11.18.2014

snapshots & thoughts: birthday/halloween edition

This post has been sitting in my dashboard for a while... It's old news, but whatev.

::

On the morning of October 25th I laid in bed waiting for my birthday breakfast in bed (a homemade egg McMuffin sandwich prepared for me by my sister, and donut holes which JD broke laws to get to me in time). To pass some time, I checked social media, then scrolled through my emails, deleting all the spam without even reading them. Until I saw a subject line that got my interest telling me that today was National Shoe Lover's Day. 

I had no idea! What a coincidence!! National Shoe Lover's Day! ON MY BIRTHDAY!!!

They were having a party (ON MY BIRTHDAY) with free shoes being given out throughout the day to people who posted photos with the correct hashtags. Obviously I had to go and take advantage of this opportunity to celebrate my birthday with shoes.

Converse = the best.

As I was taking this photo one of the workers walked by and I stopped her and said, "GUESS WHAT?!"

She looked amused and obliged me with "what?"

"Today is MY BIRTHDAY! And YOU'RE HAVING A PARTY! It's like DSW is having a BIRTHDAY PARTY for ME. So, THANKS!"

She laughed and wished me happy birthday, made sure I was finding what I wanted (navy blue Converse for my Flo Halloween costume) then went on to other customers.

After a while two other workers came up to me with a balloon and a noisemaker and said "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

When I told my girls about how I actually jumped up and down with my arms in the air, they both were like, "OMG, I'm so glad that I was in a different aisle and didn't see you do that."

And guess what? My photo with the Converse got me a $50 gift certificate later that day. My mission to take advantage of the timing of the sale: ACCOMPLISHED. 

::

JD and I continued our scavenger hunt with a part 2 date.

A picture of us kissing on a bridge. Do you know how many times we had to re-take that shot? JD kept telling me it wasn't quite right, we'd better take it again.

A picture of us swinging on swings.

A picture of us sliding head first down a slide.

A picture of five different colored leaves.

::

I haven't done box color in a long time because orange hair. But sometimes money issues trump hair color fears. I went ahead and got some dark red brown in a box. It might be purple.

::


My residents got such a kick out of my Flo outfit. I enjoy making them smile.

Smiling is my favorite.

10.24.2014

snapshots & thoughts: 10/24/2014

sharing my instas and the stories behind them

My friend and I painted one evening.

She kept sending me links to Canvas and Chardonnay's events, but we couldn't come up with an evening/painting that worked for both of us. Finally I said, "how bout I provide the canvases and Chardonnay and we paint at my place?" So that's what we did.

I decided to just paint circles so that I could have fun with color and not worry about painting anything in particular.

Neither of us really know what we are doing as far as painting goes, but it was fun. And now I have a painting to remember her by when she moves to Ohio. Boo.

For playoff football, the varsity captains decide what sort of crazy thing they are going to do to their hair to show team solidarity. This year they decided on Mohawks and black dye.

John asked me to do his hair, and honestly, I don't know who was more scared of me shaving his head, him or me. I drew the line at Mohawk and refused to shave racing stripes into the sides of his head. Not because I didn't want him to have them, but because I was scared to mess them up.

Also, I have a boy with a six-pack. 

What the? 
How did that happen? 

jedi mind trick: 
 (hand swipe) the room is not messy
(hand swipe) that is not a pile of stuff on top of the treadmill

Mother/son bonding time over hair dye.

(When I imagined what it might be like to be a mom to a boy, I never imagined I'd experience that.)

Tuesday night sectional playoff game. John's first varsity start (as a sophomore) at quarterback. No pressure or anything.

I could barely concentrate all day long leading up to the game, I was so nervous. It's not easy being a QB mom. (read: every play I have to watch the defense try to kill him)

We lost. He felt bad. It's been a tough season for him with pneumonia, Osgood-Schlatter's, and a meniscus injury - not to mention a QB competition with two other good QBs. But I was so proud of the way he played under constant pressure, even converting a 4th and long "with poise" (as the local radio play by play announcer described it).

Now football's done for the year.

On to baseball already.

It was my turn to plan date night. I made a photo scavenger hunt. Here we are taking a selfie with the Mayo brothers. You can see the rest of the photos from the scavenger hunt date night and the complete list on my post about it here.

It was so much fun, we laughed so hard! Laughter is good medicine, and with each silly photo we healed a little bit more.

(Glad to hear we inspired some of my friends to do the same.)

Sunday I worked on my circles a bit more. There's something so calming about playing with paint and color. Except the more I look at it, the more I want to change it. And the more I change it, the more I wish I hadn't. I'd better stop now.

I buy cheap sunglasses because I'm afraid of misplacing them and I don't want to misplace expensive ones.

The tradeoff is that cheap sunglasses break easily.This pair took only 3 weeks to break. First the one side, then the other.

Now both sides are being held in place with staples.

Because I'm cheap.And I have cheap sunglasses.

--
Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.

10.23.2014

scavenger hunt date night

Every fall when I see the beautiful bright red maple trees, I am reminded of the scavenger hunts that I made for my then preschoolers. The scavenger hunt always included fall colored leaves so I could use them to decorate the house. They got bonus points for red leaves.

That's why last week, as I planned our date night on a week when Autumn's colors were at their peak, my thoughts were on scavenger hunts. 

I had so much fun googling scavenger hunt lists and coming up with ideas. I wanted a list of things that we had to find and/or do and capture with a photo. The object wasn't to get everything on the list or to compete against each other. It was simply to laugh and have fun together.

A friend of mine, when she saw one of my Insta posts of our scavenger hunt, said that our smiles might inspire her and her husband to go have fun together.

I hope we do.

If laughter is the best medicine, then it's the best thing you can do with your loved one if your relationship needs medicine.

So. For my friend - and anyone else who's interested - I'm providing my complete list of items that we scavenged for on our fun (and cheap) date night. Some of them are specific to our town and some are specific to the season, but it will get you started on some fun ideas for a scavenger hunt date night. All you need is a list and a camera, which conveniently is located on many phones these days.

But first, the photographic evidence of our scavenger hunt and the items on the list that we captured.

::

Our Scavenger Hunt Date:

We got a later start on our date than I planned (teenage son needing his hair dyed & cut into a Mohawk for sectional football playoffs and all that) so the lighting is bad and the pictures are few, but it was so much fun that we didn't care.

1. A photo of a license plate from the farthest away place you can find
We drove through a parking ramp for this one. You can see me squatting in the reflection of the bumper. Bonus points for that.


2. A selfie with the Mayo brothers
As in the statues of the Mayo brothers in the park across the street from the little clinic they started. It was hard to get all four of us in the photo, but we did.


3. A photo high-fiving a stranger
As this guy was walking by I stopped him and said, "excuse me, we're on a photo scavenger hunt and we need to get a photo while high-fiving a stranger." 

"I'm your guy!" he said with a little amusement and no hesitation . Look how into it he is.

4. A photo doing the Karate Kid crane pose
We saw our reflections in a building and decided to try to take a photo of both of us doing the crane pose. I think JD got it, but it's tough to take a photo of yourself doing the pose. Full points for him, bonus points for me for standing on one foot while taking a photo.

5. A photo jumping in the air
We both got some air, but I over-exposed myself. Minus points to me for having to censure my muffin top.

 6. A photo with Plummer's cornerstone.
This site is significant for us in the evolution of our picture taking history as a couple. Let's just say I used to take photos of ev.er.y.thing (because art major) and it was met with a little bit of resistance at this spot one date night several years ago. Now my photo taking is embraced and encouraged. Look at how happy he is to get his photo taken. Triple bonus points to JD for being okay with photo taking on dates.

7. Getting a take-out menu from a Chinese restaurant.
Because I need a take out menu and this is a good way to get one. (I am practical, after all.)

::

That's all the photos we had time for.

And now, for your info and/or inspiration, here's the complete list of items we scavenged for:

Scavenger Hunt Date Night

[  ]  selfie with a police officer
[  ]  selfie with a purple teddy bear
[  ]  selfie with a fireman in front of a fire truck
[  ] selfie in a phone booth
[  ]  selfie with the Mayo brothers
[  ]  swinging on a swing set
[  ]  sliding head first down a slide
[  ]  shooting a basketball
[  ]  hula hooping
[  ]  posing like Karate Kid
[  ]  climbing a tree
[  ]  on a motorcycle
[  ]  posing next to a mannequin like a mannequin
[  ]  giving a stranger a high five
[  ]  giving someone a piggy back ride
[  ]  wearing a Halloween costume
[  ]  jumping in the air
[  ]  photobombing a romantic moment
[  ]  holding a tiny dog
[  ]  in front of an ugly car
[  ]  a sign with a spelling error
[  ]  a license plate from the farthest away place from here you can find
[  ]  the oldest cornerstone you can find
[  ]  five different colored leaves
[  ]  an old couple holding hands
[  ] holding a Chinese take out menu


Obviously we were slackers. That means we have a few more photo scavenger date nights ahead of us. Not a bad thing, all in all.

Laughter is good medicine.

10.17.2014

snapshots & thoughts: golden birthday edition

This edition of snapshots and thoughts is golden because apparently I didn't take many snapshots this week other than of anything golden.

My thoughts & snapshots were centered around my daughter's golden birthday.

Fourteen on October 14th.

For days before the big golden day, I was scheming ways to transform the dining area into gold.

Every year I lament over the Christmas items in stores already by October. Until this year, when I was able to pick up some Christmas gold decorations for 40% off at Hobby Lobby.

It was like a gold mesh explosion. I hung it over the curtains, I laid it on the table for a runner, I draped it over the backs of the chairs and tied it with gold mesh bows held in place with gold pipe cleaners.

Bottles spray painted gold held golden roses. Gold curling ribbon and Christmas garland hung from the light. The banner I made from gold wrapping paper. 

Gold Christmas ornaments in a glass canister made an easy golden decoration. Dollar store gold frames held some designs that I made while watching a movie one evening. The golden angel food cake sat on top of some gold wrapping paper.

You can never have enough gold.

Am I right? Or am I right?

Her request for her birthday breakfast in bed was glazed donuts from Kwik Trip and a blended ice white chocolate campfire mocha from Caribou. (She knows the Caribou menu better than I do.) I told her to smile for the camera, but she said "I don't smile this early in the morning." Me either, actually.

She can smile at night though. Her birthday meal request was Buffalo Wild Wings. She wore that Birthday Buffalo hat like a boss.

Then we went back home for cake and presents.

The next day was the friends party. A sleep over at a local hotel where I get a discount since I work for the owners. Yay for bennies.

I arrived early and decked out the hotel room in gold before the girls got there.

After hot-tubbing, the girls got ready for some football.

I'm seriously considering lining an accent wall in the house with this gold mesh stuff. I'm kinda in love with it.


--
Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.

10.13.2014

and the winner is

A while back JD and I spent an evening taking photos as part of a friendly competition resulting in a "big prize" for the winner.

Bragging rights, mostly. Which is a big prize as far as I'm concerned.

Initially we were going to judge our own photos, but I decided to get input from others. Because, really, JD would totally cheat if we voted on our own photos.

Or I would.

We're a little competitive 'round here.

---

Without much further ado, here are the photos and their vote totals:

1.
Facebook likes: 6
Instagram likes: 5

2.
Facebook likes: 8
Instagram likes: 8

3.
Facebook likes: 8
Instagram likes: 12

4.
Facebook likes: 6
Instagram likes: 9

5.
Facebook likes: 12
Instagram likes: 12

6.
Facebook likes: 14
Instagram likes: 14

---

It looks like photo #6 was the big winner with 28 total votes. Photo #6 was JD's. He stopped along the highway... and told me to take the picture for him. So it was me who actually took the photo. 

Clearly I am the winner.

Truth be told, JD's three photos got more votes than my three photos. Mine were the first three (47 votes), his were the last three (67 votes). I would like to point out that I took two of his photos, #5 and #6. Plus, I cropped and edited them, so. I mean. Really. 

I am the clear winner.

However... photo #4 was taken while JD laid down on the ground to take the picture. That, dear friends, is commitment to getting just the right shot. That is worth about 50 points as far as I'm concerned. Plus the whole photo-taking-competition-date was his idea, which is at least another 50 points.

Which makes JD the winner of our photo competition.

He may have won the photo competition (even though he cheated by making me take his photos), but clearly we're both big winners.

10.10.2014

snapshots & thoughts

My kinda Monday Night Football: the Century JV game at dusk.

This last week during the varsity game I was transported back to the late summer of 1989 before my senior year. We'd been living in Germany for three years and came home for a summer's furlough. At the end of the summer we watched a high school football game in Fremont, Ohio where my dad grew up. It was the first time I experienced an American high school football game, and it was a very surreal experience. It was like I was looking at a parallel high school experience I might have had if we lived in the States. Everything about it -- the cheerleaders, the fan(atic)s, the energy of the evening -- was so strange and foreign to me. It was quite American, which made me feel somewhat un-American. At some point during my high school years I told myself that I would never marry an American football player because I could never relate to that football culture.

Last week as I was sitting in the stands, transported to that experience, I looked at my husband coaching on the sideline, and my son, waiting his turn to play, and I was grateful that I married an American football player.

We posed for a family photo after the game. John was pulling on my neck with his hand, so I did what any good mom would do and I strangled him back.

With that philosophy, I really should write a parenting book.

Sarah had parent/teacher conferences this week. On the conference slip her teacher wanted to know if there was anything we wanted to discuss during the conference. I wrote "her awesomeness." And that's pretty much all we discussed, was her awesomeness. Because she's so awesome! Not just academically but socially too. She loves much and is loved much.

106.9 KROC FM is a station that my kids like to listen to. And sometimes I'll listen to it when they're not in the car. I was listening to it one time and heard that they were doing a $100 giveaway called DASH FOR CASH. All you had to do is take a photo of your car stereo tuned to 106.9 and you might get $100. So I posted this pic on Instagram and Twitter with the correct hashtag.

Not too long later I got a notice from Twitter and found the following reply to my tweet:

First of all, you'll notice that my "not too long later" is the whole next day. That's how much I don't tweet and/or don't get tweeted.

Second of all, Troy Dunken is one of the DJs at the radio station. So when he tweeted me, I was all like "I just scored so many points with my kids now that a DJ from their favorite radio station tweeted me." So, thanks Troy Dunken.

JD and I crossed ride a hot air balloon off the bucket list. I posted pictures and details here. It was epic.

The story behind this photo is: we were on a bowling date and throughout the date we texted photos to our daughter. We decided to take a silly selfie and send it to her.

We're so silly.

---

Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.

10.04.2014

up up & away

It's been on my bucket list before I had even heard of bucket lists. When I was in elementary school in Brookings, South Dakota I watched a hot air balloon being blown up at a fair in the park. You could buy a ride right there on the spot. I imagined myself floating through the sky under that beautiful balloon. Ever after that, each time I saw a balloon I'd say to myself and anyone listening, "someday I want to ride in a hot air balloon."

My someday came last Sunday.




There's a whole team of people for each flight. They help inflate and deflate the balloon, and during flight they follow the balloon to see where it will land because as much as you can guess where the wind will take you, you never quite know. Of course we took a pre-flight photo with our pilot, Mike. Our basket was a racing basket and it was quite small. It just fit the three of us. There wasn't any walking around in that thing.



And we're off!







When our basket went in the water, I let out a laugh that sounded like a scream. That was something I didn't expect on a hot air balloon ride, to get my feet wet to my ankles. Mike called it a "Splash and Dash." As we floated back up into the sky, over the people on the paths around the lake we heard people yelling at us "that was awesome!" It surely was.



When we flew towards the woods Mike descended again so we could pick leaves from the tops of the trees.







We landed in a soybean field on the northeast part of town. The team walked to us through the rows of soybeans and carried the balloon over to the driveway of the excited onlooking neighbors.


And then, the ceremonial glass plastic cup of champagne after the flight. Traditionally they share the champagne with the owners of the property where they land, but it turns out that the Islamic church owns that land and we couldn't find who was renting it for soybeans, so we had the whole bottle to ourselves.

Before we toasted, Mike read us the Balloonist's Prayer:

The Winds have welcomed you with softness.
The Sun has blessed you with his warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well,
That God has joined you in your laughter.
And He has set you gently back again
Into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

Now, when I see a balloon in the sky I'll say to myself and whoever is listening, "I got to fly in one of those!"


HOT AIR BALLOON FAQs:

Many people have asked how I liked it. I LOVED IT! It was completely worth the substantial cost to have that experience.

People have wondered about the whole scared of heights thing. First of all, I'm not terribly scared of heights, but I have stood at the edge of the five-story building I work in and have gotten down on my hands and knees because I suddenly felt dizzy and didn't want to fall off. That said, I was really surprised that I felt so safe at such a high height with only a basket beneath me. We got up to just over 1,000 feet at our highest and I felt completely safe. (In fact, a was a little disappointed that I didn't feel more of an adrenaline rush.)

How long did it last? We were in the air for exactly 58 minutes. But the whole experience was longer because we watched them inflate and deflate the balloon, then we tried to find the land owner/soybean farmer, then they drove us back to our car.

How do they determine where you fly? It's completely based on the wind direction and speed. The pilot said he puts about 5 hours into every flight studying the weather and determining the best place to take off and try to land while maintaining a flight path over the major attractions. For that reason, we didn't know where we would be taking off from until the day of the flight. The pilot changes directions by going up or down because the wind blows in different directions at different altitudes.

Finally, people have asked how to get a balloon ride. If anyone in the Rochester, MN area is interested in going for a ride, I highly recommend Lesmeister Balloon Company.

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