I ended up coming home from my business trip early. I landed on Thursday afternoon and had completed pretty much all that I needed to before the weekend. Since my next assignment is pending, I decided to take Friday off and extend an already long Family Day Weekend.

For the most part Thursday was a Blur. After getting up at 3am to make my flight, I landed in Toronto at 1:45. It was perfect timing really because there were no line ups at customs and by the time I got to Baggage my bag was already circling the carousel. The only wait I had was for Ken who decided that since I was probably going to be a while getting through customs he would stop at Bass Pro shops… little did he know I was out of there faster than a kid on the last day of school.

By the time we got home I had just enough time to freshen up and get ready for Cody’s basketball game. It was a do or die game for a playoff spot. Unfortunately, they lost by 1 point in the last 2.4 seconds of the game and so that ends his Jr. Basketball year. All the kids were pretty bummed but Cody took it really hard. He didn’t really say much and that’s what clued me in to how hard he was taking it. It’s hard to tell him not to stress over it when it means so much to him. I love that he cares that much about sports and his team.

The rest of Thursday night was a blur. I ended up having a long overdue snuggle with my hunny on the couch while watching the PVR’d shows from the week. I think I made it through 15 minutes of Modern Family before I finally just crashed. I NEVER fall asleep on the couch… I was totally exhausted!

Friday was a brilliant day weather wise. We cracked the windows to let some fresh air in and began lots of house cleaning. It was so nice outside that Ken was able to get up on the roof and take down the Christmas lights. That’s a record for sure!

After that initial burst of energy, we slowed down and really set the tone for the rest of the weekend. We ordered Chinese and watched movies and just spent good quality time with each other all weekend. I had contemplated doing something big or eventful for Family Day but found that the thing I love most about this new holiday is that there are no expectations. There is no big dinner to prepare or event to organize, it’s just a weekend for us to focus on each other and enjoy each others company. That’s what I loved the most, I think it was the first time in months that we all sat in the living room together to watch a movie. Usually someone is downstairs playing PS3 or on the phone or out…. It’s very rare that we are all together after dinner time anymore and I really enjoyed it.

This week’s theme at MCP Project 52 is “The view from here” This is a picture of Sabrina in her chair watching for Kenny to come home from snow plowing on Monday morning.  I thought it was fitting for the theme… Ahhh the life of a dog!

This is something new at our house.

It’s like watching someone elses child.

Actually, It’s my child… It’s my boy on a new path that will lead him to all things great!

Don’t make fun…. Don’t say “he should have been doing this all along”… He knows this… I know this… I’m proud because he’s now acting on it and for as long as it takes we stand beside our kids and continue to hammer on the right choices, and the right path until this happens.  That’s our job as parents.

The boy is doing his homework!

Not only is he doing his homework, he’s doing it without us asking.  I think 10th grade is a good time for things to start sinking in.  He knows he has college choices coming up and we have explained the competition to get into the program of his choice.  I hope this continues because if you put together his personality, his athletic drive, his desire to be a leader and you add his ability to apply himself to his goals,  you’ve got a boy with a future overflowing with potential.

Keep it up buddy… XOXOXO

On another subject,  I just had to share this picture.   This is Sabrina very upset (look at those eyes!) because I told her to stay far enough back that I could take a picture.  All she really wanted to do was sit right beside me and have her ears rubbed.  As soon as this picture was taken she was free to snuggle with me and she was happy.

I don’t often vent on my blog but I am today.  I have been thinking about this as a post for some time and tried to think of a way to (for lack of a better term) sugar coat it but it’s just not possible.

Our boys have been raised to be respectful.   They speak nicely (maybe not to each other but that’s another story), they hold doors, they offer their spot to older people behind them in line… Mostly, they respect the rules that are given to them and understand that they are there for a reason.

For the past 2 months, Cody has been dating a girl who was so very clearly not raised with the same rules.  In fact, she often questions Cody about our rules.  She doesn’t realize that social media is just that… Social.   I won’t get into the dirty details but to sum it up,  If I were her mother she’d be locked up in the basement.   She has dished out so much drama over the past week that as a family we are physically and emotionally exhausted…. but he really likes her and regardless he’s standing by her.

Here’s where I’m struggling…. I know I gave him a good foundation of respect for other people but I’m questioning if I taught him enough about self-respect.   This boy has SO much going for him, he’s popular, he’s outgoing, he’s handsome and he could have anyone he wanted.

What will it take for him to see her for who she is?  When will that happen and will it be too late?

I long to go back to the days of poopy diapers and car seats… This is hard!

How strange.  I was practicing metering and this was one of my test shots, later when I read I should be Folding Laundry it was kind of cool to see Red was the theme for this weeks You Capture.

We have a busy weekend coming up,  Cody’s Basketball Tournament starts tonight and then he’s participating in some Jr. B lacrosse conditioning camps.  It was really rewarding when the coach called him personally to make sure he was coming out.   Cody still has another year of Minor Lacrosse before he moves into Jr but he was called up last year and he played his heart out… It looks like that was enough to impress the coaches and organization and he will be playing with them again this year.

Now,  if we could only get him to put as much focus and dedication into his schoolwork.

So, it’s my job to walk the dogs during my lunch hour break.  I call it a job but really it’s not.  It’s one of the few things that get me out of the house during the workday that I enjoy.   My dog’s are not trained, they pull me in all directions like a Saturday Wal-Mart shopper and often I wonder if my shoulder has been dislocated.   They are not well-mannered when they meet other dogs and although they look intimidating, they really just want to play.

Usually I walk them  in the forest at the end of our street.  There is a path that runs right through and when the snow covers the ground we walk off the path and explore.  I let them off the leash and they run around sniffing under trees and bushes for squirrels and Bunnies; I love watching them.   This is by far one fo the highlights of my day so with the fresh snowfall last night, how could I not take my camera.   (Again,  all manual mode :))

I don’t think there is much in this world I dislike more than taking a self-portrait.  When I started this blog I didn’t have one picture of myself without my kids or husband in it too.  I love to be behind the camera and don’t much care to be in front of it.  This week on You Capture the topic was “Happy”.  Although I hate having my picture taken, I’m so incredibly happy with where I am in my life.  I’m moving past the nit-picking about my body and I’m moving into a sense of self acceptance and respect for who I am as a Woman, Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister and Friend.  This picture was taken in Manual mode… More on that below….

So, This is me and I’m redonkulously HAPPY to be shooting in Manual Mode!

Recently a couple of blog friends posted a link to a forum called “Clickin’ Mom’s”    I had visited the site before but couldn’t really understand what it was all about.  Without a membership you couldn’t see past the gates and  ken I wasn’t  up for spending money on the unknown.    I have been trying to improve my photography and the class I took at the local College wasn’t cutting it.  I tried to read articles here and there but as expansive as the world-wide web is, it’s difficult to find articles that link and relate to each other on the subject of photography.  I was honestly close to moving back to auto settings when these friends posted their experience with the site as well as a code for 20% off membership costs.   Did someone say SALE??? I’m in!

I have been a member for just over a week now and I’m absolutely amazed with how much I have learned.   Every day I log in, read a couple of  articles and start practicing.   My camera has gotten a total workout and I have moved from shooting in pre determined settings to Manual!   Manual Baby!  I did not get a degree in rocket science, I did not eat brain food, I did not copy anyone elses paper, I’m rocking Manual mode all by myself and the results aren’t bad!  It feels so amazing to find solutions to the  issues that almost drove me back to Auto.

6:20 – In my cozy bed
“Seriously, why is this alarm going off so early”

6:45 – At my desk with a STRONG cup of coffee.
“I’m so thankful that I don’t live on site in Arizona where it’s only 4:45 –  This early conference call would have been even worse.”

7:50 – Still on Conference call…Rejoining from cell phone while driving Cody to his exam.
” I hope the boy studied – Civics would be a  pretty pathetic class to fail”.
“Why is my blackberry speaker so low… I wonder if I can make it louder?”
“These roads are slippery… Please let me get  home safely because I’m wearing PJ’s and getting stuck somewhere would suck worse than failing civics.”

8:10 – Home again
“Oh my god , this call is still going!”
“The dogs better cross their legs, at the rate this call is progressing (or not) we are not going to make it out for a while”
“I wish Kenny was home”
“Look at me multi task… I’m on a conference call and making my son his lunch – Dude, I’m super mom”

8:30 – Still on conference call
“I wonder if the dogs will pee on the floor – Please no!”

8:50 – Yup,  call’s still going – 2 hours now
“My 13-year-old has better social skills then some of the adults on this call”

8:55 – Phone’s ringing
“Yup, this sister can multitask, I can answer that while these guys argue about who owns the problem”
“Oh my god”
“Please just tell me your OK”
“Please stay out of harms way till I get there!”

Ken was in a car accident on the highway.  He hit Black ice and ended up sliding across 3 lanes of the highway into the guard rail and then back across the lanes again and into the ditch.

8:56 – rushing around the house
“This is my worst nightmare”
“Oh my God, this can’t be happening”
“I have to get there quickly so I can see for myself that he’s OK”
“The dogs are going to have to wait….. ARGH, I can’t make them wait!”
“I LOVE that my parents live next door – Dad can walk the dogs for me”
“Oh man,  I’m leaving the house in my PJ’s again today – I hope Ken is not embarrassed when I get out of the car”

9:30 – In the parking lot where all the cars involved were parked – Police, Tow trucks, Fire trucks…You name it, they were there
“I see him! – He’s standing, he’s talking, he’s really OK”
“I just need to hug him”

9:31 – Hugging Ken
“Don’t Cry – I can’t help it – Don’t cry – I have to – DON’T CRY!!!!!”
“Oh my god….. I”m wearing PJ’s!”

The only thoughts for the rest of the day go like this:
“He’s ok,  that’s all that matters”
“How did he not get hurt?”
“Oh my god, I LOVE this man,  Thank you for not taking him!”

Today I’m holding all of my family a little tighter, especially Ken.   When he left for work last night it could have been the last time he would hug me…. This thought puts tears in my eyes quicker then he hit the guard rail.    I’m lucky though,  I can honestly say that for the past few years I have made it a priority to tell my family how much I love them everyday, this has simply reinforced how important that is.

Thank you Kenny’s Angel, for making sure he came home safely today.

So today was a good day…. not a good day, a GREAT day.   We do things together all the time  but today we went out for our annual Ice Fishing trip… Just us 4 and our  dogs.  We sat together in a  10X10 hut warmed by the heat of a propane stove waiting for bites on the line.  I used to think that conversation was necessary to build bonds and to make connections but when we are ice fishing as a family I realize that this is not true.  Just sitting together is all we need.    I remember the days when the boys couldn’t sit still for longer then 5 minutes so enjoying these trips for the past couple years is bittersweet.  They are growing up… Gone are the days where we need to constantly keep them occupied or engaged and here are the days when we can just be together and enjoy each others company.

(By the way, that’s my hot husband – Not a bad looking guy to be stuck in an ice hut with right??)

 This trip also tied well into this week’s challenge over at You Capture.  The theme this week is circles and while we were out there, I found a few.

 His (or her?) eyes were pretty large circles in comparison with his body… Poor little fella… Dont’ worry, he was realeased with a full belly. 

I love winter,  I also love Cinnamon hearts, My 2 boys, My husband, and all things pink; This said, I have more than one reason to love Valentines day.   Imagine my excitement when the blogs I read started posting pictures of their valentines decorating!  I had a few things on hand from last year but was definitely ready for some new ideas.  Since taking down the Christmas decorations the house has been looking a little blah, I was ready for a change.  I have to admit though, I stole almost all of my mantle decorating ideas from Kerri-Lynn over at  My Decorating Addiction I hope she knows that copying is the most sincere form of flattery!   After a quick trip to the dollar store and Michael’s, I heated up the glue gun and got started.    

I made this wreath using 240 felt circles.  All cut, folded and individually pinned into the styrofoam wreath.   A day later I still have the scissor indents in my hands to prove it.  Totally worth it though right?

 These are Mason Jars found at Michael’s and filled with wedding ribbon.  The pink ribbon on the outside was actually from the Christmas bin so it was 80% off…. I love that they introduced pinks and purples to christmas decor! 

These branches were a part of my Christmas / Winter decoration but by adding foam hearts on Ribbon and a little bling, it’s now Cupids forest.  I love the way the colours pop off the withe branches.

Well, there it is!

So, Monday January 17th was supposed to be Blue Monday,  It’s a day that researchers have found to be most depressing day because of the “Trifecta”.  1.  The holiday bills arrive in the mail,  2. It’s typically a very cold day, and 3. It’s the day when people realize they have failed at their new years resolutions.   As for me… I’m not Blue, read on and see why…..

Benjamin turned 13 this weekend.  I can’t believe 13 years have gone by already.  It was a winter just like this one when he was born.  I remember bringing him home for the first time and just wanting to hold him alone in my room and stare at him.  He was an almost 10 pound package of squish that just melted into my arms, I’d give anything to hold that baby again.  The good news is he still loves hugs and he still melts into the crooks of my arms when I hug him.  That boy is special and I can’t wait to see what he does next. Ben shared his birthday again with his cousin Ayla and we had a great family day here at home.  I’ve said it before, there is no greater comfort then having so much family in our home.  I never want it to end and when everyone leaves, we all fall into this great state of blah.  The house falls back into silence and all that’s left to do is prepare for the week ahead and get back to the everyday.

I know I mentioned in my earlier post and then didn’t come back with the results but here I am, showing you my Project 52 pictures.

Week one – Something from around the house.  I loved the way the light was reflecting off the wall.

Week two – Song Title – “I want Candy”

Week Three – Shades of Gray

I love the challenge of going out to shoot something new every week, it’s helped reignite my love of photography.  I think there is something to be said about having to put a little more thought into what you are going to shoot.  Instead of shooting whats right in front of me, I’m forced to go out and get new ideas, challenge myself to do something different or play with a different setting and light.  It’s been so much fun. I still have a couple more ideas for shades of grey so if I have time this week I’ll add to what I have already submitted (we are allowed 3 entries per week).

In addition to photography and Project 52, I also resolved to get in shape.  I’m doing this not just for the sake of a New years resolution but because I want to do so many things,  things I can’t do or enjoy if I’m not in shape and confident.   I’ll admit that I kind of neglected making good food choices since Christmas but I know what I have to do and I’m determined to do it.  Today is a new day and I’m back at it, Last night I even went to my first Spin class… Yikes.  I knew it would be hard but had no idea just how hard it would be.  The whole time I wondered if I might puke my dinner right there on the handle bars of the bike and then I started to realize that if it takes this level of effort to make a difference, I can’t screw that effort up with poor food choices.  This is going to be hard work but oh so rewarding.

Search By Month