Wednesday, February 24, 2010

bloggography challenge, aperture

Manic Mother

This weeks challenge was to take some pictures using the camera's aperture priority mode and to vary the size to see how it changes the end result. There was also the added challenge of the subject being pink or red in honor of Valentine's Day. I experienced some serious lens coveting during this challenge. I only have the standard lens that came with my camera and a telephoto so I was limited in how large and small I could make the aperture. But even with those limitations I could still see a difference between a large aperture (small number) and a small aperture (large number). are my photos.

Katie was coloring some Valentines using all pinks, reds and purples.

As kids will do, she left everything on the floor and I decided her mess would be the perfect subject matter.

The first picture was shot at f 5.6 ISO 1600 1/500

This one I changed the aperture to f 20 ISO 1600 1/40

See the difference? The first picture the focus is on the jar of markers and the background is softly blurred. The second the background is in sharper focus.

Here are a couple I took outside on a winter's day.

f 14 ISO 1600 1/250

This one is f 8 ISO 1600 1/800
You can see how the branch and berries are coming into sharper focus and the branches in the background are blurring.

This last one f 5.6 ISO 1600 and 1/1600. I love how the branch and berries are so sharp and the background has faded into such a soft blur. (Don't you love all my technical photographic many ways can I use the word blur?)

This challenge was a little more difficult for me but it was fun and I'm finding myself looking at lifes little details a little more because of these challenges. It really is fun. If you want to join in, jump over to Maniac Mother or Better in Bulk and link up your photos. Don't forget to check out everyone's entrants too. They are always inspiring.

On a side note...I am tickled to death that Lolli from Better in Bulk chose my photo from the last challenge as her favorite! Thanks Lolli!

Saturday, February 20, 2010


Footnote to birthday list

Katie had a list of her own of things to get Mumma for her birthday. Very intuitive for a four year old.

scrapbooking stuff
camera stuff
books, including cookbook
sparkly pants

She was dead on until she got to the sparkly pants. Thanks be to God they didn't find any sparkly pants. That's not one of those kind of gifts you can just smile and say thanks and exclaim over them and put aside. She'd expect me to actually WEAR them. Out of the house. Another one of those small miracles I thank God for daily.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

what I really want for my birthday

All my life, whenever any of us kids asked our Mom what she wanted for her birthday, anniversary or Christmas her answer was "peace and quiet." She never asked for anything else no matter how we pestered her. I could not even imagine not wanting some THING.

I finally get it. At this point in my life there is nothing I really need that I don't buy for myself anyways. It seems frivolous and a waste of money to buy things I don't actually need. Especially since money only stretches so far. Wants are a luxury these days. Extra money, if there is such a thing, is put away for projects we have planned or expenses we know will be coming up.

The other day I celebrated a birthday and Joe was a little frustrated with me because I couldn't think of anything he could get me for my birthday. He asked me to write a list for him. This is what I came up with.

an empty dishwasher every morning
laundry that folds itself and puts itself away
no pans soaking in the sink in the morning
always having toilet paper on the roll
lunchboxes that fill themselves every morning and empty themselves each afternoon
not having to say "do your homework"
a full nights sleep
not to need the dentist on speed dial
and finally...yep, you guessed it...some peace and quiet.

I don't think my Mom ever got the peace and quiet she kept asking for. But whether my Dad surprised her with Tupperware, a charm bracelet of the twelve apostles or a scale (yes, a scale), she was never disappointed. She laughed, appreciated the thought behind the gift and made him feel like he got her the very thing she'd been hoping for. I need to practice that one. I'm not as gracious when I don't get my elusive wants fulfilled.

snug as a bug

Katie. ..this is how I find her each morning. Maybe she's part caterpillar, what with the way she wraps herself into a cocoon of blankets.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

a little corner all for me

Some day I'd like to have a whole room all to myself. Selfish, I know. I want a space to do sewing and a space to scrapbook and a space for curriculum planning. There will be a comfy place to sit and read and sip countless cups of tea. The walls will be filled with photos and artwork and all those things that make me smile or think or feel happy. It will be a room that I can leave all my mess out when I'm in the middle of something and close the door and it will be there when I return. It will be organized and pretty and all mine. Someday.

But for now, I have to make do with the space I have. Which is not much at all. I wedged a makeshift desk in a corner near the basement door. It's got a file cabinet and I use cubes from the Mill Store as cubbies for all my stuff. One cubby houses my quilting books. Another corrals art supplies and picture books. Scrapbooks in progress fill yet another. My cameras are stashed in yet another cubby and next to them a huge drum of pretzels (which I really don't care for at all...unless they have been covered in chocolate) but behind that drum of pretzels is a secret stash of Hershey Kisses. In case of emergency, don't you know. I have to sit on the floor in my little corner because there really isn't room for a chair. I have adorned the walls and top surface of the cubbies with some of my favorite things. And this makes me happy. It makes me happy to be in that space even if it isn't all that I want. Apparently, it's enough.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

bloggography challenge shutter speed

Manic Mother

I was complaining to a friend that I can't find a beginners photography class. I really would like to learn how to use my wonderful camera that my wonderful husband gave me for Christmas on something other than automatic. Don't get me wrong...I love the automatic mode but why have the SLR capability if I am never using it? So I've been searching high and low for a class. For some reason there's a dearth of beginners classes in this area. Apparently everyone else who owns a digital SLR camera has no need of a class. So this brings me to me, and my complaining that I can find no one who will teach me to use all those mysterious spots on the dial of my camera and what iso and fstop all mean. After listening to me whine, my friend gave me the link to a blog that is having weekly photography challenges that get people to play around with their camera's capabilities and offer a little lesson in what the letters and numbers all mean. So I came into the challenge a couple weeks late. But I decided I just needed to jump in and get my feet wet.

This weeks challenge is to vary the shutter speed of the camera and get an action shot. I had some fun with this. My girls LOVE to have "shows" and they offered the perfect opportunity to get some action shots.

This first one was shot with an fstop 7, iso 1600 and shutter speed 1/50
The lighting and focus leave a lot to be desired but you do get the sense of motion with her hair spinning out and her skirt twirling.

This picture makes me laugh because Teresa was laughing so hard she had a hard time twirling without falling over. But it doesn't seem to capture the motion the way the one above does even though her skirt is twirling beautifully. It is in much better focus though.
iso 1600, fstop 7 and shutter speed 1/60

I like this picture too. I know there's alot that could be much better about it but you can clearly tell she's moving and the lighting is better. She was doing cartwheels for her large audience of dolls.

iso 1600, fstop 8 and shutter speed 1/60

This is my favorite of the dozens I took. The focus is the best and I love the way her hair and skirt are swirling out. The position of her arms and the expression on her face seal the deal for me. I think the lighting is better is this photo too.

iso 1600, fstop 5 and shutter speed 1/500

I will keep practicing and trying to work out how to make the light work for me. Even if these challenges give me just a wee bit more understanding of how to take better photos, I'm ahead of where I was. And me and my pictures will be all the better for it.

Take a look at the other participants challenge photos. Just looking at other's photos helps me improve my own and certainly pushes me to think more creatively about my photography too. You can link to them through Maniac Mother's and Better in Bulk's blogs.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Typical for sisters, Teresa and Katie are often at loggerheads. Sometimes it seems they bicker and nitpick at each other constantly. Then I catch them at moments like this one. Teresa is reading a book to Katie that Katie picked out for Teresa at the library. One thoughtful gesture inspired another. I believe these moments happen more often than I realize. They're just so much quieter than the arguing that they're easy to miss. I'm glad I didn't miss this one.

His Royal Majesty

The small humans that populate this house always multiply during the day. The littlest ones are fascinated with me. Do you blame them? I am fluffy. I am irresistible. They bring me offerings of food and drink.

They do not seem to understand that a raised paw in their direction means "Leave me underling!" Instead it sends then into paroxysms of joyous laughter. As if I were blessing them or joining them in some silly game. This is irritating to His Royal Fluffiness.

When I attempted to whip my tail to express my extreme displeasure at their continued presence they had the audacity to think it needed adornment. As if it weren't glorious enough on it's own!? This flesh colored piece of plastic they stuck to my tail is just an indignity! Perhaps if I feign sleep they shall leave.

Damn, it didn't work! Still here. Bringing me yet more food offerings to garner my pleasure. Don't they realize they cannot buy my attention with food? Wait! Is this chicken? Oooooh...chicken is my favorite!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

five for five

Here’s how it works:

The first five people to leave a comment on this post will get something from me.
But in return, you have to do the same thing on your blog and make something for five other people. The details are as follows, and if you want to play, copy the following onto your blog and leave me a post:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. Whatcha get is whatcha get.
2. What I create will be just for you, with love.

3. It’ll be done this year (2010).

4. I will not give you any clue what it’s going to be. It will be something made in the real world and not something cyber. It may be weird or beautiful. Or it may be monstrous and annoying. Heck, I might bake something for you and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that’s for sure!

5. I reserve the right to do something strange.

6. In return, all you need to do is post this text on your blog and make 5 things for the first 5 to respond to your blog post.

7. Send your mailing address – after I contact you.

Monday, February 1, 2010


It's been terribly cold here. But sadly no snow. I'm sure I'll complain bitterly about the snow once it arrives but if it has to be this cold, it should at least be pretty. I set the kids to rectifying that situation and we created some mammoth size snowflakes of our own. All you will need is construction paper, qtips, scissors (for the adult) and glue. I dumped a bunch of qtips on the table and cut the little ends off of some and added those to the mix. The kids all sat around and built snowflakes from such humble parts. I did show them how to arrange the first six to eight to form the star shaped base and then they were on their own for the rest. Amazingly enough, everyone's snowflakes were completely and utterly unique. Not a single design was repeated. After they were satisfied with their design, they used good old elmers to glue the qtips in place. After some drying time, I cut off the excess paper from around each snowflake. I neglected to get a picture of them afterwards though. The kids each made several snowflakes and I was delighted with how they combined the qtips and pieces to come up with new configurations each time. I guess the old adage is two snowflakes are alike.

only two of many reasons why I needed a drink just after noon on Saturday

Our Saturday mornings are hectic crazy. The girls both have dance and at the moment both Sam and Teresa are involved with basketball. Joe is coaching both Sam's and Teresa's teams too so I am the one who does most of the driving around. Most Saturdays finds me dropping off and picking up and juggling kids between the two of us. This Saturday I dropped Teresa off at dance at nine. Then Joe left with Sam at ten for Sam's basketball game. I went down to the gym with Katie and Teresa to watch the game after picking up Teresa at ten. At eleven fifteen I brought Katie to dance. She likes me to stay while she's at dance even though Mommy's are NOT allowed in the studio. We have to sit out in the waiting room and there isn't even one of those windows. Don't tell her but sometimes I sneak out to the supermarket. Joe left to bring Teresa to basketball at noon and Sam had to tag along. At twelve fifteen I was headed back to the school gym to pick Sam up so he didn't have to sit through Teresa's practice. This is a lot of time in the car. Katie is one of those kids who likes to sit in the car and chat. Teresa always wants music on and will bring CD's in the van so she has HER music to listen to. Sam likes to bring little toys to play with. Katie wants to talk. She chatters away about everything. This particular Saturday she kept going on and on about "bowlerating."

Katie: Remember when we went bowlerating Mumma?

Me: bowlerating? I don't know what that is.

Kate: Yes you do. Remember...bowlerating...booooowl-errrrr-at-innnggg (as if repeating it will jog my memory)

Me: you mean, bowling?


Me: do you bowlerate? (part of me can't even believe I'm asking this question)

Kate: You put on a little car and you go around and around and around.

Me: We drove there in a car and went around?

Kate: No! You put ON the car and go around and around.

Me: reaching back into the recesses of my memory...ferris wheel??? tilt a whirl???

Kate: No! Mumma it's bowlerating.

Me: where did we do this?

Kate: at a birthday party. Not a birthday for someone we know though.

Me: thoroughly confused...were we just there and there was a party or did we go there for the party?

Katie: We were there FOR the party Mumma. Don't you remember? I was really really good at bowlerating.

Me: (thinking...well of course you were since it doesn't exist!) Did the whole family go?

Kate: Yup...but not Daddy. He was at the football game. Sam and Teresa went bowlerating too. But they fell down...A LOT!

Me: (light suddenly flashes on!) ROLLERSKATING! You mean rollerskating!

Kate: Yes Mumma...that's what I said...bowlerating. (sighing rather impatiently and shaking her head)


After this enlightening discussion, I ran into the gym to rescue Sam from Teresa's practice. While he was zipping his jacket I looked down into the gym to watch Teresa and see if I could catch her eye. Two teams practice together and she was at a station with the other team's coach. I waved when she looked in my direction and she waved back. Then I blew her a kiss but she had already turned her head. The coach, however, chose that moment to turn and look directly at me. He caught me blowing the kiss and quickly looked away. Great...I'll probably be arrested for sexual harassment or something now.