Saturday, July 30, 2011

Learning About My Camera

If you remember, back in December my husband bought me a new toy. Since that time I've taken a class and gotten a new lens. I will also be in the Dominican Republic in two weeks photographing my cousin Carrie's wedding.

Ever since I took the photography class in May, I have absolutely disliked 90% of the shots I have taken but I was determined not to put my camera back into Auto. The class I took, the instructor basically told us to put our camera in Aperture Priority and stay there. Of course at first I didn't like what I was getting because of my lens. I purchased a 50mm 1.8 G and it seemed to help but I still wasn't happy.

This week I bribed my friend Jessica from White Harvest Photography with a day at the pool if she would help me out and give me tips on wedding photography. Not only is she an amazing photographer but she is an amazing teacher as well. She taught me how to shoot in Manual and gave me a lot of great tips.

Now the key is to practice before I leave. This evening I was watching my 1 year old niece, so I took my 4 kids and my niece outside to practice. I had a lot of fun and wanted to show you some of what I caught. I did learn that if I want to photograph toddlers I need to get faster with my camera. They do not stay still and they do not want to look at you.

Besides cropping these photos a little I didn't do any editing.

I also experimented with my continuous setting and had a lot of fun with that. Next week I will share them with you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ideas For Your Bored Kids During Summer Vacation

1. If you have a wooden swing set, give your kids a box of crayons and let them decorate. (I didn't actually give them the crayons, they had this idea all on their own but it kept them busy for days!)

2.  Buy an old camper, set it up and let them play inside. (If you have a tent my guess is that setting it up in the backyard will also keep them occupied for awhile.)

3. Cut the grass and leave all the clippings. My kids got creative and made a nest.

4. Turn on The Price Is Right. My kids love this show. Trust me, this will be just as entertaining for you as it is for them. I love to hear them shout prices at the TV and yelling at the people what to do. Brings me back to my childhood. I always loved this show. My girls already practice being 'Barker's Beauties' except for I'm sure they are not called this anymore. Maybe they are 'Drew's Dames' or 'Carey's Cuties'. Does anyone know?

Of course if these don't work you could always make them clean the house.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Making Sense Of It All

On Friday, July 22 my Grandma went to be with our heavenly Father. She lived to be 85 and I will always remember her for the big smile that she always wore and her love of affection. You could always plan on a hug and kiss every time you said hello and goodbye.  

Below is a picture of her on Christmas 2009 with some of her great-grandchildren.

On Sunday we went to her funeral.

Although I talk to my children about death quite often because of my mom's passing 5 years ago, this was going to be the first funeral they have ever attended. I have tried to explain it all to them but seeing it is a whole different ball game.

On our way there I explained to them that her body would be there and it would look like she was sleeping.

Isaac was very interested in this when we got there. As you know, Isaac usually says what is on his mind. Many times he asked me to go with him to see Grandma.

He was very curious and wanted to touch her. He was also wondering how her body was here but she is in heaven.

He asked me, "Does her body just stay here and her head goes up?" I guess I have explained to him before that the body stays here but he figured some part of her must go to heaven so it had to be the head and surely she didn't go to heaven yet because clearly she was right in front of him.

He then wondered if after the service she would go up to heaven. He thought it would be great if he could see this happen.

After the service I was talking to my aunt. I'm guessing Isaac was willing to ask anyone questions about this that would listen. He apparently had a whole conversation with her about whether Great-Grandma was wearing shoes and why she needed them.

Yes, sometimes questions from my kids can drive me nuts but other times I love to hear how their mind is working and how they are trying to make sense of all the things they see and hear.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A List of Random Tidbits

If you are looking for deep content around here lately, sorry. The heat has gotten to my brain (as well as old age) and my mind is working in sarcastic mode lately.

Just thought I'd share some random things going on around our house lately that you probably don't care about but hey, you're the one who came here. I'm not making you read this stuff.

1. I am a mean mom. I make my kids eat tacos for supper, make them go to swim lessons, and they have to pick up their own toys.

2. On our way to swim lessons tonight Isaac says to me, "Mom, I don't want to go to swim lessons because I'm going to do bad."

Me: "No you won't you've been doing so good, I'm so proud of you."

Joshua: "Mom, you don't need to tell me that because I already know I'm good."

Nice. I guess I don't have to build up his confidence.

3. After fighting with Isaac to eat his taco, I didn't feel like fighting with him when he started crying at swim lessons and was a nice mom and let him sit out. It happens once in a while.

4. My pool which has gone from green to cloudy to clear and back to cloudy, is clear once again.

5. It's too hot here to even swim.

6. Thankful for air conditioning after it broke twice on us but thankfully someone took pity on us and fixed it QUICKLY!

7. Cold Stone Chocolate Peanut Butter Perfection is definitely perfection and I don't even want to know how many calories of it I have consumed. Yet just typing it makes me want to go get the quart out of the freezer and finish it.

8. My husband is currently sweating his butt off in a hot factory. Thankful for him and that he is off doing that for us while we sit in the air conditioning.

9.  I was just interrupted by an extreme emergency. Alex had a bleeding paper cut. I tell ya, it's always exciting around here.

10. For every 10 library my books kids read, the library will give them a reward. For some reason, high on all of their "must-have" list is a little plastic magnifying glass. Really? That's what you want?

11. While sitting at swim lessons tonight I read an article about introverts and extroverts. We are pretty much a family of introverts. Just thought I'd include that in case you wanted to know that exciting tidbit about our family.

12. I feel like I should give you more but I got nothing. Just thought I should have an even amount of points because I like a nice even number.

If you have made it all the way to the bottom of this list, congratulations! You just wasted 3 precious minutes of your life that you will never get back.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Moving Along to Birthday Fun

On Tuesday we had friends over swimming and Brad went to the U2 concert. I have no pictures of any of this, so I will just move along to the next day.

Wednesday was our birthday celebration day even though Joshua, Alexandra, and Amanda's birthdays weren't until Friday.

Brad took Joshua and Isaac miniature golfing, out for lunch to Buffalo Wild Wings, and shopping for Joshua's birthday present. He chose a new Wii game, a baseball mitt, baseballs, gloves, and all that is baseball. I also have no pictures of this because I wasn't there.

Now to the real fun.

I took Alex and Amanda to the American Girl Place in Chicago to pick out a doll and for lunch. We had so much fun! Of course the girls barely ate any of their overpriced meal but we had a lot of fun and it was worth every penny.

They each picked out a doll and had money given to them by grandparents and aunts & uncles that they were able to spend on outfits and accessories.

Here are the girls with their bag of purchases.

On our walk back to the car we stopped and took some pictures.

On Friday we celebrated with cake. They have been asking me for a Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting ever since last November, so that is what they got.

I felt a little bad that I didn't actually decorate the cake but I felt better when I was told that this is the best cake in the whole world.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fourth of July

On the Fourth, I mostly cleaned and cooked food all morning. But our afternoon was spent going to a parade in a nearby town.

There were far too many firetrucks and they were loud.

I always love the bands. But I wonder about how they walk. Is walking so stiff something these kids (does calling them kids make me old? don't answer that please) have to practice or something they have to show that they can do in tryouts? Either way, it's quite entertaining.

Someone was handing out Popsicles and they were delicious and a nice treat in the heat.

After the parade we went back to our house and enjoyed an evening of swimming and eating with family.

The Fourth is not only a holiday for us to celebrate but we also celebrate Brad's birthday as well.

And that is how we spent our holiday.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Catching Up!

Last week was a week full of fun and exciting things. Brad was off work. The Fourth of July. Brad's birthday. Alexandra, Amanda, and Joshua's birthday. Lots of plans.

When lots of things happen, I have lots to blog about but no time to do it. I took about 200 pictures last week and I would love to share all that we did with you. (Don't worry, I won't post them all.) Since we did so much, I will share in bits and pieces.

Fourth of July weekend started with big pile of mulch in front of my garage. Before I could have any fun, I had to move this pile to various spots around my yard. I got most of it moved, then I could pull my car back in the garage. Now the rest still sits there.

Sunday evening we went out to enjoy the fireworks. Two years ago we went to the same fireworks and it took us 45 minutes to get home.....we live 2 miles away. Last year we skipped for obvious reasons. This year we braved it again but were determined to be a little smarter. We parked in a spot that we could quickly get out. It kind of takes the fun out of it when the fireworks end and you grab your stuff and make a mad dash for your car. All while telling the kids, "Walk faster, walk faster." This year the 2 mile trip only took 20 minutes. We'll see if we can get that number down next year.

They're excited.....can't you tell?

I took my camera with so I could experiment shooting the fireworks. I had a lot of fun trying different Shutter speeds, Aperture, and ISO settings. While I was taking them I was disappointed but once I downloaded them to my computer it was fun to see my different results.

I'll be back with more of our exciting adventures.

Can't wait to look at all my pictures to remind me of all we did. Ha! I told you I'm forgetful.

Friday, July 1, 2011

How We Saved Money On Our Phone Bill and We Cancelled Cable

It's been awhile since I posted one of my Frugal Friday posts. But I wanted to share with you a couple ways that you can save money on cable and your home phone.

Last December we decided to cancel our cable as soon as our contract was up. I know for some of you cancelling cable is just not something you want to do. So I thought I would share what I learned in the process. This may not work with all cable companies but here are some tips that you might want to know and then see if your cable company offers the same thing.

When I called to cancel I was informed that I can put my account on hold for up to 6 months a year. The benefit to this is you won't have a bill for 6 months out of the year but remain with that company and not be under contract. I know you can get an introductory rate for just as cheap, if not cheaper but the benefit is that you are no longer under contract.

I was also told that they have special rates for existing customers, all you have to do is ask. 

What we did was put our account on hold for 4 months to make sure that we could live without cable and then when I called back to cancel I was offered a couple different rates to stay with them. They offered me one rate and then when I told them that I still wanted to cancel, they offered me an extremely low rate.

As far as living without cable, I miss the DVR. My kids miss their shows. My husband misses his sports. We save about $900 a year not having it. We now have a digital antenna hooked up to our TV. A lot less TV gets watched as a result.

Now onto our Phone Bill.

I am one of those people that just can't part with my home phone. Part of the reason being is that I work from home. Sometimes cell phones aren't that reliable so I like to have my home phone as back-up. Besides we have had the same number for 11 years and a lot of people have that number. I'm also not sure I want to give my cell phone number out on every application, registration, giveaway, etc.

We have always had the bare bones. No caller id, no call waiting, and no long distance. Last month I got my bill and the charges had again gone up. I called the company and they actually had a lower rate plan that I could get. They offered a lower monthly rate but for each local call you make you get charge $.04. Not per minute, per call. Incoming calls are free and toll free numbers are also free.

In the end it's not a huge savings but over a years time I will probably save about $90. That's a week of groceries around here.