Thursday, May 27, 2010

Did You Know I Live Nextdoor To A Celebrity?

Ok, we're not next door neighbors, but we live close.  For real!!  And everyone who's reading this that is from around my neck of the woods knows who. :-)

She lives very close to my parents and just behind the house I grew up in when I was little!  She even goes to AND sometimes sings at our church!

Wanna know who?  :-)

Mrs. Sara Evans - who married Mr. Jay Barker - a pretty famous Alabama football star!

Yep.  Them and their SEVEN children!  Bet their house is crazy.

Anywho, we attended a fundraiser for the Christ Health Center that our church is partnered with (I think, I don't want to say the wrong thing - I know they provide the building for it).

It was GREAT!  The event was held at a local farm, well not really, we drove 45 minutes to get there.

The farm was BEAUTIFUL!  They grow their own herbs and makes their own oils and lotions.  They even have chickens and turkeys, horses and goats!

We took the two older children and just let them run free!  The ice cream truck was there with FREE ice cream.  No telling how much Landon ate.

We got to check out the horses....

And eat ice cream galore!

There were 4 musical guests with Sara wrapping the whole thing up! 

I have to say she was a great performer.  She told little stories in between songs.  Told us about her new album coming out in the fall (I think).  Sang some of her songs and even some covers. 

She seemed very down to earth and I would totally go see her again!

Do YOU live near anyone famous?!?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tubing and Generations

While Rhodes was cruising for some bruising around the lake house, we were out cruising in the new Crazy 8 Double Tube!!! :-)

Dad let me tube the kids at first.  And I have to say, I was just slightly tempted (ok really tempted, but I kept my self control) to gun it and do 360's with them in tow.  But then I remembered I was more like 10 or 12 years old before my Dad did that with us.  But, WHOA, memories of "extreme double tubing" flooded my mind while I was behind the wheel of that boat!

Beautiful day!

Landon had his fill pretty fast.  I dunno, maybe I didn't heed his "go slower" signal enough.  ;-)

So Lovey jumped in with Olivia.  Olivia at one point, got all crazy and stood up in the tube.  Then she stuck her feet out so they hung over while her bottom was hitting the bottom of the double tube cover. She definitely loves tubing now.

Landon took wonderful care of his little bro while I snapped a few shots!  I mean seriously, there really is some gentleness in that boy - even though he can be so rough and tough!

Almost all the fam in one pic!  Less Robert.  And Lily Rose - Landon clearly passed down the "uber water caution" attitude/torch to her this year.

Look at her little cautious self:

Who knows, maybe the huge wake scared her off this time. :-)  That, or Olivia's constant "go faster" thumbs up.

Saturday night we cruised on over to a local restaurant on the lake for dinner.  We took my grandparent's pontoon boat this time.  Plus there were 4 generations riding to dinner and we needed the extra room.

Lillian driving with her great-grandfather "BB".  And my cousin in the background! :-)  So 3 out of 4 generations in this pic.

Clearly she loves it.

Rhodes stayed close to Sugar.  His great grandmother!  She spoils him.  He knows it.  He loves it.  And he loves her!  :-)

We love this restaurant because there is built in child entertainment.  Lots of turtles and fish to feed off the porch/dock.

The turtles never seem to be satisfied.  Therefore it is endless fun!

But the kids needed a closer view of the "wildlife" and went under the deck and got up close and personal.

Luring the turtles and fish with lots of crackers and bread.

Lillian drove part of the way home.  Boaters beware.

No, actually she's pretty good.  She's been driving power wheels for a couple of years now.  Pretty sure she can do a 3-point turn in them now.

She only learns from the best big brother and sis!

As we cruised home, we watched the sun set over the lake.

SOOC shot here!  ⇓  (Straight Out Of the Camera)  No editing!!!    Yes, that's how beautiful it is here!

Love all the colors!

Rhodes and Sugar we pretty much inseparable.  They get each other.  It's super sweet.

Then he finally got what he had been reaching for all night......her hat.

I think he pulls it off pretty well! ;-)

Then Landon had a turn driving. 

Love this pic. 

Oh and hey, here I am.  Yes, it's me.  The one who is never in any photographs!  But I do exist!

Robert said to me the other morning at Landon's school (for a recitation), "I'd take pictures, but I'm afraid of the beast!"  (referring to my camera)  It's really not that scary.  Promise!

So please, if you ever see me with my family, please offer to take pictures of us.  Even if they are with your cell phone.  Because I would greatly appreciate being a part of my kids' scrapbooks!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Let The Lake Games Begin

I'm too tired to edit and play with any photos from this weekend at the lake - my photo energy was all spent on processing these photos from RAW to jpg. And because I have a raging sinus headache!  Thank goodness for neti pots!

So here's part of our weekend at the lake!

I took the kids (all by myself, thank you very much) to the lake this weekend. My parents were there of course, but Robert had to stay home. :-(

We ate and lounged.

And WORKED!  We all have to pull our weight around here.  And the new fun toy du jour was a new double tube!  And the kids  pumped most of it up!  Yay for teamwork!

Rhodes even gave it a try.

Speaking of Rhodes, he is a full force mobile baby now!  Last weekend I even found him standing at one of his toys.  In which I yelled, "Did someone stand him up or did he just pull up himself?!@?"

Then I sat him down and watched him do it again.  Then he did the splits and couldn't figure out how to get of of his predicament.  So I finally helped him out and sat him down.

He's trying to figure out the stairs now (we have a sunken-in living room with 1 step).   Should make for some fun bumps and bruises!

Have I ever mentioned how flexible my children are.  Here's Lillian doing her own yoga when she was his age. 

Rhodes scholar....right here.  :-)

Landon had a, I mean gigantic, blow our socks off, who is this child, break through this weekend at the lake!  He swam all by himself! (lifejacket of course)  For the past few years, he hasn't wanted to jump in the water let alone be on a float in the water.

Well, wires crossed and he was jumping in, swimming next door, twirling off the trampoline into the water, and sliding head first in the water off the slide.

We were all super excited for him.  When we asked why, he just said, "I just got used to it!"

Well, ok then!  Only took 3 years.

We all shared in his joy and bravery to finally jump in the lake!!!

Some more tomorrow! ;-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Photography Musings

Thank goodness there's at least one kid who will let me photograph him.  It seems that all the other kiddos run, or turn away from me when they see the camera in my hand.

Let's hope Rhodes doesn't catch on to too quickly to that idea!  I'm sure it's all downhill once he discovers how fast he can get away from me. :-)

And with very, very beginner photography becoming a creative outlet for me, I like the fact that Little Man will sit there long enough to let me adjust all the buttons on my camera and lens in order snap off a few's the only way I'll learn and grow, of course.

And yes.  I did get a new camera.  But let me say I worked very hard to raise the money to buy it.  And the little bit left over I didn't raise was my mother's day present.  :-)  I also had to reduce the size of my lens collection, but I'm very happy with my decisions.  I upgraded from a Canon Rebel XSI to a Canon 50D.  I got all I could out of my Rebel but so glad I started out with it as it was the perfect camera for me to begin with.

But I was ready for a little more challenge. 

With that being said, I thought I share a few thoughts on photography.  Every once in a while I get very kind comments or questions about my photos.  THANK YOU if you have been one of those kind commenters!

So a couple of years ago I bought my first DSLR.  Then I realized there was a WHOLE lot more to it than just turning it on auto and snapping away.  I mean, auto was great and all, but I wanted to get everything I could out of my camera.  I wanted to control my camera, not it control me (or itself).

So what I did was take ONE aspect of my camera at a time and learn it backwards and forwards.  And only concentrate on that aspect until I truly grasped what it meant and how it was supposed to be used.

I started by turning my camera on manual and experimenting with the relationship between shutter speed and aperture.

A wide aperture is a low f-stop number but makes for the fuzzy backgrounds.  A small aperture is a high f-stop number but allows more of the foreground and background to be in focus.

Shutter speed how long the camera's sensor stays open to capture the image. 

I think the second aspect I took on was ISO.  What's the difference between a high ISO and low ISO? When should I use a higher or lower ISO?  (answer:  high ISO in low light conditions and vice versa)

The next part of my camera that I focused on was the meter and how to read it.  The meter is located on my LCD screen as well as through my viewfinder.  I read blogs and played around with my camera until I really understood how to read it.

Then I took on white balance!  And even custom white balance.  Indoor shots can sometimes have an orange cast - and knowing white balance can help correct that!

Then I learned about focus points, focus modes, and metering modes.  I like spot metering!  I read my manual and played with my camera until I learned each of those areas!

The hard part is putting it all together for the perfectly exposed photograph!  Of course that's rather relative - because every person can have a different style and taste.  It's still tough for me (putting it all together) but I'm not giving up yet! 

Last but not least, Photoshop.  Yes, it can be quite fun to play around in it with my pics!  But you can't "fix" a bad photo.  I just try and enhance them a little! :-) Sometimes I overdo it, sometimes I don't even touch a picture.

One of my favorite photography blogs is  I find many of their posts very helpful and they also point you to other places/sites that you may be able to learn from.

So there it is.  A short version of how I got started.  I feel as though there is so much more to learn and I look forward to it!

I've really enjoyed this new little hobby of mine (though I loved it in high school too when I took the class - but it definitely wasn't digital).  It challenges me creatively and I have the perfect little subjects running circles around me every day! :-)

If you have any other questions (not that I'm at all qualified to answer them), I give it a shot and try and give them my best thoughts!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Last School Hurrah

We had our end of school party/picnic the other day.  We all pack up and head to the park for lots of fun.  Even though our school is small, there is no shortage of friends to play with when we all get together!

Landon and Olivia were all over the place!  Landon doing boyish things like playing in the water fountain until soaked.

This is about the only time Olivia sat still.  Then it was off to find friends!  I did get some pictures of the kids with their friends, but hesitant to post them since I don't know how their parents feel about their kids faces being splashed on the internet.

Instead of lounging around talking with other parents about who knows what, most of my time was spend toting Little Man around and following this little Free Spirit all over this ungated park.  (Which is now my biggest fear when I'm solo with The Four - ungated parks)

We ran.  And played.


Got so worn out that she took an awesome nap!

Rhodes wanted to go and play so bad.....soon baby!  Soon!

I even got in front of the camera!  Thanks Elizabeth Ann!!

4 more days of school!!!! YAHOO!!!