Saturday, April 30, 2011

A "Short" Vacation

The short one in our household went on a one day trip with her Nana and Papa this morning. Even though I entered this mini-separation from her with a lot of trepidation (I am gone 5 days on business next week and will already be away from her) I decided to check my attitude and do some things I really can't do while she is here.

She left about 8:00 this morning. By 8:30 I was out the door heading to KCPT's Antique Appraisal Show with my girlfriend. She had three items she wanted appraised. I have never seen anything like that before and it was a bit exciting. I saw lots of guns. Lots of Victorian paintings. My friend got some really good news on one of her items and just okay news on the other two.

After that, I stopped by baseball practice. I am sorry to say it was more to soak up some of the fantastic sunshine we had today and not for the baseball. But, I will say, it was fun to see the team's progress and see them looking like a team.

I cleaned out my car. I mean I had my husband take the car-seat out. Those of you who are parents will know instantly what that looks like. The most disgusting place in the entire world is the seat below a car-seat. Spilled chocolate milk, melted candy bars, hairy gummy pieces, dried up French fries, hair, and general dirt. That was the condition of my car seat as I took it to the car wash today, head hung low, hoping to not make eye-contact with all those poor employees of Green Lantern that I paid to clean my car.

Next, the car-seat itself got a bath. We took that cover off and started up the washing machine.

I grabbed a trash bag and started organizing the Short Chics toy box. I threw a ton of McDonald's, Sonic, Wendy's meal toys away. I drug that one toy box to her room. My living room actually looks like a living room and not a toy store.

Her bedding has been washed. Her shoes organized. Her dresser drawers organized.  WHEW!

All of this while she is off swimming to her hearts content in a hotel with her Nana and Papa hours from here!

Now, I am off to sleep. After I shower that is, cleaning up after the Short Chic is messy.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Photography Lesson 11: FAST!

My favorite thing to try and catch with my camera is baseball. My son has played for years and one of the reasons I ultimately got the DSLR was so I could take better shots of him playing baseball.  Baseball season starts the end of March/first of April so we have already been playing this year. Here are a few of my favorites.
One of my favorites, I call this photo Relief Pitcher.
ISO 1600, 1/500, f:8.0
ISO 1600, 1/2500, f:11.0
I love that you can see the seams of the baseball and how twisted his body is to get the power up.

okay, this one is not my son, but I love first base action!
ISO: 160, 1/2500, f:11.0

Again, another player who is not my son, but more first base action. I love that you can see the seams on that baseball as it is whizzing into to first base. No chance this one was a close call.
ISO: 1600, 1/3200, f:8.0

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Photography Lesson 10: Far

Lesson 10 was about zooming out or backing up. Sometimes it is helpful to capture a little bit of background in the shot.

I am posting a photo I took last summer at Dogwood Canyon south of Branson, Missouri. The entire park is picturesque and absolutely worth stopping by to see. We walked the entire thing, which ended up being 10K.

As a side note, this is about 1 month before my big diagnosis. I can't stand to look at pictures of myself from that vacation because all I can see is my tumor. The bridge is very significant to me, because I had not idea at that time what kinds of bridges I would be crossing.

ISO: 400, 1/500, f:10.0
Even before the photography class, I felt this zoomed in photo of the bridge did not do it justice. 

So I regrouped and came up with this one, which I like much better.
I wanted every detail of this bridge to stay focused in so you could see the detailing of each stone.
ISO: 400, 1/200, f:7.1

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mushroom Hunters!

My Daddy was a mushroom hunter. He took me once. A snake ran across my foot. I yelled so loud, I scared everything in the near vacinity! He never took me again!

Last year, on a spring Sunday, we were sitting around talking about mushroom hunting. We got in the truck and drove to Weston and attempted it. We found 1 mushroom. We found a half dozen ticks. Not a successful trip.

Tonight, we drove back out to Ford Man and the Sister-in-Law's place and they took us mushroom hunting.There were eight of us, 4 adults, 4 young ones. Everyone in Ford Man's family has a special siren noise they make when they find mushrooms. It took no time before the wooded area we were in was screaming with siren noises. In less than two hours we found almost 100 morels. They were some of the fattest morels I have ever seen! I am so looking forward to our next hunting trip! I asked the husband if we could go out again tomorrow.

The elusive Morel Mushroom! Yep, I picked him!

My sister-in-law with her huntin' stick.

Nephew #1.

The short chic. Yes! She is wearing a leotard (on the outside of her clothes) and Barbie mud boots. Her choice.

These three really raked in the mushrooms! Ford Man, Nephew #2, and The Boy

The Boy with sunflower seeds in his mouth. Just in case you all were wondering.

The final product. 

Wayne with two mushrooms.
And at posting time, we have only found 1 tick, and he was not attached.Success!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday 2011

  This is one of my favorite days of the year. I love that the tomb was empty. I love to sing "He Lives" to myself all day long (I really do!) I love pretty dresses on little girls. I love Easter Egg hunts. I love that everything is new and fresh. And chocolate...What is there not to love about Easter?

We started celebrating as soon as we woke up.  My friend Melissa told me about Resurrection Biscuits. So I decided to make them part of our morning breakfast. In addition to the Resurrection Biscuits, I made up a family tradition of Wild Onions and Scrambled Eggs. Truly wonderful food!

To make Resurrection Biscuits, you begin with simply a can of Grand Biscuits. Roll them out  with a rolling pin. 

Brush them with butter, add some Cinnamon and sugar. And 1 large white marshmallow. There are lots of significance to the spices and the white marshmallow but they were pretty hard to explain to a 3 year old. Then you fold up the biscuit around the marshmallow, creating a tomb. 

After you bake them according to the package directions, you will find that  the marshmallow disappears, leaving an empty tomb. That part The Short Chic got!

As far as the Scrambled Eggs with Wild Onions, first you have to find a stash of wild onions. My mom is the best at locating them and making sure they are wild onions and not wild garlic.
I chopped up the wild onions, added some mushrooms and sauteed in some butter. Okay, this is not a diet dish. This is a good for the soul dish!
Then you add some eggs, scramble them up and you have one of the best dishes I have ever eaten.
After breakfast, we got everything cleaned up and ready to head to my sister-in-law's home for our family gathering. About an hour before we were scheduled to leave, The Short Chic runs upstairs hiding her hands. That should be every Momma's clue that maybe something is wrong. She has never hidden her arms before. But, she is not very good at it and I can see something black behind her back. It did not take long before I realized that something black, was her hands and arms!

The black armed Short Chic. REALLY!! One hour before we are set to leave for the family gathering, this is what she looks like!
I am thankful for washable markers! A quick shower, clothing change and a whole new kid emerges!

 So off we go to my Sister-In-Law's home for our family gathering and Easter egg hunt. I am going to say that we probably had 500 eggs for 6 kids.

We were also able to visit with the farm animals, thanks to Ford Man!

Daddy and The Short Chic petting the horses.

Everyone loved the Llama's. I should also make a note that you probably should not wear heeled sandals to a land-mine filled pasture.
And of course, now that my Niece can walk, you know we had to buy matching dresses for the two girls. Unfortunately, they both will not cooperate with the camera. Maybe next year Maddie!

Baby Laska and The Short Chic. Orange is now The Short Chic's favorite color.
And for this Mommy, the day became perfect at 6:50 p.m. when The Boy made it home from his Dad's..with a new haircut!! We had a private Easter egg hunt for the two kiddo's, enjoyed our Easter Baskets. It was a blessed day full of fun, friends, and family. Thank you for a wonderful day!
MOM, I got Toy Story 3!

My two with their Easter Chocolate

The Boy and The Short Chic
Happy Easter, 2011!

And  can I show you all my picture of the day....I finally got to play with light:

Photography Lesson 8: Light (FINALLY)

We have sunshine here! Hip Hip Horray! The added bonus, the day of sunshine was on Easter! A glorious day for a glorious holiday.

So, I begged the Short Chic to pose for me. I set my camera for Partial Metering and came up with this shot of her. I actually love it.

ISO 100, 1/125, f:5.6

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Photography Lesson 9: Near

Yes, I know how to count and Yes, I skipped number 8. I have practiced number 8, which is Light. But we have only had one afternoon of light and I under-exposed my subject. I am not admitting defeat, but I am waiting on some sun to practice again.

Tonight's lesson could not have come at a better time! My husband has started making his own flies. He is very proud of them and has asked me to take a few photos of them, mostly so he can post them on Facebook and show his fishing buddies. I enjoy making up silly names for the new flies.

Tonight's lesson was about using manual focus points. This is the second lesson in a row that required me to pull out the owners manual and actually read. But oh the difference in the photos!

I took this photo last night. I named this fly The Bennett, after my husband's most perfect date ever with me (his story, not mine). We took a day trip to Bennett Springs State Park and went fly fishing. Well, he fished, I sat on the bank and read a book and created a nice picnic for us.  BUT, back to the photo. I hated it. I did not like how the camera focused on the vice and not the fly. Can I say, I actually missed the macro button on my old point and shoot camera!

After tonight's lesson, I retook some photos of his flies and this is what I came up with:

ISO 400, 1/15, f/5.6

ISO 400, 1/13, f/5.6
This one is "The Elvis"

Now, both of these are taken at 9:00 p.m. at night and there was no squeezing any natural light out of the dark. So, I did use a flash. I think I will practice some more tomorrow using natural light but I am so impressed with the difference in the detail just by switching the manual focus points! The other thing that I realized after I uploaded to flickr...I left my camera on partial metering (lesson 8) and not back to the recommended metering. But overall, I am happy with the outcomes. Great Lesson Beth!  I officially take back that comment about missing my old point and shoot!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Photography Lesson: Day 7 Shadows

I have been so excited about this fun assignment. But since it was made, we have had 1 day of sunlight and it was a day I was not really around my favorite subjects.  Since that one day we have had clouds and rain! I was so excited on the way home from work today to find it was actually sunny and I could see shadows everywhere!  Thankfully, I have been dragging my camera with me everyday, just waiting for the sun to break through the gloom!

I have titled my photo: Flowers for Nana.

ISO 400, 1/2000, f/7.1

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Photography Lesson: Day 6 LOUD!

I debated long and hard about the loud things in my life. The Boy is very loud! His activities are loud.  The Short Chic is loud, she has not learned an indoor voice yet. In the end, she won out. Here are two photos of her that show how loud she can be! So, not only are we suppose to be photographing loud, but also to play with our white balance settings. I normally keep that one on Auto, so it has been fun playing with that setting. I can not believe how many photos I have taken in "M".

ISO 1600, 1/2000, f/8.0
So not only is she loud but everyone on that playground is loud.
Taken under cloud cover, but right at noon.
I love this photo. I think the lines lead the eyes and I am trying very hard to remember the rule of thirds.

ISO 1600, 1/640, f/7.1

This little meltdown was not because Mommy made her leave the playground. Rather because Mommy would not sit in the backseat with her. She cried for 1/2 hour until she fell asleep. All the time yelling, "I want you Mommy!"
Taken inside the car.

What a Game!

The Boy and his Team are playing in a baseball tournament in Kansas this weekend. I say that like Kansas is so far away, and it is not. The weather was very suspect all morning. Rainy. Cold. Windy. Thankfully, the organizers of the tournament pushed the start times back and while it was still chilly, we got to play some good ball today.

Our second game started around five with The Boy on the Mound pitching. He pitched the last inning of the first game and did very well, so his confidence was soaring high as we started the second game. First inning our team went up 5 to 1. I think I might have seen the other teams confidence crack as we scored those five runs in the first. But if I did, it was momentarily because they came back and nearly evened that score 5 to 4. Shortly there after, they capitalized on the momentum switch and took that score all the way up to 11 to 5. Their third baseman fielded anything near him and effectively shut our team down. Our boys confidence did crack. You could see the frustration taking over.

OUCH! The Boy took one to the middle of the back.

Then maybe we caught a break? They batted out of turn, we got the elusive third out on a technicality?!?! It must be a sign, right? Well maybe not so quick, first batter hits a nice strong line drive to THIRD base. Of course, he caught it. First Out. Then it is The Boys turn, and really he struggled with the bat today. I am chewing on my nails. He got a hit, a bouncy ground ball, but he was thrown out at first. Two outs, and a HUGE deficit in the score. I literally said to my ex-husband what are the odds we are going to score enough runs with two outs. His wife actually shakes her head and says, stranger things have happened.

First baseman stretching out there. Unfortunately, he was safe. 

I do not recall the progression of hits, but I will tell you we got the bases loaded! Then we got another hit and a few RBI's. Then another hit and a few more RBI's. Before we knew it, the tying runner is on first. He advanced to second. Then to third. Base hit scored him. Holy Cow, we were in the final inning, last at bat, two outs, and had tied the score! We have nearly made it through our batting order with two outs looming over our heads.

Tying the score just allowed us another inning, more time in the game. But we still only had two outs. And our winning runner was at first. A base hit moved him to third. We have runners at first and third. The runner at first, S L O W L Y tried to steal second base, the other team forgot about the runner at third, and attempted to pick off the runner at first trying to steal second. They overthrew the ball and the runner at third makes it home safely. WE WIN! 12-11 final score. All with two outs against us.

We are walking into the final day of the tournament in seeded second. One game between us and the championship game.

Again, he has this tongue thing going on this year. Kinda reminds me of my Dad. The Boy hates it but I think it is to endearing not to show.

After we got home from the game, I attempted to call my mom and tell her this story. I was so tired, all I could say was Amazing Game! I fell asleep in the living room immediately after her phone call. The husband woke me and told me to go to bed. When was the last time I was in bed at 8:30? Well, now that I am up at 4:00 a.m. maybe there is a reason I do not go to bed that early. So, dear Momma, this is The Boy's baseball story for the day. Here are some photos of him playing baseball. I am functioning MUCH better than when I called you.

Let's hope tomorrow is a great day of baseball too!

The dug out as the winning run ran across the plate. I love the excitement!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Photography Lesson 5: Quiet

I appreciate the suggestions, I even ended up taking some of the advice. I attempted to take a photo of an empty playground but the perspective was just off. So, I am posting a photo of a library isle.

ISO 400, 1/13, f/5.6

I got up too early this morning to get a photo of either one of my kiddo's sleeping. There was no light available to grab a shot. I was up and out the door by 7:15 a.m. this morning as I have been working an hour away this week. And by the time I got back home, nap time was over.

Other quiet moments today:

ISO 1600, 1/16, f/5.0
The clock in my kitchen showing that my quiet time is almost over. Soon alarms will sound, showers will begin, fighting will occur and the day will officially start in the same chaotic way it always does. The sun was not even up at this time.

ISO 100, 1/250, f/3.5
The swing set in my back yard. It is quiet today, as the weather is chilly and rain is expected.  Normally, this swing set is packed with all the neighbor kids and is loud. Just not today.


The next assignment for the photography class is Quiet. If Quiet is today's lesson, then I already know that Friday's is going to be LOUD, and I am so much better with Loud. But Quiet, I hardly get to spend time with so we do not know each other very well.  I would love to hear your suggestions on how to capture Quiet on my camera.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Photography Lesson 4: Out(side)

The assignment is to take your camera outside and snap photos in full light. The goal is to use "open shade" and try and catch the catchlight in my subjects eyes. Unfortunately, my work schedule is crazy this week and I could not get outside till after 4:00 p.m. today. That time of the day did provide a nice "open shade" as the sun was behind the house and left a nice shade on the front yard. I selected The Boy as my subject, he is 14 and does not move when I ask him to hold still.

ISO 100, 1/13, f/11.0
I can see the catchlight in his eyes in this one. Not sure if it is as good as I would have gotten earlier in the day. But I am trying. I did play around and took photos all over the yard and these two photos were by far the best of the batch. The "open shade" really does make a difference!
ISO 100, 1/40, f/7.1
You can barely see the catchlight but I like the photo.

Tomorrow is a guest teacher and I am so excited!!

I was able to get outside today with the short chic. She actually sat still. She diverted her eyes  a lot but I remained patient and caught this photo!

ISO 100, 1/50, f/5.6

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Scrapbooking, Girlfriend, Craft Weekend, Trip to the Lake Weekend!

I am so thankful Tracy suggested we skip going to CKC in St. Louis and go to her lake house instead!

So, Friday, I headed south of the city with three girlfriends to visit my friends lake home. Tracy is so use to having a lot of house company but she has never had a scrapbooking retreat at her home. Swimsuits, sunblock, and beer made way for paper piercers, cricuts, cropping, and embellishments. She deemed our weekend Craft Weekend! The neighbors even checked in on us to see how our Craft Weekend was going. Tracy's hubby was there, we knick named him CB (That stood for craft then a word for female dog). CB was so helpful. He got us drinks, fixed us steak, fixed our album extenders, helped drill holes in projects. CB even made us a late night fire and took us for a sunny boat ride!  Every girls craft/scrapbook weekend should have a CB!!

I won a party from House Party, The Ultimate Sandwich Make Over from Kraft foods. So Saturday for lunch, we all enjoyed a break from crafting and had a nice lunch of Carving Board Sandwiches and new gourmet mayo. Yummy Yummy. After our lunch, we went for a boat ride and really enjoyed the lake. CB is a wonderful tour guide!
Our out of the park lunch from Kraft!

Enjoying the sun, boat, and water! My girlfriends left to right: Me, Tracy, Lori, Meeghan, and Melissa!

Darren, or CB, our wonderful Captain

The coolest thing I made/finished this weekend was my birthday countdown calendar. I got the inspiration from all the cute advent calendars I have seen online. But, I already have a cute advent calendar, so I wanted a way of counting down the days to my Short Chic's birthday. So, viola, the Birthday Countdown Calendar was born!

I took a new cookie sheet, sanded it, painted it white and then added paper.  I made a simple 5x5 grid.

Each embellishment in the 5x5 grid is on a magnet. They can be easily removed to count down the days to a birthday.

Just a close up of the embellishments.
So, today we all packed up and said good bye to our wonderful host. They had Lake Work to do, they were moving a dock today. I came home and took a nap! It was well deserved.

Tracy would not get in our good-bye photo. She crawled out of bed and started working on a craft  project. Gotta respect that one! Here are the other four of us, saying good-bye.

And as the sun-set each night we were there, the sun sat on our wonderful Craft Weekend!