Friday, August 31, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 31 / Bonus Photos

This is were I spent the evening, posting sports scores and getting things ready for tomorrow's paper. (Hence why this post is late. Priorities.)

I can't believe it's the last night of my photo challenge. I did most of my reminiscing in last night's post, so I'll spare you the repetition. However, I will expand on my statement that some days I got lots more photographs than I end up posting, by sharing some extra "bonus" pictures with you. Consider it a finale of photos.

Driving through Ohio, watching the last of the sunset.

More from Hot Dog Johnny's...

...including birch beer, which is NOT root beer. ;)
This is what happens when you accidentally call your cat "puppy" one too many times.
A different photo and edit of my brother playing guitar.
Vietnam memorial on the Clinton riverfront.
My mom feeding watermelon to Jade. :)
Some of my dad's paint brushes.
I have many such "cloud obsession" photos.
Waiting in O'Hare for Brandi's arrival.
Driving through Illinois on my way back from Effingham.
Crazy-eye cat.
Are you surprised?
A perfect reminder.
First photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via PicMonkey. Bonus photographs captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via Instagram.
New Style Editor post.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 30

Tonight we got to meet the adorable Peanut, Karen's sweet little Teddy Bear puppy. She entertained us during our Dinners for Eight get-together. She and Nick got to be best buddies while we were there, and we decided that a play date with Jade is in order.

In other news, tomorrow is the LAST DAY of my photo-a-day challenge! How crazy is that?! I feel like I just started. It's funny to look at the challenge from both ends. In the beginning, it feels daunting. How in the world am I going to find something new to photograph every single day? And then when it's over you look back at every image you grabbed and think, I could just keep doing this!

Some days were definitely easier than others. On the difficult days, it gets to be 9 p.m. and I'm wondering what to shoot in the hour and a half I have left before I want to go to bed. When it gets dark and I still haven't taken a picture, I panic. On the easy days, I have a half-dozen photos I could use and each one is "challenge-worthy." I never like to admit which days are easy and which are hard, though sometimes I think it's blatantly obvious.

But that's not really the point of this whole thing. Easy or hard, the point is to capture a moment in the day, whether it seems significant or simple. Each day is photographic, it's just a matter of finding those moments that can be captured and not letting them get away.

As fun as this second challenge has been, and as much as I've enjoyed it, I have some new ideas for posts and topics in the coming months. (I'll give you three guesses on that.) :) Of course I plan to post plenty of photos, even though the challenge will be over, so please keep coming back. I hope to share more stories and moments with all of you!

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via PicMonkey.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 29

Wednesdays are about youth group. They revolve around a few short hours when some of the best kids I know get together on mismatched couches to reconnect, laugh, sing and read the Bible. It's a time to be goofy and love life, as well as a time to ask hard questions and realize there is still so much we don't know.

I've been helping out with this youth group for the past eight years. I've seen lots of kids come through the doors from freshman through senior year. I always think the next year will be hard when the seniors leave, but then I get to know a new bunch of amazing people.

The truth is, this youth group is such a blessing, just like the people in it. And at the end of the night, when my stomach hurts from laughing and I'm running on a sugar high, I know I'll keep coming back. When life is about something bigger than yourself, you suddenly find so much more meaning and purpose. When you can pour into someone else, you realize having life not be all about you is quite alright.

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via PicMonkey.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Chicago Engagement

[The Background]

CHICAGO  It all started with Chicago. Chicago in 2003, when I first set foot on its windy streets and gazed up at its massive buildings. Chicago in 2004, when I stepped out of a car full of my belongings and breathed in the scent of city and freedom, and started college at Moody Bible Institute. Chicago in the next four years as I struggled through assignments, made the best friends of my life and created memories I will always treasure. Chicago in 2008, when I graduated and left the city behind, not sure if or when I'd ever return again. Chicago in the four years since, when I ventured back to see old friends, celebrate special moments, explore with new friends, relive the memories. Chicago has been part of some of the biggest moments of my life, it's no surprise that it was yet again.

NICK  I met Nick during my junior year at Moody through mutual friends. I really remember getting to know him at the Spiderman 3 premier, chatting before the film started, and thinking he was this amazing guy. Then we ended up working together at the gym on-campus for the next year and a half. During spring break of my senior year, we both stayed in Chicago to work and that's when we really started hanging out all the time. We've been close since those college days and even while far apart, always kept in touch. Earlier this year, things finally started coming together for us, but that would take a whole separate blog post to go into. Let's just say, we both grew a lot, and in the end, we grew together.

[The Set-Up]

I knew the proposal was coming "soon." I just didn't know when (or where) "soon" would show up. Things actually worked out remarkably well for Nick--at least I think--to keep "soon" a secret. I wrote about most of how we ended up in Chicago without me really expecting anything on day 24 of my photo challenge, but what's wrong with a little repetition?

The set-up started with me planning a trip to Chicago for the August 25 Cubs vs. Rockies baseball game. I had the date saved since before this season even started. When we determined that Nick would be living in Iowa by the beginning of August, I made sure to put the game on his calendar. Because, after going to a Rockies-Cubs game for the past three seasons, it was practically tradition.

Not long after that, my best friend Brandi contacted me about scheduling a visit to Chicago. She wanted to come out to see me and take me dress shopping. She threw out three different weekends that would work for her, one being August 25. I told her we'd be heading to Chicago that weekend, thinking that it fit perfectly. (Who knew that she already knew everything that was going to happen?!)

Between Brandi and Nick, they planned out an entire weekend I thought I had essentially planned. Because of that, I really wasn't expecting anything to happen.

[The Game]

Saturday morning we headed off to the el and took the red line out to Wrigley Field. Brandi was documenting the entire trip from the moment we stepped out of our hotel. We got to the stadium a few minutes before the national anthem started, and Nick disappeared to get us nachos and Cokes.

At first I was really into the game, even though the innings seemed to be going really slowly. Then I got a little distracted and started taking pictures of the stadium, the clouds, the game. Nick seemed a little out of sorts, but when asked about it, simply said he was tired from not sleeping well. I chalked it up to the fold-out couch.

Before the start of the fourth inning, Brandi and I took a purposely-planned bathroom break so Nick could take care of some things (like getting another fan to record what was about to happen). We came back and I kept trying to take pictures of things, and Nick. Then came the middle of the fifth...

[The Proposal]

Apparently the middle of the fifth is when Wrigley runs all the "welcome" announcements. As soon as it started Brandi exclaimed, "Look! They're doing the welcomes! Someone's here for their bachelorette party." Still not suspecting anything, I started reading them with her, "Yeah, lots of bachelor parties today." A few more names flashed and then all of a sudden, all I saw was my name. I sort of saw the part after it, but I didn't really need to read it to know what was going on.

I gasped (apparently the loudest and deepest gasp ever, according to Brandi), and then looked over at Nick who was down on one knee next to me. I was vaguely aware that people were starting to crowd around with cameras and phones, and I remember wondering how they all knew where we were.

I know Nick asked if I would marry him, and I stared at the ring before I said yes, but I remember it all as a quick blur because then I dove in to hug him and hide my face from everyone. After hugging for a bit, Nick put the ring on my finger, which was kind of hard because both our hands were shaking. Then apparently the entire stadium gave us a standing ovation, which was really sweet. One huge special moment in our lives, shared with thousands of strangers. I started to wave to everyone, then felt sort of silly, so I stopped. :P

After that we spent most of the remainder of the game calling and texting family and friends, with a break to get up and sing during the seventh inning stretch. I kept trying to savor the moment, but all I remember is everything felt like a huge blur. When we left the stadium, we took some pictures in font of the Cubs sign before heading back.


That night we went out to celebrate at the Grand Lux and the Signature Lounge in the Hancock tower. A perfect ending to a perfect day. :)

[More photos, just because]


31 Days Captured: Day 28

A big, long post full of photos is in the works. Thus, I don't have much to say except Jade is very interested in sushi. :)

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via PicMonkey.

Monday, August 27, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 27

Despite the fact that every picture taken during this challenge was captured on my phone, I think this photo symbolizes the entire project. It's been all about using a tool to capture and keep moments and memories for later days. And this has been something we've done since the invention of the camera. This little Kodak was once used to photograph and preserve holidays and parties, firsts and lasts, trips and life-changing moments, just like my challenge.

Everyone says pictures are worth a thousand words, but the best are worth a thousand memories. They're worth the thoughts and feelings behind each frozen moment. They're a gift from days long ago, sometimes even forgotten. But as soon as you see that moment, that photograph, you remember it all over again.

That's really why I did this photo challenge. I knew deep down, as busy and chaotic as it might be, this month would be one I'd want to remember again and again. So many important moments, and so many quiet small ones, happened in these 31 days (which still aren't over, by the way). Capturing each one (and sharing it with you) was the best part of this whole challenge.

So, with four more days left, thanks for joining me on this ride. It's been so good. :)

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via PicMonkey.

Find more of my daily photos on Tumblr.

31 Days Captured: Day 26

Sunday. Our last day in Chicago. It was rainy and a little gloomy, but still wonderful and full of memories.

I think the John Hancock is my favorite Chicago tower. It was the first single building I photographed when I first came to the city to visit Moody. When I first got to go up to the Signature Lounge (with Nick), it was like ascending to a magical place above the world. It's always felt like that for me. Looking down on the city at night, lights glimmering like little flames, it feels like hope, potential, possibility. Anything can happen, anything is possible, you feel like you can conquer the world.

And for a few moments, from high up in a tower, you do conquer the world. Then, after a few seconds in a crowded elevator, you come back to earth. You walk the streets, gaze up at buildings so tall and mighty, and feel quite small.

But somewhere inside, you remember that ascension, and you know that you can conquer the world.

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via PicMonkey.
Find more of my daily photos on Tumblr.

31 Days Captured: Day 25

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me just say, I will be writing a FULL post all about my engagement soon (with lots of photos). BUT, because I got this beautiful ring on day 25, I pretty much had to make it the photo of the day. (Anything less just wouldn't cut it.)

Nick (and Brandi) can tell you all the specifics about it, all I know is it's big, sparkly and perfect. :) Day 25 was the best.

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via Instagram.

31 Days Captured: Day 24

While this post, and the next three, are quite late, I did take the photos on the correct day. This weekend got a little crazy with a trip into Chicago, so you'll have to forgive me for only uploading the photos now. As for why it was crazy, you'll just have to wait...

On Friday (day 24) Nick and I took a road trip into Chicago. No road trip is complete without Jimmy John's and Starbucks (aka, provisions).

We made it into Chicago in record time and stopped at O'Hare Airport to pick up my best friend Brandi. She "just happened" to be available to come into town that weekend and we were going to have "girl time."

Of course I had been planning on going to Chicago on Saturday ever since the end of last baseball season when I got a Rockies' 2012 schedule. That's when I found out that the Rockies would be playing in Chicago on Aug. 25. Now, for those who don't know, I've been going to at least one Cubs-Rockies game for the past four years, so it has become a tradition. Thus, I had been waiting for this weekend for a long time.

Plans changed a little (more like some people made their own), but I still arrived in Chicago with tickets to go to the game, friends in tow. I took a bunch of pictures Friday, mostly of buildings and downtown, because I really wanted new photos to Instagram (and I wanted to remember the weekend).

We spent the night hanging out, going to our old favorite local eatery, catching up/reminiscing, and feeling a little odd being back in the city where we met. It was hard to believe that four years ago (for me, three for them) I left this city after graduating from college.

The city holds so many memories for each of us. As we walked the streets, we pointed out buildings and corners, shops and parks, and talked about the things that happened there. "Remember when we went there?" "That's where we took our first picture together!"

Chicago will always be the place that brought us together, and the place that brings us back.

Photographs captured with Samsung Galaxy S, no edits (sooc), collages created via PicMonkey.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 23

Today when I came in to work, this was waiting for me on my desk. I thought it was from Nick, but after asking him, "How did you get the dog on my desk?" And him being really confused, I realized it was dropped off by my insurance agent, Jeff Reed (who also happens to be Nick's employer).

Long story, but basically I got gypped out of the stuffed animal apparently everyone is given when they sign up for a plan (in the office). I'm a little more modern and do things like that online. But all has been set right and I have my furry friend to keep me company at my desk.

So to answer the question, yes I am happy now. :)

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, no edits or crops (sooc).Find more of my daily photos on Tumblr.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 22

Tonight Michael played guitar and led worship at youth group. And being the proud big sister that I am, I had to take a photo. It's really cool to see how talented he's becoming, and how that talent is being put to good use.

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via PicMonkey.
Find more of my daily photos on Tumblr.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 21


Today I traveled to Effingham, Illinois, for work (again). I was hoping to get a photo that gave at least a decent representation of the town, but alas, that didn't happen. In fact, I didn't really find any good photo ops all day, so I ended up having to get a little creative. (Or desperate. I'll let you decide.) I took this in my hotel room, of all places.

And since hotel room photos are kind of lame, here's a second photo of the cool looking chair in the corner. Two lame photos help make up for their mutual lameness... right?

Photographs captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits to each via PicMonkey.
Find more of my daily photos on Tumblr.

Monday, August 20, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 20

So besides having an obsession with clouds, I also have an obsession with sunsets. And silhouettes. And somehow I manage to find all those things, sometimes without even setting foot out of my door. Tonight would be one of those times, since I took this photo out my living room window. I loved the colors and how they blended behind bits of civilization.

Once again, my smartphone has saved the day with this challenge. It's always on hand to make sure the right moment gets captured. My poor digital slr hasn't even made it off the shelf. We've still got a few more days; perhaps it will make an appearance.

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via PicMonkey.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 19

I've been on a cloud-capturing kick these days, especially with Instagram's editing awesomeness. (For those who don't have Instagram, I've started uploading photos to my Tumblr, if you want to check them out.) Tonight when the storm started rolling in, I grabbed this shot in my neighborhood. It had a sort of Wizard of Oz quality with the house in the foreground. I could just picture Mrs. Gulch and the twister descending on it.

Thanks again to everyone who's been keeping up with my photos! :)

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via PicMonkey.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 18

After yesterday, I feel like any photo I publish will fall short. (Thanks for all the feedback in its various forms; I always appreciate it.) But nevertheless, I have to keep going with this challenge, so here is today's photo. I received a lovely fall bouquet from Nick, which included one of my favorites, a gerbera daisy. :)

As a side note, at the rate I'm going--since this challenge is over half-way complete--all my photos are going to be captured by my phone's camera. But I suppose it provides a more accurate representation of my life. I usually try to capture scenes or objects I encounter as I'm going about my day. And since I don't lug my big camera everywhere, my smartphone gets the job done. (Hopefully this hasn't disappointed anyone. So far I've been pleased with the results.)

In other news, I had a near heart attack tonight from the possum perched menacingly on my back steps. Again. Thankfully I saw it, unlike last time when I stepped on the possum's tail. Anyone else having wildlife issues? You would think animals would avoid the more populated parts of town, but what do I know?

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via Instagram.

Friday, August 17, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 17

Tonight the sunset was gorgeous. After dinner I still hadn't taken my photo of the day, so as we walked outside I snapped a few photos. And because I liked more than one, I broke the non-existent rules of the photo-a-day challenge, and uploaded two. (Gasp!)

First, I took this picture of the boats tied up at the marina. This dock is right in front of the Candlelight, the restaurant where we had dinner.

Second, I took the picture below of the crazy beautiful sunset over the court house. I was trying to get the least number of light and telephone poles, so this is the best I could do from the riverfront. And yes, I did a little editing, only because my camera phone didn't do it justice.

Whoever said Clinton was ugly never looked up.

Photographs captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits to each via PicMonkey.

Friday Picks

It's that time of the week again! And I have yet another list of Friday Picks to present to you!

If you haven't checked out my past Friday Picks, you can find them here. Basically what I do is assemble a list of things (links, blogs, photos, stories, etc.) in Storify throughout the week. Each Friday, I present the week's selection on my blog.

Where do I get my picks? All over the place, including Facebook, so if we're friends or happen to meet, you may end up becoming a pick (or your blog, Facebook page, or photo)! I've already featured some personal friends and acquaintances.

As always, I welcome suggestions. Just post a comment or contact me via Facebook and give me your recommendations. This is sort of an evolving project, so there really aren't any rules (as you will see this week). :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 16

Kitty is in the process of winning over my mom. Well, actually it's more like she's already won her over, which is funny considering my mom's previous dislike of cats. Before I got Jade, she kept giving me all the reasons why I shouldn't get a cat. Guess I didn't listen, but now my mom doesn't seem to mind too much. :)

Jade occasionally takes little trips over to my parents' house to say hello, play and mostly explore. It's a whole new world full of plants, paint brushes and secret lairs. Oh, and a scary new thing called a guitar, which she isn't too sure about.

But she does love my mom, especially when she gets some watermelon or corn to nibble on.

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, vintage filter, no edits or crops (sooc).

We Run the World

This week at work, I published an article titled "What it's like for the girl gamer" on our website. No, I know next to nothing about the world of hardcore video-gaming (my expertise is limited to Mario Kart and Wii Bowling), but I try to read (skim) most of the stories I publish.

I was more than a little doubtful that I'd even be interested in the article, but I have to admit, it sucked me in. And not because the gaming angle, but because I could relate to the fact that women are struggling against male-dominated realities, even in the realm of virtual reality. (Something I never even thought about.)

The first time I really remember feeling discriminated against because of my gender was, believe it or not, at my job at the Christian college I attended. My direct boss, the man who hired me, refused to ever promote me during the three years I worked for him. In fact, during my third year, he put someone (a guy) who had just started that day, over me on a shift we shared. (We had this system where there had to be one "head" employee per shift, someone to be in charge and make sure everything was done correctly.) After spending the whole shift training the guy on the basics, I was disgusted.

I guess I had thought gender discrimination was a thing of the past, especially in a school built on solid morals and ethics. But even there, favoritism played a villainous part, and it caught me off guard. I struggled through the knowledge that even though I was an experienced, dedicated and hard-working employee, I would never get to that coveted role of head supervisor.

In the years after, I almost expected to be passed over for promotions. It was a struggle not to subconsciously accept my past experiences as the norm. However, somewhere deep inside, the fighter in me refused to give in. Instead of taking a backseat, I decided to ask for a raise two years later at my job in Colorado. And you know what happened? I got the raise, and the company promoted me after less than a year.

That's when I realized two things. First, just because I was a woman in the male-dominated working world, didn't mean I deserved less, or should be treated as less. And second, most times, women have to push a little harder for what they want than men.

Fast-forward a few years to my current job (I consider it a promotion as it was a step up in the company from a reporter to an editor), which I was offered and enthusiastically said I wanted. It became another learning opportunity. This time, I learned that in a company that does things the right way, hard work and a striving for excellence will be recognized and (hopefully) rewarded.

On assignment last year at Erie Airpark in Erie, Ill. (Clinton Herald)

Sometimes it's hard to bounce back after you've been burned, but that's the only way to see progress. And even though it's 2012, progress is still needed, whether in the work world, or the gaming world, or in sports and school. Women have had to fight for hundreds of years to get what they want, what they deserve, and we still have to fight now.

So to all my chicks out there, I say this: keep on fighting! Whatever you choose to do, wherever you live and however you spend your time, remember that progress isn't over. Anywhere you can step up for women, do it, even if it seems very small. As Beyoncé has so eloquently sung, "Who run the world? Girls!"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

31 Days Captured: Day 15

Tonight we kicked off the fall semester of youth group with a mini tailgate session. I'm really looking forward to getting to know the new high schoolers (while keeping an eye on my brother, of course) and continuing to build relationships with the kids I've gotten to know the past few years. I have a feeling this is going to be a great year full of growth and opportunity.

Photograph captured with Samsung Galaxy S, edits via PicMonkey.
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