Wednesday, July 5, 2017

7th Annual Photography Challenge Contest!!!

It's time for all that hard work to pay off!!! Before we get to the contest this year, I wanted to take a minute to thank you all for participating. Every year, this challenge gets bigger and bigger...and YOU get more and more talented. It is always hard to choose photos for the contest with so many wonderful submissions! Thank you, everyone!

These are the 20 nominees for the contest this year.  Each will be captioned and then numbered, at random.  To vote, please click on your favorites in the poll.  It is on the left margin of the blog.

<======= Over there

You can vote for more than one picture if you'd like, I will set it up so that you may vote for one or all of them. The only way for votes to be properly counted is to register them in the poll. Leaving a comment isn't enough. The poll may only be visible on web editions, not mobile. If you are on a cell phone, click the link at the bottom of the post to "view web version", which will allow you to vote. The voting will end at Noon MST, Wednesday, July 12th.

Anyone who visits this page can vote, so get your friends to join!

Also, if you're on a web version, you can click the images to enlarge them and scroll through them easier.

The prizes you are all playing for are listed at the bottom, with links to the amazing sponsors. Please show them some love and good luck!


1. Lighthouse
Jennifer Tallman

2. Firebreather
Holly Rexroad

3. Irises
Kelly Ceschin Acker

4. Bubble
Kate McAllister

5. Gravity
Carolyn Mears

6. Snail
Angie Simas

7. Prom
LaTonya Davis
8. Ocean
Maureen Corcoran Maslauskas

9. Blacksmith
Sarah Hovey Bouvier

10. Bee
Katie Duff

11. Rays
Mark Rodriguez

12. Bamboo
Heather Fleshman

13. Feline
Paula Gill

14. Wheel
Gretchen Chateau

15. Reflection
Melissa Zamora

16. Tracks
Tiffany DeHart

17. Barn
Angela Linton-Canfield

18. Horse
Davis Larsen

19. Shinedown
Deb Nelson

20. Ashley DeBie


SLOMBIE from The Crumb Diaries
$100 credit from Heather & Arick Reese
Custom Personalized Funko Pop from Alicia Belden
Jewelry from Penny Jules

Handmade Hoop Art by Punkin Monkey Boutique

I Just Want to be Perfect, courtesy of Chrissy Woj

Orange Essential Oils from Young Loving,
courtesy of Magan Sattler

Salt/sugar bath bomb sets from Dreamscents Parfumerie

Corn heat/cold therapy bags from Mom Cave Designs

Handmade washcloth and Sampler Set from Elysium Botanicals

Pampered Chef items from Jen Cooke

Custom family cross stitch from Rhiannon Sykes Jordan

Wonder Woman Jamberry set from Rhiannon Sykes Jordan 

doTERRA Serenity oils from Camie Kirkevold

Beer infused beard oil sampler from Beer'd

Twin Peaks, The True Story

Nail polish from Bad Bitch Polish

Custom Tumbler from Team Burns Designs

Custom Tumbler from 5K Kustom

LEGO earrings from Maria Ostrowski

Pearl bracelet valued at $90 from Jessica Wilson, Vantel Pearls
$35 store credit from Erika's LuLaRoe VIPs
Super Surprise Box of Awesomenessfrom Cheese Doodle Dad
Jam/pickle/chai sampler from Nikki Ewing

Also up for grabs:

- Coffee and wine basket from Sammie Prescott  at Raising Taters!
Prizes are subject to change because life happens. 

Thank you again to all who participated and contributed prizes!!!! GOOD LUCK!!!!!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

summertime and displaced writing

I should be writing here. I think about it almost every day. Honestly, I do.

And then I will open the blogging platform and stare at some blank screens for a while, delete some spam comments promoting erectile dysfunction implements and close it again.

I don't know why I'm not writing, but I know that I should still be here pecking away at the keyboard. It helps.

There is a direct correlation between my overall mental health and my writing. And well....I've not been writing a lot, so you can imagine how I am doing.

Not great.

I mean, it's not as bad as it was a few months ago when things were really, really, really bad, but it sure isn't fantastic, I'll tell you that much.

Then I read things that other people write and I miss it so badly. I want to get back here. I want to be funny and sarcastic and observant and analytical. I do.

I'm just tired of arguing with people, and it seems like just about anything I write anymore reads like an open invitation to the internet that says something to the effect of COME AND TELL ME 147 DIFFERENT WAYS IN WHICH I AM WRONG AND CALL ME SOME NAMES AND MAKE SURE YOU TELL ME THAT I AM FAT AND TOSS IN A FEW INSULTS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES THEN MAKE A LAUNDRY LIST OF ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT ME AND DEFINITELY SHARE MY WORDS WITH YOUR BIGOTED MISOGYNIST FRIENDS.

Was I yelling?


It's fucking exhausting.

Civility has gone down the shitter lately. The internet is mostly a steaming cesspool of ugliness and I almost can't tolerate my so-called white liberal ally friends as much as the openly homophobic racists because "let's get back to posting pictures of babies and happy things only because I can't handle reading about police violence and Muslim girls being kidnapped and murdered because it's ruining my weekend, you guys" is seriously almost as bad. Maybe it's even worse, because at least the openly homophobic racists let you know where they stand. They don't pretend to care as long as it doesn't put a damper on their BBQ plans.

Holding a sign that one time and wearing a safety pin (but only in places that you'll be congratulated for it) isn't really being an ally.

That word even annoys me anymore, because it's become a badge of honor for people who want to be outraged as long as it doesn't actually affect their lives.

Don't claim to be an ally. Dismantle the system that requires them in the first place.


I've been spending most of my time working on real tangible work locally. Volunteering, organizing, showing up. Not because the social media stuff doesn't matter - because it absolutely does in many ways - but because I need the tangible stuff to ground me in this world right now.

I need to make lists and attend meetings and figure out work arounds of how we are going to get shit done to protect people from the real and legitimate harms in this twisted world, the one getting more dangerous by the day.

That, and in my entire lifetime online, I have witnessed exactly one person evolve in their thinking about any of this stuff. One.

You can scream into the void only for so long before you realize you're hurting your vocal cords and not making a damn bit of difference.

Besides which, there are so many people who aren't who they pretend to be online anyway. (FFS).

I unfriended someone this past week when I caught them celebrating the denial of last rites to dying gay Catholics.

There was glee in that fucking comment. Glee.

This particular someone would NEVER post about things like that on their own wall because they like to pretend to be the compassionate Christ-like person that can claim moral superiority and shit...but hey, the wonders of social media have a way of revealing who you really are. The ironic part of it all is that this person called me intolerant more than once.

A difference of opinion is just that - related to opinions. It's not about determining whether people are deserving of anything based on who they are, what color their skin is, what they believe in, who they love. No. Accept people. Love them. Fight for them. Period.

You don't get to have an opinion about the humanity of other people. You don't get to question the legitimacy of someone's identity or orientation. You just don't. Be a compassionate human and love and support them and fight for them. Period.

You don't get to claim some false equivalence between working for a paid job (even if it's a really shitty job) and slavery. Not on my watch. (I honestly wish I could tell you this was a one time thing...) Study some goddamn history. Unlearn what you think you know about how this country was formed and FFS stop trying to tell people that the Civil War was about state's rights. It was about the states allowing people to own other human beings.

You don't get to muse about the gay agenda. Not around me. I will literally call that shit out immediately in the most vocal way and play a one sided game of 20 questions your bigoted ass can't answer in front of your friends. There is no agenda. The LGBTQ+ community just wants the same rights as everyone else. Full stop.

I try the best I can to make people understand. Really, I do. But if nothing else, these past few months have crystallized in my mind the truth that there are just people who care about others and people who don't. Most of our issues in this society right now today can be boiled down to that sticky debate at the bottom of the pot. And the fact that it's even a debate at all makes me question the legitimacy of whatever progress we think we've made.

And this is why I don't write much anymore.

Plus, summer sucks for me. This summer sucks a whole bunch right now, and I'm focusing on keeping my head above water, so do with that what you will.

For now, I have to go. I have some more research to do and a photo challenge contest post to write.

Fight me.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the it has been forever edition

Hi. It's been a while.

I haven't written one of these in a long time, mostly because I have just been busy. I've also been trying to find positive ways to channel my rage into useful things of late because the world is really just a giant tire fire right now.

So, I haven't been writing. Much.

I did write an actual book submission last month, and have started writing for myself in an actual journal again, so I am writing. Just not for everyone.

Which is basically the theme of my life in 2017.

Not for everyone.

I think that should be my personal life sub-title.

This week in the photo challenge I posted my personality picture about how I know that I'm not for everyone one someone (I don't even know who) almost simultaneously unfriended me, as if it was a pure and beautiful representation of just how well I know myself and the propensity of others to not like me.

It's all good.

And yeah, I know that there are Chrome extensions and apps that will tell you who deletes you, but the truth is that I just don't give a shit anymore. I really don't.

Take me or leave me, I'm good either way.


Anyway, we are here to complain, so let's get there.

I'm really only writing about one thing, and it's something that will likely make more than a few people grab their pitchforks and push that all caps button, but I'm going into it knowing that.

And. Again, I'm good with that.

I want to talk about Wonder Woman. Yeah, the movie.

If you haven't yet seen it, stop reading. I'm tired of people whining about here is your spoiler alert. If you read beyond this sentence, it's not my damned fault.
Now that we have that out of the way, the grievance.

I mostly loved the movie. I wrote a sappy post about how I've waited basically my entire life to see her get her own film, and how I was a dorky kid twirling in the backyard in my Underoos and how I have a tattoo of her logo and all that jazz. I wrote it before I saw the movie.

And don't get me wrong, the movie was good.

From a comic book nerd standpoint, it was really fucking amazing, though some dudes on the internet are whining that there weren't enough references to her S&M origin story portions.

*glares at the male gaze*

Maybe this wasn't for you, dudes of the internet.

(it really wasn't...)

I mean, she has a few lines in the movie about how men aren't necessary for pleasure anyway...


The fight scenes were pretty epic and the whole theme of the film stayed true to who she has always been written to be - a hero dedicated to fighting for truth, justice and peace even when the people she is fighting for don't deserve her.

Also, Robin Wright was rad.

I mean, seriously. I want to go rewatch it just to see the high definition crows feet and thigh jiggles in fight mode. Talk about fierce representation of badass women...

We do absolutely need to take a moment to appreciate how huge this film is in terms of bridging the gap between men and women on the screen, in particular in the superhero genre. This was her origin story, this was directed by a woman, this didn't pander much to the male gaze. She was strong and independent and all the things. It's a remarkable thing just to recognize the fact that our generation and all those before us have been surrounded by almost entirely the stories of men, and that from 2017 on (FFS this better be the first one of many), our daughters will grow up seeing women in that place too.

It's fucking historic.


Having said all that...

It wasn't perfect. Themyscira is a fictional island full of women...not a real place. Wonder Woman was cast with an obvious cap tilt towards the image of Diana we've always had. Fair skin, dark hair.

Did she have to be white? No. 

It's fiction. There's no reason she has to be white. None at all. 

She's white because of the reality of whiteness in Hollywood. Really no other reason. And yeah...I know she is Israeli...

The rest of the island, though, could have and should have absolutely been more diverse than it was. There is no real reason to argue that it shouldn't have been, unless you are trying to make that bullshit canon argument, because anyone who knows much about the original creator of WW knows that he was a racist dude with some definite misogynistic tendencies (she spent a lot of time in bondage in those early years).

Women of color were relegated to subservient and slave-like or slave roles in the early comics, and while the movie did cast some women of color as warriors and (one) Senator, most of the few WOC who were in the film were in those subservient roles. It jumped out at me immediately. 


It's 2017. 

Do better than this.  

We totally have to do better than this.

We have to demand better than this.

We can love the movie and appreciate the historical significance of it and fairly criticize it for its failings. We can do all those things. And we need to do all those things.

It can be awesome and highly problematic all at the same time...and if that makes you uncomfortable, I say "good". It should.

Personally, I hope that the success of this film proves once and for all that female heroes can carry a film alone, and that this results in more and more of these movies, and that those movies are done thoughtfully and deliberately and cast in a way that reflects the world we live in.

Ms. Marvel, let's do this.

Monday, May 22, 2017

7th Annual 30 Day Photography Challenge - June 1-30, 2017

It's the 7th year of this challenge!!!

Let's do this, people.

Here are the prompts for this year, in the image below. Each day of the challenge corresponds with the date in June. For example, Day 1 is for June 1st, and pictures should be posted on the 1st. Ideally, you will add the picture directly into the album designated for each day in the challenge. Please try to get them into the correct albums. With this many people, it's going to be impossible for me to move all the pictures that aren't put in the right place.

All pictures are going to be shared in the group on Facebook. If you aren't a member yet, please request to be added to it here. It is DeBie Hive's Project 52+ Photo Group.

Note: There aren't two day #29, those are the options you have to choose from for that day.

When you post a picture, please be sure to tag it with the number of the day in the challenge and any pertinent information you'd like us to know about the picture.

We will be utilizing the hashtag #30dayphoto this year. Please add it to the images you post so that they will all be searchable with the hashtag.

Please remember that the group is a public group on Facebook. All images posted will be viewable by anyone.

The Rules

  1. One picture per day per person. Please stick to this rule during the 30 day challenge. There are hundreds of people in the group now. Thanks in advance.
  2. Please try to add the pictures directly to the albums that will be set up for each day. If you can't add them to the album, no biggie, but it would be preferred.
  3. There is no requirement that you participate every day to be eligible for the contest.
  4. You MUST email me your pictures to have them considered for the contest. There is a strict limit of 5 entries per person, and the pictures MUST be sent to me at by midnight on June 30th. There will be a release you must sign in order to enter the contest. More information on this later.
  5. What is chosen for the contest is entirely at my discretion.
  6. I will remove photos I deem offensive, and reserve the right to do so.
  7. Only post pictures of people you have permission to post images of.
  8. The idea is to take NEW pictures. You may not re-use pictures submitted in past years.
  9. The contest runs after the challenge ends, hosted on my blog, for seven days. It will start July 5th and run for one week.
  10. THE PRIZES ARE AMAZING THIS YEAR. More details to come!
  11. HAVE FUN!!!! I love photography and started doing these to get people out there experimenting with their cameras.
Tips for taking self-portraits

1. Pay attention to the lighting. Avoid using the flash whenever possible
2. Decide what your best angle is - makes faces at yourself in the mirror if you don't already know.
3. Look just up and to the side of the lens, not directly at it.
4. If you have double chins that you'd like to pretend don't exist (not that you do, of course LOL), look slightly up to take the picture, hold the camera a tiny bit higher than you normally would.
5. Make sure there isn't anything messing up your background, or giving you bunny ears, or growing out of the top of your head.
6. Take more than one picture, with slightly different expressions. Then you can pick the best one.
7. Try to laugh naturally so your smile doesn't look forced.
8. Remember you can always zoom in, but you can't zoom out once the picture is taken.

I will not be posting blog posts with the prompt each day this year. I will post each day's picture in the group and on my Facebook page. They will all be posted to Instagram and Twitter as well. If you aren't following me there, Twitter and Instagram are FAR better at showing people the things I post.

My Instagram profile can be found here. 

My Twitter profile can be found here. 

Finally, if you would like to offer up a prize for the contest, please let me know ASAP. Your link and a picture of the item submitted will be added to the contest post, which is seen by thousands of people each year. My email is

Have fun with it!

Friday, May 19, 2017

I blinked and then you were 16

Dear Oldest,

I started thinking about writing this a few weeks ago. I've been putting it off in a sort of denial that if I don't write your birthday letter, then maybe I can will time to slow down a little bit. Maybe this time I can finally make it stop, push the pause button.

I know I can't, of course, but it was a nice thought.

I won't tell anyone you borrowed this medal for a picture...
I went through and re-read some of the old birthday letters, looked through old pictures of you, and I'm still completely at a loss about how we got here already. How are you going to be 16 already?

I wasn't joking when I told you that time doesn't truly seem linear once you have kids. I know that to you it was some silly philosophical conversation, but it was me really trying to communicate the detachment with time that seems to happen once you become a parent. You don't know because you just don't know, but you probably will someday.

Or maybe you do.

It wasn't so long ago when you woke up one morning with the realization that you were getting older, when you climbed into my bed upset with the knowledge that you weren't going to be a kid forever. I couldn't make it stop then and I can't make it stop now, and even if I could, I suspect you wouldn't really want that anyway. You're already looking forward to the next phase of your life, planning for those last two years of high school, weighing the options for what comes next. 

And you should be. You've got some amazing ideas for who you want to be when you grow up.

You've already grown up so much. These past few months, it seems especially true. There are days that you inexplicably just age before my eyes. It used to be more gradual, your transitions, but now it's as if you wake up dramatically different some mornings. The physical changes have been remarkable, sure, but it isn't just that. It's your demeanor. Your outlook on the world. Your maturity. Your level of responsibility, one that society likes to tell us teenagers simply cannot possess. And yet, here you are, defying the conventional wisdom. 

In this past year, you've accomplished so much. Completed so many goals. Achieved so many things in so many different facets of your life. You've put yourself out there, taken risks, done the things that scared you, not sure how it all would go. You didn't let the fear hold you back. And when things didn't work out the way you'd hoped, you sat with the disappointment, but only for a moment...then shrugged it off, moved on to Plan B, and set about how you could make yourself a more appealing candidate the next time.

You finished your Eagle rank, which would be a huge accomplishment alone if it was all you'd done this year. I told you a story about how I recently got into a heated online argument with someone who insisted that it is impossible to achieve that rank prior to the age of 16. I'll never understand why some people are so committed to the things they believe when the evidence - in this case your very existence - to the contrary is so obvious. I suppose, though, that is a conversation for another day. 

We still haven't had your Court of Honor since you've been so busy with everything else, but we'll get there. Eventually. The hard part is over, the rest is just gravy.

You took on a challenging course load at school and have thrived. Long gone are the days when I'd have to check your grade book online to make sure that you were turning everything in. You, as I knew you someday would, finally figured that out. So much success in life really just comes from showing up, and you've learned that already. I won't go into a lengthy list of your academic successes, but I don't need to anyway - you still insist on hanging all those certificates on the fridge or displaying them on the mantle. Just make sure you scoot over and let your siblings have a chunk of the mantle from time to time.

You have volunteered to help your father and brother with the Cub Scout den, you have volunteered at the hospital, you have volunteered teaching younger kids how to play shiny new instruments in summer band. You help me around the house and with your younger siblings. You help. You were just born to help. Sometimes you need to find a bird statue first, but you always do it. (Inside joke)

You went on your first real trip without us this year to NYC. Band has opened so many doors for you and will continue to do so. You came back home from that trip so much more mature that it defies explanation. You.were.just.older. In four days. Drumline won state this year with you leading the bass line, but what mattered to me more than the medal in the end was the look on your face when you were performing out there during finals. I posted a picture of you in that moment, one that was blurry and so far away, but one that showed the pure joy on your face. I want you to remember how you felt that night and never let it go. Hang on to those moments forever.

Life isn't really about the pursuit of happiness in general, because no one can be happy all the time, even if we tell people that lie in our society all the time. You know me...I'm not going to lie to you. Life isn't always great, but you will find those moments of joy. Oh, those moments. Keep them. Tuck them into your pocket. Pull them out when you need them most. 

You think you know what you want to do after high school, you've been set on a certain school for a while now, but I know that is all subject to change. You've shifted that eventual career path already, currently in love with higher mathematics for reasons that mystify me. You're good at it, damned good at it, and you've started talking about the beauty of math, which to me sounds like a nightmare. But do you. The world needs nerds that love math, which means the world needs people like you.

When you're messing with my emotions, you like to say things like, "Two more years, and I'll be gone...", but lately, I've started turning it around on you. That oppressive weight of time, the gift that keeps on giving. It'll be hard for you to leave, I know. It'll be hard on me and it will be hard on you, and it will be devastating for your siblings (that's payback for the feelings, kid...), but I'll pack your bags and slow down enough to kick you out the door before I drive away sobbing. Because that's what I do.

It's not my job to keep you little. I couldn't even if I tried. It's my job to get you as ready as I can for that great big world out there, then like the mama bird building her nest out front, it'll be my job to shove you out and teach you to fly. You can't fly if I'm hanging on, so I won't.

I'm teaching and pushing and nudging, reminding you that you can do it every step of the way.

And I'm proud of you. I'm so proud of you. Of who you will one day become, of who you already are. 

The certificates and awards and grades and accomplishments are amazing, sure, but what matters more than any of that every will or could is that you are kind. You are humble. You are considerate. You look around you to see who is watching. You make the choices not because of what the consequences to you might be, but because they are the right choices to make. 

You aren't a kid anymore, you're a young man...even if you still call me mama. 

(Seriously, never stop doing that.)

I don't know what this next year holds, but I can't wait to see what you come up with. 

Keep working hard, keep managing your time, keep finding friends that love the same things you love. Keep setting goals, keep putting yourself out there, keep dusting yourself off and trying again when it doesn't work out the way you had hoped. Keep pushing yourself for bigger and better. Keep balancing all of that work with play. Make sure you take care of yourself in all this. Don't ever lose sight of who you are, because you're pretty spectacular.

While you're at it, stay weird. Stay goofy. Keep laughing at those terrible jokes. Never stop singing and dancing and squatting in front of things. 

I love you, sweetheart. 

Happy birthday.


p.s. the video still lives. Ho Ho Ho.

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