of our best family friends. I haven't even had time to go through and upload all of the photos yet, but I had to pull these two for tonight's blog post.

All I'm going to say about the wedding right now is that when you show up and see the family dogs dressed like this, you are pretty much guaranteed a good time.

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to the Samuelson family. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share in your special day!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

365 Project - Day 169 - The Duaner

When my husband (then my boyfriend) first met my father and spent some time with him, he immediately dubbed him The Duaner.

"Yeah, he's The Duaner. Gotta add 'the' to his name, like The Beatles, because he's just that cool," Steven explained.

And it wasn't long after that, Duane dubbed Steven his "Eye-talian Stallion".

It's safe to say that the two of them hit it off pretty well.

Steven and Electra arrived in Kearney today, and after quickly dropping Electra off at my Uncle Tim and Aunt Leslie's house to play in the yard with their lab Maggie, we headed to the hospital for a visit. Mom sat with Cadence in the waiting room while Steven and I went in to see The Duaner.

When we arrived at his room, we were surprised to find it empty. The TV was on, but there was no sign of my father. The nurse said that he was in the bathroom, and that we could have a seat and wait if we liked. And in the meantime, she filled us in on his progress.

He did end up getting the epidural the night before, and it seemed to be helping immensely. His oxygen levels were way up, and staying up, in spite of the fact that he did end up developing a bit of pneumonia. Because he was so much more comfortable with the epidural, he has been able to cough up the phlegm from his lungs and clear them out well, which is a good sign. They started him on antibiotics for the pneumonia, and he seems to be responding very well. He managed to eat breakfast, and even a bit of his lunch before calling the nurse to help him into the bathroom. Finally, the triple doses of laxatives worked their magic. Victory!

When Duane emerged from his trip to the bathroom, I was surprised at how well he was moving. The nurse helped him manage all of the cords and tubes, but otherwise, he was walking and easing himself down into his recliner on his own. His color looked better, and he was only wearing the oxygen tubes in his nose, instead of the full face mask. And when he finally began to speak, his voice was much stronger.

"So Duane, tell me. What were you thinkin'?" said Steven.

Duane rolled his eyes and groaned. "Oh jeemanee, don't even ask! I don't know."

We visited for a bit, before I finally had to excuse myself to head to the Samuelson's in Loomis to photograph my first wedding. While I was gone, Mom and Steven kept Duane company, and by the time they left him for the night, they were both marveling at his progress. His oxygen levels are continuing to hold strong and he seems to be managing the pain well and gaining his strength back. A couple of the nurses even remarked that he just might be starting to get ornery enough to be ready to move out of the ICU. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

Tonight's 365 Project entry is dedicated to The Duaner. Whether those laxatives worked their magic or not, anyone who knows my father knows that he is still full of shit.

The Duaner and his Italian Stallion going for a joyride.

Friday, June 17, 2011

365 Project - Day 168 - Duane Update

So, I am cheating today and posting an old photo I took a month or two ago when we went to visit my folks in Bertrand. It was such a hectic day, I just didn't have time to take one.

Lindy and I and Cadence left Lincoln this morning to head out to Kearney to visit Duane. I don't even know how much sleep I actually managed to get last night. By the time I finally went to bed, I was fighting and pretty mean migraine and I just couldn't stop wondering what kind of shape Dad would be in when we finally arrived at the hospital. I hate to admit it, but I was preparing myself for the worst.

When we went in to Dad's room for our visit, he was sitting up in a chair and was wearing a regular oxygen mask instead of the C-pap machine. The doctors had been alternating between the two throughout the day, and it seems to be working to keep his oxygen levels up where they need to be. It's obvious that he is still in a lot of pain, but there was some color in his cheeks and he was actually joking around with us about the fact that he has neither eaten, nor taken a crap in four days.

"Have they been giving you prune juice," I asked. "That always works wonders for Cadence."

Duane rolled his eyes and smirked. "No. No prune juice," Duane said. "They've been giving me laxatives, and it ain't going to be pretty when they finally start workin'. Damn horse really knocked the shit out of me!"

I took his good humor as a positive sign.

The doctors are planning to continue alternating between the regular oxygen and the C-pap and will be monitoring him closely. Mom said they talked about doing another scan as well. When Lindy and I talked to Dad, he said he thought the nurses might be getting him up to walk around this evening, but then when Mom went back in to visit, they were talking about giving him an epidural. He has been on morphine to manage the pain, but the doctors now think that giving him an epidural will give him some longer lasting pain relief and allow him to take deeper breaths. We'll find out tomorrow what they decided, and I will post another update to let everyone know about the progress.

Walking out of Dad's room after our visit, I was finally able to breathe the first real sigh of relief since Mom called to tell me about the accident on Monday. Dad still has a long way to go, but it finally looks like he just might be starting to move in the right direction and beginning to heal. Everyone who saw him earlier in the week (especially Wednesday and Thursday) is saying that he looks and acts so much better. Even Dad admitted tonight that there was a point yesterday when he wasn't even sure he was going to make it. We can only pray that tomorrow will dawn even brighter and that Duane will continue on the road to recovery.

Tonight's 365 Project is dedicated to Cowboy Roy and to a speedy recovery. Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers! We really appreciate all the love and support!

Cadence with her Papa Duane on one of his better days.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

365 Project - Day 167 - Duane

On Sunday, one of my uncle's horses got out and my Dad went to help him round it up. When they got the horse cornered, Dad thought he would just hop on and ride it back, even though the horse was only wearing a halter. Long story short, the horse threw him.

At first, in typical Duane fashion, he refused to let my Mom take him to the hospital. Monday morning he woke up in so much pain that he told Mom they better go. He was admitted and x-rays showed three fractured ribs. They doctors gave him morphine for the pain, and luckily all of the other scans of his back and neck were fine.

Mom thought if he was feeling better, he would be released Wednesday, but when she called last night, she said they were keeping him because his oxygen levels were low. Last night, they decided to do another scan to make sure he hadn't punctured a lung and that there were no blood clots. Luckily, the tests came back okay. Unfortunately, they still couldn't keep his oxygen levels where they were supposed to be.

Mom called today that he was being flown to another hospital because they still weren't able to get his oxygen levels up. She said Dad did really well on the flight over and that for now, he seems to be resting comfortably in the ICU. He is hooked up to a C-pap machine, and that seems to be helping his oxygen levels. They are not back to normal yet, but they are much closer.

So, it has been a long week, but hopefully Duane is finally on the mend. Of course, we are soliciting as many prayers and positive thoughts as we can, so if you feel so inclined, we would greatly appreciate them

Tonight's 365 Project is dedicated to my Dad, Duane. I pulled a few of my favorite photos of him for tonight's blog post. Here's hoping he starts feeling better very soon!

Duane riding bareback - 1963 - He was a little better at it back then.

Mom and Dad on their wedding day. Is it just me, or does Duane look like he's 12?

Duane and me - 1980 - Yeah, he's sporting a mean 'fro.

Duane and Pawpoo Shawn - NY graduation trip 2003


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

365 Project - Day 166 - Fool Me Once

It's interesting how quickly children learn, how quickly they figure out the world and begin to show their little personalities. Cadence is not even 17 months old and already she's starting to show us her independence, her stubborn streak, and a very distinct practical joker personality.

Lately, we've been getting a kick out of the way she tries to hijack the TV remotes and my laptop the minute we have our backs turned. Then, if we happen to return and catch her red handed, she either starts showing off some of her latest dance moves or puckers up to give us kisses to try and distract us with her cuteness.

Earlier this evening while Steven was throwing chicken on the grill and I was busy in the kitchen, our little joker made off with the remote for the Blu-Ray player and managed to hide it so well that it took us almost two hours to find it. Somehow, she managed to stash it behind one of the little doors of the antique kitchen cupboard we are currently using as a TV stand in the living room.

Of course, it was driving Steven crazy that he couldn't find it, and everytime he asked, "Cadence, where is the remote?" she just stared at him and alternated between giving him her best innocent poker face and showing him the Yeah-I'm-guilty-but-I'll-never-tell face.

But even with all the hidden remote hilarity going on, the highlight of the evening was definitely Cadence's attempted jailbreak. She has been tall enough to reach the screen door handle for several weeks now, so we've been keeping the deadbolt locked whenever we have the door open. After she saw her Daddy head outside to grill the chicken, she saw her chance and opened the door to follow. Steven hollered at her to get back inside and close the door, and she hollered back, "Nada! Nada!" before stepping back inside and letting the door slam. She apparently thought Steven's reaction was so deliciously funny that she had to do it again and again and again until the chicken was finally done and Steven chased her back inside and closed the door.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to our little con artist. Like we tell her at least a dozen times a day--she's lucky she's cute.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

365 Project - Day 165 - Too Cool

I've got to say it--I think we share our home with the coolest dog in the world. She's sweet, mellow, patient, playful, loyal, and best of all, she's great with Cadence. She even tolerates us putting hats and sunglasses on her, as long as she's allowed to sit in someone's lap and snuggle.

In spite of the unfortunate incident resulting in the untimely death of one of her rabbit friends, Electra still likes to stalk the rabbits that frequent our yard. When I let her outside with two rabbits in the yard, I grabbed my camera phone and started recording, waiting for her to make her move and give chase.

Watching this video, it's almost hard to believe she killed the other rabbit by chasing it and giving it a heart attack. But maybe this is just proof that she's learned her lesson and knows that the rabbits can't handle playing rough. Just more proof that our dog has a big ol' heart in that big ol' chest of hers.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to our sweet Electra. With a face like this, how can you resist her?

Monday, June 13, 2011

365 Project - Day 164 - Rub-a-Dub-Dub

It always cracks me up when my Mom tells me how she never used to let me or my sister Lindy get messy when we ate. She says she was always wiping our faces and our hands clean during meals and snacks. I'm pretty sure I did the same thing last year when Cadence was younger and first starting to eat solid foods. I think I felt bad letting her get too messy, considering I was the one who was feeding her. So, if she had pureed sweet potatoes smeared all over her face, I was absolutely the one to blame.

These days, however, it is a much different story. Cadence has been feeding herself for quite awhile now--first mastering the art of picking up chunks of steamed fruits and veggies and cheese, and now graduating to using her very own bowls and utensils. I learned very early that mealtime was going to be a very messy process. And since Cadence went through a long period where she absolutely refused to wear a bib, I decided the only way to keep her from ruining absolutely every piece of clothing that she owned was simply to strip her down to her diaper, throw a couple of towels down on the carpet beneath her high chair, and let her go whole hog and not worry about the mess.

All in all, Cadence is a pretty neat eater. She has moments where she'll fling a handful of string beans in excitement or frustration, and there have been several incidences where we have caught her trying to hide cheese and blueberries under her thighs as though she is trying to save them for later. Other than that though, she is really quite fastidious when she eats.

The one exception, though, is always pasta. It doesn't matter if I give her only the slightest bit of sauce, she somehow manages to coat every inch of her skin with a thin layer of red tomato sauce before the meal is over. It's in her hair, her ears, under her arms, between her toes. By the time she's finished, she looks like she's in the middle of some sort of full-body marinara exfoliating spa treatment. I can't really complain though, because she somehow manages to keep the mess contained to only her body, and she'll eat every last bite of pasta and veggies that I put in front of her.

So, on nights like tonight, there is only one solution to the marinara mayhem, and that is a nice, warm, after dinner bath.

Tonight's 365 Project entry is dedicated to my pasta-loving girl. Bon appetit baby!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

365 Project - Day 163 - Sleep Time Shenanigans

When Steven and I first changed Cadence's bed time routine, neither one of us knew if it was really going to work. Less than a week later, she was going to down to sleep without a fuss and sleeping completely through the night. Hallelujah!

But now that Cadence is in her room by herself for such long stretches of time, I wonder if we are going to be greeted by sights like this more often in the morning...

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to my little Houdini and her nighttime shenanigans. Whatever are we in for next?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

365 Project - Day 162 - Win, Lose or Draw, Draw, Draw!

"Daw! Daw! Daw!"

This is Cadence's mantra these days. All she wants to do is draw, draw, draw. Heck, she sat in her high chair drawing for almost 2 1/2 hours yesterday. I practically had to pry the crayons out of her hands so she would eat her dinner.

She has a little notebook (one of my old ones that I used to use for shopping lists). She likes to carry it around with her and pretend to write and take notes as she scribbles. Sometimes her little tongue creeps out the corner of her mouth as she focuses intently on her "work". I can only pray that she remains as focused and studious when she is old enough to go to school.

Here is a little sampling of today's artwork...

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to my budding artist. If she keeps up this pace, we will be wallpapering the house with her artwork instead of confining it to the refrigerator.

Friday, June 10, 2011

365 Project - Day 161 - Lori Bites

Okay, so this is a lame post tonight, but it's for a good cause. I'm launching a new food blog inspired by the food/restaurant writing and photography I have been doing for West Valley Health & Living Magazine. I hope you'll check it out and follow me on this latest adventure. The site is still a work in progress, but please stop by and let me know what you think!

Click the photo below and brace yourselves for Lori Bites!

Tonight's 365 Project entry is dedicated to a fun new project...let's see where it leads me!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

365 Project - Day 160 - The Ants Go Marching (part 2)

So after posting about our recent ant issues on Facebook, I had several friends and family members giving me advice on how to get rid of them. When my good friend Tamatha recommended Terro Liquid Ant Baits, I figured we would give them a go. She warned me that the ants would swarm "like cows to a feeding trough" but to let them do their thing and they would carry the poisoned liquid back to their nest and it would kill the entire colony.

Boy was she right!

A few hours after setting the baits on the counter last night, we watched the ants swarming, diving into the liquid like drunken college students diving into a swimming pool full of Jell-O shots. Despite the fact that the ants had only been confined to the small portion of the counter immediately surrounding our kitchen sink, for the rest of the night, I swore I could feel them crawling on me. It was enough to keep me awake and paranoid well past 3:00 a.m.

What Tamatha failed to mention was that the colony's queen was not likely to take the assassination attempt lightly, so I was completely unprepared when I saw her on the floor when I got Cadence out of her crib and carried her into the living room. But there she was, the fat, black Carpenter Ant queen, scurrying across the floor near the kitchen. Barefoot and still holding my child, my options were few, so I grabbed Cadence's horsey bike and ran over Her Majesty before she could escape and find a new spot to rebuild her  dying kingdom.

And just so you can see the size comparison between Her Majesty and her minions...

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to the poor ants who decided to invade and met their demise. Let's just hope this is the last post for a very long time devoted to any sort of annoying creepy, crawly creatures. I don't know about you, but I have had my fill.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

365 Project - Day 159 - Arachnophobia

I wrote yesterday about the certain level of respect I have for most bugs and insects, yet I failed to mention spiders. It was an appropriate omission, for my relationship with spiders is certainly deserving of it's own blog post. In short, I hate them. Indoors, outdoors, anywhere I encounter them, I HATE them and will kill them without hesitation or remorse. In fact, I killed one just today in Cadence's sandbox.

There is no live and let live when it comes to spiders. And don't try to tell me how good it is to have them around so they can kill other insects. If I want those other insects dead, I can very well do it myself.

I wasn't always this way. In fact, as a child, I never really minded spiders, as long as they didn't try to crawl on me or bite me. I was content to just look the other way and let them do their own thing.

But that all changed in the fall 1990 when the movie Arachnophobia came out on video.

My family was still living in Bird City, Kansas at the time. It was a Friday night, and my sister Lindy and I had both invited friends over to spend the night. Mom agreed to drive us to the Video Kingdom in St. Francis to rent a couple movies, and since Arachnophobia had just come out on video, we decided to pick it up. We weren't scared by the movie. Oh no, not at all. In fact, it was pretty cheesy, and the four of us ended up laughing through most of it. It's what happened afterward that scarred me for life.

(Just a little side note here--a few weeks before, we'd noticed some small spiders in our basement. Since both Lindy and I had our bedrooms down there, Mom called an exterminator to get rid of them. He came in and sprayed, and all was right with the world again.)

So, it was a little after 1:00 a.m. when we finally finished the movie and retired to our rooms for the night. Tenley and I had barely closed the door to my bedroom when we heard Lindy and Jill screaming in the next room.

When we opened Lindy's door, we were surprised to see Jill climbing up on a chair and Lindy jumping up and down on the bed screaming, "Delbert missed one! Delbert missed one! DELBERT MISSED ONE!" over and over while pointing to her dresser that stood on the other side of the room.

"Shhhh! You're going to wake Mom up!" I said. "You guys are stupid. You're not going to scare us."

But instead of stopping the charade, Lindy and Jill just kept on screaming.

I looked over to the dresser where Lindy was pointing. There, on top of her dresser, sat the biggest, hairiest, ugliest brown spider I had ever seen. Sitting there with it's legs outstretched, it was about as big around as a baseball.

I stood there for a moment, wondering where Lindy and Jill managed to get such a realistic looking spider when they hadn't even known we were going to be watching the movie that night.

"Ugh, you guys are so lame," I said, shaking my head and taking a step forward.

I was about two feet away from the dresser when the spider suddenly started to move.

I don't even remember running from the room, but run we did, as fast as our legs could take us, screaming all the way. The four of us burst into my parents' room screaming at the top of our lungs.

It was the middle of harvest,which meant my Dad was working crazy long hours loading railroad cars at the Co-op, so Mom was the one that got to follow a pack of panicking girls down to the basement to see what all the fuss was about. Of course, when we arrived, the spider in question was gone.

The four of us stuck to our story, and wouldn't let Mom leave the room until we found it again. There was no way we were going to sleep until we knew the big hairy beast was dead. After a bit of looking and poking around the room, we managed to scare the spider out of it's hiding place beneath Lindy's dresser. Mom's eyes widened in shock, and it was obvious that she thought we were exaggerating when we told her the thing was roughly the size of a newborn kitten.

"Oh!" Mom said, grabbing one of Lindy's sandals. "Oh my!"

It took three good tries to kill the beast, and not because Mom was missing the mark. The first blow struck the spider squarely, but just seemed to irritate it as it continued to run across the floor toward the closet. The second blow actually seemed to take a little pep out of it's step and hobble it enough for Mom to wind up and give it a solid third. On the third try, the spider rolled over and curled it's legs into it's body, spasming a few times before finally dying right there on the carpet.

Somehow, we all got a little sleep that night, comforted by the knowledge that the beast had been slain, and we laughed at the odds that our little encounter took place just minutes after watching a movie like Arachnophobia.

Mom called the exterminator to come back, just to be sure there were no more surprises. He returned on Monday while Lindy and I were in schoolm and did a much more thorough examination and spraying of the house.

That afternoon, Lindy and I got off the school bus and walked the three blocks to the bank where Mom worked so we could get some money to buy a snack at the grocery store before heading home. Mom said she had something to show us.

We followed her to the back room and watched in horrified fascination as she held up a plastic Ziploc baggie with half a dozen dead brown spiders inside. Then, she proceeded to tell us that the exterminator determined we had an infestation of Wolf Spiders in the house, and that the tiny little spiders we had been seeing for weeks were just the babies. Apparently he had disposed of several Ziploc baggies full of dead spiders after thoroughly spraying the house and killing those that remained, and had given one to Mom as a souvenir.

So you see, my abhorrance for spiders is not at all unjustified. And I will continue to exact revenge on the arachnid population for invading my childhood home and trying to take over. They should have been more careful who they were messing with.

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to all the spiders I have killed. I just want you to know, I am not sorry. Here's the one I slayed today in Cadence's sandbox...wouldn't you know, a Wolf Spider. Ugh!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

365 Project - Day 158 - The Ants Go Marching

I have never been a bug hater. In fact, I was one of those kids that actually kinda liked bugs. Well, maybe I didn't like them, but I was fascinated by them, and I used to catch them and put them in the Bug House that someone bought me one Christmas. The Bug House was made of a few pieces of wood and mosquito netting, which allowed me to see what the little bugs were up to once I got them inside. I caught beetles, caterpillars, ladybugs, lightning bugs, and even the occasional cicada. I would never keep them more than a day or two though. It just never seemed right to hold them captive for longer, so I would release them back into the wild. Hell, my nickname growing up was even "Lori Bugs", though I'm not sure it really had anything to do with any of the creepy crawly little creatures.

In spite of my longstanding fascination with the little guys, I draw the line at bugs in my house. There's just something about seeing bugs indoors that suddenly transforms them from fascinating little creatures into despicable little invaders that need to be immediately eradicated. While I might go out of my way to be respectful of the the little critters when I am outdoors--making sure I step over anthills or brushing a curious bug carefully aside instead of squashing it--I take a bug's uninvited intrusion into my home as an open declaration of war.

In Arizona, we had issues with crickets that apparently decided to move into the house when the previous owners moved out, and they made themselves far too comfortable before we moved in. We first tried to take care of the problem ourselves with gallons of bug repellent bought at the local hardware store, but after months of spraying, we hadn't even made a dent in the population. The incessant chirping kept us up all hours of the night and haunted our dreams, and we were constantly being startled by crickets jumping out at us from every nook and cranny in the house.

At one point we thought we bested them, when we realized that they were coming in through a hollow space between the siding of the house and the back patio door. Shoving the nozzle of the sprayer into the hole, Steven unleashed a deluge of bug spray, then suddenly jumped up with a yell when hundreds of crickets came pouring out of the hole and hopping drunkenly through the yard. He chased after them, stomping on them and spraying them with the bug spray until they were all dead or dying beneath the Arizona sun. Even then, we'd barely made a dent, so we called in the professionals and after a couple of monthly treatments, we were victorious and our house was quiet.

So far, we haven't seen much of anything out of the ordinary here in our rental house. Sure, we have had the occasional spider or housefly, both of which are greeted with a quick and painless death as soon as they are discovered. Our luck though, appears to have run out. This past week, we noticed a small army of tiny black ants that have decided to invade our kitchen. We're not 100% certain where they are coming from, but all signs point to the window above our kitchen sink, since the windowsill and counter is where we keep finding them. We bought a couple of ant traps, but so far, they don't seem to be working all that great. So, if anyone out there has any good remedies to get rid of annoying little black ants, we are open for suggestions. These little guys are going down!

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to all the bugs that need to learn to just stay outside where they belong. Trust me guys, you'll be much better off out there in wild.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge - From a Distance

Sometimes you just need to take a step back to put it all into perspective. I have to give my husband credit for this shot. I'm usually the one behind the camera, so it was a nice to get a chance to actually be in a picture with my daughter. I love this shot. Every time I look at it, I hear the Foo Fighters singing "Walking After You."

Be sure to head over to I Heart Faces to see more amazing entries in this week's From a Distance photo challenge.

365 Project - Day 157 - It'll Be Alright Again

For a child, pain is a fleeting emotion. Sadness comes and goes almost instantaneously, as long as there is a kiss, the promise of ice cream or, in my daughter's case, a song. If only we adults could let go of despair and hurt feelings so easily.

The pouty lip making an appearance.

So, Momma starts to sing...maybe a little Sugarland, or a showtune.

And she sings along..."It's alright. It's alright. It's alright. It'll be alright again."

Sunday, June 5, 2011

365 Project - Day 156 - Snuggle Buddies

For all of her idiosyncracies--her obsession with food, her separation anxiety--you would be very hard pressed to find a sweeter dog than our Electra. If she had it her way, she would spend a majority of her day just like this...

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to our favorite snuggle buddy, Electra Romano.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

365 Project - Day 155 - I'm Too Sexy

I hate clothes shopping.

There, I said it, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I know, it completely defies the very nature of my gender, but I guess I am just missing the chromosome that makes girls giddy about spending time shopping for clothes and shoes. This is another one of those weird things about me that I'm sure tops Steven's "Reasons My Wife Is Awesome" list. In fact, the only shopping that I actually enjoy is when I head to the bookstore to buy a new book. I could spend days in a bookstore, browsing the titles, plucking interesting books from the shelves and skimming the first few pages to see if something catches my interest. Often, I get so caught up in my search for new things to read that I completely lose track of time. Like an alien abductee, I look at a clock and suddenly realize that several hours have passed without me even noticing.

Take me along on an excursion to buy new clothes or shoes and I can actually feel my blood pressure begin to rise as I walk into the store. Perhaps it's the fact that I've always been pretty self-conscious, but I just never feel like anything looks good on me. I hate having to try things on because nothing ever fits right. I hate carrying an armful of clothes into a dressing room only to discover that I've either chosen things too big or too small, and now I can't even remember where I found them in the first place. Things are always either too tight, too baggy, too loose, too scratchy, too short, too long, or too small. When something fits perfectly through the shoulders, it is way too baggy in the waist or vice versa. There is never a happy medium.

I used to drive my Mom crazy on shopping trips. She and Lindy loooooove to shop. Lindy could spend hours trying on clothes and shoes and looking for new outfits, while Mom shopped for clothing, shoes and purses. When I was very young and we lived in McCook, there was one department store we frequented that had a mechanical horse in the back near the dressing rooms for the kids to ride. You didn't even need quarters. You could just flip the switch on the wall and ride forever. At least in that store, I had something to keep me occupied.

In other stores, I had no other choice but to get creative and try to entertain myself so I wouldn't drop dead of boredom. I would pretend that I was a secret agent on a covert mission, assigned to the clothing store to apprehend several  known criminals. I would conceal myself in the middle of the clothing racks, eavesdropping on the conversations going on in the aisles around me and waiting for the right moment to jump out and catch the perps by surprise. Needless to say, Mom wasn't every impressed with my antics on most of our shopping trips.

As I got older, I left my childish games behind and instead became a very stubborn shopper. I refused to try things on, and instead bought everything by repetition (buying new versions or a variety of colors of the things I already owned and actually liked) or by simply eyeballing the size of a piece of clothing that struck my fancy. I am notorious for finding a pair or jeans or shirt that I like, and then buying five or six of them (in different colors), wearing them until they completely wear out, and then going out and buying five or six more of the exact same thing. With shoes, I am even worse. I find a couple pairs I like and then I wear them until they are completely falling apart. I've been wearing my flowered Doc Martens for well over 10 years now, and plan to keep wearing them until the soles are literally worn off, or until they officially disintegrate beyond repair.

Now that I am a parent, I realize that I not only have to shop for myself, I am now responsible for shopping for my child. Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse! I have to say, I do have a bit more tolerance when I am picking things out for Cadence. After all, there are just some really cute kids clothes, and it's a nice change of pace being able to pick things off the racks that she will look adorable in. I do think she has a bit of my impatience for clothes shopping though, because she tends to get a little stir crazy if we are in the store longer than 20 minutes. Good thing she's got her crazy, anti-shopping mother to keep her entertained when we go shopping with people who exceed our 20-minute Clothes Shopping Limit.

Today's 365 Project is dedicated to all the other anti-shopping girls out there, and to all the fun things we do to keep ourselves sane while we are waiting on our shopoholic friends.

What do we have here?
Oh yeah baby! How cool am I gonna look?

I'm too sexy!

Friday, June 3, 2011

365 Project - Day 154 - Shenanigans

There were a lot of shenanigans going on today. I'll let the video speak for itself...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

365 Project - Day 153 - Pinching Pennies

I want to apologize in advance for the rant I am about to go on, but I have had enough already.

My friend Katie posted the following status on Facebook yesterday:

"[I am] amazed by how often and in how many ways the people who try to do the right thing, are relatively responsible with their limited incomes, and generally make good choices get the SHAFT when trying to improve their lifestyles even the littlest bit, while others can run up credit card debt, overspend, and simply walk away or get people to feel sorry for them and help them."

Of course, I had to comment right away when I saw this. Steven and I feel exactly the same way. It seems like no matter what we do, we just can't seem to get ahead. We try to always be responsible. We pay our rent on time, pay our bills, and pay our taxes. We saved up and bought a home when everyone was telling us that the market was great and prices weren't going to get any lower. We decided to make a small investment so I could make a go of doing my writing and photography full-time and be able to be home to take care of our daughter. We opened a bank account immediately after Cadence was born so we could start putting money away for her to go to college someday. We drive used cars that so we don't have to carry the extra load of car payments. We try to only buy things that are on sale when we go grocery shopping. We work hard for every penny we are given, and then watch in dumfounded amazement as half of it is taken before it even reaches our pockets and the other half just seems to disappear as we pay for bills, for groceries, for gas, and for the dozen other things that just seem to pop up every month.

Somewhere, somehow, the great American Dream turned into a rather grim reality. Too many average Americans are struggling just to make ends meet while the corrupt politicians and corporate big shots are lining their pockets with money taken out of the hands of blue collar workers. Billions of dollars were printed like Monopoly money and given away to dozens of big banks and businesses that our illustrous President deemed "too big to fail". But they have failed, and they have taken all of us down with them.

So what about the rest of us? What about the people whose homes are suddenly not worth even half of what they paid for them? What about  the families who are watching their savings accounts dwindle? What about the young adults who worked hard to get a good education, yet find themselves drowning in student loan debt, yet for all their knowledge, still can't find a job? What about the people who have lost their jobs, their homes, their hope? Where is our bailout? When do we get the chance to wipe the slate clean and start over?

I was raised with a good work ethic. My parents did their best to teach me the value of a dollar, and that I had to work hard to earn the things I wanted. We were blessed in many ways. We always had a comfortable home and food on the table. There were always some gifts under the Christmas tree. But there were things we couldn't afford and certain luxuries that we made do without. I got jobs mowing lawns or babysitting to make extra money, and started working part-time at a local grocery store and preschool when I started high school. I was never one who expected something for nothing because, in my experience, that just wasn't the way things worked.

I guess that's what makes it so hard for me to understand our current economic situation in this country and the sense of entitlement that so many people have. You get what you earn people. Nobody owes you anything. You want something? You gotta make some sacrifices to get it. How is that so hard to understand?

We spend so much of our lives working and worrying, worrying and working. We are so wrapped up in the craziness of it that we miss out on so many of the little pleasures that life has to offer us. Life is too short to spend so much time caught up in this kind of craziness. And yet we'll keep on going, keep plugging along, keep working and scrimping and saving and dreaming of a better life with more opportunities for our children until we finally get so fed up with this broken system that we are forced to figure out a way to change it.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to all you hardworking folks who are out there pinching your pennies and dreaming of something better. We'll get there eventually. Until then, just keep on keeping on.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

365 Project - Day 152 - Sand

Since she first discovered dirt, Cadence has been obsessed. The only thing that trumps it is when she gets to play in the sand. Just last week, she had a meltdown in the Child Watch Center at the YMCA because it was starting to get stormy outside and the chaperones had to tear her away from the sandbox to bring her inside. So today was an extra special day when Cadence's godmother dropped off her Easter gift.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to Cadence's very own sandbox, and the hours of fun that await. Thanks to Tamatha, Scott and Katie for making this little girl's day!

In the backyard, waiting for our favorite Tamatha to arrive.
Cadence telling Tamatha "More! More! More sand!"
What do we have here?
Two pretty girls in the sandbox.
Nothing better than burying your toes in the sand.

Deep in conversation.
The chaperone, keeping an eye on things.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

365 Project - Day 151 - Zzzzzz

So, it is Day 3 of the Get Cadence to Sleep Better Project, and I have to say, we are feeling very encouraged. The first night was awful. Steven and I alternated going in every 5 minutes or so to rub her back and calm her down, but our sweet, stubborn girl just wouldn't give up and go to sleep. Even when she was so tired that she was literally falling asleep standing up, she refused to lie down and stop screeching.

Last night, she yelled for maybe 20 minutes total, and would stop and lie down on her own as soon as we opened the door and approached the crib. Once she fell asleep, she slept soundly all night and woke happy and ready to play this morning.

Today during her nap, she hollered loudly for maybe 5 minutes, talked to herself for about 15 minutes, and then fell right asleep. Tonight at bedtime, it only took 10 minutes. Thank goodness we seem to be moving in the right direction. Now if Steven and I could just get our butts in bed a little earlier, all of us might finally be able to get a good night's sleep.

Today's 365 Project entry is dedicated to tonight being a peaceful night in the Romano household, with only the sounds of Metallica, Guns 'N Roses and Nirvana lullabies playing softly through the baby monitor. Good night all! Zzzzzzzzzz.......

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge - Best Faces From May

This week's photo challenge is the Best Faces From May, and this shot is definitely my favorite. There's nothing quite like watching a child enjoy their very first ice cream sandwich. Mmmm...


To see more amazing Best Faces From May entries, head over to I Heart Faces!