Friday, April 30, 2010

Giving Away some of the MAGIC

Pssst. Guess what?

I'm going to Disney World soon!

let me tell you gang, I am sooo ready for it.

Have a few things left to pack. Do they sell sanity over-the-counter? I might need some of that. I've been saying the last week or two that "If I'm not on crack for taking a two year old to WDW, i will be on crack when I return!"

Hannah's been very "two" lately.

While at one of my favorite places, I shall be riding fabulous rides, soaking up the sun, swimming with the girls, eating yummy food (have you ever heard of a dole whip? It's like soft-serve pineapple ice cream!), and doing some Disney-fied shopping. (I've had serious issues since our local Disney Store closed awhile back!.

Now I'd hate for all my blog readers to feel like they are missing out on the magic. You all deserve a chance for some Disney shopping too... I'm going to let you live vicariously through me!

Leave a comment (and while you're at it, become a follower...I don't feel "cool" yet) and tell me who your FAVORITE DISNEY CHARACTER is. Feel free to tell me why too.

I'll be checking comments while on our trip (thanks to my lovely iphone), will randomly select one and will bring back a Disney Souvenir for the winner with their favorite character on it. No you don't get to pick what it is, I do ;) But still! Free Disney stuff. Trust me it's cool.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Daddys and Daughters

I love it when Matt is silly with his girls. When he breaks down and does something "girlie" for them.

Like this:

He hates clipping Hannah's nails. Tonight I got Brooke in the shower, and then told Hannah, "Go have Daddy do your nails for you!". He was thrilled.

But he did it because Hannah stuck her chubby little toes out and said "paint daddy!" How can you turn down chubby little toes?

He was super thrilled that I got the camera out. I told him that all my blog readers would find it sweet, wonderful, endearing, special that he would do that. (Leave a comment and reaffirm my statement here) It's not like he was painting his own toes! He's a good daddy of little girls. He loves them to pieces.
And they love him to pieces.

There's nothing like little girls and their daddys, is there?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Blow by Blow of the fractured elbow...

In case you're interested, here's a blow-by-blow of my last 26 hours.

It's been fun.

Had a playdate with my best friend and her four kiddos yesterday when Brooke got off the bus. She was in 7th Heaven soaking up time with her buddy Chase. They don't go to the same school. We had a wonderful...30 minutes of playtime.

For once she wasn't running. For once she wasn't screwing around. She was just being Brooke...which sometimes correlates to being klutzy.

She turned away from the patio table, took one step, and tripped over Debbi's purse which was sitting next to the steps. It had been there for almost an hour with no problems. The kid could have tripped over her shadow. It happens. She landed on the patio and kind of half sprawled on top one of the toy lawn mowers.

As usual when an incident occurs, she goes bonkers and screams bloody murder. We did our little "oh toughen up, you're fine!". She was holding her arm. It reminded me of holding my arm when I broke it the day before second grade started. "Oh mannnnnn....." I thought and Debbi and I gave each other that "oh crap" look.

"Bend your arm up and down."

Tentative motion, big time screaming. Crap. Did you know we have vaca coming up?!

I told Matt to take her to the ER, and sent them on their way with my fingers crossed and prayers going up.

I Facebooked my friends to say prayers and cross fingers. I posted a message on my Disney message boards for pixie dust to be sprinkled our way. Everyone resounded with encouraging chorus.

They come home with a splinted arm, an Xray, a prescription for Tylenol with Codeine and directions to go see our doctor tomorrow.

Here's the Xray. Please disregard the window blinds in the background...!
The Xray didn't say much to me:

Off to the doctor first thing this morning. A look at the Xray, a brief exam of (tentative to move her arm) Brooke. He said "well, we could just stick with the splint, or we could cast it. I think for vaca it's probably better to cast it." Alright fine, cast it and we'll pack walmart sacks for the pool.

Ten minutes later, doctor returns. "Change of plans. Looking at these Xrays more closely I think we might have a dislocation here too. I think you need to go see an Orthopedist. We'll run new Xrays while we call them."


We wait for Xrays. I go back to the nurse who is on the phone with the orthopedist's office.

Nurse: "They can get you in this afternoon at four, but you'll probably have a wait."
Me: "What are they going to do?"
Nurse: "They're going to have to reduce/reset it and maybe surgery to insert pins"
Me: "We are going on vacation soon. Is this going to be done today?"
Nurse: "I don't know"
Me: "I think i'm going to pass out."

I seriously was having a moment like I do when I get my blood drawn. Getting blood drawn usually results in my head between my knees and cold wet paper towels on the back of my neck. I was getting that prickly feeling. I was getting sweaty. I was getting light headed and seeing black spots.

"Oh my gosh you have GOT to be kidding me!"

Xrays complete. More waiting. Go find the doctor. He takes us back to the Xray developing area. Ours are hanging there. He looks at them a sec, says "I'll be right back" and takes off with them. We stand back there with employees walking by looking at us like 'what are you doing back here?'

Nurse comes and finds us asking, "What are you doing back here?" We said "Joe told us to wait here?" and she said "That's funny, because he just told me he can't find you." (Gotta love that man). She says "let's go put you back in an exam room so we don't lose you again."

More waiting. In walks the doctor, "Good news!!! No orthopedist needed! we're cancelling the appt! In fact, it is the kind of break you want to have because it's not one we WANT to immobolize! Swimming on vaca will be good for it! We'll just have you splint it as you feel necessary to help protect it, and use the sling by itself when you need to, but motion is good. It will start feeling better quickly!"

"Joe, you almost had to medicate me with all this up and down news," I say.

He laughs. Haha. So funny Doc.

Brought the kiddo home, took her out of her splint, put her down for a long nap this afternoon. She's still squealing when it gets moved too much. For awhile she refused to straighten it out, now she fusses when she bends it. I think it's just her fear that is squealing at this point. We're going to splint her up for school and make her use the sling the next two days. We're gonna keep praying, and we're going to take it easy the next few days!

Sigh. What a roller coaster!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Two More Minutes Tuesday!

My mornings are so NOT all about me.

I remember those days vaguely. When I was a working girl with no children, I'd get up to my alarm, take a shower, throw the towel on my head, and go back to bed for about 20 more minutes before continuing to get ready. And getting ready included doting on myself.

It does not happen like THAT anymore.

I still get up to an alarm six days a week (yes Matt I know I don't have to get up as early as you do!). On school days, here is my routine:

Alarm goes off at 715. My iphone is my alarm and it is set to the marimba sound which is so much better than the "ernt ernt ernt" sound of a regular alarm clock.

Teeth brushed and in the shower by 7:17. I am not one of those moms that can even consider not taking a shower till later in the day. I just feel all sorts of stinky if I don't. I sweat more. It's weird. My body is weird.

Out of the shower by 7:21. (yes I've timed all this). Towel on my head, deoderant on, contacts in, face moisturized, throw the PJ's back on.

Downstairs around 7:26. The next 24 minutes consists of greeting Brooke, asking what she wants for breakfast, arguing with her about her breakfast, getting something on the boobtube that she wants to watch while she eats breakfast. Eat my breakfast, check my email and a few other things, give Brooke her medicines (which sometimes includes a breathing treatment), tell her to eat more of her breakfast, and get her lunch packed on a cold lunch day.

Up the stairs at 8:00 a.m. Throw Brooke's clothes for the day DOWN the stairs so she can get dressed while I finish up.

I spend two minutes accessorizing my face and body. This means base powder, blush, eyebrows and mascara; watch (who's battery died today!), earrings and wedding ring. I can put my makeup on lickety split.

I spend 2 minutes on my hair. Pick it out, smack some gel into it, and blow dry and scrunch it a bit. Done. Ponytail holder on the wrist for later? Check.

Approx 2 minutes spent throwing on my clothes and making up the bed, then back downstairs to make sure Brooke is done. go through the hair battle with her.

Whew. We are both dressed, looking mostly refreshed, fed, and ready to walk out to the bus.

Get Brooke on the bus, go inside, allow myself a few minutes of peace, before getting the little monkey out of bed and start her routine with her!

Do the math on this mommy's beauty routine: 4 minute shower, 2 minutes makeup, 2 minutes dressing, 2 minutes hair. I throw myself together in 10 minutes.

I know guys who take longer than this!!!!!!

(now if I eliminated checking my email and such first thing in the morning, I could perhaps spend more time doting on myself.... but like THAT is going to happen!).

Hey-- It's Tuesday. Give yourself an extra TWO minutes for YOU. Don't you think you deserve it!?!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wall Decor Idea

While some people are on a Spring cleaning kick, I'm finding myself more on a Spring redecorating kick. I hung some new pics in the girls' rooms, I bought a little desk at a garage sale for the scrapbook/spare bedroom, and we've completely rearranged our bedroom.

Can I pause to say that I'm LOVING our newly rearranged bedroom? I'm waiting for a thing or two for the wall and then I'll post pics. It's worthy of a blog post all of it's own. Did I mention I'm loving it?

As with recipes, I tend to find a decorating idea or concept that I like, and think "what can I do to make that my own?" I'll read six different recipes and then pick and choose what parts of it I want to incorporate and make my own recipe.

Same thing goes with this wall decorating idea. I was at Abbe's house recently, and saw this seriously cute idea. She had a cafe rod hung above her desk with her kids' artwork hanging from it. LOVED it. So cute and simple.

But I already have a bulletin board in the kitchen for that stuff, and a lovely pile going on in the scrapbook room. Don't need to hang my kids' artwork.
However...this wall in my office has been needing a change:

First off, this little 12"x12" frame doesn't do much to fill out the space. Secondly, I made it long before we got pregnant with Hannah Banana so it's a little out of date.

Hmm. I'm a travel agent.
Hmm. This is my office I'm talking about.
Hmm. We have LOTS of vacation pictures.
Hmm. I should hang some pictures from our trips up there!
Ding ding ding!! Lightbulb moment!

THEN not a week later, I was at my friend Sam's house. She had this super duper cute thing in her son's was really long...but a cute quote that was made up of painted wooden letters mounted on a stained board, and it stretched across one wall. LOVE IT. So going to use THAT idea in more than one location I immediately thought. I think her quote, if you're interested, said something like "Hunting with American tradition."
Hmmm. One idea, meets another idea, meets my little travel-pics; looks-like-pics-hanging-up-in-a-darkroom ideas. And thus, a new wall in my office is born.
I painted the letters in a slightly metallic bronze color and then accented them with some black. Mounted them on a thin piece of wood that I bought and painted black. (used acrylic paints) Wood stuff was on sale at Hobby Lobby that week, so I think I spent about $5 for the "TRAVEL" sign!
I bought the cafe rod at Target one day during retail therapy, when this idea was still trying to sprout some wings. All I knew when I bought it was that I wanted to use Abbe's concept somewhere in this house! Cafe rod was about $5. I bought it, checked out, and as I was leaving the store, noticed the package had been opened and all the hardware was missing. Don't you just know that the curtain rod section is about as far from customer service as possible! Note to readers: check your packaging before you leave the store!
I had the pictures sitting in the scrapbook room, and mounted them on some black cardstock.
And joila!
I'm loving it! Thanks Abs and Sam for inspiring the birth of this project :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Losing My Virginity

HAAAAA Got you with THAT title didn't I?!

Are you expecting an excerpt from my own personal smutty romance novel here? Try another blog for that ;)
Today I lost my virginty. Obviously not the "real" kind because you know my girls were not an immaculate conception.

I lost my hair virginty. Two weeks shy of my 34th birthday and I finally got highlights in my hair. Until this day my locks had been neither colored nor permed. I was tired of seeing grey hairs here and there, so I went in for the big plunge. Abbe did my highlights and I love them love them love them.
They make me feel perkier. Is that weird? We'll see if I still feel perkier tomorrow. Anyways, my hair is happy.
Here is my before:
And here is my "after"
I'm always told that my girls look so much like me (which is a GIGANTIC compliment to ME because my girls are gorgeous) and now that my hair is a bit lighter, I think we look even more alike. I'll never be as gorgeous as they are, but I am loving the hairdo!
Abbe has told me not to use Suave or Pantene Pro-V shampoo which is what I usually use. Suave when I'm being cheap and Pantene when I'm splurging. So now it's off to get new hair products in the morning. (Good thing it's grocery day anyways).
And do you know what she told me about Pantene??! She said she was at a class once about product/chemicals, etc and at the end the instructor said "no one said anything about the candle I'm burning, what do you think of it?"... they commented it smelled good, etc, and she informed them that it was Pantene! It has that much WAX in it, which just builds up in your hair over time. Yuck. I'll stick with my wax being from Yankee Candle or smeared on my eyebrows for my beauty torture treatments.
Rejoice with me on my new 'do!

What would you do differently?

I (usually) love my life. I say (usually) because we've had some serious "kids going nuts" evenings around here lately in which I would love a vacation. But I love my life.

But there are sometimes when I think about what I would have done differently? I don't think about it too often, because really what's the point.... but I was reading something last night that made me think about it a little bit more.

There's not much I would change....but most of it centers around those college years. I would definately NOT apply for any credit cards if I did college over again. I was a financial mess in college. Yuck.

I graduated from college on my 22nd Birthday. The day I graduated I thought "I should have dragged this out a little longer and gotten my teaching certificate too"...just so I'd have it if I wanted it. Some days I wish I had one.

Last night I was reading a blog of sorts from this girl who is doing the Disney College Program. Basically like an internship at Disney for a semester. I always wanted to do that, but I didn't. In part because I didn't think I'd be able to pay my bills (read: credit card bills) and live on whatever meager money they make. (I'm not sure they make any actually, but they get their lodging paid for). I always wanted to go do the Disney program, I soooo should have done it.

Going forward, I think "what do I want to do now that I don't want to regret NOT doing 10 years down the road?" The one thing that sticks out in my head the most is that I want to take more "just Matt and Me" kind of trips. They don't always have to be big, but it'd be nice. And I'm not talking several a year. Just once a year would suffice. Because this family started out by us just being a couple in love, and I don't think that "couple in love" should disappear just because we're now a "family of four." We did our trip to Vegas last year and it was the first time we'd been away together in 5.5 years. That's a long time! I

We do pretty good at making great memories with our girls. I think we probably need to be more intentional about the time we spend with them when we're at HOME too. We get sucked into the routine -get brooke off the bus-play for a bit while mommy makes dinner-eat dinner-clean up dinner-do homework-do bath-watch a movie-go to bed-- mixed in usually with some drama centered around the girls fighting or Brooke not listening.

So there you go. What I would change in the past is that I would have branched out a little more in college that I did. That I would not have rushed through it so fast. That I would not have had so much CC debt. And going forward...I want to enjoy some more time with my husband, and I want to be intentional about filling the girls' love-tank even in our day to day life.

I wonder how much two tickets to Bora Bora costs?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

From the mouth of Hannah

Hannah has been a little talking (and screeching and fit throwing and giggling) machine lately. I thought I'd share some of what she has to say with you...

As we're coming down the stairs in the morning (just she and I are here).
H: "I want Woody!!" (meaning Toy Story)
Me: "okay just a minute. what do you want for breakfast?"
H: "I want breakfast!"
Me: "Okay, what do you want for breakfast?"
H: "I want Woody!"

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

My children love animals. Especially cats and dogs. Went for a haircut. They have cats. Cats disappear when Hannah comes running.
H: "Where the Titty?"
Me: "K-itty. K- K- K"
Hairdresser: "I don't know where the Titty went."
H: "I want Titty"
Me: "no honey, you don't"
Common verbiage - Hannah Version:
Candy="Yum Yum!!!"
Flip Flops="ip yops"
Alvin and Chipmunks= "Chicken monks"
Play Outside="I want yard!"
Don't use the water bottle to do my hair="No Water my hair!"
Excuse you mommy="Gross Mommy. Ewww"

I love listening to this kid chatter. However, when they both get to going, my head starts to spinning!!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kindness and Macro Photos

Inspiring title isn't it?

Did you perform a random act of kindness like I challenged you to? I did....though it wasn't as random as I would have liked...but there's always tomorrow! I hope you'll take the time to do a little something special just because for someone you love or a complete stranger!
That being said- onto the rest of the post! Pioneer Woman's photography section had an assignment this week for "macro" photos. That would be photos that are quite close up with incredible detail. Best achieved thru the use of a DSLR and a Macro lens, of which I have neither. My camera has a macro-button on it, and I try to use that on occasion (and did on the tulip picture from a previous post), but I just can't even run with the medium-sized dogs on this one. There are some incredible posts (head over to PW's site to check it out. Amazing photography). Another factor against me is the stinkin Kansas wind. I looked out my office window and saw a monarch on my lilac bush yesterday. Would have loved the chance at that incredible shot, but it was so windy there's no way I would have been able to capture it. I'm so tired of the wind.

Here are some pics I did this week in an attempt to achieve a good macro. Not much luck...but it was fun trying! Thoughts?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness

One of my favorite quotes is "your life might be the only Bible some people may ever read..." And while this quote doesn't always help me to curb my temper or think nice thoughts, I do try really hard to live a life that would show the love of God to others. I root for the underdog, I find fulfillment in doing things for others, I'm happy knowing that I made someone else happy. Matt says I am a people pleaser. People also say that I "tell it like it is" and I'm not sure people pleasing and "telling it like it is" really goes well together, but somehow I try to balance that in my little soul / personality.

When was the last time you performed a random act of kindness? Whether big or small, is this something you make a point of doing?

Random Acts of Kindness make my world go 'round. (well so do friends, but that's been discussed before I think). When I'm having a particularly crappy day, I make myself feel better by doing some small little thing for someone. I love it. I remember times I'd sit there in college in tears having a horrible day....and I'd go buy some little thing for a friend and surprise them with it. Immediately I felt better. Life's not so bad when you're doing something nice for someone else!

To help you do something nice today, I'm going to give you some ideas for some creative and simple kindness. Not that you couldn't think of this on your own, but sometimes we forget how little things can mean something big to others. Here's a short list:

1. stop by the convenience store on your way to work/school and pick up a bag or two of fun size candy bars. leave them on a bunch of people's desk, or in their mailboxes in the school office, etc.
2. drop a note in the mail to someone you are out of touch with. Tell them what you miss about them or reminisce a favorite memory. It's always fun to include an "old school" picture too.
3. Pick up your kids' room for them. This R.a.o.K might go unappreciated, but deep down you know they'd rather sleep in a clean room than a disasterous one, and one that got cleaned without them being yelled at to do it!
4. whip up a batch of your hubby's favorite cookies, without being asked to do so! (this happens so often in our house it might not be percieved as random. but if it doesn't happen in your house too often, it will be a happy surprise!).
5. When you are zipping through a drive thru, pay for the car behind you too.
6. On a nice warm afternoon, stop by Sonic (or somewhere) and pick up a refreshing Cherry Limeade for yourself and a friend. Just drop it off at their house/office. Going on a playdate? Pick up a drink for you and your girlfriend.
7. Lots of times you can get donut coupons for "buy a dozen, get a dozen glazed free".... do that, swap some glazed out with some of the variety so both boxes are the same, and drop one of the boxes off at a friends house on the way home. No household really needs 2 dozen donuts! This is a great Saturday morning surprise.
8. Surprise your kid by intentionally stopping what you are doing, putting the cell and computer down, and sitting down and getting silly with them or playing a game with them out of the blue. It will fill their love tank quite well!
9. To keep with modern times, log onto facebook and make a point of writing some sweet notes on some of your friends' walls that you haven't talked to for awhile. Or even someone you talk to all the time. We all could use a few extra words of affirmation and love every now and then. If you're reading this blog you obviously have access to a computer, so this kindness in particular would cost you no money!
10. Bring me a diet dr pepper. stat. lol
11. Got some extra cash? Can you skip a weekend of eating out? Take some of that extra money and give it to someone / someplace that needs it.

So what are you going to do today?! Make a point of performing a Random Act of Kindness, big or small....and report back to me in your comments. I'd love to hear what you do! I challenge you to.... DO TWO!!!! :) Make today a great day...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Finally Flying

Matt has been working on his pilot's license for over a year.... we were blessed with a company scholarship to get his private license, but little did we know how long it would take. Granted it doesn't take everyone this long, but with working long hours, having a demanding and busy family life, and crazy Kansas winds and weather, it took awhile.

He had some long evenings flying, and I had some long evenings with these girls!
Last Friday, he finally did his oral test and check ride. And of course, he passed!
This weekend my dad and stepmom were visiting and we had a plane booked for some flying on Saturday morning. It's just a 4-seater so Matt planned to take the girls and I first, then come back and get Dad and Diane. Did all the preflight stuff, loaded up, taxied out, and did a few other checks...and found a part inop that he didn't feel comfortable flying without. No flying on Saturday. But I got some cute pics on the ground:

Today the weather was perfect for flying, so we booked a plane and went on our merry little way. I was a little nervous flying in a little plane (have only done so once before), but it was not too bad. The girls did great! They really enjoyed it! We flew for about 45 minutes which I think was long enough for the girls. Matt landed the plane landing I've ever experienced in any airplane..EVER. Great job honey! (He informed me they would not always be so smooth!).

Here are a few pics from today. There were a lot of farmers burning fields since it was so calm, which made things kind of hazy. I had to take a picture from the air though!

Happy trails my friends....

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spittin Mad

As my friend Abbe often does, I'm going to term this post BRUTALLY HONEST, because I'm SPITTIN MAD.

I can't even tell you how pissed off I am. A bit of background...I joined (what was then) a wonderful organization about five years ago for moms. It was my sanity saver when I started staying home with Brooke. We had a great group of people, fabulous playgroups, etc. While there may still be some great people in the group, I have seen it change a lot in the past few years and most of it is not to my liking.

Since I joined the group I have been getting the donations for the open house. I get fabulous door prizes donated, and 4 years ago I decided to also do goodie bags so that everyone in attendance would leave with something. The goodie bags contain coupons, samples, etc.

This year I gave away all of the fabulous prizes we had donated, and I gave goodie bags to everyone there. A few people even took extras. When we were cleaning up that night, I asked several people if they thought it'd be okay to take the leftover goodie bags and use them for goodie bags for the teachers at the our school at their Christmas luncheon. Everyone thought it was a good idea. So when I got home, I disassembled the bags, sorted out what I had, etc. Two months later, I combined the leftovers with the new donations I got on behalf of the PTO and did goodie bags for our teachers. They were thrilled.

NOW I'm being griped at by someone because I "gave away things that were for our organization to someone else." I just have to say kiss my butt. Seriously. The goodie bag donations were to ensure that all attendees rec'd a gift of some sort, which they did...the rest were leftovers, just that. Let's not be selfish and think "me me me! let's keep everything for ourself!". I gave them to other (probably more deserving) people! To top it off, said person is even going so far as to tell me that I used them for personal gain with the teachers at our school. I am BEYOND PISSED OFF that she would even suggest that I am that kind of person. They were presented as being from the PTO and most of the teachers don't even know me!! Perhaps this person doesn't really understand the act of giving without getting credit? If someone would have told me that night that it "goes against policy to give this stuff away to someone else" then I would have said "fine... where's your trunk so you can take it all home?"

It is sad that an organization I once so loved has caused me so much grief over the last year or two. I invited several friends to be a part of the group because I wanted to share it with them. As time passed, they made several new friends and I no longer seemed to be important to them anymore. Because of some relationships that changed so drastically, I am hestitant to even introduce my new friends to each other / other people. I've been so hurt and burned in the past that I don't want to create the situation to do that again. Now I'm being persecuted for doing what I thought was a GOOD THING, finding a GOOD use for leftover items. I can't believe there are people out there who would even think bad of me for doing this. And get all self righteous about it? I didn't arbitrarily decide to do that, I got the thumbs up from several people first!

It's no wonder people in this world don't want to step up and pitch in and help. Because even when you do so with the best of intentions, and give it your all, someone is always going to fault you for something or not like how you did it. Shame on you, you persons you.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Did you know that I wanted to be a photographer when I grew up? (I also wanted to be an accountant until I figured out I sucked at Math, and then I wanted to be an archeologist until I figured out that they usually work in hot hot places, and then I wanted to be a church camp owner until I figured that'd be too big an undertaking to start up)...

I have always loved taking pictures. Ever since junior high, I've snapped shots of friends and family. At our senior prom when they had the ever popular slide show of pictures through the years, most of them were provided by me. When I put together the scrapbook for my grandma's 80th Birthday, I had tons of pictures already in my spare bedroom to work with from the past 20 years.

I took a photography class about eight years ago. I didn't learn much by way of aperture and shutter speed. The guy didn't explain it well and frankly I was just confused. I still need to do a lot of learning in that category. He did however give us interesting assignments that helped me learn how to keep an eye out for good TEXTURE in a picture, good LINES, good use of COLOR, etc. I had some pretty good shots from that class.

For now I'm a point-and-shoot kinda girl and then I tweak the picture in my little photo program. I'd like to get a DSLR camera and some lenses, learn how to use them, and get Photoshop Elements (because there's no way I can afford the full photoshop program)!

The reason for this post is that recently I've been itching to start photographing with an end purpose in mind again. I want to go get "That picture" that I've been waiting to snap... a certain shot with just the right color sky, a little photo session with the girls at a great spot that I've scoped out, etc. I decided this year to do the girls' birthday pictures (which I'll post some of below). I uploaded a few to the Walmart 1-hour photo lab today and picked them up when I was grocery shopping. And I was floored and flattered and thrilled when the photo girl said "I need a copyright release from the photographer on these..." and I, slightly shocked, said "I'm the photographer!". I was so excited.

In case you didn't know, I really really like words of affirmation and positive feedback ;) I like to know that people are actually paying attention to me or something I do sometimes, and not just when I trip over the sidewalk or pluck out a grey hair.

So here are some of the pictures I did over the girls the last few weeks. What do you think?

Easter morning:

Brooke's 6-year pictures

Hannah's 2-year pics. She's not quite as cooperative as Brooke!

This one I took of our Pastor on Easter morning. I thought it just looked like such a perfect, serene, symbolic picture... it was a great moment and I'm glad it turned out so good!

I'm no professional and don't assume I ever will be, but I do hope to find time to hone my skills some more to continue to get great shots of those I love, and things I think are gorgeous. It makes for good home decor....!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A recipe with a story...

Today I'm going to share with you a very special recipe. It's simple and yummy. Brownies. No mixer required, dump it all in and stir it up.

But first a story about these brownies. We call them "The Brownies" also known as "Sand Art Brownies." About eight or nine years ago, Matt's uncle was diagnosed with cancer. He was...gosh I'm not sure how old/young. Barely 40's if that. They lived in Pennsylvania with no family nearby. The family consisted of my mother-in-law's sister, her hubby with cancer, and three precious (and precocious) boys. Matt liked to refer to them as "the wrecking crew." The boys were about 13, 10, and 6 or so.

Money got really really tight, and Blake got really really sick. It was not a good situation. Not at all. Things were so tight and stressful that we didn't think the Mom was going to get any chance to get Christmas stuff taken care of that year. Those boys needed to have a good Christmas with their had been tough enough!
I came up with the idea to sell some of those "mix-in-a-jar" things. This was before you could buy them at the store, when it was still a crafty craft. I found this recipe, and a few others, and off we went. I printed up order forms with the boys' pictures on it, and a little blurb about their story, and took it to work. Between Matt, his parents, and I we sold about 75 jar mixes. Then we had to make them. We had an assembly line set up all throughout the dining room and kitchen, and we got it done. We paid for all the ingedients so all the sales would be profit. It was a fun and exciting project! (I wish I knew where the pictures were).
After we got them all done, and had our near $700 in hand, we went shopping. My mother in law and I bought gifts gifts gifts. We had gifts to the boys from Santa (and put in the letter to the mom what those gifts were so she would know), we had gifts to the parents from the boys, we had gifts to the boys from the parents. We wrapped everything and three gigantic UPS boxes were on their way to Pennsylvania.
They had a wonderful Christmas.... it was the last one they had with their Dad. Although the parents knew what we did, I'm not sure the boys ever did. But I'm sure they cherish the memories of their holidays with their Dad.
We haven't seen the boys for years, though I do have two of the three on facebook. Everytime I make these brownies I think of them. I hope you enjoy the recipe.
Sand Art Brownies (see layering directions below)
In a large bowl; put 1/3 c. cocoa powder, 2/3 c. sugar, 1/2 c chocolate chips, 1/2 c vanilla chips, 2/3 c brown sugar, 1 c + 2 T flour, and 3/4 tsp salt.

Mix it up

To the dry mixture, add 1 tsp vanilla, 2/3 c. oil, and three large eggs.
Mix it up.

Pour into greased pan and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes, or until they're done. You know when they're done, right? Let them cool a bit before diving in, they tend to fall apart if you get them while they're too warm. But ah the moist yummy goodness.....!
I forgot to take a picture of the finished product. Sorry. Sometimes I like to ice mine with a chocolate icing, but I think that tends to dry them out sometimes, weirdly enough.
I usually just use 1 c of semisweet chips instead of any of the vanilla chips, because rarely do I have those on hand. They do however make the layering look nice and pretty.
Layer in a wide mouth quart sized jar in this order: cocoa powder, sugar, choc chips, vanilla chips, brown sugar, flour, salt. if you have room at the top you can put some walnuts. But who wants to ruin brownies with walnuts? If you think it is not packed tight enough, just throw in some more chips, or wad up a white napkin or something to go in the top. I can't remember if we needed the nuts to finish filling the jar or not.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Enjoy the Silence

Is it noisy in your house? I'm going to guess yes, if you have children that live at home. (See how I qualified that? My mother in law reads this blog, she has a child, but it's quiet at her house because he doesn't live there. Although...since we're talking about Matt, it was probably quiet at her house when he was living at home...he's a quiet kind of guy). So let me qualify that again. I bet it's noisy at your house if you have chatty or rambunctious or many children :)

My dear six year old wakes up talking in the morning and talks till she goes to bed at night. When my alarm goes off in the morning and I lay in my bed for a few minutes, I can hear her either talking to the TV or reading a book aloud to herself.

My dear two year old screeches at her sister a lot, and runs a lot. She weighs 23 lbs but she does not have quiet pitter-patters. She's a maniac, what can I say.

Wouldn't trade either one of them for the world.

But sometimes I just want to enjoy some silence. I want to shut off any unnecessary noise. Biggest example: bathtime. Matt is primarily in charge of bath time, and I usually help by taking Hannah at the end and getting her dried off and jammied. Anyways, the girls (the noisy ones) take a bath together. We all know that the bathroom does not have the most pleasurable accoustics in the house. Matt puts the girls in the tub, sits down and relaxes against the wall, and turns the radio on. And it's not quiet-- because you have to be able to hear it over the girls-- and it makes me insane. I hate going into that bathroom during bath time with that radio on. When he turns it on, it's like nails on the chalkboard to me.... so I usually busy myself in the hallway or the girls' rooms working on laundry or something until I am needed, thereby avoiding as much of the chaotic noise as possible.

Tonight, Matt went to bed, I turned the TV off, and I turned my laptop off (thereby shutting off the whirring noise of the laptop-fan). I leaned back and closed my eyes...and I enjoyed the silence. I breathed deep and I felt myself relax. It was great. And then I took some time to sit there and really listen.

Silence is a relative term, did you know that? Because our house is not completely silent by any means. But it was silent to me. I listened with my eyes closed...I could hear the ceiling fan going, and it made the vertical blinds on the picture window rustle occasionally. I could hear the ice maker fill up with water. I heard the faint sound of a dog barking down the street. I heard a car drive by. But it was a peaceful few moments, enjoying "my silence."

You should try it. Just shut it all down after the kids are in bed, close your eyes, breathe deep, and enjoy the silence. I think I need to do that once or twice a day.

Especially right before or right after bath time.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Green Pictures

Over at the Pioneer Woman, she posted a photography assignment for "green" pictures. Anything highlighting the color green. Since I've been playing with my camera a little more again, I thought I'd join in on the assignment. I dug up an old pic or two as well.

Here are my green pics. What do you think?
I am loving all of them, but the tulip picture is exquisite. I'm going to print it in a big print and frame it for Brooke's room I think. Prints are available for purchase ;)