snapshots & thoughts

The other evening JD and I were sitting on a bench by the river and I became entranced 
by the fireflies which were flashing on and off all around us.

Seeing fireflies always brings me back to childhood and memories of trying to catch them, 
trying to capture light with my hands. 
It brings me back to innocence and wonder.

As I got up from the bench and pulled out my phone I said,  
"if we can't catch them in jars, let's catch them with our cameras!"

It wasn't easy capturing those little lightning bugs on camera.
I think I caught one there in the photo, maybe two.

We resorted to catching them with our hands.
Even then it was hard to catch them lit up on camera.


I got a new journal.
Not just any kind of journal.

It's a journal that you wreck.
On purpose.

[bonus feature:]

One day when the kids and I were in Kansas/Missouri on our little vacation,
I had lunch with Priscilla and Kenna, a friend of hers.
During the course of the conversation Kenna told me about a journal with prompts to do crazy things like eat colorful candy and paint the page with your tongue.
"Oh! I need that!" I said. "Something to get my creative juices running."
And I made a mental note to maybe see about getting it.

Except that right after our lunch, Priscilla's wonderful friend went to the store and bought it for me.
That blessed me so much, that she would do that for me, who she hardly knows.

So that is the story of how I came to own this journal.
And how I came to spam instafeeds with my journal wrecking shenanigans.

[end bonus feature]

After I showered with the book, I left it hanging on the curtain rod to dry off.
"Mom, why is there a book up there?" Kaitlin asked me.
"Because I brought it into the shower and I'm letting it dry up there."
"Why did you bring it into the shower?!"
"I'm trying to wreck it," I said.
She looked at me like I was crazy, but then I showed her the page, and she was like okay, whatever mom. Except she didn't say it, she just looked at me like whatever.

I had to color the edges.

I had to take a walk, dragging it behind me.

 I had to find a way to wear it.

I came up with some pretty fashionable jewelry.

All in all, I had a pretty productive week of wrecking.


Or, at least that's all I've seemed to take snapshots of.


One of my favorite things:
Sitting outside after a hot, muggy day feeling the cool breeze of an incoming storm and listening to the thunder in the distance as it rolls in.


if dreams are our subconsciousness, should I be worried?

It gives you wings.
We were going downhill - I think we were walking, but we may have been skiing - when we found an amusement ride. I love amusement rides, so of course I wanted to go on it. What the ride was, it didn't matter. I bought the ticket and handed it to the ridemaster.

What is their job title, anyways? I should know this, I worked at an amusement park the summer after high school. Except I worked in the Food Division and my job title was Floater. Which is a little gross, but I digress.

The ridemaster took my ticket and handed me a Red Bull. Apparently the ride wasn't a ride, but a contest. I had to see how many Red Bulls I could drink before my vital signs showed signs of exploding. Always up for a challenge, I chugged two Red Bulls before my vitals went bezerk. I know, I'm a lightweight.

Then they told me to wait in a room for a certain amount of time, after which they'd take my vitals again. I went into the room, which turns out was a bathroom. I spent much of the time trying to figure out how to lock the door. Once locked, I decided - well, it was a bathroom after all. Apparently though earlier in my dream I had been swimming or something. Anyone who has had to pull a wet swimsuit down and up knows how time consuming that can be.

In any case, by the time I exited the room, they'd forgotten I was in there and two other people had started chugging Red Bulls. The ridemaster had mistakenly told one of them that they had won while he was looking at my stats. Once I emerged from the room he realized his mistake and made it right.

With full fanfare, the ridemaster handed me my grand prize: three pounds of sliced bologna, two pounds of sliced pepperoni and a bag of Skittles.

I ran over to Kaitlin and her friends who were waiting for me and a held up the bologna, waving it in the air. "Who wants a bologna sandwich?!" I said. Then feeling silly, or maybe it was the effects of the Red Bull, I added as I waved the pepperoni at them in my best Little Caesar voice, "Pizza, pizza!"

And that was what I was dreaming when my alarm went off this morning.

Before that, I dreamed about being in a play about JFK's inauguration. And renovating an old school building.

Now you have had a look into my subconscious dream state. In the words of Robert De Niro, "analyze that!"


our McKinney vacation

A good friend is 
someone who lets you (and your three kids) 
come into their home 
- into their everyday life -
and you can call it 
a vacation.

I'm so fortunate to have a good friend like that.

On Wednesday morning the kids and I set off for our McKinney vacation.

"And away we go!
Where we stop, nobody knows."

Not even Siri.

While we were driving along highway 66, 
approaching our destination but with no homes in sight, 
Siri instructed me to park on the side of the highway and walk to our destination.
And we were all like 
"WHAT?! But there's nothing here!"


Dear Google Maps Car Driver,

You missed a street.



After dinner I asked Sawyer what that was on his shirt.
His answer was so silly that I pulled out my camera:

We had a good laugh at our kids' guesses about what that thing on his shirt is.


Thursday we just hung around the house.
Well, the kids hung around the house and I hung around Priscilla while she was 
"working her work job" at Little Bird Marketing.
I think there should be and official "Bring a Friend to Work Day."
It's pretty interesting.

[bonus feature:]

It was fascinating for me to see her working her work job
because my background is design and once upon a time
I might have gone the marketing path.

It was also interesting for me, as a manager now, 
to see how she manages people.

Sitting in her office was like sitting in creative heaven.
Sitting in on her meetings was like 
sitting in a cafe in Paris and hearing someone across the room speak English.
They were speaking my language: 
design, branding, layouts, deadlines.
I was drawn to it, 
just like I am drawn to the lone person in the Paris cafe speaking English.

[end bonus feature]

I love having a teenage daughter.
I love it when she wants to get me in on her selfies.
If smart phones existed when I was 13, 
I would have been taking selfies all the time.
I admit it.

That said, now that I'm 42 I don't take many selfies.


I heard Beck practicing his guitar so I went in to the room and sat down to listen.
It was a sweet moment for me when he played and sang Blackbird.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these sunken eyes and learn to see

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.
Blackbird fly 

Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.
Blackbird fly 

Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise


side note:
Priscilla has a bird theme going on.
All around her home and office are birds and images of birds.
It was meaningful to me because I also have a bird thing
and a butterfly thing going on.
A learning to fly thing.
So that was cool.

Friday we drove to Stockton Lake and took the boat out.

Or, as we Minnesotans say, "the BOH-t."

The first jump!

Priscilla and me.

 I do not love this picture of me.
But I like this picture of us.
We were laughing so hard!
Mostly because of this:
Do you know how hard it is to get a picture of four feet simultaneously out of the water?
It's hard!

Friday night a storm blew in and we were able to experience
keeling and tacking 
and sitting on the side of the boat with feet touching the water.

At first we sailing novices were timid when the boat seemed to capsize,
but by Saturday my Sarah was asking to have the boat go sideways.

Except that storm was the only wind all weekend.
Instead of sailing, we swam and suntanned a lot.

I know, right?

 Steve rigged a swing off of the boom.
The kids had fun swinging off of it.
Sometimes successfully.
I had fun watching from a distance.

The McKinneys like to visit the coves on the lake and give each cove a name.
I'm not sure, but I think this particular cove might have been named
Bickles' Boom Swing Cove.
Or Bickles' Boom Boom Cove.
Or Bickles' Fossil Cove.

We explored each of the coves where we anchored.
(And by we, I mean the kids.)

This cove had so many butterflies.
It was beautiful.

 I loved that her kids loved my kids.
And my kids loved them right back.
Nothing better than that.


And then it was time to go home.
It was a long, long drive, but totally worth it.

A good friend is 
someone who lets you into their everyday life
and you come home refreshed.

Thanks, Priscilla & Steve.


snapshots & thoughts

sharing my snapshots & thoughts, together they make my story which I am collecting here.

I made these jewelry holders. I saw in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine probably, I don't remember where exactly an idea like this. And right away I thought of some pictures that I didn't have use for anymore, but whose frames would work perfect. A little spray paint, burlap, string & - whallah! - my very own BHG worthy jewelry holders.

When I saw Alyson's instagram photo of her jewelry frame in my insta feed I thought for a split second that it was a photo of mine, but then I realized it wasn't. I had to take a pic, though, to show her how similar our tastes are. 

Great minds think alike.

My cousin, Andy, came to visit from Seattle. He and my sister and I hit the town. At this particular stop we could barely hear ourselves talk because we were seated so close to the band in the background. Still, live music is pretty cool. So is spending some quality time with Andy and Bethany.

The sewer at work backed up. Needless to say, it was a pretty crappy day. Literally. But at least Mr. Rooter can smile about it.

It was a short week at work for me because I took Wednesday through Friday off to go down to visit my friend from high school and have a little 5 day vacay with my kids.

It was so much fun! I took way too many snapshots, though, to include in this post. The trip kinda deserves it's own post. Stay tuned.


Even though it's Monday, I'm linking up with @jeannettg for her weekly InstaFriday post.
Better late than never.


snapshots & thoughts

sharing my snapshots and thoughts from the past week 


Kaitlin and her friend pose by the covered bridge in Zumbrota.
It's the last remaining covered bridge in Minnesota so it's kind of a big deal (in Zumbrota). 


Sunday afternoon Kaitlin and I went to the lake and caught some rays.
I treasured this time I had with her.
We talked about this and that, 
which is really what every mother dreams of, I think, 
to talk to their kids about this and that.


Later that night we had a police officer at our house 
to get Kaitlin's account of a man trying to pick her up 
while she was walking in the neighborhood.

He gave us some good advice that I'd never heard before.
I decided to write a post about it so others could hear it too.

Read all about what happened to Kaitlin and what the officer said 
by clicking on this link.

I'll be here when you get back.


They made him wear a mask in the waiting room 
because he was coughing so much.
It's pneumonia, poor guy.


Because he's been sick he missed the last part of the baseball season.
I'm gonna be a proud mamma here and say that I think the teams he was on missed him.


Sarah's last softball game was Wednesday night.

I brought my book club novel to the game to read while they warmed up
but I was instructed that as soon as the game began I was not to read it. 
Nor was I to be on the phone during the game. 
I snuck this picture.
It's not really being on the phone if it's a camera, right?

After the game I took this pic.
A beautiful sunset to end her season.
How fitting.


This book on spiritual abuse has been interesting and enlightening. Heavy. Resonating.
And, for now, that's all I have to say about that.


Let's lighten things up... I bought myself a new swimsuit this week.
Then I saw this pin on Pinterest:

The older I get, the more I like winter and clothes that cover me.

life rearranged


my daughter's close encounter & some 911 advice

My Kaitlin girl.
Yesterday we called 911 and got some interesting advice from the responding police officer. Something I hadn't heard before, which is why I'm writing this post.

But first, let me tell you why we called 911. My thirteen year old daughter, Kaitlin, was walking along a street in our neighborhood when a man (she guessed early 20s) tried to pick her up. She had seen him pass by her earlier, and now he had doubled around and was stopped at the stop sign she was crossing in front of.

"You're cute," he called out to her from his car window. "How old are you?" She told him he didn't need to know.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"Home," she lied as she pointed to a nearby house hoping that he'd stop talking to her if he thought her parents were close by.

"Do you want a ride?"

Even though she refused his offer, he was insistent that he could give her a ride to where she was going. Several times he tried to convince her to let him give her a ride and each time she refused. Fortunately a truck pulled up behind him and he had to move on, but not before he told her to meet him at the park.

She was pretty shook up about it all night.

When she told me what happened, it occurred to me that we should report it. And then I thought it was probably just a young guy who was having some fun flirting with a pretty girl he thought was older than she really is. Because, let's face it, she looks older than thirteen and she's a cutie patootie.

But still.

His behavior was not okay. Especially when she said no and he kept insisting he give her a ride. Kaitlin was scared by it! All night long she was shaking. And it could have been something more sinister than just flirting. You never know. There are crazies out there.

We reported it.

After giving details to the 911 dispatch, an officer came to our house and listened to her story. When she was done he said that she didn't do anything wrong and that she was right to report it even if it was some stupid guy just having some misguided fun. Bottom line: if she felt threatened, she should report it.

"Don't ever be afraid to call 911 if you feel threatened," he said.

And then he recommended something interesting. Something I had never heard before. He told her that if it ever happens again and she has her phone with her, she should call 911 and act like she's calling her mom.

He said the conversation would go something like this:

     Dispatcher: "911 dispatch, what's your emergency?"

     Kaitlin: "Hi mom!"

     Dispatcher: "Are you aware that you just called 911 dispatch?"

     Kaitlin: "Yep, mom. I am."

At which point the dispatcher will know that she's not able to talk freely and will begin asking her questions which she could answer as if talking to her mom, yet still communicate what the dispatcher needs to know.

Hopefully the threatening person will have gone away, dissuaded by her phone call to her "mom." But whether the threat is still there or not, the 911 call will be immediate - not after she's gotten home, called both her parents and told them the whole story, and after deliberations whether to call or not, because by that time the offending person is long gone.

Instead, if she calls 911 while it's happening, the dispatcher can send a squad car to the area immediately. The offending person will still be in the area and the chances of them being found are greater.

Of course if a phone is not available - and even when it is - drawing people's attention to you is always a good idea. Yell loudly, make a scene. Tell the guy to get lost. Be rude. Get people to notice your distress. Anyone with bad intentions will not want the attention and will leave.

In any case, I thought that the officer's advice on the 911 call to dispatch and talking like it's a call to mom was interesting. I'd never heard that before, but it makes sense. I thought I would share.

Have you had any close encounters? Any helpful tips for these types of situations? I'd love to know your stories.




And because I always enjoy a good laugh, here's a few funny 911 calls, not to be confused with the serious 911 calls mentioned above.

** update: 7/24/2014 **

The wife of a dispatcher shared this info with her husband and when I asked her what he said about it, she replied: 
"it would depend on the dispatcher who answered, hopefully most would recognize what was going on but unfortunately some of the people in that job aren't as sharp as they should be. (Not being mean, just the truth.) His one coworker who I shared it with said he was familiar with it and had used variations of it in the past. It is probably always worth a shot."
So, be aware that it might be something that our local dispatchers are trained for. Dispatchers in other areas may or may not be trained to respond this way. If not trained this way, it would depend, then, on whether the dispatcher is perceptive enough to pick up on it.


snapshots & thoughts

I've been silent for a little bit because I needed to take a break.

But Kaitlin said she missed these bloggy photo updates
So I decided to revive it.


I last posted just before Memorial Day weekend, 
which was the weekend in which John had a science assignment to care for a little baby duck.
He had to take care of it every hour of every day for two days.

Here he is teaching his duck, Yeet, to play Clash of Clans.
Yah, yah Yeet, yah!

On Memorial Day the kids and I (and by "kids" I mean three human children and one duck child)
had a picnic at Oxbow Park and went for a little hike/waddle.

(If you really want to see something cute, you'll have to check out my Instavideo of Yeet,
which I couldn't figure out how to imbed into this post.)


Over the last couple months I've been spending a lot of time at ball fields...

...watching Sarah play softball...

...watching John play baseball (that's him, sliding safely into home)...

...and having pistachios for dinner.

// bonus feature: //

At the ballfield you must have seeds or some other shelled thing to snack on. It's kind of an unwritten rule. So I bring pistachios. One of the Legion baseball players has dubbed our family The Fancy Snackers because of it. When we get up to leave after the game, our seats are the only place with pistachio shells instead of sunflower or peanut shells scattered around them. 

The thing is, I don't like eating sunflower seeds - it's too much work. Besides, spitting. And I don't like eating peanuts in the shells - I once had a rancid peanut and it ruined my enjoyment of the entire peanut shelling experience. But I do love me some pistachios - ever since I was a teenager and had some pistachio ice cream at the Eiscafe in Kandern, Germany. 

The Eiscafe was just down the road from my high school, so we would often walk there after school on hot days to get a cool treat. A favorite was their spaghetti ice cream, which looked like spaghetti but tasted like vanilla ice cream topped with strawberry sauce and white chocolate shavings.

Years after I graduated from Black Forest Academy, I was able to bring both John (in 2008) and Kaitlin (in 2009) to the Eiscafe in Kandern to share that special place and treat with them.

And that is the roundabout story of how I came to like pistachios and how I associate them with some good memories.

// end bonus feature //


After seeing some Zentangle art in my instafeed,
I've been trying my hand at it.
It's pretty relaxing.

I need relaxing because I got a lot going on right now.


One day while standing in my friend's kitchen before work I fainted!
So I listened to my body, took the day off, got some rest and read a book.


My cousin was in a fatal car accident.
He was hit head-on by a car going the wrong way on the interstate.
Tragic anytime, but it happened fourteen days before his wedding.
I was expecting to meet his bride at the wedding, instead I met his fiance at the funeral.

We never know what the next day will bring.

It reminds me of what James, Jesus' brother, wrote to the Jews dispersed abroad:

"Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' 
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. 
You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 
Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills we will live and also do this or that.'"


Here we are, my little brother and little sister and me.
Cray-zee to think we are, like, grown up adults now.
 Sometimes I wonder how I got this big when I feel so little.
(BTW I think my sister looks gorgeous in this photo.)


And then Kaitlin found this photo of my brother and me from way back when.

Time marches on.

Speaking of that, we celebrated John's 16th birthday in June.

I can't believe my little boy is so big.
(Okay, he's not really that big, I crouched down for the photo. But he really is taller than me.)


Since I am not with my kids all the time now, I cherish the time I do have.
Not that I didn't before, but now I feel so much more desperate for the time I have with them.


Me and my girls...

...getting our nails did...

... at the weekly summer street fair, Thursdays on First...

... and bombing Kaitlin's selfies.


I've so appreciated the encouragement I've gotten from friends during this time.
I'm learning that I don't need to feel alone or be alone.
Even people I've never met except for through this bloggy blog have encouraged me by dropping me a note, saying that God has put me on their hearts.
That blows my mind. Blesses me beyond words.
Thank you.


I watched the Home Run Derby with John.
And Twitter.
This is what spending time with my son looks like these days.
When the wifi went out at my house I had a very unhappy boy.


I'm not sure how I survived my childhood without the internet.
Or a VHS DVD Blu Ray player.
Or more than three channels on TV.
Or computers.
Or phones that act like computers and cameras and road atlases.


Riding home from one of Sarah's softball games I was in awe of the sky 
and the clouds reflecting the sunset.
"The sky is so beautiful I just want to reach out and touch it," I said. 
Sarah laughed at me. We both laughed at my enthusiasm.

And I thought fairy tales end with riding into the sunset, 
but sometimes riding away from the sunset is beautiful too.


I went for a walk with Kaitlin and these hot air balloons flew right over us.
They were going pretty fast so we ran across the street to get a picture without cars in it.
My breath caught a little bit when I saw the beauty of the reflection in the river.


And here we are, present day.
I got to work this morning and realized that I still had my slippers on.
I'm taking casual Friday to a whole 'nother level.


I'm linking up these snapshots and thoughts with @jeannettg for her InstaFriday post.


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