Friday, January 30, 2009

A Few Photography ...... tips?

I cringe as I type the word "tips", since I don't feel informed enough to give them, but I can't think of another word. Every day I learn something new and realize I've been doing so many things terribly wrong. There's SOOO much I don't know. And everything I DO know, I've learned from you. Lots of you online. Especially Allie, who I'm probably starting to freak out by how often I mention her. On one hand, it doesn't feel quite right to offer tips as if they're mine to offer, but on the other, I remember how GRATEFUL I was that Sarie would talk camera with me, and Allie would take the time to post all sorts of tutorials. So I'm going to do just a few "this is what I do"s... since I've had a few comments over the course of -- a while--- that have asked.

CAMERA-- I use a Nikon D40, but if I were starting over, I might buy a Canon or invest in an even nicer Nikon just so I would have more lens options. I didn't realize that all the magic is in the lens.

LENSES-- I have an average 18-55 mm lens that I really almost NEVER use, a 55-200 mm zoom that I rarely use, and my prime, 30mm f/1.4 that I almost always use. (It's a Sigma lens because Nikon doesn't make one that will Auto Focus with the D40, which is really sad because the one they make that's f/1.8 is like $100 and the Sigma is like $400. I know. You'll want to throw up even worse when you realize just how bad you want it.)

THE PRIME LENS-- Allie sold me on that just a few months after I had my camera and felt frustrated that my pictures were not coming out like magic yet. I knew there was a lot to learn and "talent" to acquire or whatever, but I was grateful when she said a lot of the "bright" and "sharp" magic comes from the lens. The "prime" or "portrait" or "fixed focal length" lens. Those are all the names I've heard it called. The magic is the f-stop, which describes the aperture. The lower the f-stop, the wider the aperture. The wider the aperture, the more light is let into your photo (without giving you that ridiculously slow shutter speed that turns the whole picture to blur) the more light in you photo means the brighter and sharper your pictures. It also means you can capture photos (without your ugly flash) in lower light situations, inside, or later in the day etc..... gives you more options. Also, (and I hope I describe this correctly) when you have the f-stop turned all the way down to 1.4 (or as low as yours goes) has a shorter "depth of field" which means the area it focuses on is smaller. WHICH means, yes you want to make certain you are focusing on the right thing, (usually the eyes, toes or lollipop or whatever other thing you want to accentuate) because the rest will most likely be less in focus, the background, totally out of focus. Which we all love. Allie called that bokeh... sounds like it should be a marshan word in Backyardigans now that I'm writing it doesn't it Allie? ... never mind, that's Boinga.

P.S. ABOUT THE PRIME LENS-- I forget that when I first got it, it was such an adjustment because it DOESN'T zoom. That's the whole "fixed focal length" thing. That's why mine is a 30mm. And not like a 30-85mm... or any other range. That's WHY it can do what it does. Allie said... that someone else said.... that's why it's so good at what it does, isn't trying to do too much at once. Because of that, that number is important. Because if you want to be closer or farther, you can't just twist the lens, you twist your bottom... closer or farther. I think I would prefer a 50mm so my pictures could be closer (The minimum focusing distance makes it so it won't focus if you get too close so I can't do those baby lip shots or anything), but this is the only prime lens that I found that will auto focus with my camera. The D40 apparently doesn't have the AF in the body, it needs to have it in the lens... blah blah blah.

MODE-- Because it's all about that low f-stop, I shoot in Aperture mode (turn the little dial to the A) and usually keep it turned all the way down if I'm shooting just ONE set of eyes. If there are more in the picture (this took me a while to really remember to do) then I turn it up so there won't be a bunch of blurry faces.

OTHER SETTINGS-- hmmm... the only things I really change often are my aperture: (if you're in A mode you can just turn it up and down using that little dial where you're right thumb is (it's like that dial you had to advance between pictures on disposable cameras), and ISO. If there's plenty of light I keep it at 200 or 400. If there's less, 800 and sometimes 1600. 1600 is also good if your kids aren't sitting still enough. It takes it faster. But the higher your ISO the grainier your picture. 400 is probably average for me. But I would way rather turn it all the way to 1600 and get a little "noise" on my picture, then turn on that ugly flash. Because honestly... one of the first tip-posts I read on Allie's blog said:

-- and I'm embarrassed to say that I really don't think I'd realized the flash was a no no. I mean it has it's place, and those fancy flashes that bounce the light around so they don't flash right on people's faces are much better, but if you don't NEED it, the natural light sure creates a prettier picture. Here's a quick reminder of the difference. Notice the depth of field... the curtain all in focus in the first, (the ugly shadow behind the chair) and the blurred background in the second? And a view of what I'm looking at right this very minute in case you were curious.

Where was I? I think maybe that's it for now. Hopefully I've stopped before I've given any really POOR advice.
Oh wait! Editing! I do do some post-processing.... Picasa which is free and SO easy to use (you can just download it online) and a few things I learned from Allie in Photoshop.... I think that's for another day though... naptime is coming to a close far too soon...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Baby Kennedy 4 1/2 weeks

PS DSC_0111 PS DSC_0136PS DSC_0065-1
PS DSC_0327
PS DSC_0174
PS DSC_0227
PS DSC_0265
PS DSC_0276
PS DSC_0046 PS DSC_0366

I'm in love.

They call it Yogurt Island. There's like a dozen flavors of yogurt and like a million toppings. You can put as much or as LITTLE of as MANY goodies as you like on as many flavors of yogurt as you like and when you get to the front to weigh it--- it's like 3 dollars! You don't have to share with your kids to keep them from getting a ton, you can just make them a mini serving in the gargantuan cup they give you. It's all part of the fun. You can go tart, or normal, fruity or candy-y, or brownie-y, or ... what the heck, waffle-y. I don't know what you do with a real waffle but they have 'em. They have everything you could think of. And believe me. When it comes to my ice cream, I think of everything.

Here's a normal night at home BEFORE yogurt-island:

Ross: "Are you still making your ice cream? What are you putting in it tonight?"

Lillie: "Still working on it, but so far, milk, honey bunches of oats, hot fudge, a little smear of peanut butter, banana, ..... but it needs something else..."

and then I hear that cell phone commercial where the italian guy is like "these are the Caloreos-- my family--- " (or something like that)

and upon hearing "Caloreos" I think AHA!

"and some of those left over oreos from your birthday cake! Perfect."

So when we ventured to the new "u-create" yogurt joint the other night without me knowing what was in store, I could have never guessed I'd find such a large chunk of heaven right here in the desert. It's like it was made for me. It's 10:45 am.... do you think it's too early in the day..... never mind.
P.S. (for Lisa) it's next to Rubios in La Quinta, and it's 39 cents/oz no matter WHAT you get.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bailey Kids

ps DSC_0181PS DSC_0194PS DSC_0340

I got to get a little more practice yesterday on my friend, Shea's cute kids. Check out the eyelashes on their little Noah! He was miserable until they found an orange tree-- so yes, he's gnawing on a dirty orange rinde in most of them. Whatever keeps 'em happy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

For The Record

PS DSC_0145-2

I got this link from Allie, the photo-friend I always talk about. This photographer, Brenda takes a lot of photos on this seamless paper--- I found it pretty affordable online so I thought I'd try it out. What I didn't realize was that I think you're supposed to have the fancy, expensive stand to hang the roll of paper from. So I have it draped over my dining hutch, pinned down by a really heavy plant pot, and cascading over my dining table. It's a mess, especially now that Mila smeared her bribery-cookies all over it. And of course I love how Brenda does it, but I wonder if it can just look a little cheesy and too studio-y when you don't really know what you're doing and just try your best to copy people who do. :) Either way though, a fun, new toy. I'm sure you'll see more.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Did I mention Ross had a birthday?

(I bet you didn't think I'd copy you this soon Missy.) She did a list of a 100 things for their anniversary which falls on the same day as Ross' birthday. January 17th. I couldn't help myself. In honor of my hubby's 31 years on this earth, here it is, 31 things about him.
1. He shares his food with me, even if it's the last good bite.
2. He LOVES being a daddy.
3. He remembers our love story better than me.
4. He's really strong, and sees every chance to do the heavy lifting as a workout.
5. He's still "72 and sunny"-- just like his parents always said.
6. He has broad shoulders.
7. And a great jaw.
8. He gives killer talks in church.
9. He loves golf, basketball, wake boarding and surfing... and anything active really...
10. He doesn't swear.
11. He flosses every night.
12. And plays games with me even though I'm overly competitive and a little bit mean when I play.
13. He sings to the girls.
14. And has nearly perfect feet. I happen to like feet.
15. He thinks I'm funny.
16. And reads my blog.
17. He appreciates the work I do all day, and tells me I'm a good mom.
18. He wants to learn to play the piano.
19. He's a self-proclaimed family man.
20. He works harder than most people.
21. He likes healthy food and probably would only eat healthy if I didn't bake treats so often.
22. He speaks Portuguese beautifully.
23. He keeps chivalry alive. Opened my door until I finally told him I'd rather him start the car and have the air-conditioning going sooner.
24. He's inherently good. One of those. Born to fight for the good guys.
25. He hates olives.
26. And likes vanilla-based ice creams
27. and snickers cheesecake
28. He cries when his girls do something precious.
29. He's a horrible liar, and I can spot the smirk a mile away when he is. First time I saw it was when he tried to fake the "oh hey didn't see you there" at BYU when I knew he'd seen me minutes before and was nonchalantly waiting for me to exit the library and 'run into' him.
30. He looks really cute in that white jumpsuit and hat he has to wear during my c-sections... I don't know if it's because I don't have to suffer labor pains and find someone to blame for them, but my love for him felt bigger than ever on those two occasions. I can still see him in my mind's eye.
31. He loves ME.

A few birthday pictures: his present- the keyboard--a storeable, affordable, quiet way to learn the piano, we're hoping, we played a little American Idol and Guitar Hero with some friends... (and TOTALLY need a Wii now) and Ross' parents drove down his NEW CAR! Goodbye 95 Acura Integra-- I've known you as long as I've known my husband. We've seen some good times-- but you will not be missed.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


-- The first offense: On a usual early morning, Sophia begrudgingly goes downstairs by herself after her futile attempts to get mom out of bed. Mom comes down a little later to find Sophia on the couch with a full carton of ice cream and a spoon--- digging in....

--Second offense: It happens again, only this time she's had the lecture that ice cream is not for breakfast and it's not ok to sneak down and eat junk food at any time of day and ESPECIALLY not first thing in the morning and especially especially not on Mommy's couch. So this time the scene is changed only subtly with her shoveling the spoonfuls in faster as I approach all the while saying "sorry mommy, I didn't mean to.... sorry mommy, I didn't mean to".... repeat, repeat.
(I realize I should put the ice cream far far away in the outside freezer to eliminate the temptation and so I do.)

-- Third offense: She goes downstairs ... quite happily by now, in fact I'd venture to say she tip toes past me trying NOT to awake me. I know she's gone, but my sleeping monster side is stronger than my good-mom-who-doesn't-want-daughter-to-stuff-face-with-junk-at-6 am side. She comes back up a few minutes later.... looking pretty good and says "I washed my hands all by myself!" We go down.... no signs of anything fishy, except for maybe a stool that's been dragged into the pantry. Hmm. ............................................ until like 4 hours later I find my peanut butter malt balls in my freezer (where they don't belong) with the lid off, and the chocolate coating nibbled off.... little deformed naked malt balls. That's what she left me. She was at preschool so I couldn't even scold.

-- Fourth offense ( I think. I may have missed a couple- it's out of control). Starts out the same. Only Ross gets out of the shower early enough to realize that she's snuck downstairs while I fell back asleep and he goes down to find her on the couch with one sucker in her left hand, FOUR in her right. All unwrapped. She's eating 5 suckers at once. WHY??? just because she can. Because she's found my weakness. She knows I'm lacking all ambition and drive and parental-decision-making-capabilities and strength in my legs at 6 am (ok, sometimes a lot later Ross, but the hour is really neither here nor there. (I've never really understood that phrase)??) The morning is not my strong suit. And I totally believe what they say about every successful person waking early. I know it's good for you-- "early to bed early to rise".... it's on the list. (The resolutions of course). But I've got a ways to go. I don't take responsibility for personality traits exposed before 7 (sometimes 8 shhhh). I'm not me. I don't think my sleep is more important than my daughter's healthful habits, but I'm not in a state of mind to make that decision in the wee hours.

So I feel like we've hid everything (Oh and I didn't even KNOW we had suckers in our pantry. She's like a hound dog. She sniffed those suckers out from some nasty old Halloween stash in the back corner where nobody goes.) If there's anything incredibly processed, refined, and filled with high fructose corn syrup, she'll seek after those things. ;)

-- Then there was the mini-mint-ice cream sandwiches from Trader Joe's in the freezer that I found a day later with the cookies nibbled off the ice cream.

--- The box of candy canes she had sprawled out on the couch when I came down from my shower and she THOUGHT she was eating them but they were still wrapped. Phew. She seemed a little confused/disappointed at the taste.

-- 7th or 8th offense: Ross and I are both home and awake (she's gettin' cocky) just occupied upstairs when we realize that she's been awfully quiet for a while until we hear "Help! Help! I'm stuck!"... and run down to find her SCALING the pantry shelves and stuck like a little monkey with her arms and legs wrapped around that middle post (picture the center of the V-shaped pantry) toward the TOP of the pantry. Her stool had been pulled in to give her a boost of course. ( I had moved the nap-time-treat bowl to the back of the very top shelf). Ok. That's it. We put a child-lock on the outside of the pantry door (which is very annoying when I have a little bit of oil or flour on my hands and it becomes adult-proof-- but obviously needed.

--And then there's this morning: the latest and oh-how-I-want-to-say "final" offense:
We had some delicious, big, chunky, rich, frosted brownies left over from last night on our counter. I knew it was dangerous, so I hid them in a bag in the corner and camouflaged them with a kitchen towel. Now that I'm putting this all in writing I sound like an idiot. It all sounds so obvious, like I'm leaving honey out for a bear. And sure enough. She comes back up, (that's right... I don't even know now that she ever goes downstairs, so discreet), and she says "I washed my hands and my face all by myself!". So I'm running through all the things it could be while Ross goes down to asess the damage. And there is indeed a LARGE hole where a brownie used to be on the plate. She has eaten honestly a fist-sized, RICH, decadent, frosted brownie for breakfast. And I'm pretty sure that her record breaking obnoxious behavior for the few hours there after (one of which was at church) ... was due to that sugar OVERLOAD.

And that's it. We're done. Drastic measures must be taken. My daughter is ADDICTED to sugar. Remember how ALL she wanted from Santa was a lolli pop. And she got it, and it really is still the only thing she remembers getting. Am I such an emotional eater that I've already made my daughter that emotionally attached to her favorite foods?! I want so badly for her to eat healthy. I thought I tried so hard when she was younger to give her healthy habits. But then as she got a little older there were exceptions here and there. Birthday parties, meeting friends at McDonald's, Sunday baking that feels so good and homey... but always ends in my little helper screaming at me for more more MORE! It's a drug--- I tell you. It brings a little bit of happiness and then a whole bunch of bad aftermath. In her behavior, and my love handles. Oh what's a mama to do? Am I really going to have to cleanse our house from top to bottom of all things treat??

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Our Mila

PS DSC_0062
PS DSC_0087_edited-1

She's 14 months next week and I want to say she's finally officially walking! But I don't know if I can. She still prefers to crawl since she can get there faster, falls a lot when she does walk, and takes big steps with one foot and little ones with the other so she sort of walks in circles, but she's almost there! Can get from one side of the room to the other and looks SOO cute doing it, clapping for herself after every couple of steps... which results in the falling.... you get it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I knew I should have worn make-up.

Some thing's wrong with me. I think I've lost my identity. I noticed something about myself last night. Let me start over.

We've got a new 24hr fitness in town and I thought I'd try it out on their 7 day free pass. So I printed one up, figured it worked starting from the first day I took it in. I forgot to read the fine print.

They let me in when I got there. It was 7pm so I was flying solo.... Ross at home with the girls. Now my real need is to try out the gym WITH the girls so we can do the whole routine with the kids club that looks so cool, errands after, and see if it fits better in our lives than Golds. They hold my licence hostage so I can't leave afterwards and when I'm done of course I have to wait around for the sales agent. It ends up the membership manager is the one who leads me over to a table and as we walk, asks if someone has already gone over prices with me. I'm honest and confess that I have heard prices but that if I join I'll of course be joining through Costco where it's $300 for 2 years. What like $12 a month?? Can't beat that.

Of course they don't get paid when we join that way and his face makes that pretty clear. Then he turns around and says "well you better hurry up and buy it if you hope to come back because this pass has expired"

"oh no-- I thought it started when I came in"
"nope" with those raised brows like, 'too bad so sad'
"well, my real reason in printing out the pass was so I could come with my kids and see how they liked it"
"oh, they'll like it."
"But I'd really like to make sure. You know, see if I like the girls that work in the kids club and all of that."

He shrugs, and his shoulders say to me "not my prob girl! --- the pass has expired-- end of convo-- Take your costco-shopping, gym-pass-mooching, work-out-needing booty outta here!(his shoulders are totally ghetto.)
"So there's nothing you can do for me? Seriously? I thought the pass worked for a week-- I wouldn't have printed it up if I'd realized...."
"You want more free stuff??? You already used your free stuff."

and then I'm a little offended and with a very perplexed slash annoyed look on my face (I'm sure)

"I guess I just figured that the two years of my membership would be worth the extra hour or two of our visiting your gym to decide. I figured that was the whole point of the 7-day pass. Not actually just to trick people into using just a day of it."

"Really?" (he says all sassy like I would in an argument just like this which really threw me off since a: HE's the one that works there and b: he's like a 50 year old man with a mustache and bald head) "Really, you're gonna do this?"

And then I made this face. You can't see it... but I can't help but make it even as I type this because I was and am still so confused that we were so blatantly arguing.... and that I could have sworn any second he was going to push my shoulders back with something original like "step up". And I'm very uncertain if our voices were raised of if people were watching. It's all a blur now. So I just looked at him with my mouth agape I'm sure and my eyes wide like.... where did I go wrong that he's treating me like some teenage BOY trying to milk a free pass. I'm going to join your stinking gym. I'm a grown up. I pay my bills. I have food storage. I'm always a member of a gym. I'm a member of one now--- I don't NEED your stinking free pass.... and did I mention, I'm FEMALE??? Aren't you supposed to be nice to me? innately? I'm nice! I have a very warm inviting smile! are you dead inside??!

I'm afraid to reread because I'm sure it sounds so much sillier than it was. Or worse, not silly at all and sort of just not worth telling. But somehow it was all so traumatic. Even brought the waterworks off and on through the rest of my night. It happened on a bad day of the month (sorry) so perhaps my hormones were bonkers... maybe I'm the crazy lady and he's a nice professional. Maybe I was ruder than I thought. But that's the worst part! I felt so unsure when I left if the whole sales staff thinks I'm one of those trouble customers... a rude "lady."

And this is where I've lost my identity. I've realized that when I go places with my kids.... I'm a young fun mom. Or I like to tell myself so. People smile at me because of my cute kids and I smile back. I have an excuse for all things disheveled, an excuse for my tummy, I'm in a very clear, respected genre (again... or at least I tell myself.)

When I'm out without my kids? I'm not so sure anymore. I've just realized that I don't get the pleasant glances I did when I was that "younger-cute" of my pre-baby days. I'm convinced it was different, even from women, kids, everyone.... I felt like I got a lot of smiles when I was younger. Now when I'm alone, I'm don't have enough fresh-young-cute to elicit friendly faces on my own, but I don't have my sweet girls to get them for me.... or maybe it's all just me and I'm so grateful for the peace and quiet of being alone that I don't interact with anyone... or I've forgotten how to be social and just stare at the floor. Hmpf. All I know is I've lost somethin'.

And then I wonder, who DO I look like on my own? I sort of feel all mommy. But I sort of feel just like I did when I was like 17? Can people tell just by looking at me that I'm a mom? Have I already reached that stage of life? I mean it's WONDERFUL. And when I'm with my kids I'm bursting with pride. So I should want people to get my mommy-vibe even when I'm without them, right? Without that, I'm not so sure where I fit, but if they can see it without the kids there... well what does that say??? "That tummy... those blood shot eyes.... that mystery smear on her shoulder she doesn't know is there? Definitely a mommy."

So I'm not sure what I want. And I know I'm all over the place. But thanks for the therapy session.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

New Years Eve--- again

I know I'm posting like a madwoman, but I just want to get it all down and documented so I can blog whatever I want. I got Joe to send me these pictures from their camera... so I'm tacking 'em on. Here's the group: Taylor, Brooke, Paul Nobman, Ross and me, Joe and Lacy, Mimi and my Dad, and Paul's Susie. Put a group like this together and you get a wonderful smorgasbord of a conversation about ortho, politics, the economy, the church, near beer and babies. Good company.

This was the first time we heard the WONDERFUL news of their engagement.

Ross and his seesta, Brooke.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

ParTAY at ma- HOUSE!

So this was the "party with dad for the holidays" party we had after New Years. Everyone came out from SD on Friday and hung at our house for the day over burgers and a very important announcement..... These two are getting married!!! This is my dad making the announcement:

These are some reactions to it:
Kim was all smiles.
Byron-- SHOCKED. ;)

Cannon couldn't even contain himself.

Melisa? So pleasantly surprised. And perhaps already dreaming about the trip to Sanoma for the wedding-- she's had to watch her wine intake with the new baby. Do you see that distant dream in her eye?

Lacy (she found out when I did, over our new years eve dinner, so this is her reenactment of shock). I know I know she looks a bit scared. But rest assured, she's SO excited. Mostly for my dad and Mary-Beth, but also at the prospect of coming out again so soon. June is the plan.

Here's almost everyone that was there, except for my family. Me: holding the camera, Ross: golfing with a prospect (boooooh jk Ross, I get it), Mila: napping, Sophia: apparently from the next picture which happened moments after this was snapped, she was on the potty- after which she has a hard time pulling these jeans back up.

Everyone got a pretty good kick out of this. I wish I had thought to turn the camera around on the reaction.

Back to reality now and just fighting some gnarly sinus infection, dealing with grumpy sick kids... and Ross' busy late-night work schedule, ... missing these family-filled days.