Monday, February 28, 2011


She is beside herself with excitement. And in the few hours that have lapsed since I took her into the gymnastics place to sign her up and since we went to Target together to purchase her gymnastics leotard, in those few hours, we have had the same conversation many more times than I can count on two hands.

"What day will I start my gymnastics class, Mommy?"

"Well, this week since you missed the first class this morning, you will have your class on Thursday night. But every week after this week, it will be on Monday morning."

"What day is today?"


"So tomorrow I can say the day after tomorrow I'll have my gymnastics class?"

"Yep! When you wake up tomorrow, you can say that day after tomorrow will be your first class. Then the next day when you wake up, you can say that tomorrow you'll have your first class!"

"Then it will be on Monday after this week?"


"But this week it's on Thursday?"

"You got it!"

And on the way to Target, there was this conversation as well as one that went like this:

"We're going to Target now?"

"Uh huh."

"To get that thing for me, that thing, what is it called again?"

"A leotard."

"To get my leotard?"


"For my gymnastics class?"

She couldn't wait to get home to try it on. All the way home she talked about her new class and her "What is that thing I'm wearing called again, Mommy?" and about how she would practice her balance when she got home. And she did practice her balance on the stairs, on the wide stripes of the area rug, on the strips of the hardwood floor.
Audrey feet

Yes, my little girl is definitely very excited about her first gymnastics class.

Sweet Shot Day

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Sunday Afternoon

On Sunday afternoons, if I have my act together and do not have to use the time to plan school, I often go out by myself - to the store or photo hunting, just to get some time alone. I'm trying to do more with the kids, though, so when my husband suggested I take my oldest along, I didn't hesitate. Of course, I can't take one girl and not the other so we had a girls' afternoon.

We meant to raid the Closing Sale at Border's Bookstore, but when we got there, it looked like Disney World. Not the fun and magic of Disney World, but the lines and chaos. When I saw there was little in the store more than 20% off, we left and went to Barnes and Noble where my educator's discount gives me 20% off. And the books are all orderly. And the lines short.

The girls selected a book, and I picked up a couple of Horrid Henry books for the boys. As I handed the cashier my educator card, she asked if all of my purchases were school materials. I explained I am a homeschooler and that, while some may not view Horrid Henry as fine literature, if the boys are reading, these books are in my opinion school materials. I got my discount.

Oh, and how could I forget the most important part of our bookstore trip? There is a Starbucks in the Barnes and Noble. Green iced tea for me, hot chocolate for the girls. And we all shared a cinnamon scone.

On our way home, we passed a walking trail along the Farmington River. I noted a couple of potential picture spots, and we pulled over. Unfortunately, the trail is still covered by a couple feet of snow, and the girls did not have snow boots on. This lady had the right idea:

2-26 skiier

We enjoyed watching her ski by.

So we didn't stay long, but it was a fun little detour anyway.
2-26 girls

2-26 reflection

It's Not About Me

Audrey coloring

Psalm 127:3 - Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

"Mommy, will you please print a coloring page for me?" She hesitates as she makes her request. She knows. She can guess what my answer will be.

I sigh. "Not right now, Baby," I mumble, not looking up from whatever important task I am engaged in.


I glance up and see a look flash across her face. What is it? Resentment? Disappointment? Or maybe just a Why did I even bother to ask? look.

I don't want to be that mom anymore.

I don't want to be the mom who always says No or Wait or Not now or Later.

I don't want to be the mom who rationalizes that she is "here for them" just because she is physically present in the same room.

I've been thinking a lot lately. Pondering. And listening. Finally listening to the promptings. I've been bombarded by them as of late...various blogger friends who have voiced their decisions to slow down, to change their priorities; a Bible study at church encouraging us parents to remember what it's all about; words from One Thousand Gifts (Voskamp) reaching out, shaking me. Don't you hear? Haven't you figured it out yet?

It's not about you.

How do I want my children to remember me? That was our mom...she always loaded the dishwasher just right. She made sure there were no crumbs on the floor. She had a thousand Facebook friends. She really mastered the art of photography.

Or do I want them to know me as the mother who put my all into loving them, guiding them, teaching them. The mother who pointed them to the Father and who modeled a Godly life for them?

Don't I want to be remembered as the mother who knew it, who lived it?

It's not about me!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


We finally made it to the Science museum. Unfortunately, I did not take into account the fact that many of the area schools were out this week which means that it was a little crowded. Honestly, I prefer the school groups when visiting a point of interest because they leave around 1:00, allowing us to have the run of the place for a couple of hours. But families? They stick around longer than we do. Thankfully, we have a family membership to the museum, so we will return when school is in.

We had a good time despite the crowds. The museum is divided into 6 different exhibits, each a self-contained room so that I felt comfortable giving the older three some freedom in wandering around. Surprisingly, the windows were the most interesting, fun places in one of the rooms.
Environment circle Alex 2

Environment circle Michael

Environment Audrey silhouette

There were a lot of other fun things to do as well. Like have a car race,
Forces car race

try to stack nails,
Mindbenders Alex nails

follow a ball through an obstacle course,
Sight & Sound ball maze 2 Audrey

whack a dummy head with a huge mallet,
Sports Helmet Crash

explore space,
Space Alex & Jacob

form a square,
Mindbenders square 2

or draft a new invention.
Sight & Sound drafting Michael

But the kids all agree that their very favorite activity was the ball race, wherein the ball was powered by the mind.
Sports brain 1

Sports brain 3

Our day through science ended with a 3D movie on the journey the not yet released Boeing 787 has taken from dream to reality.

And my favorite moment? This a mile.
Environment Michael & Audrey

Good to Wow: Pink Edition, Edited

It's been a busy week. I've been trying to spend less time on the computer and less time playing with pictures. And...we went to a museum today where I took TONS of pictures, pictures that are just a little more important than pictures of pink benches. So...I've been playing with those photos! Nevertheless, I did get my pinks done.

Here's the trash can SOOC:

And now:
I cropped it and increased the saturation. Using the healing tool, I removed the little red spigot thingy on the floor.

And here is the bench/trash can combo SOOC:

And now:
I lightened the shot up a lot by increasing the exposure in RAW. I still needed to lighten up the trash can and bench some more, but I didn't want to brighten the background anymore, so I selected trash can and lightened and increased saturation. Then, using the cloning tool, I made the entire back wall yellow and removed the big electrical outlet. Finally, I ran Coffeeshop's Urban Grit action and brushed it on to the rim of the trash can as well as the "fence" rail.

Finally, here is my Life is Pink shot SOOC:

And the re-do:
First, a crop. Then I increased the saturation and ran Coffeeshop's Pink Glow action followed by some cloning work. First, I edited out some of the shadows.

And last, I cloned out the poster that appeared in the store below the sign. I used the rectangle tool, pointer, alt key, and healing tool for the poster removal. To do this, I selected some of the pink polka-dotted background using the rectangle tool. Then I clicked on the pointer. This outlined the rectangle in the little moving ants. I then pressed alt and moved the rectangled selection. Clicking the alt key copies the selection rather than just leaving a hole. I placed the selection where I wanted it and then used the healing tool to clean up the line. I didn't do a perfect job healing the line, but it's sufficient. I also had to clone in a polka dot that was half missing because of the poster.

And that, folks was my Life in Pink.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Joy of Love - {18}

I am hopelessly behind on the Joy of Love Challenge. Well, not hopelessly exactly, because I do intend to catch up. And in fact, I am posting Day 18 today even though I have not yet posted Days 9-17.

But it's my birthday and therefore my prerogative. It's also my husband's birthday. Growing up, I always loved sharing my birthday with him because he was a cool older kid, and here was little ol' me celebrating on the same day. Of course now it's extra special sharing a birthday with my favorite person in the world.

This year we celebrated a couple of days early. We finally found a wonderful babysitter up here in our new digs, and she came over Sunday night. When we go out, we almost always do a fancy dinner, often trying something new.

The experience this year was new to me: a tapas restaurant. Mark has been to Barcelona several times on various trips he made in the past up here to Connecticut. It is fun now to share in this part of his life that I, for years, heard about but didn't live.

Unfortunately, the lighting was bad and all I had was my iPhone, but the kind gentleman at the table next to ours snapped a photo anyway. I added a little extra noise in an attempt to make it appear like I meant for it to be that out of focus, etc., etc. It's a capture of the memory anyway.

{Day 18}

going out

18 - going out

To join in the fun, visit Willette Photography.

At the Cross

My church asked for photos of crosses, so I took on the mission, stopping by churches and any other venues where crosses might be, including a graveyard. I find cemeteries to be so beautiful and peaceful.

I took my youngest along to look for crosses on this particular day; the others are not quite as patient as she is with my photo obsession. The cemetery we went to had the perfect cross, and I asked Audrey to stand underneath it and look up at it.

With no disrespect to those whose names are on those tombstones, I wanted this photo to focus on Audrey at the cross. Plus, as a church photo, I thought it would be best without the graves. It took awhile - a lot of cloning and touch-ups, but I finally got the photo to look like I wanted it to.

Audrey at the cross (color)

The sky in the original photo was rather gray, so I inserted a bluer sky from another photo I have.

Touch Up Tuesday's at the Paper Mama

I then decided to go black and white. I had to blur and smudge the sky a bit with this one, though, because the fun cloud texture from the blue sky looked a little odd in the black and white.

Audrey at the cross (b&w)

the long road

This photo is a special treasure to me because of the conversation with my sweet little Audrey that followed our little photo shoot at the cross.

"It's pretty here," she said thoughtfully.

"It is, isn't it?" I responded. "It's so quiet and peaceful. And so beautiful."

"It seems like a Christian graveyard," she continued.

"You're right! There are lots of Christian symbols, aren't there? Like crosses and statues of Jesus and of angels."

"Was everyone who died here a Christian?" she asked.

Although it was sobering for me to explain to her that, unfortunately, not all of these people likely asked Jesus into their hearts before they died, I had a sweet moment with her where I could tell her about Jesus' love for her. This was probably the first opportunity I have had to explain salvation to her in a situation where I think she really understood.

I assured her that her mommy and daddy are always here to answer any questions she has. My hope and prayer is that she will soon make a decision to come back to the cross.

Sweet Shot Day

Monday, February 21, 2011

Good to Wow: Pink Edition, SOOC

In case you missed it, we took our birthday boy to the mall for his big day. As I mentioned before, we really know how to throw a party.

There was pink at the mall. Quite a bit of pink, actually. This is a mall in Nyack, New York, and it has kind of a warehouse-y feel. The floors are concrete, and there is a lot of grunge metalwork that is exposed. Who would think, then, that all of the trash cans and benches throughout would be in fuschia? I guess the contrast between grit and frill is what makes the statement.
And, yes, this one's really, really dark, but that is why we are editing them, right?

And of course since it is a mall, there is a Victoria's Secret.
My SOOC is a bit fuzzy. I felt a little strange aiming the camera at the store lest someone think I'm some sort of pervert.

I did ask someone in VS if I could photograph their big pink and white polka-dotted dog, being clear in my explanation that I was completing a Pink Assignment. They told me no one is permitted to take photographs in the store. That being said, I had another photo of a pink and white chair I took in the store before I asked permission. I thought about posting the contraband picture anyway, but since it appeared to have the names of the employees written on it, and since I wasn't supposed to take pictures inside the store, it'll just go in my archives. It was a really cool chair, though. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Scripture & a Snapshot - Trust = Direction

Proverbs 3 5-6

Isn't it a comfort to know He can give us understanding if we just ask. And if we trust Him and lean on Him, He will direct us!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Photo Scavenger Hunt, Vol. V

1. Chocolate
WARNING: If you are chocoholic like me, don't read any further and do NOT look at the photo! There. You've been warned.

We were at Sam's the other day, and I come across these chocolates that are shaped like chips. As in potato chips. I like potato chips, and you know the saying: You can't eat just one. Well, you certainly can not eat just one of these either.

They are thin, sweet, chocolatey. Delectable. And the little rice crisps add just the right texture, just the right crunch. They also have a lovely criss cross pattern gently stamped on the back of each chip. Did I mention they are delectable?

2. Music

Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata: one of my favorites. Someday I hope to master it on the piano.

3. Numbers
School tools for math with Audrey:
Numbers 1

Numbers 2

4. Stack
My current reading list:

5. Canned Goods
Just for fun...
Canned Good

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Birthday Boy

He's still my little boy, but suddenly he's 10. Just like that.
Michael with Daddy's hands b&w

Trying to juggle 4 kids' birthday parties is tough both on us and on parents whose children get invited to our parties, so our kids alternate years in which they get a "big" party. This year is the boys' year to have small family parties, so Michael spent his birthday with just us. The day started with a his favorite part: presents!
Michael opening gifts

We took the day off and went to New York to spend the day at our favorite mall. I know. We're party animals. But really, we always have fun at this mall, and the little man is in heaven because there is a Lego store there. (Can you believe that Lego's headquarters (translation: main offices) are here in Connecticut, but there is no Lego store?)

Of course, we couldn't come all the way to New York, all the way to this mall without visiting the candy store.
Audrey candy


We lunched at a Mexican Restaurant that makes the drive worthwhile.

And we had a ball

playing Mini-Bowling. Never heard of it? Me neither. But it was a lot more affordable and a lot easier for little hands.
Bowling Alley

Audrey bowling

Michael bowling

Jacob bowling

Audrey bowling 2


Mural 2

And there was an arcade.
Michael on video game

boys on video game

We had a great time as a family celebrating Michael.
kids on bench

And of course there was cake.
Michael candles

Happy birthday to my fun, loving, mischievous, charming, witty, sweet little man!