Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Not sure if anyone noticed, but my post on Saturday was the first in nearly two weeks.  I took a break.  I took a break to reflect what I wanted out of this blog.  Where this blog has been, where it is going, what does it mean.    That and I was tired.  I've been feeling worn down lately for a variety of reasons, frustrated with illnesses, circumstances and communication.   Not felt like saying much... and not so ready to write the celebratory 1000th blog post!  

In May as this milestone approached I was excited - I thought about getting a sponsor and having a giveaway, but then I just couldn't find something that was fitting. June rolled around and my numbers of posts became closer and closer to the grand occasion and I still wasn't sure what I wanted to actually blog about ... so I stopped blogging.  For two weeks.   If you look back prior to 2009 a two week gap isn't much to note.  I never blogged more than 2-3xs in a month for several years. 

The tone of this 1000th post is starting off far from celebratory, but aren't milestones also opportunities to simply reflect?    It seems to me a look back at where I've been would be good.   This blog in large part has taken on many roles - a catalog of daily events, a sounding board for my own growth and grief, a catalog of my children's milestones and adventures, a review and giveaway forum, and most recently a place to share my photography.   For the last eight years this blog has been a place to gather my thoughts, share my feelings, and a piece of my life - this post is no different.

Aside from these words of pondering - I couldn't come up with any words that were so profound that they needed to be memorialized here in this the 1000th blog post.    As a result I am going to fall back to what I know best, my current focus: photography and allow you to enjoy 1000 photos from the past eight years

I've always loved photography - and the innovation of digital photography truly allowed that passion to explode so I had plenty of 1000s of pictures to wade through to create this collage.   1000 pictures is kind of hard to display in a concise manner.   The pictures are itty bitty so and I was on the hunt to find a way to display them in a unique manner.  So I went in the hunt for a mosaic program.   I found on Cnet: AndreaMosaic a free mosaic program that is super easy to use!   So if you'd like to make your own, enjoy!  :) 

Thanks for following and reading, I'd happily blog without an audience as I find this to be a good way to document my history and memories, but sharing it with others is always fun and often rewarding!      Here's to another 1000 posts!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Seventeen Months Old

As the days speed past us every day is new and more of an adventure with Mae.   She is becoming her own little person.  Gaining speed, vocabulary and attitude!   :)  Her smile is huge, her laugh is adorable, and her scowl is just plain funny and so pronounced!

New things in her 17th month:  Attended her first baby shower and was an adorable little lady, and lots more words!

Mae has had an explosion of words in this last month.  She's really gotten the parroting thing down and tries all sorts of new words.  Her favorite is "NO!"  She says it with a cute sing-song melody often and it's adorable, but for the connotation attached to it. :)   She also really likes the word 'lello' (yellow) and GO!   Other words she squeaked out this past month include:  puppy, booo (blue), kieee (kitty), eat, skoo (school), sheee (sheep), loouv (love... she curls her little tongue up and it's so adorable to see her try), blow, two (which is her amount for anything and everything when you ask her how many?)  you, boo, choo choo...

Yes, if you're familiar with children's literature those last few words will be a bit more obvious in theme.  They are all words from the book Peek A Who?  Mae loves to read this book over and over and over during the day and she can say all the words except when I prompt her to say 'moo!'  she says 'MEEEE!'   It's adorable and silly and I love it.  Her other favorite book is Good Night, Gorilla.   She is adorable when we read it because when we get to the part opening her eyes in the dark after all the animals say good night back to her,  Mae every time will mimic the gasp sound that I typically make on that page - although for Mae it's more of a grunt and it's adorable.

Mae loves to say her prayers.  She folds her hands and closes her eyes and often will repeat the beginning of the prayer 'De-Ja' (Dear Jesus) and then at the end she will say 'Mon' (Amen)   it's adorably sweet and this past few weeks when we're done praying she will sign for more and fold her hands awaiting my starting of more prayers.  It's seriously the most adorable thing and I love that her faith, while likely not growing in understanding just yet, is growing in eagerness and anticipation!

In trending toward two, Mae has started to enjoy and invoke the rite of passage with some tantrums.   She is extremely dramatic and a slight grievance is often met with massive yelling, screaming, water works - her physical self seems to remain mostly still - although she has gotten down and laid on the floor a time or two for dramatic affect.   To date though she's avoiding the head banging that Ace did during this phase of his life.

Growth wise she is still itty bity - 17lbs and 8oz.   She just had a weight check at the doctor and to check for an ear infection which she was cleared of, apparently she just likes to tug on her ears.  :)   Her coughing continues and we're working through yet another cold.   She still just has the 4 teeth although I can start to see the bulges where the molars are going to come in.   She still loves her mama milk on demand and I'm happy to oblige - although I'd really love for her to sleep through the night! 

Sleep wise she's no different - still wakes a few times a night wanting milk or comfort.  She does start out in her own bed every night but often is in our room by midnight.   Rarely do I get to bed before she's coming into ours.   But I don't complain.  This season is fleeting and if she trends like her brother then we have less than a year before she's in her bed full time.  We'll see though :)  

Speaking of her brother - she loves him.  She loves to climb on him, crawl on him, play with him, get in his way, smack his head, and lay in his bed.   She is a typical little sister and Ace is very patient and loving with her.  

She continues to be my climber - she can freely get herself on the couches, beds, and now knows how to use those heights to get other places.    Eating wise she is very opinionated on the subject.   She's not picky - she eats spinach, she LOVES pasta, and has easily eaten 4oz of steak (I'm not exaggerating!)  in one sitting - but there are times where she just doesn't want to eat without a battle.   To say it's frustrating is an understatement, but I'm hopeful that we're on the downward trend of this phase as well and I'll continue to endure her stubborn ways... I don't really have a choice otherwise. ;)

Mae is a great hugger, she's got a good grip around your neck and she likes to say 'blow' when she blows kisses.  Even if she kisses your cheek she will do it as she says 'blow!'   It's adorable.   Her hair is crazy long but sparse and thin and WILD!  She likes when I do her hair and she leaves it for about 3 seconds.  :)  She loves to try and put her own socks on and she can successfully put on her own pants.   She wants to dress herself often and loves purses, hats and her stuffed animals.  Piglet remains the top favored friend, but she loves to rock and cuddle lots of different ones.   She is adorable and we love her!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday Fixins - Focus and Impact

A picture is worth a thousand words.   Making that statement even more bold can be done SOOC or you can take a capture and enhance the meaning you're trying to convey.   I'll be showing you how I accomplished that with this photo below of my mother receiving my father's flag (that's me on the left and my brother on the right.)
Photo credit:  Loving Husband

The first step is to find the focus of the shot you really want to make the statement.  In this case this photo is presenting of the flag.   Now this whole photo tells a very meaningful story for our family; facial expressions, body language, and the somberness of this moment are all beautifully captured.   However, if you're wanting to make a more specific statement as I wanted in my Memorial Day post then cropping was necessary.

By cropping out faces I am are focusing the story of the picture.  The impact in some ways becomes greater with less going on in the picture.    However, there are now more obvious cluttered points in this picture.  My headless brother, legs, random hands, tissue.  All still distractors for this photo.   Lightroom to the rescue!

First I began with some basic sharpening and smoothing of the image.  Bumping up the exposure, brightness, clarity... generally just tweaking the image.  Finally I altered the temperature and tint of the photo.    Until I arrived at something like this.

Now that the color is a bit richer I still have the pesky issue of distractions and so that is when I break out the adjustment brush.   I basically paint all over the main areas and then I alter the sharpness, clarity, saturation, contrast, brightness... basically zero everything out and creating a darkened backdrop.  

Ultimately where I am at this point is this picture below.  I wasn't satisfied.  My mom's black shirt causes her arm to look chopped off and missing, the added light is still distracting and my brother's arms while I was going for a shadowed effect are still too distracting.


Back to the editing bay! More adjustment brush, further darkening.  A tighter crop and finally the finished product.

It's far from perfect.  There are obvious issues: sharpness, noise, and that odd edit mark near my mom's left arm (didn't notice it before I mentioned it?  Well good, but it's been bugging me endlessly and no tweaking I do seems to correct it without massive damage to my mom's arm!)  However, the message of the photo has a much greater impact and for the purposes of my editing a broader audience is reached with this photo rather than the one with friends and family in the shot.  

So there you have it!  A small post on how to make a memorable photo into an impactful one.  Just remember to focus and to remove distractions in order to highlight the point of your photo.   And that adjustment brush is a great friend! :)

A Month in Photos - May

Memories from May 2012
Silly Tea Parties
Mother/Daughter Silly Time
A week of icky illness
First pool time of the season
A Super Moon
A boy picking flowers for his mom on a sunny day barefoot in the backyard!
(not pictured) A Mother's Day Program