Moment of Gratitude

I had this moment of realization yesterday when I was contemplating writing my review for my first ever ARC. I am kind of living in this moment of fantasy right now. I am at a place in my life I never dreamed I’d be outside of those “Wouldn’t it be nice?” kinds of thoughts. Yet, here I am. And I am astoundingly grateful for it.

I have now gotten a second ARC approval and it is another book on my list of “I’d LOVE to get, but probably never will.” This was part of that moment of realization. Yes, it is only two books, but… I am now getting books for the express purpose of reviewing them before most people get their hands on them. That is an amazing thing to me.

I have also actually done something I never thought I’d EVER do: I wrote and published my own book. And it is selling. It is making the kind of impact with readers that I’d hoped for. It may still be very much on the tiny scale of things, but it is on the scale. This is also stunning to me.

As a person that has spent the bulk of their adult life focused on being Mom and struggling for years with who I am outside of that role, these things are massive for me. I am in awe that these are now facts in my life, that they are a tangible part of that life. It is though I can feel how these seemingly small things are cementing their place in who I am.

There have been so many things over time and throughout my life that have been damaging and hurtful. Because of that, I have actively spent the last several years trying to find the positive things, the things that bring me joy and most days, I’m good at finding those things. Photography has been a huge part of that for me. So have my kids and my Hubby. But these things? They feel different. They feel healing in a very different way. They make me feel a little bit more solid in who I am.

And I am massively grateful.

Painting Day

I’m finally getting around to doing something I promised BG a year ago or more. Painting her bathroom. I am so not looking forward to it because it is a small space with not a whole lot of solid wall. That means there is going to be a crap ton of up and down on the step ladder, crawling around on the floor, hugging a toilet and basically bending myself into a pretzel to get it done because it is almost all edges, hence the nearly a year to get around to doing what I said I would.

Hopefully I wont kill myself in the process and can actually get to writing that book review I need to do. So far, this summer has been a series of stuff to do and interruptions and sickies and weird, random allergy outbreaks on both BG’s part and mine. I am ready for things to get to some semblance of a normal summer routine, but I have a feeling that isn’t going to happen this year.

Original for the above manipulated image:

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms

Gotta Laugh

We gave MC permission to skip the less than half a day that was the last day of school. This is so not something I EVER do, but… the kid got not only straight As all year, but maintained 100% in something like half his classes. He can have a frickin’ break. This did mean calling him in, which Hubby was in charge of, but he had to say he was sick. In a way, it wasn’t a complete lie, he was feeling a little sore because he played kickball the previous couple of days.

The funny thing about it all? BG wanted to go the last day (same grades and had zero absences the entire year) because she wanted to see her friends. Guess who ended up actually sick? BG. Poor girl. The last day was Friday and by Monday, she was miserable. Sore throat. Achy. Low grade fever. Major congestion. She did this for a few days before I took her in because her temp when up. They checked for strep but they said there was just some nasty viral stuff going around.

The sore throat and aches have gone away, but now she has a horrible cough. The kind that makes you want to cry every time you do cough because your abs have had it and are screaming at you. She comes down about every hour or so to whine that she feels like crap and wants me to somehow miraculously fix it.

Now, I totally shouldn’t laugh because I KNOW how bad she is feeling. I know, because this is me every winter. All winter long. And all I hear from both kids is “Sheesh! Quit coughing already!” or “You’re fine mom! That lung you just coughed up is nothing, let’s go!” I now get to give her tons of crap about taking the meds she needs (which she hates) and try really hard not to be a bad parent when I laugh.

I got to give her extra crap today because she is going to hang with a with a group of friends for someone’s birthday and they will be playing pickleball. She will be doing it while coughing with sore abs. I do feel bad, but I’m laughing a bit (and she is trying hard not to laugh along with me) because she insists on still going even though she feels like crap.

Summer Break and Plans

It is officially summer break for my kids and I have zero actual plans. We aren’t a “book every moment of summer” kind of family. My kids like to chill, hang out in their spaces playing games or listening to music, so it isn’t exactly a really busy time for us. That said, BG has gotten way more social over the last year and I have a feeling that is going to extend into summer. She is also talking about doing at least the summer dance workshop at her studio because she is interested in becoming an assistant next year. That is all still open and not decided just yet.

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One of Those Days… Updated*

Today is trying really hard to be a grumpy day. I feel like that has been me a lot lately, which is frustrating because I try really hard not to be so negative. I can see the positives in today in that even though we are soggy as all hell and you can’t walk in the yard without sinking a couple of inches into what is beginning to look more like a swamp, we are safe, our house is whole, and we didn’t get a flooded basement like I suspect some of our lower lying neighbors did. Some people not that far from me cannot say the same this morning and what is making me grumpy is petty whining in comparison.

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Recital Aftermath

That is one more dance recital in the memory books. As always, I’m left with this lovely mix of feeling glad the chaos is over for a year and sad to see one more year gone. The end of recital night seems to come with lots of talk about plans for next dance season and tons of high energy from all the adrenaline and tears from the older girls that this was their last. This recital drove home for me that BG only has 3 left if she continues to dance through senior year as she plans. In 3 years, she will be one of those girls.

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Recital Bouquets – 2019!

I got them finished and they turned out really pretty. I had done the ribbon inserts last night, so all I had to do today was put them together. There are small things I’m not thrilled with, but I was sort of limited by what I was able to get. Working with the large ball hydrangea blooms also limited my options. Considering BG wanted the two different colors… well, it was an interesting challenge.

When we were looking at the flowers last night, I was really frustrated with the quality of my choices. I finally found the colors I wanted, but the one collection (the peachy hydrangea and the purple/white daisy), there were only two bunches and both had issues. In one, the daisies were perfect, but the hydrangea was a little… anemic looking. The other bunch was kind of the opposite. And… I needed to make two because I was making one for BG’s dance friend. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to get two really nice ones out of what I got. Thankfully, the blue hydrangeas were sold individually and I had several to choose from, so that helped. So did the fact that everything filled out overnight after I got them out of their packaging and in water.

And yes, I did say the costumes were all various shades of blue, but two of those blues leaned towards the purple end, so that helped. It isn’t a perfect match, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen with these colors anyway and why I always do the ribbon inserts. I think I did okay.

2019 Recital Costumes
2019 Recital Costumes

Now I’m going to chill out until the kids get home and the whirlwind of getting everything packed up, hair and makeup done, then the race to get dinner eaten and us all out the door without losing my mind kicks in. And all of that is just the trial run because we have to do it all over again tomorrow for the recital.

Showtime!

Well, it’s almost showtime. I have to do recital bouquets first, which is what is on my to do list for the day. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time finding flowers for a project. Granted, trying to create a bouquet that reflects this year’s costumes when the costumes all are some form of blue isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. I went to 3 different places last night before I found flowers that would work and that satisfied BG as I let her pick them out.

Now, to see if I can pull off arranging them in a way that doesn’t make it look like a disjointed mess. You’d think that after all the inspiration the pointe costume gave me this year, that it would be easy. Apparently trying to add in the others is blowing that creative streak.

Happy Mother’s Day!

To everyone that has ever filled the role of Mother, no matter your gender or DNA, Happy Mother’s Day!

For me, being Mom has never been just bout having given birth, though that is part of my motherhood. It is about going to countless baseball games, screaming and cheering until my voice gives out, even if I cannot stand baseball.

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Storms And Rainbows

I love storms. The crazy looking clouds. The lightning. The rain (most times). Pretty much everything. Hubby and I joke that when we retire we are going to go storm chasing. Think of all the cool photo opportunities! Sadly, I need to get a whole hell of a lot better at taking pictures of storms before that can happen. I got a little practice the other day after the all day storm finally broke. We got a stunning full double rainbow right out my back door and I managed to get some of the best rainbow pics I’ve ever taken. Which, considering I was battling keeping my camera dry, keeping the back door open and the cats in while jockeying for position with BG trying to do the same, is damn near miraculous in itself.

Rainbow
Rainbow
Double Rainbow
Double Rainbow

I also managed to obliterate the total number of photos I took over the entire year last year with this grouping. I didn’t hit 1k images (only counting nature shots) until late fall last year. The below photo was my number 1k for this year and we JUST hit May.

Orange Gold Storm Clouds
Orange Gold Storm Clouds

While the coloring in the cloud shots was a little off, it really wasn’t off by much.

Storm Clouds
Storm Clouds

Pretty and Painful

Life has felt kind of like I’ve been tossed into a food processor on high lately. That isn’t even a really accurate analogy as it does not encompass all the extreme highs and lightning fast changes that bring crazy, insane lows. Sometimes over days. Sometimes it changes in as little as an hour or two. As soon as I’m experiencing one, for any number of reasons, something will come along and yank me to the other extreme. It is maddening.

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Something Different: Current Music Obsession

BG and I often have similar music tastes, with a few exceptions. She refuses to listen to most of my older music, unless she can relate it to a meme. I don’t listen to some of her YouTube or game music finds (still have no clue how she finds some of the music she does). The common theme between us is that it is danceable and has an amazing beat.

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Today’s Project… Painting

I need to preface this with the fact that I don’t normally paint. If I do, it is almost always something small like the faces on my nutcrackers or something like that. I have done a few projects over the years, but I’ve never felt like I was very good at it. When I took pictures of BG in her pointe costume so I could use it as reference for the cake, I fell in love with the entire shot. It just would not let me go and next thing I know, I need to try and paint it, even though that isn’t really my thing.

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Baby Lily Leaves & A Reminder

To say that releasing a book is interesting would be an understatement. I’m doing all the things, no matter how much they grate on this raging introvert, I still do them. That said, apparently, BG, is way better at it than I am as she has managed to definitively sell one book to a classmate and has a second one who talked to a parent about it and now the parent wants to read it. All in a single day. Yes, my girl is peddling my book at school!

I am still looking for reviewers for anyone that is interested. I have 2 people committed, but still have a few spots still open. If you are awesome enough to volunteer, please drop me a note through my contact page, letting me know your interest and the platforms you would normally post reviews along with your format preference. I’ll provide you a copy in your preferred format, ebook for any platform I’ve published on or a print copy that I can mail to you. If you are posting to a blog, I’ll add a copy or snippet of your review to my AUT page with a link back to your blog as an additional thanks once the review is posted. (unless you don’t want that, then that’s okay too!)

 

 

March Was Good To Me

Normally I’d say you can’t get much better than publishing and releasing a book, but… getting to celebrate 18 years with an awesome man ranks right the hell up there. And for that 18th milestone, that amazing, awesome man got me an upgrade for my camera that I’ve had for over 10 years.

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Spring Break

My kids are on spring break this week. Normally, this would just be a quiet week with them hanging out, being lazy in their rooms playing games. This year, BG has decided she wants to do things instead. She watched movies with me yesterday, has plans for a friend to come over today and out to do something with another friend tomorrow. All while I’m working on going back and forth with my cover designer. All that just to say… I’m busy right now. Sheesh!!

Seeing Myself

Self confidence has never been my strong suit. I know that I am probably a lot harder on myself than most other people will be, especially friends and family. That plays into doubting what they say and fueling that doubt. This is one of those things that I do know and recognize about myself and I’ve tried to watch for it in my kids and encourage them to push past it in themselves. It is something I had thought they were doing pretty well with. Until BG was getting ready to start her art class in second semester.

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Snow Shadows

I am ready to be done with snow and winter. I’m ready for sun. And warmth. And flowers. But that isn’t happening. We have yet another winter storm headed our way for the weekend. My kids have now missed so much school they will be going later than I ever remember them going. They only have a handful of days left to miss before they are no longer required to make up any more. I didn’t even realize that was a thing. BG has also missed so many dance classes because of the weather, they’ve had to make up a special schedule for make up classes or these poor kids won’t know their routines for recital.

I try really hard to not wish for tomorrow to get here. Trying instead to enjoy the day I have in front of me, but the cold and the dreary are starting to get to me. Even as pretty as winter has been, giving me loads of wonderful opportunities for photos, I’m beyond ready to get to the point I can open my windows again.

2019 Pointe Costume Cake

There are reasons I do not do cakes for a living. One is that, even though I can make a cake that looks really cool, they aren’t always very clean or truly professional quality polished. I seriously love this cake. It is so pretty, but it is a tad sloppy in places. That and, no matter what I do, I cannot get the images to do justice to how amazing this actually looks IRL. All in all, I’m really pleased with how this turned out.

This is far from perfect. The layers looked amazing until I stacked them and then realized that because of the way I made the bottom layer, I had a significant gap that needed to be covered. I ended up filling it with a piece of “trim” that isn’t actually on the costume. The other big issue I ran into was several of my fondant detail pieces I made ahead of time cracked when I put them on the cake. That and the tiara piece (done in royal icing and a first attempt at ever using this method) also broke when I tried to take it off my template. I was able to fix some of these so they don’t show much, but still… all the reasons why I only do this for fun.

I know that I’m hard on myself, so I’m still taking this project as a pretty big win since I made a cake that looks incredible and matches closely to the actual costume, which was my goal. That and BG is going to be over the moon when she finally gets to see it.

Pointe Costume Cake
Pointe Costume Cake
Pointe Costume Cake Top Front Detail
Pointe Costume Cake Top Front Detail
Pointe Costume Cake Side Detail
Pointe Costume Cake Side Detail
Pointe Costume Cake Side View
Pointe Costume Cake Side View
Pointe Costume Cake Top View
Pointe Costume Cake Top View

 

Crazy Teen Dating Drama Pt. 2 & Laziness

I am supposed to be working on my last big round of edits. I’ve managed to get the first half done and was just starting on the second half on Friday when I got a rather distressing text from BG saying that she needs to talk to me about something really important, that she is probably going to be in trouble and I’m most likely going to get a call from the school. This from the girl that is obsessiveness about following rules and doing the right thing. Both her and MC are straight A students and just NEVER get into any trouble. The most I’ve had to do is yell at them for pestering each other. To say I was stunned is a massive understatement.

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Winter Wonderland… FINALLY!

We finally got some snow. Lots of it. It is the perfect kind of snow to get out in and photograph, so that is exactly what BG and I did. It wasn’t too cold, either which made it really nice. I got some amazing shots and I’m still going through most of them, but this is one of my favorites. Our hike led us to discover this beautiful little pond just a couple minutes from us that we didn’t know anything about. It is probably going to be one of my favorite new spots to photograph.