Water Babies

6.29.2015

We've been melting in this 100 degree heat wave!  So this afternoon--after picking up the entire house!--we ventured outside into the backyard for a little water balloon fight.  Fortunately, I had control of the hose, so I totally won.  Hehe.  I must've said something because the boys suddenly began calling their water balloons "babies".  I couldn't help laughing out loud as they talked while I filled the balloons.

"Grow, baby, grow!"
"Grow lots of babies, Mom!"
"Jed, I squished your baby!" 

Oh, how I wish I could put that hour on replay.  Good times with a couple of the world's cutest goofballs.  Never grow up, okay kids? 

Life Lately in 10 Short Takes

6.23.2015

How is it that we're almost through June already?  Summer is flying by at lightning speed.  I can barely keep up!  And my house is a testament to that.  I actually had to plan to stay home today to catch up on cleaning the kitchen and doing the laundry.  The funny thing is that it usually drives me bonkers when my kitchen looks like a grenade exploded in it, but we've been so busy playing outside and running errands that I don't have time to stare at the mess, so therefore it doesn't bother me. I sure wish that were true come January!  Ha!

So let's catch up on what we've been up to around here:

1.  One Friday night Bron and I got to go kayaking on a double date with some friends.  You guys, I LIVE for the warm weather and being out on the water.  It just makes me feel alive.  We explored the Snake River Canyon a bit--paddling up an inlet a ways through some cattails--and admired the many small waterfalls cascading down the canyon's tall rock walls.  Bron even climbed to the top of some waterfalls!  Seriously, this place we live in is so underrated.  The many gems of Idaho are a well-kept secret!

2.  One Monday morning a good friend from college who is like a sister to Bron and his brothers called me to say she was getting married.... on Saturday!  She asked if I would be her photographer.  Um, okay!  I'd love to!  So we all went to the wedding and had a good time.  It was so fun to see her so happy!

Then the next day the extended Nelson family all got together to welcome Kaleb home from his mission.  After church we were up to our eyeballs in delicious food to eat (I'll take TWO helpings of cake please, AND a cookie) and so many relatives and friends that I couldn't possibly get around to chatting with everyone.  But we did manage to get an updated Nelson family picture.  It was a really good weekend.

3.  Coloring with crayons on the front patio has become Jed's new favorite habit.

4.  Bron and I like to sit in the backyard sipping on ice cold lemonade while we watch the boys run through the sprinklers on hot evenings.

5.  I think God made perennials just for me. I LOVE flowers but I have a black thumb. (Gardening? What's that?) So the fact that my yard is chuck full of pretty blooms every summer is nothing short of a miracle and makes me very very happy.  Grow little beauties, grow!

6.  Trips to Bass Lake!  Now that we are hoity-toity country club members through Bron's work, we have the privilege of using the club's dreamy lake and beach.  The water is a crystal clear blue-green and the sand is raked everyday.  It. Is. So. Amazing!  I could live there.  The boys beg to come back every time we leave.  And of course, I happily oblige.

The only catch is that there seems to be something biting the kids in the water.  The club says it's swimmer's itch, but our local pharmacist thinks it could be something else.  Either way, the kids came home last week covered in red bumps.  They look like they have chicken pox!  Fortunately, the boys didn't seem too miserable and with a little benadryl and cream (Doctor's orders) their bites are healing up.  I hope that whatever it is in the water clears up soon so we can go back to play!

7.  One day I managed to reach a personal record of steps on my Vivofit2 thanks to a five mile run in the morning followed by a mountain bike ride with my adventurous friend Shelly, and a photo shoot in the evening.  Whew!  It was a beautiful and full day.  I was pooped by 9PM.  (Okay, who am I kidding?  I'm pooped by 9PM most days!)

8.  Wanna know the quickest way to get motivated about washing all the sheets at once in the house... in the middle of the night?  Have a sick toddler.  After Levi threw up twice, I brought him to bed with me because Bron was out of town.  It often seems to be that when Bron is gone is when I need him most.  I stayed up all night with Levi rubbing his little warm back and helping him throw up in the bowl I brought to bed.  Poor kid.  I felt so bad for him.  Though I was sleep deprived and had to cancel a photo session, I should have felt resentful, but I actually didn't... because I am a mother and this is what I was made to do!  Levi is totally worth it.      

9.  One of the most endearing things about my boys right now is how they enjoy picking me dandelions and wildflowers. Such sweet boys. It makes my mama heart burst.  I don't ever want them to grow up; I cherish being the only woman in their life!  A family hike and picnic in the South Hills for the win!

10.  Finally, we celebrated Father's Day by baking Bron a batch of his favorite chocolate-peanut butter cookies.  Yum!  We feel so lucky to call this hardworking, adventure seeking, loyal, and loving man ours for forever.  We love him lots and lots!  

And that folks is our life lately in a nutshell.  Happy Summer!

Monthly Photography Challenge: Color Collage

6.21.2015

This month, Lauren challenged us to put together a Color Collage.  Basically all we needed to do was pick a color, take some pictures, and combine them all together.  Obviously, I picked the color yellow.  It's one of my personal favorites because it's such a happy color!  I initially thought it would be tough to find yellow objects to photograph, but I soon saw that yellow is everywhere!  I could totally do this kind of challenge over and over again.  It was fun!

Also of note, several of these pictures were taken with my brand new Canon 500D close up lens; it's like a filter that I attach to my 85mm lens.  I bought it instead of spending a boat load of money on a real macro lens (because it doesn't benefit my business at the moment) and I am loving the ability to get little details! It's perfect for flowers, food, toys, and faces close-up.  I would definitely recommend it!   

Two Year Old on a Two Wheeler

6.17.2015

Yesterday, at a whopping age of two years and ten months, Levi learned how to ride a two wheeler.  It took him literally three seconds to figure it out.  Bron and I were so floored, all we could do was watch and laugh!  Really, all we've done is encourage him to ride.  He did the rest all on his own. 

Levi is the classic poster child for strider bikes.  He started riding his yellow strider when he was about eighteen months old, barely big enough to sit on the seat and still touch the floor!  But itty bitty kids are exactly whom the bikes are made for.  It didn't take long before Levi was picking up his feet and cruising--across the tile at home, around the driveway, in the street.  It was hilariously cute to watch!

I knew he was ready for a real bike.  He's BEEN ready!  So we borrowed a Barbie pink twelve inch bike from our neighbor and attached some training wheels so that Levi could learn to pedal.  I worked with him just once and from there he seemed to get the gist of the motion.  Over the last month or so he's jumped from the pink bike to his yellow bike and back again.

Then yesterday I simply asked Levi if he was ready to remove his training wheels.  He enthusiastically answered with a big fat, "Yes!"  Bron removed the training wheels, gave Levi a gentle push, and our toddler has been riding circles around us ever since.  He's FAST too!

My goodness, we're so proud of this amazing kid.  You guys, Levi is not even fully potty-trained and he's riding a bike!!!  And not just riding, but self-correcting himself, going down hills, and making hard turns like a seasoned pro.  If you ever find yourself on the fence about purchasing a strider, don't hesitate.  You won't regret it!

We love you, Levi!  You are energetic and coordinated and funny and caring and wild and sweet.  You bring us an immeasurable amount of happiness and make us smile every single day.  My heart strings can't stand it.  Hang in there, Buddy.  We'll get you a "new" bike in a more gender appropriate color soon.  Until then, you're totally rocking the pink bike like no other kid can!       
       
 ^^Riding all over our cul-de-sac just minutes after getting his training wheels removed.^^

We enjoyed a family bike ride/walk-run together in the evening sun last night.  We stopped at "the bridge" to let the little boys throw in some rocks while the farmer's goats watched from afar.  What a dream life we get to live!  It is really so beautiful in every way. 

South Hills Picnic Turned Mud Bath

6.12.2015

I want to shout it from the rooftops: I LOVE SUMMER!!!  But if you know me, that's old news.  We've been settling into a really great routine so far this summer.  We stay up late with the sun (I can still see the sunset at 10:15PM!), sleep in past 8:00AM, and usually take some time in the afternoon to rest.  There are more days in the week than not that I wake up with absolutely nothing on the schedule except to work out, feed the kids, and maybe clean something.  And if there is something going on, it's usually fun--like a bike riding date or a photo shoot!  Summer life is bliss. 

Yesterday was one of those days that I woke up with absolutely nothing on the agenda.  After thinking for a moment, I decided that a picnic in the South Hills was just the ticket for playing outside and passing the time.  (After all, it was day three for me flying solo as Bron was on his monthly trip to Montana.)  I sent out some texts and my friend Dani and her kids responded that they'd love to tag along!

We found a spot at Harrington to eat some lunch in the shade and then the kids went "sploring".  They wound up wading in the creek playing with sticks and rocks... which turned into getting wet... which turned into playing in the mud!  Piper deserves the "coolest girl ever" award.  She literally rolled in the mud!  She even made herself some mud angels.  Haha!  It was a hoot.  Dani and I sat back and just watched and laughed.  We finally had to help the kids strip down and wash off enough to get back into the car.  Good thing they're still so little and innocent!

What an incredibly lucky and amazing childhood these kids have!  I love that they are gaining a love for the outdoors and enjoy it just as much as I do.  I sure feel lucky to live in this beautiful corner of Idaho.   

Currently: Summer is Here!

6.08.2015
^^Levi likes to eat slices of watermelon as big as his head.  He's such a sticky hot mess!^^

Soaking in // Summer!!!  Summer is officially here and I am really enjoying not having to get Jed to school each day.  It's so liberating!  There just seems to be so much more time.  The weather is warm and beautiful.  We spend all of our extra time outside.  And the boys are happy!  (Until someone won't share and then Levi's way of solving conflict is with screaming and hitting.  Oh, my!)  I'm looking forward to all the fun summer has in store for us!

Listening to // The following conversation on repeat.

Levi:  Mama?  I really sad.
Me:  Why are you sad?
Levi:  I really really really miss someone.
Me:  Oh?  Who do you miss?
Levi:  Alli and Kyle (the neighbor kids across the street)
Me:  It's okay.  We'll see them again tomorrow.

Seriously, every day.  Sometimes Levi says he misses somebody else, but it's usually Alli and Kyle.  Best buds!

Reading //  The numbers on my new Garmin Vivofit2.  I bought a Garmin so Bron and I could be "friends" on the same online platform.  Ha!  But really, it's so much more than that.  Way back when Bron and I were first married I used the old Nike Plus on my runs.  I loved seeing my time and pace; it made exercise a game.  And here it is again!  I'm wearing a fitness game on my wrist.  I love seeing how many steps I've taken and how it automatically increases my step goals.  I also love how I can start a workout on my watch without having to touch the app on my phone.  It tracks my sleep at night and beeps at me when I've been sitting for too long during the day.  And surprisingly, the data I love seeing most is the time!  Haha.  Why didn't I wear a watch before?!?  Duh!

Also, side note, while we're talking about fitness: I am so proud of Jed!  He's been riding his bike 3 whole miles.  That means I can plop Levi in the jogging stroller and go for a three mile run!  This is brand new territory in mommy-and-me exercise and I am loving it.  Gotta hand it to Jed and his tough little legs.  Go, Jed!


Feeling good about // The sticker charts I made for the kids.  One day we went to Target and Jed begged and begged for a new Lego set.  I told him he could earn one by doing chores for me.  The sticker chart works like a charm!  Whenever I ask the kids to come help me unload the dishwasher or such matter, I simply add, "You'll get a sticker!" and they both eagerly come running.  (I think I'm turning into my Grandma?!?)  I was surprised at actually how helpful Jed was at cleaning the bathroom the other day.  Wow, he is growing up.  So here's to a clean(er) home this summer!  And new Legos!

Thinking about //  My photography business model and all the things I need to do to be successful and legitimate.  It all started when I posted a couple photos in a private Facebook group dedicated to Southern Idaho photographers.  The response was that I am not charging enough for the work I do... but it did feel really gratifying to be validated by my peers!  The online conversation eventually led to a group meet-up last Wednesday at a local restaurant.  I sat in a room full of professionals who seemed to be deep wells of knowledge and experience.  It was a little intimidating!  And at the same time, it felt like a comradery.  I came away from the meeting with my head swimming: insurances, taxes, the "right" way to charge and deliver pictures, product, training, liability, etc.  I learned so much!  And I'm ready to get on the ball and make a few changes.  However, I do I wish I could see five years into the future.  I wonder if Rock Creek Photography will continue to pick up speed or if it'll fizzle out?

^^Throwing rocks into the creek.  After that got old, the kids started making boats from celery.  I knew celery was good for something: arts and crafts!  Hahaha.^^  

The Weekend //  On Saturday morning Bron took me up to Harrington for a bike ride.  We're training for a big mountain biking race in August.  It was a grueling and technical 3.5 miles straight up.  But that also means it was an absolute 3.5 mile downhill blast all the way back.  Woohoo!  Totally worth it!

Saturday evening we invited three family friends over for a barbeque.  Bron finally got to use the pheasant he brought home from hunting in Nebraska last Fall.  He made pepper poppers: peppers with cream cheese, a bite of pheasant wrapped in bacon, and baked in the oven.  Yum!  Oh, and Amy brought chocolate dipped strawberries.  My tastebuds were overloaded with goodness.  I happily indulged in BOTH delectables.  Of course!  After dinner, we all sat out in the front courtyard as a summer storm blew in to cool us off and the kids played.  A delicious and relaxing evening.

Sunday everyone was feeling a bit under-the-weather with some nasty colds, but we didn't let that stop us from heading up into the South Hills after church to enjoy a little exploration in nature. That's my favorite kind of rejuvenation for the week.  Thanks for the invite, Horsleys!        

Kickin' Off Summer in California: Medieval Times and a Race

6.05.2015
Last vacation post!  A big cyber high five to you if you actually made it through all four posts.  You deserve a donut.  Woohoo!

Saturday was the day we went to Medieval Times.  It was a blast!  Jed and Levi are still re-enacting the battle scenes.  Upon arrival we were handed red and gold crowns to wear.  We were to cheer for the red and gold knight!  We sat around an arena and were fed a meal of bread, corn, tomato soup (aka Dragon Soup), and chicken (aka Baby Dragon).  Jed was appalled; he couldn't possibly eat a baby dragon!  And I don't think anyone could convince him otherwise.  Levi, on the other hand, who normally turns his nose up at tomato soup, eagerly slurped it down.  Haha.  The catch was that there were no utensils.  We had to eat with our hands!  This was medieval times after all; there were no utensils historically.

During our meal, we were entertained by an entire theatrical show complete with live horses, a King and a Princess, and Knights who battled to the death!  We all cheered and booed loudly.  It was fun to get all wrapped up in the competition.  Jed and Levi, however, thought it was real, I think!     

^^The whole family with the princess!!!  Mia was star struck.^^
^^Commander bought Jed and Levi light-up swords!^^
^^Yup, my dad teaching the kids funny tricks.^^
^^Thanks, Liz!  I love this picture.^^
^^Our knight in shining armor... who won many tournaments but finally lost in the end due to a deep sword wound in the gut.  Boo.^^
^^Our knight tossed Mia a flower!^^
^^My son, shirtless, and totally enthralled in the jousting fight.^^

So what did we do between all our exciting excursions?  We hung out, ate, and relaxed.  We spent one evening at the elementary school park playing PIG (I lost, of course).  My dad showed Bron his awesome drone helicopter and the little boys chased a little remote control car around the asphalt.  It was hilarious to watch!  Another evening we simply sat around a fire in the courtyard and chatted.  But what I think Jed and Levi will remember most is playing with Brandon's many cool Legos and snuggling up on Commander's bed with him and Liz to watch silly cartoon shows before bed.  They absolutely loved that hour with my dad!

^^Jed zonked out on Commander's belly after our day at the beach.^^
^^Upstairs making messes and building--endlessly building and playing--with Brandon and his Legos.^^
^^Levi and my dad ready for breakfast!^^

Memorial Day was race day!  I think it's officially become tradition.  Liz is a half marathon running addict and she has somehow suckered us into signing up for races every time we visit--except this time we got the kids on board! Liz ran the half marathon, Bron ran the 10k, Jed ran the 1/2 mile kids' race, and Levi did the Diaper Dash.  When Commander mentioned to Levi that he'd be competing in the "diaper dash" Levi was suddenly near tears.  "But I don't want to wear a diaper!" he moaned.  Hahaha.  So to keep the tears at bay we wound up simply calling it a kids' race instead. 

The Laguna Hills Half Marathon honors a different branch of the military each year.  This year they honored the Navy.  Commander wore his Navy hat and got quite a few "thank you's" and salutes.  The boys got to climb into a real hummer, meet real soldiers, and hold real guns.  I feel so much pride in my military heritage--four generations!  Their jobs certainly weren't all guns and glory but it means a lot to me.  I am thankful for the men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for this wonderful country and the freedoms that I enjoy now. 

^^A perplexed Levi running the Diaper Dash with Commander.  Levi didn't know what to think amid all the chaos!  He was confused as to why all these folks were cheering.^^
^^Proud of his very first medal!^^

Now I need to take a minute to talk about how Jed totally crushed his very first race.  I am so impressed with him and his tough little legs!  A half mile is no small feat for a barely five year old.  Bron ran with Jed and proudly reported that Jed never complained or gave up, even though he was tired and it felt hard.  Instead, Jed pushed through with some grit and crossed the finished line all smiles.  Here's a short video for proof!

^^Jed excited about his very first medal!^^
^^Standing in front of the American Flag with two Navy veterans.^^

Sadly, we had to leave for home shortly after the races finished.  It's always so good to see my dad.  And Liz has become a dear friend.  Seeing each other a few days each year just isn't enough!  I love my dad and miss him so much already!


This is how we rolled: DVD player and a big box of snacks between the boys so they couldn't fight.  Their brains turned to mush in the back seat while Bron and I got to talk mostly un-interrupted!  Jed and Levi proved to be excellent little travelers.  In fact, this was the easiest family trip I've been on yet since becoming a mom.  Everyone slept through the night, everyone is potty trained, everyone eats real people food, and the boys could entertain themselves for a long while.  It was wonderful!

Til next time, California!