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It was like something from the movies.  A big crowd, all gathered and buzzing with excitement, even though it was 5:30 in the morning.  A breeze, chilly, South Dakota morning.  But most people didn’t seem to notice.  They were too busy taking photos, checking the time, corralling children or comparing adorable/witty/brilliant poster board signs.

Ellsworth AFB Homecoming


Ellsworth AFB Homecoming

This particular homecoming is for Matt and Megan.  This is Megan.


Everything is thrown off kilter when they leave.  There are tears and anger and sadness and {at least for  some} a deep rooted thought that the Air Force is the biggest bully in the world.  Eventually a routine is established.  And you get used to stepping around the hole left while they are away.


Everything is thrown off kilter when they come home.  But its a good off kilter, a welcome off kilter.  Because you start to look forward to getting back to “regular,” even if you don’t know how long it will last.


It’s emotional.  Always emotional.  And this was especially so because it was so much bigger and more TV-ish than Derek’s homecoming {when he just stepped off of a B52 with a few others and we all waited, a small crowd on a giant runway} or any other return I’ve witnessed.


It was massive.  And the anticipation was palpable.  Seriously.  Then it happened.  The plane landed, a giant commercial jet, right there in on the runway of Ellsworth Air Force Base.  They pushed the stairs up and a line that looked like khaki colored ants started to descend.  I’m confident that there is no better feeling than identifying your khaki colored ant.


Air Force Homecoming

Air Force Homecoming

Air Force Homecoming

Air Force Homecoming

Air Force Homecoming

Air Force Homecoming

Community Canvas

Through the summer Minot holds Arts in the Park every Thursday and Sunday evening.  A few months ago, I was blindsided when I got a call from the Minot Area Council of the Arts contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in being a featured artist.


Arts in the Park works like this.  A band plays in the band shell, people come and listen, and an artist stands off to the side.  You can do anything you’d like to as the artist, they just encourage it to be something interactive or a demonstration.  Like most things, my art is pretty diverse.  I had no idea what they wanted me to do, but they were clear that I could do anything I wanted.


So I did what I usually do in a situation like this.  I try to think what I would want to see if I was just attending.  This is what I came up with.

community canvas

It’s a community canvas.  I drew a black outline of a design {inspired by sunflowers, so perfect for this time of year.}  Then I put a dot of color in every space, denoting what it should be filled with.  People are welcome to come and fill in as much or as little as they want.  And when it’s all filled we are left with a lovely piece of art that many hands had a part in creating.

Arts in the Park Minot

And people loved it!


Which was so flattering, since I tend to think that my arty stuff is only stuff that my mom would like.  Better yet, a woman from the arts council asked if she could buy it.  {Say what??!}  But wait–there’s more.  Minot has an “Arts in the Schools” program that sends local artists in to schools to teach art to kids…and they asked if I’d be interested in being involved.  {Duh!}  Nothing is super official, but it’s still nice to be considered.


Here’s a progression of the canvas throughout the night.

community canvas 1

community canvas 2

community canvas3

community canvas 4

Finished canvas

What I’m getting at is that is was a great night.  A night much needed as this fell right around the time of the “Unstuck” post.  It was an up that I was in need of.  Arts in the Park is done for the season, but if you live in Minot, you should keep a pulse on the cool things the arts council is doing.  These folks are working hard to infuse our community with art, culture and fun activities, which I think is something we are all in favor of.




Guess Who {it’s not me}

Let me start by saying–IT’S NOT ME.  Really, truly, honestly…this post isn’t about me.


Recently I had the fine privilege of shooting a pregnancy announcement.  When we sat down to brainstorm how they wanted to break the big news, we decided that a custom chalkboard background would be just perfect.  So, Derek moved the panels inside and I went to work drawing up what just might be the best background I’ve ever created.  Which is why I couldn’t resist showing it to you.

Guess Who

Making this chalkboard wall was one of my best decisions ever.  I just love drawing big, giant word art up there.


The photos, however will be kept secret until their friends and family have found out.  So until then, I guess you all will just have to speculate.



Sunflowers Part One

Hello night owls!  I’ve been on the road all day traveling back to Minot from visiting Rapid City for the last few days.  But, as many of you know, my sleep schedule is pretty weird right now…so I decided to go ahead and post a few of my favorite photos from the first round of sunflower sessions.


I think they are great.  I mean, even those of us who get really awkward in front of the camera, {ahem…Kelleys} look great in a field of giant flowers stretching as far as the eye can see.  It’s North Dakota romance at its best.  Enjoy!


sunflower mini session

Sunflower mini sessions

Sunflower mini sessions

Sunflower mini sessions

Sunflower mini sessions

Sunflower mini sessions

Oh, and I just couldn’t resist one more.  This little one had never seen sunflowers before.  I think it’s safe to say she like it.

Sunflower mini sessions

If you like what you see here and are living in the Minot area you–yes, you–can have your very own sunflower session {details here}.  I’ve got session space left on Wednesday August 13th between 6 and 7pm. Annnd–because a couple folks who had scheduled had an unforseen scheduling conflict {thanks, Air Force} I’ve decided to add a few sessions on Saturday Sept 16th.  If you are interested don’t hesitate to get in touch!




Colossians{image via}

Remember when I told you I was going to memorize the book of Colossians?  I’m happy to report that I’m still going strong.  And Derek is too.  I think everything is more fun if we do it together.  This included.  Especially since there have been days when I wasn’t in the mood and he pushed me to memorize the day’s verse…and vice versa.


We are just a few verses shy of having memorized the first chapter.  I was going to hold off on telling you about it until I’d gotten through the first chapter, but I am simply too excited to wait.  I am so thoroughly enjoying this process I don’t know if I’ll ever quit.  Here’s a quick list of why I’ve loved memorizing such a big chunk of Scripture all at once.


1.  Every word counts.  I know I kind of said this before I started, but now that I’m knee deep in this memorization game I’m really getting it.  Repeating the words day after day has really forced me to realize how significant every single word is.  Every word choice, it’s placement, the structure of the sentence….it all holds a deep meaning.  Meaning that I have never realized before when I simply read through a chapter at a time.


2.  I’m constantly meditating on the Word.  No matter how much quiet time or Bible study I’ve done in the past, nothing has helped me stay focused on God’s words for us as much as this bout of memorization.  Because I don’t want to forget the verses I’ve learned, throughout the day I find myself thinking about yesterday’s verse, reciting the whole passage, and mulling over the meaning in the verses I know.  Since I add more each day there is always something fresh in my mind to meditate on.  And in the meditation has caused me to…..


3. Gain a deeper understanding of the Lord.  I feel closer to Him, even though lately I’ve been struggling with bad attitudes and small bouts of the down-and-outs.  I feel like I’m gleaning an understanding of Christ’s nature with every verse I tack on.


4.  I’ve learned new prayers.  Paul writes this letter to folks in Colossians, even though he has never met them.  Now, if you are familiar with Paul, you might have noticed that his introductions and opening statements can be somewhat lengthy.  In the past I’ve tended to skip over these parts, which I considered frilly filler {tsk, tsk.}  But now that I’m memorizing, I have been forced to look deeply at the meaning tucked inside the intro.


Paul is a great intercessor and a spectacular prayer warrior.  He offers a real teaching moment in the beginning of this letter by telling the Colossians how he prays for them, what he says in those prayers and why.  I have basically started to copy his words verbatim when praying for fellow believers.  {Especially the sweet teenage girls I have the privilege of mentoring.}  Where I used to get stuck and tongue tied, not knowing what exactly to ask or say–now I use Paul’s very powerful template for intercession.


“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.”


5.  I’m banking money verses.  What’s a money verse, you ask.  A “money verse” is a key verse, one that defends your believe or is extremely usable in conversation, teaching, etc with the world.  Colossians is jam packed with money verses and I’m learning them word-for-word and finding them really easy to interject into regular conversations.


I’m also tucking them away for days when my beliefs may be challenged.  Then I’ll be able to pull out things like:  Christ is the image of the invisible God…; by Him all things were created…all things were created by Him and for Him; God was pleased for all of His fullness to dwell in Him {Christ}–as in Christ was fully God in mortal form.


6.  Scripture is coming up in conversations.  Since I’m comitted to memorizing the whole book of Colossians it’s really easy to throw it into a conversation–even with a nonbeliever.  When someone asks, “What have you been up to lately?”  It’s the perfect opportunity to chat them up about how amazing the Word of God is and all the things I’m learning.


7.  I’m on pace with the commentary.  If you know me at all, you know I l-o-v-e reading commentary on Scripture.  I like knowing the original Greek, I like knowing the cultural state and the political climate of the times.  The New Testament has so much commentary it’s a huge undertaking to read it alongside a whole chapter at a time…since there may be several pages dedicated to two or three verses alone.  Taking Colossians slowly, one verse a day, has made reading the commentary doable.  Not overwhelming.


That’s my quick list.  I’ll give you another update in a month or so.  But really, you should start memorizing.  It’s so worth it.  Stop waiting and just start.  The first day is really easy.  Pinky swear.  You won’t regret it.



Practically Stealing

Yesterday’s post was set in a thrift store.  Today I’m going to tell you about the amazing deals I found there.  It’s going to make you so jealous.  Unless, of course you live in Minot–in which case you’ll just be thanking me for the tip.


Okay, so starter info.  This is useful to anyone anywhere.  We all love Target, right?  I have yet to meet someone who’d rather be at Wal-Mart.  Barf.  Anyway.  Local Targets always make a deal with a thrift shop.  At the end of the season, when they change merchandise out, or have overstock, they donate it.  Brand new, untouched, off the rack, off the shelves overstock.  In a lot of places it goes to a Good Will.  But not always.  I’d even venture that you could call your Target store and ask them who they have a deal with.  Then shop there.


In Minot, this stuff goes to the Dakota Boys & Girls Ranch Thrift Store.  If you don’t know, it’s on Broadway just south of Heritage Park and it looks like this.

{Image via}

It’s not just clothes.  There are lampshades, table cloths, bedding, dishes, yard stuff.  After Christmas this place is a treasure trove.


But right now they are having an amazing sale.  All the clothes they are getting from Target, as the store makes room for back to school merchandise, are coming here–and they are all $0.99!!  They have a ton of clothing from baby to adult and they are all less than a dollar.  Best of all, I talked to an employee and she told me that they have received so much they will be processing it all through the month of August and the sale will last until the end of the month.  So get over there already.


Did I mention shoes are a dollar too?  And purses?  Yep.  And everything from Target is new, untouched and usually still comes with the tags on.


It’s practically stealing.


I went a little crazy.  Here is a small sampling of what I picked up.

99 cent clothes

To give you the full rundown, I bought a dress, a skirt, two shirts, red pants, a pair of jeans, a scarf and five pairs of shoes.

99 cent shoes

Derek also lucked out.  Well…I lucked out for him.  He hates shopping, but his wardrobe has been looking really sad.  I am talking olive cargo shorts with the hem ripped off of one leg–sad.  Really, we are old enough and financially stable enough to afford pants.  Come on.  But he has been out of town, and as stated he hates shopping.  So I took a stab in the dark and picked up a pair of new cargo shorts, some khakis, three polos, a pair of flip flops and another pair of shoes.  All fit.  Less than $10.




So.  Be jealous, or get out to the Boys & Girls Store.






“Why don’t you work on your blog?  I like reading it.”


“Ugh.  Because I have a bad attitude and I’m not doing anything interesting or anything worth writing about.”  As soon as I say it I can hear my awful, negative attitude oozing from the words.  As soon as the sentence is out there, I want it not to be true.  And it doesn’t have to be.


“Maybe I should go on an adventure.  Or find something that actually can that won’t leave me feeling like I’ve been run over.”

{Image via}

We are standing in a thrift store and I’m talking to a woman I’ve only met a handful of times, but am wishing I knew her better and as this conversation is going on, I’m creepily scheming up ways to find myself in her company more often.  Which is probably even more creepy…since she told me she reads the blog, and I’m sure she’ll know this is about her.  But I’m so awkward I throw caution to the wind.


We are there–in the thrift store–with another friend.  And, little do they know, the two of them are pulling me out of a rut.  An awful, annoying, terrible rut.


For a few days I’d been caught in a cycle of pain, Percocet, inactivity, anxiety and insomnia.  One leading to the next, the next and the next.  I stopped writing {which many of you know if my favorite activity} because, as stated, I wasn’t doing anything worth talking about.  Outside of memorizing my daily verse from Colossians I couldn’t even bring myself to spend time in the Bible in order to write a good devotional.


But Saturday, as we scored major deals {more on that later}, I started to feel more like myself again.  I was having a great time, doing something unique, getting an unbelievable deal.  And my sense of adventure was restored.  I was reminded that I am a creature of free will.  There is no rule, fast and sure stating that I am to succumb to a case of the forever down-and-outs because I can’t do all the things I used to.  There is no regulation causing me to mourn my old self.  There is no reason I can’t come up with interesting things to do despite my physical restrictions.


And I have.  Since Saturday when this all went down I have done all kinds of interesting things.  I just haven’t written them because I haven’t had time.  And when I had time I was too tired.  I hope you’ll forgive me, but I’ll really try to stay more interesting and less David Coppery {disappearing and all.}  Sometimes it just takes a minute to get back on track.  Sometimes it takes a person, or people to get you back on track…even if they don’t realize what they are doing at the time.


The point is this.  It can be really easy to stay in and be down.  Especially when we are physically down.  But there is always a choice.  Sometimes that choice is very hard to make.  Like really, really hard.  It might even take all of the sapped strength you have to make a choice to take a single step toward your regular, happier self.  Maybe so, but that’s always a step worth taking.  Trust me.  I get off kilter more often than I’d like and it’s a step I’ve taken more times than I can count.  But it’s always worth it.  Always.




PS–I’m eager to tell you about the outrageous scores I found at the thrift shop.  But they just didn’t fit in with the vibe of this post.  Come back tomorrow and I pinky promise you’ll be jealous.  Unless you live in Practically Canada…in which case you’ll thank me.

Sunflower Mini Sessions

sunflower mini sessions

It’s that time of year again…sunflower time!


One of the most beautiful features of a Practically Canadian summer is humongous crop of sunflowers covers many a rural field late in the season.  Sometimes they can be tricky, especially since in the three summers I’ve spent here never once have the fields been planted in the same place twice.


But alas, I’ve found a field.  A lovely field at that and for the first time ever, I am pleased to be offering Sunflower Mini Sessions for anyone and every one interested.  There is one a couple catches.  First of all, the sessions will be soon–since the crop doesn’t last forever.  Second, the number of sessions is limited–since I can’t set up permanent camp in a field somewhere.


So if you are interest get in touch with me.  Facebook me, text me {574-361-7268} or email me at


Here’s how it works.  You pick a time, come ready to smile and I’ll get some lovely seasonal photographs for you.  You can choose to get 5 images for $50 or 2 for $30.  Either way, they’ll arrive electronically and you’ll get a print release, online sharing release and a custom Facebook Cover photo.  Pets are most definitely welcome and you can split your five images into any groupings you like–mom and dad, just the kids, each kiddo alone, just your dog…whatever you like.


After booking, I’ll send you directions.  After the session your photos will be ready within 10 days.

sunflowers 2014

It’ll be fun.  Come on out.  Hope to see you there!



Dry Walls

Basement progress

It’s been a while since I’ve done a project.  And I don’t mean a craft.  I mean a real, sink your teeth in, work all day, major B&A–project.


Actually, according to medical professionals, not allowed to project like that for another 5 months.  So, I’ll bide my time, but that doesn’t mean progress should halt.  A few months back, before we got the results of the MRI, before the surgery…before…Derek and I cleaned everything we had stored in the basement out.  All in preparation for it to be waterproofed, the first step toward a completely finished, livable basement.  {*dreamy sigh*}


You can see that post here.


Well, since I can’t participate, I thought I’d at least show you where we stand now.  You may remember me mentioning that when my parents came to visit in June, my dad thought the most fun way to spend his days in Minot would be installing an egress window for us.  No complaints from me.  I’ve been meaning to ask him to write a guest post about putting it in.  So, Dad, if you are reading this–we should chat about that.  But I digress…Here is the window going in.


installing an egress window

Let’s just say, I don’t trust just anyone to hack into the cement of my foundation.  And I trust my dad.  So…yeah…


Now I have a light filled basement.  Better yet, it’s completely waterproofed.  That’s what all the white stuff is on the wall.  If you want more info on the system we went with, you can check out Innovative Basement Systems.  It’s pricey, yes.  But it is also guaranteed, pretty much for all time and eternity.  So we felt like it was worth it.

basement innovations

The guys who cant to install the system were a pair of 20-somthing besties.  They told me the met on the job and immediately clicked.  It was a bromance if I’ve ever seen one.  While they worked I could hear their music from the basement.  It was like a kareoke party.  There was some Frozen soundtrack, some singing along with Taylor Swift, and obviously a little jamming to Journey.  Adorable.


I even have a sump pump!!

sump pump

Now, the big question is, “What next?”  Where do you go from here.  Well, I’ll tell you.


First step, wait 48 hours for the cement to dry.


Next, save more money.  The home improvement fund has been tapped out this summer with the new roof and the basement situation…


After that {conveniently in probably about 5 months or so–wink wink} we’ll start installing studs and dry wall.  Eventually the vision is to have a bathroom, storage space and bedroom down there.  So. Yeah.  Someday.



The Fam

Last week Derek and I ventured to my favorite place in the world.  Elkhart, IN.  While there I got to go to the country’s best 4-h fair.  Seriously…it’s ranked #1 or #2–they flip flop with another fair in California.  I soaked in the hot tub and soaked up sun in the pool and went for a boat ride on the might St. Joe.


In short, it was awesome.


Like all trips home there are a million things we want to do and only a few select actually happen.  One thing we did find time for was taking an updated family photo, per my momma’s request.  The last time we did this, my sister and I weren’t married and there were no dogs included.  It was pretty casual.  Nothing dressy.  Just a couple photos in front of the barn {which is getting a fresh coat of paint this summer}.  The whole fam.  All together.  Even the dogs.

Allender Family Photos

black and white family photo

mom and dad

Erin and Adam

Derek and Amy

Well, hello there!

Hi. I'm Amy. Thanks for coming by. I'm in to trying new things and learning to live better. I hope you'll hang around...together we can come closer to mastering the Art of Living.

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