Monday, January 31, 2011

Good to Wow: Red Edition, SOOC

Guess what I FINALLY learned to do this week?

Use my camera's timer!

It's really not complicated at all; I just have never taken the time to read the manual to discover which button to push, but...and here's a shameless plug:

Tomorrow I am launching the new photo challenge I am hosting, Lyrical Photographs, and I needed some self-portraits. As I was working on that, I figured why not slap on some RED lipstick? So here's my SOOC.

Yes, that is me. I don't like pictures of me, but there it is.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt, Vol. II (with Scripture & a Snapshot)

1. Seventies

I don't have any bell bottoms stashed away. Or records. Or disco balls. However, it just so happens I was born in the 70s! And adopted by my parents 4 days later. My husband was born in the 70s as well...on the same day as me just 3 years earlier. So I guess that would mean I was born on the same day as he.

Jeremiah 1:5 - I am so humbled by the fact that even before I was born, God knew all about me and had a plan for me. And what humbles me even more is the fact that I have been truly and completely blessed by His plans; they have far exceeded anything I could have come up with myself!

Of course, Psalm 139:13-16 goes right along with this:
"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be."

2. Texture

This is Carabella. This is usually what she's doing. Well, this or eating. That is why she is a little, uh, overweight. Like Garfield overweight.

3. Fog

I didn't think I was going to be able to meet the Fog challenge. I'm no meterologist, but I think fog occurs when hot and cold collide. We've had plenty of cold but no heat. But lo and behold, there was some fog--or at least some haze--this morning. I guess the warm 30 degrees we had yesterday afternoon must have interacted with our negative temps of the morning to cause a little fog.

I love this view of the valley. It is about a quarter mile from our house. I would love to own one of the homes that is treated to this view 24/7, but we probably couldn't afford one.

4. Button

Seriously, I hope people don't think I favor my littlest one over my other children since most of my pictures are of her. It's just that she is the only one who does not run from the camera. I have blurry pictures of half of my other children as they escape my focal point. But this one? She will model for an hour for me if I ask her to!

5. Beverage

Friday, January 28, 2011

Winter Scene

winter scene

Weekly Wrap-Up, Powered by S'Mores


I think by far my favorite curriculum choice this year has been R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey, Elementary Chemistry. It is easy to follow, easy to plan, and it holds the kids' attention because it's easy to follow, it makes sense, and the hands-on activities are a lot of fun. I knew this week's experiment would be particularly fun because it resulted in a yummy snack.

The great thing about exposing the kids to chemistry in the elementary grades is that their familiarity with the vocabulary and structure of the subject will be half the battle in overcoming the mystery of high school chemistry. We have already learned the structure of the periodic table. We have already learned about atomic numbers and atomic masses, about protons, electrons, and neutrons. The children know that if Carbon has an atomic number of 6, that means there are 6 protons and 6 neutrons. They know that if the atomic mass is 12, that means there are 6 neutrons. They know that only 2 electrons can sit on the first energy level of an atom and only 8 on the second.

And right now they are learning the names and functions of the most common elements on the periodic table. They are learning them by memorizing funny mneumonic phrases. Like today, we learned that it is fun to be Constantly Silly. Carbon and Silicon are now easy to remember.

We learned that Silicon combines with two Oxygen molecules to make sand. And we learned that carbon is present in diamonds, pencil lead, and sugar. We also learned that carbon becomes a darker color when exposed to heat. To illustrate this, we placed a sugary marshmallow on a graham cracker and put it in the oven.

After we did this, we learned that carbon can turn black when exposed to heat for too long. (Note: If you decide to use this curriculum, do NOT leave your S'Mores in the oven for 10 minutes like the directions say to do. 3-4 minutes is sufficient.) Consequently, we got to do the experiment twice.

Smores Oven

After we finished our experimental snack, we completed our lab page as well as the pages provided for our Elements Book and then had a little look-see at a grain of sugar under the microscope.

Smores Microscope

Like I said, I'm really loving this curriculum. Even though I plan to go more online classes for next year, I think we may stick with Pandia Press's science courses.

Weekly Wrap-UP

Hosted by Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Good to Wow: Good Night Edition, Edited

It was lights out on Good to Wow this week, and here are my edits:

Audrey's blankie SOOC:
SOOC Good Night Blankie

For the edit, I adjusted in RAW followed by a high pass filter and soft light blending mode. I then applied Coffeshop's Vintage action and added the words.

The Blankie and Bear SOOC:
SOOC Good Night Blankie & Bear

Blankie and Bear got edited first with a RAW adjust followed by a high pass filter and soft light blend mode. I then adjusted color and light and applied the Sepia action. I added a layer mask and brushed the sepia off the blankie and bear.
Blankie & Bear

My sweet lil' Audrey SOOC:
SOOC Good Night Audrey

I couldn't help myself. I did two edits on her. The first was the most simple one. I did my normal edits: RAW, high pass filter, soft light blend. I then ran Coffeeshop's Perfect Portrait action. I love this action! You can pick and choose which parts of the action you want and adjust each one accordingly. I liked this edit because it kept her most natural.
Good Night Audrey Edit

For the second edit, I did my normal edits and once again ran Coffeeshop's Perfect Portrait. But I only utilized the eye define and skin softening portions of the action. Following this, I ran Coffeeshop's Velvet Truffle action. I love this action...on anything really! I love how it softens and really does bring a velvety tone to any photo. In this edit, I brushed the truffle off the bear and blankie using a brush with adjusted opacity.
Good Night Audrey

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You Capture - Happy

There are a lot of things that make me happy: my husband, my kids, a new book, chocolate, sunsets, the beach, chocolate...

Lately, though, I've been thinking that what would make me really happy would be to see some green outside instead of all this white. Seriously, why in the WORLD did the Pilgrims come all the way over here and say to themselves, "Wow, this looks like a really great place to live in the middle of December even though we don't have any houses or any other kind of shelter"?

There is so much snow here. Just piles and piles of it. And it's not just snow. It's a couple layers of snow, a layer of ice, another layer of snow, a layer of ice, some more snow. I'm sure there is a summer of some kind up here in the Arctic, but I kind of see these piles just sticking it out through the summer...trying to get a head start on next winter.

Anyway, there are a million more inspiring, more important things I could photograph that define happiness for me, but honestly, the thing that made me the happiest on a snowy day like today was stopping by Starbucks to pick up my favorites: An Iced Venti Green Shaken Tea and some Scones.



And, yes, I realize that I'm probably the only one in this frigid land who goes in on a day like today and orders an iced drink, but when you're hooked, you're hooked.



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Experiences

If you follow me on Facebook, you have already heard me tell about the warm welcome we have gotten here in fact, just this morning some snowfall record was broken in our honor.

Needless to say, it's been a little chilly around here. This week, I experienced negative temperatures for the first time ever in my life. Chalk today up as another new experience day too because I drove in the snow and mess for the first time ever.

For the last couple of weeks it seems any plans penciled into our calendar have been canceled due to the snow. Last week, Alex was supposed to begin a drama class with a local theater group. But the opening class? Closed because of last week's blizzard. In spite of the snow this morning, however, the class was scheduled to go on.

I knew I couldn't hole up in the house again and have her miss her first class just because I'm a little scared to drive in these conditions. On the other hand, as I willed the mini-van to make a left turn smoothly and quickly enough to miss oncoming traffic, I wondered aloud if risking the children's and my life was worth a drama class.

We made it without incident, albeit a bit tardy, but even her teacher was not yet there when we arrived. All total, our 25 minute commute there took us about 50 minutes. And then I had to turn around and take the same route back home. Another 40-50 minutes. Which didn't leave a whole lot of time for school for the boys and Audrey, but we squeezed it in.

And during that time, the snow stopped, the sun came out, and the salt started melting the snow off the streets. I'll say one thing for these Connecticutans Connecticutians Connecticutters people who live in Connecticut: they know how to clear a road fast. I allowed for 45 minutes for the trip back to the theater to pick Alex up.

It took 25 minutes.

So we waited in the car. The kids enjoyed a few moments to play their video games, and I enjoyed a few moments with my camera:

1-26 steeple

1-26 door

1-26 church

Have I mentioned that I don't grow tired of New England architecture?

Sweet Shot Day

Monday, January 24, 2011

Good to Wow: Good Night Edition, SOOC

"Ma-Mee! Ma-Mee!"

"I'm right here, Baby," I said reassuringly.

"No. Ma-Mee!" She looked up at me, tears welling up in her big, blue eyes. My heart was gripped by that helpless feeling any mother hates to encounter.

I picked her up and tried to cuddle her, but she just kept crying, "Ma-Mee!" Finally, it occurred to me that as of late, Alex had been quite attached to the cloth diapers I used as burp cloths for her baby brother. I put her down momentarily and went to fetch one. As she saw me enter the room with it, her tears dried up, her eyes lit up, and a smile of delight spread across her face.

"Ma-Mee!" she cried happily, taking it from me.

And that is how the Security Blanket first entered our home. Three of 4 of the kids have had one. Jacob is the only one who never became attached, though because of his shy nature seemed like the one who would be best suited to cuddling a blankie for comfort.

What's funny is that none of the kids' security blankets were ever called "blankies". At least at first. Alex of course called hers "Ma-Mee", which I've never figured out unless she found her blankie to be some sort of substitution for "Mommy". She was the easiest to provide blankies for because it seemed in those days we had a never-ending supply of cloth diapers (which we used only as burp cloths, not diapers); keeping enough laundered to serve as both burp cloth and security blankets was another story, especially with a colicky baby.

It was a little more difficult to ensure Michael had his "bappy" always on hand. He took to a blue and white flannel blanket that was given to him as a baby gift. At one point we had two. When one was lost, we cut the remaining one in half so we would always have one for the house and one for the car.

Thankfully, Audrey only needs hers in bed. And, yes, I know she is 5 1/2; it is probably high time for her to give up her blankie, but she's just so cute with it. Although she now calls it her blankie, at first she dubbed it her "My". I don't know where that came from, and as I recall, we went through a similar situation as with Alex in discovering a "My" was her blankie.

Audrey's My is actually a blanket Alex received as a baby gift, and unfortunately, though I have searched and searched, I cannot find a duplicate. Because there is only one, her My has become well, well...loved. Almost daily, I cut stray strings from her blankie, and consequently, there is less and less My everyday.

SOOC Good Night Blankie

Perhaps because her My is disappearing, Audrey has also become quite attached to Bear. Bear was her first gift in the hospital from her adoring daddy and siblings. Bear is very loved as well, but at least he has all of his limbs.

SOOC Good Night Blankie & Bear

I know soon my last little baby will move on from blankies and stuffed bears to make-up and boyfriends. I treasure each evening when I tuck her in, feel her sweet little arms around my neck, hear her tell me she loves me, and then kiss her as she clutches her My and Bear to her chest.

SOOC Good Night Audrey

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt, Vol. 1

1. Memories


Almost 16 years ago, my husband and I exchanged vows and rings. We got our wedding bands from West Africa, which is very meaningful to us since that is where we grew up. What is funny is we only spent about $50 on each of them back in the day. Sometimes we joke that we're going to take these bands in to one of those We Buy Gold places to see how much they are worth now. But we wouldn't; they mean too much to us.

The verse from Ruth is special to me because I recited that passage as part of my vows. And I guess I have lived up to my promise because here I am in Connecticut!

2. Silhouette



3. Doorways


Up until this afternoon, I was just going to cheat and pull a favorite from last week's You Capture post showcasing doors. But then on the way to the kids' basketball games, we passed a barn I've been meaning to photograph. We were running late, but when you have to have a new doorway, why shouldn't it be a barn door? I love all of the barns up here in New England!

Barn Charm

For more barns or to link up, visit Barn Charms.

4. Reflection


I saw this fabulous picture at one of the local Starbucks of a mug sitting outside carrying a beautiful reflection of the sky. I wanted to give it a try. A couple things that worked against me: It is always windy here at my house, so it was difficult to catch a still reflection. I would have waited it out, but it hasn't gotten past the mid-20s around here, and my shutter finger was becoming numb. I also discovered I had to use manual focus, something I usually forget about. I tried in vain to use AF, but it was far more interested in the dark inside of the cup rather than the beautiful picture floating on top. My shutter finger was really numb by the time I remembered manual focus.

I'll perfect this shot this summer!

5. Silver


I love to decorate cakes, and I have a few too many of these. My five shiniest and most interesting decorating tips posed for this photo.

Join the Scripture & a Snapshot Blog Hop by linking up below!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Socialization Anyone? (Plus, a little tip for learning the states and their capitals.)

Because of the crud and the snow and the ice and the snow, we've spent the last 2 weeks in the house. Did I mention the snow? And the ice? If there is anyone who is tired of walking the same halls, sitting in the same chairs, seeing the same scene from the same windows, it is me. And the kids.

"I'm bored!"

"What can we do?"

Those two questions have echoed down the same halls and bounced off the same windows for two weeks because...did I already mention the ice and the snow? Out of all of our years of homeschooling, I would say these two weeks are the only two the big S word (and we're talking Socialization here, not Snow, although there has been a lot of Snow around here) has been an issue.

Because of this, I didn't hesitate at all when a friend asked me to take her 3 kids for the day on Wednesday.

1-19 3 kids

When Wednesday came, the kids were very excited to see some new faces. Of course, on account of the snow and the ice that were still falling outside, we spent the day inside. But at least they got to watch some movies and play games with someone other than their siblings or parents.

1-19 Lilly & Alex

1-19 Matthew & Audrey

1-19 Audrey

We also had fun making our own pizzas for lunch.

1-19 making pizzas

I did not schedule any school while our visitors were here, but the rest of our school week went quite well. There is one thing I have started doing in the last couple months that has made a tedious task so much easier.

I use SpellQuizzer for the kids' spelling, and it works marvelously for that. Well, this year it is my goal for the three kids to learn not only what the states and capitals are, but to also to spell the names of the states. So I use SpellQuizzer to quiz them on this so I do not have to engage each of the 3 in the daily tedium of quizzing and recitation.

If you have never used SpellQuizzer, it is very simple. Once a week, you sit down with a microphone and record--in your own voice--the spelling words and a sample sentence...just like if you were quizzing them. Only with this you only have to do it once! So it goes something like this:

Me recording: What state's capital is Hartford?

[When the child hears that prompt, he or she must correctly spell and capitalize "Connecticut" as the answer.]

Me recording: What is the abbreviation for Connecticut?

[When the child hears the prompt, he or she must correctly capitalize the answer "CT".]

So simple! So easy!

1-19 Michael

For information on SpellQuizzer, click on the link on my sidebar or click here.

Weekly Wrap-UP

Hosted by Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.