Saturday, October 31, 2009

I fished what I wanted!!!

Because of the timing of how the birthdays fall in our family, it seems to be the trend for me to not get my gift from Josh until a little bit later...usually by the 31st of October:) Last year, on Oct. 31, Josh (and Nana!) bought my Nikon D40. That was one of the best purchases...ever! I can't think of something that I use more often than my camera. It most definitely worth every penny.

This year, Josh bought me a new lens for my D40. After a suggestion made to me by my cousin, Adam (who is an incredible artist and also knows his stuff about can go to his blog HERE)...I did some research and found that I would find myself very happy with the Nikkor 35mm f1.8 lens. I shared this with my husband who "put it in his moleskin" (a little Peasant Princess for ya) and somehow, and he won't tell me how, he got his hands on one! I say 'somehow' because this particular lens is generally hard to find. If you google it, you will often find it to be sold out...because its just THAT awesome:) He gave me this gift today..which happens to be Oct. 31st again! I also got a new candle and bag of Lindt chocolate...because my husband is amazing.

So of course, I couldn't wait to pop the new lens on and give it a try. In just a few test fires I found a significant difference. The crispness and clarity are far better than my 13-55mm and the fact that I can get as low as f1.8 makes for far better low light photos. It does sense the light completely differently and it focuses a little different as well. I need some practice for sure.

Can you tell the difference? The ones of me were taken by Josh..who happens to be quite savvy with the camera as well:)

(ahhh...f1.8 bokeh is the best!)

My poor kids have been pretty sick. Jessalyn dealing with a high grade fever last night but is ok today..and then Owen who today is dealing with the fever thing himself. Here is my sicky boy..laying on the couch in a pretty dark living room.

And the next two are for comparison...again, a sicky Owen laying on the couch. I had to bump the ISO a bit for these inside dark room pictures (800).

ISO 800
SS 1/25

Same location with the 18-55mm lens...
f5.3 (the lowest this lens would let me go)
ISO 800
SS 1/5 (which is way too with this lens I would have had to bump it to a 1600 ISO to compensate)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Five year old kisses.

Last night, Luke went to bed reminded that it was his last day as a four year old. He was giggling over this thought and we talked about all the things that he will no longer do as a four year old...the list included many things (pretty much anything that he does during a day), and then he added that he was giving me his last four year old kiss. We geared up for it as I explained that since it was the last four year old kiss that it better be a GOOD one! I puckered..and he giggled like crazy. It was cute. As I left the room I made him promise that I would be the one to recieve his very first five year old kiss.

He remembered that promise today so we staged the first five year old kiss with the camera.

Its hard to believe that Luke is 5 already! We celebrated with a small party..just Josh and I and the siblings. Luke got just what he wanted, a transformable bumblebee. We will celebrate again on Sunday at a pool party with family and friends.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Balance and Moderation

I am relieved to have both parent/teacher conferences over with for this fall. I mean, I don't really 'dread' them, in fact up until this year I absolutely looked forward to them! I guess what I'm trying to say, is that Jessalyn and Ethan are two very different kids! We have had it easy with Jessalyn as far as her schooling goes. Anyone who knows Jessalyn knows that, since birth, she has been a very driven and independent girl. When she has her mind set one something, she will get it done (sometimes to a fault).

Ethan, on the other hand, will avoid having to work at anything if he possibly can! Don't get me wrong, Ethan is a great kid...he's funny, he's smart, he's cute :) but he tends to have trouble focusing especially when it is something that doesn't come completely natural to him (like video games!). I admit that I was a tad bit nervous about his conference at school.

As it turns out, his conference (last week) turned out GREAT. His teacher thinks he's a great kid too and is ahead of schedule on the reading end and seems to be doing well overall. He, of course, does tend to need re-focusing quite often..but I think this is normal for his age (or any age!). I walked out of that conference very proud of Ethan! He has new goals of getting to higher and higher reading levels and working on his writing too. He seems willing to work towards these goals.

Today was Jessalyn's conference. I was not surprised by her conference. Every year (or really, ever DAY) she gives us more and more reason to be proud of her. We are fully aware of her and her potential but it is nice to see it confirmed by her teachers (I say 'teachers' because she has three in a co-teach classroom). She is, as usual, thriving in school. I am trying to eat it up now and prepare for the day when this starts to change...while at the same time praying that we can continue to encourage her in the direction that she is moving now. She is described as a leader and fun and competitive (not sure where that comes from..tee hee)..and also described as being a "kid" as well.

I guess that is where the whole "balance and moderation" part comes in. I find this a challenge in parenting my four kids. In Jessalyn's case, we know what she is capable of and we know what she expects from herself as well. We try to encourage her and 'push' her to work hard both in academics and character. She tends to be naturally responsible which could potentially lead us to lean on that responsibility more than we should. At the very same time, because she shows her trustworthiness in responsibility we feel like we should give her practice with that and continue to develop it as well. Its a total balancing act. We want her to be a 9 year old... we certainly DON'T want her to be a teenager YET!

All the while, we have Ethan. It is hard not to compare one sibling to the next. Things that come easy for Jessalyn don't tend to come as easily to Ethan, but at the same time, sometimes we question whether its just a mindset for Ethan. The more and more we see Ethan mature (and I use the word "mature" lightly) we are learning that he is proving to be equally as capable as Jessalyn...he just has less of a desire to work at things. This, I suppose, is totally normal. We don't expect Ethan to be Jessalyn because he's Ethan! We are slowing learning that we probably should expect more out of Ethan...for our sake AND his. We are seeing a change in him as he realizes what he's capable of and he does seem to enjoy it.

With four kids this balancing act of moderation is key..I think. It could be really easy for us as parents to become "off balance" in trying to balance and moderate for our kids. Does that even make any sense? What I'm trying to say is that, in the whole act of trying to help encourage but not exasperate our kids WE as parents need to keep that idea in balance as well. In other words, ultimately, I try not to stress about it! We try to encourage and model the idea of working hard to our kids without become extreme about it..and that itself is hard!

"Let your reasonableness be known to everyone" ~ Phil 4:5
"Fathers, do not provoke you children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" ~ Ephesians 6:4
"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." ~ Phil 4:8

An example of Jessalyn doing what she does best...

She gets up and decides that she will start making pancakes..I didn't supervise her measuring or recipe (the mix that requires milk, oil, eggs...) following at all. I, of course, supervised and assisted in the pouring and flipping though.

Then helping her littlest brother get in on the fun...

And the best part is when she cleaned up after her efforts!

I think she's pretty cool!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Photo shoot with Mark.

He was a good sport about getting these pictures done.

I think we both had more fun shooting the next group of pictures though. This is the "Mark" I know:)

The rest of the pictures are on smugmug.

I thought this was a great quote..

"Once you have the skill to elicit great photos from one camera, you can get them from any camera. It's like pianos: a 9-foot Bösendorfer may be better piano than the upright at the local bar, but if you can't play the piano, you won't get good music out of any of them. Anyone can bang on a piano and anyone can shoot a camera, but it takes an artist to get decent results from either one. The sad part is how many well-meaning people think photography is as simple as buying a camera.

Getting great pictures comes from knowing how to "play" your camera's settings and paying attention to the lighting. If you know what you're doing, you can do it on the D40."

-Ken Rockwell

So true. SO true!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall photo shoot with my kids.

Having pictures taken when they are required to be "normal" (rather than the crazy kids that they are), is like pure torture for my kids. Before starting out, I had to get myself into the right frame of mind by doing deep breathing exercises and counting to ten before we even started. I also prepared the kids by letting them know right off the bat that they would get a special treat if they cooperate for as long as I want them to.

This combination actually seemed to work. Everyone besides Owen was cooperative. They seemed to enjoy themselves actually. Owen, on the other hand, was as silly as possible and would NOT sit still for a picture or look at the camera without sticking his tongue out or something.

I was frustrated at first after realizing that the first string of pics I took were taken on a 1600 ISO. I must have used the camera in a very low light situation the last time and didn't think to change it. Frustrating. I think if you are aware of "noise" it will be obvious which pictures were taken with the high ISO. I fixed the problem in the middle and made the kids stay for twice as long as they would have needed to had I not made that mistake.

Photography is frustrating. Along side of the ISO problem, I am a bit frustrated with the focusing of many of these shots. To me, it seems that the focus landed more on the bricks, rather than the person. Ahhh...but these are certainly moments to learn from.

So with all of that said, I have about 30 that I ended up relatively happy with. Here are a few of my faves of those 30. (The rest are on smugmug)

After the pictures, the kids were treated to shakes or mcflurries at McD's, a long game of tag with me (one of their favorite things to do) and pizza for dinner!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Saying goodbye to peak season.

Sad to say it, but I think the peak foliage season (in the Lakes Region) is officially over. It still looks beautiful out there, but its nothing like it was just a few days ago. The leaves are still colorful, except that they are now laying all over the ground leaving the trees bare:(

Nothing better than an October wedding!

I have been a bridesmaid in two weddings this summer. One thing that I found difficult was the fact that, in a way, I was wishing that I wasn't actually in the pictures and that I was the one taking them! In both weddings, the locations were beautiful and it was hard for me to not take advantage of it with my own camera. I don't really know if there is specific 'etiquette' for these situations, but I certainly didn't feel right about standing behind the professional photographers with my camera taking pics of the scenes and locations that they are setting up. As painful as it was (both times) I made sure that my pictures were all from an off center perspective....which to some degree makes me not want to take the pictures at all!

Of course, I didn't let every single photo op pass by without at least a few clicks from my camera!! Here are a few from the day. It certainly was a beautiful wedding!

Taking an opportunity with the bride and groom in between poses (with father of the groom sneaking...just snapshots so I didn't feel like cropping him out).

This water pitcher was Josh, Shara and Kirsten's moms. Shara also used it filled with her bouquet at the head table of her wedding back in June.

The Brown/Jameson party.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

An interesting fall day.

A day full of rain and sunshine and wind and more rain and more sunshine...and some rain and sunshine at the same time. We did manage to have a soccer game during a less rainy part of the day. Today's game was in Sandwich. There were many points along the drive when I wanted to pull over to take pictures, but Jessalyn was stressing that we would be late so I restrained myself from stopping EVERYwhere that I wanted. I did pull over at one point because I just couldn't waste the entire drive through this beautiful town without stopping for atleast a couple photos!

This last picture was actually the 'backdrop' of the field that the kids played on. Jessalyn's team won the game and Jessalyn played very well!

Monday, October 5, 2009

October in NH

October is most definitely my favorite month of the year. I've loved October....well...since I was born, I suppose:) My love for October grew even bigger after Jessalyn was born in October...and then even more when Luke was born in October! It sure makes for one exciting month...almost like I get THREE birthdays! (It seems as though their birthday's are 'almost' as exciting as my own)

Besides all of the birthday celebrations, it is also the best time of the year to randomly grab my camera and go for a drive. I find myself pulled over in the craziest places doing my very best "leaf peeper" impersonations clicking away at the shutter of my camera. Its hard not to be happy with the results of the pictures. God's creation is amazing and I feel blessed that I get to enjoy it!

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Dude! What are you doing??!!"

This morning, after dropping Jessalyn and Ethan at school, I figured I would head straight to the eye doctor to pick up the contacts that have been sitting there waiting for me since August (or was it July?). On my way back, I was driving on Church Street (in Laconia) headed towards the lights in town while talking to Karen on the phone.

Fortunately, I am a defensive driver.

I'm in the right lane because I am turning right at the lights. As I'm driving towards the lights, I see a sweet looking black car pulling out of (I think) the library. The driveway that the car was pulling out of was a bit of an incline. I'm still chatting with Karen and keeping an eye on the car. As I got closer, it appeared like the car was not going to stop, although I was clearly in the right of way....but the car was NOT stopping. So...I believe I said (maybe Karen can confirm this?)..."Dude! What are you doing!!". So, I stopped in the road..and this car continued to pull out RIGHT in front of me...and I mean, like literal inches in front of me.

So I'm looking at the car, thinking about pulling out a little road rage (kidding. really.) and as I'm about to give the driver a look of "what the heck??!!" I realize that there is NOBODY driving the car!!! Oh my goodness. It was totally creepy..and funny..and scary at the same time. I'm still on the phone with Karen..trying to describe (in shock) what is happening to me while laughing hysterically (ok, maybe not hysterically..but I was laughing).

Here I am, stopped dead in the middle of the road while a car with no driver sort of settles itself right in front of me. The driverless car came to a stop. Cars in the lane to the left of me continue on..fortunately, that driverless car didn't go any further or it would have been an accident for sure.

For a brief moment, I am wondering what the heck I should do. I kinda scoped out what was going on around me and noticed a man in a suit across the street doing a double take...and then I witness the jaw dropping expression on his face followed by him sprinting across the street to hop back in HIS car and back it up the driveway! He looked at me like with a look of complete confusion and then I drove away.

I am kicking myself because I had the camera sitting right there in the passenger seat of my van and I didn't think to take any pictures!! What is wrong with me??!! Nothing would have made this post better than actual pictures of the car sitting in front of me with no driver. I guess I'll have to let you imagine the scenerio instead.

As I drove away (this whole time, on the phone with Karen) I realize how blessed I was by the timing of this little incident. Really. How annoying and inconvenient would it have been if I had been 2 seconds ahead and have this car ram into the side of my van. It was creeping out in front of me rather slowly, so it wouldn't have been a major issue, but surely would have caused a dent and probably a call to the insurance, not to mention police documentation and all of the hassle that goes along with that.

I did take the scenic route home to fullfill my duty as leaf peeper (its ok, you can hate me). Since I can't leave you with a picture of the creepy headless car, I will leave you with another picture that I took today!

Its a beautiful day!!