Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Best Shot Monday: 17045 NW 11th Avenue

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(So it's Tuesday...who's counting? And this isn't exactly a stunning photo, but it does have a story behind it.)   I was born in Miami. The best that I can remember, we lived in four different places in Miami before moving to St. Petersburg when I was in the middle of 5th grade. I can't really say why, but 17045 NW 11th Avenue is the address that's always stuck with me. I even remember my phone number from that house.

I was in Miami this past weekend for a Student Government conference, and curiosity got the best of me.  I wanted to see it. It's so funny how you remember things from your childhood being so much bigger than they actually were. The nearby landmarks that stuck out so clearly in my mind were an arch, kind of like the St. Louis Arch, and in my mind it was that big, and a Levitz furniture store. The arch was still there, right at the intersection of 826 and 12th Avenue, but it was a quarter of the size I remember it being. Levitz was no longer there, but the industrial area there did have a furniture, flooring and building supply vibe to it. When I was a child, the area just to the north of 826 at the south end of our street was a big open field. It was full now, with a hotel and more industrial buildings.

But as soon as I made the turn onto the street, there it was, the second house on the right, right where I remembered it. And there was the Hunter's house across the street, and Timmy Taylor's house next door. I remember there being a big tree to the left of the sidewalk in our yard, but it was not there. Not sure if it ever was.  The house was so much smaller than I remembered it being. The neighborhood itself has held up pretty well as far as old neighborhoods like this go. Throughout the neighborhood, there were bars on all the windows and doors, but at least more than half of the yards and homes looked fairly well kept. The elementary school was still at the end of the street, though I wasn't allowed to go to that school. This was in the early to mid 1970's, so busing was in full force in Miami. Kids in my neighborhood were bused to a school on the other side of town, so my parents put me in a private school nearby, Northwest Christian Academy.  Looking back now, I have no idea how they afforded private school, but I'm glad they did. I have good memories from that school (including being sent home because I wore pants instead of a dress one day ... a rebel from an early age), and I still have my 4th grade NWCA yearbook.


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I've often heard it said that most parents dream of their kids doing better than they did. My mom's been gone nearly 16 years now, but she was doing pretty well financially in the years before she died, though obviously, she's a prime case of money not buying happiness. My dad's doing fine and still living in South Florida. My sister Kim and I had the opportunity to go to college right out of high school, something my dad didn't have the opportunity to do. My mother went straight into nursing school, Nana and Granddaddy sending her up to Miami from their home in Key West, where my mom was born and raised. Kim and I are now both fiercely independent.  While we had our parents help for our undergraduate degrees, I put myself through grad school and Kim put herself through a post-bachelor's advanced certification. We both now have happy, healthy families.

Our life experiences certainly make us who we are, whether we choose to take the best lessons from them or not. I took both good and not-so-good memories from 17045 NW 11th Avenue and hope I've made the best of them. As I've said many times before, I believe happiness is a choice and I try to make that positive choice every day.  Moving around so much when I was younger, I've wanted to keep a strong sense of home as I've become an adult and started raising my own family, which is why our move to Tallahassee was so hard on me and probably part of the reason I'm not sure I'll ever be fully grounded here.  "Home" will always be back in Jacksonville, in the home we built and raised our girls in and will go back to for retirement.  But I'm trying. I'm getting involved here. I've found an animal rescue to work with and I've accepted a position as a chapter advisor for my college sorority.  We're slowly growing some roots here on Wild Rose Way, though the deepest roots will always be thriving on Heckscher Drive.

*I first wrote of 17045 NW 11th Avenue in this post if you want to read it. Be forewarned, it's an emotionally revealing post, but a story I needed to share.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Meet Farrah

Farrah

Well, I've finally hooked up with a rescue for which I can photograph dogs in Tallahassee! Meet Farrah! We first met Farrah when the girls volunteered with Tallahassee Big Dog Rescue back in September. When we came back to volunteer again, I promised I'd bring my camera. Farrah is obviously a gorgeous girl. Look at that face! She was quite a good poser for the camera as well. She pulled a bit on her leash and needs to learn some leash manners, but she is eager to please and loves to settle down on the grass and stretch out.

Here's what Farrah's foster mom has to say about her: "Total sweetness describes this baby. She had a rough past, found starving, torn up, with skin issues, heartworm positive and the list goes on. You would never know it now. She is at an ideal weight, with a gorgeous full coat of fur, heartworm negative and so full of love. She gets along with dogs and cats. She loves to play and will need to go to a home with another dog for her to play with or you will need to be active and want a jogging buddy!"

Tallahassee Big Dog Rescue (TBDR) is a private, non-profit rescue dedicated to rescuing as many dogs from abuse, abandonment, euthanasia and natural disaster as possible. I love their slogan: "We rescue big dogs, dogs who think they are big, and cats!"  Visit their website to read more about them and see other animals they have available for adoption.

It's very different volunteering with a small private, non-profit rescue like TBDR as compared to a large city organization like my home shelter, Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services. While the mission is the same -- save as many animals as possible -- the approach is very different by necessity.  I'm still planning on getting into the Leon County shelter as well to see if I can help out there. And of course, I try to make it into ACPS every time we are home! ACPS will always be home. For now, I'm happy I can help TBDR as often as I can. You can see more dogs I photographed for TBDR in this Flickr album.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

2015 Documented Life Project: Week 20

Documented Life Project - Week 20

Week 20's challenge for the Documented Life Project was to use modeling paste. I've discovered that modeling paste works similar to the very thick gesso I used on these books in Albie's class at An Artful Journey back in 2011. What fun! On these pages, I started by laying down some color with spray inks and then stenciling on some modeling paste flowers.

Documented Life Project - Week 20

After the modeling paste dried, I went over the flowers with gelatos to give them more color and then finished up the spread with more stenciling, mark making and pen work. Check out all my 2015 Documented Life Project pages here and see everything the Art to the 5th gals have going on here! (Want to see my 2014 Documented Life Project book? Click here.)

Documented Life Project - Week 20

Monday, November 2, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Meet Mr. Big

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This handsome boy is Mr. Big. Sweet Mr. Big and Velvet are currently Animal Care and Protective Services two longest residents. I love both of these dogs and have photographed each several times now.  Shelter staff believe Mr. Big is a three-year-old gray and white American Pit Bull Terrier.  He is a super great boy and a big hunk of love waiting patiently for his forever family.  We think he may do best as an only dog but, with him, that's more than enough to love.  He loves to take walks, is very smart, and learns quickly, especially when treats are involved!  He walks well on his leash, and he sits for treats. Each time that I have photographed him, he's been the perfect handsome model.

Can you believe this awesome boy has been in the shelter since April 16? That's more than six months. And yet, amazingly, it hasn't broken his spirit. He patiently sits in his kennel, holding his Kong in his mouth, just waiting for someone to come see him, take him outside and see how wonderful he truly is. Do you have room in your heart and your home for this big sweet hunk of love? He's available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services. His ID number is A924150.

Mr Big and Kelly

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2015 Documented Life Project: Week 19

Documented Life Project - Week 19

Can you say "fallen off the wagon?" Alas, yes, I am dreadfully behind on the Documented Life Project. With our official move to Tallahassee in August, I've not yet had time to get my studio fully back up and running, so I've not spent a lick of time in this journal. And yet I still have pages I haven't shared! This is Week 19. The challenge was "stitching" and the journal prompt was "All that I'm after is a life full of laughter."

Documented Life Project - Week 19

As I mentioned in my last DLP post, my sewing machine has been out of commission, so instead of even tackling hand-stitching, I used this series of stamps (which if I remember correctly are from Roben-Marie!) to act as my stitching. I do remember painting the girls hands to place them on the pages. They took the opportunity to put hand prints several other places as well. I hadn't even paid attention to the journal prompt when I decided to put the girls hand prints on the pages and "stitch" them together, but through sheer serendipity, the prompt already fits my life with these girls every day. They certainly keep me laughing!

Documented Life Project - Week 19

This was Mother's Day week so it was the perfect week to be filled with laughter. We spent Mother's Day morning at the beach and then came home and snuggled on the couch watching movies all afternoon.  See more of my 2015 Documented Life Project posts here and check out what all the Art to the 5th gals have going on here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Jessica Brogan's Inspirational Card Deck Swap: Done!

Last year when I received my card deck in the mail from Jessica Brogan's Inspirational Card Deck Swap, the redheads immediately went rummaging through, trying to steal all the cards I received! So this year, I told them that if they wanted to receive cards, they had to make their own deck to send to others!

Sarah's cards for Jessica Brogan's card deck swap

Above are some samples from Sarah's deck. She went with a fun quote stamp that said, "If you are feeling blue, try painting yourself a different color." Love that!

Olivia's cards for Jessica Brogan's card deck swap

Above are some samples from Olivia's deck. The stamp quote she chose is "Count your rainbows, not your thunderstorms." Good message for my emotional girl.

Kelly's cards for Jessica Brogan's card deck swap.

And lastly, here are samples from my deck. I stuck with our family awesomeness theme with a "Stay Awe Some" stamp I found on Etsy. If you'd like one of your own, it was created by A Sensible Habit. This is my second time participating in this swap, and I can't wait to see what little beauties arrive back in my mailbox! Here are the cards I created last time around.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Wild Rose and Continuing to Adjust

Wild Rose 
It's been five weeks since I've stopped in here! I need to get back to blogging! We are still adjusting to our big life change, adapting to life in Tallahassee and making trips home when we have the opportunity (and, yes, Benny has more opportunity than the girls and I do!). My creative side hasn't had time for much of an outlet, but I did grab my camera for a little walk the other day and found this little beauty in our neighborhood. I was playing with a very wide aperture, thus the very short depth of field on this pretty little wild rose. The image was made with a Nikon D7100, 35mm, f1.8.

"Adjustment" is still the constant word of the day for us. The girls are doing great, no question there, and we're enjoying their ability to play in our cul-de-sac with the neighborhood kids. They certainly can't do that at home on Heckscher Drive. Benny's continuing to adjust to his new role as stay-at-home dad. He's working on starting a small business to do some handyman work to keep him busy. I'm still pushing through, though I'll admit it seems that most days I'm having the hardest time making the adjustment. Good Lord, do I miss being on campus.

I had lunch with a very close friend last week who helped me talk through my struggles getting adjusted, and he had some pretty good advice. He reminded me that in less than a year, I've left the home I love, left the college I'd been at for 22 years, sold my vehicle (and he took the opportunity to remind me that I get more attached to my cars than the average person, thus the fact that all our vehicles have names....is that a problem?) and set up life in a new town. I think what's surprised me the most is that I didn't expect it to feel so weird living in Tallahassee. After all, I spent six years in college here. It's not like I don't know and love the town!! So his advice was time. It'll just take time and making some connections here.

To that end, I went to a Chi Omega function last week for which local alumnae were asked to come have dinner with all the new members. We had about a dozen alums there and 90 new members! I really enjoyed my conversations with the young women at my table and hope to get more involved with our local chapter. That'll give me my student fix again.  Now I just need to get into the animal shelter here!  Have a great week!  I hope to get back to posting regularly this week!  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Meet Oliver

Kelly and Oliver 1

Meet Oliver! I photographed him last Sunday and immediately fell in love. He's quite the charmer. There have been many dogs at the shelter who've moved me, and Oliver is certainly something special. He came in as a stray, but it's clear he's suffered some abuse. He's about 30 pounds underweight and has scarring all over his face.  But as shown above, that certainly has not diminished his love for those two-legged people he can obviously tell love him. 

Oliver at intake

Above is Oliver when he came in at intake. You can clearly see the sores all over his face.

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And above is the shot I took of him for the website. It's clear here the love and care that Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services staff put into these dogs. Yes, you can see his scars -- he'll probably always have them -- but look at that sweet face all healed up.

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And above is Oliver in his new foster home! A fellow volunteer and foster saw his photo on my Facebook page and messaged me about him. After a successful meet and greet with one of her pack, she took him home to foster him, and he's doing very well! Thank you, Jenna, for fostering! I know that under your care, Oliver will thrive and be snapped up by his very lucky forever family very soon.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Finding our New "Normal"

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Wow, I can't believe it's been a month since I've found time to pop in here. August has rushed by like a whirlwind, starting with back-to-back travel for work followed by our official move to Tallahassee in mid-August and the girls starting in their new school. I captured this shot this past Friday, on the last day of their second week of class. We had a rough start as expected, but they seem to be adjusting pretty well now. They've made friends on the bus, in their classes and in the neighborhood. One of Mama and Daddy's biggest adjustments has been the girls' ability to just run out the front door and hop on their bikes for a while. They are loving their new-found freedom to do that; Benny and I are still accepting it!

The adjustment is still on-going for the adults in the family. Benny is adjusting to life as a retired, stay-at-home dad, driving around town exploring and just trying to learn how to navigate this new life we are living. Though we are still keeping him pretty busy around the house, I know the day will soon come when the girls and I run out of projects for him and then the true test will come! I'm envisioning lots of fishing trips back home. I finally finished unpacking my art and jewelry studio yesterday...unpacked but not yet organized. That's my next step, and I really need to get it done as having no art or jewelry play time has really been wearing on me. I need that outlet.

I've now technically been in my new role going on nine months now, yet this whole adventure still feels very surreal. I never thought being back in my college town would feel so odd, but I suppose it's the realization that I'm no longer just visiting now that the girls have started school here. Though we are still essentially living in two places, going home to Jacksonville as often as we can, I do miss home. I also really miss being on campus and working with students daily; that's truly what I miss most in my new role.  I've certainly had my challenges with some of the issues I've inherited in my new position, but I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and hope to have those issues behind me soon, able to fully start fresh with my leadership of the organization. I'm also desperately missing my volunteer time at the shelter, but I haven't had time to visit the shelter here to get set up as a volunteer.  On my list of things to do!  Hopefully once we start getting in to that same sort of groove here, we'll start to feel a little more acclimated. Every night, I continue to say the same prayer: "Lord, please help us continue to successfully make this transition." Whether or not it will ever feel "normal," we'll just have to wait and see. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

2015 Documented Life Project: Week 18

Documented Life Project - Week 18

Week 18's challenge (May 2) was "fabric" with the journal prompt "the fabric of our lives." My sewing machine has been broken for a few months, so I haven't been able to do any sewing either in my journal or just on fabric, so I've been hanging on to bits and pieces of things. This spread actually came from a large painting I did in a class I took with Tracy Vergudo. Two of the Art to the 5th ladies, Roben-Marie Smith and Sandy Keene, were also in that class with me! Roben-Marie and I joked about getting our stencils out when we were struggling. :-)

Anywho, in the long run, I enjoyed the class but I wasn't happy with the painting and got tired of staring at it taking up space, so I finally cut the canvas off the frame and have been using bits and pieces of it here and there. I actually like it much more in smaller doses! The original was 30 x 30. So in that sense, my "fabric" was "canvas." I also added little strips of ribbon fabric and rhinestones I found in the $1 aisle at Michael's. Is there any regular visitor to Michael's who can resist the $1 aisle?

Documented Life Project - Week 18

This was the week of our state baseball tournament and my work car broke down on my way over to Tallahassee to pack up a few things before I could head down to Lakeland for the tournament. Thankfully, the car died on me as I was pulling into a rest stop, so I was able to wait there for a tow truck instead of the side of I-10! I was towed into a Tallahassee repair shop, picked up a rental and got a few things done in the office before I could turn around and try to make it to Lakeland in time for the opening banquet and end of season awards ceremony. Barely made it! That was the "fabric of my life" for the week. Hanging out watching ball games is not a bad way to spend the work day. There are perks to my job! :-)

See more of my 2015 Documented Life Project posts here, and check out the whole project and everything else the Art to the 5th gals have to offer here

Thursday, July 30, 2015

2015 Documented Life Project: Week 17

Documented Life Project - Week 17

Week 17's challenge (April 25) was "Inks," and the journal prompt was "Before the ink is dry." Can I just tell you how much I love spray inks, especially with stencils? I had watched our lovely Roben-Marie Smith use them often, and then about four years ago, I came upon a treasure trove. A friend of mine was cleaning out her art supply stash due to a move, and she offered me basically everything she had for $200. $200! That treasure trove included dozens of Somerset Studio magazines, collage ephemera galore, a couple dozen rubber stamps, rubber stamp ink pads, papers, and more than two dozen bottles of spray inks. Yes, for only $200! I am grateful to her to this day! So when I got to this challenge, I thought, "Finally! One I don't really have to think about!"

Documented Life Project - Week 17

I layed down some used deli paper as a background and then went to town with my inks and stencils. I had the "O" pieces sitting on my worktable and honestly was just tired of moving them around, so I just stuck them in there. And I love what they added to the page. I added in some pen work and the "17" numbers, which were leftovers from our old marquee at my old job. Great when you can get free fun stuff that's about to be thrown in the trash at work.

Documented Life Project - Week 17

I didn't add any journaling on this page other than the date, but the "before the ink is dry" is a regular occurrence around these parts. Patience is not my strong suit, so I'm often moving on before the ink, or the paint, is dry.  See more of my 2015 Documented Life Project posts here, and check out the whole project and everything else the Art to the 5th gals have to offer here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

2015 Documented Life Project: Week 16

Documented Life Project - Week 16

Week 16's challenge (April 18) was to use a gelli plate; the journal prompt was "a lot on my plate." Ha! Since it's been weeks since I created this page, I looked back at my calendar to see what I did that week, and I had 23 appointments and/or tasks on my calendar that week. I'd say I had the "a lot on my plate" part covered! Funny that my journaling on the page said I got a chance to slow down and catch up on things in the office. Apparently it was 23 things.

As for the gelli plate, my first introduction was in Albie's class at An Artful Journey in 2014 (and now looking back at that post, I realize I STILL never got around to photographing and sharing the completed books I made in Albie's class...).  I had a lot of fun playing with the gelli plate in her class, but I admit I haven't taken it out much prior to this challenge. I did my background with the gelli plate by putting down some paint and then drawing through it with a scraper tool (is that really how you spell scraper?). From there I added some stenciling, stamping and pen work. I'm really happy with this page!

Documented Life Project - Week 16-1

See more of my 2015 Documented Life Project posts here, and check out the whole project and everything else the Art to the 5th gals have to offer here.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Birthday Celebration

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My girls celebrated their 12th birthday this weekend with three friends each. Party started at 2:30pm on Saturday and the last one went home at Noon on Sunday. I was ready for bed by 1pm on Sunday. :-) The photo above is the full group on our dock.

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Since they started middle school this past year, this was the first year they had zero classes together ... which meant two entirely different groups of friends! Above is Sarah with the three friends she invited. I saw them sitting there and couldn't resist this shot.

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Above is Livvie with the three friends she invited. Molly was happy to join the group!

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And lastly, the whole group with their feet in the water. This was a little bittersweet for me, and though they never admitted it, I'm guessing a little bittersweet for my girls too. Though we'll still be coming home for summers and as many weekends as we can, we move to Tallahassee in two weeks. The next adventure will bring a whole new set of friends, but thankfully, with social media and the internet being the way it is today, my girls will have a much easier time keeping up with their Jacksonville friends than I did when I moved several times as a kid!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

2015 Documented Life Project: Week 15

Documented Life Project - Week 15

Week 15's challenge (April 11) was to use acrylics with the journal prompt "cry me a river." I haven't been paying much attention to the journal prompts, but this one fit serendipitously! (Serendipity is my favorite word and I so rarely get to use it!)  When I look at it from a distance, the "river" seems to appear in the hair. I started out with a piece of deli paper that I had printed some stencil shapes on (the purple on the left) and then grabbed the face stencil and used a makeup sponge to stencil the face the pale yellow color. I used my fingers to "paint" the river of hair. I'm sure those of you who've seen pictures of my girls will notice the resemblance. :-) I used a Stabilo pencil to outline the face and journaled my week on the right.

This was the week of my first Council of Athletic Affairs Executive Board meeting. Great group of guys! We met down at the Mission Inn Resort in Howey-in-the-Hills. I was on the fourth floor of the Inn, and there was an osprey nest at my eye level about 30 feet of my balcony.  It was quite a treat!

Documented Life Project - Week 15

With another little bit of serendipity, I'm posting this while listening to my girls playing and singing with their friends. There are currently eight 12-year-olds in my house celebrating my girls' birthday!  Seems perfectly fitting that this page features a beautiful redhead. See more of my 2015 Documented Life Project posts here, and check out the whole project and everything else the Art to the 5th gals have to offer here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015 Documented Life Project: Week 14

Documented Life Project - Week 14

Week 14's challenge for the Documented Life Project was watercolors. I've never used watercolor paints, just watercolor crayons and watercolor pencils. Here I incorporated my watercolors by laying down a background using my Neocolor watercolor crayons. They are very fun to use. From there I just went to town adding splotches of paint, a little stamping and stenciling and some collage and pen work.

I journaled my week on a little tip in card. I was in Tallahassee just about all week this week as it was the week of our annual state Student Government Rally in Tally as well as the April Council of Presidents (COP) meeting. (The COP is comprised of all the state college presidents in Florida.) Busy week for me! I was asked to speak at the Student Government awards banquet, and it's funny how I can speak in front of that group of nearly 400 without the least bit of nerves and perfect diction, but when I gave my monthly report to the COP the next morning, a group of 28, I felt like the nerves kicked in and I stumbled over my words! I shared that with my dearest friend on the COP, Dr. Chuck Hall, and he had the perfect explanation: the Student Government group has been my family for 20 years; it'll just take a little while for the COP group to feel like family!

Documented Life Project - Week 14

See more of my 2015 Documented Life Project posts here, and check out the whole project and everything else the Art to the 5th gals have to offer here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

2015 Documented Life Project: Week 13

Documented Life Project - Week 13

Wow! I can't believe I haven't posted any Documented Life Project pages since the last week in April! Eeek! I've been steadily working (though I wouldn't exactly say I'm caught up...), but I just haven't had time to photograph my pages. Catching up on that over these next two weeks! This was Week 13, the week of March 28. The challenge was "use a custom element." I just love stars, so I drew several stars on some scrapbook paper I had nearby and incorporated them onto some painted under papers. Wow, this week marked my first few days in our house in Tallahassee. I was so lonely in that house that week.  Funny now to look back all these weeks later...and we still aren't completely moved!

See more of my 2015 Documented Life Project posts here, and check out the whole project and everything else the Art to the 5th gals have to offer here.

Documented Life Project - Week 13

Monday, July 20, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Mikey and Another MEGA

Mikey

This past weekend, First Coast No More Homeless Pets held another of our MEGA Adoption Events. These quarterly events have the goal of finding 1,000 cats, dogs, kittens and puppies homes in one three day span. Area shelters and rescues all come together at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. We didn't quite hit 1,000, but 830 dogs and cats are sleeping in new homes this week. For the December MEGA, I went in early on the first day and photographed the load in. Imagine the logistical planning involved in getting hundreds of dogs and cats to one location! At the last one in April, I focused on getting one specific dog adopted, Zoe; unfortunately, I failed, but Zoe was thankfully adopted soon after MEGA.

Jennie and Mikey

This time, we were in the throes of packing for our move all weekend, so I didn't get to spend as much time helping at MEGA as I would have liked to, but after following along on Facebook Friday and Saturday, I couldn't stand it any more and went in for a few hours on Sunday. This sweet boy is Mikey. I photographed him at my last photo session and learned he is a ball dog extraordinaire. We played ball last Sunday for a good 30 minutes! Every time I threw the ball, he happily fetched and brought it right back to me to throw again. He's a ball catching superstar. I was sad to see that he hadn't gotten adopted yet when I arrived yesterday morning, so I took him out and spent some time with him. After helping one dog get adopted, Donald, I walked quite a few others and saw that Jennie was taking Mikey back out so I walked out and captured these shots of him. He just looks so stinkin' happy, waiting to catch his ball. Mikey didn't get adopted this weekend, but I do have some good news for him.  He went to the TAILS program! I can't wait to hear his TAILS success stories. (Read more about TAILS here.)

Mikey catch

All MEGAs are both physically and emotionally draining, but this one was particularly bittersweet for me. While I was sitting on the floor with Donald waiting for his family to complete their paperwork, our shelter manager Jen mentioned my impending move, but she said she also felt certain she'd see me at least four times a year to come back over and help for MEGA. I certainly plan to pop back into the shelter for more than just the quarterly MEGA events though. As I shared in this post, this shelter has most definitely grabbed a hold of my heart for the long run. We "officially" move the weekend of August 7, but I'm hoping I can squeeze in at least one more visit to the shelter before we go.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Meet Sally

Sally_A935404
Meet Sally! This sweet little girl stole my heart during my Sunday photo session. She's listed as a two year old Chow, but there's lots of other stuff mixed in there. She's smaller than most Chows, and her tongue is not as dark. But good Lord is she a little love bug. She was so well behaved when I took her out of her kennel and walked her. Since she's currently being treated for heart worms, she had to remain on leash, but she walked around like such a little lady. When I squatted down to pet her, she crawled right up in my lap and stayed there as long as I squatted. Let me tell you my thighs got a nice work out! What a little lover.

Sally is available for adoption at Jacksonville's Animal Care and Protective Services, 2020 Forest Street, 10am-6pm, Tuesday-Saturday. And don't forget our next MEGA Adoption Event this is weekend, July 17-19, at the Jacksonville Fairgrounds. We'll join forces with First Coast No More Homeless Pets, the Jacksonville Humane Society and dozens of other area rescues to find homes for more than 1,000 cats and dogs. Your new best friend is waiting for you!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Gratitude: A Week in the Life


We split this week between Tallahassee and Jacksonville, and it really was a tale of two cities! We took the dogs with us to Tallahassee this time, their first visit to our Tallahassee house. Isabelle did fine, though at first she was not very happy with the location of her crate, which she loves in Jacksonville. Molly, on the other hand, refused to have anything to do with anything! Poor girl wouldn't even eat! She just stayed in her crate and hid. By the end of the third day, she finally ventured out into the yard on her own, even if just for a few moments. Hopefully, once we are settled over there, they'll both adjust a little more quickly.

Mermaid Trio

On the east end of the state, the part of our week in Jacksonville was lovely, particularly Saturday and Sunday. Though I lost half the day Saturday to a garage sale that totally bombed (I should have remembered that the last time I had a garage sale, it also totally bombed and I asked Benny to remind me never to do it again), the rest of the day Saturday and much of the day Sunday (after a much overdue visit to the shelter for some photos!) was spent on the river. We had both manatee and sea turtle visitors this weekend. The manatee just lumbered on by so I wasn't able to get a picture of him, but the turtle hung out for quite a while, both Saturday and Sunday, munching down on the algae growing on our floater. We've named him Squirt.

Squirt

The girls also had their good friend Hailey spend most of the weekend with them as well. Good times on the river. Hard to imagine we'll be moving in about three weeks and then won't be able to see this every day. I picture a lot of weekend trips home in our future.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Sunny Pete!

Pete in sunshine 
Olivia is turning out to have quite the eye for photography! She captured this photo of Pete catching some rays in a bin of books. I admit I get a little nervous when she grabs my most expensive camera, but this shot was worth my worry.  This was taken with my Nikon D7100 with an 18-140mm zoom at f/5.6.  And no, she didn't figure that out on her own; she's not quite there yet!  It was shot in auto mode.  :-)  Great job, Liv!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Week in the Life: Sunday Gratitude

walking at zoo 
I had a chance to work from home this week, so I got to spend some good time with my family. It was a nice break from the constant commuting back and forth to Tallahassee. I took a break mid-week to take the girls to the zoo for a couple hours, and I found this photo on my phone, taken by Olivia, the next day. It's a little blurry, but I love it!

We've slowly been navigating into the final portion of this major life change. Last week, we spent four days in Tallahassee, getting the girls' rooms set up and starting to move a few more things over. We timed it with a volleyball camp that was offered at the girls' new middle school. Though they've never played volleyball before last week, I think they enjoyed it, and it was a great little introduction to their school. We are heading back over this week for a few days. This moving bit by bit seems to be a little less daunting than packing it all up and doing it all at once.

We spent this weekend moving things around in our Jacksonville home and getting the upstairs bedrooms ready for our house sharing.  We'll have the two upstairs bedrooms while a friend of mine who will be living in our home in a caretaker role will have the master suite. She travels quite a bit, so we'll be able to come home often.  This will be an interesting experiment, but I'm hopeful it will work out perfectly!

Thankfully, we live in an area where folks up and down the river shoot off fireworks, so we got to the enjoy the 4th of July celebrations right from our back porch. I hope those of you in the States had a wonderful 4th! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Friends and Strangers Project, Meet Omar

Omar 
When I started my new role at the Florida College System Activities Association, the person who manages our building told me that if the black man who played his harmonica near the front of our building during the lunch hour bothered me, let him know. My office is right at the front of the building, with a nice big window, so I hear a lot of street noise.  That was seven months ago, and I'm still enjoying the harmonica music outside my window at lunch time thanks to that sweet older black man, so last week, I took the time to sit down and talk with him.

Meet Omar (his stage name). Street musicians have never bothered me. On the contrary, I've always rather enjoyed them. They've always been one of my favorite things about visiting New York City. I think it takes a lot of courage to sit there along the street and share your music. Heck, I'm incredibly shy about playing in front of someone in my own house! Omar has been a musician for more than 40 years but has only been playing harmonica for about 10 years. He's currently trying to learn some of the oldies, "you know, like Barbra Streisand!" so he can expand his repertoire. He shared with me that back in the 80's, he used to play his saxophone over on Tennessee Street. I may have seen him there while I was in college! He's also from Jacksonville, and graduated from Raines High School. When I told him I went to Orange Park, he said he remembered going over to Orange Park for sports events. Based on his email address, I'm guessing he's only a couple years older than my husband, so having also grown up on the Northside in the Raines school district, Benny wants to chat with him the next time he's in Tallahassee with me to see who they both know!

Omar shared with me that he shares his music because, to him, sharing music is akin to sharing love, and his goal is to simply spread as much love as he can. He believes the world definitely needs more love right now, all the love it can get. I certainly agree with him on that. While I've always smiled at Omar when I've walked by, I've never sat and talked with him before last week. Now I'm so glad I did!

See more of my Friends and Strangers Project posts here.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Best Shot Monday: The Best Spot on the Boat

Sarah on boat 
Happy Monday! While we were in Boca Grande, I shared with Sarah what's always been my favorite spot to ride on the boat: sitting cross-legged on the bow, holding on to either the anchor rope or a bow rope. She loved it just as much as I always have! I took this picture with Sarah's camera because slippery-fingered me managed to drop my phone in the Gulf the day before. I was amazed at how little I panicked and how great it felt to be without a phone all week.  All I missed was being able to snap a quick photo!  Sadly, though, the phone was completely dead so that meant I lost all my photos. I've been skimming back through Facebook trying to recover Daily Dose of Awesomeness pictures ever since we got home.

We are in Tallahassee this week moving some things into our Tallahassee house, primarily setting up the girls' bedrooms. The girls are in volleyball camp for the week at the school they'll be attending here. This living in two places is going to be an interesting adventure, but we are bound and determined to make it work! Thanks for stopping in, and I hope you have a great week.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Best Shot Monday: Beauties in Boca

Boca Faces 2015 
We had a wonderful week in Boca Grande this past week and, as tradition calls for, did a little photo shoot on the beach our last night there. Here's my favorite of the "pretty smiles" shots. These girls are starting to look so grown up.  I just want to stop time!  As tradition follows, we also got quite a few goofy shots, which I'll share later this week once I have a little more time to edit. I didn't get a chance to write my Sunday Gratitude post last night, so I'll do that later this week with more pictures! Thanks for stopping in! 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Here...

Boca Grande Seashore 
For the next week, I will be here ... on the sandy shores of Gasparilla Island and Boca Grande. This year's trip comes at a time when it's been needed far more than weeks in the past! This will be our last respite of peace before we start the big move this summer. We are ready to be settled again.

I'm looking forward to cutting back on the constant driving back and forth. I'm looking forward to having more time in my art studio again. I'm looking forward to getting back to blogging more. And I'm looking forward to tucking my girls in every night again. But first, I'm looking forward to plopping my butt on this beach, sticking my toes in this sand, and doing nothing much more than picking up some shells and gazing at the horizon for a week. Enjoy your week!