Sunday, July 31, 2011

Weekend in Review.

Well, I successfully made it through the weekend without as much as picking up a camera. {GASP}.

Friday I tightened my boot straps and set my mind to cleaning. With both boys here. I know, I know. I am courageous if I do say so myself :) Miraculously, Connor took a fantabulous nap that morning, and Brayden watched more than the average 5 minutes of television that he will normally sit through, allowing me to clean the floors in the kitchen. After C woke up, I finished vacuuming, and then we hung out for the rest of the morning. The afternoon went quickly downhill after the boys woke up from naps, and I knew that if we didn't get out of the house, I was in for it (moms, you know what I mean!). So I packed up the boys, called Drew and asked him to have a family date at CFA, and headed out to the pet store. The pet store worked well until the very end. Brayden decided to pull a fit similar to the one at Hibbett Sports last week. I wannnnnnnnnnnnnaaaaaaaaaaa ssssssssssseeeeeeeeeeeeeee de FISHIESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS over and over again. Thankfully it wasn't that loud, so I decided to high tail it out of Petsmart without makign a huge scene. Biggest fail ever. Brayden decided to let out a SHRILL scream right before I got to the door. Coincidentally, the maximum amount of people possible were checking out at Petsmart, and they all turned to stare at me and my unruly toddler. I sheepishly smiled, ducked my head, and bee lined it to my car, muttering adult words under my breath. I drove around until it was time to meet Drew. I don't think I've ever been so thankful to see a restaurant that has a sound proof play area than I was on Friday night.

Saturday was like a slice of heaven for me. It was my friend Katie's birthday, and at her request, she planned a kid-free pool morning for herself and her friends. It was GLORIOUS. After laying out for an hour or two, we headed to Panera for lunch. I was STARVING and ordered an entire sandwich and an entire salad-- LOL. For those people who say I don't eat enough, they should have been there to witness. :) I love my friends, and was so glad to have a refreshing morning! Saturday afternoon we headed to the pool as a family. It was hot, hot, hot, and the pool was CROWDED. It was probably the most crowded it's been all year. It was also the first time Drew had seen Brayden swim in quite a while, and he was impressed with our little fishy... B goes down the slide by himself (and he is VERY insistent that he goes by himself), runs straight off of the wall into the deep end, swims in circles, and throws his head back to dunk his hair. Gotta love a little adventure in your life, right?!

Sunday we had church, but before church I packed myself up and headed to Walgreens to do some extreme couponing. I got $67 worth of stuff for $25 plus tax! It was all stuff I needed, so it was a win-win. Here's a list of what I got:
2 bottles Head and Shoulders shampoo, 2 bottles Head and Shoulders conditioner, 1 box of Crayola washable markers, 4 boxes of cereal (frosted mini-wheats and special K), 2 bottles of creamer, 2 tubes of toothpaste, 2 toothbrushes, 24 rolls of toilet paper, and 1 bottle of contact lens solution.
Not too shabby huh?
I got home just before church, so we unloaded and then reloaded and headed to church. I've spent most of this afternoon sorting through kids clothes-- putting away stuff that doesn't fit, and pulling out stuff that does. Rhea Lana's is soon, and so I have to get my list together so I know what I need when I go shopping.

We have another week of 100+ temps, which means you can find us hibernating inside or at the pool. Hope everyone has a fun week!

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Dollop of Photography: How I Edit.

When I first started into this hobby called photography, I always thought that the more you edit, the better. As  I have grown as a photographer, I have realized though, that while there is a time and a place for post processing, I'd rather get the shot right out of the camera then have to tweak everything to make it look nice. Don't get me wrong, I edit about 99% of all the pictures you see on this blog-- even the ones from my point and shoot.

To edit my pictures, I use Photoshop. More specifically, I use Adobe Camera Raw. Some of my images (actually, pretty much ALL of my black and whites) are post processed with the Pioneer Woman's actions. I also like some of the actions that are offered at The Coffee Shop Blog. Both blogs offer these free, which means they are awesome in my book :)

So, when I take a picture and I know it's a good one, I open it in CR. The first thing I do with ALL of my pictures is adjust the white balance. If you had to edit just one thing on a picture, this is what I would choose, hands down. If your white balance is off, the whole picture is off, and that's no good at all! Anyways, after I edit the white balance, I generally will fiddle with exposure. While I shoot solely on manual now, I still am hit and miss on exposure. Then I will boost brightness, and greatly increase the contrast on most images. Depending on the image, I may boost the clarity and the vibrance. And on some images I might add a light vignette... this just depends on what the picture is of and if the vignette will go with what I shot. And then I save it. That's it. Hopefully you weren't expecting something deep and extravagant. If so, I apologize. I honestly just don't have a TON of time to edit in great detail, but like I said before, I have been trying to get a good shot right out of the gate so I don't have to spend a ton of time post processing anyways.

To close I'd like to share one of my favorite quotes about photography:

"It's not the camera in front of the man, but the man behind the camera."

I see and read of so many people who read blogs and think that if they buy the same exact camera and/or equipment as the blog author that their pictures will automatically look just like the ones they see on the blog. Photography is SUCH an art. An art of light, of composition, of settings... it takes so much more than just snapping a shutter and hoping that you got it right. This is part of the reason I don't think I'll ever go pro... the thought of learning all of that and having someone DEPEND on me to get all of it right so that their memories are captured forever is a daunting task that I think I'd rather let someone else take on. If you're wanting to get into photography, research your gear and then practice. Don't get down because your images don't look like that fancy blog (and I'm clearly not referring to my own) right away. 6 years into this rodeo I'm STILL learning stuff, and I don't think I'll ever QUIT learning. I shoot for the joy of it, nothing more, nothing less.

PS-- I have had several of you ask about how I shot this picture:
Believe it or not, it wasn't shot with my new lens and camera. It was shot with my Canon Rebel XT and my Canon 100mm f2.8 macro. This is why you will hear so many pros say to upgrade your lenses before your camera body. The lens is MUCH more important in capturing a great picture than having 20 megapixels in the latest and greatest camera body. The image was shot at:
aperture: f2.8
exposure time: 1/2000 sec.
ISO: 400

Any other questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments or email me! I'm always up for talking about camera stuff :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Just Some Random Pictures.

I've always got my camera out, especially when we're in the backyard. These pics don't really go into a particular post, but are blog-worthy nonetheless.
my dad makes this same face :)
sad and true story: C started crying shortly after I snapped this pic. I couldn't figure out why, and finally picked him up. He had about 5 ants on him :( I never saw any bites, but still, that can't feel good!
webster's definition of mischievous has Brayden's name right next to it. I'm sure of it.
Look at that chubby belly :)
"I's not very happy 'bout dis Momma..." I think it kind of freaked him out. Imagine that, a child that actually has a bit of fear in his blood. Thank goodness! Two children without fear would probably have done me in!

ps-- have you noticed my new commenting system? I recently installed Disqus comments on the blog. I was just tired of having people ask me questions and me not having a way to respond to them if their email was not embedded in their blogger profile. This eliminates that problem, and also allows others to see my replies if they may have the same question. So far I like it, but I'd love to get your take (if you're a regular commenter).

Rosemary Zucchini Sticks.

I tried a new recipe last night for zucchini that I thought I'd share. It was pretty good. They were pretty easy to make, but it was a bit time consuming having to dip each stick. But this may be because our zucchini are rather large compared to store bought zucchini :) Anyways here's what you'll need:

2 medium zucchini, 1 egg (I used 3 since we have GINORMOUS zuch's), seasoned bread crumbs, seasoned salt, rosemary (the recipe actually called for fresh, but we didn't have that, so I used dried).

peel your zucchini, then
slice into 'sticks'. I sliced them into 1/8ths.

next dip them in eggs
obviously the eggs would need to be beaten. I forgot to take a picture of the beaten eggs.

After the stick is thoroughly drenched in egg, dip it in the breadcrumbs/salt/rosemary mixture (I seasoned with salt to taste, and used about 1 T. of dried rosemary that was crushed). I just seasoned the bread crumbs to taste. And I also forgot to take a picture of it. Fire me now from food blogging. haha!

Once the sticks are dipped, place them in a greased 9x13 pan. Like so:
My two large zucchini's took up two 9x13 pans.

Bake in the oven uncovered at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lunch with Daddy.

A few weeks ago I was able to snag some half off deals for Flying Burrito. It's one of our fave places to eat, especially Monday thru Wednesday when kids eat free :) This past month we made a tradition to pick up Drew from work and go out to eat for lunch. Brayden LOVED it and would say OVER and OVER again that "we were going to eat lunch with Daddy" all the way to Drew's office. I'm not going to lie, eating out with two kids two and under is difficult, but the memories are SO worth it. We love you Drew! Thanks for being such a great husband to me and daddy to the boys-- you're the best!


Wordless Wednesday: What Happens When You Have a Big Brother.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just a Typical Summer Night.

baby chubb.
stick guns.
cheap gas station sodas and icees.
so good you have to use your fingers.
tree climbing.
like a monkey (he says).
checkin' out the neighbors.
just a little perspective on how high he is. NO FEAR.

A Dollop of Photography: My Camera Gear.

I have had several people ask photography questions lately, so I figured I'd write a post about my photography gear. Please keep in mind, I am a pro by NO means, but I've been hacking away at this hobby for the past 6 years, so I figured I'd just kind of give you a timeline of my gear. (For those of you who asked about this picture... I will address that question in a different post, so stay tuned!).
photo credit

I started out in 2005 with a Canon Rebel XT. I purchased the kit, which included the camera body and the 18-55 lens.

photo credit

A couple of months later, I purchased the Canon 28-135 f3.5-5.6 IS lens. At that point, I put the kit lens away, and shot solely with this lens. Then, I started saving my money for an eventual upgrade.

(6 years later)......
Several months ago we visited the drive-through safari that is in Northwest Arkansas. As I reached for my camera from the back seat, something messed up with my lens... it wouldn't extend past 70mm. While it still worked fine image wise, I knew this was the push I needed to finally upgrade my equipment.

Between that time (May 2011) and a couple of weeks ago, I was shooting with a Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens that I had purchased around Brayden's birth, but never really used consistently.
photo credit

For the past 3 weeks I've been shooting with my 100mm macro and my new Canon 60d.
photo credit

Then last Thursday, my dream lens came in the mail:
the Canon 24-70 f2.8L
photo credit

I love it, but I am still learning how to shoot with it. It's quite a bit more lens than I am used to, and I need to figure out the settings completely before I would say that I can consistently get great images out of it.

Some other gear I own:
- I try to shoot with natural light as much as possible, but if I can't, then I use a Canon 430ex speedlite flash.
- I own a Lowepro Nova 2AW, a Lowepro Toploader Pro 70AW, and a Lowepro lens case. I LOVE Lowepro... they have GREAT customer service, and their bags are high quality.

So there you have it. That's what's in my camera bag. I'll try to address some of the questions on how I edit my pictures in a later post. If you have any other photography questions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

Monday, July 25, 2011

i heart faces: water.

the quintessential American summertime fun.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Weekend in Review.

As I sit here on the couch to type, I literally feel as though someone has poked holes all in my baloon. I am completely deflated. I'm not really sure why I feel this way, because there is no one thing that has happened that I can point to and say "yep, that's it. that's why i feel this way." I just do. So pardon me if this post seems a bit melancholic and to the point.

Friday we went to the pool in the morning with some friends. I never bring my camera to the pool because (a) I'm worried that I will get it wet and ruin it, and (b) I am having to hold and chase after 2 children at all times. It's exhausting, but it's worth it because I know my babies love the water. Friday afternoon after naptime we went to the local outdoor mall here in Northwest Arkansas. The Children's Place was having a big sale this weekend, and since Connor is getting dedicated soon, I wanted to get the boys matching outfits. Connor pretty much screamed the entire time we were shopping there, so we strolled out to the fountain to look at the water. Both boys were pretty good there, so I decided to try my luck and look at shoes with Brayden, as well as get him sized since I didn't know what size tennis shoe he would need this fall. Well, if I tested my luck, I failed miserably. We were completely fine during the shoe trying on process. I had promised B that if he was cooperative during the shoes that we would stroll around and look at all of the balls in the store (we were at Hibbet Sports, which basically was like heaven to Brayden, the lover of all things sports). We started strolling, and came across a ginormous bin of Razorback basketballs. The "I wanna hold it" started. I decided to let him hold it, but not before reminding him that we would not be purchasing a basketball since he has about 10293* of them at home.
*he really doesn't have 10293 basketballs at home. It just feels like it sometimes when I trip over atleast 4 of them on the way from the kitchen to my bedroom.
Connor and B held the balls for about 3 minutes, then I told them that we were leaving and needed to leave the balls at the store. Cue Brayden crying. Wailing would be a more accurate term. Screaming. Gnashing of teeth. Stomping of feet. He had NEVER thrown a fit like this, much less in public. I was MORTIFIED. I quickly whipped the double stroller out of the store, and marched straight to the CR-V. As Brayden continued to scream, the guy who was parked next to me (he was waiting on his wife to finish shopping), looked at me and said "I don't know how you do it with 2. I can barely handle one." I just laughed and said "well, I guess I just had to take what God gave me." {smile}.
Friday night we played in the backyard as a family. It was the only time I pulled the camera out all weekend-- which is a shame, since I have a new lens to play with now :)

we tried putting Connor in the sprinkler, and this is how he felt about it. haha!
(ps-- do you see his little teeth?! He worked so hard for them :) )
our garden is SO crispy. We water twice a day and it STILL looks like this.
Toby loves playing in the sprinkler. He also resembles a wet rat when he's wet.
B was showing off the tomato he helped Daddy pick in the garden
Drew found a grasshopper, and B had fun playing with it. Until Toby got a hold of it. Then the grass hopper lost his legs.
have I mentioned that my child has no fear?
playing baseball with Daddy.
please note his: facial expression. his stance. can you tell he takes playing ball very seriously? haha!
he can hit a PITCHED ball now. It helps if he sticks his tongue out :)IMG_0849
I love this kid.

Saturday Drew was a dear and took the boys to the fitness center childcare facility so I could get a morning to myself. I was able to quickly declutter the house, work on the kitchen floors and then go shopping by myself. I also had to exchange the jeans I had purchased for Connor the night before because... guess what? He didn't fit the 12 month jeans. My 8 month old is in size 18 month jeans, the same size Brayden was in just a few months ago. Poor guy has a big waist and short legs, so the jeans are about 4 inches too long on him. So funny that Brayden has long legs and a skinny waist and Connor is just the opposite. After my shopping I met up with Drew and the boys to eat at Sam's club, and then the boy's and I headed home after lunch while Drew continued studying. Saturday afternoon we all went to a friend's birthday party... I, unfortunately, forgot the camera, so no cute pics of the boys playing in the pool.

Today was our morning to serve in the nursery. The problem was that I completely forgot it was our morning until I had:
- slept in till 6:45 (don't laugh)
- pancakes on the griddle at 7:50
- put off taking a shower until 8:15.

I had a mild panic attack, but Drew was awesome yet again, and finished feeding, dressing and prepping both boys while I showered and got ready.

Both boys have been super cranky today, and since this morning kind of threw my daily rhythm out of sync I've kind of been on edge. I did muster up the courage to take both boys to the fabric store with me (I am having someone make a cover for Brayden's nap mat for MDO this fall), and they both did relatively well. We have a busy, busy, busy week ahead of us, with OUTRAGEOUS temps in store too. Hope everyone has a great week-- stay safe in the heat!

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Typical Morning & Watercolor.

I'm always so impressed when I see other moms who have their mornings super structured. While I am a big fan of structure, I feel like the first 2 hours of our mornings are kind of crazy. In a laid back sort of way. We just kind of go with the flow until about 9am. It kind of looks like this:

dirty dishes

dinner cooking (a big juicy chuck roast-- yum!)

basketball chewin'...

ball throwin'...

this is all of the clean laundry. Sometimes clean, hardly ever folded :)

Brayden likes to play with Toby while he's eating. Toby is not a fan.

the fruit is piling up from our garden, which is almost dead due to the torrential heat that we're experiencing.

For the past few days I've been more intentional about sitting Brayden down for a few minutes for "school." I bought some work books at Sam's, and some art stuff at Walmart. Today was artwork... we did watercolors. He loved it and was so serious about it!


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