5 joys of July

July is my least favorite month of the year. It's too hot and... well... it's just plain too hot.

I'm not a fan of hot weather, which is pretty much why I'm not a fan of July.

Rather than stew over the scorching season, though, I'm looking on the bright side today, pondering the positive parts of a month I mostly despise. 

There are but five.

joys of july

My third and final child — Andrea, one of my favorite people in the world — was...

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Kids and cameras: 9 tips for beginner photogs, from National Geographic Kids

kids and cameras

As long as my grandsons have known me, I've had a camera in my hand more often than not. I may not be a pro, but taking photos is one of my favorite activities.

I like to think it's my penchant for taking pictures that encouraged my grandsons to enjoy using various cameras—from their kid camera to smartphones to my DSLR—for shooting shots around their place now and then. 

I'm pretty good about explaining to my grandsons the basics of using a camera, but as a true and untrained amateur photographer myself, I'm not the greatest at sharing with them sure-shot techniques for composition and more, in easy-to-understand snippets they'll understand and remember.

Enter National Geographic Kids book Guide To Photography by Nancy Honovich and National Geographic Photographer Annie Griffiths (which I...

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2 things I learned while up on my roof

I have lived in my house nearly eight years but had never been up on my roof.

Until the Fourth of July.

On July Fourth, Jim and I decided to sit on our roof to watch the many Fourth of July fireworks displays that take place to the east of us and to the west of us. Here's what I learned while up there:

ONE: I need to learn how to photograph fireworks.

These are the best fireworks shots—of more than 70—that I got:


Not so great. I'll be...

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The alpha and omega: Games (grand)people play

My daughter Megan unexpectedly showed up at my door with my three grandsons one week ago today.

Mac T-ball

The fact several hours passed before I pulled out my camera attests to the degree of my surprise at their appearance. Once I...

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Saturday movie review: 'Finding Vivian Maier'

I enjoy photography and consider myself a hobbyist photographer. Yet you needn't be a photographer of any degree to appreciate street photographer Vivian Maier's work or FINDING VIVIAN MAIER, the documentary on Maier's mysterious and fascinating story.

 Finding Vivian Maier poster

I hesitate to share many...

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Forgotten photos: Splash!

I recently purchased an external hard drive on which I can house a big chunk of my photos. I take so many pictures — and have a horrendous time hitting the delete button, even if I have 26 of the same shot — that I came perilously close to crashing my laptop under the weight of the mega megabyte-sized pictures I've been hoarding.

 swimming pool jump

As I went through the pictures folder...

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Wherein I attempt to master the selfie

I like to check my baggage when I travel. I know a lot of people prefer to carry on their items, but I prefer to check. Reason being that when I travel, I take my laptop (it's not an iPad or notebook by any means) as well as my DSLR camera. Once my camera is in a bigger bag with my purse, that bag and my laptop constitute my two carry-on items, while clothes and more are checked.

That said, I didn't check my baggage for my recent trip to Dallas for Bloggy Boot Camp, a fully paid trip I won from The SITS Girls. It was a quick trip with little chance I'd be leaving the hotel (which I didn't) so I left my camera at home, packed my laptop in my suitcase and lugged it all upon the plane.

Having no DSLR along for the trip meant I had to use my iPhone for any photos. An iPhone 4S, so it's not all that great, but it works in a pinch for most things.

I'm not so sure it worked all that well for selfies. Or maybe it's the camera operator. I tried, I really did. And the following provides proof.

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Local photos from a long-distance grandma

I am a long-distance grandma. A long-distance grandma who likes to take pictures. Mostly pictures of of my long-distance grandsons.

Every once in a while, though, I'm reminded that I don't need to travel 812 miles to my grandsons' house to get photos that warm this grandma's heart. I don't even need to leave my house for that at all, as I have incredible photo ops right outside my windows, from morning til night.

I often start my day with sunrises that look like this...

Colorado sunrise

October sunrise in Colorado

Colorado Sunrise

End my day with sunsets like this...

October sunset in Colorado

And in between the sunrise and sunset are animals of a squirrelly sort galore. Just yesterday, in fact, I had the pleasure of photographing a mama brown squirrel taking a break from her ever-hungry babies — a mama who was none too pleased with my intrusion on her momentary peace.

brown squirrel at rest

unhappy brown squirrel

brown squirrel on the run

When the months between visits with my grandsons stretch long and lonesome, I must remember to focus on what I have right here in my own back yard.

And in my east- and west-side yards, too.

Vincent Van Gogh quote

Today's fill-in-the-blank:

This week I was reminded that __________.

What I learned this week: I shoot now, tweet later

Not long ago, I had a telephone conversation with a wise and wonderful entrepreneur with whom I hope to partner on some projects in the future. She asked me how I feel about my proficiency on a variety of social media platforms, one of them being Twitter.

Now, I feel like I'm pretty good with Twitter. No, not the best, but certainly not the worst either, considering I'm less than 20 followers away from crossing the 5,000-follower mark. I'm pretty good at Twitter parties, and I do a dandy job of connecting with and promoting brands and friends on Twitter, too. So I told her that.

bird tweeting"And what about live tweeting?" the wise entrepreneur asked.

First, let me explain to those who may not know what live tweeting is. It's sending out tweets on Twitter during an event, letting your followers know all about — via texts and often photos, too — the event you're attending or participating in or watching (yes, live tweeting is done during television shows, too). This is quite useful for brands and PR folks when hoping to generate interest and see a specific hashtag for their cause trend on Twitter.

So I told the entrepreneur I have indeed live tweeted but to a fairly minimal degree, explaining the live tweeting I did while at the Lifesavers Conference a few months ago.

"But you'll be live tweeting at BlogHer, right?" she asked. To which I enthusiastically responded, "Oh, yeah, definitely," because I had every intention of doing so.

Well guess what? I didn't do much live tweeting at BlogHer. To be honest, I'm not sure I did any. I meant to. But then I realized after each event, after each opportunity, that I completely let the opportunity to tweet live pass me by. I'd been too busy living and photographing the moments to live tweet said moments.

I should have been better at remembering to live tweet, considering the first event I attended — within an hour or so of me landing in Chicago — was filled with folks live tweeting the event. I'm willing to bet that's what at least a few of these GenFab friends of mine were doing at this captured moment:

women on smartphones

Alas, it didn't lead to me tweeting. Just picture taking. Opportunity missed.

I took pictures during the Lean Cuisine luncheon I attended Friday. Did I tweet during the event like I probably should have? Nope. Opportunity missed — unlike these live tweeters who seized the moment and raised their smartphones with pride:

lean cuisine luncheon 

Friday night featured yet another missed opportunity. As the crowd of bloggers anxiously awaited Queen Latifah's arrival as emcee of the Voices of the Year ceremony, time ticked and ticked and ticked on. The Queen was late. Then later. Then later still.

As I looked around, I noticed nearly every single person in the crowded ballroom tapping away on their smartphones. I chuckled, nudged my buddy Ruth, and we agreed I should take some photos of all the lovely ladies bent over their phones. I didn't though, figuring that might be kind of rude. (Man, am I kicking myself for that missed opportunity, for what a great photo that would have been.)

It didn't dawn on me until later that what Ruth and I snickered about was mass live tweeting. All those bloggers tired of waiting for the show to get on the road were sharing and airing their grievances with their followers. Live. Were preparing to tweet details of the event to their followers. Live.

And all I considered doing was taking photos to share with my followers. Later.

Clearly, live tweeting isn't really on my radar. Does that make me less of a social media master? Probably. Which saddened me upon first realization because I like to be good at everything related to my job. In the end, though, I'm not. And to be honest, that's okay with me. Live photography fits me; live tweeting not so much.

That said, I could be pretty good at live tweets, though, if only I could take the nightly talk show approach and simply attach a disclosure to my post-event tweets. I'm thinking something along the lines of This Live Tweet Broadcast Previously Recorded.

There'd certainly be no lack of photos to go with those pre-recorded live tweets — especially considering I'm clearly, by nature, a shoot now, tweet later kind of blogger.

Which is just fine with me — and the most liberating thing I learned this week.

Farewell for the week! I look forward to seeing you Monday!

Today's question:

What did you learn this week?

Weekend highs and lows, plus GRAND Social No. 56

Welcome to the new week! I hope your weekend was grand. Mine was a mish-mash of highs and lows.

Canon Rebel selfieOne significant weekend high? I participated in a workshop on using DSLR cameras in manual mode instead of auto. Meaning learning about the "three-legged stool" of aperture, shutter, and ISO. I'd read on those things, watched videos on those things time and again. But being all about numbers, which are not my thing, the concept just would not stick in my brain. Going over it in person with a pro finally made it make sense for me. The workshop was presented — for free! — by my pastor, who is a fantastic photographer (and blogger) who's more than happy to share his gift. I look forward to our next workshop: a field trip to a regional park to practice our new skills.

And a significant low? Friday night I learned my cousin — who would have been just 40 years old today — passed away unexpectedly earlier in the day, was found slumped over her computer. Tragic story, with the reason (we hope) to be revealed today once the autopsy is completed. She had a brain tumor removed in recent months, so that likely played into it. A brilliant light snuffed out too soon, breaking the hearts of many. Please keep her family in your thoughts and prayers. And cross your fingers for me too, please, as it'll be a busy week; family will arrive from Wisconsin for the funeral in the next couple days, with a few scheduled to stay at my house. I look forward to seeing my relatives, but the circumstances just plain suck.

Anyway... that was my weekend. And this is GRAND Social No. 56. Thank you so much for joining me!

link party

How it works:

  • All grandparent bloggers are invited to add a link. You don't have to blog specifically about grandparenting, but you must be a grandparent who blogs.
  • To link up, copy the direct URL to the specific post — new or old — that you want to share, not the link to your blog's home page. Then click the "Click here to enter" text below and follow the directions to add your post and graphic to the list.
  • You can add up to three posts, but no duplicates, please, and none you have promoted on a previous GRAND Social linky. And no contests, giveaways, or Etsy sites, please.
  • Adding a mention at the bottom of your linked posts, such as This post has been linked to the GRAND Social linky, is appreciated. Or, you can post the GRAND Social button anywhere on your page using the following code:


<a href="/" target="_blank"><img src="http://grandmasbriefs.squarespace.com/storage/GRANDsocialbutton.jpg " alt="Grandma’sBriefs.com" width="125" height="125" /></a>


  • The GRAND Social linky is open for new posts through Wednesday evening, so please come back to see those added after your first visit.
  • If you're not a blogger, you have the pleasure of being a reader. Bloggers who link up would be honored to have one and all — bloggers and readers — visit, read and, if so moved, comment, even if just a "Hey, stopping by from the GRAND Social."

Thank you for participating in the GRAND Social!