Sunday, November 29, 2009

Catching Up!

I have not had the chance to sit down and blog in over a week now, and I feel like there is so much catching up to do!  In the last week we have attended a wedding of a young man I used to babysit for, (almost) completely potty trained Jaden for good (wahoo!!), had 2 photoshoots, had great friends over for dinner, Micah had his Harvest Party and performance at school, we went to Disneyland, signed the least on our house for the next year (yeah!), spent Thanksgiving at 2 different family's houses in one day, and then the next day went to my parent's house for 2 days.  We got back last night around 8pm and got up early to go to church this morning, then came home and decorated the outside of the house for Christmas!  Wow - it is exhausting just writing all of that!

While I will not go into every detail of the above-said events, I want to share some of my favorite photos from this week with you:

From the wedding - this was the son of my youth pastor & his wife, who is now 18 years old.  I used to babysit this boy and lived with his family for a summer.  This is the first young man I have watched grow up before my eyes and get married.  Nothing will make you feel old like that kind of wedding! :)  It was so great seeing many people we had not seen in years.  I think weddings like these must be a glimpse of what heaven will be like; everyone you love in one room - it made my heart smile.  (Pardon the bad picture quality; I only brought my small pocket camera and was so regretting that I did not have my good camera!!)

From photoshoot #1 - This is one of my new favorite pictures.  I experimented in Photoshop by writing Emily's name below her photo, and I just LOVE it!   I think I want to do more of these in the future.

From Photoshoot #2- I have been taking pictures of this young man since he was a newborn.  He is wearing the same suit that his dad wore for his 4 year old pictures.  I thought it would be fun to pose him as a business man :)

From Disneyland:Micah pulled me over and said "Mommy look! A gopher!!" He pointed to Chip :) So cute-

Jaden wanted to meet every character we saw, and especially loved Woody and Mrs.Clause. She asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said "A Thomas DVD".

From Thanksgiving Day at my Aunt Ann's place:

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I look forward to reading all of your stories too!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Winners!!

Those of you who entered my necklace giveaway are so patient, waiting over a week to hear who won!!

I decided to choose three winners - one for a custom made Scrabble tile necklace set, one for the Design Charms, and one for the Pendants. I used to select the numbers, and here are the winners:
The winner of the Scrabble Tile Pendants is Jennifer R!  Jennifer, please leave me a comment with your email address (or send me a message through my profile) and I will contact you about your custom Scrabble Tile pendants!

The winner of a design charm is MINDY!  Congratulations Mindy! Now you've won 4 blogging contests in the last month!! :)  You can choose any one of these (whichever one you choose will have a sterling silver necklace loop):

The winner of a pendant is Heather Jo!!  You can choose any one of these:

Thanks to all of you who entered, and thanks to everyone who reads my blog! It warms my heart to see all of your kind hearted comments and love!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait.

There are a few things I really need right now.  It is frustrating not having the money just to go out and buy them.  I've noticed that when I really need things,  they seem to pile up at one time.  Something breaks, then something else breaks, and pretty soon you're surrounded by broken stuff.   With Christmas right around the corner, we are bombarded by ads telling us what we need and I totally get sucked in.  Here are some of the things I "need" right now:

A new refrigerator.  We do have one, mind you, but I am mad at it right now.  It is a side-by-side refrigerator that has really narrow aisles, so that everything is shoved in there and falls to the floor when I open the door. Ugh!

New dining room chairs.  Here.  Let me illustrate:

(yes, this is what you might call a "reupholster hack job" that I did myself - the cushions are glued to the wood and do not come off).

New clothes.  Yesterday I looked at my outfit and realized that everything I had on was either a hand-me-down, or I got it at Goodwill.  Today I wear a shirt from the "Trash to Treasure" table at MOPS.  Come on, a girl needs some new clothes every once in awhile!!

A Wii Fit.  No really, I need this!! So that I will be motivated to exercise!  Right??!!

A new camera lens.  This should probably be at the top of my list.  I only have one working lens right now and I have a business to run, for pete's sake!

BUT, I have learned in my life that sometimes waiting brings rewards. Good things come to those who wait. We have often waited until the very last minute to buy something we need, until we have saved up enough to get it, and I have done mountains of research to be sure we get the best deal for our money. I really believe that God blesses our desire to be frugal, and when you honor Him with your money, and tithe, the blessings pour on out. Here are a few things we have needed, waited for, and received. For FREE:

This beauty. This is the 3rd car given to us in the past 10 years, and this was a direct answer to prayer. Before we received it, I was pregnant with Jaden and we knew our old car (also a gift) could not handle both car seats (and was starting to break down). This car was a gift from someone at church, who got it detailed, put new tires on it, and had a complete inspection with all repairs paid for right before we got it. By far this has been one of the biggest blessings in our lives.

My ipod. I really wanted one, but didn't have the money, and then I WON one from a blogging contest!!

Our new mini-netbook. We have always wanted a laptop, and have really needed one at times (but have borrowed from willing friends instead when necessary). This came yesterday, free as part of our new phone service contract. We are so excited!!!

There is really no trick to getting things for free- the bottom line is, if we would have purchased these items when we first wanted them, we probably would have never gotten them for free later. There are plenty of things that we still need and probably won't get for free, but I am just reminded that waiting can be worth it. What are you waiting for?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Potty Disaster

A week ago I took this picture and thought "nothing could be cuter than this little butt in underwear!" Sigh. What was I thinking?

It has been over a week now since we "potty trained" Jaden. I use that term loosely, because I'm not quite sure if that's the right wording for what has occurred.

You see, Jaden loves going pee on the potty. Every time I take him, he aims, he shoots, he scores! He loves to put loads of toilet paper in the toilet and watch it flush. He even bypassed the small "Winnie the Pooh" potty and went straight for the big throne. The problem is, if we don't intentionally take him, he has accidents all throughout the day.

And then there's #2. If you're reading this far, you probably don't mind if I go there, right?! :) Okay, then. He has gone #2 twice on the potty, in the first 2 days we trained him. Since then, he only prefers to go in his underwear. Or a diaper, if we'll put it on him. So we have been daily cleaning, scrubbing, giving baths, and doing tons of laundry because of this habit. Today I almost lost it. It was so disgusting I almost threw up. I do not know HOW you moms who cloth-diapered DO IT!! I am amazed by your tenacity, your gusto, your patience, your virtue. Again I was reminded today why I chose to pollute the environment with more disposable diapers.

After 4 years of constant diapers, I am OVER IT. This child will NOT go back into diapers! (Well, unless it's #2 - then go for it). I am over the $40-50 a month, the late night diaper runs when we run out, the smell of diapers that lingers in my house. But I'm not really sure where we go from here. Micah took a year to potty train. Yes, you read that right. So this is all new territory to me. Do we let Jaden continue using diapers to do his business? Or do we daily endure the torture of cleaning filthy poopy underwear? I am leaning towards the diaper option for his duty (I mean, "doody").

So, our diaper days are not completely over yet.  I did buy a small package today, which he will only wear once a day and overnight.  And if we go on a long trip.  And maybe if we go to church.  You get the idea.  We are not accident-free just yet.  But we are on the way!

Autumn Beauty- I Heart Faces

My friend Heather introduced me to this blog for photo buffs - this week's theme is "Autumn Beauty".  This is the first time I have ever entered, but right when I saw the theme, this photo of Jaden came to mind.  We don't often see fall leaves in Southern California, but we were blessed with a few trees that changed colors close to our house. But the BEST part? His cute smile!!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Love My Job...And Lightroom!!

Today I had a photo session at the beach. Beach sessions always make me nervous because I have to work with the elements: wind, direct sun, shadows on faces and people in the background. You just never know how it's going to go until you get there. I got to work with a delightful family who had two of the most beautiful kids you have ever seen! (But since they have not even seen their photos yet, I'm not going to show their faces yet) :)

My favorite part of my job is actually not the taking of the photos, although that can be very fun. My favorite part is coming home and editing the photos one by one. I go through each picture, selecting the very best ones, and then get to work. I typically shoot 200-300 photos and it takes me about 3-4 hours from beginning to end to edit my favorite 100 or so. Lightroom has become my best friend. I used to love Photoshop, and still use it for touching up, but I definitely love Lightroom's amazing presets for transforming photos.

This has been my stay-at-home job for over 4 years now. My brother continues to shoot weddings, and sends me a disk of around 3000 images. I select about 700 and go to town making them the best they can be. (Visit this page if you want to see what I do with them).

For anyone out there who is a beginning photographer (or does not use Lightroom), let me show you its amazing abilities:

Raw Picture (not amazing):

Edit #1 (Lightroom - although I took the person in the bg out with Photoshop):

Edit #2:

Edit #3:

Edit #4 (you can isolate colors so just the blue stands out):

Edit #5:

Edit #6 (this one is a preset I used in Photoshop- adds a little blur and softens it up a bit):

Edit #7 (this is also a preset I used in Photoshop):

You can find a lot of presets for both Lightroom and Photoshop for free online, just by searching for them. My favorite Lightroom presets are the WOW PhotoPresets (for free) which I used above, as well as the X-equals set. Check out more free presets here.

I'm curious to know which one you like the best. They all have different tones but I tend to always gravitate towards the tones in edit #2 and #6.  I do use #7 in editing a lot as well, especially for brides that want some pictures to look more vintage.

Hope the editing tips helped those of you who love to take and edit pictures!! :)

And now...I need your help:
I'm thinking of trying to focus my blog more.  I just can't decide between: home & kids (that comes most naturally), photography, lactation counseling (tips for nursing mothers, etc.), ministry & devotionals, or recipes.  I want to write about all of these things but think it might be going in 100 different directions. What are your thoughts and what do you like to read about?  Maybe in the near year I can get a new blog format with "sections" and file things accordingly...just thinking it all through and would appreciate your input!  :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

200th Post Giveaway!

To celebrate my 200th post as a blogger, I am doing a necklace giveaway!! You may remember my blog about Scrabble Tile Necklaces - this week's lucky winner will receive her choice of one of the following types of necklaces:

Scrabble Tile Necklace Charms - you can choose either one design charm, or up to 4 picture charms (for those of you who have 1-4 children)
Pendant Charms
See below for photos:

Design Charms (I can custom make these too if you have a certain picture or graphic on your computer that you would like to use):

Picture Charms:

Pendant Charms:

The winner will get to choose one type of the above charms. If you choose the picture charms, you do receive up to 4 charms, but only if they are your own children :) This contest will stay open until Wednesday, Nov. 18th. Spread the word if you can, and depending on how many entries I receive, I will pull more than one name for over 10 entries. Good luck!! :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Not Me Monday!

This week, I did NOT go to the mall with my family, only to run into another family we hadn't seen in a long time, only to come home and find that the entire night I had been walking around with only ONE large silver hoop earring in my ear. Not me!! I always double check my appearance before heading outside, especially after a long nap!

This week, I did NOT find Micah up in his room at 3:30am, giggling and eating candy in his bed. He did NOT stay awake the entire rest of the early morning hours, keeping the rest of us awake as well. Last night, I did NOT find BOTH Micah AND Jaden up at 3:30am AGAIN, giggling and eating candy in Jaden's bed, with every light in the house on. Not in my house!! I always hear my children in the middle of the night, especially when they are having PARTIES without me!!

This week, I have NOT been consuming every. last. piece. of Halloween candy we have in this house. I have NOT restarted my diet every single day since November 1st. I have NOT set an example for my sons that might make them want to get up in the middle of the night and consume Halloween leftovers! Not me!! I don't eat sugar!!

This week, we did NOT decide to potty train Jaden, spur of the moment, since Micah was sick anyway and we knew we'd be stuck at home for at least 3 days. We don't take advantage of sick kids in my house!!

This morning, Martin and I did NOT get on both computers at exactly 10:00am to buy U2 tickets, thinking we could "outsmart" Ticketmaster by being on separate computers. We did NOT obsessively attempt to buy tickets for 20 minutes straight, and in the end (for real) did not end up with tickets :(

And lastly, this is NOT my 200th post today, which I promised would be a giveaway! I still need to take pictures of my next giveaway, and hope to have it up by tomorrow night! Stay tuned; I'll give you a hint - it is jewelry!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Harvest Happenings

Here is what has been happening in our neck of the woods lately:

-Me. Dentist Appointment. Not a good combination. I needed 4 teeth filled (2 of them wisdom teeth). I had a hard time with the 4-6 shots the dentist gave me (I lost count), and I started tearing up, so the dental assistant sprayed a piece of Kleenex with lavendar spray and layed it over my face for a few minutes.  It immediately calmed me.  Who knew?!  (Oh yes, and now I have to go back because I seem to have an infection in one of those teeth - lovely.)

-Jaden.  Ear infection.  Double ear infection. Sinus infection.  Antibiotics.  6 nights with us in bed.  Need I say more?  Rough week.

-Micah. Ear check up.  Ears are clear of fluid and hearing is great!!!  Awesome news after having surgery 5 months ago.

-Due to Jaden's sickness, I had to cancel almost all of our "Harvest" plans all week.  But we did make it to a Harvest Party on Halloween, then a potluck, and then we trick-or-treated around our neighborhood. We have SO much candy left over, which has made for tantrums, cravings at odd times of day, and fighting.  Tomorrow it goes!!

We have a rather odd pumpkin patch near our house. Rather than try to explain, I think I'll just let the pictures speak louder than words:

Um, Ewwww, Gross:

But at least they had fun, right?

Trick or Treating

Batman and Thomas the Train had a great night!!