Monday, June 29, 2009

I ♥ Faces Photo Contest Week 25: Wedding Bells

I couldn't have picked a better category for this week since I just photographed my first wedding on Saturday and am drowning in photos to edit! So far I've gone through the formal photos and this one of the bride and her two grown sons is one of my favorites. They were a lot of fun!

For more lovely photos click on the button below:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Garage Sale Score!

This morning the kids and I went garage saling for fun and didn't have much luck until we hit the fourth or fifth sale. That's where I spied five vintage suitcases and noticed they were priced $4-5 apiece. I asked how much they'd be if I bought all of them and was told $15 which sealed the deal. I only had $4 on me so I drove by the bank really quick and came back with the cash and hauled my goodies home.

The ladies hosting the garage sale wanted to know what I was going to do with five old suitcases and I told them they were for decoration. We have a huge ledge on our living room/dining room wall that we haven't done much with and this is the start. We put up fake greenery with white Christmas lights for Christmas 2006 and it's remained there ever since. Naturally it collected a ton of dust bunnies and spider webs since I don't make it a habit to bring the big ladder from the garage in the house to dust up there. Maybe I should, it was GROSS!

After I dusted/vacuumed/swept/and shook out the fake greenery on the grass I climbed up the ladder again and arranged the suitcases up there. I'm not quite happy with it yet, I think I need a few more things to add to it. It's a really long shelf! I might do something different in the dining room though. I've also thought about using antique windows but haven't seen any listed in the free section of Craiglist yet. Let me know if you do!

I love the details on these old suitcases. One of them has a sticker that says it passed through Australia customs. Another is covered in old travel stickers!

My dining room floor after I dusted the shelf. It was NASTY! And yes I coughed. A lot.

Trying to arrange the suitcases centered above the bookcases. Not sure I like that placement though. Maybe to the right over the hallway? That would be dead center on the entire wall though. Left towards the entrance?

Closer view of the suitcases centered above the bookcase. I'm actually pretty sure I'm going to move them. Still haven't put the ladder back in the garage because I'm not happy yet!

Going to the Park with Uncle Sam

Sam stayed with us last week and we all took the kids to the park one afternoon. Sam wanted a few pictures of himself with the kids and we found an opportunity (and kid trap since they couldn't get off!) on the big cement tube. Grace zipped around the playground and climbed every available way up the play structure. She's definitely lost her fear of heights and tall slides! Poor Ethan watched her and wanted so bad to follow his big sister as she climbed. Unfortunately his legs are just too short. I'm sure it won't be too much longer and I'll be keeping an eye on two little monkeys climbing every which way!

Grace climbing up the rock wall with a little help from Uncle Sam.

Ethan wanted to climb up too!

Neither child wanted to take a photo or sit on the tube so I gave them both a daisy to hold. That worked to get them to sit still at least!

And look, Grace even smiled!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Time Fun

On Tuesday morning the kids and I drove out to Silverton on a quest for u-pick strawberries at $.60 a pound. We somehow found our way to the not well marked strawberry stand to weigh in our containers before getting directions on how to drive to the strawberry field. Once we got there we slathered on the sun screen and joined the other berry pickers. Grace and Ethan were zero help in picking berries but they had a fantastic time eating them. I laid down the ground rules that they could eat any of the red berries but had to leave the unripe ones alone. For the most part they did pretty ok. It took me about an hour to fill my three containers and then we climbed into the van to clean up and eat lunch. Wet wipes took care of most of the strawberry juice and dirt on our hands and the kids' faces/arms/legs. I was smart enough to bring a change in clothes for the kids so I changed them too. I packed a small cooler with a picnic lunch and we ate it before we drove back to the strawberry stand to pay for our 15lbs of strawberries. The total? $9.95.

We wound our way up the back roads to Woodburn to get onto I-5 and head up to Portland to visit a friend for the afternoon. On the way we stopped at a photography store that I spied and I picked up a cheap lens hood for my 50mm to play with. We got to our friends' house and as we walked up to the front door Grace told me that Gabriella is her favorite friend. The two girls are certainly two peas in a pod, I wish Gabriella was a little closer so they could play together more often! Natalie has two little girls that are almost the exact ages as my kids. Gabriella is a month younger then Grace and Juliana is four months younger then Ethan. Ethan is the lone boy but he held his own with the three girls. He likes to play with baby dolls and play kitchens too! Natalie and I had a good time chatting and talking photography. After watching the girls go through about four changes of dress up clothes we headed to the park with the four kids. The kids were super excited about the creek and did their best to get as muddy as possible while throwing rocks. A few more baby wipes and they were reasonably clean.

By the time we walked back to our car it was after 5pm and rush hour traffic had started and we were hungry. We bid our friends goodbye and met my Mom at Chevy's for a yummy mexican meal. I had a watermelon margarita which was super tasty! Mom and I both had the citrus pork tacos and since the kids' meals were free (kids eat free on Tuesdays!) we got both the kids a meal which fed them dinner and lunch on Wednesday. After dinner I gave mom a bunch of strawberries and we headed home. It took Grace about 15 minutes to fall asleep and Ethan even less time. I wish I had remembered their pajamas but I didn't, so Ethan went to bed in his filthy second set of clothes for the day and Grace woke up grumpy enough when we got home to insist on pink pajamas and then throw a fit about going to bed.

Yesterday I had almost 15lbs of strawberries to deal with so I set to jam making. I made 4 batches of freezer jam, made strawberry oven pancakes and strawberry smoothies for dinner, and froze a freezer bag full to use later. The jam is soooooo yummy and I doubt it lasts too long. I used almost all the small sized plastic containers in the house but it was worth it. I'll probably bring some over to share with the neighbors and keep a container (or two!) in the fridge to eat now and freeze the rest. My freezer isn't that big and I'm out of Tupperware or I'd be tempted to make more!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Surprise! It's a Luau!

This past weekend was a blast as we drove up to Yakima, WA to surprise my Grandma with a 70th Birthday Luau! The kids and I drove up to Portland Thursday and spent the night with Mom and then the four of us headed up to Yakima on Friday morning. David and my brother drove up from Dallas Friday afternoon and my Uncle Brad and Aunt Rhonda arrived Saturday morning. My Mom, Uncle Brad, and Grandpa have been planning the party since early this spring but didn't tell my Grandma about it until this last week. She had no idea what kind of party it was until Uncle Brad unloaded two huge plastic totes full of luau decorations! We all pitched in and had the patio decorated in no time. My cousin Tyler brought along a friend (who goes by the name Kool Aid by the way) and they were given the job of bar tender. I don't think two 17 year old boys could be more excited about a job. They even dressed for the part wearing grass skirts and flower bras! It was a hoot. It was also pretty entertaining watching Uncle Brad and Grandpa teach the boys the proper way to make a pina colada. Those boys were sure taking notes! My cousin Randi scored major points with both Grace and Ethan this weekend since she played with them and kept them very entertained. Grace could hardly wait to see her and didn't leave her sight the entire weekend. Grandma seemed to really enjoy herself and we all had a great time.

I had a really hard time narrowing down photos to share with you all so I gave up and I'm sharing a bunch. You'll just have to suffer.

How many men does it take to hang up a banner? Apparently five.

It's looking like Hawaii out there! And what's Brian doing? Is he taking a break to wear a grass skirt and drink a beer?

Grandma posing with the bar tenders

Not sure how we snookered Grandpa into wearing the grass skirt but it made for a cute picture!

The boys getting bar tending lessons. They got pretty good!

Grace enjoying her punch with a pink umbrella straw of course!

David hanging out with Grandma on the porch swing.

Mom having a good time!

Randi enjoying her tiki drink too.

Proof that Ethan was at the party. I think he wants something!

Uncle Brad taking a break after barbecuing lunch.

Aunt Rhonda getting excited for pink Baked Alaska!

Grandma blowing out her candles. The pink Baked Alaska was soooo yummy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The End

Today is the day for a lot of "lasts". Today is the last day that my brother in law Sam is here visiting. Grace ate the very last piece of Easter candy after lunch today. Ethan has two more size 3 diapers before he graduates to size 4 diapers. Yes, I realize he's 20 months old and was in size 3 diapers for over a year.

It's sad when things come to an end, but it also means that something else is beginning. We're dropping Sam off at the airport today but tomorrow we're driving to Yakima for a 70th Birthday Luau this weekend. Next week I'll let Grace pick out a new package of candy for her after meal treat. And moving up to size 4 diapers means that Ethan is growing and that's a good thing.

Maybe The End isn't so bad.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Video Game Party in the Backyard

So what do you do if you're a videogame nut and you have a huge screen and projector with a cable that connects to your Xbox? That's right, you break out a multi-player game and have some fun! Last night wasn't the first time the Xbox was hooked up to the projector but it was the first time the boys had access to it. The first outdoor Xbox experience was a little over a week ago when our neighbor's daughter celebrated her 13th birthday with a bunch of friends and they played a karaoke song. That was also an amusing evening! Of course we didn't play videogames all night, we broke out School of Rock once it was dark enough for optimal viewing enjoyment.

I'm glad I grabbed my camera because some of these pictures are hilarious. I had to bump up my ISO to 1600 (as high as my camera will go which makes the pictures kind of grainy) and I used my fastest lens at as low an f/stop as possible. Not much else I could do at 9:30pm using natural light!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I ♥ Faces Photo Contest Week 23: Sepia Toned

Time for another I Heart Faces contest! This week's theme is Sepia Toned and I thought the rodeo pictures from last weekend were perfect for this assignment. I didn't get as many close ups of the cowboys but I love my adult entry photo, the look of concentration on the man in the white shirt is so striking.

Kids Entry (featuring my very own Cowgirl Princess!):

Adult Entry:

And to see more fabulous sepia toned images click on the link below:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sisters Rodeo 2009!

We had a great weekend in Sisters, OR with the highlight being the Sisters Rodeo on Saturday afternoon. David has been going to this rodeo ever since he was a kid and I've been going ever since the first year we were dating way back in 2000. I just realized that this was the 10th year I've been going! Yikes. If anyone reading this has ever brought small children to an outdoor rodeo then you're probably familiar with the challenges. If you haven't then you must be smarter then we are. Grace was soooooo exited to go to the rodeo this year and asked all week when we were going. When we finally got there and walked in to the stands she yelled Yee Ha! and bounced up and down. She walked around behind the stands with Grandma for a bit and got to meet a Rodeo Queen and get her autograph which she was pretty excited about. You just can't beat royalty when you're three. I was mostly worried about Ethan because the rodeo started at 1pm which is smack dab in the middle of nap time. He finally fell asleep about 2.5 hours into the rodeo when his Oma took him for a walk.

Tips for surviving a rodeo or other outdoor event on bleachers with small children:
  • Pack a lot of snacks! Food, especially treats, will work wonders.
  • Pack something special to drink. I brought Yoo Hoo chocolate milk which isn't something they usually find in my diaper bag and more exciting then a water bottle.
  • Bring sunscreen even if the forecast calls for rain showers
  • Bring the hugest bag you can find to hold the mountain of snacks, drinks, sunscreen, and coats
  • Make sure you have a ratio of 9 adults to 2 kids. That really helps!

I didn't get a chance to take a ton of photos since I was busy juggling an overflowing diaper bag, camera bag, camera, and children. I brought Grace to the portapotties twice and hung out with Ethan behind the stands to let him walk around a bit. I did manage to get some good photos of my favorite event in the Sisters Rodeo...the Wild Horse Race! It's absolutely hilarious to watch teams of men try to subdue wild horses and then ride one around a barrel at the opposite end of the arena. Truely a crack up.

By the way, this is far from our kids' first rodeo. This was Grace's fourth Sisters Rodeo experience and Ethan's second. We also attend the Snake River Stampede Rodeo in Nampa, ID every year since my father in law is on the rodeo board. We usually attend 3-4 performances during Rodeo Week every July.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Garage Sale Goodies

I love garage sales. I remember going to garage sales with my Mom and Aunt Bonnie as a little girl and how wonderful the Free Boxes were when they contained treasures such as colored in coloring books and broken crayons! There's good stuff to be had at garage sales. I was planning on going to a few this morning and was late getting started because Ethan decided to sleep in. Luckily we were home when a friend called to give me the heads up on a good one in our neighborhood. I wound up waking Ethan up and hurrying him through breakfast so we could go check them out! Grace was the one who wound up with the treasures this week. We scored a Snow White costume and purple dress up shoes (we only had the one pink pair) for $5.50 and at Kelleigh's garage sale Ethan got some pajamas for next fall and three pictures frames for $1.15. So here's Grace's haul!

Modeling her new purple dress up shoes:

And admiring her reflection in the sliding glass door. For some reason she was scared to try the Snow White dress on (kept saying it would hurt?) but once she tried it on she loved it!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Photoshop is in the building!

I finally bought the real deal Photoshop CS4 and installed it this evening and I swear I heard the Hallelujia chorus ringing in my ears. I think I'm in heaven! I already installed my favorite actions and am yearning to learn some more. Actions make editing sooooo much easier because they combine lots of steps into one click of the mouse. I might even stay on top of editing my photos now. Maybe. I take too many for me to keep up with!

Here's a few I played with tonight. These were taken a week or so ago and have been sitting unedited on the computer since then. Isn't the collage action fun? I hope you like it because I'll probably use it on the blog quite a bit!

Here's the original straight off the camera:

And the edited version:

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Grace's First Official Dance Recital

Today was a very busy day for our family. We started off the morning by going to Grace's 8am Ballet Recital Dress Rehearsal. Then at 11am we met Alysun for some family photos which turned out gorgeous! You can check them out on her blog. It's so nice to get nice family photos done since I'm usually behind the camera and we rarely get photos of the four of us. I'll be doing maternity and family photos for Alysun this fall which is a great trade! After photos (which went really quick!) we headed home for lunch and to put Ethan down for his nap. Mom, Grace, and I walked to a first birthday party. We headed back in time to get ready for Grace's 3pm recital. David and Brian were totally stoked to spend an hour watching little girls (and a couple brave boys!) dance. Wait, maybe I'm imagining that part. At any rate, the recital was a success and Grace had her moment in the sun.

Grace dances to her own tune. She follows the dance moves loosely but mostly preferred to twirl and dance her own very energetic jig. I think she'd do better in the hip hop class, or anything else that requires a lot of energy and movement. I'm not so sure she's cut out for more sedate dancing like ballet. She didn't like her costume because it was a little small and tight on her. She kept saying it was "spicy" which I think she said because it was tight. I brought a dress for her to change in to when it was over and she was very happy to take it off. She loves the necklace though. That she left on! She's also outgrown her ballet shoes and it's a good thing we only have to squeeze them on her feet for one more class session this Tuesday.

Here's some pictures. I took a few before we left and tried to get some during but didn't have good luck. The lighting was terrible and Grace is a whirwind of twirling. Not a good combo for me since I don't use flash. You'll just have to trust me that it was pretty funny to watch!