Sunday, May 31, 2009

Our Vacation

We finally took our family's first vacation this weekend. My plan was originally to go by myself with the kids and drive to Michigan to spend a week or two at my great-grandmother's cottage but it became pretty obvious that it wasn't going to work out - between Josiah being the all-boy handful that he is and our van developing an overheating issue it just wasn't going to work out. So we switched plans and decided to take a mini-vacation to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
We left on Friday after the big kids got out of school and arrived at our motel in the wee hours of the morning on Saturday. Between the late night caffeine, the sounds of the city night-life and a very uncomfy pillow - I slept for maybe two or three hours and woke to find my monthly gift had unexpectedly arrived! So after a quick trip to the mini-mart we hit the ocean and had a blast. It was the kid's first experience of the ocean and they enjoyed taking turns going out into deeper water with Mommy or Daddy and hunting for hermit crabs and sea shells.
Beth
Emma
Katie-Abigail
Josiah
We kept things simple and just ate PB&J while the kids rotated through the bathtub. I crashed with the little ones while Daniel took Beth out to explore the city a little. When he came home Emma was asleep so I took the awake kids into the kiddy pool. I could not watch three kids in a four to nine foot pool by myself in an unfamiliar area. I'm sure there are moms who can but I am just not one of them. After Emma woke up we she and Daniel joined us at the pool and I went to the van to get the floaties. While I was in the parking lot Katie-Abigail jumped right into the deep end of the pool and Daniel had to rescue her. It was VERY scary. Katie-Abigail was completely fine, just the usual sputter from getting a face full of water. I think it scared Daniel & I more than it scared her. We put water wings and floaty vests on the kids and tried again. Beth could have stayed in the pool for the rest of the day! But we wanted to hit the beach one more time before packing it up for the day. The ocean was very different in the afternoon than it had been in the morning, the waves were a lot bigger and I think the tide had gone out a little. The kids enjoyed collecting shells - we found some amazing ones! Mostly they threw them back into the ocean but Beth managed to save a big bag full. Emma decided she wanted to paint hers - what an interesting idea - so we'll probably do that tomorrow.

After cleaning up we went to Friendly's restaurant and set a new record for how much we have payed for a single meal, but it was SO good and included ice cream for all the kids.
These are all selfies taken on my little cell phone camera.
Daniel took this in the morning
In the morning we checked out an stopped at KrispyKreme doughnuts. I LOVE to buy them in the store now and then but there is not a store in our area. Doughnuts are the kids new favorite special day breakfast and it was so fun to let the kids each choose their own. I got the Chocolate glazed creme-filled and a New York Cheesecake doughnut -and it was worth every single calorie.

Such a short vacation, really just one day. But I think that's all the vacation Josiah could handle. He's EXHAUSTED! Poor little guy. It was a looong drive - only nine hours or so, but still - with four little kids - a long drive. I brought a Francine Rivers novel that my sister in-law lent me based on the story of Hosea. It was really hard to get through the first couple of chapters but I'm really enjoying it.
Today is the first day of the big kids' summer vacation. It's gone fine so far but the first day is usually the easiest. I taped a big calendar on the wall and put mini sticky notes on it with ideas for things to do. The girls' teachers gave them each lots of extra worksheets that we're going to do daily.
My goals for the summer is simple: spend time with my kids, gently work on their attitudes, get a hair cut and a tan. That's it. Everything else can wait. Oh, and as always there are more pictures on my Flickr site!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tiara

Yay! Another photgraphy post! My wrist has been bugging me and I haven't done near the amount of post-processing work in the last month that I would like to have done and so my photos sit languishing on my computer in neat little file folders beconing to be published here. ;)
So last Saturday I was able to do an early morning photoshoot with the adorable little Tiara a five month old Yorky puppy. She is just the cutest little thing, spunky and sweet. Not terrily cooperative though. I spent most of the session getting shots like this one:
DSC_1537(1) by you.
But I was able to get a few cute shots and I thought I'd share a couple of them here!
1514 (6) by you.

1633(2) by you.

1651(1) by you.

1642 by you.
I couldn't help myself - I converted it to black and white andput a texture on this one:

DSC_1654(4T3b) by you.
As always you can see a few more pics on my Flickr page.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

a little something to remember

I was browsing the Almasy Photo Blog and they were mentioning some of the vendors for the wedding they photographed Kelly's Closet is one that they mentioned. It's a website I really enjoyed browsing through and is a shop I want to stop by one day.
Okay... also here are some links to rock your world!
K.F.D. designs
O!Rachew!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

new post, new link, new photographer

Here it is her name is Amy S. and she's such a nice photographer with a really cute blog. She's got totally rad photos on flickr too!

Monday, May 18, 2009

yet more coupons!!

This was an AWESOME week to be clipping coupons. I could hardly believe how many awesome coupon and deals there are this week! Plus I found yet another coupon printing site!! You can print a few coupons at eatbetteramerica.com and if you sign up on kraftfoods.com you can get duplicate printable coupons from coupons.com which is great if you want another coupon for sliced cheese or salad dressing etc.
At Kroger they have a special - buy $15 in Huggies products and get $3 off! Plus I had a $3 off cellfire coupon plus a $3 off Manufacturers coupon! That totally rocks.
update - at Kroger they have a special on Oscar Meier Weiners - 4 for $5 I used two $1 off 2 coupons so I ended up paying about 75 cents per package for hot dogs!

Friday, May 15, 2009

more random stuff

I tried one of those Pepsi throwback drinks with only natural sugar. You know it's bad when on the nutrition label they show the serving as only half the bottle. The whole thing has 260 calories and 67 grams of sugar! Whereas the Pepsi I bought for Daniel has zero calories, zero carbs and zero grams of sugar. How the heck do they do that?! I guess the stuff is basically flavored aspartame water - which is kind of gross when you think about it but zero calories - now that is so tempting!

I'm registering my girls for ballet today (God willing) and they are SO excited!! I'm taking them to the local church's ballet program where prices for classes start at just $18 a month!! I'm hoping that the program will be serious enough, I don't want them to learn sloppy technique or anything. I've wanted to have them in dance class since Beth was was three but just couldn't afford it. I'm so happy about this!

I'm listening to a bunch of Brooke Fraiser songs on YouTube hmm, maybe I should check out her myspace page - I bet there's more there! Anyway, I heard her song "Shadowfeet" the one that goes "I'll be found in you" over and over - it's SO beautiful! I also LOVE the song "Faithful" one of my faves!

Petite Ballerina week two

I've finally finished processing the portrait section of last week's preschool ballet recital. This job went SO much better than the pevious one and the results are much better too!


This was actually the last girl of the session. It makes sense to start here, right? I have an insane number of awesome pics of this random little girl. But isn't she just the cutest little thing?!


She pretty much posed herself like this!


As I moved her to this spot her little brother came running to have his picture taken too!!


Grandma came runing with her camera to get in on the action and said "give her a hug"


Here's another sibling pic. This little girl's sister reminded me SO much of my K-A

0696(3) by you.
This little girl enjoyed being with me the most. After I was done with her she sat nearby and watched the next girl or two get her picture taken.

This little girl could be a model, she is so stinking photogenic!

0641 by you.
This was the first one of the shoot. She was such a babydoll :-)

0777(4) by you.
The location I picked for them to do their ballarina poses turned out to be less than ideal so I messed around quite a lot with processing tecniques - this is one with a soft focus. I also played around with creating a vignette by hand with a transparency brush - sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't! I created a dark layer and then brushed over the subject to reveal the lighter layer underneath. You can see a bunch more on my flickr site.

Here's one with a texture, which I always find to be a fine art! It's so stinking hard to get these right! I'm pretty satisfied with this one. I don't think it distracts from the ballerina too much. It was pretty quick and easy to apply.
I used a different texture on this and blended it with the transparency brush by hand. This is one of my best dark ones, I think.
Here's another textured one.
Here's one that is hand-tinted. Again, I used a transparency brush to get the tint. The top layer s B&W. Undeneath is the color image. I had the brush set at about 10% for the skin, %20 for the dress and about 70%for the details. This is the first one I've done by hand like this so I'd love to hear any comments/criticisms you might have of it.
Same girl - against that horrid wall. This time I think it worked.
One last one. This is that first blurred one (it was called a soft focus action, I think) with a textured overlay that replicates a vintage camera. I think this is a pretty nostalgic look and I can't help but love it. There are two versions of this on flickr - I'd love to know which one you like better.
It never ceases to amaze me when I take a photograph and take it a hundred miles from where I began turning it into something completely different.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Because I just can't help myself!!

So, I hope my few and faithful blog readers aren't totally sick of my new favorite topic - {frugaliciousness} doesn't it just look so cute in those brackets? Anyway, I figure everybody want to save money these days so when I find something awesome, or at least mildly interesting, I'll share it here!
I went grocery shopping for a week only spend $49!!! I just love those weeks. My menu plan for this week is really simple. I'm on a 15th to 15th schedule for when I get money for groceries so I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel a bit and also trying to save every quarter for our vacation (more about that in a sec) I'm making Hamburger helper (had a coupon for that) and Mac & cheese with chili (had a coupon for hormel chili), I think I'm going to use the leftovers to make some sort of chili macaroni stuffed green peppers (since I got a bunch from my brother in-law). I decided to experiment with low fat hot dogs and bought a package of fat free beef hot dogs and low fat turkey hot dogs. I usually buy the all-chicken hot dogs that used to be .99 at Food Depot back when Beth was a toddler. If you have any suggestions about low(er) fat hot dog options leave me a comment, please! I'm also going to do Orzo spaghetti and fish w/ rice (on sale + I had a coupon!). I usually marinate my Halibut or Talipa fillets in Kraft Roasted Red Pepper salad dressing. On Mother's Day my sister said she uses this for beef & chicken too!
I found a new place to print coupons! It's BettyCrocker.com there's really nothing fabulous about this site but if you're like me and can never have too many coupons for yogurt (or cake mix) than this is a nice little addition.
So, about this vacation. Since the end of last year I've been saving money to go on my first ever vacation. I was going to go stay at my great-grandmother's cottage on the lake but the radiator in the van is leaking and Daniel just started a new job so I would be traveling twelve hours away with four kids 7 and under to stay in a cottage by the lake for a week, by myself. I was really looking forward to it. Really. But as I was thinking about it more and more it seemed better to try to make it work for us to vacation as an entire family. So last night I booked a motel for the weekend after school gets out. It'll be quick but hopefully a lot of fun. Here is my {frugalicious} advice: 1) Search on Expedia.com they have a really nice search engine and I really did save quite a bit of money by booking through them. 2) Price check on priceline.com because they often did have lower rates. 3) Consider going to Myrtle Beach if you want to rent something for the family with a kitchenette, the prices are really good. I really wanted to rent one with a kitchenette because I figure we'll save a bit of money on food if we eat at least most of our meals in our room. If you buy two boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk that's about $6-$9 you really can't feed a family of 6 for less even at McDonalds. I've also been stockpiling things like pop tarts and mac & cheese and snackies for the last couple of months so that'll help too. If you buy a little bit of butter and use that milk from the cereal the total cost of one meal will be, like two bucks. Again, where are you going to feed a family of six for less than that?! I'm hoping the weather cooperates (at the moment it's cold & drizzly) but I figure a weekend away from the distractions of home (and no internet) can't be a bad thing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day

Yesterday was Mother's Day - it was all around a pretty difficult day for my family since it was the first mother's day since my brother's death. I am still surprised by how painful these moments are, and while the grief is not as constant it is still very real and very near.

The hightlight of my day was a card I got from Beth. She used HUGE construction paper at school and in her usual matter-of-fact way she wrote on the front "My Mother's Day Card" This is what she wrote inside: I love my mom becayse she is a big purple flower. My mom could sing high up in a tree. I love her "efenety" (translation: infinity). My mom is great! She has beautiful hair. She's a "fantasteck" mom.

I love it!

This afternoon I register to take the GED and take the test on Sat. (yikes! I'm SO nervous!)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pages for my mom

the photo on the right is of my parents and us kids back in '94
the photo on the left is of my family in '08
the photos are of my Beth and my little brother Ian - all of them are about five years old.

a wee little bit of procrastination

Yesterday was my second ballet recital for Jamie's Petite Ballerinas! It went 100% better this time! You can see the full set of last week's ballerina's by clicking here. After the recital Jamie, her assistant Jordan and I went out to a nearby field and I photographed them as the sun was going down. It was very challenging - getting a good sunflare has never been more difficult for me - but it was very rewarding! It was SO much fun playing with Jamie and it was awesome looking through the photos afterwards. I put a bunch of unprocessed ones on Facebook here's the link. (seriously - go check it out!)
I woke up this morning to find tiny little ants crawling in and out around all the dirty dishes on my countertop so I have been cleaning up a fury. I've been meaning to get around to it but there have always been other things that seemed more urgent (or - let's be honest - more interesting) so it feels really good to be getting this done!
So I have like 300 photos to process, prints to order & mail, my mom's mother's day gift to make, a kitchen floor to mop and yet here I am, blogging! Oh well.
This is what I sat down to blog about: I've been trying to loose those post-nursing pounds I gained since last summer. Last week I weighted 127lbs and my goal was to loose one pound a week consistently until I got back down to 120. Well, today I weighed 124! Here are a couple things I've been doing: cycling at the gym a little more often (I've gone twice this week for about 25 minutes) eating 1/2 a sandwich instead of a whole one (calories saved: about 80) eating a small bowl of honey nut Cheerios instead of a big bowl of frosted shredded wheat (calories saved: about 100) eating Fiber One 80 calorie yogurt (calories saved: about 30) I've also stopped eating ice cream at night. Daniel's been buying these klondike bars that have SEVENTEEN grams of fat in them. A couple of times I've eaten one of those frozen fruit tubes (you can find them with the flavored apple sauces) which are fat free!! I've not been 100% good, though. We went out to eat at Hardees this week. We had a buy one thickburger get one free. So I ate a thickburger - it was SO good - then I checked the nutrition information on the wall by the bathrooms - it had 64 grams of fat! eeeew! (Daniel's monster thickburger had like 107 grams of fat!) If I'd gotten the BBQ Chicken sandwich that would be only 6 grams of fat :(
Okay - back to work!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Petite Ballerina Photoshoot #1

Last Thursday I had the joy of photographing the little group of ballerinas for my friend, Jamie who I danced with as a teen. She runs a mobile pre-K ballet class and birthday party business called Petite Ballerinas and was having her recital! These little girls were so excited and so very cute! It was a difficult location to shoot at but I managed to get a few really great images, for which I am very grateful. This was one of those instances where photoshop really came to the rescue! Proofing all these photographs has been enormously tedious but I'm hoping that if I put a lot of care into processing these images then the parents will buy some prints.
It was so great to see Jamie again - it's been at least four or five years since we've seen each other, though we've always managed to keep in touch. She is such a sweet woman!

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