what's your play?

So ... there’s a blog I read that offers almost daily photography tips.  What I love is that she spells out exactly what camera settings she used to take the photos she features.

She has this thing each week {Tuesday’s} where she posts a photo and then asks you to ‘play’ with it and then send her your submissions.  Of course, I procrastinated on this one too.  The different types of things you can do with photos are so subjective, and I guess I haven’t quite come up with my own style yet ... so wasn’t sure which one would be the {perfect ... sorry} entry.  What did I do?  I went overboard!  I submitted 17ish photos!  But apparently she liked them.  Here’s a link to the results from last week {she used 3 of mine!! ... they’re the last ones in the slideshow series}.

Okay, and because I’m retarded, here’s an email I got from her that I was excited about:

Hi Tracie!

Wow!  Great work!  I love the site as well.  I love the colours on 4, the glow in 10 is great, nice texture on 14, the bright colours on 15 are beautiful and yet the muted colours on 16 is just as gorgeous.  17 has a nice 'aged' feel to it.  And your faves certainly bring attention to her and her shadow.  :)

They're all so great!  Thank you so much for playing!  I hope you'll continue to participate!

And I do realize that she’s just a normal person like me and apparently very nice ... but still ... I love how people can make connections like this with people they’ve never met and also learn something about yourself, your hobby, who you want to be, etc.

And speaking of being who you want to be ... I have a long post I seem to be writing in my head {actually, that the Lord is writing in my head} that I will sit down and work on at some point.  And to this point, I read this this morning, which I believe is the Lord speaking to me louder and louder.  I know it’s a long one {the link}, but please take some time to read it, or go back to it when you can.

3d rocks!

Seems I haven’t been spending much time with miss independent teenager lately.  What with a sleepover most every night, and basic lounge lizard activity {her} ... and crazy work schedule, 3 little ones, and basic manic craziness {me} ... we just haven’t got together!

So, when the Hannah Montana concert in 3D was on ... I knew I had to be a part of it.  I’m just glad I didn’t have my photo taken in the 3D glasses!  :)

Seriously though, it was great to spend a night chilling with Taylor ... I miss her.



This photo may look like anything but victorious, but if you look beyond the crocodile tears, you’ll notice something shiny {victorious}.

You may know, Piper is pretty shy til she gets to know you.  She’s my gentle old soul with the most soulful eyes I’ve ever seen.  Whatever Piper is feeling, you’ll see through her eyes.

Happy, sad, angry, scared, excited, tired, sick, apprehensive ... or as you see in this photo ... brave.

Here’s the story ... Piper made swim team back in June, but because of the vacations we’ve taken, she’s not made many of the practices or had a chance to build any camaraderie with her teammates.  She had a swim meet a couple of weeks ago ... it was her first and she froze up at the gate and refused to swim.

For a while now, she’s been wanting to have her ears pierced ... so I did what any good mother would do ... I bribed her!  Swim in your next meet {this past Tuesday} and I’ll take you to get your ears pierced.  She agreed.

But man!!  She did not want to swim.  She kept asking what would happen if she didn’t do it.  Would she still get them pierced and when ... on and on.  Curt talked to her, I talked to her, Taylor talked to her, her coach talked to her, and her teammates talked to her.

She finally decided to do it.  She had two events ... freestyle & breaststroke, and she’d be in the clear.

To see this humble little peanut of a girl, up at the starting block, waiting for the horn to blow, knowing her insides were dancing all over kingdom come ... I wanted to jump up and grab her and tell her she didn’t have to do it and we’d be off to her piercing anyway.  Of course I didn’t ... because I also wanted to see this little peanut come out of her shell and make it across that pool.  She’s good ... she can do this.  She’s the youngest member of the team and chosen because she was good enough!

The horn blew and off she went ... I promise you, the fastest freestyle you’ve ever seen out of a 6 year old!  She swam with all her might as I fought the crowds to get to the end of the pool to take a photo finish.  But as I got to the end of the pool, just as she was getting to the end of her lane and finishing, she stopped.  Hmm, note to self ... “make sure you tell Piper she needs to touch the wall when she gets to the end of her lane.”

I was SO proud of her.  I was puffed up with pride {sorry God ... it was only a moment}.  That’s my baby and she did it.

Now for her next event, the breaststroke.  “Which stroke is that again?” she wanted to know.  And her coach explained it to her.  So once again, she’s at the starting block.  The horn blows and off she goes ... she dives in, she’s underwater ... why isn’t she surfacing?  Wait!  Is she doing the breaststroke underwater?  That would be a big ol’ affirmative!  She came up for air and then right back under.  The best underwater freestyle you’ve ever seen ... and she came in second place!

It was awesome to see her blossom that day.  And off we went to the mall to get her ears pierced.  She was so excited.  That is until the first one went in {yes!  they did them one at a time!}.  Her eyes welled with tears, but she didn’t break down and let them finish what she came to have done!  I’m so proud of her, and I hope she’s proud of herself ... it was quite a day.

And for the record ... that was her last swim meet.  She had one today, but refused to swim in it.  I couldn’t very well offer a second piercing ... and she declined the tattoo offer too.  :)

Click here for more photos from the day.

On another subject, thank you to everyone who helped me choose a photo to enter {I haven’t officially entered yet ... I’m not quite sure why I’m procrastinating, the deadline is tomorrow.}  I think I’ll be submitting the photo shortly.  I think it’s just that I want it to be perfect ... okay, bad aspiration, I know ... but I can’t help it.  It’s just that I’m sending it to a professional photographer and most of the other submissions seem to be sent from professionals ... or at least, very good amateurs {that should be professionals}!  I’ve noticed that a few people have sent in a series of photos ... so here are the ones I’m planning to send in.  Actually, I’m only going to send a handful of them ... but these are my top picks.  And I realize the post-processing I’ve done may kill my chances, but it’s something that I’m trying to learn more of.  Okay, enough rambling ... click here to view them.


want to make a difference?

A friend of mine, Amy, serves on the board for The Ophelia Project.  The Ophelia Project is a wonderful organization dedicated to helping form healthy peer relationships and creating safe social climates.  Jane Finkenbine, the director of The Ophelia Project of SE Wisconsin, visits schools in our community and works with students to teach them how to be better friends with one another.  

Friendships are wonderful and valuable--especially when you have children. You can call your friends when you need a last-minute sitter or if you just need to talk.  The friends that I have in my life now are people I will cherish forever; I feel  fortunate to have you all as friends.

But relationships can be difficult.  Even as adults we can become victims to rumor spreading, feeling left out, having others roll their eyes at you, and other negative behaviors.  It is one thing to experience it yourself, but when your children fall victim to what is known as relational aggression, it can be devastating.

A while back, Amy was asked to chair a 5K Run/Walk Fundraiser to help raise awareness for The Ophelia Project and she graciously agreed.  As friends, I am asking for your help in this race.  There are many different ways to get involved in addition to participating in the race.  Below is a link to the website for the race.  Please pass the website on to everyone you know. 


Together, we can do our part to make a difference in the lives of our children.

{this text is from an email sent directly from amy, i’ve just edited to come from my voice}


life happens

Some ramblings on what’s been happening in our life over the last week or so:

still struggling to find a balance between work/home {wanting desperately to be home with the kids for the summer}

piper swam in her first meet on tuesday {will do separate post on that}

i’ve been identity thefted!  someone got a hold of my cc # and has been having fun with it.

oh the joys of changing my new cc number on all the zillions of sites i store it on ... because i shop online a. lot!

hmm ... maybe that’s why i was thefted?  i’m not afraid of them, they can’t scare me out of convenient shopping

if you look closely at the photo above you will see a hunk of puke in hunter’s hair ... yes, i said puke

it was a good 2x2 inch of puke {photo below}, and i left it in for an hour or so until i was able to take them all a shower with me

hunter woke up 4 times the previous night, but couldn’t tell me what was wrong.  i figured it out when i found her in a pile of puke in the morning ... i love being a mom

we saw batman last night.  somehow voyeuristic to watch heath ledger in this freaky role, knowing he’s no longer with us

i was at the grocery store yesterday {with 3 kids, i forgot how much fun that was} and taylor called just as i’m trying to get a cart, corral three kids, and stay out of an old lady’s way.  wanted to know if a friend could come over.  “no,” i say.  “why,” she asks as i’m balancing the phone on my shoulder ...

did i mention i just got the new {very slippery} iphone?

SMACK ... it’s on the ground.

i pick it up ... the face of it is apparently made of glass {brilliant move steve jobs!} and it’s shattered.

i ever so carefully call her back, because if i put the phone to my face, i’ll cut myself.

and what do i do?  i start yelling in my most awesome mother voice ever “if i say no, i mean no.  i’m balancing 3 kids here, trying to get a cart, and i dropped my phone.”  {basically saying it’s “all your fault”}

said kid sends me pathetic {read = i’m pathetic with my ranting} text saying she’s sorry for being a bad kid and she wishes she were better and i should’ve just said “taylor, i can’t talk right now, i’ll call you back.”

gee, why didn’t i think of that??

i get home and go upstairs and apologize

and yes ... friend did come over

my back is extremely sore

i’ve started running ... i want to get strong and i thought if i start exercising, i’ll get some energy and get strong ... after all,  it’s a catch 22 isn’t it?

apparently, it’s not working for me

in a matter of 15 minutes on tuesday, i managed to almost run into my mom, our barn manager {who’s living in our apartment} and a deer ... in my driveway

that’s all the randomness i have for now.  i must shower and get to work.


remember fireflies?

The other night we went firefly hunting.  Remember doing that as a kid?  I do ... My aunt Mary lived on a large piece of property and we used to spend a lot of time there.  The good ol’ days where the grown-ups were inside completely oblivious to what their children were up to outside {or so it seemed to our innocent, youthful minds ... I think we know better now that we’re grown!}.  Those were also the days where you could leave your kids to wander for hours outside without cellphones, rides, or constantly checking in.  They were also the days when kids wanted to be outside without cellphones, rides or constantly checking in.

Anyway, I do remember being outside for hours at night catching fireflies ... putting them in our glass jars and watching them glow {were there no mosquitoes back then?}.

So the other night, Curt says to the girls ... “wanna catch fireflies tonight?”  I didn’t think much of it and thought it would be fun for them.  I’ve been in the middle of watching a series of seminars with Taylor, Ana and Sue regarding purity, as the girls would like purity rings {and okay, I realize this is a whole other post ...}

When we were done and it was 8:30, Piper & Wynter were not put to bed and I got a tad on the frustrated side {read a whole lotta frustration}.  I tend to be too much of a stickler for a regular bedtime, although I do think I’ve relaxed a bit about it this summer ... but 8:30?  Dad was nowhere in sight and I was upset.  Then I remembered firefly hunting.  OH!  That’s why they are up late.  It’s not completely dark, but let’s get out there and get this over with, it’s getting late and we’ll have crabby girls tomorrow.  As I tensely relayed this to Curt, he’s telling me the fireflies aren’t out yet.  “They must be,” I replied and grabbed my camera as I ushered the girls out.  Curt had everything ready to go: gallon of Off?  Check.  Nets?  Check.  Glass jars?  Check.

After dousing the kids in Off, they each grabbed a net and started the hunt.  I started taking some pictures, engrossed in my photography ... when I suddenly found myself a little girl again chasing after the fireflies and getting them into the girls jars.  It was amazing.  I just don’t do that enough ... step back and allow life to happen ... with me in it.

The girls went to bed that night with their glowing jars of flies safely tucked in beside them ... sigh ...

Once again, I just can’t thank Curt enough for being this father that comes up with these adventures for our girls.  I would never have done this for them.  It breaks every rule I try to enforce.  And that makes me think ... I really need to start breaking the rules, don’t I?

amazing photoshoot

Well ... at least I think so.  Forgive me, I’m partial because it’s my shoot and my kids!  :)

I bought these dresses a few weeks ago and figured I’d use them when I have photos taken of the girls this year.  After I watched this amazing, instructional photography dvd last night {should I have had more commas in that sentence?}, I was encouraged to take some photos myself.  So when Curt left for a meeting this morning, I quickly put the kids in their dresses and took them outside for some playtime.  I only wish miss teenager could’ve joined us ... but she probably would have my head if I seriously woke her to get photos taken {and dress in something to coordinate with sisters, not to mention she’d have to do her hair, makeup and I didn’t have a whole lotta time to wait}.

I realize I have way too many shots of the back of Hunter and bear with me on the little ‘detail’ shots ... it’s one of the things mentioned in the dvd ... pay close attention to the details.  When you & your family look back on your photos, you’ll take great pleasure in the details.  Remember the little dimpled hands?  The dirty feet?  The way Hunter carried this flower around with her from the front of the house to the back, every so often stopping to give me a petal?  The way Piper would not stop playing with the dog?  Or when she and Wynter climbed to the top of the rock and threw the toy for Pebbles to catch and made Hunter chase the dog, retrieve the toy and bring it back to Piper {reminds me of something Taylor would make Piper do ... see?  They do pay attention!}?  The back of those amazing dresses?  Okay, you get the point ... so stay patient as you look at the photos.

The other important thing I learned was to not make them all smile and look at the camera {much relief, because do you have any idea how difficult that is???}.  And also know that many a moment is broken, when you ask a child to look up and “say cheese.”  I really had a great time just letting them play and do what they wanted.  And they were equally cooperative letting me shoot away because I wasn’t demanding smiles from them.

Oh!  And looking at the photos makes me think we need to get a little sun on that baby!  Compared to her sisters, it looks like she hasn’t seen the light of day!  :)

Click here for photos.


someone's grown

I gently urged her to put something else on that um, well ... fit her ... when we went to the movies.  After all, it can be chilly in the theater and her little arms and legs were exposed.

She didn’t care and was happy with what she had on ... so off we went ...

I suppose it’s the hazard of 2 kids sharing clothes.

photo contest!

Hi all ... I need some help.  I’d really like to enter one of my photos into a contest.  The theme is ‘water.’

Above is the original and below I’ve enhanced.  If you have a moment, let me know which is your fav and why ...

Look closely as there are subtle differences between vintage kiss and kiss me texture.  Click the image to view larger.  Or click here for the photo album.

Thanks for any advice you have!!


curt's tri

I love this guy ...

I ran into my friend Amy today at Racine’s Sprint Triathlon, and affectionately referred to Curt as ‘my dork.’  And then proceeded to tell her some stories about him ... let’s see ...

There was the time a couple of months ago when he did the Miller Ride for the Arts {bike ride} and one of the crossing guards yelled to him that he had his bike helmet on backwards.  Also on that ride, he wore a pair of sweats ... he biked 50 miles in sweats!  He came home and said he’d never do that again {ride in sweats, and I won’t lay those details out here} and that he thought bike shorts ‘were just for show ... didn’t realize they had a purpose.’

Today when I caught up with him and saw his goggles, I asked incredulously, “Are those Piper’s goggles?!?”  No, he bought them brand new ... from the same place he gets the girls goggles.  When he came in from his practice swim {and I’m giggling as I write this}, he didn’t understand why they were leaking ... turns out he needed them tight against his skin {for a seal} not against the swim cap.

A big thanks to Jon for watching out for him today!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking throughout the day that I may have disrespected him {to Amy} by calling him a dork.  But as I thought about it through the day {probably much too often}, I realized that it’s those traits that I love about him.  He is a dork.  He often has his shirt on backwards, his jean pockets sticking out, a sticker for a new clothing item still attached and really the list goes on.

What I love is that these are things that I know about him, that others don’t.  These are the things that make him {keep him} normal.  He is a great guy with many quirks that remind me of how much I love him.

I’ll keep the quirks that drive me insane to myself!  :)

Curt did an awesome job today!!  I am so incredibly proud of him.  He did virtually NO training.  The Miller Ride was his bike training {only that ride too, no training for that ride} and he did no swim training.  He does run at least two miles a day, and also recently finished the Wooden Spoon Challenge ... but other than that no training.  My natural athlete finished in 01:28:17!!!

I’m SO proud of you Curt!!  Tony & Jon did an awesome job too ... way to go guys!

Click here for photos from today.


I read this this morning and needed to share it {original post found here}:

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Philippians 4:11-12 (NIV)

So what’s the secret that Paul learned that would allow him to be content in any circumstance? For me, being content…STAYING content is a daily battle. Some days I can barely stand to look in the mirror at the body that no longer looks like the woman my husband married. Other days I find myself wishing I had more money to buy things for my home. Will this fluctuation in the feelings I experience ever go away? I don’t know for sure if it will leave me forever but I think I’ve found an antidote that will surely bring some relief from this disease.


Yep, I believe it’s that simple. Oh, it may not be what Paul was thinking when he wrote what he wrote, but for me? It’s the very mindset that is the catalyst to contentment in my life.

On days when I wish I could buy something new for my home, I stop and realize that I have a home. There is devastation all over our world everyday and many would love to have the “little” that I have. On days when I wish I could drop an extra 10 pounds, I stop and remember that there are probably plenty of people who’ve had a lifelong struggle with obesity who wouldn’t mind residing in my body for a while. On days when I wish my kids would leave me alone, I remember that these days are fleeting and one day I’ll wish they were little again.

What area of your life do you need contentment? Are you single and think that marriage will bring you contentment? Do you think that having more material possessions will do the trick? You know the areas of your life where you are not content. Spend time in honest, open dialogue with God about these areas. He can handle it. Your lack of contentment and gratitude is no secret to Him.

Today, you have a decision to make. I do, too. We can choose either to be content and grateful or we can choose not to. And we must choose before we are placed in a situation where we are comparing or complaining or wanting. During temptation is not the time to decide whether or not we are content.


piper's progress

I had a great day yesterday watching Piper swim with the team.  All the girls in the same green speedo suits ... hinders peeking out ... swimmer tanlines ... priceless really.

You know how surreal it is to watch your kids do something that you associate with being older?  Man, what a feeling ... and to be honest, I’m not sure if it’s a good feeling or a bad feeling.

Piper’s still a little gun shy getting started, but once she joins in ... she fits right in.  It was a HOT day ... but my heart was melting with pride while watching my little girl grow up.

I realize these photos are way overexposed ... bear with me, I’m working hard on my photography.  Click here for more photos.


no photo, just text

Just some rambling thoughts, and no photo to go with it.  What I would love, but too shy to ask for is a photo taken last night with my beautiful friend Marta {tears starting} ...

I know most of you know, what an amazing woman she is, and I guess I’m crying right now hating the fact that she has to go through this.  But man, if anyone has to, I guess it should be someone with a spirit as bright as hers.

Marta texted me yesterday on their way home from the Dells ... “r u working tomorrow?  most of my hair has fallen out in the last 2 days.  it’s time 2 shave it off.  it looks terrible.  i understand if u r busy.”  Seriously Marta?  I will be there in a heartbeat.

I called her back and asked how she was.  “Fabulous” was her reply ... “I feel great!”  I asked about her hair.  “I’m doing okay with it!” she says in her awesome Marta spirit {she should patent that!} ... not down, or sad ... but with an exclamation point!

So I went last night.  I was going to go with her to this class where they teach you about make-up, putting on your wig, scarves, etc. ... but I had it scheduled on the wrong night and it ended up being last night.  I had a dinner with my long-lost cousin and sister last night after work, and my cousin is moving so I couldn’t reschedule.

So I went to Marta’s last night after my dinner and her class.  I got there about 8, clipper in hand {thank you Heather}.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I don’t know why I’m crying again ... but she is just so awesome ... in every definition of the word, not just slang.  Marta. Is. Awesome.

The girls are all bubbly and happy ... Marina has this awesome rat’s nest in the back of her hair after a long car ride in a car seat {sorry, Marta, I just loved it!}.  We chat and then she says “are you ready?” and takes off her baseball cap.  It wasn’t as bad as I expected, but it wasn’t something I wanted to see from my friend.  You know?

So she sits down, we get ready.  Bailee has the broom.  Jim has the camera.  And Marina and rat’s nest are standing by for moral support.  :)

I cut it down real short first and then we take the clippers to it.  The girls are asking why I’m cutting it so short and Marta answers them beautifully and with love.  And let’s just say when I was done, I asked Jim what branch of the service we should enlist her in.  But you know what {big tears now} ... Marta is beautiful!  Those big, bright eyes ... you can see her spirit shining through them.  I love you Marta.

And for some rambling.  I got home just after 9 and couldn’t reach Taylor anywhere.  She had gone to a friends, but wasn’t sure if she was spending the night yet.  She texted at 8:46 ... how is it I can’t reach her now?  I was planning on slithering right to bed when I got home, and now uncertain of what her plans are.  I called the house where she was supposed to be ... “oh, they’ll be back from the movie shortly.”  WHAT?!?  Taylor did not ask me if she could go to a movie.  She finally called back, I yelled, she said she was sorry. I yelled, she said she was sorry. I yelled, she said she was sorry.  I said I forgave her.  She asked if I really meant it.  I said no.  She said she was sorry.   I said I forgave her.  She asked if I really meant it.  I said no {but with a smile}.  She said she was sorry.   I said I forgave her.  She asked if I really meant it.  I said I’m not sure ... well, you get the picture.  By the time we got off the phone, I had forgiven her.

My point to her was that if she can’t know better {and I know she does know better!!} to call me and ask permission to go to a movie {she knows I want to know where she is at all times, in case of emergency, etc., etc. blah, blah, blah ... yeah, all the things my mom used to tell me ... I’m there in my life right now}.  But seriously!  I need to know she will make the right choices when it comes to bigger things and I need to groom her for that now {tears again}.  She, of course, said she ‘got it’ and was truly sorry.  And honestly, I just wanted to get to bed, so caved and let her sleep over.  Why can’t raising children be easy?

{Side Bar} You know what was so great?  After I finished my run on Sunday, Taylor was sitting along the grass near the finish line.  I just happened to see her out of the corner of my eye {she was texting ... of course!  and had her head down}.  I yelled “TAY” ... she looked up ... huge smile ... got up and started running in the grass along side me.  Then she got to the finish line and was waiting for me with a huge smile and hug.  It was an awesome moment for me.

But anyway.

Slowly though the day yesterday, my legs stopped functioning {result of no training and trying to run 3 miles}.  By night time, I was having trouble walking.  I finally got to bed last night and wake up to child saying “I wet the bed” at midnight.  “Wynter?” I say.  And try to get up.  No, it’s Piper {I should’ve known, as Wynter has a camel’s bladder}.  So I go to find her a blanket to put down on the wet spot.  Of course she’s in the top bunk and my legs aren’t functioning ... I seriously thought I was going to fall off that ladder!  I get her all snug {all snug as you can be on top of a wet bed}, and hobble back to my own bed.  Shortly after I’ve fallen back to sleep ... “maaaama ... maaama” ... it’s the baby.  Remember, we’ve got the three of them in one room now.  I go in and am hit with the pungent {but somehow sweet} smell of baby urine {maybe TMI, but I know you moms can relate}.  I pick up that sweet smelling baby {who I hadn’t seen all day} and love her like there’s no tomorrow.  I realized I must have been squeezing pretty hard when I felt her suddenly give me the hugest squeeze.  Oh, I wish I could bottle that.

I get her all set and stumble once again to bed.  I’m exhausted.  I know morning will be here all too soon.  I’m aching {I must have also been running with my shoulders in my ears, as they hurt beyond belief}.  I say a prayer and ask for strength, restoration of my body, {sleep!} ... when I’m suddenly reminded {thank you Lord for speaking to me} of the reason why my body is broken right now.  And for who my body is broken right now ...

And that brings me full circle in this post {for those of you that are still reading} ... Marta, you are one amazing woman.  I pray everyday, in the morning and at night before I go to bed {and sometimes when I’m driving or think of you through the day} that the Lord stay with you.  That he give you strength.  That he keeps your spirit strong.  You are an amazing testament to him Marta and what he can do when someone believes and stays strong.  I pray that others watching you go through this season, see that you are a testimony to Him and his great love.