A Lazy Winter Day at Home

Over the last couple days it has been hovering between -5 and 15 degrees outside. That kind of weather doesn’t really make you want to go anywhere for a while. So the kids, the dog, and I have been hanging out at home finding things to do.

This morning and afternoon I decided to get out my camera and take some pictures. Every time I do this I wonder why I don’t do it more. I love taking pictures of my kids and now the dog, too.

Here are some of the pictures. There’s a lot of them. The pictures I took in our basement were all in black and white. But for the most part, I included the color photos of when we were playing on the couch in the living room.

morning with Micah

the boys in the kitchen

ezra and the wall

morning with Micah

morning with Micah

morning with Micah

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

Lazy winter day

 

First Day of Preschool

Today was Micah’s first day of preschool. I of course had to take some pictures. 😃

I edited them all in both color and black and white, and as usual I’m not sure which ones I like more. So maybe this post will be in color, and I’ll create a second post with them all in black and white.

Micah's first day of preschool

Micah's first day of preschool

Micah's first day of preschool

Micah's first day of preschool

Micah's first day of preschool

Micah's first day of preschool

Micah's first day of preschool

Micah's first day of preschool

Micah's first day of preschool

Micah's first day of preschool

Finding Beauty in a Tragedy

On Saturday January 9th, 2016 a fire broke out after a small explosion in M’s Pub located in Omaha’s historic and iconic Old Market neighborhood. The fire ravaged the building and broke the hearts of all those who had ever stepped foot in the Old Market, especially M’s Pub. The fire would rage on for around 12 hours before it was considered under control. The Omaha Fire Department not only had to battle the three alarm fire in front of them, but also the frigid below freezing temperatures with wind chills hovering around -15 degrees.

Because of a major warehouse fire in Chicago a couple of years ago in similar conditions, I knew that whatever was left of M’s Pub and the apartments above it would look oddly beautiful once the fire was out. Subzero temperatures and thousands of gallons of water makes for an impressive sight. Here are a few of the pictures I took this morning.

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Old Market Fire

Estes is Bestest.

We took our first family vacation recently. We traveled to Estes Park to enjoy a few days in the mountains. Sarah has never been in the Rocky Mountains, and so we thought it would be a lot of fun to go as a family. We rented a small “bunkhouse” designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright at the base of Old Man Mountain in Estes Park and spent a few days taking in the beauty and the sense of home that the mountains give.

I took quite a few pictures, but here are a some of my favorites. Sorry if I overdid it, but eh, I don’t get to see these sorts of views very often. 🙂

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After eight hours in the car, we made it to Estes Park. Of course we had to pull over and get our pic in front of the sign.
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Here’s the view from our Bunkhouse. Not too shabby if you ask me.
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As soon as we had unpacked the car, we headed back into town to let the kids run around a bit and to enjoy the evening views.

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We ran into a huge group of elk in the park and I saw these two guys having a little fun.
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The kids had a blast seeing the mountains for the first time. And here you can sort of see all the elk in the background.

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The kids did enjoy just sitting in the mountain air too.
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We woke up the next morning to bright and beautiful colors out our windows.

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I had to go outside and get some shots. Here is our little bunkhouse from the outside.
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The colors were incredible. Pinks, oranges, purples all blending together along the snow covered peaks.

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After a bit we got into the car for a morning drive. The views were amazing.
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It was one of those types of things that no matter how good of a picture I take, nothing can really compare to what the eyes can see and appreciate.

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As the driver, it’s hard to pay attention to driving when you have views like this.
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That morning light created some beautiful colors.

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We noticed grey clouds starting to make their way up into the peaks of the mountains.
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A rare picture of me! Thanks, Sarah.

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The morning sunlight battling against the snow clouds rolling over the mountains.
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Soon enough, the clouds rolled in and we got to experience a winter snow for a while. Here’s the Stanley Hotel about to experience the snow clouds.

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We decided to stop into the Stanley Hotel to check it out. It’s a beautiful place, despite it’s creepy history and inspiration for the Stephen King novel, _The Shining_
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To hide from the snow for a bit we came back to our bunkhouse. The kids enjoyed just getting into the freezer to play with ice.

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After lunch we headed into Loveland to meet up with some friends who live there. We let the kids play at an incredibly cool (and dangerous) playground for a while.
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The next day was mostly spend inside Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Sometimes it’s hard to really see the perspective of just how big the mountains are or how far away we are from them. But here’s our little Corolla in the foreground of an incredible view near our bunkhouse.
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And here’s a closeup of one my favorite peaks in Estes Park.

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Our bunkhouse was right next to this mountain called “Old Man Mountain.” Can you see any faces? (I can’t…)
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I spotted our new house.

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Up in the mountains you can hardly believe what you’re seeing all around you. Here’s a shot of Sarah on our way up to Bear Lake.
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We stopped for a bit to take a short hike to go see a waterfall at a location that had tons of rocks dumped due to the big 2013 flood that devastated much of the area.

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I love the glimpses you get through the cracks of various mountains.

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Sarah carried Ezra as we hiked through the rocks and over a creek.

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The Rocky Mountains aren’t just full of rocks. There’s plenty of trees too.
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Another example of the camera just attempting to capture a fraction of what the human eye can see.

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Even though we missed the peak of the autumn colors, I still loved the contrast of the yellow and brown grass with the green trees, the white bark of the Aspen trees, the snow covered peaks, and the gorgeous blue skies.
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We’re my iPhone trying to capture a bit of what we saw.

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It was cold enough that the water was freezing along the creek and created some pretty beautiful sights.
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Another shot of the small little waterfall where we crossed over the creek.

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Here Sarah and Ezra are hiking back to the car.
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Yeah. Not much that I can say. Just beautiful.

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Sarah and I debate over black and white pictures and color pictures. I personally like the dramatic effect that a black and white shot has.
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Sarah almost always prefers the color pictures.

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But how could I not try and capture the dramatic effect that the snow creates coming off the mountain?
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Ok. Color is still beautiful too.

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Rocky Mountains
Here’s five pictures I stitched together. Feel free to click through and check it out on my Flickr. It’s pretty incredible.
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Don’t you just love the difference in the colors. Blue. White. Green. Yellow. Very neat.

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We didn’t see many wildlife on our trip, but we did come across some mule deer a couple of times.
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Here’s a black and white shot of one of my favorite mountains.

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Perhaps my favorite moment on the trip was down in the valley here in Rocky Mountain National Park. The views are just incredible.
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Don’t be too impressed with my photography here. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I just pulled out my camera and hit click here. Just too good.

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My aunt was our incredible guide through the Rocky Mountains. It was so fun that she got to spend the day with us. Here’s her and Ezra playing in the field.
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The kids had a blast here. They ran around. Climbed on rocks. Laughed. Played. It was great.

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I didn’t know if Ezra would really appreciate all that he was seeing. What does a 1.5 year old think of mountains? But he really seemed to like it.
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He just stood here and looked at the mountains and appreciated the view. I’m so glad I caught this on my camera.

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The boys were adventurers, and even Sarah decided to become a rock climber for a moment.
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Here’s Sarah with a fun photo op and Micah climbing up the side of the rock.

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As we winded our way through the mountains it was neat to see the different perspectives of the same mountains.
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*speechless*

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Bear Lake
We walked up to the edge of Bear Lake. There was snow and ice at this point and it was a bit chillier, so we grabbed a couple pictures and headed back down.
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We headed into Boulder for a while to enjoy the city and the views of the Flat Irons. Beautiful of course.

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Down here there was still some color. (How’d you like to live right there?)
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We headed back into Estes Park and the sun was shining nicely on the Stanley Hotel.

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Family shot. What a vacation. When can we go back?

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Speedy Ortiz @ Maha Music Festival

My favorite band of Maha Music Festival 2015 was Speedy Ortiz. I didn’t take pictures of all the bands at the festival, but I wanted to make sure to take some of them. And they brought it for sure. Because the stage was a bit out of the norm, I didn’t really have the ability to move around. So I just planted myself in one place and took a lot of pictures. That meant that I couldn’t really get various angles, and I couldn’t see the drummer (poor drummers…). But I did take a lot of pictures because it was almost golden hour, and the lighting got better and better as their set progressed.

Here are the pics I took. Some might be a little redundant, but eh…so be it:

Maha 2015

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Maha 2015

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Maha 2015

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Maha 2015

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Maha 2015

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Maha 2015

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Maha 2015

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Maha 2015

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At the Slowdown

The other night I went to The Slowdown in Omaha to see a local band named Lot Walks. I took a few pictures of them, the bands that played before (We are the Willows, and Anniversarie), and some scenes around the building. Taking pictures of bands is one of my favorite things to do. I get to hear great music and I get to capture unique moments that only exists for split seconds of a time. It’s an interesting trying to balance simply being there to enjoy the band’s music, the experience with those around you, and taking pictures. When there’s no pressure of getting shots for the band, like just taking them for myself, the night is a lot more fun because I’m not concerned about missing specific moments.

For this show I just took my MX-1 and determined to just have an enjoyable night that would be getting myself hyped up for Maha Music Festival the next day. It was a low key fun evening. Here are some of the pictures:

Lot Walks @ The Slowdown

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Lot Walks @ The Slowdown

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Lot Walks @ The Slowdown

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Lot Walks @ The Slowdown

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Catching Up

Whew! Life has really been flying on by. I need to post some pictures! Here’s some from the last couple months or so. Many of them are from my iPhone because I just haven’t been carting my camera around with me very often. I have been staying busy with the kids, as usual. I’ve also been working on a website/project which is built around storytelling. If that interests you, please check Library of Impressions out.

Ok. I’ll start from oldest to most recent. There’s a lot of pictures…

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Ezra and Micah playing in the backyard.
Ezra in the backyard digging…

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Ezra learning to walk around the backyard.
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Ezra in deep thought.
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Ezra being cute.
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Micah digging for worms.

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Micah playing with dirt and worms.
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Micah finding some worms.

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Bath time with Ezra.
Uh oh…dandelion.

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Neighbor’s house with some vines growing.
Roof
Top of our house.

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Ezra gaze.
Ezra man.
Daddy and Micah
This is me and Micah just minutes after waking up. He wanted to take a picture.

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Bed Head Brothers
Bed head boys.
Daddy and Micah
Bed head Micah and daddy.

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Coffee cups
Coffee mugs.
In...and out
One of my favorite pictures ever. What goes in…must come out…

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Papaw and Micah.
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Papaw and Micah hanging out on our back wall.

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Ezra walking around the backyard.
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Grammaw, Micah, and Ezra playing in the backyard.

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Ezra and his soccer ball.

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Papaw snuggles.
Swimming with Grammaw and Papaw
Micah swimming.

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Gramaw and Micah enjoying some pool time.
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Enjoying his time in the pool.

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Swimming with Grammaw and Papaw
Laughs all around.
Swimming with Grammaw and Papaw
Ezra was a bit more timid, but he eventually got there, too.

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Swimming with Grammaw and Papaw
But he’ll always play with a ball.
Swimming with Grammaw and Papaw
Getting braver.

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Ezra and mommy.
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Ezra getting braver and enjoying the pool party.

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Well look, it's two people I love!
Love those smiles.
Naked potty training day one and molar number four coming in. This is the real deal, folks. // #💦💩🚽😬
Naked potty training was quite the experience.

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Two parks. Two kids. Two tired parents = One successful Saturday.
Ezra soaring high at our neighborhood park.
Visual proof that local coffee shops are like little glimpses of heaven on earth.
At a coffee shop in Omaha.

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There’s nothing in this world that Micah seems to love more than dogs and puppies. He picked out “buddy” and LOVES him.
What shoe-d we do today? // #ezrayuuto #aksarbenliving #childhoodunplugged
Ezra hanging out on the couch.

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Mommy and Ezra at the water park.
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Ezra really enjoying his time at the water park.

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Micah plays with a few of the fountains at the water park.
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Micah smiling at the water park.

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Ezra showing mommy he’s having fun at the water park.
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Micah timidly playing in the water.

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Micah leads mommy through the park.
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A bat at the zoo.

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A parrot at the zoo.
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Barely caught this picture. Seeing it made me laugh out loud!

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Early in the summer we found a dove who made a nest and laid eggs in our plant. They later would hatch and eventually leave the nest. It was fun to see the progress throughout the summer.
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No more $20 haircuts – we decided to start giving haircuts to the boys ourselves.

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Go, set a watchman // #ezrayuuto #aksarbenliving
Ezra looking out the window.
Ezra seems happy to be outside today. It's about 300% humidity, though. // #ezrayuuto #omaha #childhoodunplugged #makemoments
Ezra smiles on a walk near the Missouri river.

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Walking along the Missouri River this morning. // #igersomaha #omaha #missouririver #bridge #omaha #bnwomaha #makemoments #momentswide #xmarksthespot
A bridge to Council Bluffs, Iowa from Omaha, NE.
Bean bag.
Micah chilling in the bean bag.

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Bedtime? But there's still plenty of daytime left! // #MicahMasato #aksarben #childhoodunplugged #windowwatching #windowwatcher
Looking out the window before bedtime.
Took a brief walk over to the park today to cool off on this hot summer day. // #igersomaha #OmahaParks #omaha #micahandezra #aksarbenliving #stinsonpark #summerfun
Enjoying the fountains at our local park in the hot summer heat.

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Micah playing some online games on the iPad.
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Wine glasses on a homemade wine glass holder my wife got us for our anniversary. It’s made from a wine barrel.

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Grilling outside at a local park with some friends.
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Ezra and his friend playing on the playground.

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Ezra trying to decide whether or not he should go down the slide.
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The iconic desert dome at the zoo here in Omaha.

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Ezra and Micah in the wagon. Kind of looks other worldly.
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Sarah taking some pics of her own.

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Chilling in the wagon that Grandpa and Grandma Simpson gave them.
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Sunscreen time.

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Watching the monkeys
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Some birds at the zoo.

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“Look over there!” and then the children look the other way. Typical.

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April, Come and Gone

Yikes! April flew by this year. It’s hard to believe, really. But I guess that must mean that life has been busy. Sarah transitioned to working night shift this month, and that has changed up our routines and daily lives a bit. I got a few good representative pictures this month of what life is like around here. I am going to be taking more in May because I’m going to try and participate in Pentax Forums’ a picture a day again. It’s been a while since I’ve done a pic a day, life just got too hectic. But I may try and start it up again this next month.

Anyway, here’s a roundup of some of this past month’s photos (and one video).

Maundy Thursday: an opportunity for lessons in servanthood and humility for these two kiddos.
On Maundy Thursday, we learned about servanthood and humility. Micah washed his brothers feet, imitating Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.
My Good Friday started off with this guy running into my room and jumping into bed. We decided to enjoy some morning laughs and giggles in bed before the little bro wakes up. Hoping your day is off to a good start too! 😄
Micah climbs in bed every morning now. With mommy often gone, he gets half the bed to himself.
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I took pictures of the Easter service of my church. It took place at the Holland Center for the Arts in downtown Omaha. There were some neat buildings outside. You can feel free to check out some of my pictures from the Easter service on my blog.
Easter at the Holland 2015
Here’s a shot from before the service. The place was a really neat venue.
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Easter this year took place at my mom’s place in Council Bluffs. Ezra and Micah enjoyed finding eggs spread throughout the yard.
Ezra enjoyed eating Peeps for the first time – two of them at once. (Of course.)
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Our family with my grandmother on Easter.
Yep.
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When Micah and Ezra were finding their eggs they had to open each one as they found it and eat the jelly bean that was inside before they moved on to try and find another egg.
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Micah and Ezra spend their entire days together. Sometimes Ezra is Micah’s shadow.
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Although they have their moments, it’s clear they love each other very much.
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Here’s Micah trying to play peek-a-boo with Ezra. And yes…Ezra’s not wearing any pants…
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It may have been the middle of April, but that didn’t prevent it from snowing.
Micah prepared himself for the elements.
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Dad prepared himself for the elements.
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But April’s precipitation has lead to flowers starting to grow, and a yard growing with plenty of grass to cut. 😦
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This is the back wall of our yard. I like the varying colors and textures.
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For the first time since…well…October, I think, I was able to get out of the house and do some work at a coffee shop. It was so nice just to get out of the house for a while.
I visited Echo Coffee in Omaha. It was good and a pleasant place.
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We stopped at a neat place in Omaha to take a few pictures with some graffiti. I have have a whole blog post of other shots from here if you care to see them.
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The biggest development of the month was that Ezra has learned to walk and now walks everywhere he can.
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He loves being able to waddle around without having to crawl.
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When the weather is nice, and we have a relaxing evening, we all like to go on a family walk in our neighborhood.
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Flowers started to bloom throughout the neighborhood. Spring finally arrived.
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A shot of a flower inside my house. We try and keep some flowers around to brighten up our dining room a bit.
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Ezra turning to look at me as he scavenges food from off the floor…
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Micah waves and says hello.
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Ezra has discovered his tongue and loves to show it to people.
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Mommy helping Ezra walk through the grass in our front yard.
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Mommy and Ezra.
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It’s been hard where we live to experience much natural light coming in our windows. We face north and south, and it doesn’t lend itself to lots of good natural light shots. But the light was seeping into the kitchen on this day and I liked the mood.
Micah excitedly welcomed mommy home this morning after she worked three 12 hour night shifts in a row. It's been an adjustment this past week as she switched to night shift. But we are learning new patterns and are so appreciative for how hard mommy works
We all eagerly wait for Mommy to get home in the mornings. Perhaps no one more than Micah. Here he is welcoming mommy home as she pulls into the driveway.
Moving from Chicago was a big decision for the four of us. Hard to believe that was over four months ago now. But we decided that being closer to my family would make all the trouble of moving and getting settled into a new home worth it. And it has been.
I was glad to be able to watch my brother play some tennis at a rival high school in Council Bluffs. It was nice to just sit with my mom while he whooped up.
We got the meats. (But mostly curly fries.)
A quick family dinner at Arby’s. A very rare thing these days.
Mommy left for work. Melt down level: nuclear. 😭
This is now the typical reaction in the evening when mommy leaves for work. It’s not the most pleasant thing in the world. Meltdown level: Nuclear.

And lastly a video of the boys. A glimpse into a typical morning at our house.

Life in Omaha (Part 2: March)

We are finally settling down pretty well here in Omaha. I have neglected to post the various pictures I’ve taken the past couple months, so I thought I’d take some time to go back post some of them. People often ask us if we miss Chicago, and honestly, how could we not? It’s an amazing city with some pretty incredible people. But we are happy and content with where we are. Sarah enjoys her job as a labor and delivery nurse, and the boys have definitely enjoyed having a house in which they can be as loud as they might want to be.

Here are some of the pictures that I took in March: [See February’s pictures here.]

Omaha’s Zoo is very well respected as one of the best in the country. We are fortunate to live about 10 minutes away. We now have a season pass and have already been there a number of times. Here’s Ezra enjoying the fish in the aquarium.

 

The jellyfish exhibit is always one of my favorites.

 

The colors of these weird creatures are incredible. Yet, they somehow still kind of gross me out.

 

After a winter of being indoors, we were excited to finally take our first family walk around our new neighborhood. Ezra was happy about it too!

 

The sun set as we went on our walk. Beautiful midwest sunset.

 

We have a park and playground near our house that we’ve visited a few times now, too. Micah loves to run around on the playground.

 

Ezra also likes being at the park, but he doesn’t seem to enjoy the slides as much as his brother.

 

Micah trying to decide what to do next.

 

Ezra does love the swings, just like his brother.

 

The boys swinging together.

 

Ezra climbing on the playground.

 

Sarah helps Ezra keep balance on a the dinosaur.

 

Micah loves the slides!

 

I finally got a Chemex, and I have used quite frequently since purchasing it. It makes the best coffee in my opinion.

 

For St. Patrick’s Day, we went to a parade downtown. Ezra was more interested in the things around him.

 

Wearing plenty of green for the day.

 

Birds enjoyed the parade on a beautiful morning.

 

I take so many pictures of the kids that sometimes I forget to take pictures of my beautiful wife. It doesn’t really matter what she’s doing or up to, she’s always pretty.

 

Ezra's First Haircut
March was also the month we finally decided to get Ezra a haircut. It transformed him into a little man.

 

Haircut for Micah
Micah also got a much needed haircut that day, too.

 

IgersOmaha Instagram Instameet #WWIM11
I love being a part of the Instagram community. It is such a unique place on the web. But twice a year, Instagram hosts a global Instameet, in which local instagrammers in cities all across the world meet up with each other to go on a photo walk and meet the people whom we interact with on the app. This year I met up with a few instagrammers from the Omaha area. We explored Boys Town on the west side of Omaha. A unique place with a cool history (nothing like the boystown in Chicago, btw…)

 

IgersOmaha Instagram Instameet #WWIM11
Stained glass windows in the tomb of the founder of Boys Town.

 

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Boys Town contains the world’s largest ball of stamps. This thing is over 600 pounds and contains over 4 million stamps. It’s in the Guinness book of world records.

 

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Another angle of the ball of stamps.

 

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Neat patterns made by the stamps.

 

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I thought the doors outside this chapel looked pretty cool.

 

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Here’s the inside of the chapel.

 

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And an angel statue in some pine cones?

 

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It was a beautiful day outside.

 

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Here’s the inside of the founder’s house. A bit busy, I’d say…

 

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An old typewriter in the office of the founder.

 

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There were many gargoyles around the campus of Boys Town.

 

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Here’s another shot from a different angle of that same gargoyle.

 

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A view looking up at the chapel.

 

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A wooden monk figurine caught my attention because of how the lighting hit it.

 

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Here’s a shot of the chapel with a lens flare. I thought it made for a cool shot.

 

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And here it is again from a different angle.

 

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Inside the founder’s house the light coming through the windows was neat. And I liked the symmetry.

 

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There was an example of the old schoolhouse.

 

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I thought it interesting that they had pictures of Native Americans hanging in the house. It made me wonder what the story was behind them.

 

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Outside of the campus of Boys Town there is an abandoned farm. It had a few cool things to capture.

 

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Anyone else see an emoji in this shot?

 

IgersOmaha Instagram Instameet #WWIM11
Due to the farm being abandoned, this wasn’t much of a worry.

 

Ezra got a cool superheroes book from his Aunt Lauren, but Micah had to check it out first.

 

But Ezra seemed to also approve.

 

Ezra's First Birthday
This picture is from Ezra’s birthday party, but it is one of my favorites that I have taken of him.

 

Ezra's First Birthday
I made a whole blog post of Ezra’s birthday party, but here’s one of him stuffing the cake into his face.

 

Stinson Park
Aksarben is the neighborhood in Omaha where we live. Aksarben is a growing area. Here in this park Omaha hosts Maha Music Festival. This year Modest Mouse is headlining.

 

bath time
Bath time now means two boys taking a bath at the same time. Ezra got a number of these toys for his birthday.

 

bath time
Micah enjoys his bath time reading.