Photographing TMule vs Nic Clark at FoCoMX

Photographing TMule vs Nic Clark at FoCoMX

I got way behind on posting photos from shows that I’ve shot, and am still going through the few bands I was lucky enough to capture at FoCoMX 2023. I made sure to go check out TMule vs. Nic Clark at The OBC Wine Project. I discovered these two amazing musicians last year when the Clearview Library District in Windsor featured TMule’s “Tiny Mule” act, which caters to kids. I loved the energy so much that I was anxious to see the “grown-up” version and they did not disappoint!

This was also my first time at the OBC (Odell Brewing Company) Wine Project, which has a beautiful patio right next door to the Odell Brewery. If you’re out and about and see TMule, Nic Clark, or BOTH on a live music lineup, do yourself a favor and plan on seeing them!

My daughter’s first phone – and first contract

After being a parent for over ten years, a moment I had feared had finally arrived: the day my oldest daughter got her first phone. I was hoping to have held off until middle school – but with all of the activities Clara has on her plate: being at the dance studio for 4 classes over 2 nights (with homework breaks between her classes), volleyball practice at different locations, juggling two different homes – the need for accessible communication has become too much.

I picked up her new phone today, and now Clara is going to party like it’s 2004:

Based on what I’ve read and heard, I was hoping to avoid giving my kids a cellular-service smartphone for as long as possible. Both of my daughters have iPads on Wifi, along with hand-me-down smartphones that rarely leave the house. By getting her a flip phone, I’m hoping to enable enough of our communication needs and delay having a smart phone for a few more years.

Nonetheless, the potential consequences of having a call phone isn’t lost on me, so I worked with Clara’s mom to come up with contract that sets our expectations with tween cell phone use. I wanted to offer it here for my other fellow parents that may have a similar predicament, and would love to hear about your experience in this matter.

Balderrama Cell Phone Contract

Having a cell phone is a major responsibility. The reason you have it is so that you can contact your parents and family when you need to check in, arrange rides, change plans, feel unsafe, or need help. You can also use this phone to keep in touch with friends in a responsible way.
By using this cell phone you agree to the following terms:

  1. Understanding this phone is a tool and not a toy. When the phone is used as a toy, it could result in additional charges on the bill, damage to the phone, or accidentally calling police, firefighters, and paramedics.

? Phone as a tool:

  • Making phone calls to family and friends
  • Texting family and friends
  • Calling 911 if you need help

? Phone as a toy:

  • Bringing it on rough activities (jumping on the trampoline)
  • Randomly pressing buttons
  • Opening and closing it unnecessarily
  • Using it in “pretend” play
  1. The phone will remain off and in your backpack during school hours unless and until a teacher gives you permission to turn it on to contact your family. To prevent theft, we recommend not bringing your phone to school.
  2. The phone will be charged outside of your bedroom during bedtime hours.
  3. While your parents respect your privacy, they reserve the right to immediately inspect your phone, call logs, and text messages upon request.
  4. Scammers will often text you pretending that they know you or are texting the wrong number. You will not call or text people you do not know, and inform your parents if you receive any text messages from phone numbers you do not recognize and delete the message. Do not click any links in text messages.
  5. The camera should only be used to take appropriate pictures. Please keep in mind that once a picture leaves your phone, you have no control over where it goes or how people may use it. You shall not take pictures of anyone without their permission.
  6. Your sister is permitted to borrow the phone, but only to call family and immediately return it upon completion. If you lend the phone to any friends, keep in mind that you are still responsible for what they do with your phone.

Failure to follow these terms will result in phone usage being restricted or the phone being taken away. Signed:

We’ll see how this goes. We gave her the phone tonight and while there was some initial excitement, I think my daughter realizes its limitations (being a feature, not a bug).

Family Photos in Jim Thorpe, PA

While planning our Jim Thorpe trip, my sister put forth the idea of organizing a family photo shoot while we were all together. She researched photographers and found Nikki Slivka Photography, who did such an awesome job capturing the beauty (and chaos) of our family of 15.

As all parents know, kids aren’t always cooperative photo subjects. It was a challenge during our session, but the kids enjoyed having some props like a parachute, bubble gun, and a ball, which helped us create awesome candid shots. The rolling hills of Jim Thorpe also created a beautiful setting.

I can’t recommend enough that any time you get together as a family, you seek out a photographer to capture your time together. I know it’s not always cheap, but I’m so glad that we did this.

An unofficial statement regarding the Clearview Library District property on Main Street

Hello, I am a member of the Clearview Library District Board of Trustees, BUT I DO NOT SPEAK FOR THE BOARD. The views expressed here are my own, and in no way reflect those of my fellow trustees, the Clearview Library District, or its staff.

As news propagates regarding the possible development of a grocery store, targeted in part, on land currently owned by the Clearview Library District, I wanted to share my perspective on this matter and some of the considerations faced as a Trustee of the library district.

The Clearview Library District’s land on Main Street was purchased in 2016, authorized by the Board of Trustees at the time, using reserve funds, and that space was designated as a site for a future regional library. In 2017 and 2018, the Library District put mill levy initiatives on the ballot to finance the construction of a  regional library, measures that did not pass in either election. In 2021, as part of the long-range planning initiatives, the Board of Trustees drafted and approved A Plan For the Future Facilities Plan, which specifies the usage of the land:

The district looks to maintain ownership of the property at the intersection of Main Street and Chimney Park Drive. While there are no immediate plans for this property, it may benefit future collaborations for potential shared facilities or a cultural campus.

clearview library district facilities plan, page 26

Given that the library district has previously pursued a library on this property, along with the designation in the Facilities Plan, library law restricts the Board’s ability to list, market, negotiate and sell that property to private entities (such as a commercial grocer) without altering the facilities plan and classifying that property as “Surplus”. Such a designation presents additional caveats and essentially becomes a disavowment of the property for strategic considerations. My understanding is that once it is designated “Surplus”, it is extremely challenging to reverse that classification for potential future use by the library district.

Earlier this summer, at the behest of the Town of Windsor, members of the Board met with a realtor associated with the grocer looking to build on that section of town that includes the library’s land. We attended those discussions in good faith, and with an open mind, explored options regarding a possible sale of this property. It was at that point that we were advised by the library district’s attorney regarding the library laws summarized above and the challenges that arise when considering non-solicited offers for strategic library property.

Speaking only for myself, I firmly believe that planning for a future regional library is essential in serving the needs of our communities. I respect the work of past boards in studying different possible locations and selecting the best option at the time. To preserve the goals outlined in our long-range plan, the library district requires a plot of land on or near a major artery road, in a location near the heart of the library district’s population. Any sale of the library land should enable the continuation of those goals.

Additionally, the purchase price of the property may be utilized for the necessary reserve balances needed to obtain the Certificates of Participation that could fund the Severance branch.

Clearview Library District FAcilities PLan, Page 26

Those that believe a regional library is not in the best interests of our communities must still acknowledge the value of the property as a library district asset, appreciating at a greater rate than the investment options available through library law. As a Trustee, I have a fiduciary obligation to the library district, and as such, take the stewardship of this asset seriously. When considering the land from a fiduciary perspective, I am looking at the land not at today’s value, but at the potential appreciation at a time when its sale would be needed to cover the operating costs of the district.

The need for another grocer in Windsor is not lost on me. As a King Soopers customer, I am all too familiar with the crowded conditions in Windsor and empathize with my fellow east-side residents in having a store closer to our homes. However, my role as a Trustee is to do what is best for the library district first; as well as creatively collaborate to find a solution that is best for Windsor and the other communities in the library district.

Given the friction involved with reclassifying the land and the inability to reverse it, a compelling opportunity that addresses my expressed considerations and concerns is required for my support to modify the Facilities Plan.

It is also important that we as a community engage in conversation over this matter, with opportunities for input in this important dialogue. I welcome your feedback and suggestions and can be reached through email at

Balderramas Back East – Phase 4: Washington, DC

After saying goodbye to our extended family, my daughters and I departed Ocean City, Maryland in our rental and drove to Washington, DC. As often happens when you travel with kids, we didn’t leave as early as we had hoped. An accident that forced a detour through Deleware also lengthened our drive. Our 3pm US Capitol tour appointment quickly became a bit of a scramble, but we were able to make it in time.

Before I go further, it’s important to note what I asked my daughters to do in DC. We had plans to visit the US Capitol, walk through the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, then tour the White House – all within a span of 30 hours. In order to do this, we’d have to do a lot of walking, in sweltering July heat. Over the two days, my daughters walked over 8 miles during hot summer days. Clara was able to put it all in perspective, but for 7-year-old Mariana, keeping everything in perspective was a challenge. It was easy for her to forget and not understand why we were trying to go to all of these places, which resulted in her looking pretty miserable in some of our photos. I hope that she’ll one day look back on this trip and appreciate all that we tried to do, but I accept that it’s not something she could have done at the moment. I am truly grateful that my daughters tolerated my ambition and I am proud of all they accomplished over our two days in DC.

US Capitol

We secured a guided tour of the Capitol which took us through the Crypt, the Rotunda, and the National Statuary Hall. It was really neat watching the girls soak in all of the amazing art and sculptures throughout the rooms. We got to see the famous John Trumbull Declaration of Independence painting and the amazing Apotheosis of Washington art in the dome of the Rotunda. The National Statuary Hall was also the Old Hall for the House of Representatives to meet, and the girls actually saw the spot where Abraham Lincoln’s desk sat when he was in Congress. Mariana also got a picture next to the statue of Rosa Parks.

We were one of the last tours of the day at the Capitol and after it closed for the day, we walked back to the Capitol Holiday Inn to check into our hotel. In order to save energy for our evening plans, we opted for ordering some pizza and swimming on the rooftop pool before we ventured back out.

Monuments at Night

As the sun started to set, we headed back out and rode the Metro for the first time, to the Smithsonian (which was just one stop away, but was exciting nonetheless). We walked towards the Washington Monument and got to experience it as the sun was setting. We enjoyed an ice cream cone while taking in the sights of the Washington Monument.

We continued westward and stopped at the World War II memorial. This was the first time any of us had seen it, and it was pretty powerful experiencing the serene beauty of the fountains, while the girls got their feet wet. We then found Colorado’s pillar and took a photo with our hands over our hearts, then kept walking west towards the Lincoln Monument.

I learned two things about the monuments: 1) They look incredibly striking at night and are an amazing experience. 2) You don’t appreciate how long the walk can be until you do it with little tired legs. The girls did hang in there and were rewarded for their perseverance with some incredible views. It was amazing watching both of them – but especially Clara with her perspective – encounter Abraham Lincoln’s statue up close.

Clara just stood there, with her hands over her head, just awestruck. It’s a moment that I’m going to remember for a long time.

I looked at my watch and saw that we ended up walking six miles for the day. At that point, it was 10:15 pm and it was imperative that the girls got a good night’s rest for our next big day. We opted for an Uber to get back.

The White House

The day before we left on our trip, we received the great news that we landed a tour of the White House. This turned out to be our only activity for Tuesday (more on that, later). After sleeping in after the previous late night, we packed up, checked out, and dropped off our bags at the front desk. We then grabbed a quick breakfast at the Starbucks two blocks from the White House and lined up for our tour.

The verbiage of the tour ticket said we needed to show up 15 minutes before our allotted tour time. The reality, however, was that there was a line that snaked through the sidewalk on the east side of the white house, which forced a lot of waiting in the summer heat. It turned out to be too much for a poor kid a few people away from us, who collapsed from heat exhaustion. It was amazing watching the police, EMTs, and various helpers converge so quickly. Luckily the kid was alright and rejoined the line. I was just hoping that the same heat wouldn’t afflict the girls in the same way.

We finally entered the White House through the East Wing which took us through the main floors of the White House. It surprised us all just how small the actual White House was. The pictures and videos of the East Room and the State Dining Room gave them a much bigger scale than they actually were. We also saw the Red Room, Blue Room, and Green Room, which aren’t connected by hallways, you simply walk from one room into the other.

We then took a picture under the Seal of the President, then exited through the back of the White House (although in the video I mistakenly said it was the front), walking under that iconic lantern chandelier.

We stopped and got some lunch at Five Guys, a few blocks from the White House, and then took the Metro back to the Smithsonian to go see the National Air and Space Museum. Much to our chagrin, we realized that the Museum was under renovation and required pre-ordered tickets in order to enter. At that point, we cut our losses, picked up our bags, and decided to leave DC for our hotel near the BWI airport. We traveled there by taking the Metro, the MARC train, and two buses, all with three suitcases, three backpacks, and a booster car seat. We arrived at the hotel tired, hungry, and ready to sleep early, as we had to get up the next day at 4:30am to catch our flight home.

Thus ends our two-week excursion through four states, fifteen family members, hundreds of photos, and lots of new memories. We had spent months getting excited about this trip – and it didn’t disappoint. However, it’s great to be back home and enjoy the last few remaining weeks of summer.