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  • Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.
  • S.M. Lockridge : “That’s My King!”


    This was shown at Church yesterday, and I was so moved by it I had to share. It’s almost 4 minutes long.



    chickeymonkey post braids photo leanne wildermuth

    You might remember the braids I put in Chickeymonkey’s hair for camp. It’s been a few weeks of easy care and cleaning, but like all good things, it had to come to an end. I just had to get a shot of the de-braiding before the thorough cleansing and pony-tailing. Alotta of ‘ings, to match alotta curls.

    July 4th : Point, Click, and Pray.


    airbrushed tattoos leanne wildermuth

    We headed over to the street festival around 4pm yesterday afternoon. They closed off one of the main roads in Bettendorf and put a band on either end, the street between was lined with vendors. There were t-shirts, handmade jewelry stands, airbrushed tattoos, face painting, and of course – food.

    Normally, we have about $20 to spend for a family of four. Needless to say, there were no frivolities in previous years. One lemonade, two funnel cakes, two glow sticks. This year, we were prepared, and we even had an extra guest. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to share my funnel cake. I even had my own hand squeezed lemonade and a corn dog! We splurged on airbrushed tattoos and hand made friendship bracelets, and spent a few dollars in the kids carnival area for the girls to bounce and play on air rides. (What do you call those things? Blow up toys? That just doesn’t sound right.)

    glow stick motion leanne wildermuth

    The glow sticks this year were super cool – this is Chickeymonkey’s, she kept twirling it and I was already set to Fireworks mode on my camera – so this is how it looks when it’s blinking and being twirled.

    Here are some of my favorite fireworks shots from our 2008 Fireworks display in Bettendorf, Iowa. (the best fireworks display in the Quad Cities!) Keep in mind when you’re looking at these photos that I had my camera (a Panasonic Lumix FZ50) in my lap, had it on Fireworks and infinity burst – and held it as still as possible. I wanted to watch the fireworks this year instead of see them through my camera – so they are literally “Point, Click and Pray” shots. I didn’t edit these shots but to crop them and give you a closer view.

    Ready? Set? Boom!

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    Summer, At Last.


    patio solar lighting cutter citronella candles

    I grilled up some mean (and tender, and lean) butterflied barbeque chicken, beer brats and hot dogs. I threw together a fruit pizza (basically, a giant cream cheese frosted sugar cookie with fruit on top). I had chips and condiments. I had bottled water and capri sun – and I had more than enough for everyone.

    I had great company. The kind that makes you think “I could do this every day of the week.” And I could. I’d love to. And more great company stopped over just to peek in and have a look at the yard and patio. It was wonderful.

    fire embers burning leanne wildermuth

    I had skewers and sticks, marshmallows, and graham crackers. I had chocolate. I had a perfect little fire pit to gather around and make s’mores. I had just enough of everything so that no one felt left out. The fire was just right (thanks, Jacque!) and the kids had a blast. We forgot to sing Kumbaya, but the sentiment was there.

    This is what I look forward to, nights like these. Aaaaah.

    What did you do lastnight? And more importantly, why didn’t you stop over? I saved you a marshmallow.

    The Patio Project


    Back in the end of 2003, we had a studio addition built onto the back of our house. While that job was being completed, my hubby was called to active duty and left for Iraq. I was left to my own devices then to work on big projects, and I did what I could do on my own, and reached out for help when I needed it. (and wouldntchya know, some of the people who told me to call whenever I needed anything, went around telling people that I only ever called when I wanted something! Gah! I still can’t get over it.)

    I digress.

    My father in law came to my rescue a couple of days, he helped me dig away the soil against the back of the studio so I could put down a patio.

    And that was all great and spiffy for a while. As long as we only needed two chairs and a little side table between them, because that’s about as deep as it was. We have known for a while that it needed to be extended, and we started doodling out plans last fall to get ‘er done before Hubby had to go on active duty – again. So, as I mentioned over the last week, our local home improvement store, Menards, had a sale on patio pavers for A QUARTER. a piece.

    I had 250 of them delivered, along with a gadjillion pounds (16 bags) of paving sand.

    It doesn’t look like much, does it? I wasn’t that impressed. I thought I’d have had like a whole driveway full of pallets loaded down with stuff. Hmpf.

    So we quickly got to work digging up and scraping off all of the old 18×18 paving blocks. Talk about break your momma’s back! Ouch. I was younger when I did this 4 years ago. Four years younger, to be exact.

    It really wasn’t as bad as I make it sound. They popped up pretty easy and it was hilarious watching the earthworms scramble for cover.

    So then I left hubby to do the hard stuff, digging away more soil/sod and TREE ROOTS. Man there were some whoppers in there.

    You can see how much we’ve extended the patio out here, he’s about halfway done with the digging. And then it rained.

    For three days.

    SO. The sun was shining over the weekend and we got a lot accomplished. Landscape fabric. Sand. Laying out the first few of the pattern to get it going and figure out the spacing. Then again, hubby took over and with a few more trips for more sand, finished it up.

    Then it was my turn, to beautify. I picked up a dozen (or so) bags of pea gravel to fill in the borders, cause I had plans. Plans that I could see in MY head, but he couldn’t envision at all. That’s how we roll – I tell him what I see and he gets all confused, scratches his head, and just does it. And so we went shopping, and I picked up just a couple more things to finish it off.

    Night came all too fast. I obviously have to work all day today so I can only get this kind of stuff done in the late afternoon/evenings – and I didn’t want to wait a day, I wanted to do it and then just enjoy it tonight, kwim? I’m a practical gal. With a brand new bag of marshmallows to roast.

    I stayed up late into the night (c’mon, 10pm is late when your regular bedtime is 8pm. I’m old.) and I put things together. And I asked our neighbors son to come over and help because what young man DOESN’T get excited over solar lights? Okay most young men wouldn’t – but this one is a techie. And he’s getting into the whole yard beautification thing. I’m sending him subliminal influential messages in his sleep. Or something. So the solar lights went in, and the petunias went up, and the fire pit came together and we lit the citronella candles and then?

    Catybug and I took a seat. And no gnats crawled into our ears and had kids. No mosquitoes buzzed us and sucked our blood. The smell of the neighbor’s doggie doo was replaced by the sweet smell of petunias cascading right behind our heads. We heard crickets. And we saw stars. And we sat back and relaxed. We enjoyed the soft glow of the solar lights, the flickering of the citronella candles, and for a few minutes we didn’t do anything at all except sit back, and breathe in and out.

    I’ll try to get a good night photo tonight so you can see how cozy it is. Really? For about $200? I couldn’t be more pleased.

    C’mon over, I’m firing up the grill and the fire pit tonight and we’re roasting dogs and marshmallows!

    It’s a Wrap


    vine wrapped around power cord photo leanne wildermuth
    Wild vine wrapped around a power line @ our Church
    Because I haven’t said much at all this week, I thought I’d give you a little Weekend Wrap-up of how the week went for me, over here, all childless and “eh” and stuff. So here’s the skinny version, Leanne Lite, you might say, just to bring you up to speed.

      • I missed my kids.
      • I worked on a few blog designs this week, Lisa Riggs is up and launched but I’ve still been in there tinkering and changing and tweaking and stuff. I launched Individual Sole last week but am also working on some added features for that project. I also launched Hyp2 yesterday morning. So yeah, I stayed pretty busy this week and as always, there’s still more to do.
      • I’ve been Plurking. I’ve quickly become addicted to this sweet little service that is like a group IM. I love it because it brings your friends together, if they didn’t know each other before. I am happy that my dear friend Taba is getting to know my other wonderful friend Pamibe. It’s cool to watch that friendship happen. If/when you sign up (using my referral link, of course), find me here.
      • I have been swarmed by gnats and flying bity things. The Mississippi River (which I live a mile uphill from) and its overflowing banks and standing waters are breeding these nasty, horrid swarms of bity things. I am anxious for hubby to mow today so I can spray my magical bug spray. And I am grateful that we had 2 tubes of Benedryl cream when the girls left for camp.
      • I was excited to see my first little Baby Burpless Cucumber take off this week, it’s about the size of a dill pickle now. I am amazed at how fast vegetables grow over the course of one week.
      • I missed my kids.
      • I wondered why not one oil exec wants to be the hero of the nation by simply taking a pay cut and putting some of his crazy capitalistic profits on hold and only marking up product a fixed 5-10%. I wonder if one company did it, and one chain of stations lowered their price by a buck a gallon, if they understand that they would reap the rewards of that anti-capitalistic movement by increased sales, production and profits probably wouldn’t change much since they’d be on top of the world with their little superhero cape waving in the wind. And then I wonder if I “get it” at all, because if I were one of those execs, I’d want the cape. Guys always want capes. So I wonder if that’s even possible. I wish it were. It all seems like price gauging to me.
      • I also wonder why this Democratic Nominee running for President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, is working so hard to help a former millionaire (or whatever she was/is) like Clinton get out of debt with all of this fund raising and writing her personal checks and crap all while he pretends to care about the lower and middle class who are broke and can’t fill their gas tanks. Why didn’t he write 100 – $20 checks to people at the pumps instead of $2000 to someone like Hillary who should have stopped spending frivolously months ago? Wouldn’t that have made SUCH an impact on voters? Guess maybe Hillary is more important to him than all of us silly Americans. Hey, maybe we should pitch in and help out Hillary, too, huh? Send her some cash, since things must be so difficult for her, after all – she continued on with her lost campaign and probably took out a second mortgage on one of her many homes to do it. Poor gal.


    • I received a cute little pink Nintendo DS for my birthday in January. I found a game in May that I love, Word Jong, that I’ve played religiously every evening. It’s a single player game, so it’s all mine. No sharing. I’ve made it to the top level now, level 40. Here are some fun facts about me and my Word Jong game:- Time Played: 12:08
      – 2,085 Words created
      – 186 Puzzles completed
      – Average word length, 4.49 letters
      – Total score – 40,174
      – Rank: Diamond Dragon

      Anyone who knows me knows I’m not big on gaming things. I wanted the thing for Brain Age Games because I’m not the sharpest tack in the box, if you know what I’m sayin. But now I’m coming up with words. I love words. Obviously not very big words, but still. Words. This week, though, I missed my kids. I couldn’t think of any words. I didn’t play.

    • The girls are home from camp. YAYYYYYYY!! I missed my kids. I couldn’t sqwish them hard enough. And Catybug? Is growing up so fast. I realized quickly that I need to work harder to stay in her confidence, I so desperately don’t want her to feel like she has no one to talk to during this phase in her life. It’s hard enough, going through all those changes as a pre-teen, but feeling like you’re all alone and your questions are stupid and you feel totally *not* normal – no one should feel that way. Chickeymonkey? Is more like a Chattermonkey now. Good gravy someone get that girl a piece of gum.
    • I picked up 250 patio pavers so we could extend our 6×18 patio to 10×18, and actually fit a patio set on it. They were on sale for $0.25 a piece. A quarter a piece. NOTHING costs a quarter anymore. They cost a whopping $62.50. What a bargain patio! Those are our weekend plans.

    So, what’d I miss this week? How have you been? What are your weekend plans?

    My Kids


    Sunday was a busy day. After Church, we organized and packed the girls for camp. We ran errands, picked up the last of the items on their lists, and then I got busy on Chickeymonkey’s head.

    The last thing I wanted to subject someone to at camp was having to wash her hair. She hasn’t quite learned how to do it herself yet, so I decided to (hopefully) make it easier on everyone and put tiny braids all over her head.

    How I love this child of mine – she sat patiently (watching the clock and updating me every 4-7 minutes) for an hour and a half while I put about 30 braids in her hair. She only whimpered a couple of times as single hairs kept finding their way into the braids halfway across her head. What I thought would turn out to be a giant headache, turned out to be a very cool head of hair.

    I love this photo of her. LOVE. This is my Chickeymonkey.
    This is Catybugs 3rd year at camp. Chickeymonkey? Well, this is her first year. We spent 2 weeks with the “I don’t wanna go’s” and the last two days with the “can I go the full week?” And me? I’m trying to pretend they’re just at school all day long, and sleeping over at a friends house at night. Because I’m a sap, that’s why.

    * * * * *

    Catybug: “Mom you should be excited that we’re going to camp! Now you can do all the stuff you wanted to do without us around!”
    Me: “Yeah, okay, Catie, do you know what’s on that list?”
    Catybug: “No, what?”
    Me: “Nothing. There’s NOthing I want to do without you around. I had kids because I want kids. I WANT you around.”

    * * * * *
    And this is how my week is going to go. I’m working, yes, but there’s seriously nothing on my list of things to do that I wouldn’t rather do with my family in tow. That time together doesn’t last very long, before stuff like this happens – and they’re going off to camp, going off to a friends house – going off to school, then going off to get married. I’d rather soak up every moment I’ve got before those moments are farther and fewer between.

    Sigh. Back to work. *misses my kiddos*

    A Weekend Wedding


    wedding ceremony photography leanne wildermuth

    The beautiful couple is my Godson and his new wife. The wedding was sweet, and short, and their adoration toward eachother was so apparent throughout the day.

    wedding ceremony photography leanne wildermuth

    The flowers were simple, but beautiful, they were just right.

    wedding ceremony photography leanne wildermuth

    The exchange of vows was romantic, and sincere, and yes, of course I cried.

    wedding ceremony photography leanne wildermuth

    They lit the unity candle in perfect synchronization.

    wedding ceremony photography leanne wildermuth

    The flower girl offered rose petals for everyone to throw as they exited the church.

    wedding ceremony photography leanne wildermuth

    And we danced.

    * * * * *

    It was a weekend of remembering, of smiling, laughing, hugging, and eating. It was a weekend of meeting people again that I haven’t seen in ages. And on the way home, it was a time of reflection.

    In my 19 years away, look at all that I’ve missed. I’ve missed watching the childhood of my Godson – going to his baseball games, birthday parties, and graduations. I’ve cherished a photo of him when he was just a toddler and it was as though my mind didn’t think of him as a person who would grow up, fall in love, and get married.

    I’ve missed my cousins being born – and met one of them, an adult, that I’ve never met before. I’m on the outside of the inside jokes. I’m loved, yes, from a distance and with casual yet formal hugs and smiles. I am the one they thank for traveling a distance (though it’s not a very big one) to visit.

    It’s amazing to me how much life happens in 19 years. How not being nearer to your family means you will miss it, unless you make it a point not to. I spent some time mourning the things I missed, but also being so grateful that this realization hit me when it did. I won’t be the one who sits idly by and waits for an invitation to be with my family. I need to be the one to call, to remember, to make the effort – because if I’m not, no one will.

    What a wonderful, beautiful, emotional weekend.

    How far do you live from your family, and how often do you see the ones you love?

    The Weekend Dirt


    green pepper plant baby pepper
    Ta-da! It’s been 17 days since I planted my garden, and I have progress! I was goo-gooing and gaa-gaaing over this baby green pepper yesterday. Here’s what it looks like now:

    leannes garden 17 days after planting
    I got my hoe on yesterday, prettifying the “aisles” and adding cucumbers and another couple of musk melon plants, because I think my other two are pretty hopeless. The beets, bush beans and spinach have all germinated and are going crazy. I’ll have to thin them out, but first I have to figure out when and how to thin them out. I’m such a garden virgin.

    * * * * * More non-garden dirt * * * * *
    Still scratching things off my to-do list, getting my girls graduated from 6th and 1st grades, gardening, Wii Fit’ting – and doing a bunch of extra stuff that my hubby usually does but can’t now that he’s one-armed.

    The girls have been on summer vacation since Wednesday afternoon, and they were, in usual form, bored after being home for 10 minutes. Catybug went to her friends, Chickeymonkey invited her friend over, and since then it’s been crazy with slumber parties and sleepovers and playing rain in the driveway with the garden hose – and then, just when you think things have calmed down for 5 minutes, they argue over the Wii.

    Ahh yes. School’s out.

    I have to brag though, Chickeymonkey finished 1st grade with a straight A average, and Catybug nearly an A+ average. Her GPA was 98.6 for the year – but her test scores (The ISAT) were at 99%, she tested at a 10th grade 5th month level, which is the highest you can go. (Beaming? Why yes, we are!) We are very pleased with the education they’re receiving and glad to make the sacrifices to get them a good one.

    * * * * * Art & Design related dirt * * * * *
    I’ve also been working like a mad woman over the past week, and though I wasn’t able to hit the studio as I would have liked, and I still haven’t gotten the progress pics of Jam and Rex for you, I have managed to design and launch a few neat blog designs. The next couple of weeks will be hugely busy as I try to get current again with everything – finishing design projects and paintings both.

    I know you’re anxious to have a look at those designs, so here you go:

    • VividNUrban – this is an urban magazine style blog, the main page is all custom code to pull in all of the categories he wants to highlight, linking to each post and also the full category. You also have the option to read it as a “blog” in the main menu. It’s a sweet design, and nearly caused my brain to burst.
    • Fanboy@50 – Lew deals with anime and comics – he’ll probably be opening a shop on his blog as well.
    • Kissythecutie – Though Kissy is still formatting her content, you can at least view the design and the beginning of her career in the blogosphere. I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes things with her blog!

    And that was my week in a nutshell – I’m looking forward to lounging around today and recuperating so I can start it all again tomorrow morning.

    How was your week?

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