Monday, January 31, 2011


I decided that with my 52 Weeks of No Color, I'd add one more rule. I must be grateful for something in the image. That won't be too hard. Since I've talked  endlessly about how I have to stalk my B&W images, the idea of love is already in my head when I release the shutter.  This does not mean I'm wax poetically about my loved ones.   I'm sure some days it will be my gratitude for the light or happiness for a trinket. But I will be grateful for something in my B&W photo.


Sunday, we went sledding with some friends.  It was the first time for the boys & the first time I had been in years.  I was worried about Cooper, but he hopped on with me & laughed the entire trip.  Becks?  He didn't like the snow.  Didn't like the cold.  Didn't like the slight breeze.  Hated the sled.  But we kept taking turns on the sled.  I'd fly down the hill watching an angry Becks get smaller & smaller.  About a half-hour into it, something clicked.  He jumped on the sled by himself, let us push him off, & he smiled the entire trip down.  With that 5 second ride, our trip sweetened.  

When we told the boys it was time to go, they didn't put up a fight it. Up & down hills will make a kid happy to leave. Coop took a break by laying down. When Becks saw this, he clomped over & took a break on Coop. He rested his head & smiled. Cooper just let him be. That mini-rest tangled up in love is what I'm grateful for this week.


p.s.  As stated, I will be deleting "A Week of No Color" Flickr group later today!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Title Eludes Me

Sometimes, I come up with the title for a post well before I write the damn thing. Other times it comes from part of the post. There was a time when they were just the titles of songs in my iTunes library, which was as easy as pressing play. Truthfully, it was pretty easy, but often times the titles were very confusing if you tried to relate them to the post. But tonight's title just isn't coming to me. Everything seems off.

Everything about this time of year is off. The holidays are done (thankfully), but people are always bitching about the extra pounds. My head is usually thumping from weather related migraines. The students are "rammy," which I think should be a real word. This year's even worse because a colleague died suddenly yesterday morning.

But it's always a depressing time for our family, no matter who you talk to.

It Broke

Thirty-eight years ago, my brother died. It was an accident, it happened, and it kind of fucks you up in ways that you don't realize as a toddler (I was three) or as a kid or as a teenager. You only realize that as an adult; I finally realized it last year. I've blogged about it numerous times, so I won't go into it again. But it still sucks balls.

So, what's with the broken bank, you might be asking. It was a bank that belonged to Clark, and for some reason, my mom gave it to me when the Girls were little. I kept it in their room even though it didn't go with the theme that I had. I moved it from apartment to apartment, from cribs to twin beds to bunk beds. And guess what? I hated the damn bank. Hated it.

But one summer day, when the Girls were about five, maybe six, they wanted an ice cream cone from the corner shop, and I had no money in the house. The piggy bank, however, had money . . . and god was it hot. I slipped a butter knife and wiggled out a quarter and then a second one. The butter knife went back in to finagle the final two, but I must have thrust too hard, and I shattered the damn thing.

Broken Pig

It took a while to sink in that I broke a bank I hated and crying about it, only because it was my brother's bank. And I still didn't know why I had the damn bank in the first place. The Girls got their ice cream after the crying subsided, and I left the bank on the top of my dresser. And then it migrated to the underwear drawer where it rested for years and years and years. Occasionally, the broken glass snagged a pair of undies. More than once I cut my hand looking for something in the back of the drawer. Last year, Dave found me crying when I was changing the drawers around, and I told him that some stupid reason, I couldn't throw the fucking thing away. Dave, in his infinite wisdom said, "You don't have to throw it away. But at least wrap it up in something, so you stop cutting yourself . . . because that sucks."

And he's right . . . it does suck.

- Jill

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A week without color

I've been dreaming of a  of"Black & White" week for a long time.  Monochromatic photos move me more than any other type of photo.  Probably because they're stripped down to the basics.  Anything that might cause you to be distracted is removed and the emotion is the main attraction.  But this little quality is also what stops me from doing more conversions.  I question myself more.  Is the photo worthy?  Does it still translate? Am I forcing the emotion?

For me, I know right away if a photo demands to be converted.  Extreme sadness bawls for Black & White.  I still can't look at this photo & not start to cry.

Stuck in the Middle

Joy & laughter bubbles up until you must erase its color tones.


The ordinary can be whipped into glamorous with a few clicks of a mouse.

And in a pinch a photo with high noise & blur can be saved by converting it to Black & White.

But I think a lot of people struggle with going colorless.  I know I do.  I'd like to get over my conversion insecurities & convert with confidence!  And to do that, I need a week to practice.

If you're bored with color or want some practice, suck out all your color too!  Join the group!  From Monday (1/24) to Friday, I'll be shooting at least one photo to be converted into some form of Black & White.  I don't save a bunch of photos, so I will have to photograph specifically for this project.  I'll think of it as practice & motivation.  Digging into the archives isn't going to help me.  But I won't call the B&W police if others decide to flip through their past (Cheaters.  I'm joking.  Sort of...)  Each day, I'll submit at least one to the Week of No Color Flickr pool.  Shoot for emotions.  Shoot to create something glamours.  Each day, I'll feature the best of the best on my Facebook page with a public pat on the back (we could also use more pats on the back).  Rules do apply: Take at least one photo a day to be convert into a Black & White, Sepia, duotone, etc.  No color.  No bits of color.  Nothing!  If you post to the group, I might link to your photo.  What's the harm in that, really?  "Like" the page for updates.  And most of all, take off your rose-colored glasses because we're about to go monochromatic!


p.s.  I'll delete the group on Saturday.  That way you won't have a random dead group hanging out in your Group list.  I hate that.  I'm too lazy to clean my groups.  So I should be mad at myself & not the group's creator.  I'll do that after the B&W week.

Who am I kidding, I won't.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Closet Of My Own

 When we bought our house 11 years ago, we were undaunted by the fact that it only has two-and-a-half closets. I figured that this would be our "starter" house, and we'd buy a larger one that had walk-in closets with room for my ever burgeoning shoe collection. Funny thing happened . . . we never moved. Turns out we kind of liked living "in town," close to my job and the highway for Dave's commute. Over the years, however, the closet became a sticky point for the Girls and me. We had to share, which kind of sucks for three women.

When they left for college, the closet situation didn’t get any better. There were shoes everywhere, blouses that didn’t fit my figure, pants that might have been fashionable seven years ago but never would be again, and clothes that were a hold-over from my college days in the early ‘90s.The blouses were the absolute worst. I’ve never been able to find the perfect white blouse to fit my figure. If I bought a blouse to fit my boobs, I looked about six months pregnant with all the excess fabric flowing around my stomach. If I got them to fit my waist, I looked like I was auditioning for an adult film. It might be attractive on some people, but I teach middle school. But yet, I still bought white blouse after white blouse expecting a different outcome. I would shove the blouses into my closet only to realize that I already had two versions of the same damn thing in there. What the hell was my problem?


A good friend of mine purged all the jeans in her closet and gave them to me. "I don't care what you do with them . . . I just can't give them to Good Will," she said. I went through the pile and found a duplicate of my absolute favorite jeans. The rest went off to Good Will. And I promptly went through my closet and loaded up her bag with all my blouses because there was a shred of a possibility that they would fit her. Same speech, most likely the same outcome . . . but it got me thinking.

What did I really need in this closet? Turns out just the items I selected for the first phase of Project 333. I've run into a couple of bumps, but I guess that is normal. Part of this process is using what I have; a bigger process, however, is figuring out who I am. I don't need to wear the trendy clothing, so why even bother buying it. I only wear clothing that makes me comfortable and looks good on me. I wear a lot of neutrals . . . but always with pops of color.

- Jill, wearing comfy blue jeans, a white t-shirt, gray swing cardigan, and a hand-knit red silk scarf

Friday, January 14, 2011

Year 2

With your first kid, you tend to focus on the Firsts for that child.  First tooth.  First time eating cereal.  First friend.  First steps.  First time sitting on the potty.  There are tons of Firsts that are celebrated, recorded & cherished.  The second child also has the same Firsts.  I've learned that they aren't recorded as often, but they are celebrated all the same.  But I've discovered that the second kid (more important, the last kid) gets a category that the first kid will never get.  He gets Lasts.  And it isn't about him.  It's more about the parent.  It's the Last time we get to witness certain aspects of childhood.  I'm sure that the Lasts could get sad & sappy, but I'm not looking at it that way.  The Last category is about the slow climb towards independence & growth.  And isn't that the goal of parenting?  Last nursing jag.  Last diaper changed (God willing it will happen).  Last night in a crib.  Last high chair meal.    Last time doing a bunch of baby things.  This will be the last time you get to see me as a mother to a two-year-old.

And this will be the last time you get to see my two year-old son.  He's looking forward to three.  We all are because it's going to be full exciting Firsts & Lasts for the entire house.


Here's his year 2 in pictures!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Post & run.

I can't get this post out of my head.

I've had an empty Moleskin in my bag since Christmas for this very purpose.

I guess I should crack it open & start writing.

p.s. Sorry no pics.

Holding myself accountable & adding to 2011 List already.

21. Fill my Journal on a regular basis.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

That Last, Tangible Reminder

Ever since I can remember, I've been in love with England. I'm not sure how it happened or why, but I'm pretty sure that I'm not alone in my fascination. It got really bad when Lady Di married Prince Charles, culminating with me getting the obligatory "Di 'Do" and getting up at an unimaginably early hour to watch the fairytale unfold. It returned with a vengeance when Bridget and Shannon received orders to an airbase in England. Finally . . . an excuse to visit the country I adopted as mine.

Last One For A While

Nothing really prepared me for that first trip. Sure, I thought I had everything under control by reading every conceivable travel book. Hell, I had some itineraries memorized for that trip, but it was the goofs that are the best part. Asking for cheese in Cambridge and finding a gem of a cheese shop. Getting caught in the rain with the Girls in the park. Missing a train to Scotland and then watching the Girls charm a more seasoned traveler.


On the subsequent trips back, we found new places to explore, new things to savor, new favorites to file away. Dave and I stumbled upon Charbonnel et Walker when we were looking for another sweet shop; one look in the window at these tiny, pink boxes sold me . . . one taste kept me going back. The last trip to London was in 2007, and the chocolates lasted about a week after we got home. See, the problem was we always went back to London, even after Bridget moved to Omaha so I figured it wouldn't be too long before I got that pink fix. But then saving for college and reduced travel and budgets got in the way, and we haven't been back.


I opened up my last Christmas present this year,  and I burst into tears when I saw the top of the box. The lettering hasn't changed nor has the slightly showing gilt-paper. It's not that I'm selfish, but I didn't open the first box until the 27th and then I didn't share a whole lot (so maybe I am a little selfish). Part of me thought that if I left the chocolates inside their pink home, I could make them last a year. The other part - the more rational part - knew that I wouldn't stop eating them.  I ate the last one today, savored the final, sweet bite . . . and pretended I was in London.

- Jill

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snow Day #1

Teachers have this bizarre love/hate relationship with snow. Honestly, I've never seen another group of people more addicted to weather channels. Some swear by X while others will go out of their way to discredit X by providing spreadsheet data showing how Y was correct 90% of the time. Personally, I think my relationship is a little more hate/love. Don't get me wrong . . . I love being off of school. I'm sitting here in my PJs, drinking another cup of coffee (which may or may not have a little Bailey's in it), watching The People's Court. But I know that this is one day more in June that I will be sweating my fucking ass off, attempting to get the point across that punctuation still matters and that grammar is important not matter where you are. So, yes, snow days are awesome until June rolls around, and you're left wondering if make-up will really be a good idea (note: it won't because the sweat will be pouring out of your pores).

Project 333, Day 7
A closet of its own

Part of Project 333 is taking a photo of your daily outfit, which is something that I am really sucking at. By the time I get home from work, I really don't feel like trying to look all spiffy and snazzy for a selfie. I'll have to figure out something because those self-portraits just aren't happening. Yesterday was the first day that things went a little pear shaped. I wanted to wear my green cardi but realized that I didn't have a white cami clean. Couple that with getting dressed by the light of my cellphone and you get a recipe for disaster. Long (and truly boring) story short, I dressed up kind of nunlike in all black and put on a winter coat. If you know me, that last bit about wearing a coat is truly remarkable since I will go out in just about any kind of weather without one. I always thought they were more trouble then they were worth, but yesterday it was a necessary evil. And you know what? It felt kind of nice to have one.

A few people at school have said that they wish they could do Project 333 whenever I talk about it. My first reaction is always, "Why can't you?" The reasons are ones that I've given in the past when I thought about getting rid of clothes:
  • I really liked that pair of pants then they fit . . . maybe one day they will again (And they probably won't be in fashion . . . trust me) 
  • It's too much work to go through all those clothes (It does take a lot of work, but so does cramming all that shit in your closet)
  • But I remember exactly when I bought that (I only have this reaction to two articles of clothing and I would never, ever get rid of them)
  • I might need more than 33 pieces of clothing (You might . . . but you'll never know if you don't try)
So far, so good. But I know I have to plan better. It might mean setting out the clothing I'm planning on wearing for the week on Sunday evening or just the night before. I know I need to get rid of two of the shirts I have. One is so old that it isn't black any more. The other is too trendy for me to even think about keeping around. I think I'll hit my old stand by (Old Navy) and pick up a black shirt and a colored shirt . . . but nothing more. Not a snazzy cardi, not a cheap pair of shoes. Nothing. 
- Jill

Thursday, January 6, 2011

List for 2011.

Just because I love the colors.  Has nothing to do with the post.  Sorry.

I'm not big on making New Year's resolutions.  Not because I'm afraid of breaking them.  I could really give a fuck.  Not because I don't think I could.  I know I could if I really wanted to.  I'm stubborn.  But because it would require insight & preparation.  I don't think I'm any good with that skill.  Yes, I have a pantry.  If we lost power again for a week, we'd have a good diet of chickpeas, rice, tomatoes, & oatmeal.  But we'd have no toilet paper.  And I'd probably start my period, so I'd have no tampons.  And my cell phone would be dead.  But I do love the idea of resolutions.  You get to begin again.  Start over.  Be the better you.  The You that you really wanted to be the previous year, but gave up on in March.   I feel bad for March.  I believe that every March rolls around & people sort of wake up thinking, "WTF was I thinking for the past two months?"  And they go back to the original version.  The perfectly fine version.

Last year, I knew our lives were going to change in 2010.  I knew this was the year that things would get tossed around.  Cooper was going to start Kindergarten & we'd have two kids in two different places.  Cooper is not one for change, so I knew it wouldn't be easy.  I might have told people I was hoping for the best, but I knew that the best wasn't going to happen.  No resolutions needed for 2010.  Life would be different without trying.  And it was.  It wasn't easy.  But we're in a schedule now.  We're in the groove.  And our 2011 doesn't have any foreseen changes.  That doesn't mean nuttiness or life-changing crap won't happen.  It totally could & will.  Maybe the vasectomy didn't work & I get pregnant (god help us all).  Sickness could attack our house.  Cars could breakdown forever.  Work could stay insanely busy.  But I don't see anything that needs a plan of attack.  So why not create some goals for spice?  Why not?

1. Take a class.  Any class.  Cooking, photography, knitting, yoga, backgammon.
2. Take a photography class.  I'm making sure.
3. Get a passport & get my ass out of this county.  For a break.  Not for good.
4. Do my regular doc visits.  Just because I don't need b.c, doesn't mean I should ignore my Lady Parts.
5. Play skee-ball.  I saw this on another blogger's list & instantly wanted to roll.
6. Floss & moisturize more.
7. Print something really big.  Much larger than 8x10.
8. Go on a trip with my husband.  No boys.  Just him.  The grocery doesn't count.
9. Read more fiction.
10. Cook my way through a cookbook.  Current selection in the queue.
11. Attend a concert.  Anything counts.  I have low standards.  Don't ask how many times I've seen boy bands.
12. Write for someone else.  Craiglist not excluded.
13. Sell off my yarn.  If I'm not knitting, I'm sitting on hundreds of dollars.  Hundreds, people.
14. Get a new hair-cut.  Which means growing, so that takes time.
15. Camping with the boys.
16. Finish one big knit project.  I have too many on my needles.  It's sort of gross.
17. Eat more sushi.
18. Spot someone famous.  Don't judge.  It's fun to see someone & think "Wow.  He's taller." or "Hmm.  Looks the same."
19. Watch the current season of Dexter.  I vowed I wouldn't, but I'd like to.
20.  Add more to this list whenever I feel like it.

That's a good starting point.  I must be able to finish a few of those.  Right?


Call It What You Will

epiphany (noun) - 1. the manifestation of a supernatural or divine reality; 2. any moment of great or sudden revelation; 3. Oh, crap.

Merry F-ing Christmas
Shelby and Jordan, Christmas 2010, who posed like that

So, you're 20, pregnant, and the Christmas holidays have just passed. You didn't have any money to buy both presents for your family and presents for the other half of your "dynamic duo." The holidays were kind of crappy because, well, you're pregnant and apparently huge according to anyone with an opinion. So you eat a few more cookies.

At your next doctor's visit on January 6, a nurse filled in all the information and told you that your weight gain was a whopping seven pounds. She even congratulates you on taking it easy on the cookies during a stressful eating period. But you know better . . . she subtracted wrong. It won't be long until she realizes her mistake; that was 17 pounds. So much for taking it easy

Seventeen pounds turns out to be a lot when you are pregnant. It sets off all sorts of warning bells and worried looks. And in twenty minutes, your life takes an even more bizarre turn. Seventeen pounds was an epiphany in every sense of the word. Twins: the manifestation of a divine reality; a moment of great revelation; oh, crap.

I count very few days during the year as truly special, but January 6 is one of those days. We never really celebrated the Epiphany in our house, but usually, it signified the end of the Christmas season. Mom had us take down the lights and the decorations, and we gave the Christmas carols one last hurrah before they were packed away for a ten months. Now, it reminds me all over again that sometimes things do work out but not without a lot of hard work and risk on your part. It makes me sit up and take notice about the world around me, especially how proud I am of my daughters because they were worth a lot of hard work and risk on my part. It puts a smile on my face knowing that I got something right.

- Jill

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I'm a sucker

Why the Hell Not Collection

I sat with my 365 ending.  I wallowed in it.  I cheered for it.  I cried too many times at the video.  I watched my baby turn into a boy (even a tiny one).  I watched Cooper walk off to Kindergarten.  I watched those painful two weeks flash by with some catchy music.  I saw the happy moments & I watched our growth.  I celebrated the end of the year.  And I vowed to not do another 365.

But then I started saying, "Not right away at least." 

On 1/1, I watched person after person take the same journey.  I felt excited for them.  I understand the caution & the worry.  But above everything else, I know the joy & satisfaction a completed or even half-completed project will bring.  Above are some of my favorite Flickr people & they are about to walk the long road of 365.  And all of sudden, I want to come along.

Why the hell not?

I'm tagging along for a couple reasons.  One, I'm lazy.  Without kids, I'd be on the couch flipping between the Food Network & some horrible reality show.  Before kids, I had been known to buy more underwear instead of doing laundry.  I had also been know to turn them inside out, but I think that was in middle school when I didn't really understand hygiene.  The 365 gave me a reason to keep pursuing photography.  And I'm afraid that I still might need a reason to get off my ass & shoot something.  Two, peer pressure gets me.  If all these women are jumping off a bridge, so will I.  One of them will break my fall.  Three, I loved our year.  I loved watching it flash before me.  I loved watching & appreciating every single day.  Call me cocky, but I thought it was gorgeous.  I won't scrapbook.  I won't dust of the video camera.  I never filled out baby books.  But I will work really hard to capture every exciting & boring moment of our lives.  Go on & circle back to reason number one... Because if I don't have a project, I won't do that.

Starting on 1.11.11, I'll start 365 Part 2.  Same goal, capture our lives as authentically as possible.  But this time, if something begs to be black & white, it will be.  And if I miss a day, I will without guilt.  I'm going to use this week to figure out if I want to tack on some goals.  I figured by the time 1.11.11 gets here, I'll be refreshed & ready to go.  I need a little Internet break anyways.  So I'll go & get ready.  I eat right again.  Sleep.  Maybe even shave my legs.  But I want to play the 365 game again.  If you ladies don't mind a straggler, I'm coming.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

But I Want Shoes That Will Work My Abs**

Yesterday, Dave commented, "You know, your sister has been posting like crazy these days," so I explained to him that Erika was finishing up her 365 run and I wasn't posting during that time. Last night we watched the video that she put up, and I got a little teary eyed watching Becks grow up right in front of my eyes. Sure, I have photos of the Girls through the years, and they did age from photo to photo, but it was much more powerful to view that all in one sitting.

Christmas has come and gone (and I'm a little thankful for that to tell you the truth), and now the new year - 2011 - is upon us. Most people make resolutions, things that are supposed to make them better or smarter or healthier. Me? Not so much. Sure, I plan on using the treadmill more . . . but the heater looks so nice sitting there on it. And I really plan on cooking more for Dave and me . . . but sometimes it really is cheaper to run to Panera Bread. Resolutions? Whatever. But projects? I'm your girl for a good project or two or three.

Project 333 fits the bill quite nicely. It's been about three years now that I've noticed I wear the same five or six sweaters all school year long and rotate in the same couple of pants throughout the school year. Hell, I was giddy - seriously laughing out loud - when a friend gave me a pair of jeans she didn't like because they were the same, exact pair that I loved and adored. I've read Beverly's blog for years now and was inspired by her success (she's very inspirational . . . go check her out). And so, after finding pink tank after pink tank after pink tank with the same blue, ink-like stains fresh out of the wash, I decided that something had to give. Seriously, how many pink tanks does one girl need? Apparently, five.

They Didn't Make the Cut
The Cast-Offs

I pulled all of my clothing out of the closet and drawers and settled on 33 items to take me through the next three months. Here is that list:
  • gray Old Navy work pants
  • gray Daisy Fuentes Kohls work pants
  • black Apartment 9 work pants
  • black Daisy Fuentes work pants
  • Mossimo jeans (the ones from my friend, Marijo)
  • Old Navy jeans
  • red Lane Bryant pullover sweater
  • green Old Navy cable cardigan
  • black Old Navy party cardi cardigan
  • gray Old Navy swing cardigan
  • ivory Old Navy swing cardigan
  • ivory Old Navy thin pullover
  • teal Old Navy cardigan
  • black Macy's swing cardigan black Old Navy boat neck sweater I live in this thing on the weekends
  • white Old Navy long sleeve t-shirt
  • white JCPenny's long sleeve t-shirt
  • black Apartment 9 Kohls wrap 3/4 shirt
  • black Lane Bryant  3/4 t-shirt
  • gray and black striped Old Navy t-shirt
  • two white Lane Bryant camis
  • hot pink Lane Bryant cami
  • purple Lane Bryant cami
  • black Elf Clarks
  • black Mary Jane Keens
  • red Ecco pumps
  • UGG alikes (and they are so old that they are rank and smell of death)
  • ivory Old Navy  winter coat
  • teal pashmina 
  • London pashmina
  • Chamila bracelet*
  • charm necklace*
  • black belt
So . . . I shop at Old Navy a lot. And I like cardigans. I also like The Cardigans, but that's a post for another day. At this point, half of my excess clothing is in a clear box and the other half is on the Girls' bed waiting for another clear box so it has a happy home for the next three months as well, including two Burberry scarves, a pair of Fluevog sandals that I've only worn once, and about 30 Vera Bradley purses (might have a problem with that).

Project 333: The Beginning
I love them . . . but they hurt like a son of a bitch

I am bending a few rules and only a few. Hand knit items are off the table. Period. Full stop. Anything that I happen to finish, like a sweater or socks or a sweater or a hat or a sweater, are fair game, and I'm not budging from that.  Besides, if I happen to actually finish something, then I've made a dent in my ever expanding yarn stash. Also, any jewelry that Dave has given me won't be put away. There aren't many pieces (a few necklaces, two bracelets, a ring or two), but I can't choose . . . so I won't.

So, project number one is underway . . . but I'm pretty sure that there are more to come. There always are.


* My Chamilia bracelet and charm necklace have many, many charms and parts. Again, I'm okay with that. 
** Title courtesy of Dave, who after learning that his new Avia sneakers were really working his calves, made me smile with this gem