Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy halloween!

With the help of my mom, I made each of the kids a cape for Halloween this year. They picked the color, I made the cape, and then it was up to them to come up with the rest of their costumes.

Elizabeth says that Clara is a butterfly with her purple cape.

2011 10 31_7135_edited-1

Gustin put on last year's astronaut costume, added his red cape and said he is a rocket.

2011 10 31_7125_edited-1

Elizabeth dressed herself in all white and is Princess Leia while Jonathan is Luke Skywalker in all black.

2011 10 31_7130_edited-1

I hope you all had a very happy Halloween and may the force be with you!

Friday, October 28, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday vol.11

--- 1 ---

I am a podcast junkie. The first podcast I found was the Faith and Family Live! Cast and I listened to it on my computer every once in awhile. Then, after several months, I discovered how much easier it is to listen to a podcast if I actually put on my iPod (who would have thought?) and then I was really hooked. I loved listening while doing all my otherwise boring chores: cleaning the bathroom, folding laundry, doing dishes. Now I look forward to those chores so I have an excuse to stick in my earbuds. I also discovered and their line up of fantastic podcasts that are the perfect marriage of Catholicism and nerdy-ness (just like me!). Some of my favorites are Catholic Weekend, The Break with Fr. Roderick and Secrets of The Hobbit. Another favorite is the family podcast called Justa Buncha Hacks.

Are there any other great Catholic podcasts that I need to know about?

--- 2 ---

We recently went on a Cub Scout family campout at Brazos Bend State Park here in Texas. I never realized that such an exotic place was within an easy drive of my house. There are several swampy lakes in the park and they are all inhabited by alligators!

2011 10 13_6909_edited-1

I wish I had a telephoto lens to get good close ups of the gators but I definitely wouldn't want to be physically any closer. Considering there were no fences or other barriers, those gators were really close! It was so cool to see them in their natural habitat with frogs jumping out of their way as they swam through the muck and birds alighting on tree stumps nearby. The views from the observation tower (in the background of the above photo) were really amazing.

2011 10 13_6894_edited-1

2011 10 13_6886_edited-1

On the lookout

The park was just teeming with wildlife! We saw deer, raccoons, armadillos, egrets and even snakes.

2011 10 13_6874_edited-1

2011 10 13_6908_edited-1

Gustin had a bit of a close encounter with this snake. He almost stepped on it! Thank the Lord that he didn't because we think it was a water moccasin!

2011 10 13_6879_edited-1

I really can't wait to go back, but with just our family this time. Or maybe some of my local blog friends would like to join us?

--- 3 ---

My maternal grandmother passed away last month. Unfortunately, I didn't know her nearly as well as I would have liked to. I've spent most of my life in Texas and my grandparents and much of my extended family are in Nebraska. I am so grateful that I was able to go back for the funeral as I was able to catch up with all my cousins, aunts and uncles and I learned so much about my grandmother that I never knew when she was alive. She was a vivacious, spunky lady of tremendous faith and she is such a wonderful example for me of how to live my vocation. She will be greatly missed!

--- 4 ---

I love to read but I have to admit that I'm usually very leery of Christian fiction. So often the Christian message of these books is written in a very in-your-face manner with very little depth. The character's spiritual struggles are merely surface level and their prayers and manner of speaking trite. I long for well-written books that force me to examine my own beliefs and through the story bring me to a better understanding of God.

2011 10 13_6909_edited-1

Peace Like a River by Leif Enger fulfills all those desires for me. I hesitate to label it as "Christian fiction" because it is so much more than that; it is literary fiction at it's best and is a book to I will be reading again. It is filled with sacrificial love, adventure, fascinating characters, moral dilemmas and miracles and is very beautifully written. I highly recommend it.

--- 5 ---

My mom and dad recently moved just 15 minutes away from us (they used to live on the opposite side of Texas, about a 9 hour drive away) and having them nearby has been wonderful. Besides the joy of seeing my kids' relationship with their grandparents blossom and the readily available babysitting, I now feel confident enough to start some sewing projects because my mom is here to help me. So, thanks to Mom, I started and finished a sewing project this month, a feat I haven't accomplished on my own in years!

Here are my new bedroom curtains:

2011 10 23_6990_edited-1

Aren't they fabulous?! The curtains flank the windows and help define the window seat area of the room. Now this space reminds me of Jane Eyre who would curl up on the window seat and draw the curtains around her and look at books for hours. I've always dreamed of having a window seat like that!

2011 10 23_6980_edited-1

The fabric is bolder than I normally go for when I decorate, but I wanted curtains that would bring out the colors in my photographs that I hung above the bed. Now, I need to add some pretty colored pillows for my bed to complete the look.

2011 10 23_7008_edited-1

As you can see, my room did not stay in a picture-worthy, tidy state for long, thanks to my little helper and model. But, she's so cute that she gets away with it.

--- 6 ---

Here's a quick photography tip: How to make eyes sparkle.

First, turn the flash off on your camera and take your kids outside. Have them sit down in a shady spot and look up at you while you stand close to them and shoot down. The bright sky will create beautiful catch lights in their eyes.

Looking up

To get Clara to look up, I kept asking her questions like, "Where are Mommy's ears? Where are Mommy's cheeks?" She's all about identifying body parts these days.

2011 09 20_6605_edited-1

If it's a bit too bright out for your child, just tell him to tilt his head up but keep his eyes closed. On the count of three you tell him to open his eyes and you snap the pic!

Sugar and spice and all things nice...

Note that I did not specifically photoshop their eyes in these images, though I did do some color and contrast editing and sharpening to the images as a whole.

2011 10 17_6961_edited-1

Try it and then marvel at the amazing and unique beauty of the eyes the Lord has given your children.

--- 7 ---

Wow, these picture heavy 7 quick takes weren't very quick so I think I'll leave it at 6. Have a great weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Week 43: Shadows

I'm still here! And, I'll have a real post up on Friday for 7 Quick Takes Friday. Stop by then to find out what we've been up to around here, get by latest book recommendation and a fun photography tip. See you then!