Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More Photoshop

Pin It Okay, well, technically I finished the editing class. Finished, but will CLEARLY still need to go back through my notes and the videos time and again because a lot of it hasn't sunk in quite yet.

One of the challenges in the class was to pick a few of our favorite pictures and see if we could improve them through editing. I chose one of my favorite pictures of each of my kids.

First, Gabbi. This was taken just before her 11th birthday. I really liked the first edit better, but Gabbi liked the more dramatic second edit. To me, that one looks a little overdone. What do you think?

Then, Madelyn. This was at her 9th birthday party. This is probably my favorite picture that I have taken, ever, and I was very happy with the unedited version. I do like the edit though. (On this one, and Brendan's - I saved the edit for web before combining the pics, so there's a quality difference in the before and after. I didn't think about that until I was uploading them.)

And Brendan's. Note the cape. This picture SCREAMS out Brendan more than any other I've taken, I think. Again, I saved the edit for web before combining them, so the original is at high quality and the edit is web quality. Ideally (and next time ... live and learn, right) I'd put it together and THEN save for web.

So ... what do you think?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

So, how's life?

Pin It I realized it's been a few weeks since I've made a "real" post here, other than just posting pictures and such. I like reading blogs that tell about things going on in people's lives, so maybe it's time for an update on mine.

Jim is done in Afghanistan in less than a week. Does that seem almost unbelievable to anyone else? He's been gone for ten months, and will be home in the next couple of weeks. It's kind of amazing for me to think about. I mean, we did it! The kids survived, I survived, he survived. The house remained standing, the dog still lives here, everyone has been fed and has had clean clothes to wear. The lawn has been maintained, as has the car. The girls are finishing up some of their classes, and the plans have been put in place for schooling for next year.

I've become handy with the power tools too. I know, I know, you're shocked. Okay, maybe "handy" is a leeeetle bit of a stretch. I did install some towel bars though. This is quite an amazing feat for someone who graduated from the school of the mechanically declined! Today I'm going to tackle changing the locks on a door. (LOL ... and no, I'm not changing the locks because Jim will be home soon. ;) I have this ... um ... habit of fixing something so well that it breaks it worse. 'Nuff said about that. So stop asking. I'm changing a lock because it's broken, okay?)

I wonder now if the adjustment to him coming home is going to actually be more difficult than the adjustment to his leaving in the first place. I think it might be. I've kind of gotten into the habit of doing what I want to do when I want to do it, and dragging the kids along with me. It will be weird to have to consult someone else's opinion on things. (Which, to be honest, is why I need to go find the fabric for the curtains in my living room TODAY. haha) Our meal times are going to have to change a bit too; Jim isn't crazy about sandwiches and leftovers ... and those seem to be the main staples of our diets these days. Oh, and soup in the crock pot. He's not a huge fan of that either.

So ... there's a more personal update. Other than this stuff swirling around, we're enjoying the gorgeous spring weather and trying to spend more time outside. Brendan is getting new freckles daily, and the girls are reverting back to their normal brown colors. I, of course, remain pasty white under my Jergen's Natural Glow.

I hope you are all enjoying spring as much as I am!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hershey's + Easter Baskets = $$

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I was given this virtual Easter basket by Sherri at Adventures of a Middle-Aged Drama Queen. If you don't already read her blog, you should. She is HILARIOUS. And apparently her kids are too. You must read this post. I think I laughed so hard ... well ... three kids, the bladder ain't what she used to be, and I'll leave it at that.

Anyway ... the point of this post ...

Today, our posts are going to help Hershey’s raise money for Children’s Miracle Network. For each #betterbasket blog post they are donating $10!

Hershey’s has pledge to donate up to $5,000 to The Children’s Miracle Network.

Here’s how you can help....

I am passing along Hershey’s Better Baskets to a few of my bloggy friends today! So, go visit these blogs!

Micah at Finding Shae
Meghan at Tuckers Take Tennessee
Amanda at Wannabe Supermom
Heidi at In the Fishbowl
Tara at Not So Perfect


* Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.

* Create a blog post giving a virtual Easter Basket to another blogger – you can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.

* Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.

* Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them a Basket.

* Leave your link at comment section. You can also find the official rules of this #betterbasket blog hop, and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s there.

* Hershey’s is donating $10 per each blog participating to the Better Basket Blog Hop to Children’s Miracle Network (up to total of $5,000 by blog posts written by April 4th, 2010).

* Please note that only one blog post by each blog url will count towards the donation.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Finished Something!!

Pin It I was talking to some friends the other day about my frustration with not being able to COMPLETE anything. Laundry -- I can have a goal to complete it, and since I'm a do it all in one day type person, it WILL be completed. Until bedtime, that is. Same thing with cooking and dishes - the kitchen, whole house, will be all clean, and darn it if the little darlings don't wake up wanting to eat again, and want to play with their toys. School? Terrific, we really are about to finish a couple of classes, which in our case, means going on to different classes. It's frustrating because I really don't like to leave projects undone and to feel like everything I do is pretty much useless because it just has to be done again.

Until today! I finished something! I mentioned in a few posts that I was taking a photoshop class online. I finished it today! I thought I'd share some of the projects I did. (Yes, these are total copies of the projects she led for the class. I'm just delighted that I learned how to do these things. Never mind that I've had photoshop for a year and I'm just now beginning to figure out how to use it!)

The class, if you happen to be interested is from Jessica Sprague and it's video driven and very easy to follow along. I enjoyed this one so much that I'm about to take another one.

Okay, on to the work. If you saw the "Happy Birthday Daddy" pic, then you already got a preview of this. I love these pics of my two favorite boys. :)

This was just playing with color. I did a pic like this last year ... the HARD way. I love this look, and this method is so so so much easier than what I did last year! I know, it's not a great pic, but I was looking for one with one object that was colorful and this scrolled across the screen.

This is a collage of pictures Micah took when Jim was here on leave. In a few weeks, we'll have a new set of these pics! :D

And just the same as above with a different edit. (And the Daddy is not yet home -- that was for leave in January, not for good.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

A note to my husband.

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(His birthday isn't until tomorrow, but it IS tomorrow over there!)

I apologize, but

Pin It My sarcastic nature is about to come out. Be prepared, or forewarned, however you want to look at it.

Dear neighbors with the dog,

I will be forwarding you the bills I have from the garbage I bought last night from infomercials I watched while I tried to drown out the sound of your dog. Your dog that barked loudly for about seven hours straight between two and four am. Your dog who clearly just wanted to be out of the 35 degree weather and didn't care who knew it. Even my own dog was all "Dude! Give it a rest, okay? I'm trying to sleep here!" I'm all for a good watchdog, and definitely appreciate that, however, if someone was breaking into your house for all of that time, they are highly incompetent thieves.

I shall think of you as I enjoy my new Shark vacuum, the new home gym, and the skin firming system, all for four easy payments of 49.99. And because I acted fast, I will also enjoy a new shark mop, some other contraption for the home gym, and an extra month of the skin firming system. I'm sure my body and floors will thank you as well. Not only that, since sleep wasn't an option, I suppose I'm thankful that you gave me the perfect opportunity to finish the laundry between infomercials.

Tonight if it happens to be super cold out? Please do us all a favor and let your dog inside. Don't make me chase you down with my new shark vacuum. Your cooperation is appreciated.

The Quiet, Light Sleeping Neighbor
(Although - this dog was loud enough to wake up the heavy sleepers in the house too.)

And I have to say -- this was one LOUD dog. When trying to figure out whose dog it was, I went through all of my immediate neighbors and although most have dogs, I canceled their dogs out because they either have yapper dogs or more than one dog. This was just one clearly large loud dog.

Whew. I feel better for getting that out. Maybe tonight will be a better night!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Homeschool Evolution

Pin It I'm thinking about and planning our next school year right now.

(Between this, the photoshop class, spring cleaning, planning our vacation, the gorgeous weather, and a couple of projects I've been working on, I have been busy lately! Thus the lack of blogging. Sorry.)

I was just kind of giggling about the plans for next year, and how many changes there have been through the years.

We started out with Gabbi in Pre-K. The only option I would consider at the time was a big box curriculum. We started with Abeka, and I'm sure I paid a ton for the whole set. For Pre-K. Because I didn't want her to miss a thing, that's why. So this big box came in the mail, and darn it, I paid for it, and we were going to do every page, even if it took us from 8 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon. For Pre-K. And it was TOUGH. We had a very high needs toddler at the time, but no way was the education of the first born going to be put on the back burner. So I kind of drove myself crazy. And her too. For Pre-K.

Then kindergarten rolled around. It occurred to me that perhaps she didn't need to do every single workbook that abeka printed with the word K on it. I still didn't want her to miss a thing, but thought maybe she would still do okay if we just did most of the workbooks. Madelyn was probably even more needy at this time, so school kind of got pushed to her naptime. Seriously - I would put the child in her crib and whip out the school stuff and we'd cram as much as possible into the two hour nap. It was kind of an "I don't care if you learn or not, I want these workbook pages DONE!" She did learn to read that year, which was the big goal of the year, but I don't think she enjoyed a minute of it. :(

Then first grade. We stuck with abeka, but realized rather quickly that abeka math wasn't working so well for her. I fretted over it for days, but we switched math curricula from abeka to math u see. Then I was proud of myself for being a "pick and choose what works for us" homeschooler. This could have been a better year, however, there were several "life issues" going on at the same time. 2005, anyone? Enter the birth of Brendan, and three weeks later, Hurricane Rita. We did some schoolwork over the summer, which was good, because from his birth through December, there was not much schoolin' going on. Thankfully, Madelyn was going to MDO (which we called PRE-K for her) and Gabbi was kind of breezing through.

Second grade, and K for Madelyn. We started second grade with Gabbi and realized very quickly that what had worked previously was not working any longer. A friend mentioned how much she was liking Bob Jones curriculum, and I considered switching. If y'all know me well enough, you might know the stress that came with the very thought of switching mid-year. Not only that, in looking at the scope and sequence, we decided to change grades as well. We did continue with math u see, but changed everything else; moving her from second to third grade, and changing from phonics to English. It was a major change for me. We loved Bob Jones though. Madelyn was using the abeka K stuff, and bless her little middle child heart, she got the short end of the stick because I was stressed making all of the changes with Gabbi. Plus, I had figured out that it's just kindergarten, and what's tough to learn at five is often learned instantly at six. (Yep, a life motto. haha)

Fourth grade for Gabbi, first for Madelyn. The year of the homesat! Bob Jones had a home satellite program that we loved. We still used math u see for math for both girls, but we used Bob Jones for everything else. Kind of. We still mainly just did the three r's and let science and history be part of co-op. This was a smooth, easy year, other than learning how to use the satellite and making all of those dvd's. Mrs. Walker from BJU taught Madelyn how to read via recorded DVD's and it was a great year!

Then fifth grade for Gabbi, second for Madelyn. This year started out with some issues. #1 - Toddler. 'Nuff said about that. #2 - we got the message at the beginning of the year that this was the last year for homesat. #3 - 2008. Ike, anyone? We hit a pretty major math stumbling block with Gabbi, but we had learned that it was okay to take a break and change things if we needed. We persevered through it, but it was another tough year. I was going crazy taping homesat classes and keeping up with the toddler and trying to keep all of the plates spinning. Oh, and Jim joined the National Guard this year too.

This year ... sixth grade for Gabbi, third for Madelyn. (Yes, Brendan is officially old enough for pre-K, but ... um ... no.) We decided to switch math for Gabbi, and liked it so much, we decided to switch for Madelyn too. We use Teaching Textbooks now. Other than that, we've pretty much stayed the course with Bob Jones, knowing that I only taped through sixth grade, so SOMETHING is going to have to change for next year. This was also a weird year because Jim has been gone through all of it.

Junior High!

It's time to step up the science and history for Gabbi, plus we don't have homesat DVD's for some of the classes she needs. Plus, it'll be time to add Brendan in, at least some. Thankfully, this should be an easy year for Madelyn. We've decided to kind of jump out of the box and completely change things up for Gabbi. I've found a curriculum that makes me nervous that I think she is going to love. For the first time, I'm actually looking at a curriculum and thinking about what she will enjoy about it more than what makes me nervous about it. (Just nervous because it's so different from what I'm used to.) Here are our plans for next year:

Gabbi: Bob Jones English 7, Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ for history, science, and reading, although we might add a literature to this, and if we do, it will be Bob Jones. We'll continue with Teaching Textbooks for math.

Madelyn: She'll do Bob Jones English, reading, and spelling, and teaching textbooks for math. I'm planning to add her in on some of Gabbi's history and science.

Brendan: Bob Jones pre-K plus MDO. I've been really surprised by him lately, so we might go through pre-K pretty quickly and move on into K. He's my baby, so I'm not really interested in rushing him, however, I don't want him to be bored either. We'll just see what works for him.

I have to say - as a homeschool mom, this is my favorite time of the year. Nothing like planning for the next year. This year is especially sweet because we'll actually be finished with everything by May. First time that's ever happened. We realized the girls will both finish their reading classes in the next couple of weeks! I'm very excited to be able to do a couple of longer book studies with them this year! :)

Wow, long post. I just find it interesting to see how it's okay to make changes and to find what works for both mom and child, and to run with it. :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Playing with Photoshop

Pin It I mentioned in another post that I was taking a photoshop class. I have four days left, and I have learned so much!! I edited and textured a pic of each of my kids, and just thought I'd share them. The class is from Jessica Sprague and is called Photo Editing: Frame-ups and Special Effects. It really is a fabulous class, and I made a wishlist on her site of other classes I want to take. (The funny thing? It's been almost a year since I saw this class and I'm just now getting the nerve to do it.)

So, there ya go ... let me know what you think. These are just mainly adding textures and masks, neither of which I knew how to do a few days ago. :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

I Heart Faces - Bundled Up

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Living in Texas, my kids don't get the chance to get bundled up too often. This picture was from a trip to Spokane over Thanksgiving. The kids were so excited about the prospect of snow, and when we got there, one tiny little patch was all there was. I was all prepared to console disappointed children, when I realized that they were bundling up to get out there and play with it. They had a BALL! I had a hard time choosing between this one and a pic of my little TX boy tasting snow for the first time, but as my sweet oldest daughter pointed out, I cut off part of his head in that pic.

Click on over to i heart faces to see lots more bundled up pics!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spring Break!

Pin It Spring Break means it's Heritage Festival time. The weather has been GORGEOUS, just perfect festival weather.

So why am I sitting here at my computer on a Saturday when the festival is here and the weather is gorgeous? My sweet son is sick. Poor little guy! At least he got to spend two evenings at the festival. I think he had enough fun and got to ride enough things to make the cost of his passport (pass to ride the rides all week) worth it.

The girls have had a good time. They've had the full experience this time around, which has been great fun for them, even despite the fact that they have a mean mom who has had them doing schoolwork all week. They've both been able to spend time with an assortment of friends this week, which has been a good thing. I am so thankful to my friends who have taken them the past couple of nights!

As it's been just Brendan and me here the past couple of days, and he's been pretty much in the bed the whole time, I've been able to work on some projects. I signed up for a photoshop class online last year. I took one class but I think I was still mourning the loss of my easy photo editing program, and was overwhelmed by photoshop that I kind of gave up. With the encouragement of my friend Caroline, I have done the next couple of lessons. Know what? When I set aside my whining about it being so different from Digital Image Pro, this really is not so difficult. Imagine that. I'm also seriously trying to learn how to use my camera. I'm trying to force myself to take pics in manual this month. I've gotten some good shots, and some perfectly awful shots, but it's kind of starting to make sense to me. :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Not Me Monday

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It's been a few weeks since I've done one of these. I guess I was just saving up for now.

I have not realized over the last week that I am the very definition of a mean mom.

Background - read the last post. My sweet daughter did not *OBLITERATE* her text messaging limit within about three days of making a new friend.

IF she had, I would not have zipped over to the verizon website, and change our account to have unlimited texting. They backdated the change to make the overages magically go away. I certainly would NOT have kept this tidbit of information from my daughter. I wouldn't be making her earn the money to pay off the overages, that now actually don't exist, in dishes and floors cleaning, and I wouldn't have her every day checking the calendar to see when she can text again. It would just be mean to not tell her that she can text again, that she doesn't have to work to pay off charges that don't exist, and especially not to tell her that making the change actually saves money per month, so it's all good. Nope, I'm not mean like that, at all.

And speaking of mean, I am certainly not making my sweet children do schoolwork on Spring Break. I did let them sleep until 8 this morning, and I did not at all wake them with the words "time for schooooooool work~!!" And I absolutely did not reply in a sing-song voice that I really didn't care if they wanted to do it or not, that school work was on the schedule, so they were doing it. I did not giggle at all when whines of "THAT'S NOT FAIR!!" came my way, and I did not even once stick my fingers in my hears and say "La la la la la, I'm not listening!" to the complaints that came. I'm 40 for heaven's sake, way more mature than that!

And before anyone thinks terribly of me, we are taking off a week in April to go on a vacation, after their daddy gets home, for their spring break. Not only that, they all three have passports to the local Heritage Festival this week, so although they will be doing school every day, they will not be miserably chained to their desks or anything like that. I expect that, if the rain EVER stops, we'll spend most every evening at the Festival.

Oh, and speaking of vacations, I have not let my OCD nature take over, and there may or may not be a 35 column spreadsheet on my computer comparing costs and a bunch of details. I have not considered printing both said spreadsheet and an itinerary in booklet format for each family member, in picture form for the non-reader, so they will know what I expect of them when it comes to having fun for this vacation. (And nope, I did not just have to look up how to spell itinerary. What on earth has happened to my spelling skills??)

Okay, since I don't have a mountain of laundry piled up to be folded, and I don't need to go to Sam's (it IS raining, after all, which means we must go to Sam's) I'll close this post now.

What didn't YOU do this week?

I Heart Faces - Jump For Joy

Pin It I captioned this picture "You may get wet, and possibly soaked, while on this ride." This is my nephew Johnathan about to completely soak Giovanni, Jack, and Leah.

Head on over to i heart faces to see tons more "jump for joy" pictures!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I am unequipped.

Pin It Sorry for my blogging absence lately. I've been busy being unequipped. Some moms, I understand, get to ease into the preteen years. Others get thrust into it overnight, or so it seems. I am CLEARLY into that last category.

Seriously. I woke up one morning and my sweet, compliant little girl was replaced with someone who walked in, growled at me, and requested coffee. She would also like her clothing budget quadrupled and an hour a day to spend on itunes, along with an unlimited allowance for that. While we're at it, could we please add unlimited texting, because (DUH MOM!) CLEARLY, 500 texts is just nowhere near enough.

I could have handled all of these changes happening over the course of a year. I'd probably still complain that my baby was growing up too quickly, but I like to think I could handle it spread out over a year.

But no.

This has all been in the last WEEK.

I am hopelessly unequipped, and unprepared. I really did think I had longer before having to deal with things like this. That's why we homeschool, right? Giving the kids freedom to be kids, so they don't have to deal with peer pressure to grow up too quickly.

Sounds great in theory, but as it turns out, they grow up when they grow up, and apparently, you can't stop it.

I've discovered that a whole lot of the "I won't let my kids do that" and "my kids will always do this" work really well, when the child is six. Maybe some of my theories need to be revisited though, now that the said child is old enough to have an opinion.

Don't get me wrong, she's a GOOD kid. She's not rebellious, not trying to get around the rules, or undermine them in any way. She's just growing up. She would like to know the reason for the rules, and for at least some of them, she has a right to know the reason. We've had some fabulous talks over the last week, and I'm so grateful for that.

That's not to say that I haven't had fabulous talks, then walked away both thanking God that she was talking to me about things that are going on, and pleading with God to give me wisdom to handle these various situations.

I'm trying to find out who I am as the mom of a preteen, and at the same time, I'm learning who my preteen is. This is really an exciting time for her, and for me. I'm so proud of her, and scared for me, and wanting to give her a little bit of freedom, and at the same time wanting to hold on tight.

(dang it. This was supposed to be a light-hearted post. Why on earth am I getting all teary?)

Okay, before I turn this into a big ole' sobfest, I'll just close it now. I know this is all completely normal, and even good ... and that the Lord will lead me to be the mom she needs, and will direct her footsteps as she grows up. I'm feeling very thankful that I know He will equip us both, but on my own? I've been considering hiding her away in her room for the next ten or so years.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Heart Faces - outtakes

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I believe this is the "Okay, mom, I'm DONE with the pictures" face.