365 in 52 [2021] ~ Week Thirty-Four

Day 232, Friday, August 20th, 2021

Pineapple by the Pool

There is absolutely no reason for this pineapple to be poolside except that I thought it was pretty. LOL. Actually I had taken the pineapple outside to do some macro work in the sunshine and really liked the blue of the pool as a background.

New Braunfels food photographer
Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/13 | 1/250 | ISO 800 | handheld

Day 233, Saturday, August 21st, 2021

Testing Birthday Lens

We had my family birthday party on Saturday last weekend. Jenny was able to join us from Georgetown and my Aunt Beanie via Zoom. I was completely gobsmacked to receive a new lens from Beanie for my birthday… the 24-35mm f/2 Sigma ART lens! Wow! Of course I had to put it on my camera right away to test it. Curtis was a sweetheart to give me an actual nice smile! Mom then cautioned me not to get too excited because Amazon had shipped it in a soft paper envelope with no padding and the box was squished and damaged. Sure enough, I tested the focus next day and it was soft. So that lens got returned and will be replaced. Thank you soooo much, Beanie!

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 35mm | f/3.2 | 1/250 | ISO 1600 | handheld

Day 234, Sunday, August 22nd, 2021

Last Summer Pool Day

There’s nothing like the last Sunday before a new school year starts. Typically our district’s first day is a Tuesday so Mondays are for laundry, gathering supplies, errands, and getting to bed early. Sunday was lazy, we swam all afternoon as a family and had a grand time. I got everyone to jump at the same time for me (well Anna jumped a little early!). We started her on a new medication for anxiety and OCD the day before and she wasn’t responding great yet. The OCD was definitely getting better but her anxiety seemed to be getting worse.

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/5.6 | 1/640 | ISO 160 | handheld

Day 235, Monday, August 23rd, 2021

Dominic is a Good Helper

I needed to do a medium sized grocery run on Monday and Anna was just too grumpy to come with me. I asked Dominic if he would like join me and to my absolute delight, he agreed. He was a huge help… getting the hard to reach items, pushing the cart, and unloading the groceries into the car. I really enjoy spending time with him and I’m acutely aware of how little time I have left before he’s off the college. Thank you for being my helper, Pickle.

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/7.1 | 1/800 | ISO 160 | handheld

Day 236, Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

First Day of 12th Grade

Dominic started his senior year of high school at Memorial Early College High School. He will graduate with his Associate’s Degree in May 2022 and hasn’t yet decided where he’s going to apply for college or what he wants to study. He’s 5’11” and driving independently. He has a solid core group of friends from middle school and high school but hasn’t dated anyone seriously yet. He loves video games, swimming, and cooking. Watching him grow into this funny, charismatic, caring young man has been an absolute joy.

New Braunfels lifestyle portrait photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/4.5 | 1/400 | ISO 640 | handheld 

Day 236, Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

First Day of Year 2 at Life Bridges

Anna started her second full year at the Life Bridges transitional program. She is now 20 years old and can stay in this program until she’s 22. Life Bridges teaches job skills, life skills, social skills as well as helps team members create a path to independence at home and in the community. She struggles with anxiety and OCD on top of her intellectual disability and autism which can lead to some negative behavior. We are slowly integrating her back into the real world. The pandemic and quarantine last year has led to her being afraid of more situations even with support. I am hopeful that she will go to job sites this year and start getting her confidence back. Seeing Anna struggle breaks my heart.

Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/4.5 | 1/400 | ISO 640 | handheld 

Day 237, Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

No photos today. It was a bad, bad second day of Life Bridges for Anna. She cried several times before the bus came then wouldn’t get on the bus. I offered to pick her up that afternoon as an incentive which worked (there is no worse pressure than having the bus waiting, stopping traffic, and having your kid refuse to move) but then once she arrived at LB, she wouldn’t get off the bus, go in the building, or participate at all at Life Bridges that morning. I got a call at 10:30 that morning that Anna had a 30-minute meltdown and broke her glasses (she broke 2 pair a couple of weeks ago). Sigh. She tore up papers and hit an aide too. I contacted her psychiatrist and decided to stop the new med immediately.

Day 238, Thursday, August 26th, 2021

Tiny Delight

Macro therapy always works to help relieve stress. This tiny center of a miniature daisy is just delightful to study. I love how nature’s patterns are so perfect. (Side note, Anna had a much better day… it was definitely the medicine causing the behavior problems.)

New Braunfels macro flower nature photographer
Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/8 | 1/200 | ISO 400 | handheld

Thanks for looking!

365 in 52 [2021] ~ Week Thirty-Three

Day 225, Friday, August 13th, 2021

Terrible Dinner, Good Company

Anna and I had a few errands to run last Friday and since we got a late start, Curtis was able to join us. After we finished our errands, he suggested we go out to eat since Anna is still having a lot of anxiety about restaurants. It’s good to push her some, especially when she’s with me and Curtis, since we can reassure her and give her all of our attention. We chose Rodriguez Restaurant y Cantina since it was nearby and we had only ever eaten there once before shortly after they opened. Needless to say, this was not their best night. Just about everything that could go wrong did, including poor service, mediocre food, overcharging, and a bone in the chicken quesadilla. They handled things so badly that Curtis and I both left 1-star reviews on Yelp and Google which we rarely ever do. Anna did really well though and that’s what is most important. And we got Tipsy Cow for dessert! Disregard Curtis’s goofy face, he’s been doing that a lot lately when I ask him to be in pictures. Big dork!

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/4 | 1/200 | ISO 1250 | handheld

Day 226, Saturday, August 14th, 2021

Side Orb

I was checking the mail and look what caught my eye! This orb weaver spider spun its web across the front of the community bulletin board. I thought the view from the side was exquisite. They are gorgeous spiders!

New Braunfels nature macro spider photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/5.6 | 1/200 | ISO 500 | handheld

Day 227, Sunday, August 15th, 2021

All Lined Up

Hanging out in the yard with Anna and the dogs, I noticed the cicada shells lined up on the tree… one, two, three, all in a row. We are having a bountiful year of cicadas and their noise at night is part of the summer tapestry of sound. They always make me think of Cricket, mom’s Shih Tzu that passed away last year. Cricket loved to eat cicadas!

New Braunfels nature insect photographer
Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/10 | 1/250 | ISO 1000 | handheld

Day 228, Monday, August 16th, 2021

LED Lights from Jenny

One of Dominic’s birthday gifts from his big sister, Jenny, was a set of LED lights for his room. He had been asking me very nicely for 2 weeks to help install them and I finally had time to do it on Monday. He was a huge help too. I wanted to get a shot of the lights to show Jenny. I love that he’s got his fairy lights under his bunk and these cool LEDs around the top of his room. Makes me want them around the whole house!

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/1.4 | 1/160 | ISO 1000 | handheld

In a Blue State of Mind

I swear I’ve been having more fun changing the light colors than Dominic! He also has an Alexa controlled light in his lamp, so he can make the LED lights around the top the same color as his lamp. Here he was going for a blue motif. I love how it makes the whole room look supernatural! Can you see him playing on his computer?

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/1.4 | 1/160 | ISO 1000 | handheld

Day 229, Tuesday, August 17th, 2021

52 Today

Curtis, Anna, and Dominic took me out to lunch at my favorite Tex-Mex place, Casa Garcia’s. I got to wear a sombrero and everyone sang to me. And I got sopapillas! My mom made me vanilla cupcakes with homemade chocolate frosting (and a small 2-layer cake too). My mother-in-law sent me the most gorgeous arrangement of house plants. Curtis’s big gift to me was a flying lesson (see tomorrow!). I am so loved and so very grateful for my family.

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/2.2 | 1/160 | ISO 1000 | handheld 

Day 230, Wednesday, August 18th, 2021

Discovery Flight

Over the years, Anna’s been super into airplanes which has led to all of us learning a lot more about flying. I really enjoyed our flight a few years ago for Anna’s 18th birthday (which I’ve not shared those photos yet!). Curtis’s coworker took us up in her 6-seater airplane and Anna got to be copilot. For my birthday this year, Curtis got me a 1-hour Discovery Flight with the Texas Aviation Academy. It was amazing! Ian was my instructor and he had me sit in the pilot’s seat. He took off then handed the yoke to me and I flew for about 40 minutes. We flew up to Canyon Lake, I did a few laps around the lake then headed to San Marcos. Ian had me follow IH35 back to New Braunfels then he brought us in for a landing. If it weren’t so expensive, I’d take lessons to get my pilot’s license (about $4K to start and an average of $10K total). It was awesome. 

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/9 | 1/200 | ISO 500 | handheld

Day 231, Thursday, August 19th, 2021

Leaf Patterns

This leaf is from one of the houseplants in the arrangement that Judy gave me. I’ll work on identification but I love the design of the leaf with the red veins and light green background. The dark green parts remind me of feathers!

New Braunfels nature macro leaf photographer
Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/11 | 1/250 | ISO 400 | handheld

Thanks for looking

365 in 52 [2021] ~ Week Thirty-Two

Day 218, Friday, August 6th, 2021

Cleaning Out the Purse

(Posting 4 days late because Anna’s still going through a rough spell.) 

I don’t change purses very often (mostly because I only have one real purse at the moment), but I wanted to take my camera bag out last weekend and needed a few items from my purse. It’s always a surprise what you find at the bottom of a bag… like missing sunglasses or a piece of candy! None of my bags really work well for my needs, I should remedy that. 

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/2.8 | 1/200 | ISO 1000 | handheld

Day 219, Saturday, August 7th, 2021

No photos today. Curtis and I were supposed to go listen to Nightbird at the Blue Bonnet Palace but we were so tired and defeated from dealing with Anna that we decided to stay home.

Day 220, Sunday, August 8th, 2021

Mangled Glasses

I was out of the house for a short time and Anna was already fragile when I left. She’s still super stuck on her great Uncle Bill. She had spam texted grandma earlier in the week about Bill so we had to take her phone away. Dad had said maybe she would never get her phone back (really to see if she would accept not talking to Bill for a while) but it backfired and Anna got super upset. She went to her room and tore it apart. Emptied her dressers, threw stuff on the floor, cursed, and raged. She broke her glasses then found her Flexon glasses (supposedly unbreakable) and twisted them in an unusable shape. Luckily I still had one other pair stashed away but I didn’t let her have access to them until Monday. Sigh. I feel bad for her but I’m so tired. 

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/4 | 1/250 | ISO 1600 | handheld

Day 221, Monday, August 9th, 2021

At Visionworks Again

Both pairs of frames were unfixable but the lenses were salvageable. Patricia, the lovely manager of Visionworks, knows Anna and her cycles of behavior issues. She gave me the contact info for the Flexon frames and said I would need to message them directly since we had them longer than a year. Then she said that they didn’t have the other frames anymore but if I wanted to leave the lenses, she would try to find another frame with the same shape so we would only have to purchase the frame. I got a call within a few hours that they found a match and they were ready to pick up. What an angel. 

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4 | 1/200 | ISO 800 | handheld

Day 222, Tuesday, August 10th, 2021

No photos today. We did pick up Anna’s new frames, they are a lovely blue. 

Day 223, Wednesday, August 11th, 2021

Connect Four with Dominic

Curtis and I have been wanting to tour Daymark Living in Waxahachie ever since we heard about it two years ago. It’s a real community for adults with intellectual disabilities. After this last rough weekend with Anna, we wanted to see what this place was like. We can’t imagine Jenny or Dominic having to deal with this level of need after we are gone, we have to help Anna achieve some kind of semi-independent (with assistance) life that she is excited about. 

Anyway, we packed up Wednesday afternoon and headed to Waxahachie. Much to our surprise, Dominic wanted to come with us. After we got settled in our hotel rooms, we got on Yelp and picked a place to eat. Unfortunately it was a large open space with a baby at a nearby table and Anna was a big fat NOPE. So we had to leave after ordering drinks with apologies to the staff. Then we found Milano’s Pizza, a small pizzeria near historic downtown. There was only one other table taken and they had some games including this oversized Connect Four. Dominic ended up beating me twice, I’m just so distracted and tired. 

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/4 | 1/200 | ISO 1600 | handheld

Day 224, Thursday, August 12th, 2021

Daymark Living Cottages

The Daymark Living tour was scheduled for 11 am and it was awesome. Our official tour guide was Erika and one of the residents named Becky joined us a couple of times. First impressions were that the campus is big; it’s very clean, modern, and pretty; and that the residents all seem very happy and friendly. They have 3 main buildings: one housing the cafeteria, another classrooms, and the third recreation areas. They have a resort sized swimming pool and a regulation sized basketball court. Then surrounding the main campus are the resident cottages. They have 2, 3, and 4 bedroom cottages. Each resident gets their own private bedroom, closet, and en-suite bathroom and they share the kitchen, living room, and laundry with their roommate(s). They currently have 75 residents with room for 200. They offer all sorts of classes every day from career development, communication and relationships (and yes they are allowed to have boyfriends on campus but cannot live together), community, culinary, health and wellness, household management, leadership and self-advocacy, money management, and technology. They have a packed daily schedule with social time and fun activities too.

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/7.1 | 1/200 | ISO 100 | handheld

Day 224, Thursday, August 12th, 2021

Anna in the Living Room

Anna seemed to really like the campus. She brought her newborn reborn baby, Zachary, and several of the residents knew about reborns. One stopped to talk to Anna for a long time and even held Zachary for a while. Anna was nervous in the cafeteria and the recreation building because of the noise and activity level but did well walking around the rest of the facility. Here she is sitting in one of the model cottages where they have the living room decorated. It would be years before we could make this kind of transition, but it’s good for all of us to have goals. Daymark Living is expensive, running $3800 a month but that does includes everything. So Curtis and I have a lot of financial planning to do. And we have to figure out how that would impact the services we are about to start with HCS. Anna needs to start having overnights away to get used to being without us and most importantly, she has to get her behavior under better control. They don’t accept residents with major behavior problems. Curtis and I want to talk to the founder about how he got Daymark Living started, specifically with investors and funding. We would love to build something like this in Central Texas so we can stay close to Jenny. Jenny and Wyatt will be building on a nice patch of land on his family’s ranch in Georgetown. 

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/2.5 | 1/200 | ISO 2000 | handheld

Thanks for looking!

365 in 52 [2021] ~ Week Thirty-One

Day 211, Friday, July 30th, 2021

The Herd Gets a Snack

(Posting 4 days late because Anna’s been going through a rough spell.) The deer have been bedding down in our yard at night. When I open the garage, they come running for a treat. I usually feed them deer nutrition in their troughs but I will scatter a handful in the driveway for them occasionally. We had even more than usual visit last Friday!

New Braunfels nature photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/3.2 | 1/250 | ISO 1600 | handheld

Day 212, Saturday, July 31st, 2021

Nana’s Ombré Cake for Dominic

My mom loves baking homemade cakes for everyone’s birthday. Dominic wanted a chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. Since mom hasn’t been sleeping and has been super fatigued during the day, I offered to bake the cake and she could do the frosting. Winner! Mom liked having the extra energy for the frosting and made an ombré design with Dominic’s favorite color, green. It turned out great!!!

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/3.2 | 1/250 | ISO 1600 | handheld

Day 212, Saturday, July 31st, 2021

Jenny Gives Wyatt That Look

Jenny and Wyatt came down to celebrate Dominic’s birthday last Saturday. We waited to open presents until the family party (though we let him open a few things on his actual birthday on the 29th). He seemed genuinely happy with his gifts and especially enjoyed having his sister visit. I can’t remember what was said, but Wyatt was teasing Jenny and this is the look she gave him in response. Priceless. 

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/4 | 1/250 | ISO 1600 | handheld

Day 213, Sunday, August 1st, 2021

On the Road Again

We’ve been so lucky to have Curtis home since October 2019. He hasn’t had to travel hardly at all because of the pandemic. Well that hiatus is over now. Curtis left for Dallas Sunday afternoon to return Thursday night. I walked him out and actually had a pang in my heart seeing him back out of the driveway. The house felt super empty without him and it was a long, long week.

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/4.5 | 1/200 | ISO 800 | handheld

Day 214, Monday, August 2nd, 2021

Beautiful Wet Sunset

I had just gotten Anna to bed and was tidying up the house when I noticed a glow coming through my bedroom blinds. I grabbed my camera and went to the only westward facing area on our property. It had just finished sprinkling and the sun was setting. The light was a golden yellowy orange… it was so pretty that my photo does not do it justice. 

New Braunfels nature photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/3.5 | 1/160 | ISO 250 | handheld

Day 215, Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

Stare Down

The deer like to follow me around anytime I’m outside. I was wandering out front with my camera and was inspecting one of the sago palms that we lost in the freeze. Two of our other ones have new growth on them but I think this one is a goner. This deer wasn’t quite as friendly as some of the others in our herd and I got quite the stare down as I was snapping away.

New Braunfels nature photographer
Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 1000 | handheld

Day 216, Wednesday, August 4th, 2021

Jack Installs Rain Chains

Jack of This Old Man Handyman Services recently installed a gutter around our air conditioning units to help manage rain runoff from the roof and he recommended a couple of rain chains to further slow the water flow. He’s such a nice man, so easy to chat with, the dogs and the kids (and my mom) love him. We are so grateful to have found him, we think of him like family now. He’s going to fix a broken slat in the AC fence, tighten up loose boards in our outside fence, and build a little pergola/shade canopy over the pool equipment next.

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/7.1 | 1/400 | ISO 500 | handheld

Day 217, Thursday, August 5th, 2021

Volunteering at the Shelter

Since there are just a few weeks left before school starts, we suggested to Dominic that he volunteer a few days a week for the rest of the summer. One of the closest places he can help out is at the Canyon Lake Animal Shelter which welcomes volunteers Tuesday through Saturday 10am until noon. Anna was also going to volunteer here this summer with her caregiver, Andrea, but we couldn’t manage the timing quite well enough to get started. So I took them both up there Thursday last week. I didn’t have Anna do much since this visit was mostly to get Dominic acclimated but she did enjoy watching the cats run around. One of the other volunteers brought an older kitten in for Anna to hold at one point.

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/2.8 | 1/200 | ISO 1000 | handheld

Cleaning Out Cat Cages

Dominic and I got the entire left cat room cleaned while we were there. Each cat is in one large cage that has two levels. The litter is on the lower level and the food and water on the upper. We took out all the newspaper and replaced with fresh, removed the food and water and replaced with fresh, dumped the old litter and replaced with fresh, spraying down with bleach water in between. Most of the cats were quite friendly but one was scared and I didn’t heed her warning quite quickly enough. Luckily it was just a surface scratch along my outer thumb and has healed up well. 

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4.5 | 1/200 | ISO 1000 | handheld

Socializing the Kittehs

Once we finished the heavy duty cleaning, I let the kids sit out in the main room and play with the two tiny kittens in the front cage. This little tiny kitteh, Eugene, couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 weeks old. He was itty bitty. He really loved cuddling with Anna. No, we did not bring him home. The kids actually did really well not asking me for a new pet!

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4.5 | 1/200 | ISO 1000 | handheld

Thanks for looking!

365 in 52 [2021] ~ Week Thirty

Day 204, Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Anna’s New Haircut

The increase in her meds last week made a big difference in Anna’s overall mood. I was able to take her to see Heather to get a haircut and look how cute she is! I love her smile! She’s really into watching dash cam car crash video compilations on YouTube right now. The car crashes make her laugh out loud, it’s a little evil!

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/5 | 1/320 | ISO 500 | handheld

Day 205, Saturday, July 24th, 2021

Party Time

Dominic wanted to have his friend party the weekend before his birthday because most of his buddies had plans the following weekend. He had 7 guys and 3 girls show up. It was so strange to see cars and trucks lining the street, all these kids can drive themselves now! We had snacks ready, the kids hung out upstairs then swam before we cooked out. 

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/2.8 | 1/200 | ISO 1000 | handheld

Singing to the Birthday Boy

It was really lovely to have a house full of kids all singing to Dominic. We got a sheet cake for the party and planned to make a homemade cake for his family party. I wonder what he wished for?

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/3.5 | 1/200 | ISO 1600 | handheld

Day 206, Sunday, July 25th, 2021

Shirley and Pat

Mom has a good friend named Pat that she met in Wimberley when she played with the Hill Country Community Band. Pat also plays flute. They’ve always been close but became very good friends when Pat’s husband, Bob, passed away a few years ago. Pat’s health has been declining and she is moving to Plano to be closer to her daughters. Mom went over to her house to help her sort through some sheet music. 

New Braunfels lifestyle portrait photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/4 | 1/200 | ISO 800 | handheld

Day 207, Monday, July 26th, 2021

Orthodontist Visit

Dominic thought he was getting his bottom braces off this visit but he has to continue to wear bands to correct his bite for another month or two. He very nicely asked me to accompany him this visit even though he could have driven himself. I like that he still wants to spend time with me.

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 85mm | f/3.5 | 1/200 | ISO 1250 | handheld

Day 208, Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

The Summer of Yahtzee

We ordered some replacement dice for our Yahtzee game after a recent game night where we discovered that we didn’t have 5 die. Anna had been playing Uno quite a bit until I introduced her to Yahtzee. She loves it. She got super lucky the first few games and kept rolling Yahtzee after Yahtzee… she was hooked! We now play approximately 114 games a day.

New Braunfels lifestyle photographer
Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/3.2 | 1/125 | ISO 3200 | handheld

Day 209, Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Dancing Mantis

We were swimming and had music playing outside. Dominic spotted this praying mantis on the rocking chair and suggested I get my macro lens. I got a few shots as it danced up the side of the rocking chair (and it was dancing to the beat of the music!) then I shot a little video of him. It was a true AFV moment where the little bugger jumped right on my camera at the end!

New Braunfels nature macro photographer
Nikon D750 | 105mm | f/8 | 1/400 | ISO 1000 | handheld

Day 210, Thursday, July 29th, 2021

Happy 17th Dominic

Dominic turned 17 this July 29th, 2021. 17 years old. My baby is almost grown. I can remember his birth like it was yesterday. He was a good baby, an inquisitive and busy toddler, a chatterbox and curious child. I have LOVED watching him grow up and I’m so grateful I’ve had the opportunity to witness his life unfold. I wish he wasn’t plagued with depression, it’s a life-sucking disease. He’s worked really hard to overcome a lot of challenges. I hope he has some fun his senior year and I hope he builds some great memories. I love him so so so much. And I’m very proud of him.

Nikon D750 | 20mm | f/4.5 | 1/250 | ISO 800 | handheld

Thanks for looking!


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