Friday, August 28, 2009


Oh Hailey! You are a firecracker. I don't know how it is possible to be so frustrated by someone one minute and thoroughly in love and smitten the next.

I captured these photos of you checking out how you looked in all of your "pretties" before we were headed to a football game. I succeeded in relaying to you the fact that all the pretties were a little much for the football game. The fact is that all the pretties would be a little much for dinner with the Queen of England. You settled on your giant purple heart necklace. The one I like to call "the heart of the ocean".

We went out to lunch today with the "ladies", but it was just you and I for a bit while we waited for the others to arrive. As I sat across from you in the booth watching you sip your water and color scribbles with the crayons, you just seemed like such a big girl to me. It was such a special little treat to get to spend some one on one time - just me and my girl.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

They say clothes don't make the man...

And it's a good thing.

The boys went over to our neighbor's house behind us the other night to run through the sprinklers. When I took my eyes off of my chicken to look over the top of the grill to check on them, I saw Spencer running around like a crazy man and Evan running around like this....

And neighbor Mom was out there watching them.

I yelled to Evan to tell him that I was pretty sure he had put his bathing suit on inside out. Spencer yelled back to me that it looked like Evan was wearing a diaper. I yelled to Evan to come home and I would help him fix his suit. Evan yelled back to me that he wasn't coming home because he didn't care what it looked like. OK then. I tried.

And just because little sister doesn't like to miss a photo opportunity lately (I KNOW!) she decided to trailer park it up a bit for the shot.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Not-so-secret Garden

We ventured out on our annual trip to the Meijer Gardens earlier this week. It was a gorgeous, hot and humid day. A perfect day for running around beautiful gardens, splashing in the fountains and fiddling with camera exposure.

I didn't take many photos of the scenery because let's face it - we have been going there for years - it is a ball to go there, but it hasn't changed much. I was much more interested in portrait type shots with my kiddos. There are so many awesome venues around there, if I lived closer I would definitely have to have the season pass. My lucky kids would be running around that garden every other day!

I came so close to getting the photo of Evan that I am dying to have. In the photo below he is laughing his Evan laugh, but since I was experimenting with exposure, I had the wrong exposure and it got a bit OVER exposed. The black and white tends to remedy it a bit.

Hailey was having a wonderful time on our visit this year. Last year she cried during the majority of our time there due to the fact that her parents were trying to break her toe. I couldn't resist taking pictures of her with her giant flower in her hair. I think the giant bird's nest was her favorite place to be.

One of the newer features of the children's garden is a little log cabin that is filled with games like chess and checkers and old fashioned toys. The kids also spent a lot of our time in here trying to figure out the toys made of wood and string. There was no plastic to be found!

This is my attempt at a collage in Photoshop. It didn't turn out exactly how I wanted. It has been a long time since my class.

The kids favorite sculpture is the giant "dinosaur" eggs. You have to walk down a "secret" path to get to them. They were even more thrilled to discover a real live Blue Heron looking at the eggs as well. Can you spot him? Later that night when I was tucking Evan in to bed, I asked him what his favorite part of the day was. His answer: Watching the Blue "Erin".

It is always a fun day and a learning experience in one way or another. We all look forward to our visit every year.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Searching for deals one garage at a time

I have had the bee in my bonnet to go garage saleing for a while. Especially since I missed our neighborhood garage sale a couple weeks ago because we were out of town. I like to browse my neighbor's sales to see what they are getting rid of and I love to have my own garage sale and see what people actually buy. Garage sales are cheap entertainment - with hopefully a bit of money to boot.

I read a blog where the author is an avid garage saler and every Saturday she posts her finds and how much she spent. I don't know if my purchases are interesting to anyone, but I figured I would give it a try.

$5.50 - Two pairs of footwear, shelves, ceramic turkey and a crock. I am hoping the suede boots will fit Hailey next fall. They are so darn cute and look like brand new. If not new, at least only worn once - probably for a family photo shoot or something. (Come on - we all know we have done that!) I got the crock for fifty cents for my Mom. She makes homemade cheese spread around the holidays and is always looking for receptacles. I spotted the ceramic turkey at a garage sale where nothing was priced. Seriously - how annoying is that? I commented to Trent that I wondered how much it was because I kind of liked it for my turkey collection. He looked at me completely dumbfounded and said "Turkey collection? Since when do you have a turkey collection?". I told him that I only had four turkeys so it really wasn't much of a collection YET - but this would help. I only have it on display between Halloween and Thanksgiving - the time of year that he is gone every minute with play stuff. While I was carrying around the turkey to ask how much it was, I spotted these pink crocs in a box full of soccer cleats. They were in good shape (a little dirty, but they are crocs - soap and water - good as new) and would most likely fit Hailey in a year or two. I picked them up with my turkey and walked over to the couple to ask how much the things were. Turkey - fifty cents. Sold. Crocs - fifty cents. SOLD! The man who was holding the sale with his wife had to ask the "Grama" to make sure that they were not his Granddaughter's shoes. The Grama told him that she didn't think they fit her anymore. I was hoping that I wouldn't get chased out to my car because Grama just sold her Granddaughter's shoes to me for two quarters. Shoes that you can buy in the store currently for 24.99. Not to mention she had about eight dollars worth of Jibbetz on them. You would think that the crocs were my deal of the day, but at the last house we stopped at I saw these shelves (also not priced - seriously!), I asked the seller how much she wanted and she told me a dollar. I asked her if she meant a dollar a piece. No, just one dollar for all three. SOLD! I figure I can spray paint them black and hang them in my den with my new black shelves.

We also gave the boys each a dollar to spend on whatever they wanted. Spencer got two books at a quarter each and a Batman puzzle for fifty cents. He put together the puzzle already and it is missing a piece so that pretty much stinks. I was proud of his choices though - no annoying crappy toys that he didn't need.

Evan spent his whole dollar on a recorder. He is still young and didn't quite understand the concept of why Spence got money back when he purchased his first book but when he paid for his recorder he didn't get change. They loved buying their own stuff though so we figured it is the perfect time to figure out a chore chart and start giving them some sort of allowance to spend on days like today.

And the worst deal of the day award goes to Trent. He bought this game (at Spencer's urging) for $4.00. I think it was new in the box, but still - SO not worth that. I told him that he should have told the people he would give them two bucks for it. (This was the same house that sold me their Granddaughter's crocs ;)) He will definitely have to work on his garage saleing techniques!

We had a lot of fun and got some good deals. Anyone up for garage saleing next weekend?

Thursday, August 20, 2009


This afternoon Evan went to his first birthday party for a friend without us and more importantly without Spencer. Since the birthday boy is a neighborhood kid that Spencer spends just as much time as Evan with, Spencer was a bit bummed that he didn't get to go. Actually totally bummed. I mean a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese - where a kid can be a kid - we are lucky he didn't curl up into the fetal position and cry his eyes out.

Evan on the other hand felt like he was Mr. Big Stuff. Going somewhere cool that his big brother didn't get to go - what could be better?

After Evan got home I heard him walk into the computer room to talk to Spencer.

Spencer (not bitter and genuinely interested): Hey Evan! How was the party?

Evan: So fun! I wish you would have been there.

Awww.....I love when I see (or hear) things like this that make me think that they are becoming best friends.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Decent exposure (get it?)

I was on an awesome photographer's blog the other day and was glancing through her FAQ section. I was a little shocked but more jealous to read that most of her shots are SOOC (straight out of camera). She does not Photoshop or saturate colors - she said that she just finds the light and figures out how to manipulate it to get her photographs (that are simply AMAZING).

That is my main issue with photography. I can visualize the pictures I want in my head. I can compose a shot like nobodies business. The light is what gets me almost every time. I get lucky now and then, but it is simply sheer luck - I am in no way master over my lighting situation.

I decided it was time to do something about that.

While we were at the Meijer Gardens yesterday (pictures are coming...soon) I decided to try to tweak my exposure a bit and see what would happen. I was really happy with a lot of the shots I took, but unless I look up the properties of every photo, I don't know what I shot with what exposure. Duh. I don't have the ability to compare and contrast. So today while I was watching Hailey play in the pool I figured it was the perfect opportunity. Just so you know, these photos are nothing at all special. In fact if you are still reading this post, you may want to stop. These shots are for my own benefit - part of my self inflicted "homework".

All of the following photographs were shot with the exact same camera settings - the only difference was the exposure.

Shot at "normal" exposure
+1 stop

+2 stops

Back to normal

-1 stop

-2 stops
(and this one looks like it would have been cute)

These last two are just because my baby girl is so stinkin' cute!

Baby Mirabel is a little overdressed for the pool, but Hailey insisted that she watch her swim.

In my opinion the photograph shot at the +1 exposure stop looks the best and that is not the shot that I would get using my camera in its "normal" settings. I am much more comfortable changing exposure settings now - I learned a lot in my trial and error.
I will soon be Master of the Light!

Monday, August 17, 2009


...I don't want to forget how you discovered Amelia Bedelia books this summer and could read them nonstop.

...I want to remember how you call them "Medelia Medelia" books and always tell me while we are reading what she really should be doing instead of the goofy thing that she is doing. told me there were a lot of pictures of Hailey on this blog and not of you.

...I can't resist the photo opportunity of a boy and a popsicle.

...I am determined to get a picture of you in full out laugh mode. You have the greatest happy look on your face when you laugh and for some reason, I cannot get it on camera no matter how hard I try! And that laugh - it is seriously one of the best sounds in the world! never seem to know where your shoes are and most of the time you put your clothes on backwards when you get yourself dressed.

...when you wear your favorite mismatched dinosaur socks pulled almost up to your knees it drives Daddy insane. And for some reason just makes me laugh. say the sweetest things when you go to bed at night. "I love you to everything I know...all the stars...all the planets and back again." You often tell us to "have a happy night!" as you are walking back up the stairs with your cup of water that you just realized you had to have. And you always want your "trucky" light on and your door open "this much" - (visualize me pinching my fingers together about an inch and a half).

...I can't believe that my baby boy is starting Kindergarten in a few weeks.

...I love you more than you can ever imagine!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Because we want them to learn geography while they brush their teeth.

The kid's bathroom is complete! Actually it has been for a while, but since we have no less than a million things going on at once around here, I have not had a chance to blog about it.

I cannot believe what a difference a coat of paint (or many coats of paint in this case) make in a room. That bathroom went from complete Vanilla to Chocolate Cherry Garcia in a matter of days. By the way if anyone knows if they still make and sell Chocolate Cherry Garcia let me know. Not that I need to be sitting in front of The Food Network chugging down a pint of that, but man is it yummy!

Back to the bathroom. Two different shades of blue that compliment the shower curtain that I purchased YEARS ago and the map of the world that I found at a yard sale around the corner. While at Target purchasing the towel racks that I decided we needed, I spotted the white towels with the circle trim that perfectly matches our wall colors. Plus I thought the circles worked with the whole globe/world theme.

I just realized that the Longaberger basket holding the extra toilet paper really does nothing for the room, so I will be on the lookout for something else to put in that space.

While at IKEA the other day I found some document size frames in the exact same colors of our paint. I grabbed them up immediately because my idea for the rest of the artwork in the room was to have the kids draw their own versions of maps that we could hang on the wall. Talk about having a hankerin' for meatballs at the right time!

Can you tell that I have just about reached my ability to function at a sane level for the day?

So that is our first completed project of the summer and I am so happy with how it all came together and turned out. The lockers just received their finish coat of paint today and tomorrows agenda includes touching up the walls. The next thing will be to find the hooks I want to use to hang the stuff in the lockers. So they most likely will not be officially complete until next week since we are once again packing our bags and heading out for a few days.

I inadvertently started on yet another new project this evening. I was trying to pick up/put away/organize the toys in the basement. Trent was down there the other day and made a good dent. Tonight I found out why.

Think big Rubbermaid tubs filled with random parts after part after part.

Toys bring out some OCD in me. I need them to be with their parts. Last summer before our yard sale (almost exactly one year ago), I went through the whole basement, the kid's rooms and every toy box in the house. Everything was where it was supposed to be. Random parts were disposed of. Stuff was sold. It was wonderful. All good things must come to an end I suppose, and believe me - I have seen the end. The sorting will soon commence.

I remember feeling so optimistic at the beginning of this summer break that with Trent home I would be able to get so many things accomplished and crossed off of my to do list. Aside from the bathroom and the lockers being crossed off, I think stuff has just been added. I guess that is the price you pay for being active and enjoying time together. The piles aren't going anywhere - I will get to them someday.

Photo note: The pictures in this post do not do the bathroom justice. The colors look much better in real life. The lighting in the bathroom is atrocious and with the giant mirror...hello reflection....there is not too much I can do to remedy it.