Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Wow! Loving some Chipotles!

Sam and I really needed to spend some quality time together in a bad sort of way, so we decided despite near complete exhaustion and major sleep deprivation and really no excess budgeted out-to-eat money, we would go on a date after we drop the older three off at AWANAs.  (BTW, totally grateful for all the people that make AWANAs happen and available!  Thank you to all of you!)  We decided that we would finally go and try out Chipotles.  We walked in and up to the counter and the girl behind the counter looked at us expectantly.  I told her we were newbies so it would probably take us a few minutes to figure out what we want.  Another lady came up and took over and explained it all to us.  We ordered, went down the line telling what we wanted on our burritos and when we got to the register, I got my wallet out and waited to be told what the total was.  I was watching the total go up and stop just under $20, but she was still pushing buttons, so I waited and then all of a sudden it came up as $0.00.  I looked up at her and she said enjoy your meal.  My mouth dropped open and then I said, "Wha?"  She said that since it was our first time, they were comping our meal.  I said, "REALLY?!...Wow, Thanks!"  Then, I promised to blog about it. :)  God has been blessing us in little ways like that recently.  We've made some changes in the way we handle some things and we fully believe that in so doing, we've gotten ourselves out of the way and allowed God to do just that much more in our lives and this, I believe, happens to be a neat little result of that. :D  We prayed over our free meal and also asked for God to bless that establishment and the people therein and thoroughly enjoyed our date and yummy food.  Really like their chips, too, by the by.  Okay, just thought I'd share....  Chipotles, anyone?!

Monday, March 26, 2012 journey so far

I have had an interesting time of it so far.  I have had an interest in photography for a very long time.  I used to do photo shoots with my sister and friends growing up.  I had little 35mm cameras along the way that took really pitiful pictures, but that did NOT deter me.  Plus, I really didn't know any better.  I think the first time I really put any kind of effort into taking pictures in a specific way was when I was in 10th grade (I think it was that year...anyone is welcome to correct me if I am wrong!).  It was in Coach Clay's history class.  He gave us the assignment to go and take pics of historical sites and put together a sort of album.  I got to borrow a kodak, the kind that spits out the pictures right then and there.  I was very intentional about angle and view, though I couldn't do anything with lighting and editing.  Anyway, he gave me a very nice complement about the "feel" and scope of the pictures I had taken and it was a nice feeling.  Fast forward a few years and other cameras, still 35mm, came in and out of my life and then my dad gave me his Canon AE-1.

Still a 35mm, but I could adjust all kinds of things on that sucker!  I had a blast with it, until the shutter started acting all wonky and I couldn't justify getting it fixed.  By then, digital cameras were becoming mainstream and I finally bought the Canon PowerShot A80.

I seriously loved this camera.  We bought it right before Braden was born because I knew I was going to take a bazillion pictures of my first baby!!  And I did. :)  As anyone can tell, I am a Canon fan.  I'm very familiar with this brand and I really like the way they feel in-hand.  I've played around with Nikons and Sonys and other brands, but for me, nothing beats a Canon.  One thing I really liked about this camera, aside from the pretty good pics it took for its size and built-in lens, was the ability to play around with manual settings.  I could also take a pic in black and white, sepia or a number of other settings on the camera itself before any editing had to be done.  I thought it was a fabulous all-around camera.  I miss it from time to time even now.

A few years back, around four or five now, I think, I decided I was going to get a degree in photography from Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA.  They have an accredited online program that enables you to get up to a Master's degree in Photography.  I was pumped!  Sam was very encouraging of the whole scheme and it wouldn't cost us any money because of my GI Bill.  So, I got registered and enrolled and bought our fabulous IMac and was in process of buying the Canon 40D and the Adobe Photoshop professional version (whichever that was at the time), when everything kind of hit like a ton of bricks.  That's what happens when I don't ask God whether or not I should be doing something. :)  I got to looking at how much time I was going to actually have to carve out for doing assignments and studying and all that jazz and well, it was definitely going to be more than the 9 hours worth of credits I was going to do per week.  Not to mention, we were still living in the motor home and I had Braden and Zekey to attend to, soon to be pregnant with Ailey, though I didn't know it at the time. ;)  Anyway, right about then, I decided the whole process was a no-go, so instead of getting the 40D, which Sam was still all for, I decided to get the digital Rebel.  It was less expensive, would still take great pics and I could still manipulate as I went along.

In those years since I got the camera, I have had seasons of intense interest and photo taking and plenty of seasons of I-don't-have-time-for-this.  I used to edit pictures when I had my little PowerShot because I had some editing software I really liked.

Now, of course, it is no more. :(  Oh, well!  So, for a very loooooong time, I did no editing.

So, I was puttering along mostly taking pics of my own family and then all of a sudden, I seem to have gotten launched into taking pics for other people's family.  I also started editing a lot more.  I found some stuff online and downloaded it and I have been having fun ever since!  I am learning a bunch and I am getting new opportunities to improve.  God knows I like photography.  I believe He placed that desire in me.  Right now, though, I'm trying to find the balance in all of it.  My family is my first priority and I have a tendency to get very focused on something and let everything else hang out on the sidelines until I wear myself out and back off from that thing.  I believe God is teaching me how to prioritize and ask Him if this is something I should be doing and if so, how much and on and on....Its been an interesting ride so far.  I also am not in a place of thinking about this long-term, because it may not be.  It may be just for a season, only God really knows!  I think I'll let Him handle all those details.  So, I stay scheduled with shoots that work out for my and my family's schedule and its not the main thing, which is how it should be for me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Bradenisms return!

Sam and I were just sitting on the couch and Braden was at the dining table.  He turned to us and said, "What if girls were sumo wrestlers instead of boys.....?"  I said, "That would be disturbing."  Then, he said, "That would be silly because their overall thingys would show."  Sam asked,  "What did he call it?"  And Braden replied, "You know the little thingys that cover their bosoms."  Sam and I started laughing uncontrollably and Braden continued on..., "Then their bellies would show because they couldn't wear a shirt."  We laughed a good 5 minutes after that until I was able to stop enough to get up and get a tissue to wipe my eyes and write it all in this post.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Since I'm tired today...

I guess I will do a post. :)  I have an update on the bunny situation.  Strawberry has calmed down quite a bit.  She doesn't feel the need to rearrange Shortcakes fur arrangement around the bum area now.  We also got a new hutch for them:

I like this one and they seem to as well.  Sam got a long length of cage wire and he made a big ring so the the bunnies have space to run around.  We put the table over the hutch like that so they would have shade from the sun as well as the rain until we can find a better solution.  We will probably end up framing out the run and building a lean-to of some know, in our sparest of time. ;p

I also managed to get into our garden beds to remove the plastic coverings and till up the soil.  


I was really glad for the rain because it made that job much easier.  I planted some of the seedlings I started in ziploc baggies the other day, too....right before we had torrential rains.  I should probably go out there and see if any of them survived.... :)  The stuff on the end there is parsley, oregano and rosemary.   All of which survived the winter with no attention or intentional watering on my part.   The string in grid form is for the purpose of square foot gardening.  It very much appeals to my, um, "style" of gardening, which is basically, sprout seeds, plant them, make sure they have a water source and then leave them alone.  Theoretically, the square foot method will cut down even more on weeding because it basically doesn't allow room for weeds to grow once the crops get going.  Works for me!  We'll see if it all turns out.

Here are some other random tidbits.  One day, this is how I found Brea after her mealtime.  

Yesterday, I heard Ailey fussing and then calling me for help.  When I looked out the door to see what was going on, this is what I found:

Yes, I did go and grab my camera in both instances before I intervened.  It was necessary!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Brea is walking!

Its only about 5 steps and then a plop, but its walking nonetheless!:)

Monday, March 12, 2012

I forgot to mention...

some things about Brea.  First, her top four front teeth are all coming in, but the two on either side of the front ones started coming in first...fang baby! :)  She also has been dancing.  Anything with a fast-paced beat and she is wiggling and a-movin'!  She has also started this fake distressed look and breathy grunty fuss when she wants something or doesn't want something.  Its very funny and absolutely pre-meditated.  Little miss smarty pants!  I'm still nursing her in the morning and at night, but I'm honestly wondering how much longer that will last.  She doesn't seem to need it for comfort purposes like Ailey did.  She reminds me more of the boys in this.  They were always way more interested in what was going on around them, than in continuing feeding.  Plus, they wanted to control the food themselves.  Interesting that Brea is following suite there.  When she gets sleepy, she finds her blanket, sticks her fingers in her mouth and will snuggle her head down into the blanket.  All I have to do is go put her in her bed and she goes to sleep.  Love that!  Also a little note, when she even sees her blanket and isn't tired, she automatically puts her fingers into her mouth.  The two go hand in hand with her. :)  Okay, just wanted to get that on here before I forgot...again. ;p

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Baby A's Shoot

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Shamefully Overdue!

Well, the title says it all.  It has been way too long since I have done a post.  Me thinks this will be one of my usual marathon posts, so you may want to go ahead and use the restroom, get a cup of coffee or cocoa to keep your eyes open and find a super comfy chair so your bum does not fall asleep.  Don't say I didn't warn ya!  Ready?  Here we go....

First up, here is our new bunny, Strawberry the 2nd:

This one is, indeed a girl.  Yay.  On the other hand, she is rather aggressive.  Not yay.  She chases Shortcake around and nips at her hiney and pulls tufts of fur off of her bum.  Poor Shortcake!  The funny thing is, shortcake still really enjoys her long as they are in separate contained areas and can still see each other. :)  Anyway, this means we will have to have a unit with two separate living quarters for the bunnies.  Just keeps getting interesting!  I let them run around the living, dining and kitchen areas in the evenings because they will go back to their cages to do their business.  That's a plus. :)  Oh, and in all the reading I did the night Strawberry started getting all Kra-Z, the consensus seems to be in favor of getting them both spayed since I have no intention of breeding them.  They are apparently quite susceptible to getting cervical cancer.  Not so yay, again. :(  Oh, well, they are already part of the fam, so we will just figure it all out. :)

In other happenings, Brea is doing lots!

She is still very serious about her food and can pack it in like nobody's business!  Its quite amazing to behold, to which many who have been present during the process of this astounding feat can testify.  I think the most astounding part of it is that she is so stinkin' tiny and we are all very lost as to where she stores it all before it makes its way out of the southbound end!  Remarkable, I'm tellin' ya!

She is very vocal while she eats, too and will let whoever is feeding her know in no uncertain terms if she is not satisfied at the speed at which her food is being shoveled down her gullet.  Its pretty funny. :)  She is a bananaholic.  LOVES her some bananas!  She can also put away some grapes.  I'm thinking we need to plants some banana trees and some grape vines to keep up with her!  Whew!

Since I am really bad with the concept of time and keeping up with dates and all, I will just go with its been several weeks plus, since she started mimicking sounds.  Her first full word is Mama, but I'm pretty sure she tries to say banana, too, which comes out more of a Bah.  She is pretty equally partial to both Sam and I, so I'm working on her saying Daddy, too... ;p

She has been able to toddle along holding on to the edges of furniture for some time now, too and was able to stand up, unassisted for a second or two at a time for a week or so, but I just witnessed her do the whole shebang and then stay standing up all by her lonesome for many seconds 'til she decided to squat down to crawl some more this very morning.  She's getting there and then they will all be running around after each other.  Curiouser and Curiouser! :)

We have had a bit of craziness for the past 3 weeks.  Braden got strep throat, then antibiotics, then we went out of town to see Nina and Padrino (that will be a separate post after picture editing has been achieved ;) and the last day we were there, Braden's strep throat came back.  Ugh.  So, we traveled home and the next evening he was seen and sure enough it was a reoccurrence!  This time I requested the shot.  Braden tried so hard to be okay while it was being administered, but didn't quite succeed.  Poor little guy! :(  It did, however, make him feel better in a jiffy, so yay!  The rest of that week was a blur while I readied us to travel once again.  This time it was to East Texas for my Granny's surprise 80th birthday party (this, too, will be a separate post :).   I really went back and forth about whether or not I wanted to go, but I'm really glad we did.  We have double dvd players for the car that were bought quite some time ago, but for a time we could only use one of them because the cord that came with it would not reach across both rows of the van.  Bummer.  Then, at some point, said cord became lost in the shuffle that is the garage.  Double bummer.  So, I ordered two cords and this trip both players were in operation along with a set of headphones that got passed to whoever was sitting in the solo seat next to Brea.  We also had a set of legos that was great entertainment.  Both the drive there and back were quite tame and pleasant, I must say.  I think we may have found a winning combination.  I'm not willing to try it out again just yet, though. ;)

I have to mention something Ailey said the other day.  We were driving in the van and I had the windows rolled down and we got going at a higher speed and she said, "MOM!  You're blowing my head off!"  Hahaha!

We have a little wrist rest for our track pad and one day Zekey came up to me with it on his chin and said, "I'm a daddy."

 Then it became a mustache...

I honestly don't know what Braden was using it for....a sleep mask, perhaps?

Braden has taken to doing this, um, interesting facial expression with his face lately....Kid phases are so funny!

All the kids are doing well and really enjoy playing together....usually.  We do have the occasional non-enjoyable occurrences, of course. ;p  I will have to do a more detailed update later.  Right now we are so stinkin' busy and I'm ready for things to SLOW DOWN!  We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My Granny's Surprise 80th Birthday Party and a visit with my mom...

This was in the morning before we went to help set up...they created a couch monster.  Do you see it?  The red pillows on top are the eyes and Braden and Zekey are in the mouth behind the teeth. :)

Setting up the party.  Aunt Scarlet on the left, then Uncle Gary and Aunt Vicki

Now we have my mom on the left, then Aunt Peggy, etc.

These were all the table settings.  I thought they came out very nice!

Great Uncle Glen who is married to Aunt Peggy

Great Aunt Peggy who is my Granny's youngest sister (of 13 total, if I am remembering correctly....)

The punch table

The cake table

The cake

Memory table A

Memory table B

A broader scope of things

My cousin Tyler and Brea

Broader view of the front of the room

Signing in to the party...I have the names of the people I didn't label below, but I will have to get up enough motivation to do all of that...someday.  ;)

My mom's cousin Paula

Great Uncle Calvin, Granny's brother

Great Uncle Beuford, Granny's brother

Paula's husband George

The Birthday Girl!  Granny.  She did NOT want to come in.  She was rather perturbed at being the center of attention.  She did end up enjoying herself, though. ;)

Great Uncle Morris, Granny's youngest brother and his wife

This is Michael, he's a cousin, somehow, but he shall be henceforth known as George because that's how he introduced himself to me trying to tease me....we shall see who gets the last laugh! ;)

Great Aunt Katherine, Uncle Calvin's wife

Aunt Scarlet, my mom's younger sister, her husband Uncle Stacey and their youngest daughter Tyler

Uncle Gary, my mom's younger brother and Aunt Peggy

Aunt Liz, my mom's older sister and her husband Uncle Rick

The party in full swing

Ailey made good use of her time in the sand box

Cousins!  I was really glad my brother and sis-in-love and my nephews got to come hang out with the fam.  Gabe, Braden and Luke

Ben and Jen

Plenty of people who I am related to, but do not know, except the two on the end in the foreground there. ;p

Granny and her great-granddaughter Tatum

Aunt Peggy and Ailey

My cousin Andrea (eldest daughter of Aunt Scarlet) and her oldest Maddux

Landrie, Andrea's youngest

Tatum, Andrea's second

Elijah, Ben and Jen's, he needs to stop growing!  I'm feeling rather old. ;)

Maddux, Zekes and Uncle Ben

Maddux, Andrea's oldest

Brea took a snoozy for about half the party.

Granny's take on how to sport the Turbie Twist...

Aunt Scarlet's crew minus Uncle Stacy who was prolly outside talking...Justin is there on the left and is Andrea's husband.

I found out the location of the kids' hideout.

Uncle Ben and Aunt Jenny love!

Since I was acting photographer, I snapped a shot of myself for proof of presence. :)