Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Foto Tips

I know.
You're so amazed by my cleverness in changing photo to foto.
And equally amazed that I cannot go look in a thesaurus for another word for tip that starts with an F.  If any of you have any suggestions....feel free to share.


I have been meaning to share some photography tips for mom's on this blog for a very long time and never seem to get around to it.

So today's tip.

Get your camera out.
Make sure you have a working battery(ies).

OK--that's a good start.
Now....what do you want to remember from your summer?
The way the kids played in the sprinkler?  The way they spread their cars or dolls out on the front porch? A few shots with their best friends--arms around each other?
Whatever it is...capture it with your camera.
It doesn't have to be perfect.
Trust will enjoy looking back at these pictures because your kids grow up way too fast and you WILL forget these moments.
Excuse the run-on sentence.

Now...first of need some basic skills to operate your camera.  These posts--which I hope to do on periodic Fridays (no...I do not promise that they will be every week because that just sets a disorganized person like me up for failure)--will cover some basics to get your photos looking better.

These posts will be geared toward the point and shoot camera user or those with a DSLR who keep it in auto mode.  And do not despair if you 'only' have a point and shoot.  Better cameras do not necessarily take better pictures.  You can have a great camera and still take rotten pictures if you don't know what you're doing.  :)  Conversely, if you know some basics, you can get really nice photos with a point and shoot.

So today's tip is this:
DO NOT....I repeat...DO NOT take pictures in full sun.  This is a mistake made by many and results in horrible squinty faces and harsh shadows under the nose and chin.  DO NOT take pictures at high noon unless you can take them in an area that is shaded.

I will show you some examples:

Here is an image that was taken in the SHADE.  (I took this picture this morning while in my jammies so I didn't venture far out into the yard.  If you take a photo in the shade--make sure you don't have sun behind you like I have in this image.  You will end up with a sillouette because your camera will read the light behind you and adjust your settings for the lightest area in your photo.  I manually adjusted mine to trick my camera, so that I could show you the difference between a photo in shade vs. sun.)

In this next image, I backed him up so that he was in full sun.  Here is the result:
See how his eyes are squinted almost shut and he has shadows on his cheeks and chin?  Not good.

If you are taking action shots mid-day, don't worry about this too much.  Better to get the shot than wait for a better time of day.  But if you are trying to get that cute shot of your daughter and her best friends all hugging and looking at you the day they leave for not place them in direct sun.

The best time of day to take pictures is early morning--just after sunrise (if any of you are weird enough to be up taking pictures before breakfast)  OR 1-2 hours before sunset.  So when you call your local photographer for a family picture that will be taken outdoors, they will tell you that it needs to be done in the evening. 

Believe them.  

You'll thank me later.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Crazy Hair Day

All last week was our church's VBS.  Can I just have a collective sigh of exhaustion?

Five days of non-stop fun.  You would think the kids would want a break from all that hilarity.

But no...

Last night, I heard....
"Mom, where are we going tomorrow?"


We are going to the laundry room, that's where.  And if you don't like it, you can take yourselves outdoors to play.

But back to VBS....

The third day was 'crazy hair day.'  The kids thought I should go with bedhead.
I thought about it.
And quickly abandoned the idea.
I'm not proud of my vanity, but I just couldn't overcome it.

But was time to resurrect the family mullet.  Jake was chosen as the family representative.

OK--not too bad, but the real prize goes to Jeff for looking the most realistic.

Stand back, ladies....he's all mine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Little Man Jake is 6

How can my baby be 6?  Wah....

Alas...tis true.

It seems we have started a new tradition of going to Emily for a 'real' haircut on the kids' birthday's.  We thought Emily had a few more weeks before her baby was going to be born born, but surprise!  Baby girl came yesterday.  We can't wait to meet her!
{Excuse the cell phone pics}
Thank you, Emily!  Jake got his first buzz cut.

Birthday dinner at home on his actual birthday.
People with summer birthdays are so fortunate to celebrate them outdoors!!

Posing with his presents

Shucking sweet corn.  Yum!

Oomph.  This is hard work!

Not sure how Kate got corn tassel strands in her hair?  

Lots of helpers get the job done quickly.

Jake and his fan club

Ditched the boy and did a girl pic.

Opening presents.  He gets to do this outdoors, too.  {Insert jealous whining.}

He is really into the old time Batman episodes right now so he wanted a Batman cake.  I found a template online and Jillian did the rest.

Jeff has decided we need to pay her for her cakes.  She was quite thrilled about that!

Posing with big sister in front of the cake she made.


I love the look on Jillian's face as she cheers for him.

Jake chose the nearby Mexican restaurant for his birthday lunch after church on Sunday.  They came and put this big hat on him when they sang Happy Birthday.  It was heavy and he had a hard time balancing with it on.  Haha
{cell phone photos again}

Happy Birthday, Little Man!  We love you and are so thankful that God blessed us with you!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Summer is here....'What is there to do?"

Every morning I hear a chorus of, "What are we going to do today?"
I've never been that good at being a cruise director.

I resist the urge to grumpily say, "You could go play in traffic," and tell them I will think of some chores for them to do if they don't find an activity.

This works really well for the older kids but the little ones?
Not so much.
They like chores.
Go figure.

I suppose that is because there are very few that they are actually capable of doing.  I can't just say, "OK--go clean the toilets."
You know what would happen if I sent small children to a room where they have permission to touch water.

So let's see.

We can ride bikes.
The more competitive kids want to arrange bike races.  Jake seems to be having an issue with this idea.
"Heeeyyyyyy....wait for me!"  
{You can almost hear the plaintive wail, can't you?}
Left standing like a house by the side of the road.
{Insert whiny voice...}  "I don't wanna do dis..."
We can read books from the library.  
Not sure why the kitchen floor was the location of choice.

Back to the bike riding idea.  This time Jake seems on board with the plan.

Or we can go to the hiking trail by our old house.

There is a cool waterfall there to look at.

But their favorite thing to do is go to the Y and swim.  They have an outdoor pool and we have been going there a lot. 
We thought it would be fun.'s wet.
They just have these rules.
Such as:
All moms need to be in the water with their kids who need to wear a life preserving device.
Not sitting on the side of the pool with their legs in the water.
And all children in said lifesaving devices need to be within an arm's length of their mothers.
That might be fine if you had one child.
But five?
Picture it.
Five little people flailing about within an arm's length of me.
It's super fun.
Don't be jealous.
And then when they get a few arm's length's away
 (because come on, people, they wouldn't be able to move if they had to stay that close to me), 
the lifeguard will come over and tell me that I need to keep them closer.

Um...okay.  Would you mind telling me how that is even possible?

I tell Little-Miss-Lifeguard-on-a-powertrip that I could keep a better eye on them if I would be permitted to sit on the side of the pool so that I could actually SEE them instead of being blinded by splashing water. 
 She smiles condescendingly and says, "We don't allow that," as she strides over to inform another mom that she HAS to get into the water with her little poppet.

That mom has the same reaction as I do.
Lot's of sighing and eye rolling.

It has a tendency to suck the fun out of the experience.
But only for the mom's, because EVERY.SINGLE.MORNING, I hear,
"What are we going to do today?  Can we go swimming at da Y?"

When does school start again?
Jake perched on the side of the pool trying to work up the courage to jump.  Rumor has it that he jumped the other day when Jeff took the kids to the pool but suffered a relapse of fear when Mommy took him.
He never did jump this particular day.
Probably because Mommy wasn't in the pool and Atilla the Hun Lifeguard girl would have yelled at us.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Happy Birthday, Taylor!

Taylor has reached a milestone.  He's supposedly, officially an adult.

As he slept in, the kids were busy making him cards.

Jillian took an order for his cake.  He wanted an angel food cake with chocolate mousse frosting.  A friend back in Michigan served it at her house and Taylor loved it.  However, we had no recipe - and no way to contact the friend.   So....Google to the rescue.

Jillian made the entire creation from scratch.  She did a great job!

The birthday boy was very appreciative, but after going out for a steak dinner with mom and dad, he hasn't been ready to sample the cake yet.

Happy Birthday, Taylor!  And congratulations for making it to adulthood.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Beach Adventures

We went to the beach yesterday.  We are now exhausted after three straight days of non-stop fun.  We need a vacation.  Oh...wait....this IS our vacation.

Miss Zoey (and mom) forgot to bring her extra leg so she didn't have as much fun as usual.
We tried a different beach which resulted in mixed reviews from the kids.  This beach had almost no sand but there was a lot of shallow water for hunting crabs.
Or just shells, for those terrified of live crustaceans.

Soothing scenery
Collecting empty snail shells
Katie-bug was very serious about finding them.
But then...wonder of wonders, SaraGrace spotted a live, baby crab and managed to catch it.
Jordan admires the discovery
The transfer of goods
Just then, Chloe and Jillian discovered clams...or mussels.  No one was quite sure what they were--even the local beach goers.
They SQUIRT!  They actually squirt like a little boy going potty.  Gross!
If this disgusting thing was a clam, I'm never eating them again.  Ewwwww....
More squirting.
But then.... A nice man started finding crabs for the kids to play with.  SaraGrace and Jordan were all over that!
J-Man has no fear!
SaraGrace gets up close and personal
Studying it carefully and very impressed.
The other kids found more snail shells and found to their delight that they were still occupied.
Cool, huh?

The next series of pictures tells a hilarious story of SaraGrace attempting to go potty in the ocean.  It seems she had just about finished going, when to her horror, she saw a large crab skittering past her feet.  She jumped up and started shrieking, dancing, skipping, shuddering, and screaming her way to shore.  We were dying laughing at her.

The nice man came back with three crabs and told the kids how he used to have crab races when he was a kid.
Setting up the race course to see which crab could make it back to the sea first.
This one never found the ocean. Since it was the biggest, SaraGrace and Jordan wanted to see if it would grab onto a shell.  
It did.

One crab had disappeared during the run to the sea, but the other two were played with for quite awhile.  Jordan wanted to take them home but we knew they would die, so he sadly agreed to leave them behind.
Kate abandoned her collection of shells when she realized with disgust that they were still inhabited with slimy little creatures.

After that it was time for fish and chips at one of the local restaurants.  SO YUMMY!

The kids still had their sparklers so we thought it would be fun to light them on the beach.  
My Datong cuties pose in the pretty sunset

My Treasures