Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Shark (product review)

My mom called me up a few days ago and told me that I needed to sweep my floors because she was on her way over with a new mop that she just bought called the Shark. I know this may not be new to many, but it is new to me and I have to say that, after using the Shark, I most definitely shared my moms enthusiasm for this product!

In looking at the Shark website, there are many products. My mom has the "steam pocket mop" (that is shown in the link above)...but my mom said she got it at Walmart for $99.

The things I loved about this mop...
1. The durable, reusable/washable mop pads...as compared to having to buy them for my swiffer.

2. The fact that it only uses water and no chemical cleaning products..not that I'm a super freak about the chemical thing, but again, it's just something that you don't need to continue to buy.

3. It steams as you push the mop. The handle has a pump type action. (ie: the kids can mop and not spray an excessive amount of cleaning product all over the floor)

4. Because it uses steam it dries almost instantly! (again..very helpful with a house full of kids!)

5. It really does do a great job. It cleaned the floors very nicely.

6. It isn't any bigger than my swiffer.

You do have to plug it in and deal with the power cord...but I suppose this is no different than vacuuming. It also does get very hot. I had to refill the water 3 times to wash the entire downstairs of my house, but that process is quick and easy.

Overall..I think it is GREAT! I plan to borrow this from mom on a regular basis!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Stinkin' Santa!

On Saturday One Voice was asked to sing some Christmas Carols at the tree lighting ceremony in town. The kids participated in this...or, they all started to participate:) (It was SO cold...so the boys dropped like flies and came over to hang out with Josh and I.) Anyway..."Santa" was there that night and handed out candy canes and pencils to the kids.

Later that night, while the kids were getting ready for bed and I was making their beds (after washing their sheets earlier in the day), Luke was holding his pencil and decided to jump. He slipped on the blankets on the floor and proceeded to poke his eye pretty hard with the end of the pencil..which was fortunately NOT sharpened yet.

He screamed pretty loud and was clearly in lots of pain and as I examined his eye realized that it was actually bleeding. I'd never dealt with a bloody eyeball before, but at that point was thinking the worst. I quickly picked him up and brought him downstairs..prepared to bring him to the ER or something. I grabbed some ice and tried to calm him down. It became clear very quickly that it wasn't as bad as I thought and the bleeding stopped right away. (There was never a time when it was 'gushing' or anything..but it was clearly bleeding).

At that point I was pretty sure that it wouldn't result in an emergency trip to the hospital..worst case maybe a trip to the doc at some point, so I put him on the couch with Josh and his ice and I headed back upstairs to finish making beds and putting the other kids to bed.

When I got upstairs, Ethan was very upset. They all tend to get upset when someone in the family is 'seriously' hurt. Ethan was crying a bit..trying hard not too, but definitely crying. He was standing on his bed very upset about Luke's eye as I was telling him that he was going to be fine. Ethan then burst out in this fit of anger saying "STINKIN' SANTA! IT'S ALL SANTA'S FAULT. IF HE HADN'T GIVEN LUKE A PENCIL THIS NEVER WOULD HAVE HAPPENED!!!" Yelling this full of anger and tears and emotion. It was hard for me not to laugh..actually, I think I did laugh a little bit.

I assured the kids that Luke was fine and put them to bed. Jessalyn handed me this little bracelet made out of a few pieces of string and asked me to tie it on Luke's wrist when I got downstairs. I did. Then Jessalyn came down to tell me that her, Ethan and Owen were all wearing matching bracelets. I guess in memory (or honor of?) Luke's eyeball:) I thought it was sweet. A little dramatic maybe...but cute nonetheless!

My kids fight like crazy. They seem emotionless at times when each other gets hurt..probably because little booboo's happen frequently in our house. I am encouraged to see how the kids 'band' together when there is a serious issue. Seeing how they were when Owen was in the hospital last April was like this. There was true concern...true prayers...and an honest excitement when he was home and better. I really really hope that they continue this relationship throughout adulthood.

And...because I am sure you are wondering. It was clear that Luke was fine within and hour or so of the incident. It did hurt quite a bit and he was sensitive to opening it at all for a bit. But he kept the ice on and it wasn't long before he was acting totally normal. I thought sure that by morning he would have a pretty ugly eye..but you can't even see anything. His eye looks perfect! I am actually thinking now that the bleeding came from his eyelid..not his actual eye, because there is no visible mark on his eye at all.

I am thankful for God's protection in this situation. This could have been WAY worse!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sunday Schmunday

Even though I feel completely alone on this subject, I feel like there HAS to be at least a few others who agree with me here.

Why do we continue to send our kid to school events/practices (mandatory or not) on Sundays??

I know, I know...the majority of families in the community do not attend Church on Sunday morning, but regardless of that, I feel like EVERY family needs a day with nothing scheduled. We all need a day to be a family. This 'family time' looks different for each family. For us, it looks something like this: Church and Sunday School in the AM, usually Subway for lunch (if my kids have any say in it) followed by something we do as a family in the afternoon (this time of year it's relaxing, watching football), sometimes popcorn for dinner, America's Funniest Home Video's in the evening..then bedtime. Nothing 'special', yet we are all together getting refreshed, relaxing and getting ready to start another crazy busy week of piecing together the scheduling puzzles.

Trust me, I am competitive. I have been a part of sports teams my whole life. I played on a basketball team in high school that got together every morning BEFORE school (not mandatory) to play basketball ALL SCHOOL YEAR LONG. WMRHS was serious about it's sports. We competed well, most often making it to the tournaments at the end and occasionally winning them. At first, it was a normal thing to see practices on Sunday....but then a few parents started to stand up to this, refusing to send the kids. It didn't take long for this concept to trickle through other parents and soon enough the school board banned any activities on Sunday. You know what? We still were often ranked at the top of the other schools in our class (which happens to be the same class as Inter-Lakes).

As a basketball coach for the 3rd and 4th grade girls I understand (trust me I do!) the feeling of needing more practice time. Like I said, I am competitive...but really really feeling strongly that we don't need that extra practice time to be on Sunday. Not just because of my own family but for the sake of every other family out there!

It seems that more and more activities are being planned for Sunday. These practices are never mandatory...but, I've been a part of sports teams long enough to know that whether you show up at a mandatory practice or not really does play a big role in your place on a team...whether the coach means to do this or not. I would like my kids to take being on a team seriously and very much encourage as much participation (mandatory or not) as possible. I also want to encourage them to take our family seriously as well. I would like them to see the priorities here.

I don't blame the coordinators of these events. I am VERY grateful for the people who step up do their best to keep these different leagues running and although I haven't experienced it myself can only imagine the work and the headache that this involvement provides. I know that by scheduling things like this that they are only trying to make everyone happy. Sometimes I wonder if it is one big misunderstanding and miscommunication...and I wonder if everyone is just jumping into the flow of the water and just 'going' with it. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if all of the parents were actually honest with one another...I wonder if everyone would agree that we all need a day. Just. One. Day to catch our breath, relax, recharge and gear up for the week ahead of us. I know for sure I need this day. I also know for sure that my kids NEED this day. I think every family needs THIS DAY. A day without running around in three different places. Those of us with multiple kids in multiple activities can understand this.

I wonder if scheduling stuff on Sunday is something that we are doing because everyone thinks that this is what everyone else wants?

Or maybe, like I said, I am completely alone with this? Maybe I'm the only one? I would really love some response here just so I can stop wondering:) Regardless of who agree's with me, we will continue as a family to keep Sunday our day of relaxation. At the same time, if I am met with others who agree with me, maybe we can work together to change this?! I know it can be done..I've watched it happen before.

Again, I can't stress enough that I don't 'blame' anyone for this type of scheduling. I am so glad to be a part of a community who has great programs for the kids and am happy to have my kids involved. I know that the coaches mean well and are just trying to do their best to teach our kids. I also understand that there are times when a Sunday event has to happen (tournaments, rain dates etc)...but it seems as though more and more is getting scheduled every day of the week and I know I need just one day to be home with my family all together, in one place! I want to bet that the Coaches wouldn't really complain THAT much if none of the teams were allowed to practice on a Sunday...it would probably mean an actual day off for them!

Anyone else??
*crickets*chirp*chirp* :)
You can be honest..calling me crazy won't hurt my feelings!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Miah and I hit a bunch of my favorite locations for this senior session..but it wasn't long before he caught on to the 'type' of location that I look for. He was helpful in giving suggestions and ideas and spotting out cool places for pics!

The full album is in the 'teen' gallery of my website.

A highly anticipated Christmas gift!

My sister in law is expecting her first baby due on Christmas Eve! The whole family as anxiously awaiting this little baby girl. This baby girl makes grandchild number TEN on our side of the family and grandchild number ONE on the other side.

Shara couldn't be more 'perfectly pregnant' at this point so we took the opportunity to capture this time as best we could.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Szostak Wedding!

Ashley and Alicia have been friends since childhood. They grew up together in the same small church. It wasn't until their later teens/early twenties that they realized that they were meant to be together. They both decided that they wanted to have a small wedding in the Church that meant so much to both of them. It was a beautiful day.

I feel privileged to have been a part of this day. I haven't known either family for long, but both families have known Josh for a very long time. You see, this Church means a lot to Josh as well. It is the Church that his mom grew up in, and also the Church that his dad pastored for many years. We have known Ashley and Alicia for a few years and were glad to have been there with them on this very special day!

I also had the opportunity to team up with Karole-Ann as we tag teamed the photography! She got some beautiful shots that you can see on her website HERE

There were many photo's taken this day, but I compiled them into a story board form for blogging purposes! The album is, of course, on my website.

It is always a good time with the Patterson/Szostak families...even boutonniere pinning was fun!

If you ever need a professional flower girl, hire this one! She was GREAT! She walked perfectly slow and dropped each petal one by one:)

This is Grammy Goodwin. She is the COOLEST lady ever...although, she has a crush on my husband:) She's threatened to fight me for him and to be honest, I wouldn't mess with her!

There seem to be hooligans at every wedding...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cakes by Sweet Lealea

October is birthday month for our family. Jessalyn and Luke have birthday's a day apart from each other, which always makes for an interesting time of party planning and coordinating. I am not much of a party planner...so I try to go as simple as possible. Because it is Jessalyn's 10th birthday, we will be celebrating with a couple friends on the actual day..but otherwise, we had a little family gathering for Jessalyn and Luke together. This is what typically happens for them.

This year, we did make the party a bit more "special" by ordering two specially made cakes for them. A friend of mine (who happens to be the mom of Luke's best buddy from school and the sister of one of Jessalyn's best buddies from school) who makes cakes. They aren't just 'any' cakes though...they are super cool and SUPER yummy! We have now set a new standard of birthday cakes in our family! We stood around these cakes for as long as possible..admiring all the little details, dreading the moment when we were going to have to cut into them. Fortunately, once that dreaded time came, the taste of the cakes most definitely eased the pain! They taste just as great as they look.

We joked that with our family (including extended family) we could keep Sweet Lealea in business! It seems like we have a birthday every other week around here!

I'll share a few pics here..but of course I have pictures of every possible angle on the website:)

And..definitely go to the Sweet Lealea website and order your next cake there!!!

Monday, October 11, 2010


It's hard to believe that I have known Sara since she was 11...just a year older than Jessalyn is now! Sara is now a senior, working two jobs...looking at colleges, thinking about becoming a nurse. Sara is amazing. She is a hard working, smart, BEAUTIFUL, Jesus loving young woman. She's a great babysitter and will one day be a wonderful mother.

After rescheduling a few times because of weather and work schedules we were finally able to get together for her senior photo session. We had an 'almost' perfect day with wind being our only issue. We found a bunch of cool locations and I snapped and snapped away while she smiled her beautifully photogenic smile.

After photographing most everyone else, it is easy to filter through the pictures to discard the bad ones and keep the good ones. There are usually a higher percentage of funny expressions, closed eyes and poses that just don't work for whatever reason. Not with Sara. I came back and chose over 70 pictures that came out nicely. The problem with Sara is that she doesn't take a bad picture! It made my job of filtering through them quite difficult, but overall I am confident that I chose the ones that best show her personality.

We had a fun few hours together. As usual, all 70 something photo's are on my website, but I will choose a few to share here. How will I ever decide? There are so many to choose from!

Thank you to Mrs. Oliver and her barn. The plan for this barn is to tear it down..and that will be a sad, sad day for "kristin brown studio"! :) (Thank you Mrs. Oliver!!!)

And one of Sara and Owen. Owen was glad to flash a nice smile to be in a picture with her!
This is Sara and my youngest, Owen.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Damon was great. You just never know what to expect with these senior boys! He helped me carry my step stool around and 'weeded' the area's that we chose for pictures. The step stool was absolutely necessary because Damon is over 6 feet tall. He is a basketball player, but for some reason, he couldn't seem to find a basketball anywhere! (note to self: bring my own props!) Damon also has an injured knee which made his posing options fairly limited. It ended up being fun and I think we got some great pictures!

There is this spot in Whitefield that I had in mind. I grew up in Whitefield and knew that there was a building that had some graffiti on it....that was loving placed there by my brother Matt:) It is a big spray paint of "AC/DC". Assuming he was a teenager when he did this then it must have been done at least 25 years ago! While thinking about this, I thought sure that it would have been painted over by now....but sure enough, in true Whitefield fashion, it is STILL there! It made for a GREAT place for a senior boy photo shoot!

We headed to a few other locations and then I said something to the affect of "do you know anyone with any old abandoned cars in their yard?". Damon was like "yeah...I do"...so we headed to a new location and got these pics:

The full galleries of all of the shoots can be found on my website.


Photographing McKayla was SO much fun! She was willing to try anything...from sitting on twisted metal, to tractors, train cars and even old abandoned CREEPY houses! We had some good laughs. McKayla's boyfriend made sure everything was safe first! McKayla and her boyfriend just so happened to be celebrating their two year anniversary that day.

We got about 45 'keepers'...but I will post a few of my favorites here.

McKayla and her boyfriend (who happens to be on of my childhood best friends nephew!)

McKayla and her mom. Mom was a big help driving us all around scoping out new places for pictures!