Things to Do - 10 Things I Learned this Year (2017)

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On Friday A Cup of Jo posted about yearly lessons, which made me think about my own 2017. Funny how we spend so much time coming up with resolutions for the next year and maybe not enough looking back seriously at the past year.

Here are some things I learned, in no particular order:

1. Kids need to leave the nest. I think I always believed this, so in some ways it isn't a new lesson. But part of me secretly hoped that if Dan and I created this wonderful environment, full of family book clubs and crazy vacations that my kids would never want to leave.

But this year, their friends became really important to all of them. After five weeks in Europe, they all begged me to limit next year's vacation to 2 week (I'm caving at 2.5 weeks). F went off to summer camp for 10 days and barely seemed to notice we weren't there. Now that they have phones, the girls spend hours calling/texting friends. T has been "adopted" by two of his best friends' families and on weekends is rarely home. One of the moms sent me a photo of her 4 kids at Zoolights and T was next to them - all with their light-up ears.

Some of this has been hard. I miss them. And I'm slowly learning that I have to take the moments when they come rather force them to occur.

2. Grief is not predictable. A few weeks ago a good friend from college died. I had not seem or really heard from him in almost 20 years, but a few days prior to his death he tagged me and 10-15 other people in a random Facebook message full of photos of cocktail napkins. The next day the whole account was removed and I learned through Facebook he had passed away.

Honestly, I'm still not quite sure how to process this. But Dave's death brought back memories I wasn't aware I had and the past all of a sudden seems like something right next to me. As if I could open a door and just step into it.

Perhaps this is how it always feels when death comes without resolution. As horrible as it was when my father died (and wow, was it horrible) I never felt like there were things I needed to tell him, nothing was left unsaid.

Whereas with Dave the thought that he died without knowing how much our friendship meant to me - it has been tough. My last year of college, Dave and I were inseparable - bartending together, leaving shifts at 2 am and going out for breakfast/staying up all night, watching stupid movies together (remember Spice World?), etc. And then I graduated and moved and there wasn't really anywhere for a friendship like that to go. Through the grapevine I learned that life wasn't going well for him - struggles with addiction, an inability to ever really "adult". I'm not sure what I could have done to help. But still, so much left unsaid.

3. Women's stories need to be told. From Cat person, to #metoo, to the Neapolitan Novels to Harvey Weinstein to the Women's March to rereading Lives of Girls and Women - I feel like I spent 2017 hearing voices that I've never heard before. And new words that didn't exist (mansplaining, male privilege). And so much of it resonates with me. As if something I've been told to keep silent for so long (how silly women are, how trivial their thoughts) is all of a sudden everywhere. And it's bold and real and controversial and (not to over cheese this) but seriously AMAZING.

4. Running a business is hard work. Even though I've owned Darcy Troutman Photography for a few years now, 2017 was the first year it became more of a full time job than a hobby/part time gig. I spent the last four years learning to be a photographer and I'm realizing that I need to spend 2018 learning how to direct my business forward - dealing with difficult clients, itemizing everything, better email response and client guidelines, marketing to my "ideal" client, etc.

5. Kids come pre-programmed. As an only child (and only grandchild on one side), I'm still a little in shock about how much my kids differ from each other. Hard to believe they all grew up in the same house, with the same value system.

6. I don't understand America or what it means to be an American. Not that I ever did. But this year more than ever - I'm at a loss. The country is way more racist than I ever realized. And hateful. And while I haven't become an activist by any means, I'm more likely than ever to share my opinions and to speak up. Having a voice matters and I need to use mine.

7. Marriage is hard. And wonderful. And full of constant surprises. Dan and I are not the same people we were 12 years ago, we're continually re-meeting each other. And trying to grow together. Neither of these things is easy, but they are both worth it.

8. One vote really does make a difference (not sure what I'm talking about? read here).

9. Warm fuzzy socks make everything better.

10. Don't Stop Believing has stood the test of time. It really is a great song. And no matter how often I've heard Body Like a Backroad this year, I still sing along. Every time.


Anyone else want to chime in? What have you learned this year?


Things to Do - Project 52, Weeks 41 & 42

I haven't given up on this project - I'm just way behind (these photos are from the end of October, before Halloween). Though I must admit that I sort of love looking back and remembering all the fun times we had.

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(1) F's annual Barnes and Noble birthday shopping spree.
(2) Bedtime.
(3) Halloween costume shopping at Goodwill.
(4) Best friends.
(5) Laundry.
(6) Tennis lessons.
(7) Goodwill shopping.
(8) F's family birthday celebration.
(9) P's softball game.
(10) I am so sick of the girls on their phones.

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(1) Life.
(2) Before school.
(3) Checking out a wedding location with F and her friends.
(4) P's birthday party.
(5) Nerf wars before school.


Things to Buy - 7 Last Minute Holiday Gifts

For the last month I planned out a gift guide, but I never had time to write/post it. So now I'm down to the wire, but luckily there are some gifts that you still have time to buy.


1. A History of Food in 100 Recipes (delivery by December 22nd through Amazon with expedited shipping) - Full disclosure, I just bought this for myself for Christmas ("treat. yo. self."). It sounds like such a fun combination of history, cooking, and quirky facts that I can't wait to cuddle up on the couch and dive in.

2. Smitten Kitchen Everyday (delivery by December 22nd through Amazon Prime). The best food blog just released the best cookbook. Plus the recipes aren't complicated - making it the perfect gift for kitchen newbies or seasoned chefs.

3. Pinhole Press Calendars (delivery after Christmas). Okay, so this probably won't arrive by Christmas, but nobody needs a calendar before January. Just print out a picture of said gift and let the receiver know that it's on the way. Pinhole Press has the best calendars, the photos always print well (no ugly colors) and the paper quality is exceptional.

4. Aperture's The Photography Workshop Series (delivery by December 22nd through Amazon Prime). In the age of instagram, it feels like everyone suddenly has some interest in photography (which is awesome) and I can't recommend this series highly enough. So many pointers, tips, and things to consider. Plus the photos are phenomenal.


5. Gift certificate for Darcy Troutman Photography (instantaneous delivery). Give memories instead of stuff. Yes, I'm shamelessly plugging myself. Email me at darcytroutman@hotmail.com for all options.

6. Plated gift certificate (instantaneous delivery). Because sometimes meal planning sucks.

7. Shaker & Spoon Cocktail Club gift certificate (instantaneous delivery). I bought a Shaker and Spoon subscription this fall and I can't believe how happy it has made me. I love cocktails but I hate the scavenger hunt that goes into finding the ingredients, especially when I'm trying something new and I'm not sure I'll like it. This monthly box makes everything easy. I love the cool/quirky drinks they send. Since I work weekends, I often treat myself to a drink or two on Tuesday nights. The perfect after dinner treat.


Things to Do - Grateful List (October & November 2017)

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I binge-watched a lot of TV/movies while editing this fall. And even though work was crazy - we still found time to do some awesome things . . .


* Watching the Meyerowitz Stories (Netflix).
* Watching 12 Years a Slave (Amazon).
* Watching Mindhunter, season 1 (Netflix).
* Watching the Mother Project (Amazon).
* Watching Stranger Things, season 2 (Amazon).
* Watching Beatrice at Dinner (Amazon).
* Watching Lady Bird (in theaters).

* Reading the Idiot (sort of a quirky read, but I really loved this book).
* Re-reading (and still loving) Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women.


* Apple picking at Stribling Orchard (it was crazy crowded, but once we found a good place to hang out we had a blast).


* The War on Drugs with Colleen at the Anthem.
* The Head and the Heart at the Anthem for date night.
* Luna at the Black Cat with Colleen (so so cool to see one of my favorite bands ever live in a small intimate venue!).
* Angus and Julia Stone at the 9:30 club for date night (plus drinks at the Gibson afterwards!).
* Kingdom of Colors at Artechouse (loved this exhibit).
* Vermeer at the National Gallery of Art.


* F making pie (such good pie) and apple cake with apples from the orchard.
* F and Dan doing all most all of the cooking this fall.


* My first double wedding (two weddings in two days - super happy with how both turned out).
* F's annual birthday Barnes and Noble shopping spree.
* Volunteering as a crossing guard with T in the morning (now there's a 4 way stop sign, so we retired).
* F winning an award (outstanding delegate) at her first model UN conference.
* T's paintball birthday party (6 months late, but at least we did it); P's Sherlock Holmes Escape Room birthday party (on time this year!).
* Another great Halloween - starting with a happy our at our neighbors' house. The kids this year were: P - a 1980s girl (with 3 of her friends); F - a zombie scarecrow; T - a scary guy with a mask and a chainsaw.
* T surprising me with breakfast in bed (just because).
* F always organizing all our ipad apps (so many folders and categories).
* P's soccer team winning divisional finals (plus P scored a wicked goal).
* Family debates over who won the game of Life - F - "I worked my way up and changed my life"; me - "I retired way before any of you."; Dan - "I changed careers three times and still came out okay at the end."; T - "I'm a rich doctor with six kids and a mansion, I won guys. I obviously won."; P - "Isn't this game over yet? I just want to go to bed."
* Straight As for both girls and honor roll for T (so proud of all of them, especially since they never seem to do any homework).
* Thanksgiving dinner at Dan's brother's house (so good!).


* Storm King, NY (esp. wave hill) in the height of fall with my best friend and her family.
* Camping at Shenandoah River State Park (love this place).
* Renting a cabin in Floyd, VA for two nights. The stars at night were amazing, as were the dogs running through the fields, smores, and a lazy afternoon of HGTV (plus seeing Northam posters throughout southern VA).
* Camping the weekend before Thanksgiving at Sky Meadows State Park, VA (esp. the owls at night and walking with Parker in the dark/dusk to the campground - it's a one mile hike in).


Things to Make/Do - Holiday Cards & Magnets from Pinhole Press

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the fifth year in a row, we ordered our holiday cards and address labels from Pinhole Press and I could not be happier with them. I love Pinhole Press's design selection and the fact that you can customize the messages. Plus, everything is printed on high quality thick cardstock.

I also ordered magnets as client gifts - aren't they beautiful?

If you order before the 14th, then your cards (with economy shipping) will still arrive before Christmas. For the next two weeks, Pinhole Press is offering a 15& discount on their holiday cards with the code SNOW15. So hurry up and buy some!!

(Pinhole Press gifted us our cards, but the opinions expressed our entirely my own (OF COURSE!!).


Things to Do - Random Links & 5 Hours 'Til Bedtime

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Happy Friday!! Sorry for the lack of posts lately - I've spent the last three months editing client photos (so much awesomeness!) and when I take breaks, I don't want to be on/near/by a computer. But I'm hoping to return soon (I had amazing gift guides that I never posted - so much sadness).

In the meantime, a few weeks ago I photographed a wedding on a farm close to Front Royal, VA (so pretty!!) and before the event I drove out there with T and his friends to preview the venue. The photo above is from our trip, as you can tell the kids had a blast!

Have a great weekend and if you have a chance, check out our newest post on 5 Hours 'Til Bedtime.


* Vogue magazine just published its top 10 books of 2017 (The Idiot was fantastic). And every year I can't wait to check out NPR's Book Concierge (which has great ideas for holiday gifts).

* So excited to see Darcy Troutman Photography on Kidfriendly DC's Gift Guide.

* Speaking of Darcy Troutman Photography - there's a great new family up on my professional website. If you're looking for the perfect Christmas gift - why not think about a photo shoot gift certificate? If you buy now you lock in 2017 pricing.

* This twitter stream regarding badass bitches is pretty amazing.

* Trevor Noah made me cry (but still - you have to watch!)

* 11 year old Meghan Markle made me smile/cheer.

* These photo collages are awesome.

* If you're looking for the perfect kid's gift (for all ages), The Kids Should See This has an amazing gift guide.

* I've already planned summer vacation 2018, but I think 2019 might need one of these.


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