Monday, September 29, 2014

Sometimes you've just HAD IT

You know how sometimes you get to the point where you've just "HAD IT".

You're done.  The whining, the fighting, the crying, the being silly. . . you can handle it for a little while.  You can smile and pretend to laugh at the jokes that aren't funny, and you can speak soothing words about the misery over the toy that can't be found (and yes I realize I refer to lost toys a lot when I write.  We lose a lot of toys here).

You can be the mom you want to be.  For a little while. 

But then.

Well then sometimes you've just had it.

And it might look like this:

After the fourth poop joke, you snap:  Okay ENOUGH.  No more jokes.  No more talking.  Just sit there and look out the window.

After the fifth missing toy of the day you say through clenched teeth:  Too bad.  Your toy is where you left it.  I am not a magician.  I cannot find it.

After the sixth or seventh argument over who hit who you declare:  Both of you go to your bed.  Take a book, and do not come out until it's time for DINNER!  (Sometimes yelling on the last word just happens.)

We all reach the point where enough is enough.  And we've HAD IT.

I was blessed to recently have my I've "had it" moment captured on camera.  This is as real as it gets.

Okay, cause see we were at the beach-- as I've droned on and on about and you're probably all sick of me talking about it-- and we were taking family pictures.  And I handed the camera to dear Auntie Sherri, and asked her to take some pictures of me and my hooligans boys.

The only way to get them to for real smile is to tickle them.  And be silly.  And possibly tell a poop joke.  So I pulled out all the cards.

And look how well I was rewarded!  The pictures were so cute.

But then. . . well then things went a little south.  Because once you get these boys started, they don't just stop.  As I'm sure you well know.  You try and be funny, and silly, and goofy, and a "fun" mom, and they just take it too far.

Okay, boys.  That's enough.

Okay quit.  You're pulling on me.

OUCH!  You're pulling my hair. 


I've HAD IT.  That's my I've had it face.  It's kind of scary.

(I feel you need a super close look.  Like imagine you are my child and I've HAD IT with you.  Yikes.)

And this is my "leave me alone" face

And this is me being done.

Oh these pictures.  I kind of laughed when I saw them.  Because man oh man, those boys.  Sometimes they just make me crazy.  Big eyed and crazy.  But I sure do love them.   And lucky for me, they look past the crazy eyes and still love me.

And actually I'm pretty sure the crazy eyes don't scare them at all.  Because they will be right back to doing what caused me to lose it the very next day.  Or the very next minute.   Because they're boys, I guess.  And that's what they do. . . right??

Friday, September 26, 2014

It's chore time around here, plus some chore chart printables

After all the playing and running all summer long I was looking forward to some calm, easy days with the kids playing in our front yard (or front driveway, whatever.)

B was getting restless with summer winding down and school still not starting for a whole month. I want to let you in on a little secret. B is my son, we are a lot a like; we're loud and crazy and full of energy. We love to play and stay busy. We both like to have what we want, right now. We also are easy to anger, and don't know how to express or control our feelings in a calm manner. I love my B more than he will ever know and more than I can express in words, even if he did get some of my not so desirable traits.

So….. we butt heads a lot.

We were having a rough end to our summer and I didn't like how we were meshing. I needed something for him to do that would keep him busy, and happy, and not bugging the girls (another trait we both have. We like to aggravate).

We hadn't been doing many chores during the summer because, well, there was no time for all that. With all the beautiful weather we spent every waking moment outside.

One afternoon after B and I had had a really hard morning, I looked at the sink full of dishes and the lightbulb above my head came on. He could do the dishes. Yes, he could do the dishes! So I helped him unload the dishwasher, showing him where all the clean dishes go. Then I taught him how to properly reload the dishwasher with the dirty dishes, where the cups go, pots and pans, plates, how to put the knives down so no one gets hurt on them…..

It was exactly what we needed to tame this end of the summer, ready for school to start energy!

Of course Mack Attack wanted to help, too. So I put her to work, and found out that my kids really can do chores around the house to help.

Now, it's not getting done the way I would do it.
BUT it's getting done, and they are doing a great job!

Vacuuming is a super power around here :)

I'm enjoying this stage where my kids actually enjoy doing their chores!  I know it won't last long before it becomes a teeth pulling extravaganza, so I'm going to live it up while I can.

I have a big elaborate plan for an amazing chore chart, but that is going to take time and effort. So for now I created a chore chart that I can print once a week, hang on our refrigerator, and use for chores for that week.

I use this one with my 4 year old daughter. It can be used for a 3 or 4 year old.

I use this one with my 6 year old son. It could be used for 5 years and older.

I sit down at the beginning of the week and decide what chores I want the kids to do that week on what day. I put an x on the chores they won't be doing.

For example. The kids will be making their own beds every morning, but they will not both be helping with dinner preparation every day. So if my daughter is helping with Monday I will put an X on Monday's square for meal preparation for my son.

Sometimes the kids use stickers to mark the chores they accomplished and sometimes we just use a pen or marker.

What kind of chores do your kids do? When did they start and are they at the loving to help stage or the you're torturing me by making me do this stage?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Random things that make my day

So today the kids were watching TV.  And I had to go to the bathroom.  In fact, I'd had to go to the bathroom for like the last hour, so I felt the need to pee pretty urgently.  So when I saw my opportunity to sneak away undetected and avoid the drama of Little Miss' rage when I shut the bathroom door in her face, I took it.

And then I was presented with a dilemma.  I could lock the bathroom door.  But no, that wasn't necessary was it?  What if I walked into the bathroom, slipped on a pee puddle that had missed the toilet and knocked myself out? (Yes, I'm irrational and I think those things.)  I mean the kids were quietly watching TV.  They didn't even notice me slip away.  It would take me less than two minutes to pee and be back to my spot on the couch.  I started to lock the door.  Then stopped.  And then my mommy instinct whispered to me, "If you shut it, they will come."  Just like in the Field of Dreams.  That  creepy whisper voice all scary and spooky.

So I locked it.  

Then I sat down to pee.  And sure enough, about ten seconds later I heard, "MOOOOOOM!"

Then feet thundering through the kitchen.

Then into the hall.

And then the slam of a body against the bathroom door and the twisting of a doorknob.

A locked doorknob.

And I was so happy.  So happy I had made the choice to lock the door.  So happy that it couldn't be flung open and that I didn't have to screech, "I need my PRIVACY!  JUST LET ME PEE!"

I wanted to yell out "BAM SUCKA!  How do you like them apples?!" 

But I didn't.  At least not very loudly.

It totally made my day.

So, other random things that make my day (since I know you're probably dying to know).

When we have nights with something scheduled at such an inconvenient time that we have no choice but to order pizza.

When nobody wakes me up fifteen minutes before my alarm and whispers LOUDLY, "Can we play quietly in our room?"

When the littles watch Dora happily together and I can snooze for a couple of episodes on the couch.  (I mean why does school have to start sooooo early?  And why do I stay up so late?)

When I put my make up on and the Spam looks at me and says, "Those are some nice eyebrows you've got, Mom."  Nice eyebrows?  I'll take it.

When the littles nap at the same time and I've saved my shower, and get to shower for 30 minutes in peace and the water stays steaming hot.  (Now, in case you're like a really green person and are kind of freaking out right now because of my water wasting, let me assure you that the majority of my showers last only two minutes because usually the Spam has to poop at the exact moment I get into the shower.  So it all evens out.)

Any time I hear the popping sound of a Diet Coke opening.

When JJ makes a joke that is actually funny.  (Instead of about poop, farts, and butts)

When I turn the music on in the kitchen and Little Miss comes running in to dance.

And when she sways with her blanky while sucking her thumb.

And her hair.

And her face.

She is getting so big.  Stop getting so big.

But anyway, I digress.  Back to what makes my day.  Here's the last and most wonderful thing of all:


Okay, your turn.  Tell me something random that makes your day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to take and edit sunset pictures like a pro, when you're not a pro

I took some sunset pictures when we went to the beach.  And I love them.

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a professional photographer.

I'm a self/internet/learn-by-failure photographer with a simple beginner DSLR and a lens that is awesome, but also cheap.  So if I can get pictures like this, then you probably can too.  Even better ones, I bet. If you have a DSLR.  If you have a point and shoot, well then maybe not.  I don't know.

But anyway here's how I took and edited these sunset pictures. 

First, get out early.  Before the sun sets so you can watch the light changing and experiment with your camera.

Second, put your camera in manual mode.  I know manual mode is scary.  BUT you really CANNOT have it in automatic mode and still expect to capture the light that you see.  Because the automatic camera will be thinking, "HOLY CRAP.  She's trying to take a picture and it's dark so I need to adjust all these settings to let enough light in!"  Then the camera will lower the shutter speed so that if you move or shake the camera there will be tons of blur, or raise the ISO which will make the picture all grainy and not sharp.  Or, even worse, it will bring the flash out.  And you don't want that.

Third, experiment with your manual settings.  

You will be adjusting three things.  The aperature, the shutter speed, and the ISO.  You want to set your aperature fairly wide (which means lower numbers).  If you have a kit lens, then set it to the 3.5, which is the lowest it goes.  And DO NOT ZOOM.  My lens goes down to 1.8, and I had it set for 2.0 in all of these pictures.  

As far as shutter speed goes, chances are you will be shooting scenery, or subjects that might not be moving around too much.  So you can lower the shutter speed.  But don't make it too low or the slightest shake of the camera will cause a lot of blur.  In all of these pictures my shutter speed was set at 125.

Since my shutter speed was still above 100, I was able to take pictures of these random surfer dudes and they weren't big balls of blur.

Hey thanks random dudes for being in my picture :)

Okay on to your ISO.  This is this most important setting to adjust. (okay maybe they're all important, but don't forget this one)  If you keep it set at automatic, the camera will raise it up as high as it can.  The picture will not look sharp.  It will have a lot of "noise".  As crazymomemily says, it will look "gritty".

In all of these pictures, I set my ISO to 200.  I kept it at that and as I took pictures and looked at them, I adjusted the other two settings to get the look I wanted. If the picture was too dark I either lowered the shutter speed or the aperature.  For example, if the picture was too dark, I needed more light.  So I slowed down the shutter from say 200, to 125, where I kept it.  But don't go lower than that unless you have a tripod.  And also if I didn't want to lower the shutter speed because I didn't have a tripod, I dropped down the aperature.  I took it from say a 4.0 to the 2.0. 

Fourth, find something besides the sky to be your subject.  If you're not a professional, than using manual focusing is probably pretty daunting.  I can't do it.  Not under pressure anyway, and definitely not in low light.  So I have to use automatic.  But since the light is quickly fleeing, the camera will have a difficult time if you point it up and try to focus on the sky.  So find something else to focus on.  And also as it gets darker, it will just have a harder time focusing.  Just FYI.

In this picture below I focused on that little skim board.  Actually to be completely honest it focused on the skim board on its own because it was the closest thing to me.  So it worked out well.  See I'm definitely no professional.

Fifth, consider using people as silhouettes for the subject.  If you're focusing on people with the sunset behind them, then they will be dark.  But that's okay, because you can turn them into cool silhouettes later when you edit.

Aww, me and my hubby.  Emily took this picture.  So thanks, Emily.

Okay, so those five tips I hope will help you when you're trying to capture the sunset.  But.  It's time for the let's get REAL part of this post.

Because these pictures didn't turn out like this straight out of my camera.  They could have.  IF I knew how to adjust the white balance.  And I don't.  Well I do, but it's a pain.  And I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing when it comes to that.  So this non-pro's solution is simple: fix the white balance (which affects the coloring) later in PicMonkey. 

You know my best friend PicMonkey.

I did ONE thing, the SAME thing to all of these pictures when I edited them to get them to perfection (well, my standard of perfection).

I adjusted the temperature in the color tab.

See, as it got darker, the pictures took on more of a purplish hue, instead of the warm more orange hue.  I knew as it happened that it was the temperature and could be fixed later so I just let it go.

Here is one of the above pictures before I edited it:

It looks too blue and purple.  So.  I opened it in PicMonkey, clicked on the color tab, and fixed that "temperature" right up.  See how I moved it from 0 all the way to like 78 or 79.  It warmed the photo up.  It created the golden color.

I had to adjust the temperature on most of the pics.

Oh, sunset is so beautiful.  And so is the beach.  And sunset at the beach?  Ahhh, well it's the best thing ever.

Okay I hope these tips are helpful for you non pro mommy photographers out there.  And if you're a professional cringing right now, please leave your expert tips in the comments.  Because I'd love to know what I could do better for next time, too!

Also, we are affiliated with PicMonkey.  If you sign up for Royale through these links, we will be compensated.  (awesomely, though, the temperature adjusting tool is FREE)

Monday, September 22, 2014

If we knew what we had

We're just getting back from a week at the ocean.  A wonderful, fun, crazy, exhausting, sandy, beautiful week at the ocean.

It was marvelous.  It was tiring.  It was hard.  It was fabulous.  I loved it.  Every minute of the sand in our sheets and hair and mouth and eyes.  There were happy children and crying children.  There was laughter and there were tears.

It was life with kids in the best way possible.

As we drove home yesterday I managed to snag some time behind the wheel.  My husband does most of the driving and I don't blame him.  I, too, would prefer to sit behind the wheel instead of spending the day straining my back as far as I can to hand someone a sippy.  So when he decided he wanted to hand the wheel over to me and spend some time in the passing out snacks division, I jumped at the opportunity.

I plugged in my iPod and cruised down the interstate.  A older song from Sugarland came on (because yes, I'm mostly a country loving girl).  The song is about an older woman who is looking through pictures of her past.  She recounts her memories of her children and of her husband, who has since passed away.  At the end of the chorus she sings the words "If we knew what we had, before it was gone, if every road led back home, this would be the very last country song."

Well the first line of those words jumped out and hit me straight in the heart.

Because the thing about life is, we don't always know what we have before it's gone.  But at that moment, as I was drove down the road with three kids tired and exhausted from a week of fun and a husband patiently handing out goldfish crackers, exactly what I have hit me with such force that my heart felt filled to the brim.

In that moment, I could see and feel what I have, and it filled up every part of me with joy.  And I wanted to take some of that joy, even just a tiny speck of it, and save it for those days when I kind of forget what I have.  Those days when the baby doesn't sleep well and is up crying all night.  Those moments when I'm begging and begging my six year old to do his homework and he just won't stop complaining about it.  For those days when all that I've heard is the constant whining and crying of a too tired four year old who can't find his missing sword.

The hard days are hard, and they come around a lot.  And during those days I get so caught up in the frantic pace of getting JJ to school, calling about doctors appointments, switching the laundry, and remembering to pay all the bills before the late fees come piling in, that I lose sight of what I have.  Because it's just life, and I'm just living it.  Day in and day out, the same old thing.

But.  Every once in a while, I read something, or I hear something, or something special happens-- and life just stops.  For a second I can step back from the crazy whirlwind spinning all around me and I can look and see and feel all that I have.  And for those moments I'm grateful.  Because I need that reminder that what I have is so much more than mouths to feed and heads to wash.  What I have, what I'm doing, is raising and building up my family.  And my family is wonderful.

We won't always be able to see exactly what we have.  Because life is life. And it's busy and it's messy and it's hard.  And that's okay.  Because it's also wonderful and exciting and overfilling with love.   And hopefully, hopefully, we can find little reminders of that.  Hopefully there will be moments that jump out at you--like the words from that song jumped out at me--that will cause you to see and know what you have.  Because I think remembering what we have, and why we're doing what we're doing, is what keeps us going.

So.  Here's to knowing what we have, as often as we can.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Beach and Bubbles

I love walking on the beach with the hot, white, gritty sand between my toes. 
It's calming and weirdly comfortable.

There comes Mack Attack walking back from collecting shells. Doesn't she look happy and peaceful?

Oh wait. Look closer. She's bawling!

What's wrong? It can't be too serious because she was with her dad. You can see her dad, brother, uncle, and cousin are continuing what they were doing without paying any attention to the bawling beach beauty?!?

Oh, she got her eyes full of sunscreen and sand and they are stinging and burning and she is trying to rub them out of her head. That's ok, she can just lay on a beach towel, with her eyes closed, eating goldfish for an hour, then everything will be ok!

Collecting her shells

 JJ and B thought it would be fun to bury Mack Attack in the sand. 
Mack Attack went right along with it!

 Oh, how we love the beach!

B digging his way to China or Wyoming or Kentucky!

The ocean started out really dirty but throughout the week cleaned itself out and was really clear by our last day there.


Everyone enjoyed shell collecting!

B was quite the little fish out there snorkeling. 
He had his bag for shells as he found the ones he wanted to keep.

There's nothing better after a full day in the sun and sand than a bubble bath.

I love baths. I love soaking in baths. I love soaking in bubble filled baths. Lucky for you nobody took any pictures of me enjoying the tub, but just let me tell you I enjoyed it on a few occasions!

The kids love baths, too. The kids love bubble filled baths. The kids love splashing in bubble filled baths!