Friday, December 31, 2010


was a great year for us.

I hope it was for your family as well :)
Thanks for reading!
See you all in 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Before and After Blog Hop: Holiday Bokeh

Its time once again to participate in Pixel Perfect's Before and After blog hop! I'm glad I checked my blogs early today instead of late! Usually I read about it on Friday morning and by then its too late!

So, I took this picture of a hershey's hug a few days before Christmas. I was really just messing around with my camera by trying to duplicate some bokeh from my Christmas tree lights that I had seen on the Pioneer Woman's blog.

You guys know I'm editing challenged :P I typically try to get it exposed correctly in the camera and only use basic Picasa to sharpen and adjust contrast. I just learned how to do levels adjustment on GIMP. And use the unsharpen mask, too! I'm on a roll!

Here's my image after adjusting levels, sharpening, and adding texture. Subtle, but different.

Go check out all the other Before and After images! :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Our Christmas

was wonderful :)

We said "Bye!" to Murray, our Elf on a Shelf, who travels back to the North Pole on Christmas Eve where he'll stay until next Thanksgiving. Jaina colored an "M" on a sea shell so he could take a memento back home with him.

Before bedtime, we put out our Reindeer Food (which the dogs later tried to eat) on the lawn and left some cookies and coke for Santa. We figured that Santa would be sick of milk by the time he came around down South.

And took our traditional picture in our new gymboree pajamas in front of the tree.

The kids finally went to bed at 10 PM, which is a whole 1.5 hours earlier than the last 2 nights before. They were hyped up!

We had given Jaina strict instructions not to come wake us up before 6 AM.

She didn't listen. I think she got up at 5:15. My mom got up with her first and then she woke me up at 5:45. We tried waking Jayce and Brian up at 6, but they weren't having it at all.

That big yellow thing behind Jayce is his new stuffed Pluto that Santa brought him. Jaina grabbed it from the stockings and put it in bed with him to try to entice him out. He just threw an arm over it and went right back to sleep!

The boys ended up sleeping until 8 AM. That means I had to deal with Jaina and her impatience for over 2 hours! We watched a showing of The Christmas Story on TBS to pass the time.

By the time he came to open presents, he was still half asleep!!

Jaina asked for several items from Santa that would have totaled about $300 if she received all of them. Instead, she only received one item on her list... an Ugly Doll blanket.

Oh, and a papasan chair. She had forgotten she had even asked for one! She's still holding on to the hope that she'll get a giant giraffe or a Go-Go Walking dog next year. I'm telling Santa "no" on the giraffe! We already have a zoo!

As you can see, her Ugly Dog and two Ugly Dolls (I forget their names) are featured on her blanket. She couldn't be happier :)

She also received a Build-a-Bear from Santa's workshop up north. It even says so on the adoption certificate!

Oh, and she got Aqua Sand. Which I'm kind of already regretting. Its a little messy and annoying to clean up!

Jayce received a tool bench, batman stuff, and a toy box. The toy box was the only thing on his list. When he saw the other presents he said, "Silly Santa! He was only supposed to bring me one toy box!"

He also received 4 or 5 different sets of "big boy" legos! This is something that I think he'll really enjoy after he learns how to play with them :) But he didn't ask for them at all and couldn't figure out why every other present he opened was legos! I had told my in-laws and brothers that it was a great present idea. He would tear open the paper and say, "Legos, again??" It was too cute!

More of our Christmas to come later!

Friday, December 24, 2010

I Heart Christmas Cards

From Wikipedia:

The first commercial Christmas cards were commissioned by Sir Henry Cole in London in 1843 and featured an illustration by John Callcott Horsley.[1] The picture, of a family with a small child drinking wine together, proved controversial, but the idea was shrewd: Cole had helped introduce the Penny Post three years earlier. Two batches totaling 2,050 cards were printed and sold that year for a shilling each.[2]

Well, way to go Sir Henry Cole :) I'll go ahead and thank you for my favorite Christmas tradition of all!

I absolutely love sending and receiving cards! I never thought to do it until Jaina's first Christmas. I think that year I may have only sent out about 30 cards to friends and family. Now my list goes way over 100 (I don't have an exact count because I still haven't sent out all my cards!) with no end in sight. I just can't take people off my list, even if they have never sent me a card in their life. Instead, I just keep adding people throughout the year that I meet and form relationships with :) Its a beautiful thing.

This year I had designed two different cards at because I couldn't narrow it down anymore than that. Unfortunately, Costco seems to have right click disabled their preview images. I can't show you what our cards looked like :( And no scanner. 

So I just made a new card with and voila! Now I have a new card to share for my bloggers. 

Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, and Happy New Year to all!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gingerbread men, not houses

Hats off to you fabulous crafty people who bake and design their own Gingerbread houses each holiday season.

I am not one of those people.

Instead, I'm lucky if 4 simple cookies make it from the counter

to the baking stone

to the table

without a casualty.

(I am thankful to say that there were no casualties this year!)

So, armed with our supplies,

we set out to decorate the best Gingerbread cookies in South Carolina. 




Brian finally decided to join us. He even made a cookie, too!

but he ate it before I could get a good photo. 

So, blog readers....

What do you normally bake during the holidays?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Man on the Moon

Or, rather, an elf on the moon.

The kids were pretty freaked out the other morning when they woke up and realized that Murray, our elf, was actually IN Jayce's room! Jaina exclaimed, "You mean he was watching us sleep!?" As the day wore on, the kids figured out that they didn't have to really watch their behavior in the rest of the house because Murray probably couldn't see them from the bedroom. Little stinkers!

These photos were also a bit of a practice assignment for me. I read a famous photographer's blog and she just posted a FAQ on shooting at a high ISO with a light source included in her photo. Dude, I really need a new camera. I know that its the photographer, not the camera that makes the shot. But there comes a time that the photographer is limited by the capabilities of her camera. I really need a full-frame sensor, higher ISO options, more automatic focus points, and the capability of shooting at a higher shutter speed than 1/4000.

Dear Santa, will you please bring me a Canon 5D Mark II? I know that its much more than my husband spent on his silly motorcycle, but really... does life need to be fair? I've been a very good girl! I could have probably been a better mom or wife, but honestly... have you tried living with my family? :)

A girl can dream, can't she?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Proof That it Really Did Snow

For all of 5 minutes :)

It sure wasn't much,  but to these Southern kids, it was enough.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Interesting Car Conversations

Our drive to school in the mornings only takes 15 minutes at best, but that's a huge opportunity to have some interesting conversations.

me: "Hey guys! Miss Becca found out she was going to have a baby GIRL yesterday! Isn't that exciting? Lou and Cassie are going to have a baby sister!"
jayce: (pause) "But it was supposed to be a boy."
jaina: "Can I keep her?"

jayce: "How do you get pregnant?"
me: "Well, mommies have eggs in their uterus. Sometimes the egg turns into a baby."
jaina: "I don't want that to happen to me! I'll just pay somebody to have my eggs."


jaina: "When I am 18 and go off to college, I'm taking Shaggy with me."
jayce: "No, Jaina! I want to take Shaggy!"
jaina: "You can have Alli."
jayce: "NO! Alli will be dead!"
me: "Guys, you can't take dogs to college with you. They won't let you."
jaina: "Well, when I get out of college, I'll get one."
me: "Sure, when you are living in your own apartment and working your own job."
jaina: "Can I really? Please mommy? Will you please let me have a new puppy when I am 22? Please? I'm begging you! I'll take such good care of it!"
me: "Jaina, when you are 22, I doubt you'll be asking me for permission to have a dog.
jaina: "But I really want one! It will be so cute! Please? Will you think about it? Please?"

jayce: "When I'm 22, I want to go to daycare. Can grownups go to daycare, mommy?"
jaina: "No, Jayce! Daycare is only for little kids! You won't need to go."
me: "You can work at a daycare, Jayce. You can be a worker and help take care of the kids."
jayce: "Okay, I'll do that after I am a football player. And a power line worker."
jaina: "I thought you were going to be a teacher."
jayce: "oh. I forgot."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

10 on 10: December

ten on ten button

The idea:

Take a photo every hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of each month. Document a day of your life and find beauty among the ordinary moments. Then share your beauty with us! 

Okay, I fail again!! Maybe one of these days I'll actually get 10 consecutive photos in 10 hours! Its just so hard!!

I forgot to do it at 7 when the kids and I were making a mad dash off to school, so I started a little after 8 AM when I had to let the dogs out.

It was cold and Shaggy did NOT want to be outside. Which is kinda weird for him, actually. He'll go out in 19 degrees and lay under the swing and refuse to come inside sometimes! (and on a side note, do you see what our dogs are doing to our back door? Eeek!)

At a little after 9 AM, I found myself babysitting for my favorite 18 month old ever :) Really, when she comes over, its not like its even work. We just play and play and snack and play some more. Her mommy was at an OB/GYN appointment listening to her new baby sister/brother's heartbeat!

As soon as Cassie left, I had to go upstairs and get some work done.

Working from home is hard! I am horrible at time management and also a procrastinator. I'm trying to force myself to work an hour every day instead of cramming 5-6 hours in on a single day at the end of the month! We have a Family Connections party coming up and I've got to personally call and invite all my families, so this time I have a deadline!

A little after 11, I was in my car heading to Cato's (pretty much the only clothing store on this side of town) to pick up a $10 scarf to use as my Holiday Gift Exchange present for Book Club later that evening.

Okay, here's where I fail. I picked Brian up at 11:53 PM. I was actually driving in the car when it was time to take my noon photo. I thought I'd remember to take a pic as soon as we got to Target, but I forgot. Then we headed over to Panera bread and tried to eat there. There was this really weird plastic burning smell outside the restaurant. However, the lines were too long and there were no tables available, so we went on to Toys R Us. When we were getting out of the car, we realized that it still smelled like burning plastic for some reason. Huh?

It was after 1 by this point and we were starving, so we stopped by Brian's old stand by.

Its okay to make fun of my husband's purple sports coat. I do every Friday :)

At Taco Bell, we finally got clued into the fact that the plastic burning smell was actually from my car. Brian couldn't see anything when he popped the hood, so he advised me to take it to the shop as soon as I got the kids.

A little after 2 PM, I pick up my sweet ones :)

Where Jayce promptly steals my Dr. Pepper soda from Taco Bell. Who didn't see that one coming?

By this time, I'm really freaking out about my car. The smell is horrible! I'm thinking electrical fire of some sort! The kids are afraid my car is going to blow up or catch on fire, or both! They almost don't want to ride in it! I promise that we are going straight to the car shop and that everything was going to be fine. And this is the reason I don't have a 3 PM photo :)

I'm also freaking out because I have SO much to do this afternoon. I have a therapist coming at 3:00 PM, I have a babysitter (therapists cannot babysit, so I still have to hire someone) coming at 3:30, and a photography session (that had already been rescheduled 2 times before) at 4 PM. And then there is book club at 7. No way am I missing this stuff!

The wonderful mechanics at our favorite car garage was able to diagnose the problem in about 5 seconds flat.

"Well, I see you've been to Target today!" he says, after looking under my car.

The culprit? A plastic bag caught up under the engine. Smelly, but harmless.

I rush my kids home while calling everyone to say that we are fine and my afternoon will go as scheduled!

So, by 4 PM, I was photographing this sweet little girl:

The sun sets shortly after 5 PM, so this was taken just a few minutes before we called it quits for the session:

6 O'clock found me rushing around my kitchen making The Pioneer Woman's French Onion Stuffed Mushrooms to take to Book Club later. This would have been an excellent photo op, but I was way too busy to even think about finishing my 10 on 10.

Next month, guys, I'm doing it! I promise!