I am not a huge fan of describing myself as “busy.”  Especially not when it becomes part of the “norm” for our daily lives.  Sometimes there are just seasons, but I don’t like it.IMG_5856sm

This seems to be one of those seasons.  Here we are, being busy with little out of the ordinary to show for it. 


So we are going to take a few days and do something special as a family.  School is out for a four-day weekend and we re-arranged the office schedule some.  Time to slow down, take a deep breath, and just be family together.  A chance to change the cadence of our lives a refocusing.  As we refocus we are reminded of all the goodness God grants into our lives even during the seasons of being too busy:


3644.  Family who lives close enough to visit for a weekend – this is new for us!

3645.  Good friend in Eva – listens when I’m babbling on and on.IMG_4828sm

3647.  Money on hand to fix the Subaru.

3648.  Support from a friend.

3649.  Family discussion over dinner – and a chance to eat dinner together

3650.  Email of affirmation.

3651.  One year of our wonderful kittens – now they aren’t “kittens” any more!IMG_0298sm


3652.  Order from the court signed quickly.

3653.  Safe travel to and from Helena for Andy.

3654.  J signed up for ice climbing clinic


3655.  A good school for J.

3656.  Fall colors in the treessm-45

3657.  Getting to see the lunar eclipse (or at least the tail end of it)

3658.  Beautiful sunrise – pink clouds over the north valleysm-61

3659.  New walking/running shoes at a great price – and they feel great!

3660.  Enough money to pay bills fairly comfortably.

3661.  Trees with red leaves sprinkled around town.

3662.  Miss M. allowing some help for the abuse she suffered

3663.  The good feeling fo making progress on a difficult unpleasant tasksm-40

3664.  Orders of Protection in place for friends who need it.

3665.  J holding steady on his grades at a place that surpasses his own expectations.

3666.  Hearing the wind whistle and howl while I am safely in the house.

3667.  Subaru fixed after two weeks, and a fair price set for the work.

3668.  Less debt now than a year ago – progress!

3669.  Great photo shoot with a high school senior.

3670.  Donna hearing some encouraging words.

3671.  The hope that comes from planning a few days off.

3672.  Good lawyering by Andy – strategic and effective advocacy!sm-25

3673.  Andy’s detailed knowledge of the law.

3674.  Being able to breathe on the days when events seem so heavy that breathing might not be possible.

3675.  Sleeping through the night – at least once in-a-while.


Categories: Daily life, Faith, Family Fun, gratitude, kittens, Photography, Progress, Thankful to God | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments



– one –

When I went hunting for cows on Wednesday I headed out to the Spring Hill Community.  Unfortunately,  most of those folks are now mostly pasturing horses (well, that’s probably fortunate for them, but unfortunate for my cow photo obsession these days).    Anyway, I couldn’t stop myself from jumping out at this little “ghost town” of a collection of old building on the “main drag” of the community.  They were lovely.  The day was a bit dreary with grey skies and low clouds, but the buildings were fascinating.


– two –

Parenting challenges abound this week – really, for a while now.  Not that J is some terrible child.  Not that Andy and I don’t see eye to eye.  In fact, J is a wonderful child who is experiencing some growing pains relative to balancing responsibilities and who needs his parents to set some strong guidelines to help him.

 In fact, Andy and I are on the same page about those guidelines.  But it is oh so painful to watch  your child make a few mistakes and have to deal with the consequences.  Nothing life threatening, or even terribly rebellious.  But the consequence he finds himself with as of last night is a hard one for him – it hurts to watch him be so profoundly disappointed. 

It also is something that doesn’t have to be long-term if he steps up and behaves in the responsible way we know he can.  Ball is in his court now, and the only one who can change the circumstances is him – that rubs my controlling instinct the wrong way as I would like to just step in a fix everything for him, since it appears easy to me to find the solution.  But that would be poor parenting, so this is a growth opportunity for me as well.

Wonderful child, and well worth the effort of setting these guidelines and following through on them.


– three –

Andy got me the best Valentine’s gift – a bright but perfect blue and white tie-dyed long-sleeved shirt from the local head shop.  Yep, that is how we roll right now. We buy things at head shops, but only tie-dyed clothing, not other items they might offer.  It’s a bit of that left-over hippie in me from back in my Humboldt County CA days.

I’m wearing it today, and please note, it is a size smaller than he would have gotten months ago, and it fits nicely.  Love it.

Plus, it smells like the incense they burn in that shop, which I love love love!

J noted last night, on the lower left hem of the shirt there is a perfectly formed 4 inch heart in the tie-dyed pattern.  Love that detail!

Maybe, if I feel confident enough, I’ll do a self-portrait of me in the shirt this weekend.


– four

Making plans for some painting and sprucing up around the house – wouldn’t want it to look like these buildings anytime soon!  Never realized how many shades of white exist out there.  Whew!  Choices, choices, choices!

Also a bit surprised at how hard it is to do something as simple sounding as cutting corrugated metal straight – actually probably will have to farm out that task to someone with just the right tools.  But I want to line the risers of our staircase with distressed (read “rusted”) corrugated metal.  Red landings, distressed corrugated metal risers, white walls with some funky art is what I’m dreaming of long-term.  May take a while to accomplish this, but I’m heading in that direction.


– five –

Lots of hopes for a productive but fun weekend.  Yes, I’m thinking productivity can be fun.  It will help to accomplish progress, which is my long neglected, but not forgotten word for the year.  I’d like to make progress on cleaning the house, photography projects and some scrapbooking.  As mentioned above, I’m considering a self-portrait.  I’m also certain it is time to get a portrait of J – he turned 13 within the last couple of weeks, and I want to get that documented.

What are your plans for the weekend?

Categories: Barns, Daily life, Five on Fridays, Outdoors, Photography, Progress, Winter | 3 Comments



– one –

All photos in today’s post were taken yesterday afternoon as I drove out to J’s school to pick him up from an after school activity – about 4:30 p.m.  The river is the Gallatin River as it flows northwest towards the headwaters of the Missouri River. 

I will return to Yellowstone photos on Monday, I promise!  Maybe sooner if I get a post done over the weekend.


– two –

This is the weekend to get baked goods made, packing done, because on Monday I will be mailing to those who didn’t get their packages already.  But to start it off, we’re having company tonight – a family of 7.  I’ll be leaving the office early to clean house and get the dinner started.  Rare for me to leave town early these days, so I’m kind of excited about this – silly, I know, but sometimes I miss more hours at home doing homey type things like cooking and cleaning.  Besides, if I get the house all clean today, I’ll have a much more free weekend for the fun baking and crafting that I want to do.


– three –

I’m having success with my body bugg – have I mentioned that before?  Must be because it is so exciting to me.  I’ve lost just about 5.5 pounds in 2 weeks.  For me, that is so amazing!  I’m excited to keep going and keep moving.  I’ve got to improve a bit with my food tracking because sometimes I don’t get it quite right.  Part of that is I’m pretty erratic about my meals – I don’t plan ahead enough, that’s for sure.  Time to get back on the menu planning band wagon!


– four –

If I can get my baking and mailing done this weekend I’m ready to really focus on bringing a Christmas spirit into our home.  It’s decorated at this point, but I want to help us focus our hearts and minds on Jesus and what it was for Him to leave heaven and His perfect existence to come to earth and deal with sin, poverty, illness and politics.  Can you imagine?  Obviously the sacrifice of the cross hits us all, but really, his sacrifice started long before that when he stepped down from heaven.  It is hard for me to find the right words to express this, so I want to focus on this a bit more and get a better grasp on what it all means.


– five –

One little word for 2013 is starting to be on my radar screen.  I had a word last weekend that I was so excited about, but now I can’t remember what it was.  Ugh! 

But I need to follow-up a bit with 2012’s word – Progress.  We’ve made some progress on things this year – finances, recently my weight loss, parenting issues, academic issues, office issues.  Nothing is finished and we certainly haven’t arrived in general, but progress is being made.  I like that!

Categories: Daily life, Faith, Family Fun, Five on Fridays, One Little Word, Outdoors, Photography, Progress, the house | 3 Comments


Teaching a child to work is one of the biggest challenges of parenting – at least in our house hold.

I also think it is one of the most important things we can do for him.  Let’s face it, working is necessary in all lives, and the sooner he learn to do it well the sooner he will be able to find joy in life.

And for our  boy, like many others of his age group, work is not always embraced as a joyful part of the day.  Especially if it is homework or in-the-house work (like cleaning his room, wiping down the bathroom or vacuuming the stairs).

But this weekend we found the weed-wacker to be a great way to learn the joy of work.  It is a long power tool, and the male gender has a very special relationship with power tools – the longer the better.

Thus we didn’t get any complaints from J about his first time out with the trimmer.  And he stayed engaged with the chore for quite a while.

In fact sometimes it looked as if he might be dancing with the machine.


Not a single complaint with this chore.

Wish they were all that way.

This is one of those things I can mark down as “progress” – Progress in parenting skills.

Categories: Daily life, J, kids, Photography, Progress | 3 Comments


My plan is to always publish my continued gratitude list on Mondays to stay in line with the posts on Ann’s blog, but of late I have not met my plan.  I’m generally okay with that as life happens, and I can live with a few things falling between the cracks.  The plan won’t change – it is my intention to publish gratitude lists on Mondays (or as soon there after as I can manage).

As a general matter, I love having a plan.  It makes me feel safe.  It helps me know what the steps I need to take are, and where I am in the journey of achieving my goal.  A plan gives me the sense that what I want to accomplish is achievable.  Sometimes that may prove to be a false sense if the plan doesn’t work, but that is a whole other ball of string. 

A plan also allows me to work with others with less fear that we might not be trying to achieve the same thing.

But this morning I was talking with a friend about plans and she very kindly informed me that not all people like plans.  In fact, for some, a plan is intimidating because in the long run it might be the plan that defines where we fail.  For some people a plan is just an opportunity to see what they did wrong.

I never thought of it that way before.  I’m close to someone who doesn’t like a plan – married to him in fact.  I’ve always been confused as to why he doesn’t want to make specific plans for achieving financial goals or parenting goals or really any other goals we have together.  It is so easy for him to say “Yeah, let’s do that!” but to be frustrated when I come up with the inevitable “how are we going to do it?  Can we make a plan?”

Funny how people are so different on this.  The plan gives me a sense of “can do” and safety, but for others it is a threat to their sense of self because it points out where they went wrong.

I don’t know if Andy’s objection to making specific plans is because he’s afraid – maybe he has other reasons for not having a plan, but the conversation with my friend has made me curious enough to ask.

For me, planning is also a way to engage in my new word for the year – progress.  Without planning I generally make little progress.  So, I fully admit, I am an advocate for planning.

Anyway, here is the planned Gratitude list, a day later than planned, but here all the same:


796.  Fresh snow fall for J to go snowboarding on.

797.  Friend to have tea with and talk on Tuesday mornings.

798.  J’s helpful demeanor with younger kids.

799.  Freezer full of food for those days when grocery shopping is out of the question – day after day after day.

800. Cross-country skiing with Andy

801.  Understanding and supportive friends.

802.  The opportunity to be in the life of those who are hurting.

803.  Two-day trial complete for Andy and a very challenging client.

804.  Hot water showers on bone chilling days.

805.  Options for meeting needs.

806.  Bright starts in the chill winter sky.

807.  Elk on Gooch Hill as I drive to town.

808.  Cars that have been reliable.

809.  Reconnecting with Clean Eating as a plan for nutrition.

810.  Unexpected opportunity and energy to clean house.

811.  Good blood test results.

812.  Letters written to loved ones.

813.  Comments about J’s kindness from other parents.

814.  Open honest conversations to get the information needed to make good decisions.

815.  Working side by side with my husband.

Categories: Daily life, gratitude, Photography, Progress | Leave a comment


My one little word for this year was “Light.”  A beautiful word, with beauty and inspiration and all sorts of others who selected it as their word.  It is romantic.  It is great for photography – if my whole life were photography themed I think it would work well.

But photography is not my whole life (darn it all), and Light is not working for me.  Not at all.

Too static.  Not enough movement in that word. 

I need movement.  I need goals.  I need a fire lit under me.

No, my new word is not “Fire” although that would be another romantic word.

Last years word, Proactive, was so good.  It was inspiring.  It took me through the whole year.  It got me places.

So I’m going back to that general theme.

This year’s word is now officially changed to “Progress.”

I am tired of treading water on certain issues in my life.  I want to start making progress.  I want to thrive, not just barely survive.

We’ve had a huge parenting decision to make over the past six weeks, and frankly the concept of light was not very applicable, but the idea of seeking a way to make progress was the very thing we needed.

We have financial challenges facing us.  Progress is needed.

I have nutritional, exercise and weight issues to make Progress on.

The office needs to make progress towards the goals we set.

Growth is progress.

So, progress is the word for the year.

No more sitting around looking at the problems.  Time to begin making progress!

Categories: Light, One Little Word, Photography, Progress | 2 Comments

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