We left Grand Junction after several hours of packing up with the kids asking when we were leaving every few minutes.  We had snacks, presents, banjo, fiddle, accordion and our two baby turtles. Hank promptly fell asleep after eating almost his whole snack bag.  

My mom's house is a Christmas wonderland. I really need twilight to get the best pictures, so stayed tuned for full documentation.  Below is the nativity from my childhood that was off limits for playing because it was made out of glass and expensive.  This year I bought another nativity set at Goodwill just so the kids could play with it since I have two others that I  don't let them play with.

After a delicious dinner, we read Luke 2 and reenacted with little figures.  We sang and lit the swedish angel chimes.  Poor hank burned his finger.

We stumbled into our library remodel.  Out of curiosity I called on a drywall quote for our water damaged ceiling in the library.  Once I found out it wasn't going to cost that much we decided to get it done before thanksgiving.  Once all he books were out of the room we started thinking about buying bookcases from Ikea but couldn't get the right combination to fill the wall right.  Then we decided that we (meaning Willie) would build our own.  

We had several things going for us that added to the success of this project.

1. Willie is a genius
2. We spent $30 on plans for the bookcase
3. Our generous neighbors let us borrow a table saw and mitering saw.
4.  Willie's love of books helped him keep up his project intensity.

Here are some pictures that recount the project story.  Like usual, it took way longer and cost more than we planned, but we really like it.  The rest of the room needs a finished paint job and canned lighting before it's all finished.  We also picture a framed butterfly and possibly a stuffed armadillo to complete the look. 

Willie is not only a respected man of letters but has morphed into a total handy man.  There won't be talk of any projects for at least the winter while we save money and built up our project intensity reserve.  It's time for the return of lazy weekends complete with hikes, watching movies and playing music.


I was kind of stressing out about all the things I need to do tonight when Willie reminded me that Sunday is a day of rest and to worry tomorrow.  That was just what I needed to hear. I had great evening working on my granny square blanket and blogging a bit.

We are almost to the end of the library bookcase project.  This one has been extra hard because it came right after the roof, so we didn't start with full project enthusiasm and it's right in the middle of the house so there have been tools and such all over in the house for quite some time.  We are really close to finishing.  Willie has been amazingly handy on this project and worked so hard.  There will be a full post documenting the project. I've taken pictures all along the way.  Anyway, this is just to say that the whole thing has been throwing off my chi but it will be well worth it.  There is light at the end of the tunnel and I foresee the return of saturday hikes and saving money.

Our tree is up and the boys are talking about christmas lists and I've been playing Christmas songs on the piano.  Now we just need a little bit of snow.  I found our gingerbread house half eaten with a little nativity tucked in it.  Wyatt was joking about the gingerbread house being destroyed and the gingerbread people wouldn't have a place to live, there wasn't even a gingerbread homeless shelter.

Like usual, we had a great Thanksgiving holiday.  Willie's parents and his brother Adam came out.  We had a great meal and had so much fun relaxing.  We had our after thanksgiving hike and found a great cave.  We watched movies projected on the wall with David's projector.  I learned how to crochet and am in the process of making a granny square blanket.  Kathy and Adam went home on Saturday morning and David came with us to the dinosaur museum and down to play by the river.  What a great few days.  I just love thanksgiving.

Below is a picture of a lamp that we bought from Jon Rizzo.  I'm not sure that is going to be the actual shade, it might be too small, but we love the lamp.

We played music with some friends thursday night.  The picture of me on the bass was taken by Jeremy Rizer.

We had a great hike in Bangs canyon.  We had fun in this cave below.  I posted a few polaroid pictures of the hike on my photography blog.

After the dinosaur museum we walked down to the river and threw rocks  Wyatt is getting so good at skipping rocks.  He's been pleased with how many skills he's been learning.

Wyatt has declared that he wants to be a professional mountain climber when he grows up.  His first major goal was to climb Mount Garflied here in Grand Junction. This is a steep hike, you gain 2000ft in 2 miles.  Willie and Wyatt did a few training hikes and went for it on Saturday.  Wyatt was so pleased that he made it to the top.  He has now started a mountaineer book and I've attached a few pictures from the book.  He is the most adorable little mountaineer.

Here are some pictures Willie took with his iphone.

I fully realize that my obsession with the apple crisp I made last night might be because of the no sugar goggles I have been wearing for the last month or so, but I loved it so much.  Here is the recipe.

2 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced apples, such as Granny Smiths
2 tbsp sucanat (granulated sugar cane juice)
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp ground cinnamon
 pinch of nutmeg

oat topping ingredients:

1/2 cup walnuts or almonds, finely chopped
 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
 1/2 cup sucanat
 2 tbsp whole wheat flour
 2 tbsp softened unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350.  Coat an 8-inch square shallow baking dish
with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, toss together the apples, sugar,
apple juice, lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg until well
combined.  Set aside.

Make the oatmeal topping:  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted
with a paddle, gently combine the walnuts or almonds, oats, brown
sugar, flour, and butter at low speed.

Place the apple mixture in the dish.  Sprinkle the topping evenly over
the apples and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the apples are cooked
through, the juices are bubbling, and the topping is browned.  Serve,
hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Willie and I had such a great trip to New York.   I had to blog about some of the details.  This was our first trip away from our kids together, ever.  That's right, we finally made it happen, 6 years later. I had no idea how fun this could be.  I'm totally addicted.  Here is a link to my facebook album of pictures I took there where there is more thorough photographic coverage of the trip.

So I work for my brother and his two friend's company studioCase as the finance manager.  I keep the books, invoice, collect A/R, pay bills and all things financial.  I'm also the medical benefits administrator, insurance guru and a bit of an executive assistant.  Last year they brought me out for the yearly work party and I was so happy to hear that I was coming out again. I have the best job in the world!  Since Willie and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary and we were planning to have my mom come out for a small get away for us, I thought it would be fun to have her come for my New York trip and then Willie could come with me.

I can't thank my mom and David enough for coming out and sacrificing sleep and free time to keep the kids so happy. I didn't worry at all.  My mom even let Hank sleep in bed with her for the first few nights.  He is a huge fan of snuggling with grandma.

The trip out was great.  Traveling without kids is relaxing.  We slept on the plane, watched a movies on the plane (documentary on Townes Van Zant on the way out and The Royal Tenenbaums on the way back)  and talked at length.  We took a crazy cab ride into the city from the airport and met Travis and Enoch at Grand Central Station to ride home with them.  

Spending time at studioCase was great.  I love how they eat lunch together, family style, at the big conference table. We took a look at several projects they were working on and I got the feel that everyone on the team just loves their job.  They are so good at what they do and they enjoy creating beautiful art. I got some portraits of the team, though I ran out of time before we were all catching the train to Scarsdale and missed out on Jeff, Tony and Enoch.  

We went to the International center for Photography museum which was so interesting.  I'll post on my photography blog about this.  We also went to a women in photography exhibit at the MOMA which I really enjoyed.  I posted on it here.  The night of the International Center for photography is was raining so hard.  So East Coast. We ate at good restaurant called Virgil's BBQ.  We saw someone get hit by a taxi on our way to eat.  The cabby tried to drive away after he hit her and she was lying on the ground.  Several people stood in front of the cab to stop the driver from getting away. We didn't see what happened but it was kind of disturbing.  Once my mom and sister and I saw someone get hit by a cab in Instanbul.  The cab driver just picked up the pedestrian and threw him in the cab and drove on, I'm assuming to the hospital.

I had such a great time taking pictures.  Not having kids to chase around, meant I could really spend time looking around for interesting things to photograph.  I'll admit, my camera and two lenses were a bit heavy for all the walking around we did, but I don't regret it at all.  I'm not surprised since I took my camera and one lens on a 12 mile roundtrip hike at ragged mountain.  You do what you have to do to get the shot.  This might be a good time to mention, I am TOTALLY in love with my camera and my lenses.  I'm so lucky.

The studioCase party was great just like last year.  The party was like a family gathering.  There were kids running around crazy,  games,  great food, people talking in every corner and even an impromptu jam session.  I think of my past jobs and what a work party was like and it's so different.  I just love how studioCase runs their company.  There is so much warmth and friendship.

Something I really love about being in New York is all the different kinds of people, everywhere.  When I see people coming home from work, I wonder what their story is, what their home looks like, if they are lonely.  I'm not a permanent city dweller, but I need a little more city in my life.  I came home feeling so refreshed.

I'm such a school mom rookie and having Wyatt in kindergarten has been all new.  Today was our first parent teacher conference and it was so great.  Wyatt's teacher is very pleased with him.  He listens well and pays attention, is smart and creative.   Wyatt missed the cut off for kindergarden last year by two weeks, so he's one of the oldest kids.  He scored the highest in his class on his kindergarden evaluation.  He read me a book at the conference and we looked through his drawings.  A personal favorite was two cyclopses and a man on a unicycle.  Wyatt is just so dear.  I'm so happy to see him enjoying school and doing well.

I have ignored my blogs lately but tonight at a photography group, I had a quick conversation with Cristine Strickland and we made a vow to get back to our blogs.  It's really nice getting together with other photographers but that's a post for another time.

So incase you didn't notice, I'm obsessed with photography.  It been hard for me to know how to channel the obsession.  This trip to New York with Willie was clarifying for me.  Sometimes I'm confused because I think I need to have a thriving photography business to channel it, then I find I don't like doing that and think about going to school but can't afford that and Grand Junction doesn't have much to offer education wise.  So I haven't really been able to find a good place for photography in my life.  I want this energy to propel me somewhere worthwhile and not spin me in circles. Willie and I talked a lot about in New York, we went to exhibits and I shot a lot of pictures and there were a few things that were clear.  I love photography.  It thrills me to express myself through photography.  I want to learn all I can about it.  It's here to stay.

Not too long ago, I was looking through my photos to make a few prints for our house and I had hundreds of images of clients and very few of my family and my life experience.  My horrible drive failure a while back took with it some very meaningful pictures.  At that point, I knew I needed to take more pictures that moved me, told my life story, and captured beauty.

All this is to say, I'm setting up a website, studioCase is working on my branding and I will be open for business as a photographer but this is not where my creative energy is pushing me. I just want to be organized and prepared incase people want to hire me.   I want more education.  I want to read more books, and go to more exhibits and shoot things/people that excite me.  Also, I admit, I recently purchased a few wedding magazines to check out the photography.  I wonder if I'll be lead in that direction.

We came out to Midway to see family and attend Calder's baptism and George's blessing.  It was great to have a baptism outside.  My sister Amy was baptized in a lake by our house but everyone else in our family was baptized in a font in the church.  The weather was perfect and there was such a great feeling of family, faith and love.  I'm so glad we were able to be here for the special day.  On a side note, this was also my first time using my new 50mm 1.4 lens and I'm loving it.

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