Thursday, September 27, 2007

Excellent day today...

So I just got home from a way overdue and much needed haircut. Awesome. It's basically the same cut as last time, but even better. I NEVER thought I'd be someone who loved her hair, since I spent my whole life trying to tame my frizzy 'fro. But this new cut and a straightening iron give me a whole different attitude. Sweet.

I'm excited for tonight. I'm going to a woman's house where 4 of us (all moms who met through school and/or extracurricular activities) are getting together for food, drinks, and the season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy." Awesome. I have so few girlfriends in real life (as opposed to online) that when I get invited somewhere, I get a little giddy. It's odd because the 4 of us are all sooooo different.

There's one who is very kind, is an amazingly perfect mother, friendly as hell, etc. Just nice. I was surprised to find out she's only a year older than me however. She just seems older for some reason. Not necessarily in the way she looks, per se. Just dresses and acts very "mom-like" which always makes me assume you're older than me. LOL! But she reminds me of how I viewed moms when I was a kid if that makes any sense.

Then there's one I don't know quite as well, but when I first met her, I assumed she was a snob. VERY put together. Always dressed nice in Eddie Bauer-type stuff (khakis, polos, etc.), always has her hair and makeup done perfectly, etc. And she barely talked, which is why I assumed she was a snob. But after meeting her several times and talking to her more, I realized that it just takes her awhile to warm up and feel comfortable enough to joke around and stuff. Still fairly quiet and much more reserved than I am. But nice just the same. Steve says she looks like Rachel Ray. She totally does too. LOL!

Mom #3 is a bit more like me personality wise. Very outgoing, kind of loud, extremely down to earth, has no problem sitting down and knocking back a few at a BBQ, yells at her kids in front of me (LOL!) etc. But totally different than me in terms of "style." Now I'm not saying that because I think I have any. At all. What I mean is that she looks like a mom. It's kind of hard to explain what I mean, but she just looks like she fits right in here in our small town. Badly permed hair, old T-shirts, tapered jeans, white keds, etc. I'm not judging her because of that or anything. I'm just trying to describe each of them.

So anyway, then there's me. I always go into groups assuming I'm the group idiot. I figure people want me around for comedic reasons. That, or so they feel better about themselves. LOL! I have a tendency to make inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times. I have sarcasm oozing from my pores. I crack jokes constantly. And I curse like a sailor (and drink and smoke like one too). When it comes to how I dress, I honest to god couldn't tell you the last time I slipped on a pair of khakis (shudder). Pretty much every pair of pants/capris/shorts I own are cargo style with big pockets on the side, ties everywhere, and quite a few of them are camouflage. I shop at clothing stores that high school kids shop at and almost every shirt I wear has some stupid saying on the front of something equally juvenile.

So it got me to wondering how the four of us came to be "friends". I figure the two classier, more reserved women like me around to make fun of me. Either that, or perhaps they always want to drop f-bombs or something but figure it's inappropriate. With me around, they can let 'em fly and know they won't be judged? I dunno. And the other woman more like me? Maybe she just likes me around because I make her look good. She curses, but not as much as me. LOL! I dunno.

I'm not complaining at all, since we do have a good time. This will be the first time we're getting together outside of a school function and without kids, so we'll see how it goes. For all I know, the two more reserved women are closet wild women or pervs or something. Hey, you never know! LOL!

But the bottom line is that I'm looking forward to tonight. I don't get out much in terms of social stuff, and I rarely get out without the kids AND without Steve. So that alone will make it nice. So I'll go and I'll watch what I say at first. And I'll sip my white zinfandel (while wishing it was Miller Lite), and I won't smoke. And I'm sure I'll crack jokes, but I'll actually try to think before I speak. And hopefully, by the end of the night, I'll have dropped the nervousness and will be back to being my idiot self. Because really, every group of friends need an idiot, right? I wouldn't want to disappoint. ;)


Responses to some of yesterday's comments:

Mamtulip: No. Not a shirt from my sister. LOL! But pretty much in the same category in terms of "coolness". [sigh]

Tink: She IS tiny. Very, very tiny. LOL! 4-years-old and still only 28 lbs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

For those of you reading this HERE...

(as opposed to Bloglines or Google Reader), or those of you that came here to comment, you'll see I changed my Blogger template. I was REALLY tired of that teeny tiny narrow column I had for my posts, and the fact that I had to keep shrinking down any photos that were landscape direction so they wouldn't get cut off.

So I am well aware that some stuff looks wonky, like the header and the fonts, but I'll fixing those up today sometime.

OK. Carry on...

Hannah's Dorky Outfit of the Day...

This was actually from the other day, but I hadn't had a chance to post this yet.

OK. So at first glance, this outfit doesn't really look that bad. I mean, perhaps if you study it closely (which we'll do in a minute) -- but probably not if you aren't looking to pick it apart. The binder clip obviously looks a little odd, but other than that, you'd probably shrug your shoulders and move along.


However, let's get a better view and then dissect this outfit, piece by piece.


First we have the bottoms. Those, my friends, are a pair of Grace's soccer shorts. Now these shorts go down past Grace's knees and Grace is a good foot and a half taller than Hannah. So these "shorts" really don't belong on Hannah's body.

Next we have the T-shirt. I don't know what the child's obsession is with this shirt, but I wish it would end. It's old (2 years at least) and has one of those cheesy "iron-on" type transfers on the front. The picture is three dogs wearing flag bandanas like doo rags. Hannah HATES dogs. Is terrified of them. So why she insists on wearing this thing at least 4 days a week is beyond me.

And now we move on to the best part. That little "coat" thing she's wearing. That actually belongs to one of her dolls. Yes, that's right, folks... her doll. A standard 18 or 19" doll is the one that's supposed to be wearing that thing. And yet, Hannah puts it on all of the time. And because she's a freak, she insists on having it closed, which is where the handy dandy binder clip comes in. (Seriously... god bless the inventor of binder clips. He has made Hannah's life.) I suppose I should be thankful for this day. Normally she wears that doll coat like that, but with no other shirt underneath. Now that is a sight to see, my friends. [sigh]

And to anyone who's curious, yes, I let her go out in public like this usually. Not to daycare because that would be a little weird. But if I'm running to WalMart or Grace's soccer practice or something, I have no problem taking her in this kind of thing. It makes other people smile and I would like to think that people realize that I wasn't the one who dressed her in the morning. And if they don't realize that, then they're too stupid to be my friends anyway. LOL!



** Ignore the messy background. That's the sunroom off the kitchen that has been waiting for my darling husband to gut it for oh, about 4 years now. He says this winter for sure. Uh huh. Sure.

** I didn't mention her hat because that's the one thing she's wearing that I actually think totally kicks ass. I love that hat!

** And because I like it, here's another picture of my modern day princess. She really does kind of rule, doesn't she? LOL!


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Let's Talk About My Photos...

OK. So in the past week or two, many of you have been very kind and have either commented here or emailed me saying that you love my photos. It's all very flattering and I truly, truly appreciate it. But you have to understand that I really don't have any sort of special talent or "gift". And I think it's about time I prove this to you all. LOL!

OK. So first of all, I am not a "gifted photographer" with an eye for taking great photos. The truth is, I just take a bazillion photos hoping for one I like. For example, here's a screenshot of photos I took of Hannah yesterday when we were outside.

ACR Screen Shot

Now see all of those photos of her (in the red shirt)? Well, there's another three rows of them if you scroll down on the screen further. Here's the thing. There are about 95 photos there. I took all 95 of those photos in the span of about 10 minutes (if that) and that's no exaggeration. When I decide I want some pictures, I literally just stand there and snap one after the other after the other. Of those 95 shots, there are maybe 10 tops (and that's pushing it) that I really REALLY like.

So that's the thing. The next time you're going to take some pictures, take a TON of them. And don't just stand in one spot. Walk around the person and take them from all different angles. Look down at them. Take some really close up. Take some really far away. Take side shots. Take some from the back. Put your camera down near the ground and snap a picture looking up. And DON'T make the person look at you every time. Almost all of my very, very favorite photos of the kids are side shots where the wind is blowing in front of their face, or they're laughing, or they're looking off into the distance.

OK. So yesterday, I came in from outside and uploaded my photos to my computer and glanced through 'em. I found several I really liked and this, my friends, is where the REAL magic begins. LOL! Photoshop, here I come!

So, I decided I really liked this one...

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It's a good picture, generally speaking. She looks pretty, smiling nicely, close up, etc. Perfect. But the photo itself is just eh. Too dark, kind of dull, a little too much of a tan/red tint to it, etc.

So I started doing all of the editing steps that I do to ALL photos I take. First I defog the image and then I sharpen the edges. That alone usually boosts up the colors a bit. In the case of this photo, I also lightened it a bit and increased the contrast in the colors just a smidge. Then I did what I also always do to photos of people. I brightened up the whites of her eyes and the catchlights in her eyes ever so slightly. And I mean slightly because if you do too much, it looks demon-like. Then I selected just the irises of her eyes and used my sharpen tool to sharpen them up a bit more.

In this photo, I also used a focus action. Basically, I use my circle tool to select the area of the photo that I want the focus on (her face in this case). Then I blur and darken (slightly) everything in the photo OTHER than that selection.

So this is what I had after all of that.

Sep 23 2007 073 copy

So it doesn't look too much different, but if you compare them side by side, you can see the difference in her eyes and you can see how the trees in the background and her hand are blurred a bit, which helps naturally draw your eyes to her face. It's also a bit brighter and the colors are a bit more saturated.

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So what's next you ask? In comes Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), a plug-in with Photoshop. I take the edited photo and open it in ACR.

ACR Screen Shot 2

On the right hand side of the screen are sliders that control pretty much everything about your photo. Brightness, temperature, fill light, contrast, saturation, vibrance, etc. Many times, I just mess around with them all until I get a photo looking like I want it to. But I also have things called "presets". Basically, it takes one click of my mouse to click on the name of a particular preset and all of those sliders automatically adjust to preset levels. Usually, I end up tweaking those settings a bit too, but it's a good starting point.

In the case of this photo, I decided I wanted it really bright, so I messed with the brightness, as well as the saturation levels to really bring out the colors in the picture. I also use ACR to add a subtle dark vignette around the entire photo. All of this takes me 5 minutes tops (usually), and when I'm done, I'm left with this, which is what YOU guys see...

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Let's compare the original with the edited version.

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You usually only see the "After" version and that's when I get the questions about what type of camera do I have, what settings do I use, etc. and when I have people compliment my photography skills. But as I've just shown you, I don't think it really IS my photography skill. I have a standard point-and-shoot digital camera. It's a 7.0 megapixel HP PhotoSmart M627 that my mom bought me for Christmas last year. LOL! I can't change lenses and settings and all of that other stuff that you can do with really good cameras. (Dear god, how I dream of owning one of those one day. LOL!) I'm just fairly decent at Photoshop and have the time to play around and read tutorials on the web, etc.

So the next time you see one of my photos, please realize that I'm nothing special. LOL! I am not a photographer that hasn't yet tapped into her true calling in life. I'm a computer geek that likes her Photoshop. So although I appreciate the compliments I receive, they probably aren't really deserved to be honest with you. It's not to say that I don't still want to get them. LOL! Just don't be that impressed with me. I'm really not that special. :P

In fact, here's what we'll do. If anyone out there has a photo or two they want me to mess around with, you can email it to me. I'll do what I can on it and then post the Before and After shots here. Then you'll see that even YOU can take kick ass pictures if you can also edit them well too. There's a "Contact Me" button up there under my profile pic. (I'll post it at the bottom of this post too.) It will take you to a site where you can contact me via email without learning what my email address is. You can't attach photos there though, so once I get your email and I decide you're not some freaky ass psycho (LOL!), I'll email you back for real and you can send me some pictures. Sound good? Cool. Get 'em to me! :)

Wine anyone?

Dear god. I can't tell you the last time I laughed so hard. So last night, about 20 minutes before my sister was due to show up at my house for my dad's birthday party, my phone rings and it's her. I answer and she asks if I still drink wine. Um, duh. Does a bear shit in the woods? Of course I still drink wine. The fact that she even had to ask sort of disappoints me. LOL!

So anyway, she goes on to explain that she has acquired several "jugs of wine" from friend and wants to know if I want one. Sure! She also says it's homemade wine and I say, "Even better."

So anyway, everyone starts showing up for the party and my sister pulls in. So she gets out of the car with this "jug" of wine.

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Um, "jug" is not the word I would've used to describe this thing. I had assumed by "jug" that she meant like a gallon jug. You know those big ass bottles of wine you can buy on the market? Yeah. Um, that's NOT what this thing is. Here. Let me show you this thing in comparison to one of my children...

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Dear god! LMFAO! Seriously. What the hell am I supposed to do with this thing? I mean, how do you even pour it? And here in redneck country, screw the cork or even a screw top. Let's just duct tape the top and call it a day. I was seriously pissing myself laughing.

So tomorrow, I'm going to break the seal and try it out. I mean, it might taste good, right? LOL! And even if it doesn't, I don't care. That jug isn't plastic like I thought it was. It's glass people! How friggin' COOL is that? I LOVE that thing. More than the alcohol it contains, which I can assure you, is saying something in my case.

So seriously... what does one do with all that wine? Drink it slowly over the next 8 billion years? Sell it to a church for communion? I totally want to throw it in our water cooler/dispenser thing-a-ma-jig that you see in offices, but Steve says no. Jerk. LOL!

Another mom I know invited me to her house this Thursday for a wine and cheese type thing so 4 of us womenfolk can get together and watch the season premiere of "Grey's Anatomy." Who dares me to show up with this monstrosity and say I brought the wine. LMAO! Dear god...

Anyway, we had a great day today. Hannah was way more pleasant than usual and I got some fabulous photos of her outside. I'm sure I'll be posting those in the next day or two. :)



Here are my photos for this week's Weekly Word Challenge. This week's words were "county" and "urban".


The field behind our house, currently full of hay bales.

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This one was hard for me. When I first found out what it was, I immediately thought of contemporary/black/shiny/sleek/crowded city stuff, which is totally not my style and totally not something I thought I could find a photo for around here. But then I changed my train of thought and realized that "urban" also reminds me of old, rusty, grungy type stuff. So I walked around today and found the rustiest thing I could on our property. So anyway, here's my "urban" contribution.

sep 23 2007 032 copywow


Other notes:

Amber: It may very well scar, but what's a kid without scars? LOL! You can see it in that photo up there. It's under her chin, so it's not in a really obvious place, thankfully.

Tink: We played a Chuck E. Cheese board game which is a total ripoff of Candy Land, but not nearly as cool. I don't where my mom bought it, but she really should have saved her money. LOL!


** Please note that in the photo above, Hannah was dressed in an outfit she put together. She's wearing Grace's skirt (which is way too big) and a long-sleeved shirt of her own despite the fact that it was like 80+ degrees outside today. Later, she added a Burger King crown. [shaking head] The kid kills me.

** I've been getting some very nice comments/questions in the past few weeks about my photos/photography skills. In the next day or two, I'm going to have a post that shows "Before" and "After" pictures and show the world that anyone can have great photos. It's all about perspective (and willingness to snap 8 bazillion photos in the span of 10 minutes while moving around), and a decent knowledge of Photoshop. Many of my photos are VERY run-of-the-mill, average photos until I do the post processing on them in Photoshop. But more on that later. Right now it's 1:30 in the morning and I'm kind of tired. LOL! So I'll see you tomorrow. :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

A few scrapbook pages...

I finished two layouts this weekend and thought I'd post 'em here. In the first one, I blurred out Grace's coach's name and our hometown so as not to encourage weird freaky people to find me. LOL! The second one is a bunch of the pictures I took of Grace when we went fishing the other week.



Another Weekend Gone...

So another weekend has come and gone already.  How does that happen so fast, huh? Sheesh.

Anyway, we had my dad's birthday party last night. The slide show was a HUGE success. I wanted to say thank you for all of the song suggestions. I actually ended up using a song I found on that website I mentioned the other day - It was just the right speed and the words fit PERFECTLY for the feeling I was going for. My dad teared up a little, which made it all so worth it.

We only had one "incident" during the party. Hannah somehow managed to slam her chin on a wooden snack tray. And the kids weren't even acting up, so I have no idea how the hell she did it. She put a gash in the bottom of her chin. It hardly bled at all, but it's a deep cut so we weren't sure if she needed stitches or not. She was fine after 5 minutes, so we let it go. We put a bandaid on it, but now this morning, she won't let me take the bandaid off to check it out. I have to keep an eye on it though because it is so deep and I don't want it getting infected. [sigh]

Other than that, the weekend was pretty uneventful. I was busy putting together the slide show... the girls spent one day at my MIL's house... I burned some new CDs... the Steelers weren't televised this week (grumble grumble), so no football watching... and I got some cleaning done. Sounds thrilling, huh? WOOHOO!

OK... Hannah's bugging me to play a board game (because that's really what I feel like doing at 9:00 in the morning after only 1 cup of coffee), so I gotta go. I'll be back later to post my photos for the WWC. :)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Suggestions please?

So... my dad turns 60 on Tuesday (which also happens to be mine and Steve's 8th wedding anniversary, but that's neither here nor there). Anyway, I decided to throw together a quick slide show as his present (because it's free). It's going to be made up of a bunch of pictures of the girls, with some others thrown in if I have some of other people in the family. Anyway, I'm stumped on what song to set it to. It doesn't have to be anything that screams "We love you Granddad!" (LOL!) But I need a nice, slowish song that doesn't have lyrics that allude to loving a member of the opposite sex in that sort of way.

So um, yeah. Need suggestions please. Anyone? Anyone?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Cool Site of the Day

So I found this cool site through clicking around on Facebook. It's a site of free MP3s. I've been downloading all day. The thing is, they're all songs by unsigned artists that upload them to the site. The truth is, I usually like songs by the undiscovered artists more than the popular artists out there, so this site is right up my alley. So go check it out. Go to and start listening and downloading.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fun Shit

Saw this on another blog and decided to play along since there were a lot of new ones I hadn't seen before.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car) Bandit Accord

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fav ice cream flavor, favorite cookie) Brownie Chunk Chocolate Chip

3. YOUR "FLY Guy/Girl" NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name) A-LIE

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal) Blue Monkey

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born) Marie Palmer

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)Lie-Al

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink put "The") The Pink Beer (LMAO! LOVE this one!!!!)

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers) Dick Robert

9. STRIPPER NAME: (the name of your favorite perfume/cologne, favorite candy) Happy Skittles (LMAO!... Makes it sound like I have little titties.)

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother's & father's middle names ) Marie Heister

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter) Siddlow St. Louis

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower) Spring Sunflower

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)Banana Undies

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree), Coffee Willow

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour") The Photo Rain Tour

A Style All Her Own

And here we have a typical "outfit" for Hannah. Her attire is always chosen carefully by herself, and she changes at least six times a day, but usually more. She's an eclectic little thing.

For example, in the above photo, taken yesterday, she was wearing a pink velour dress-up dress with purple fringes. Only she wanted to wear it as a skirt, so again, the handy dandy binder clip came into play and was clipped at her waist. Then, she decided she needed more coverage or something, because the red bandana was also added (with a binder clip) to her waist. Throw on an old, faded T-shirt with a dog iron-on, a pink hoodie, and some blue Crocs, and we're just about there. But let's not forget the tool belt, complete with tools. Because really, what outfit is complete without a tool belt?

Why the umbrella? I couldn't tell you. It wasn't raining yesterday, so it's anybody's guess why that was brought out.

Hey man, whatever floats her boat...

And I didn't finish post-processing this photo yet, but here's another example of one of her outfits -- this one worn the night before the above photo was taken. She was trying to dress like that freaky ass bald doll she's holding. Sweet.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

We are so classy...

OK. Not really. But on Sunday night we faked it. One of my best friends from elementary school (Chris) got married and we went to his wedding. The wedding and reception were about 45 minutes away, so three other couples (and us) decided to spring for a limo to take us there. That way we could all drink and enjoy ourselves, and we'd have a blast driving there and home together.

Well, we were right because we had a TOTAL blast, both in the limo and at the reception. Almost all of my high school friends and their wives were there. (Yes... ALL of my high school friends were guys.) Some are geeky, some are dorky, and some are somewhat "cool," but they're ALL a total blast to hang out with. We laughed from the time we got in the limo until the time we arrived back home. "My boys" are the absolute best. They bust on me, I bust on them, and no one gets mad. (Why can't girls be like that?)

We arrived at the wedding/reception already slightly buzzed, which was absolutely hilarious. No one did anything embarrassing or rude, but I did erupt into a fit of laughter when the wedding started and I felt the need to tell my friend, Steve, that the minister was hot. And dudes, he totally was. I mean slammin' hot. My friend couldn't stop laughing, asking why the hell I was telling him. I explained it was because there were no girls I knew anywhere near me, and I really did feel the need to share it with someone. Couldn't... stop... laughing... I realize you had to be there and also had to be slightly intoxicated to see the humor in it, but I can assure you, it was funny.

Once the reception started up, it went downhill from there. Jokes about past boyfriends and girlfriends, my friend Gerard breakdancing and doing the Worm in the middle of the dance floor several times, the groom and his band kicking the house band off-stage so they could sing some kick ass music. (For those of you at the pig roast 2 years ago, it was the lead singer of that band that got married.)

Anyway, it's soooo nice to get out sometimes, have a few drinks (or a lot of drinks in my case), and just laugh with adults. Especially with this particular group of friends. We've been tight for years. Some I've been friends with since kindergarten... some since fifth or sixth grade... and some since high school. Over the years, I married Steve and most of them met and married girls. Surprisingly enough, I like all of the girls, which is rare in and off itself. And although a few of them had a problem in the beginning with their man having a good friend who's a chick, once they got to know me and understood our relationship, all was good.

So anyway, this leads me to my contribution to the Weekly Words Challenge over at Tink's blog, which she took over for the first time this week from OddMix. The words for this week were Change and Color.


This first picture represents change. The changing of our lives and our relationships since we all first met 20+ years ago. And yet, what's cool, is that so, so many things have also remained the same. Awesome. (Steve and I are in the back on the right.) Oh, and some drunk dude took this for us, so it's not the best quality. LOL!


And here is my photo for Color. This was Grace at her soccer clinic on Saturday. She's there in the middle in the orange shirt, to the left of the girl in the yellow #2 shirt. :)

And here are one or two other pictures from the wedding. Just because.

A picture of Steve and my friends. Lovely group, aren't they? LOL!

Steve and I in the limo. Please ignore Steve's missing tooth. The dentist pulled it a few months ago and a piece broke off and stayed inside his gum. The dentist is giving it six months "to correct itself" before putting a new fake tooth in there. LOL!

Friday, September 14, 2007


Let's see. Lots to catch up on today.

First of all, after the hideous display the other night at Grace's soccer game, (hideous in terms of Grace being WAY above the level of most of the other kids), I called and had her bumped up to the level she was supposed to be at in the first place. She wasn't sure about switching teams, but she did, and she's now on the Bengals (as opposed to her original team of the the Eagles). They had their first game last night and it was MUCH better. There are some really good kids on her team (and the best ones are girls... WOOHOO!), and I think she'll learn a lot more at this level than at the younger level.

But I suck and totally forgot to take my camera with me, so I'm afraid you'll have to wait to see her in all of her black and orange glory. (As if you care. LOL!)


Let's see. What else? Uhhh... not much actually in terms of what's going on here. So how about I review some more cool new (free) software. I'm in love. That's right my friends. I'm in love with Cozi. Cozi is a free online (or offline) family calendar/shopping list/organizer type thing. It's so freaking cool! You can enter all of your appointments, birthdays, etc. for everyone in your family and it automatically color codes each family member's activities. There's a separate tab for each family member, as well as one that displays everyone's stuff.

From the calendar, you can send a reminder to your email or phone or print it out. And get this. If you have other family members' cell phone numbers saved in your profile, you can actually right-click on an event, select a person from a list, and have a text message reminder sent right to their phone or a reminder email sent to their email account. No more excuses for hubby forgetting to pick up little Johnny at soccer practice!

There's also a shopping list area where you can type in your shopping list. And then, right from the main interface, with the click of a button, you can print the list, send the list to your cell phone, cross items off the list, etc. There's even separate lists for groceries, wholesale, etc. if you want to divide your lists up according to where you need to buy the stuff.

As if that isn't enough, it also comes with a cool automatic screensaver. You just tell it which directory on your hard drive your photos are stored and it automatically creates random collages of photos that appear as your screen saver. AND if you're watching your screen saver and you particularly like one of the collages, just click "S" on your keyboard and you can email that WHOLE COLLAGE to anyone you choose. Now how wicked cool is that?

And the best part of this? If you choose to download the local version to your computer and use that to enter your appointments, activities, etc., you can still access that stuff online from ANY computer ANYWHERE. How cool is that? It automatically syncs your local stuff with your online stuff. Sweet.

Anyway, go check it out for yourself. Again, it's called Cozi. And even if this doesn't sound like something you want, go sign up anyway because right now, if you sign up, you get a code for a FREE photobook from Shutterfly. And that's worth $30 or so, so what the hell, right? LOL! What are you waiting for? GO!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thank you everyone...

...for the nice comments you've left. We're all OK. To answer the question about the girls, they're doing alright. To answer whoever it is that asked (I forget and I'm not in Blogger right now), Salinger was sick (but was 12 or 13 years old). He had been fine and then on Friday he threw up. No big deal. Happens sometimes. But when I saw him Saturday morning, I was like, "What the HELL?" It looked like he literally lost 10 lbs. overnight. I could see every bone in his body and his eyes and face were all sunken in. He got progressively worse throughout the weekend. Didn't eat at all... maybe took 4 or 5 sips of water total... didn't move at all the past 24 hours. It was obvious that whatever was wrong wasn't fixable at this point.

We're lucky that we know a guy who is a vet and my MIL called him and asked him as a favor to come to our house to put him to sleep. It really was so nice because the thought of putting him in a carrier to drive to the vet to have him put to sleep and then driving his body back home to bury him (all with Hannah along) was a little more than I wanted to deal with.

To answer the question about the girls, I had Grace say goodbye to Salinger this morning and told her he'd probably be gone by the time she got home. She was OK right after school. When we got home from her soccer game, she walked down to where we buried him (by herself) and came back up crying. She was pretty upset and I talked to her about it, hugged her, etc. I think she'll be OK, but am expecting moments throughout the next few days (or weeks?) where she might have some breakdowns or something.

Hannah was OK all day with it, but when she saw Grace crying, she started sobbing, telling me to "get Salinger out of the hole." But she calmed down too after a few minutes and I really don't think she'll even think about it much from this point on, but we'll see.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks again. I promise to have a much happier post tomorrow, OK? :)

And to end on a lighter note, Grace had her first soccer game tonight and scored a bazillion goals (I stopped counting after 7 or 8... LOL!) I think some other parents were actually getting annoyed. LOL! So it was definitely a nice bright spot in our day... especially for her. :)

Today sucked.

What a shitty day.

Steve's (only) employee called in sick. Then Steve's work truck wasn't working and he spent half the day trying to fix it. Then I had to put Salinger (our cat) to sleep. And then, because the day didn't suck enough already, Steve had to run out to a job where the floor was setting up too fast and they were in danger of losing it and having to repour it. So that meant I had to bury Salinger, which I can assure you, was not on the list of things I do as wife and mother. Shit.

Grace has her first soccer game tonight, which will be a nice distraction. But Steve still has to run out and grab a part for his truck and try to fix it before the game. Which means, basically, that he'll probably have us running late, like usual. [sigh]

I really NEED it to be bedtime so everyone else will go to sleep and I can chug a beer or something. Damn.

I'll be back later.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ho Hum...

I say that as if I'm bored. Believe me people, I should NOT be bored. I have so much on my To Do list, it's not even funny. And yet, I can't get motivated to get ANY of it done. Ugh. I hate feeling like this. Not enough to like do anything about it or anything (LOL!), but I still don't like it.

So hopefully everyone tried out that little photo tip from yesterday. Tink, TRY it tonight. You won't appreciate how much of a difference it makes until you click the little Preview checkbox on and off in that window and watch it go back and forth. Cool shit, lemme tell ya.

Let's see... what else. Oh, I keep forgetting to tell you guys about this cool website I found. It's called Make Use Of and it RULES! They post all kinds of cool sites (free).

Through them I've found CCleaner (to clean off your computer quickly), Windows Live Writer (which I now use to blog), a plug in so I can post my photos from Flickr right here using Windows Live Writer and they show up on my blog, and a cool site called Picnik where you can edit your Flickr (and other photos) ONLINE. It actually edits them really well. So if you upload a picture to Flickr and then decide you want to edit it, it's no problem. And if you have a Pro Flickr account, you can actually replace the first photo with the new edited photo. AND you can download the edited photo to computer. You can also use Picnik to email your Flickr photos to people and to upload them to Facebook. Awesome. So check out Make Use Of and have fun. They also have a feed, so I just have their new posts show up in my Google Reader. Gotta love it.

OK, I guess I should go empty the dishwasher, put laundry away, pack up the monstrous water slide for the winter, and like, work or something. But because I can do it easily now (because of my new plug-in), I'll leave you with another photo or two. :)

Contemplating Life (Blur)BeautyGiggling (Crop)

Grace Relaxing and Fishing

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Little Photo Tip...

OK. First and foremost, I am not brilliant or talented enough to come up with this tip on my own. I learned it from Holly McCaig, who is a professional photographer and well-known in the digital scrapbooking world. Basically, what I'm about to tell you is pretty much word for word what she blogged about last week. Go here to read her tutorial on defogging photos.

Now before I sat down and tried this myself, I thought, "How much of a difference could this possibly make?" Holy COW, I had no idea! This tip totally RULES! Like Holly explains on her blog, I went about the steps to actually create and record an action to do this in Photoshop. So every time I download photos off my camera, I set up a batch process that automatically opens and defogs each photo, saves it, and closes it.

But if you have Photoshop Elements, or use another program that can't run actions, you can certainly manually do this with each photo. I took Holly's advice (because she would know), and I do this to a photo before I do ANY other editing or proofing.

Okee dokee. Here goes:

1. Open up your photo in your editing program.

2. Select Filter --> Sharpen --> Unsharp Mask. (These menu names may be different in other programs, but basically, open up the Unsharp Mask dialog box.)

3. Set these values in the dialog box:

Amount: 20%

Radius: 60 pixels

Threshold: 0 Levels

3. That's it. Before clicking OK to apply the mask, make sure you click the little Preview checkbox on and off so you can see what a difference it makes in your photo. So freakin' COOL!

I don't know how well you'll be able to see the difference here, but here's a photo straight out of the camera and then after applying the unsharp mask. I think, in this case, the difference is most obvious around Hannah's hair and eyes, and the rocks down by her feet. See how it removes that sort of halo-ish haze? I put them right next to each other down there, but they're kind of small, so I don't know if you'll really be able to see them.

Before DefoggingAfter Defogging

Before DefoggingAfter Defogging

Good stuff, isn't it? Like I said, I read about this tip here. Over on that blog, you can go through the steps to set up the action, so you can run this on all of your photos automatically.

And speaking of Holly, she has a kickass store called Pink Ink Studios -- a site especially for photographer's tools. I've been buying some stuff here and there from her, including those ACR presets I was talking about yesterday.

Now go defog your photos, dammit!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Few More...

I had a chance to edit a few more pictures from our little fishing adventure yesterday, so I thought I'd post them.

Kelly, to answer your question, I don't run actions very often anymore. I have Photoshop CS3 now and that comes with an Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) plug-in. I do the majority of my photo editing using that now. I bought some ACR presets, which basically means I click on it and the coloring, lighting, etc. automatically changes.

As for depth, I'm still doing all of that by hand. I don't have a fancy camera at all, so I go into most of my photos and blur the background after the fact in order to add depth and dimension. I'll type up an entry later today explaining (somewhat) what I do, OK?

In the meantime, here are those photos I mentioned...

Waiting for a Bite

Hoping to Catch OneGrace Relaxing and FishingFishing

Monday, September 03, 2007

And so ends another holiday...

So today, another holiday came and went. Have you noticed that holidays and long weekends pretty much seem to go three times as fast when you're an adult. What's that all about anyway?

So anyway, Steve and I woke up this morning and decided to take the girls fishing for most of the day. Let me just say that fishing is NOT my thing. I used to go all the time when I was a kid. But now I'm like, a grown-up and stuff and the thought of being away from my computer that long and traipsing along in the wilderness just doesn't do it for my anymore. (Sad, I know.) But I knew the girls would love it, and I knew I'd get some great photos, so off we went.

We took them up the old canal, along the river. Steve warned me we'd have to walk pretty far from the car to the fishing spot, but he didn't say HOW far. Dear god. Poor little Hannah's legs. LOL! But she kept up with us, just like the little trooper she is.

So anyway, both girls ended catching a ton of fish. None we could/wanted to keep (most Sunnies), but they had an absolute BLAST and were both so proud of themselves when they'd catch one. It really was cute to watch. :)

Here is Grace catching her first fish of the day. She was SO excited...

Grace Lands One

Hannah waiting patiently for a nibble.

Hannah Waits

The gang fishing...

Family Fishing

Some bridges near where we were fishing...

Bridges on the Canal

The canal walls...

The Canal

Sunday, September 02, 2007


We had such a busy day today. It was one of those where when you leave one place, it's only to head to the next place. Frankly, I hate days like that, but what are you gonna do, ya know?

This morning, Grace tried a karate class. She's mentioned being interested in it and a new place was offering 2 free classes to try it out, so we gave it a whirl. She really liked it, so I think we'll sign her up for it and see how she does. Hell, I'm just glad because it gets me out of going to gymnastics. I was so sick and tired of the woman that owns the gym. So it's all good, I say. LOL!

So we left there and had to head to the house of a classmate of Grace's last year. Her best friend, J. J moved to Michigan right at the end of last school year, so Grace hasn't seen her since then. They were back in town this weekend to pack up the rest of their house and move for good. So as much as I didn't want to go, I knew I had to. Grace still talks about how much she misses J., so I knew she'd be excited (I didn't tell her where we were going). I ended up having a good time because some other classmates' moms were there and ALL of them smoked. I tend not to ever smoke in front of people I don't know well (especially women) because I don't want anyone judging me. When I saw one woman (who I seriously thought would never smoke) light one up, I actually said out loud, "Thank GOD you smoke!" LOL! That's kind of sad, isn't it?

Anyway, here are the girls hanging out together and having fun. Cute little children, aren't they?

The Old School Gang

The Gang

So anyway, then we left there and headed home only long enough to pick up Steve and then we went to Steve's cousin's surprise 30th birthday party. They had it at a big park/playground type place which was great for the kids, but sucked for the moms because it was hard keeping track of the kids -- especially if you have multiple children.

So anyway, the second we get there, Grace and Hannah ran off to play with my nephews, who were being watched by my SIL and my MIL. I'm like, "Cool. I'll quick inhale some food, chug a beer, and then go play with the kids."

I swear to god, we were there FIFTEEN minutes tops when I look up and see Grace is absolutely soaked from the chest down. What... the... hell? Apparently, since my somewhat "spirited" (nice way of saying out-of-control) nephew decided to walk into the stream to "catch tadpoles," it was OK for Grace too. Um, do you think perhaps you could ask me next time before allowing my child to do that? The truth is, I didn't really that she got wet because I had an extra set of clothing in the car for her, but they didn't know that.

So anyway, I told Grace that she was NOT to go back down near the stream without an adult. (You couldn't see the stream from where we all were.) I swear to god, less than 3 minutes later, I say, "Steve -- where the hell is Grace?" So I walk down to the stream, and there are her and Gunnar (my nephew) waist high in the middle of the damn stream with not an adult in sight. Son of a b*tch!!! So I reamed both of them out for going down without an adult and threatened Grace with bodily harm if it happened again. Dear god, that was less than an hour into the party. [grumble grumble.]

So anyway, about an hour and a half after we got there, my SIL, BIL & two nephews left. It then dawned on me that she hadn't really said hello and mumbled a goodbye, causing me to wonder if she was all pissed at me about something again. Then I realized that I really don't give a shit. LOL! But seriously, I swear to god I think she's mad at me. This is the girl who didn't speak to me for TWO YEARS when I first met Steve (for no reason what-so-ever), so she could possibly snap at any moment. LOL!

Then I wondered if she was pissed because she was sort of half-assed watching her 2-year-old son and Hannah for about 20 minutes while I ate. But I don't really care if she was. I'm always the only one watching the kids/disciplining the kids/cleaning up after the kids on holidays and at gatherings, and it's about damn time that she took her fucking turn. Right? RIGHT?!?! Yeah.

So um, anyway, we were there for several more hours until I finally dragged Steve and the girls to the damn car to come home. I'd pretty much had my fill of socializing, parties, and being the designated driver and I was done.

So we came home, and within 30-minutes, this is what I found on the couch...


I guess it was a rough day for everybody, huh? LOL!