Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 17May20

Today: people and plants!

I did a handful of porch sessions … and most of the photos from them just weren’t very good. (Frustrating and embarrassing.) I have a lot to learn about posing people! For one set, the poses were great but they were all out of focus. I figured out why (and know how to fix it), but not while I was on site.

I have trouble seeing if photos are in focus on my camera. Not sure how to remedy that so I don’t have this problem again.

Anyway, I also went to a friend’s front yard and took pictures in her fabulous enormous saguaro cactus. (I wasn’t in the cactus, but birds were.)

Onto the photos!

Sadly, I don’t have any great photos of her family (I will get better at coordinating poses), but she asked me to take a shot of her with her “I didn’t kill it!” plant.



This family is so cute and wanted their shots in front of the big cactus in their yard.



The pooch was in the family shots but not in the best ones, but he looks good here:




Not all shots are posed … or traditional.



The sun was harsh for these, but they’re good-looking people!



And—plants. Sharp, pointy plants. And the birds that love them.

These guys don’t look like what Saturday morning cartoons led me to believe woodpeckers look like.



Saguaro flowers are so stunning, and I love how the lighting in this one makes the flower stand out even more.



Finally, more of the mini-roses in our front yard.

Posted in about me, cancer, ebb & flow, gratitude, physical health

The cancer bus ride started 13 years ago

Lucky number 13!

Thirteen years ago, I started my cancer journey (though the diagnosis didn’t come for another week or so).

It changed everything and it changed nothing.

It was not a blessing in disguise. It didn’t “happen for a reason” (except for whatever the biological root causes were … for which science has guesses but not answers).

It did have a lot of silver linings.

I was lucky—as lucky as one can be going through half a year of chemo, a month of radiation, and continuing on afterwards—in that my long-term side effects have been minimal. (Long-term side effects of the radiation, if I have them, aren’t expected to kick in for another few years. And they are terrifying, so here’s to hope that they pass me by.)

“Still alive” is a good baseline, but quality of life matters.

That’s true whether you’ve had cancer or not.

New Year and birthdays are often calendar points where we might be reflective and introspective.

This date and my cancer-free date (one week before Thanksgiving) give me two additional calendar points to pause and reflect for a minute.

Privileged to be able to forget most of the time that I ever went through it all in the first place. To be able to plug along.

Grateful to be here, to be healthy, to be writing, to be photographing, to have a son (infertility is a common side effect).

My wish for you is to assess or reassess without death threatening you. Or, if you currently feel threatened by death, use it as motivation to introspect. Use it as an excuse to be vulnerable with your people. (And make that a habit.)

Here’s to the next 13 and more! Cheers!

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 10May20

Discontent with the results from the first attempt, I went back to my friend’s house and redid photos out front. Took a little more time, took advantage of the setting sun. Much happier with the results this time!



And I’m just delighted with my mini roses! The pink ones—which were not my favorite—are blooming candy cane now! So much more fun than pink. The peach ones look good, too. The yellows have come and gone. The purples are budding but not yet blooming.



And this one had some issues and wasn’t good on its own, so I messed around with settings. Kinda fun how it turned out.



If you’re in Phoenix metro and would like porch photos, the sign-up form is here.

Posted in Sunday photos

My photography journey 3May20

I’ve been indecisive about porch photos for a little while and finally just decided to do it. A little bit.

I chose a time and messaged some local friends to see if they would be interested and available. A few replied, and this is what we ended up with!

If you’re in the metro Phoenix area and are interested, go to my porch photos page, fill in your info, and I’ll get in touch with you when I’ll be in your area. Feel free to share!


Posted in about me, motivation, parenting

We accidentally hit the jackpot: badges

A week or so ago, a few small factors combined into something amazing.

The whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s been like discovering the combination of chocolate and peanut butter.

Unless you’re allergic.


Off and on for years, I have been doing puzzles at (I like the logic puzzles the best!) The Climbing Daddy has started puzzling there in recent weeks and has become invested in the badges he can earn.

The Kid has been doing puzzles with him and became equally invested in the badges.

At the same time, we were training for a virtual 5k. The Kid is not a huge fan of running but wanted to get the medal—do you see a pattern?—and was quite whiny when running.

While we were out running one evening, I told him that if he kept running, he would earn a badge. He didn’t believe the badges would be real; I told him I’d make them.

Now. I’m not super-artistic. I enjoy making and drawing and creating, and I do a solidly OK job. (And I’m good with that, as I don’t want to put in the time and work to be better … and because I’ve gotten a lot better at embracing “good enough”—but that’s all for another time.)

But I also knew I didn’t want to be making and cutting out and keeping track of a bunch of little badges. Or worse, big badges. (Have I mentioned that this child keeps everything? What’s that? Yours does, too?)

So I decided just to draw them all on a piece of card stock (paper would have sufficed). He chose the shape. I guided that decision, because there are not many shapes that I can somewhat consistently draw. Or that I was willing to draw repetitively.

He asked: could there be a picture in each? Sure.

You can see my high-quality drawings. But you know what? He loves them. And “I refuse to do it because I feel like I suck at it” is not something I want from him, so I’m not going to model it.

I covered the page mainly because I didn’t want to have to draw more later. That turned out to be great, because now he’s excited to fill them.

I had planned on just doing exercise badges, but The Climbing Daddy had an idea for a not-exercise badge (the one for sanding*—he did good work learning to use the sander when they made a table a few weeks ago), so two sections: one “exercise” and one “other.”

*The two-sided tape is beyond my level of “good enough.” The Climbing Daddy had cut it out and not glued it down yet, and The Kid was thrilled to have the great idea to use a piece of double-sided tape. Deep breath. Not my badges.

In addition to the badges we started with (and the couple that we figured at that point would get added soon) we keep adding more.

He loves them.

And it turns out, I can throw out nearly anything “for a badge” and it’s worked so far.

The other day, for example, he chopped up chard for dinner as his “kitchen skills” activity for the day. The meal that was going into—chard with chickpeas over rice—is one that we’ve eaten often. He’s helped prep and cook it many times. Everything else was already prepped (rice and chickpeas made, red onion diced). I was reasonably sure that with minimal help, he would be able to make it.

So I told him it was his job to make dinner, we would help a little if he needed, and he would get a badge for it.

And he did. He was nervous—what if it’s not good?—but he didn’t fight it.

He loved getting another badge. Maybe not as much as he was proud of preparing a meal.

7-mile bike ride? Check. Running in the morning? Check.

I’m sure there’s a limit somewhere, but we haven’t found it yet.

Also, I’m not offering badges for normal day-to-day things, which probably helps them to maintain their awesomeness and makes them different than your typical sticker chart.

“Mom? What happens when I fill all my badges?”

I’ll get another piece of paper and make more? It’ll be the expansion pack.

He’s so tickled now at the idea of an expansion pack.

I have no idea how long this will last (or for how long I will be able to think of new but still attainable feats), but for now, it’s been fantastic!