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Monday, November 17, 2014

Our Week in Review 2014 ~ 11/9-11/15

Sunday, November 9, Doug and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary.  Wow!  I can't believe it has been 18 years!  Friday we celebrated by going out to dinner at my favorite restaurant, Clifford's.  It is our once-a-year splurge.
Monday afternoon I got to meet Keira's Principal.  I really liked him.  She wasn't in trouble or anything.  We needed to discuss a few things with him to help us make a decision on the direction of her schooling.
Tuesday the kids had the day off for Veteran's Day.  The weather was gorgeous!  We went to the parade and then the boys had their 6-month check ups.  We did a little shopping afterwards.  Keira bought the movie How to Train Your Dragon 2.
Wednesday I had a dentist appointment.  Just a few quick fixes.  Optional, really.  I didn't even have any novocaine.  My dentist was impressed with that fact.  :)  He commented that women are tough and that he would be a big baby about it all.
Saturday the boys had a Bible Quizzing Invitational.  Nick earned silver and Alex earned bronze.  Nancy, the lady in charge of our group, said Alex was one question away from silver.
I attended an artist's workshop where we learned how to watercolor.  My friend, Sam, taught the workshop.  She's been watercoloring since she was a child and is incredibly talented.
After that I finished up a few things at home and then went to my friend Rainey's house where we did some more crafty things.  I worked on my Project Life album (started 2013) and she made a Thanksgiving banner and a couple other things.  Her friend, Dawn, came also.  She worked on some Thanksgiving things too.  It was a fun day.
Rainey is one of the characters in our local theater group's play, A Christmas Carol, and practices started tonight, so we probably won't get to craft again until after Christmas or New Year's.

So anyway, let's get to last week's pictures, shall we?

{November 9:  Heck yes!}
November 9:  Heck yes!
Eighteen years ago today I said "heck yes!" or at least "yes" or was it "I do"?  :)  when Pastor Jim asked me if I would take my husband, Doug, in marriage. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part. We have probably experienced all of those (except for the death part, of course) and are still going strong. What does this photo have to do with all that? Well, this is a close up of one of the roses he bought for me today for our anniversary. Here's to 18 more years!

{November 10:  I do this every day}
November 10:  I do this every day ...
Every day I try to find something beautiful in the ordinary.

{November 11:  A set}
November 11:  A set
Seeing this set of horses when we attend our local parades always makes me smile. I look for them every time.

Today in the USA we celebrate Veteran's Day. Honoring those that have served or are currently serving in our armed forces. My heartfelt gratitude to each and every one.

{November 12:  Normal}
November 12:  Normal
It is perfectly normal to see me laying on the ground in order to take a photo of something. Leaves, bugs, flowers, people. You name it. And I have the grass stains to prove it.  :)

{November 13:  Letters}
November 13:  Letters
He was pretty happy to help with this prompt since it meant he got to eat some of the gummies when we were done.

{November 14:  For me}
November 14:  For me
Photographing nature isn't something I get to do often during my busy season with my business, but it is something that I try to squeeze in now and then, just for me. I am in love with my macro lens and all of the details that it enables me to enjoy.

{November 15:  Hot + cold}
November 15:  Hot + cold
Cold whipped cream on hot chocolate. Mmmmmmmm.  (This photo got chosen in the FAB photos for the day!  Which is kind of funny since I was scrambling to get something and took this at around 9:00 at night just to get my photo of the day.)  :)

I also want to mention a giveaway that I am hosting.  Have you heard of the new movie, Saving Christmas?  Well, I got to preview it before it hit theaters and am giving a way a prize pack.  Go check it out and enter!  
Saving Christmas prize pack giveaway

Linking with Tamar ...

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Most Embarrassing Blog Post - #TBT

Who remembers Glamour Shots?  They were around in the early 90s - a place in the mall where you could go get your hair and makeup done (think stage make up - lots and lots of make up) and then play dress up in their variety of clothing choices.  They would take your pictures, charge you way too much for them, and send you on your merry way.  :)

Well, a few friends and I made a point to go there one afternoon and this was the result ...

Glamour Shots
Those glasses!

Glamour Shots
And the shiny clothing!

Glamour Shots

Glamour Shots

I'm not sure what compelled me to share these incredibly embarrassing pictures here today.   Perhaps to serve as a Public Service Announcement ...

Don't ever do this.  

I mean, look at that hair!  Remind you of Reba McEntire in the 90s?  Yowza!

Anyway, I hope you got a good chuckle out of these photos.  I know I did!  :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Saving Christmas ~ Review & Giveaway

UPDATE:  The winner of the Saving Christmas prize pack is .....


Congratulations!  I will be in contact regarding getting your prize sent out to you.

I will have some more great giveaways coming soon so stay tuned!  Thank you!


Have you heard of the new Kirk Cameron movie, Saving Christmas?  I recently had an opportunity to participate in a conference call with him and find out some more about him personally and about the upcoming movie.  That alone was pretty incredible.  But following that call I was able to preview the movie and let me tell you ... 

I. loved. it!  

From the website Saving Christmas:
This Christmas, have your family join with Kirk Cameron’s family and dive headfirst into all the joy, dancing, celebration, feasting, imagination, and traditions that glorify the true “reason for the season.” KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS is an engaging story that provides a biblical basis for our time-honored traditions and celebrations, and the inspiration to stand strongly against a culture that wants to trivialize and eliminate the faith elements of this holy season. So take in the splendor; take in the majesty; take in the story. Take it all in… and let’s put Christ back in Christmas! KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS is in theaters for a limited engagement beginning November 14 for two weeks only!

Not only is the movie educational about Christmas traditions, it is hilarious!  It truly is a super fun way to learn more about why we do all of the "stuff" that we do at Christmastime.

Did you ever wonder why we bring a tree into our homes and decorate it?
Or why we exchange gifts?
Or where the idea of Santa Clause came from?
Go see the movie and find out!

As the website summary indicated, the movie releases on Friday, November 14 in select theaters.  I have already contacted some friends about going to see it together.  I seriously can't wait to watch it again!

Be sure to visit the website http://www.savingchristmas.com/ to watch the trailer and find out more about the movie.  And to find out if it is coming to a theater in your area.  You must go see it!  You will not be disappointed!

You can also go like the Facebook page and/or follow Kirk Cameron on Twitter.

But that's not all!  I also have a fun prize pack to give away to one lucky reader!

The prize pack includes a Saving Christmas poster signed by Kirk Cameron, the CD soundtrack which includes songs from artists like 1 Girl Nation, Building 429, Tenth Avenue North, and Steven Curtis Chapman, and a car air freshener that smells like Christmas trees.  :)

In order to enter to win the prize pack all you need to do is comment on this post telling me your favorite Christmas tradition.  Is it baking cookies, decorating the tree, reading a particular Christmas story, or something else?  Just shout it out in the comments!

Last day to enter is Wednesday, November 19.  I will randomly draw a winner on Thursday, November 20 and will announce the winner at the top of this post.

In the meantime, if you go see the movie, I would love to hear what you think of it!

Thank you and good luck!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Highlights from some recent sessions ...

August, September, and October were pretty busy months.  I was hopping!  Between photo sessions, being a wife and mom and all that those titles entail, raising a boatload of Monarch butterflies, volunteering at my church, being PTO Treasurer (still), etc. etc., I didn't take much time to blog.  So now I thought I would share an image or two from the sessions that were keeping me up late into the night editing until my eyeballs bled.  (Not really, but sometimes it felt like it.)  :)

(I shared some peeks back in September if you want to check them out also.  This post includes the ones that happened after those.) 

There was Zac ...


And Evan ...


And Paige ...


My lovely sister-in-law and my nieces ...
M family1

M family2

The whole B family ...
B family1

which even included a couple dogs ...
B family2

A baby bump ...
T family2

And an adorable big sister ...
T family1

My friend, Jen, and her two kids ... D family1

D family2

A 35th wedding anniversary celebration ...
G family1

G family2

And last, but not least, a family that I have had the pleasure of photographing a couple times before ...
J family1

J family2

Things are slowing down now that the colder weather is upon us.  Though I am hoping to do some snow sessions again this year.  They were a blast last year!

As this year winds down I can't help but feel truly blessed by all of the great folks who entrusted me to capture their memories for them.  Some were friends or family but many were people I didn't know who were referred to me, which is really a great compliment.  

I plan to spend my "slow" season doing some DSLR teaching, editing my personal pictures, and learning more about Lightroom and Photoshop.  And just spending time with my family who has been so (mostly) patient with me during this time of growth.  Oh, and finally updating this ol' blog.

In case you are interested, here are a couple other places you can find me:
My website:  Kimberly Vensel Photography
My Facebook page:  Kimberly Vensel Photography

Monday, November 10, 2014

Our Week in Review 2014 ~ 11/2-11/8

Another week bites the dust.  Seriously, does time seem to be flying by?  Or it just me?

Doug worked looooooonnnnnnngggggggg days this week.  Starting on Sunday.  He hasn't worked on a Sunday in a long time.  I barely saw him all week.  :(
Keira's violin lesson got cancelled on Monday, which enabled me to stay in my yoga pants all day.  I love days like that.
Tuesday I finally got to release my last three butterflies.  I thought I would get to release them on Monday and even took the female outside a couple times but she agreed that it was too cold and windy, so they spent one more night with us.  The temperature was much warmer on Tuesday so the boys helped release them before school.  One of the males went first, then the female.  The last male was a bit more hesitant. I took him outside and he stuck around for a while.  I had left to run some errands and found that he was still here when I got home.  I kept telling him he had to go and finally he did.  Praying they are well on their way to Mexico by now.
Tuesday was also Election Day so I voted.  Except the one guy I voted for lost.  I hate when that happens.  :)
Wednesday I attended another school consolidation meeting.  The school board had a lot of questions and none of them have seemed to have made up their mind what to do yet.  I hope that is a good thing.
Thursday I had a PTO meeting, had to leave early to take the boys to Bible Quizzing practice, and then Keira had an orchestra concert.  Everything seems to happen on the same day.  But thanks to some friends helping out, it all worked out okay.  The boys got to go hang out at one of the quizzing teacher's homes and I picked them up after the concert.
Friday the kids had a half day of school.  I had conferences with both boys' teachers, which I wasn't really looking forward to.  However, I left informed and encouraged by all of them.  They really have awesome teachers.
Keira went away for the weekend on a Youth Group retreat.  She came home on Sunday "physically exhausted but spiritually refreshed".  (Her words)  
With Keira away, Doug working, and Nick grounded (don't ask), that left Alex and me.  We had a nice time together.  Just hanging out, reading and watching movies.  I edited all day Saturday while we watched movies together.  He said it was a really fun day.  And we didn't even do anything.  :)

As I have really been enjoying participating in Fat Mum Slim's photo a day challenge, I have decided to continue again this month.  Here's November's list in case you want to play along ...

And here are my interpretations ...

{November 2 - I saw this!}
November 2:  I saw this!
Our last two Monarch butterflies emerged Saturday but it was (and still is) too cold to release them. So these two males and a female are going to hang out with us until the weather is nicer. The forecast looks good for tomorrow. In the meantime, I take them out of their little homes and feed them and let them fly around a little.

Today Nick was being silly with the boys. Letting them climb all over him. Next thing I know I look over and see this. He would have added the female too but she was being feisty and only wanted to fly around. She's more than ready to go free.

Tomorrow will be a bittersweet day. While I raise them in order to set them free so the circle of life can continue, I will miss having them to take care of. Hoping for an even better year next summer! (By the way, we successfully raised 172 Monarch butterflies this year. WOOT!)

{November 3:  Weather}
November 3:  Weather
I thought the weather was going to be warm enough to release my last 3 babies today. However it is still chilly thanks to the wind. Tomorrow's forecast calls for even warmer temps so I promised them they would go free then. In the meantime, they will continue to eat from sugar-water-soaked cotton balls and hang out inside with us.

My female (on the right) is very anxious to be free. When I take her out of her home, she flies straight to the windows. So I took her outside to prove to her how chilly it is. She agreed and didn't even attempt to fly from where she was perched on my finger. She's a feisty one.   :)

{November 4:  Can't live without}
November 4:  Can't live without
Today is such a bittersweet day here at the Vensel house. This morning I released my last 3 babies as the temperatures were finally warm enough to do so. One female and two males are hopefully now on their way to Mexico where they will stay for the winter. They have a long journey ahead of them and I pray they make it. Hoping I get to raise their great grandbabies next summer!

I'd say that I {can't live without} my Monarchs, but that's not completely true. I love raising them - taking care of them in order to release them to continue the circle of life - but I would still survive if I didn't. My life would go on. However, we as the human race do need pollinators such a butterflies and bees in order to live. They serve a very important purpose. I just hope that those that keep developing "new and improved" pesticides and insecticides come to that realization before it is too late.

{November 5:  8 o'clock}
November 5:  8 o'clock
We woke up to frost covering the ground one day last week so I threw on a coat, grabbed my camera, and tried my best to capture some of the beauty that was surrounding us.

As I said, this photo is from last week as I was just waking up at 8:00 this morning and was sitting in a school board meeting at 8:00 tonight. 

{November 6:  Made me smile today}
November 6:  Made me smile today
I try to find something positive in every day. Especially on rough days like today. And while I did have a few things that made me smile today, I don't have pictures of any of them. So I'm sharing something that happened a few days ago that made me smile. It's not a great picture - got a little motion blur going on there - but it warms my heart to see my boys and Honey having fun together. We took Honey to this park for the first time on Monday (we have been there many, many times but never with her) and she really enjoyed herself. We will be taking her back again soon to do some more exploring.

{November 7:  On the floor}
November 7:  On the floor
Our dog, Honey, often lays on the floor. Though I think she prefers the couch. I can't say that I blame her.  :)

{November 8:  A place}
November 8:  A place
A place I'd like to be right now since I bet it is much warmer there than it is here.  :)  (This was taken during a sunrise while we vacationed at Sandbridge, Virginia Beach, back in June).

Linking with Tamar:

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Monarch Blessings ~ 2014

On July 4 I found the first of what would turn out to be many Monarch eggs of 2014.  


The little beauty hatched on July 7 and we had been in a whirlwind of activity ever since.


She became this gorgeous butterfly that eclosed on July 30.

Monarch butterfly #1

Monarch butterfly #1

Yesterday, November 4, exactly 4 months after finding that first egg, I released my last 3 butterflies.  
Yes, in November.  
In Pennsylvania.  
That's really not supposed to happen.  The Monarchs should have been long gone on their migration to Mexico by then.  But I found 18 baby caterpillars late in September, 17 of which made it to be butterflies.  

I found them in a patch of milkweed that is along a state highway.  A patch that gets mowed down several times a year.  And even though I called the department in charge of mowing and asked them not to mow, I still knew I had to bring them home and give them a chance.  I'm glad I did because that area was mowed again a couple weeks ago.

I can't possibly show off all 172 Monarch butterflies that we raised this year.  Or the gazillion photos I took of every stage.  :)  Although I may make a collage or something.  We'll see.  There were only 3 that I didn't get a photo of.  They were too anxious to fly away.  

But I will share the last three butterflies.

This pretty lady eclosed last Wednesday, October 29.

Monarch butterfly #170

I placed her on this flower in my neighbor's field and left her there.  However when I woke up Thursday morning, I felt compelled to go check to see if she had flown away.  She hadn't.  It was too cold.  She was in this exact same spot.  So I brought her back inside and fed her.  

She joined me that day on a trip to a local elementary school where I was talking to a classroom of first graders about Monarchs.  They didn't know I was bringing a butterfly with me.  I hadn't known either.  Actually I was a "mystery" guest.  They knew someone was coming but they didn't know who I was or why I was there.  That was fun!

Mrs. K's 1st grade class

My last two butterflies eclosed on Saturday, November 1.  

It has been way too cold to release them so the three last Monarchs have been staying with us.  I took them out several times a day to feed them and let them fly around if they wanted to.  Finally, yesterday the temperature was warm enough for their release.

This guy was getting anxious to leave so I photographed him inside on some wildflowers that Nick was nice enough to pick for me.

Monarch butterfly #171

He was the first to take off yesterday morning.

The female pictured above was second.

This guy was a little more attached to me.

Monarch butterfly #172

Or maybe he was just a bit more timid.  I'm going with the first option.  :)

He was hesitant to leave.  He ended up hanging around until noon or so.  I had left to run some errands and came home to find him still here.  I kept coaxing him but he just wasn't going.  Finally I left him outside so I could go vote and when I returned he was gone.

Godspeed little ones.

Praying for strong, warm winds to help carry them to Mexico where they will spend the winter.

Hoping to raise their great grandbabies next summer!

Now the prep work for next year begins.  Planting LOTS of milkweed seeds.  Prepping flower beds for nectar flowers.  I want our garden to be swarming with butterflies next year.

I can't wait!

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