Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wrapping up 2009, Moving into 2010

Once in a Blue Moon
Once in a Blue Moon

Wow, how can it be the eve of yet another new year? What’s in store for 2010 (I’m going to call it “twenty-ten” instead of “two thousand and ten” – less syllables – simpler)? I’m hoping for more fun and adventures, with a heavy dose of family angst as the kiddos transition more into their adolescence years. I finished up Project 365, and plan to dive straight into Project 365 – Volume 2. This year, I’ll allow myself some latitude and I may miss a day here and there, but my general goal will be to continue growing in the photographic documentation of our little lives out here on the prairie.

I also plan to participate in Weekly Gratitude and add in a monthly (maybe even weekly) photo mosaic. I may scale back on my monthly 12 on 12 (maybe move it to a 8 on 8). We’ll just play it by ear.

And what about my One Word for 2010? My One Word in 2009 was “Balance” and I still contend it is a very appropriate word in our busy, hectic lives. For 2010, I seriously considered “Focus”, after all, Focus allows one to see clearly, adds discipline and order. But I realize I already have “Balance” and “Focus”, and I what I really need to do is “Relax” more. There, I said it. Relax. Chill. Stop Stressing over stuff. I think I’ll be happier for it, and the entire family, too.

So look for some additional ramblings and more pictures. If I miss a day here or there, it's because I'll trying to "Relax". Best wishes for a prosperous New Year!


367/365 - New Year's Snowman

Here's the man of the year - the snowman Erica and Brian built yesterday. He'll be sticking around to see the start of the New Year.

Snow Friend

Good Afternoon

To all who read my ramblings - I wish you a wonderful New Year!


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

366/365 - Rascal in the Snow

The kids built a big snowman this evening and banned me from taking pictures. So I took pictures of the cat instead.

Rascal in The Snow
She didn't stay outside very long. Unlike Hannah, Rascal ventures out into the cold every now and then.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

365/365 - Sudden Chill

Woke up this morning to single digit temperatures! But, as a result of the sudden cold temperatures, a beautiful, glistening frost covered everything left outside. Driving to work was like driving through a crystalline world.

I tried to capture some of that on the road - can you see the mist rising from the water in the retention ditches?
Sudden Chill

I should have stopped by the large pond off my normal exit to work. But I took another exit today due to road conditions. Next time, I will stop!

Wow, and today marks the 365th day of my daily photos. I don't think I'll stop just yet - I need to finish out the year at least!


Monday, December 28, 2009

364/365 - Card Collection

One of the nice things about going away for the holidays - you come home to a big collection of greeting cards from faraway friends. What fun we had opening all of them and seeing how much our friends have changed since last year.

Card Collection

[And you'll have to pardon that family all decked out in Michigan State Green - sometimes our friends are too crazy!]

[Yeah, we love you Dave and Dawn!!]


Sunday, December 27, 2009

363/365 - Second Christmas

We traveled back to Illinois this morning, transitioning from the warm, sunny, green Florida landscape to falling snow. All in three hours.

We welcomed the snow, as we had a second wave of Christmas gifts waiting for us at home.
Show Me the Presents

Open Gifts

A white Christmas after all!


Saturday, December 26, 2009

362/365 - Wildlife in the 'Hood

I spotted this guy on the lamp post towards the end of my morning run. The light overlooks a swampy stream (maybe they even call it a slough here, too) that runs under the road bridge, a block away from my parents' house.

Likes the Lamp Post Perch

About 5 minutes later, another one flew to the opposite side of the street. Scouting the waters below for a little bit of breakfast, I bet!
Scouting for Breakfast

Other things we did today - My mother and I took Brian to see "Alvin and the Chipmunks - The Squeakquel". Cute and not too annoying. Then dinner out at the Bonefish Grill. We head back to the snowy midwest tomorrow.


Friday, December 25, 2009

361/365 - Green Christmas

We enjoyed our non-traditional Christmas celebration. No traditional tree, but a ficus tree, with presents underneath:

Presents Under the Tree

No snow, and we even spent some time in the pool:
Christmas Swim Opportunity

But it's the people who make Christmas special - especially family.
LaoLao and LaoYeh

Hey, you even get a picture of me and my mom (taken by Erica).
Mother and Daughter

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

360/365 - Christmas Eve

We departed the cruise ship this morning, rented a car and drove 4 hours to my parent's winter home near Fort Myers. The kids went swimming right away (even in the unheated pool).

My mother cooked up her usual feast of shrimp, noodles, beef and broccoli (as if we really needed any more food!).

Mom's Signature Dishes

After dinner, we played a game of "Truth or Dare". The kids downloaded this game to the iTouch / iPhone, and it is relatively tame, and some of the dares are downright silly. Case in point - Scott's dare was to wear an item given by each player.
Truth or Dare Silliness
Hence the jewelry, glasses and other items. Sometimes going with "Truth" is just easier.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

359/365 - Day at Sea

Our final full day on the cruise - a beautiful, warm and sunny [yes!] day.
We started our day learning how to make the towel creations our room steward has been leaving in our room in the evenings:

Towel Animals

We even bought the instruction book, and Brian has been making all sorts of creatures ever since.
Our Towel Creation

But we all took a break from the towel rolling to spend some time in the sun and ride the water slides (and that water was cold!)
Water Works Slide
Water Works fun

And a game of Bingo (didn't win, but it was fun)

Overall, a nice way to end the cruise.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

358/365 - Nassau Beaches

Our time in Nassau included a Dolphin encounter at the Altantis resort and some time exploring the beach. I'll have the pictures from our Dolphin encounter posted in a separate post.

Again, the sun and super warm temperatures alluded us again, but we still enjoyed the beautiful Cove beach.

Cove Beach

The high wind and surf meant no swimming at Cove Beach, but the surf was lower on Paradise beach which allowed us to run in the water.

Against the Rip Tide

Back in the Downtown section of Nassau, Erica had her hair braided while Scott and Fay shopped in the straw market.

The rains came in late afternoon, but we didn't mind. Something about being in the Bahamas makes you relax!


Monday, December 21, 2009

357/365 - Clear Water

In Freeport, we went horse riding through the pine forest, the lush botanical forest and then on to the beach and even in the ocean. I didn't take my camera due to the potential exposure to salt water, subsequently, no pictures. I just enjoyed the ride and scenery.

After horse riding and lunch, we had just a short amount of time to explore Lucaya beach. The cool temperatures meant the beaches were sparsely occupied, but we enjoyed the clear azure water and white sand beach.

Sea of Blue

Water's Edge

Running Along


Sunday, December 20, 2009

356/365 - Board and Set Sail

A sunny yet crisp (only 50degF!) day, we boarded the Carnival Sensation in the afternoon, marveled at the huge atrium in the middle of the ship and went in search of our cabin. Our first thoughts - where are we all going to sleep in this tiny cabin?? I was skeptical. But Scott assured us it would be OK, so we left to explore the rest of the ship. [after all, you don't spend any time in your cabin on a cruise]

Mini Golf on the top deck:
Chip It In

Grandma was hoping for a hole in one:
Hole in One?

We set sail as the sun set:
Set Sail

After dinner, we found our cabin with the beds let down and the kids declared - "This is so cozy - we love our room!".
Spacious Cabin

Tomorrow - Freeport, Bahamas!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

355/365 - Southerly Travels

We were fortunate not to be flying towards the big snowy mess in the Northeast. Instead, we headed South to Florida, the start of our warm Christmas vacation.

Our first stop - the Indianapolis airport, where Erica texted her friends and Brian made new friends waiting for our [slightly] delayed flight to Orlando.

Wait and Make New Friends

We arrived in Cape Canaveral in time for dinner and a dip in the outdoor pool. Hey, it's heated so the kids didn't mind.
Midnight Swim

Like Miami Vice?

Our suite included a whirlpool tub, so the kids enjoyed a huge bubble bath after tiring of the pool. I don't think they understand that a little bath gel goes a long way!
Bubble Boy

Tomorrow, we'll be transported to Port Canaveral where we'll board our cruise ship headed for the Bahamas!


Friday, December 18, 2009

354/365 - The Third Time's the Charm

My 3rd trip to the Post office this week, to drop off the last of the Christmas packages. What's left - cleaning, packing and getting into a warmer frame of mind as we get set to embark out on our Holiday trip!

Packages to Deliver


Thursday, December 17, 2009

353/365 - Early Morning

The week before we leave for a holiday vacation is invariably chock full of "stuff". Tuesday night, Scott and I attended our church staff party. Last night, Erica had a late horse riding lesson. I've been wrapping presents, finishing Christmas cards and preparing for Grandma's arrival tonight.
And I had an early morning at work today, which meant that I got to see the sun rise.
A bit of serenity in my busy day!

Early Morning


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

352/365 - Snowflake Light

Another favorite Christmas tree ornament, purchased from Martha Stewart's collection back in the 90's when I had time to aspire to her home and garden ideals [Nowadays, I don't care as much].



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

351/365 - Trying to Stay Warm

I attended a four hour workplace meeting today that was held in our product warehouse. We've held these long, participatory-type meetings here before, the last one in February. When our facilitator queried the crowd about what they remembered from the February meeting, the main response was "Candy Bars" [they gave them away during the meeting].

Today's meeting will be remembered for how cold it was in the warehouse. Seriously, it was that cold. It took me the rest of the day to warm up from sitting in that concrete floored, metal building.

I was asked to take pictures of the presenters and the breakout sessions, so I had my camera during the meeting. It and the coffee did not keep me warm while the managers took turns talking.
The Coffee Didn't Keep Me Warm

Gloves, jackets, even hats were worn by the employees trying to stay warm.
Cold Breakout Session

See, I wasn't the only one who was cold.
Chris Is Cold

We may attend a follow up meeting in February, hopefully during a warm spell. Otherwise, I'm going to wear long underwear, and bring hand and feet warmers! Maybe even a Snuggie!


Monday, December 14, 2009

350/365 - Sheet of Ice

One of Brian's favorite things to do in the winter when there's no snow around. Play with the next best thing - the ice! And since pond ice is readily available, it gets chosen quite frequently.

First, break up the thick ice in the pond with a hammer. The attempt to move the sheet of ice from the pond.

Large Slab of Ice

Sometimes the ice is almost as big as Brian!

But he always manages to break the big pieces into little ones on the patio.
Just another day of icy fun!


I ♥ Faces Photo Challenge - Pets Only

I actually have an entry for this week's I ♥ Faces Photo Challenge. I don't normally shoot faces (probably because my closest subjects have become allergic to the camera), but this week's theme is Pets!
Of course, I have plenty of Hannah pictures to choose from, so Erica and I perused through our collection to pick this classic:

Hannah On My Shoulder

So check out I ♥ Faces and enter your pet photo!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

349/365 - Sunday Afternoon

On the couch, watching football. Do I need to say more?



Saturday, December 12, 2009

12 on December 12

As I am writing this on Monday, I am posting a little behind schedule, but better late than never (and since I took the pictures on the 12th, I will be pre-dating the post time - just a little trick in Blogger - your post will never seem "late" then!).

OK - back to Saturday, December 12th......

Saturday what a day what a silly little day
Time to kill take a pill as I sit and contemplate
How I'd like to be around all the people in the town with their fancy cars and things
But I've got time

Saturdays by Holly Brook

I wish I could sit and contemplate all Saturday long, but instead I start the day off with a picture of the morning sun streaming through the Living Room, aka Piano Room, aka Christmas Tree Room:
Morning Sun

It's a beautiful, yet chilly (24DegF) start to our Saturday. So I go out and run seven miles, with the last mile running against that northerly wind. Brrrr! But, at least it was sunny!
After a Brisk Run
[note - I took the picture after the run. I then thought about collapsing on the couch].

Still no time to collapse or contemplate - Scott was hard at work, filling the pond with buckets of water:
Bucket Brigade
And here's the reason why - with temperatures in the single digits on Thursday, and a non working pond de-icer, the pond froze over, reducing the amount of water available to recirculate through our pond pump. This starves the pump and causes it to cavitate. Yes, any plumber, mechanical or chemical engineer will tell you that is a bad thing for a pump. I purchased a new de-icer yesterday (that shiny blue circular thing), but the water level was still too low. Last night I transferred about 20 buckets full of water to the pond in order to stop the cavitation. Scott was adding more water for good measure.

Water flowing at the waterfall - a good sign.
Starting to Thaw

See, frozen solid in the middle of the pond.
Frozen on the Pond

Enough of the cold! Did you know today is National Hot Cocoa day? We decided to celebrate with a nice warm cup.
Hot Cocoa Day

While a droopy Hannah cuddled up on her favorite warm spot - on the couch blankets. I swear, all she does is sleep! [oh, and let us know she's hungry]

Then I spent the next two hours trying to figure out how to add a darn tweet / retweet button on my Behind the Lens Blog posts. Seriously frustrating! But I finally got it figured out (caution to those who have customized Blogger templates - sometimes you have to try and decipher the html code).
Retweet Button

Clouds and darkness reigned over the afternoon and the rains started, just in time for us to get ready for the annual company holiday party. Of course, I brought my camera.

Because, as a passenger of a car, you can take pictures of the street while waiting at the red light:
Waiting at the Light

And during the party, you can take a picture of the table's center piece:
Festive Centerpiece

Finally, you get to capture the band, "The Duelin' Hillbillies".
Duelin Hillbillies

Any band that has a violinist is OK in my book.


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All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of SLPhotography and shirley319 (© 2009, 2010). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code. and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) prohibits the use of digital property to be used without the consent of its owner.

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