Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Too much cuteness!

I really need to take my camera out more often!

Dangle, dangle

There is just too much cuteness around here for it not to get captured in a photo.

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Clara will be 13 months old at the end of the month.

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She's been walking for a few months now, but she'll still crawl occasionally. But, when that occasional crawling happens on the concrete outside, it tears her precious little shoes to bits (see the first picture in this post). About a minute of crawling ruined her shoes! Good thing she'll be growing out of them soon because I can't justify the expense to replace them otherwise.

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To help me get my camera out and shoot more, I started a 52 project at the beginning of the year. I joined a group on flickr (mcp project 52) where the goal is to post one photo a week that matches the weekly theme. One photo a week for a year; I can do that! And, trying to conform to the given weekly theme will hopefully force me to get out of my comfort zone a bit.

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The theme for the first week was "Around the house" (I didn't have much time so I snapped that one with my iPhone), week two was "Illustrate a song" (no surprise which song I chose!) and week three is "Shades of gray." So far I don't think my submissions are all that inspiring (it's really hard for me to try to come up with something to match the themes!), but I'm shooting a lot more and that's key to growing as a photographer.

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Isn't this picture just beyond cute! I absolutely love it!

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I think my blog has an identity crises. Mainly I feel that way regarding how much blogging I do about photography. Would any of you be interested in an occasional post with some photography tips? I'm no expert, but I have learned a few things over the last couple of years that may be helpful, especially for a beginner who wants her pictures to look a little less snapshotty (how do you like that for a word?!).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Over the past week or two I saw several other bloggers recommend the book UnPlanned by Abby Johnson. I was drawn to the book because of her amazing story (she was the director of a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic and had an amazing conversion and is now pro-life) and because her amazing story happened in the Bryan/College Station area, home to Texas A&M, my alma mater. I even recognized some of the names in the book because they were active at my church while I was at school. But, what finally pushed me to buy the book (I've never actually read a memoir before so I don't usually buy that genre) was that I wanted to put my money where my mouth is and to support the pro-life cause. Buying the book right now will help it get on the bestseller lists, giving her story even more attention.

So, I bought the book on my kindle on Friday and I could not put it down! Well, actually, I had to put it down over and over again (such is the life of a mother), but every chance I got I picked it right back up. I finished it yesterday. Wow! What an amazing story of the power of love and forgiveness! She also writes very honestly about why she was pro-choice, about what the pro-choice and pro-life people she met were really like (neither side was all good or all bad), and how ultimately love from both friends and strangers transformed her. The stories she tells of her years in the abortion clinic are gut-wrenching and real and at times they were hard to read. But, her story is also full of hope and proves that the love and prayers of those faithful to protecting life truly are effective.

I loved this book! Ask Eric. I haven't stopped babbling about it all week. I think I just about retold the entire book to him in bits and pieces because I just couldn't stop talking about it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

These pictures were taken last Saturday

Yes, it was warm enough for the kids to be barefoot and for Clara to be out in only her diaper, though not for long. 

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Today the high temperature barely made it into the 40s. That's the way the weather is in southeast Texas. Up and down. After living here for 10 years, it still amazes me.

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Eric top-seeded our lawn with rye grass so portions of our lawn where it actually came up are a nice, bright, spring green right now; a perfect background for snapping a few pictures.

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One of my resolutions this year is to take and share more pictures. There were times last year when I went for weeks, almost months, without picking up my camera. I don't feel like I really grew much with my photography. Being stagnant is no fun. But, it was what needed to be done for the good of my family.

Things are getting a little more under control now so I'm trying to get a bit more balance back into my life. Balance is good.

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I'm also trying to blog more. So, I'll probably be blogging more pictures since there is only so much time in the day. I hope you don't mind!

I feel like this blog is having a bit of an identity crises. Is it about faith, mothering, photography, books? I guess it's all of the above. Thanks for allowing me to share it all with you!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Alone on an island

Can you roll your R's? I have tried and tried all my life and I still cannot roll my R's. I managed to come up with a way to kind of fake it that helped me get through three years of high school Spanish. But, alas, no matter how hard I try, it just ain't happenin'.

Jonathan, on the other hand, can not only roll his R's, but he can also make every other possible sound effect known to man, at least the ones that sound like some kind of weapon. He has quite of range of destructive combat devices in his arsenal. In the course of less than a minute of listening to him play, even this non-weapon savvy mommy can identify machine guns, rifles, shot guns, grenades, light sabers, laser blasters, and that's just what I hear while we're sitting in church! (It's so embarrassing when you have to tell your 8 year old that he's not allowed to shoot anyone else during mass.) I think Jonathan has some extra gene that gives him these abilities.

At least I have Elizabeth who is equally inept in the sound creation department. She can't roll her R's either and her attempts at gun noises are... amusing.

During our recent holiday travels we had some long drives. As in 10 hour long drives. The kids did really well entertaining themselves, making up games. The following exchange left Eric and I absolutely rolling.

Jonathan: Let's try to shoot everything. We need to blast every car and truck and train. You get the ones out your window and I'll get the ones out of mine.

Elizabeth: Ok.

Jonathan: Rat-tat-tat-tat. Pow! Bang! Pi-too, pi-too. Bang. Bang-bang. Cabloowie! (Jonathan's actual sounds are much more impressive, but I don't know how to spell them. Imagine a combination of a high speed car chase, a shootout between gangsters and a battle scene in Star Wars.)

Elizabeth: (in the most girlie of little girl voices) Pam, pam. Pam, pam.

Jonathan: Boom! Boom! Rat-tat-tat. Rat-tat-tat-tat-tat. Pi-too. Bam, bam!

Elizabeth: Pam, pam. Pam, pam. (I've never heard a gun that goes, "Pam, pam," either.)

Jonathan: Elizabeth, there's a train! Throw some bombs! (Imagine the sound of a bomb flying through the air and exploding impressively when it hits its target.) Throw your bombs, Elizabeth!!

Elizabeth: Throw, throw! Throw, throw!

This is the point where Eric and I couldn't hold it in anymore. We burst out laughing. Poor girl. She doesn't have the right genes for that kind of play, but she tries!

Later that same trip, Elizabeth suddenly cries out, "Mama! I can roll my R's! Listen to this! Rrrrrrrrrrr!"

And, she was right! She did suddenly figure out how to roll her R's. Now it's just me, the sole member of the sound-effect-inept club. Both Clara and Gustin have already proved that they can out perform their mother. Here's a picture to demonstrate Gustin's ability to roll his R's:

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"Look, Mama! I can roll my arms!"

So, I'm left here all alone, on an island. A blessedly quiet one.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What's been going on around here

After a busy Advent and Christmas season, it sure is nice to be posting something here again! And, I've got quite a list of things that I want to blog about; there's so much catching up that I need to do! So, I'm just going to jump in...


Back in September Eric got me a kindle with a pretty, green-leather case for my birthday. It was quite a surprise!

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I've been curious about e-readers but honestly didn't know if I'd really like owning one. I got more interested when I learned that most classics are free, but I was still skeptical. Now after using my kindle for a few months, I have to say that I absolutely love it! It's convenient (the ability to turn a page one handed is fantastic while nursing a baby), easy to read on (I have trouble with eye strain and quickly get a headache after reading on a computer screen for only a few minutes. No problems with my eyes with my kindle!) and since it has a web browser, I can read all my favorite blogs on it as well. I also put the Bible on it and I love the ability to easily search in the Scriptures when I can't remember what book or chapter a particular passage is in. It really is one of the best birthday gifts I have ever received.

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Clara likes it, too!


Probably my favorite Christmas gift this year was a nice flash for my camera. It already had a small, pop-up flash, but my new flash is so much better. I can control the strength of the flash and I can point it in any direction. Bouncing the flash off a wall or the ceiling creates a much softer, more natural look to photos. Now I can take all the pretty pictures I want while indoors or where natural light is limited.


I was so excited to be able to put my new flash to work this past Thursday because it was Clara's birthday!

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My little girl is 1! I still can't believe it. They say that as you get older the years go by faster and I believe it. My little baby is now toddling around, clapping, saying "mama" and "dada" and can scarf down a birthday cupcake like nobody's business!

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I took dozens of pictures of this messy face!

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And the pictures turned out great even though it was dark outside and the lighting at our kitchen table is not bueno. Love. It.


I just finished a fabulous book! Unfortunately, it doesn't have a kindle edition, but it was well worth buying the paperback. I saw Rachel's Contrition by Michelle Buckman recommended on Faith and Family Live and a couple other friends recommended it as well. It's a Catholic novel but it is so well written that it is in the top 5 in women's fiction on Amazon right now. It's one of the best Christian novels I've ever read and certainly takes the top spot for Catholic Fiction in my opinion. The characters are real and interesting, the plot keeps you turning pages and the power of God's love and forgiveness is beautifully woven into the fabric of the story. Seriously, you need to read this book. All Catholic book lovers out there need to support this amazing Catholic writer and mother of five!


Over the Christmas holiday, I asked my brother to take some couple portraits of Eric and me. My brother is to blame for my photography obsession as it was his new DSLR camera that hooked me after the very first time I heard the click of the shutter release button. He's an excellent photographer in his own right and has quite a bit more gear and experience than I do. So we loaded up his flashes, softboxes and fancy shmancy lenses and headed to a local park in my hometown to take some pictures. Somehow we found some pretty scenery in the dead, brown of West Texas in winter time and I'm really pleased with how the pictures turned out!

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These are the first portraits we've had done since our wedding day more than 10 years ago.

Note: The backlighting in the second and third shots make my husband look even balder than he already is. Just add some glasses to those pics and he could be George Costanza from Seinfeld! :)


To celebrate Clara's birthday we took the entire family to see the movie Tangled. The birthday girl enjoyed the movie in the way one-year-olds do best, by taking a good long nap in Mommy's arms. The rest of us thoroughly enjoyed watching the movie. I don't think I have seen an animated movie that good that wasn't a Pixar movie in a very long time. Even Eric and the boys enjoyed it. It's definitely a winner of a family movie.


I have another book recommendation and I have to confess that I haven't yet finished the book. But, I've gleaned so many gems of wisdom from the first two chapters alone that I can't wait to give it a shout out. Smart Martha's Catholic Guide for Busy Moms by Tami Kiser is full of realistic, practical advice on everything from taming toy clutter to controlling our kids access to media to fostering spiritual beauty in our children. This Catholic mother of nine has an easy writing style and I have already implemented several of her tips. I'm not a big self-help book reader in general but I would definitely recommend this book!


One last story from "The Things People Say!" chronicles.

Over Thanksgiving we were at Eric's parents house and we were blessed to be able to spend Thanksgiving day with all of Eric's extended family who are wonderful, Christian people, but not Catholic. Eric's sister had recently announced that she is expecting her second baby and everyone was still talking about the big news. Eric's Aunt M came up to me and told me this story:

Aunt M: After we heard the news, I told K (her son) that D & D (Eric's parents) were going to be grandparents again. K immediately responded, "Oh, no! Not Colleen!"

Then Aunt M burst out laughing. I didn't know what else to do but laugh along with her. She thought it was hilarious! But, it seemed to me that K's response would have been more appropriate if someone had been diagnosed with cancer, not with the announcement of a new baby! I hope that when the time comes when we do announce that we are having another baby that our family will be happy for us and not think some horrible circumstance had befallen us.

Oh, well. Obviously there is an opportunity there for evangelization. I guess I really need to work on exhibiting joy in motherhood so that everyone around me can see babies for the blessings they are, regardless of how many siblings they might have!


May God bless you all in the new year!