Sunday, June 9, 2019

Smiling with Pride

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin and Pride Parade participants

The Aurora Pride Parade in Illinois was today. My husband and I had the privilege of witnessing so much love and happiness as we photographed the beautiful people there. The positive energy was contagious, and even though it was very warm and muggy, I hardly noticed the weather. 


There were so many mamas wearing their "Free Mom Hugs" t-shirts, and dads wearing corresponding "Dads Hug, Too" shirts. There were couples, families, politicians, churches, and businesses marching to show their love and support. 

This was my first Pride parade, and I completely underestimated how well-attended the event would be. We had to walk quite a distance from the place we finally parked our car. The sidewalks were packed with people, and the streets were full of parade participants. 

Chicago Pride Guard

Everyone we met was happy to pose for the camera. When Chuck asked the Chicago Pride Guard if they would perform for us while they were waiting their turn to march, they obliged us with an energetic, and well-executed routine!

By the time the parade was over, my cheeks actually hurt from smiling so much. I can't wait until next year. I'm going to have to get me one of those "Free Mom Hugs" shirts. If you know me, you know I'm a hugger. Right now, I'm still smiling, thinking about all of the smiles we captured with our cameras.  

Here are some of my favorite images from today. My husband and I will be posting all of our edited photos to our Facebook page soon. Look for Bennorth Images to see if your photo is there!

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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Cut from the Same Cloth

Photo Credit: Chuck Bennorth

Bristol and I were cut from the same cloth. We would rather be home than anywhere else. Both of us enjoy watermelon and taking naps. We're a little stubborn, and we are happy when we get our own way. We like meeting new people, and probably overwhelm them at first with our outgoing personalities. I like to think we have a good connection.

A few months ago, Dr. Kelly told Bristol he had to lose some weight. She thought 77 pounds was a little too much for his frame; he's shorter than you might suspect. We were to cut back on his meal portions, and snacks, too. She encouraged me to walk him more.

Since my knee injury in November, I haven't done much walking, and have exercised at the pool mostly. My knee has not gotten better despite cortisone and gel injections, so I'm waiting to get two new knees in September. My knee surgeon informed me a couple weeks ago that yes, my knees will hurt, but, yes, I need to walk anyway. I have a few pounds of my own to lose before my surgery. (Thirty, to be exact.)

These last three months have been hard for Bristol. He has whined even more than he did before, usually sitting in front  the tote where we store the dog food. 

Bristol's kibble portions were cut back, and peanut butter in his Kong toy became a thing of the past. When I fed him snacks, I gave him watermelon and green beans. 

Just this week, I looked at Bristol's wide, wide back, and told Chuck, "I don't think Bristol has lost much weight, but his harness seems looser, so I'm hoping that's a good sign!"

This morning while my sweet husband was sleeping in, I decided it would be a good time to weigh Bristol at the vet. Since the dogs have yet to master jumping into the back of the Highlander, and I was not up to the task of hoisting the two of them into the car, I decided to walk them. 

When I finally got Bristol on the doctor's scale, I stared in disbelief. "That can't be right!" I told the technician. I dragged Bristol back to the scale to see if I could get a different number. 

No, there was no denying it. My big galoot had gained 10 pounds. My heart fell.

Buddy, you and I are more alike than I care to admit. 

We won't give up, though. We're stubborn like that.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Out of Towners

In our marriage, there are times when one of us is out of town without the other. Typically, I'm the one traveling because my kids all live in Utah, and the rest of our kids live in Illinois.

Days before I leave, Chuck starts making his plans. "I'm going to watch <insert gory/war/action movie title here>. I'm going to get Lou Malnati's sausage pizza. And I'm going to run the dishwasher every day, if I feel like it." 

Give that man a little freedom, and he goes crazy! 

We don't watch a lot of TV or movies; most of our time together is spent TAKING pictures, and EDITING pictures. When I watch a movie, I want to feel good, and if possible, I want to laugh out loud. I don't share Chuck's enthusiasm for the classic American action film. 

We could eat pizza every night, and it wouldn't be too often for Chuck. For the first couple of years we were married, I was the one ordering pineapple or veggies on my half of the pizza. I'm slowly converting to eating sausage; it's a  preferred Bennorth topping, and it's just easier to not be the odd girl out every time the family orders pizza. 

Poor Chuck; he hates that I would rather wash a couple of things by hand than run a nearly empty dishwasher when his favorite spoons are dirty. I pack the dishwasher until it is at fully capacity before I run it. Yes, we both believe our own way it is the right way. 

Tonight, the tables are turned; Chuck is the out of towner, and I'm staying home with the dogs. All afternoon, I have pondered how I want to spend our time apart. You can bet I'm not running the dishwasher, and probably won't until Chuck gets back home! 

The TV remote is mine alone, so I can watch anything I want; a romantic comedy, or Queer Eye, or Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Who am I kidding? I'll probably just watch Gilmore Girls again. 

What about dinner, though? Should I get a Portillo's Chicago-style dog? Oh, I do like those, and Chuck is not a fan at all. I also considered picking up a cauliflower pizza from the next town over, but they're pretty pricey. 

Hah! I just found a recipe for CAULIFLOWER PIZZA CRUST on the iFOODreal website. I love to bake, and I'm trying to find other ways to entertain myself that don't include flour, sugar, and chocolate. 

My evening is coming together nicely. I'll find something to watch on TV while the pizza is baking. Then my crazy night of pizza and TV will be spent with Bristol and Sami. We Bennorths know how to party.

Come home soon, Honey. I'll try not to go too crazy. 

Thursday, April 4, 2019

More than a Makeover

Photo Credit: Netflix

Thanks to the Netflix series Queer Eye, I am stepping up my game. Now, if you know me, I love to score a deal shopping; yeah, I'm cheap. So I take mental notes while watching Queer Eye, and try to figure out how I can copy what they're doing without breaking the bank.

Jonathan Van Ness, with his long-flowing mane, has me using moisturizer regularly. My poor face seemed to go from oily T-zone to scaly and dry overnight. (Anyone have a suggestion for the best way to exfoliate, that's frugal, too?) While Jonathan's moisturizer is $48, mine was only $4.00 at Aldi's, and I'm pretty happy with my results.

In one episode, Tan France put a woman in a pair of Madewell jeans, and she just gushed over how comfortable they were. I haven't been in a comfortable pair of jeans for a couple of years. I've been wearing bootcut (Tan says that's a big no) yoga pants for the last couple of years. I love my yoga pants; they are so forgiving, and have been kind enough to grow with me. (Yikes; I know.) So I looked up Madewell's skinny jeans online. At $100 a pair, I just can't justify the expense.

Luckily, I was able to score a pair of Kut from the Kloth skinny jeans at the thrift shop yesterday for $4.99 ($89 retail from Amazon). They have some stretch to them, and feel great! Bonus; they're not so tight around my swollen knees that they cut off my circulation!

Antoni Porowsk has great ideas for recipes, potlucks, and comfort food. Karamo Brown helps people find their niche in their communities. Bobby Berk has a wonderful knack for helping others discover their decorating style.

Even more important than the physical makeovers the Fab Five do so beautifully are the emotional and spiritual makeovers. Each episode is full of hope, inspiration, and unconditional love. These guys have gone from hoping for tolerance to earning acceptance in the most unusual places.

If you haven't watched Queer Eye (More than a Makeover) lately, you might want to try it out. I'm so glad they're not just helping straight guys. We could all benefit from their expertise and loving inclusion.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Battle Ensues

When I say I'm battling depression, I don't mean it's beating me down; I mean I am fighting it with every resource I have. 

Talk therapy has helped me rediscover my voice, and my passion. I found a counselor who feels like a wise confidant, and a dear friend. She helps me question my habits, and the way I have always done things. She encourages me to take care of myself, and to be honest about my feelings. 

Each morning I make sure I use my light therapy box. Even though spring was officially beginning the week Amazon delivered my light box, I knew that the forecasted rainy days would take a toll on me, and I'm so glad to have my artificial sunshine on the days when the Illinois sky is covered in rain clouds. 

You may wonder if I'm medicated. I am. I take my meds for depression and anxiety. (Yeah, I tried experimenting with tapering off of them. After two sleepless nights, I realized they really are helping me.) Melatonin helps me sleep well beyond three in the morning, and often I wake after Chuck has left for work these days. (WHAT?!? I know. I tell you; I really am enjoying not feeling anxiety  in the middle of the night that I need to get up, and start the coffee maker, and get my day going.) 

When my physical therapist recommended I join the gym to continue my knee rehabilitation, I jumped at the chance. I've missed working out, and I'm finding the time spent there makes my knee hurt less, and my body feel stronger. Being in the water reminds me of happy childhood memories at the pool and beach, and the aquatics classes make the time pass quickly. 

The CALM app has been a great resource that I use just about every single day. I have utilized the masters classes on mindful eating, gratitude, and breaking bad habits and overcoming addictions (don't be too worried; my addiction is food (bingeing in response to emotions). I enjoy the daily meditations, and the bedtime stories. (You've never heard a bedtime story until you've heard Matthew McConaughey's soft southern drawl lull you to sleep.) The nature sounds, and ambient music are helpful in relieving my anxiety. 

Being intentional with social media is something I'm attempting to do. The first thing I did was delete my photography app, Guru Shots. I was spending 3-4 hours a day with my photos, and viewing other photographers' work. While I was seeing positive results in my photography, I decided I needed to better utilize my time. 

Deleting the Facebook app for a week was an eye-opener. My screen time (measured by an app on my iPhone) went down by 40%. I'm experimenting with managing our business pages on social media. I re-installed it, and suspended receiving notifications, and put it on a back page on my screen. I deleted the app again today. It's hard for me to find a happy balance. I tend to be an "all or none" kind of person. I'll keep working at this.

With my phone becoming less of a priority, I have more time available to work out at the pool, take exercise classes, and walk the dogs. I'm reading more, and listening to podcasts while I do housework, and organize things. 

Stressful days and emotional moments still happen, but I'm finding new ways to cope. With these blue sky days, I've been known to open the sun roof of my car, and blast country music while I'm driving. At home, I'll turn up the music, and dance my heart out, after an emotional afternoon with my mother-in-law at her assisted living center. I listen to meditations on the Calm app, and lie down with Bristol by my side. 

And sometimes, I still eat a little more than I should, or indulge myself with a chocolate bar, but then I pick up where I left off, and try to make better choices later.

My confidence grows, believing there will be more good days than bad; more successes than failures. I will win this war; one small battle and triumph at a time.