Saturday, February 15, 2014

The New Face of Hallmark

This is our son's idea of a Valentine:

Friday, January 17, 2014

Putting Her Sister First

If we teach our children anything, I hope it will be to show kindness for one another, and to learn to reciprocate unselfishness. Our oldest daughter Elizabeth was working to save her pennies for a Barbie doll. She has a passion for designing doll clothes, and she uses specific dolls as mannequins as she builds her designs.

We pay our kids a small sum each month, to teach them to save and budget. They earn their money by doing special chores in addition to their normal family responsibilities. Leaving an exceptionally messy room, missing the bus, or leaving objects in clothing ready for the laundry results in a small percentage being taken from their pay. So they work hard to earn each dollar.

She had almost saved up enough to order her doll when she walked into my office one day. For the past three years, her younger sister Carina had been requesting a certain doll for Christmas. It was a collector's edition with a red flowing dress. Each year the doll itself changed, but the red dress was always in the request. The doll was outside our budget, so we hadn't ever bought it, nor could we condone her spending that much on a doll.

Elizabeth came in and shut the door. Then she stated, "I want to use my Barbie money to get Carina a doll for Christmas." Her plan was to buy one of her favorite Barbies, design a red dress, place it on the doll, then wrap the doll for Christmas. In fact, she had already sketched the design, and found the fabric. She said, "It will make me more happy to see her face than it will to get a doll for myself. I want to do something nice for her, something that she'll never expect." So we executed the plan.

Christmas morning was one of the best we'd ever experienced. The presents were opened and exclaimed over, but more important was the feeling Elizabeth's act brought into our home. Yesterday, as I gathered laundry from Carina's room, I noticed her doll among the treasures on her dresser. She hadn't just laid it down, or tucked it away with her other toys. This doll, posed carefully, hair brushed, had obviously taken a place of honor.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Sometimes James and I get to choose the poses; sometimes the kids do. For our entire family to explore photography, we have to make room for goofiness. I recommend this practice; it's very therapeutic. :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Logistics of a family photo, 2013

I would love, love, love to have access to a professional photographer (not to mention a budget) for family photos each year. In our little rural town, that option is out however, so it's up to me and my sweet little camera. Last year I--ahem--cheated, by taking photos of the kids separately from James and me, then creating a collage to give to the grandparents. This year we took it up a notch, and used a magical tool called a tripod to get everyone in the shot. The kids helped decide on a color palette, theme, and location, and Elizabeth played stylist.

It didn't go entirely as planned, and two of the images were taken weeks later, but I was proud of my family's enthusiasm and teamwork.

No matter how much planning we put into the shoot, there were plenty of things that went wrong. They were: 1) discovering that the remote's range wasn't as far as we thought, 2) realizing that the Live View wouldn't focus properly, resulting in a number of back-focused shots, 3) cutting the shoot short because a certain little someone had to "go potty." :)

No matter how hard we tried, we couldn't get the remote to work past this point. So we set the self-timer to 10 sec, and James ran back and forth while we tried to hold our positions. :)
 This is Location 1. We had to get there early, before the sun rose. I liked the lines, but we didn't like the sawdust left over from the previous week's county fair. Several years ago, Elizabeth raised a pig for the auction, and these are the pens.

This would have been one of my favorite poses, but it's out of focus!

You can see how quickly (and how harshly) the sun moved in.
Here's Location 2.  James and I both liked the values (not to mention the little pop of color at the top).

This is the photo that went on the wall.

This is everyone's favorite...except Conner's.

The kissing shots always get the kids giggling.
After breaking for potty time, we moved outside into our yard for individual shots. We wanted the black and white polka-dot/zebra stripe combination, but I can't take photos without some color, so we bought a 4' x 8' polystyrene board, and painted it turquoise. I had grand visions of carrying it all around the yard in different setups (like putting it in the chicken coop as a faux door), but we ended up staying in front of the house where there was open shade. Getting up at 5 AM was starting to wear on the family. :)

Production shot, via Instagram
I'm happy to say the pictures were finished in time to send to both sets of grandparents in time for the holidays.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Snow in April

This is an Instagram photo I posted yesterday. The caption said, "Yay! Our forsythia is blooming. Winter has officially ended!" Tempting fate? Apparently. . .

. . .because this is what we woke up to this morning:

A foot of snow and 25F outside!

As soon as my hubby and kids left for school I zipped up my jacket, grabbed my camera, and headed outside. I only ended up staying out for 20 minutes, because it was very cold. (The wind was still blowing and it was snowing.) But I took a handful of pictures for the scrapbook.

Bye, kids! Thank goodness a new bus stop was added in front of our neighbor's house. Too bad I spent Spring Break last week putting away winter boots, though.

Look at that wind blow!

I did have one more task I had to accomplish before heading inside to change my wet clothes. One of my friends in Australia requested a photo of a snow angel when she saw a snowball fight video that I had made. Unfortunately the snow had melted by afternoon. So when I saw the snow this morning I knew what I had to do!

(I did take a photo with my dSLR, too, but Instagram has instant filters--ha ha.)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Monday, November 5, 2012

Two Teens

One advantage of having teenage daughters is that they start holding still for longer periods of time when you want to photograph them.