Archive for the ‘My Family’ Category

Saturday was the first day that was nice enough to be on Apple Canyon Lake in a boat – and SO many property owners took advantage of that small window of opportunity. Paige giggled and teased and tossed grapes across the length of the boat into her Dad’s mouth. Most of them found their target. Here are a few shots from the day.

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New Adventures

May 21, 2015

It has been so long since I posted an update, I had to relearn my blogging software a bit. I have been trying to decide how to best utilize my long-term blog since my photography business has slowed a bit and our travel life has increased. My plan is to update more about that and our family adventures, for now.

This past week I was very interested in the Galena Triathlon that has been running for the past 20 years. Last Saturday the athletes began with their swim at Nixon Beach. We were really interested since our daughter, Dawn, has been training for an upcoming triathlon in Davenport next month.
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Last Monday, Molly, Jason and four of his friends came to Freeport hoping to get in the lake, ride the trails and hang out together before they started their summer jobs. Jim and I are so proud of our oldest grandson who just completed his freshman year at Fordham University. He brought friends that he has know since early grade school and despite awful weather, they managed to have fun. Tuesday was the best weather day so we headed to the lake, built a fire and they rode around the entire lake on our souped-up golf cart. Then, we headed down to the lake for a little fishing only to discover the marina closed and we were without bait. A few minutes later I secured wax worms from a veteran fisherman and we were in business. The sunshine felt so good that afternoon. Wednesday was terribly cold and rainy so Molly drove the group to Monroe – one of his friends has done very little travelling and Wisconsin was added to his newly extended list of states. We said goodbye to the group this morning around 8 am.

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On Tuesday, my Highland friend, Jeanne and her husband, left for an extended trip to Canada and Oregon. I love to follow their trips on her retirement blog.

Today, we also got ready for a very brief visit from Dawn’s family who is flying to Germany tonight. They packed their suitcases into the Highlander so Jim could drive them to O’Hare and after a quick lunch, we said goodbye. Time for a little relaxation, knitting and dog walking. And, some camping this weekend at Apple Canyon Lake. Who says retirement is boring??

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Kelby immediately corrected me when I called them “Urban Chickens” since, technically, they do not live in the city limits so they are not truly urban chickens. However, Kelby’s family is surrounded by a housing development so, it doesn’t really seem like they are outside the city limits. They have struggled to maintain a small flock of chickens but, sadly, the urban predators find them time after time. Hopefully, these will last a little longer. Dawn and her Dad added the coop’s side panels so the flock will be protected during the cold weather.

Saturday the weather was beautiful and warm and we were able to be outside playing and studying the newer chickens up close. On Sunday, I used four little eggs in the pumpkin pie I baked.

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Kelby assured me that the chickens do have ears.

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Luv these Chickens!

Thelma & Louise We Are Not – But We are going on a Road Trip! Betty & Nancy, my sister and I, are leaving this week for a huge road trip of about 5,000 miles. There will be no guns involved (or Brad Pitt) but it will be an adventure for both of us!

We have talked about it for a long time and finally started doing some serious planning last year. Our plan is to see lots of family from our newest great-great-nephew Micah in Des Moines to our older sister and brother-in-law in the Phoenix, AZ area. Our farthest destination is Scotts Valley, CA, to see our niece and her family. She has lived in CA forever but neither of us have been out there for a visit.

My planning included losing weight before the trip. I was worried about my back with all the car sitting and my energy level so last September I re-joined Weight Watchers. My goal was to lose 40 lbs before the trip or an average of 5 lb/month. I’m thrilled to say I will meet that goal before we leave.

Am I nervous about this trip –yes! There will be so much driving to get to these destinations and it’s hard to know how that will affect us. I’m still worried about my aching back so, have had regular massages during the last several months. We will be sharing a hotel room on several nights and there may be some sleeping issues?? I’ll be gone from Jim for over two weeks and that will be hard but, thank goodness, for Face Time! Andrew will help care for our dogs and for his Dad! Thank goodness for that! Since Jim is haphazard about putting away dishes I’m worried about finding my stuff when I get back.

Jim has a few concerns of his own about “me leaving him”. He has never, ever learned to use the “Tower of Terror.”

I”m uncharacteristically picky about the laundry and never, ever give him that chore to do. We will have a brief lesson before I leave and hope for the best.

Another planning aspect for me has been the technical equipment I’ll be toting – iPhone, notebook computer, video camera, all my SLR camera equipment and lenses and then there’s this little gem which is my latest geeky acquisition. It’s a mini stand for my iPhone so I can capture images and video of us along our route without seeing a wide angle, closeup version of my face – yikes!!
Gilf for iPhone
My travelling companion, Betty, is really looking for some respite time and that will be great for me, too. We will not be cleaning our houses, washing clothes, unloading the dishwasher OR working on client photography. Betty and I are best friends and we never run out of things to talk about.

ITINERARY
Iowa City – watch Erin play softball
Des Moines – meet baby Micah and Mommy
Kansas City – visit niece, Debbie and her family AND see Jersey Boys
Norman, OK – rent a bike if there’s time and sleep
Santa Fe New Mexico – visit Georgia O’Keefe Museum
Laveen, AZ – drive Route 66 and stop in Sedona on the way to my sister, Diane’s house, in the Phoenix area
San Diego, CA – visit the ocean and dine oceanside
Scotts Valley, CA – stay with niece Denine and see great nephews and great-great nephews and possibly other cousins
DRIVE BACK HOME –

Other hopes for the trip: visit new National Parks, eat at least one restaurant recommended by Guy Fieri on Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins, drive the Pacific Coast Highway, Exercise and lose weight. Relax in the hot tub. Listen to multiple audio books.

I’ve been thinking back to 1955 when the five of us took a similar road trip to California (my oldest sister was already gone by then). Then, we drove a 1948 Ford with no air conditioning cross country, through the Mojave Desert and were gone for a month. We visited Disney Land the year it opened! My mother was an avid vacation planner. We didn’t have much money but somehow she squeezed money out of their tight budget for this vacation. I wonder what the gas prices were then? Our wonderful Dad would have turned 100 years old this September. We often wonder how they stood travelling with three kids in a tight back seat like that.

This time we drive a super comfy Toyota Highlander and have excellent interstates to get us to our destinations fast. Let the adventure begin!

I’ve been wanting to get Paige down to the end of our street where all these yellow flowers are blooming. However, when scouting out a location like this I have to take into consideration more than just the pretty background and light. I sometimes need to be sure there’s decent parking and a way to get my big, heavy props to the location. We managed to get the old, red chair down there, as you can see, but wish we would have had more time with the beautiful backlighting on her hair. So, here’s a few of my favorites from tonight, right before sunset, and also a pullback which looks like Paige is doing all of our heavy work returning the chair to the car. She really did pull it most of the way back!

Even though Paige enjoys getting ready for a mini session with Mimi (me) and she is great at helping me get everything set up, she’s really not that thrilled when we get going. Often she can’t wait to get off itchy clothing like these leggings I bought both of the girls. So, out of many, many shots this morning these two were the best.

Summer is so short! We no longer take vacations during the summer as we love to spend time here and have family join us at the lake. We’re thankful they will come from Ohio and Iowa during the short summer months. We now prefer to vacation during the cold & miserable midwest winter if at all possible. We have been to the lake several times this summer and are looking forward to lounging on floats in the lake again this weekend. I’m sure the water has warmed dramatically since the last time we were there.

Last weekend, though, we did make our way to Madison with Dawn’s family to go to the Farmer’s Market. It was hot and crowded and overwhelming so we were all ready to leave after only doing half of it. Do you know it’s the largest in the country? We had a nice, cool lunch at the Great Dane after eating a whole loaf of warm cheese bread and sampling lots of cheese – it’s all about the cheese! State Street was just as busy due to Maxwell Street days and the patio of the union was packed, too!

On the way home, we stopped at Brennan’s in Monroe to get the rest of the ingredients we needed for Dawn’s special gourmet, grilled pizza. Everything but the fresh mozarella had been purchased at the Farmer’s Market. We were really proud of ourselves for dragging along a pull-behind traveler and a cooler in the car. We were all pretty exhausted at the end of the day! What are your favorite things to do in the summer time?

A couple more tips for you on photo processing: I use purchased actions for much of my blog’s photo processing. I always use MCP’s Crystal Clear Web Resize to prepare my images for this blog. On these images I also used the Pioneer Woman’s free Action Set 1 How nice of Ree Drummond to give away these actions and to provide so many, many wonderful tutorials on photography and photo processing. If you are an aspiring photographer, spend some time on the photography section of her blog. She has some Flickr groups, too!

IT’S ALL ABOUT the CHEESE

This last photo appeals to me so much: Lars, our son-in-law, is pelting his wife with some little beads off of the trees and in the background it appears that Grandpa, aka Gpa, is telling Erin another fanciful story about how his little finger became crooked (yes, it really is). Jim is so much better at this pretending and story-telling than I am. I love him for that!

Erin was a happy, little six-year-old last weekend. She was enthralled with this little monkey from one of the State Street stores and had it riding her Webkinz pet. Lovingly wrapped around her is the fabric we found at Hobby Lobby for her new, tied blanket. We located the perfect color fleece for the other side at JoAnn’s so she didn’t understand that it wasn’t going to get magically done and go right home with her that day.


Kelby is such a fun kid, now! He doesn’t talk constantly any more but when he does, it’s usually a conversation about animals – more specifically fish of all kinds. He’s a walking encyclopedia and though he’s a voracious reader and listener of fiction, he checks out just as many non-fiction books from the Iowa City library.

Paige and I made our second recipe when she was home sick with strepp throat. By late afternoon of the second day on antibiotics, she was feeling pretty good. We thought Mommy might like this one because it’s healthy! Of course, Paige didn’t even want to try it because she detests anything with mayonnaise. How can that be?? The most difficult task was slicing the grapes down the middle. It struck me at how many cooking tasks I just take for granted but to slice a grape you must finesse it from the top down, at an angle and definitely use a serrated knife. She wanted to muscle her way through each and every one of them. She really did great chopping the apples, though, and based on my recommendation we gave this one three stars.

I came across this book during our extremely quick trip to Edward’s Orchard in Poplar Grove a couple of weeks ago. I thought, Paige and I haven’t been cooking anything together for a while and maybe this would give us (me) the motivation to start again. 121 recipes might be too much and take us a very long time but we will definitely have fun along the way.

The very first recipe in the book, Cooking Fun 121 Recipes to Make with Kids by Rae Grant, is for a Blueberry Smoothie. Despite the fact that Paige adores blueberries practically more than anything else (except ice cream), we only gave this one two stars after deciding upon a four-star rating system. Two stars means it’s, “so-so.” She did learn what it means to level off a measuring cup of plain yogurt!

The cookbook is so cute, though, with easy to read recipes and helpful hints. I just love the cute retro cover, too.

I’m really going to try and go farther this time with a photography project. Gosh, I admire people who can keep up a 365 Project.

Checking Out the Recipe


Juicing the Lemon

The past week was everything an idyllic summer week should be. The first weekend was spent at Apple Canyon Lake with the whole family. We went out in shifts since there are too many of us to fit in our red boat. The lake gets pretty rough when there is so much boat traffic out there, but the big boys especially love being bounced around on the tube. Most of the time I was back on dry land relaxing with the rest of the group. We enjoyed brats cooked by the Scales Mound fire department and then stayed for the fireworks. It was a perfect day. We laughed so much and the five grand kids caught lightning bugs, played games, fished and just hung out together. It’s my favorite time of the whole year.

Before the rest of the family arrived, we enjoyed some 1:1 time with Kelby who was surprised with a go-cart from his Uncle Andy. Hopefully, he will be safe, but he does remind us of Andy at that age who started with a wooden go-cart that coasted down our street in Decorah and progressed to a motorized go-cart that he ran up and down the alley in Manchester. Next, came a moped that he hoped he would drive after we moved to Illinois but due to a later license age he sold it and bought a dirt bike which was perfect for our then-empty subdivision. Erin was swapped for Kelby on Thursday when Dawn and I met at this restaurant in Port Byron that’s right on the river. Usually, we meet in Cordova so the kids can play at the park there. It’s cool and shady and a welcome respite between turning around for the drive back to Freeport.

We usually find a movie that we are all dying to see but this time we had to create a movie matrix. Between the 13 of us we were interested in at least three different movies so we created a signup sheet to keep track of where everybody was going and what time they were going there. My group went to Karate Kid and we were enthralled. It’s a huge improvement over the old movie.

Molly’s family came back the next weekend to get in some extra lake time and we were so thrilled to see Jason get up on skis the very time he tried and to see Molly ski, as well. Considering what Molly has been through the last few years with her surgeries this is especially remarkable and wonderful for her Mom and Dad to see. The girls were scheduled to go to the Eclipse movie this time. The guys weren’t very pleased with it – in fact, Jason pronounced it the worse movie ever. Popular games for the week were: Mexican Train dominoes, Euchre, Monopoly Deal and Uno.

The weeks were super busy and now I’m returning to my outstanding photo orders. But I just loved going to Krape Park with the kids to run a remote control boat, watching them grow from year-to-year gauged by their size on the carousel, running round around on Kid’s Kastle and playing putt-putt golf. Oh, and their visit wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Union Dairy – lovely memories from the summer of 2010.

NIC TOOK THIS PHOTO

WHAT A POSE

MUST-HAVE Swords after THE KARATE KID MOVIE

PAIGE’s “Little Sally Walker” song

JASON and NIC – “Tube Me Gramps”