Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Kenny Chesney

"Life On A Rock" is the latest collection of island living songs from Kenny Chesney. After the first listen, I knew this album would become a favorite of mine at the lake this summer.

It's short, only 10 songs, all slow-to-mid-tempo about living life in the islands. Perfect for lounging in the water, a dock, or a beach. But that's just touching the surface. Dig a little deeper and the album is so much more than that. It gives a very personal glimpse into his very personal life.

My favorite song is about his favorite watering hole "When I See This Bar." He sings of his friends, the memories made, the shared laughs and drinks. He sings of how life happens when you're busy having fun, but some places can bring the past to the present. That's when you know you were really living in the moment when that moment occurred. "Pieces of our past slowly slip away / But time just stands still when I walk in this place."

"Lindy" is the song of a homeless man that caught the attention of Kenny while others might have dismissed him as a crazy man. "He plays piano at the church when nobody's watchin' / Takes cigarettes from strangers and sometimes you see him talkin'... to himself, laughin' to himself." A man with his music, who lives a very different life than Kenny, but they have music in common and maybe more. We're all just people living a dream, aren't we?

Another very touching song is "Happy On The Hey Now (A Song for Kristi)." It's a tribute song to his friend Kristi who died young. The Hey Now is the name of a boat they would hang out on. "I'll always see you dancing, up there on the bow / Living life in the moment, happy on the hey now. / And you'll live with us as long as memories stay alive / And you left us with so many, Kristi / You will never die... never die..." After listening to the song, you can't help but think about your own life and the people who come and go through it. The people may be gone, but their memories live on.

The whole album is made up of little moments and memories. The lesson here is that life moves really fast, and we tend to want to move even faster. This album reminds us to slow down, live in the moment, write it down, sing about it, or take a picture before the moment slips away forever. Good reminder for us all.

April Photo a Day Summary

Awesome month of photos for April! I had a blast this month. The prompts were wonderful. Here is the month at a glance created by Printsgram...

I'm happy with how they all turned out. Busy was probably my least favorite (hard to capture that, I think.) I also had two birthdays this month in the family - Brandon and my dog, Skyler - so they are included in the collage along with some "extras" for the day.

This month we had the four elements as prompts for our photos... air, water, fire and earth. So here is a special collage focusing on that. Pretty cool to see them all together.

And so we continue with MAY! I'm going to try and do a MIZZOU theme this month as it is graduation time here on campus and.... my birthday! I may not be able to accomplish that for the WHOLE month... but I am going to try. You'll just have to keep coming back to see how it goes.

So are you going to play? It's a great distraction from every day life. Give it a shot!

04.30.13 Glasses

Oh... I won't tell you how many shots it took to get this... but I'm really happy with how it turned out. Thank goodness for digital. 

I love capturing reflections. And it was such a gorgeous day yesterday (yes, I took this yesterday)! Finally some warmer temperatures. My daughter's school called because she was feeling ill, so I HAD to go pick her up. This meant deck time for Mommy. I hate that she was feeling under the weather... but I didn't mind sitting "under the weather" at all! And she's much better this morning... just a bad head cold.

And that wraps up April! Summary to be posted soon....

Monday, April 29, 2013

04.29.13 I wore this today...

I'm wearing spring colors and no sleeves! Finally warmer weather!!!

At least for today... 

04.28.13 My Sunday

Sundays are about family time. I spend as much time with my kiddos as I can.

Aren't they cute?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

04.27.13 Earth

Mizzou Nation! One of the finest places on Earth.... great education, fun atmosphere, friendly people, wonderful fans, and a great place to work. I'm proud to be a Tiger!

I have seen photos converted into tiny little planets before - especially on the 365project photography website (still doing that, by the way). So I watched a YouTube video on how this is accomplished in Adobe Photoshop. It's complicated. Then I thought... there must be an app for that. 

There is!

The one I found and bought is called Tiny Planet FX. It was well worth the $2.99 I spent! What would have taken me probably hours to do in Photoshop took SECONDS to complete with this app. It's so fun to manipulate your photos and create fun little spheres. I have an Android phone, so I'm not sure if this particular app is available for iPhone. There is probably something very similar.

In case you are curious, here is what the original photo looks like. Pretty cool, huh?

Friday, April 26, 2013

04.26.13 Childhood

I went to the box inside my closet and took out my childhood teddy bear. My daughter asked me in a high pitch voice when she saw the bear, "Was that yours?!? It looks old."

Ignoring the old comment... I replied, "Yes, this is my Cruncher Bear. And I guess he is pretty old. I've had him since I was about two years old." Her eyes got wide and then the smart little whipper-snapper said that would make him 38. Thank you for the reminder.

When I think of being a child, I think of Cruncher. I took him to bed with me when I was little. I have pictures of me throughout the years cuddling him. He would sit on my bed even in high school. Cruncher was one of the first things I packed when I went off to college. Before graduation, my sorority sisters took... okay they STOLE Cruncher and used him as a prop in a skit (Senior Slams). Everyone recognized the bear immediately. They knew the sister with Cruncher was portraying me in the skit. Nothing else was really needed. He was (and still is) definitely a part of me.

I told Krista, "He's my Lamby." 

I knew she would know what I meant by that. She's had Lamby since she was two years old. She takes Lamby to bed with her every night and panics if she's lost. We've had some extended bedtimes and a lot of tears searching for her. Lamby is her protector, her shield from all the wrong in the world, her security. She knew exactly what I meant.

I gave Cruncher a quick hug before taking his picture. She smiled at me and said, "Everybody needs a Lamby."

I completely agree. 

Do you have a Lamby from your childhood?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

04.25.13 Life is...

Today is just another day, right?
Today is the one day that has been given to you.
It's the only gift you have right now.
The only appropriate response is to be grateful.

If you do nothing else today than cultivate that response...
through the great gift that has been given to you...
if you learn to respond as if it's the first day and the very last day...
then you will have spent this day very well.

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a gift to be enjoyed.

Go live it!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

04.24.13 I Saw This Person Today

One thing I have definitely learned with photo a day... I don't like to photograph people. I prefer objects and landscapes. Things I can manipulate or position and shoot a bah-zillion times to get it right. I don't think I do candid shots very well. And this photo was a one shot deal today because my phone was dying on me. I have no idea why the battery drains so quickly during the day. That's a conversation for another day.

Lucky for me, I work at Mizzou. I was bound to see a person randomly walking around. Chances were really good of getting a candid shot of a person.

So... I saw this person today.

This is the sidewalk to the south of the Student Rec Center. You would never know it snowed this morning.

That's right... SNOWED! It's April 24th, right? Right...

But it did turn out to be a very pretty day. A little chilly... but at least the sun was shining.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Thompson Square

Thompson Square is a country music duo comprised of husband and wife Keifer and Shawna Thompson. "Just Feels Good" is their second studio release. And for the second year in row, they have earned the Academy of Country Music award of vocal duo of the year.

And it is easy to see why. They have great harmonies, catchy tunes, and excellent chemistry. All 13 tracks on the album explore the various stages of romance and is very up-beat and bouncy. Could this be art imitating life? Just listen to "If I Didn't Have You" for your answer.

Once of my favorite tracks is the opening song "Everything I Shouldn't Be Thinking About." It's a G-rated version of S-E-X. It's light and bouncy but not too pop-sounding. Definitely catchy and a great opener.

"Here We Go Again" is also very refreshing. Shawna has a great vocal on this track. The story of two longtime lovers acting like kids again is a nice change from the quarreling couples infecting the airwaves these days. However, production-wise, it sounds very similar to the first track.

"That's So Me And You" is also a great track. And sounds very familiar if you know a little bit of their back story. "Next thing you know / We called Tennessee our home /And that sooner southern sun and those 'Bama stars/ Seemed too far away/ We were day and night / In Broadway's neon lights / Didn't know singing for tips in a pickle jar / Would change our life."

Lyrically, "I Can't Outrun You" is my favorite. "You're in my heart, you're in my mind / Everywhere ahead, everywhere behind / Every turn I take/ You're right around the bend / It's like your ghost is chasing me/ When I'm awake, when I'm asleep / There's a part of you in every part of me/ And I can't outrun you"

Honestly, there isn't a bad track on the whole album. It's a great collection of songs and lives up to its name, but too much of a good thing can be... boring. A song about a truck, a tractor, a farm or even a dog would really help breakup the sticky sweet monotony.

04.23.13 Time

Time to catch the bus for school!

There was a big debate this year about start times for school in Columbia, Missouri. We are adding a new high school in the fall and a three tier school system. Right now we have elementary, middle, junior high and high school. We will be eliminating the junior high and moving 9th graders to high school this fall.

Next year, my son's start time for school will be moved up a half hour earlier to 7:30. This probably means his bus will arrive around 6:30. That's EARLY! I'm thinking more of myself than him.... but he's not excited about it either.

My daughter's school start time will be moved up about 20 minutes. Right now she arrives around 8:30 and her bus picks her up around 8:00. I'll be able to drop her off on my way into work at 8:05 next year.

What worries me is when they'll be coming home. Brandon's bus drops him off at around 3:30 right now. That will be moved up a half hour too. Krista arrives home at 4:30 right now. I'm expecting that to be 4:15 next year.

Big changes ahead including sleep schedules.... I hope we can ALL adjust to it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

04.22.13 Blurry

Blurry.... that's what my world is without corrective lenses. Very blurry!

I tried to represent those two worlds the best I could in this photo. The tilt shift on Instagram helped. The tips on Mashable really helped me improve my skills (worth a read if you use Instagram). For this photo, I put the circular tilt shift inside my lens so it looks clear to the viewer and everything outside the lens is a bit blurry. I saved the photo and then did it again for an extra effect.

Do you use Instagram? Have any tips to share?

Happy Birthday, Skyler!

My little dog turned 15 years old yesterday. This is where she spent most of her day... lying in the warm sunshine.

She has bad arthritis in her joints. She can't see or hear very well. But she's still a great companion and follows me wherever I go. 

And she keeps my lap nice and warm. You know, I'm not sure who is more spoiled....

Pretty sure it is me.

Photo a Day Catch Up - April 20 & 21

April 20. On My Mind

Pizza! I was not cooking and so ordered some pizza. It was goooood!

April 21. Fire

Market Peach candle from Bath and Body Works. Smells so good I could eat it!

Friday, April 19, 2013

04.19.13 Button

"Life is not about fitting in.... it's about standing out!"

A person who stands out from the crowd is confident in who they are, comfortable enough to be unique, and lets their individuality shine. Standing out means you are not afraid to speak your mind, and you avoid following others when doing so results in conformity. This person could be striking in appearance, but more times than not, this person is someone who generates admiration and is remembered by others by being someone special.

Although it may not be something you achieve every day, it is a worthwhile goal to have for yourself.

How do you set yourself apart and stand out in the crowd?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

04.18.13 Hello!

I really didn't know what I would take a photo of for this prompt.

First, I thought of a phone, but that's pretty obvious. Then I thought of a surprised look that my daughter has given me. Hello!

Then I remembered this from back in the day...

Before texting, we texted via a calculator. We thought we were so cool to come up with these words. Your alphabet was kind of limited however. Here's a list of the letters you could use if you turn the numbers upside down: O/D, I, Z, E, h, S, P, L, B, G.

For instance, 376616 = GIGGLE

So if you want to write ZOO (0.02) or SHOES (53045) or SHE LIES (5317.345) or maybe even BIGBOOBS (58008618) ... the calculator can help you.

Have fun!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

04.17.13 Busy

The windows outside my office were cleaned today! Yippee!

Thank you, kind sir. The view is much clearer now.

Some of these jobs go unappreciated, so don't forget to thank them when you can.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Eric Church

The last two years have been really, I mean really, good to Eric Church. He went from a low-level opener to headlining superstar virtually over night. On the heels of success with album Chief, he releases a 17 song live album, Caught In The Act. It was recorded in Chattanooga, Tennessee during his Blood, Sweat, and Beers tour. I was lucky enough to catch his live show in Kansas City and loved every single second. It was full of energy and packed a big punch. Could that be translated in a live album?
YOU BET! "I like my country rocking," Church sings in "How `Bout You?" as a hard-rock guitar solo ricochets off the pounding drums (listen for it at 3:14) as he interacts with the crowd. He constantly encourages his rowdy audience, exhorting them to howl the chorus of "Drink in My Hand" and "Jack Daniels." 
He has seriously perfected the act of giving everything he's got at every show. Every performance that I've seen of him (and I've seen three) proves it. Just listen to "Smoke A Little Smoke" and you'll understand what I mean. Listen for the twist at the end that will get you rocking! Yeah, he's got a lot of attitude and toughness, but he can also be thoughtful and sincere. A standout track for me is the acoustic "Sinners Like Me." No effects or distractions, just a man and his guitar. The range of emotions that he can hit with his songs is what sets him apart. 
"These Boots"
Another standout for me and fan favorite is "Pledge Allegiance To The Hag" from his debut album. The live version has so much grit and is really cool. Another fan favorite is "These Boots." It is customary for fans to raise a boot above their heads while he sings this song. He signed a boot during the show that I saw. Just imagine a sea of cowboy boots in the audience as he's singing. That's a connection you just don't get on the studio version. 
The album wraps up nicely with a nine minute rock jam of "Springsteen." He samples "Born To Run" in the middle and connects with the audience when he talks about making memories that coincide with certain melodies. That's what this album is all about.
Altogether, "Caught in the Act" is a perfect showcase for Church's songs. If you are a new Eric Church fan or have never been to a show, pick this album up to see what it's all about. And if you've seen a show or you're a member of The Church Choir like me, pick it up and relive your evening with Eric Church and the melodies that made a million memories.

04.16.13 Your Favorite Color

If you don't know what my favorite color is by now... then you don't really know me.

I love blue. My photos always have a lot of blue in them. I like every shade and tint of blue. My mom told me my grandma's favorite color was blue too. That makes me happy.

We had this photo prompt before, and a photo of mine for that day was eerily similar to today's photo. It's just a good representation of the color, don't you think?

What's your favorite color?

Monday, April 15, 2013

04.15.13 Alone

Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, and he'll sit in his boat and drink beer all day!

Sounds good to me.

Maybe not this guy... he seems to be enjoying himself.

04.14.13 Water

April showers bring May flowers...

My daughter is such a helpful and very cute model.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

04.13.13 View From Your Bed

We've had several versions of this prompt before, but I don't choose the daily theme. So here's another view of my bedroom...

Yep that's a mirror. Where am I you ask? See that little black sliver above the pillow? That's the top edge of my phone... and my camera. I'm hidden under the blankets. I love sleeping in on Saturdays. 

I had to motivate myself eventually. Krista had a soccer game today. They played hard but didn't win. Lost 7-0. She was fine with it though. And I got some great shots of her playing.

Friday, April 12, 2013

04.12.13 In The Middle

That's me in the middle with my girlfriends on my birthday last year.

So much fun.... Spent the afternoon at Les Bourgeois Winery with some great friends.

Hard to believe that was almost one year ago....

Thursday, April 11, 2013

04.11.13 Detail

Immediately thought of my jewelry!

This one reminds me of my Grandma. She loved anything that sparkled. Much like she did....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

04.10.13 A Place

This place is Alley A in Columbia, Missouri.

A sushi restaurant, Kampai, is on the left and Good Nature is on the right. There are a few apartments here also. I always thought it would be really cool to live downtown in The District.

Neat place.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - The Band Perry

The background of the sister-brother trio is this... Momma loved country and Daddy loved the Rolling Stones. The result? A thoroughly modern country-pop-rock mish mash sound that is The Band Perry. Here's a track by track review of their sophomore (no slump here!) release, Pioneer.

1. Better Dig Two - dark and wicked, it's like the musical version of Stephen King's "Misery."

2. Done - anthemic 80's rock that belongs on every break-up playlist. I saw them perform this on the ACM Awards Sunday night. Lots of energetic fun!

3. Don't Let Me Be Lonely - A song about hanging on to your youthful days. I love the slow build to this song and the introspective lyrics are really great. "While we're young and alive / Take the keys to my car and the keys to my heart and just drive / Oh don't let me, let me be lonely." Makes me want to fly down a gravel road with the wind blowing through my hair.

4. Pioneer - Lots of twists and unexpected turns to this song. Bluegrass turns into a pop anthem and then back to country.

5. Forever Mine Nevermind - It starts out with a "na na na" that is reminiscent of Queen (awesome!) and just builds from there. The middle has a Bohemian Rhapsody feel to it. Very fun song. It celebrates losing things that were probably never good for you anyway. A favorite song of mine on the album.

6. Night Gone Wasted - Reminds me of Cheap Trick! This is a simple TGIF song that belongs on your party playlist. "It’s a night gone wasted again / I’m making up with my enemies and loving my best friends / It’s the best medication / To make the whole wide world go 'round"

7. I Saw A Light - One of the very few low points on the album, but still a nice song about love at first sight. The arrangement is the most interesting part of the song. Listen for it at the 2:27 mark.

8. Mother Like Mine - a sweet ballad tribute to their Mother.  They were bound to write a sound like this sooner or later!

9. Chainsaw - An ode to a carving on the tree - and the tree itself. "It's hard to bury the hatchet holding a chainsaw." Women who've been scorned will really appreciate this one. Very clever lyrics.

10. I'm A Keeper - custom made for radio, it's a potential hit! Love the piano, and the chorus really rocks.

11. Back To Me Without You - I stopped what I was doing and absorbed this song on the first listen. Kimberly's vocal is superb. The harmonies with Neil and Reid on the chorus make this a definite stand out track.

12. End Of Time - a perfect ending to an album full of dramatic twists and turns. A delicious ballad that leaves you wanting more.

This is my favorite album that I have reviewed so far. I would love to hear them on tour. Their sound is poised for pop-crossover which could keep them around for years to come.

Go buy this one now!

04.09.13 Tiny

Polly's shoes are super tiny, especially compared to mine.

Question for my female readers... Did you ever play with Glamour Gals growing up? They were a popular toy in the 80's. I always think of my sister and me with our Glamour Gals when I see my daughter engrossed in play with her Polly Pockets. 

Seeing this also confirms to me that the more things change, the more they remain the same. What is it about tiny toys that little girls love so much? Maybe it's just the adorableness of them. Whatever it is, it sure is hard to keep them organized and not lost. I was amazed that I found two shoes exactly alike for this photo! 

04.08.13 On Your Plate

On my plate was a scrumptious seafood salad that I had for dinner last night.

Romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, carrots and tender flaky surimi with a creamy remoulade dressing.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

04.07.13 Dreamy

When I read the topic for today, I immediately thought of daydreaming... lying on a blanket, warm sun on my face, watching the clouds go by...

It's been a lovely spring weekend. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

04.06.13 Air

You can't see it, but it's everywhere
It's blowing and lifting up my hair

Rely on it, I suppose
You suck it up through your nose

Breathe me in and breathe me out
You need it to talk and to shout

You can't see it, but it's here
making up the Earth's atmosphere.

Photo a Day Catch Up

April 3 - Something Beginning with A


April 4 - This Happened Today

Dinner and drinks with friends in St. Louis

April 5 - Something Good

The view of St. Louis from the top of my hotel room - The Chase Park Plaza

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Letter To My Son On His Birthday

To my wonderful son on your 12th birthday,

See that gray hair on my head? Yes, my dear child, YOU gave that to me. Most likely during our last round of homework. You are so used to things coming easy to you that when they are not, when they confuse you, and when you struggle, you get FRUSTRATED. Really, really frustrated. With yourself, with me, with the whole world... and then we yell. You yell at me. I yell at you. And then we take a time out.

Yes, sweetie, I understand this. You got it from me. Sorry.

But I love it that you want to "get it." And I know with hard work and perseverance, you will.

I also love your competitive nature. I know you enjoy the thrill of competing; not only with others but with yourself as well (you got that from me too). You push yourself to be the best, but you also encourage your teammates to be their best too. You are the first to pat someone on the back, congratulate them for a job well done, and lend a helping hand. For that I am so very proud of you.

Because of your love for sports, and mine too, we have shared many great memories together cheering on our Tigers. We've been with them through the good and the bad, haven't we? It isn't easy being a Tiger fan. We've shed some tears, punched some pillows, but we will always be a fan. Mizzou-rah!

And I want you to know that I'm YOUR biggest fan, buddy. I'm so proud of the young man you are becoming. You are kind, considerate and caring. You have a big heart, a wonderful sense of humor, and a good inner compass guiding you on your way.

I love you to the moon and back, Brandon, and I will be here for you always. And no matter how big you may get, you will always be my Little B.

Happy birthday!

Much Love,

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Blake Shelton

It's time to get personal. Blake Shelton's new CD "Based on a True Story" is relevant, relate-able, and revealing. If you feel like you already know Blake from his Tweets or coaching on The Voice, you're about to get a whole lot closer.

The album open ups with some hick hop with the Pistol Annies singing back up on "Boys Round Here." Talking about tobacco spitting and cold beer drinking, it exemplifies his laid back demeanor. You may have already heard the second track... his fastest rising single to date "Sure Be Cool If You Did." It's a clever little song with bonus points for rhyming "neon" with "be on."

My favorite tracks come near the halfway point. "My Eyes" is for any red wine and candles playlist you may have. "Girl the way you look tonight / my eyes are the only thing I don't wanna take off of you." "Lay Low" is a seductive little number that Conway Twitty certainly would approve of (add that one to said playlist too). And speaking of classic country, you will love "Granddaddy's Gun." It's more than just a gun - it symbolizes love and wisdom passed down from generation to generation. “He taught me a whole lot more than how to hunt / And one of these days I’ll pass it on to my son.” And "I Still Got A Finger" is a modern day take-this-job-and-shove-it kind of tune. A natural sequel to "Some Beach."

The standout track for me is "Mine Would Be You." It's a fantastically romantic song about a man's "all time high/best night yet/wildest dream come true." Yeah, we really love hearing that kinda stuff. But this one comes with a twist at the end that you don't see coming.

Overall it's a solid album. It's as real as it gets... based on a true story as the title suggests. It might be easy to overlook the emotion after the first listen. But after a time or two, the songs really start to resonate.

04.02.13 Blue

Blue is my favorite color, so it's hard for me to choose just ONE photo for today. Here are just a few...

Moon in the Blue sky at Sunrise this morning

Table Rock Lake

blue door


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