Sunday, December 16, 2012

Grieving from a distance.

(The following post is nothing more than a rambling of the thoughts that having been rolling around in my mind as I try to decipher my own emotions in the midst of such a tragic event.)

I've been walking around in a 'funk' of sorts for the last day and a half and I know that I am not alone here.  In fact, I don't know many people who are not grieving with and for the community of Newtown, CT after the sickening events that happened there on Friday morning.

Josh and I were heading to do a few more errands as we prepare for Christmas when I heard about the shooting for the first time.  It wasn't until about 2 hours later as we were finished shopping and about to be seated for lunch when I read the news that 18 kindergarten aged kids were shot and killed.  I felt sick to my stomach and immediately wanted to get home to get my kids.  I knew they were fine, but I wanted to see them...especially my own kindergartner.

As more and more news and details were uncovered and released the more and more sick I felt.  I heard and read stories of how the events unfolded and can't help but picture this in our own elementary school.  I read about the shooters entrance into the school and how the office administrators came out to see what was going on, only to be shot instantly.  When I read that I naturally pictured that event happening at the entrance of our school, a school in a small town and very similar community.   It was an eerie feeling for me when I was in the school Saturday morning for basketball games.  Even though I know this didn't happen here, it was a strange feeling because of how I pictured things in my mind.  I imagine this to be the same for many parents of elementary school kids all over the country.

This tragedy has hit close to home for SO many.  All I know is that I have had no words for the way I have felt.  While I am drawn to reading the stories that have been written about the heroic measures of the staff and responders that day, I really do not want to have any more details of this day in my mind.  My reaction to it all is to try to dismiss try to forget it.   This did NOT happen to my community, my school, my kids.  We are safe.  I still get to tuck my kids into bed tonight, I still get to see their sweet faces in the morning,  I still get to see the joy in their faces on Christmas morning.

But the problem with reminding myself that my family is ok is that I then feel guilty for being able to put these thoughts behind me.  I feel sad that I am able to do this when there are people who are thinking about their SIX year old children being shot and killed and who are NOT able to just move on.  People who's lives have changed in an instant.  It just doesn't seem fair that I am able to put it aside..just because the feeling of grief is uncomfortable.

Where is the balance here?  I have no idea.  I do know that the feeling of intense pain and sadness for the families and community will fade...for everyone.

I only remember having this feeling of intense sadness for someone else one other time as a close friend suffered the loss of her baby boy who was born still after carrying him to full term.  I remember this feeling well and as much as I would NEVER wish these tragic losses to happen to myself, I did sometimes have that feeling that I would have taken this pain on myself rather than having to see a friend go through it.  During this time I was also grieving from a distance as this friend lived hours away from me.   There was nothing I could do and just like now, because of distance, I was able to just put the thoughts and the grief into the back of my mind and move on with my day, only to feel that guilt of how unfair it was that I was able to do that while my friend simply could not and would not for many years.

I suppose the answer here  might be that we just need to let ourselves grieve and be sad.  We need to take these times and use them to appreciate our loved ones and our time with them.  The sharpness of this pain will start to dull...and I don't think we need to feel guilty as this happens.  I don't think any of us will forget what happened that day...even when the sadness is not as intense.

As we all send our kids back to school tomorrow I am CERTAIN that we will send them with a different feeling.  I know (and have believed this for a long time) that our days are numbered and that every day that we have in this life is a gift...but tragedies like this remind us of this truth even more.   I will NOT send my kids out the door in fear, but in faith that God has a plan for their lives and my life.  I remind the kids of this as well.

I love being able to live with this hope and security.  I honestly wonder how anyone could live through something like this (even from a distance) without being able to rest on the hope and promise that God is in control...even in tragedy.   Where can we find hope elsewhere?

I will be praying for our school tomorrow as I am sure it will be a difficult day for the staff especially.  I will be thinking specifically of Owen's kindergarten teacher who will have to enter the day facing a classroom full of wide eyed kindergartners, many will not be aware of the events of the week prior.  I'm sure that this look of innocence on the students will be the hardest part of the elementary school teachers all over the country as they imagine that same look of innocence on the students in CT at 9:30am on Friday the 14th...before they were faced with absolute evil right before their eyes.  I will pray that this week before Christmas will be enjoyed by staff and students as usual as we appreciate each day with a different outlook.

I will be enjoying the Christmas season with my family with joy, but not without thinking of the families that won't get that opportunity.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's Christmas time!

I think I've said it before, but Christmas gets more and more fun each year!  It is fun to see the kids looking forward to and expecting the different traditions that our family has started (or continued).  Each year that they get older it gets more fun.

This is the second year that we have gone with the borrowed tradition of a theme for the gifts for the kids.  I stole this idea from my SIL who blogged about it HERE .  This has transformed how we 'do' a good way.  If you read the blog you can see her take on it..but I will explain here too.

We give gifts according to this poem:

Something to Eat
Something to Read
Something to Play With
Something you need

And in addition to this a Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh gift..

Gold - Something Valuable
Frankincense - Something to do with the family
Myrrh - another need

We have always had the tradition of a Christmas Eve gift that for the last 12 years have been pajamas...and that is what the kids expect, although we always tell them that they might be surprised one of these times!

With that...each kid gets 8 gifts under the tree.  When you multiply this by 5 kids it can seem like a lot, and really, it is.  But..some of these categories do not require a lot of money.  For example, "To Eat"....last year this looked like a can of Pringles for one, or a box of Swiss Rolls for another.  This category can cost less than $10 in total for all the kids.  And let me tell you..they are never disappointed in this category!  When do they ever get an entire box of Ring Dings to themselves??!!  This is an exciting moment for them!

This year we added one more component that was VERY fun for the kids.  They are always asking to buy gifts for each other but at this point in life don't have a whole lot of money of their own.  Thanks to the suggestion from my friend Renee, we implemented a "Secret Sibling" gift.  Instead of this being an additional present, the secret sibling gift fell into the "something to play with" that we were going to have to fill ourselves anyway.  So...they secretly drew names out of a hat, and as far as I know have been very secretive about it!  They had a few days to think about something they wanted to get and then each had some time to sit with Daddy on the couch with the computer (this is how we do all of our shopping!) and pick out something for their 'secret sibling'.  They have had much fun with this and are all anxiously awaiting the moment when they get to watch each other open the gifts!

To top off the fun of Christmas this year...we had ALL of the gifts purchased, delivered, wrapped and put under the tree by December 4th!  Those of you who know us know that we have spent MANY years doing ALL of our shopping on Christmas Eve...and wrapping until all hours of the night just in time for a few hours of sleep before all the opening!

Having this gift giving theme is very helpful.  I make a chart and fill in each category and Josh and I plan a few evenings on the Couch with some Christmas music in front of the Christmas tree after the kids go to bed and we shop.  We shop without any crowds, crying kids etc, etc.  I know that this takes the fun away for some, but NOT for us!  We LOVE doing it this way.  Besides stocking stuffers, we have done our entire Christmas shopping online.

The kids spend part of each day looking over their gifts under the tree.  Each kid has their own wrapping paper and each gift is labeled with what category it is.  Luke is pretty sure he's getting Pringles again....but you never know, I might have stuffed a Pringles can full of gum!  Jessalyn is hopefully for the Hunger Games series....but really, it could be ANYTHING in that box:)

Nana (my mom) usually goes all out buying the kids a gazillion gifts that she has to shop for and wrap..something that she has a love/hate relationship with!  This year, we talked her into just going 'in on' the "Gold" category so that it limits the amount of stuff the kids are getting and so that she can 'invest' towards something bigger and more valuable that the kids really want.  This works out perfectly for all of us as she doesn't have to shop for a bunch of individual gifts, or wrap them...and the kids don't end up with tons and tons of toys that they love for a few minutes (maybe days) and then dismiss.  So even with Nana's contribution, the kids still only open 8 gifts (including Christmas Eve).  The gold gifts are wrapped in some shiny gold wrapping paper, but are not put under the tree yet.  We figure we will let their imaginations run wild here.

This 'system' is one that I like because the kids know, for the most part, what to expect.  This also is good for us as WE know just what to expect and can plan throughout the year and be ready for Christmas financially.

I will end with some random pictures that I've taken this Christmas season...

This is something I made for my facebook cover photo..

Sweet sleepy Tru

Tree decorating...the day after Thanksgiving..

Owen's turn this year to put the (sad looking) Angel on the tree.  The kids take turns each year.

My lovely daughter:)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Jessalyn's second room makeover.

When Jessalyn turned seven we had just moved into the parsonage.  It was the first time that she was able to have her own room.  Kirsten, Granny and Nana helped decorate her room and made it very pretty and perfect for her at the time.  She LOVED the day that her room was "revealed" to her and has enjoyed every aspect of the room since then.

As time has gone by, her tastes have changed some and her need to have a simple, yet functional space has become necessary.  Her busy schedule and the small space of her room usually equals a horrible mess...usually of clothes that don't fit in her dresser, or random scraps from various scrap projects.  On top of this, she has many wall hangings that are memories of different events and times, things that were made by her friends and other things that were sort of taking over the original decor on her walls.

One of the things that she's been asking for for the last year or so is a loft bed.  Really, a loft bed would work well in her room as space is limited and her stuff keeps multiplying.  We had some friends over just a few weeks ago who, in conversation, asked " guys don't happen to want a loft bed do you?".  Jessalyn also happened to not be in the room at the time.  We jumped on this offer and decided that this was the route we would go for her birthday.

Not knowing anything about the bed, I had her pick out some bedding for a "potential" birthday present.  She had fun choosing what she wanted..which turned out to be Nana's gift to her.

We had planned to do this room makeover while she was at school on her actual birthday...(today, Oct. 29).  What we didn't plan on is was that there was going to be a hurricane this day (Sandy) and that school was going to be dismissed early!  This put a kink in our plans, but the day still went well.  Jessalyn ended up home before we had time to finish the whole project, but she hung out downstairs as we finished things up.  It actually worked perfectly as we were finished the project at about 2:13pm..and Jessalyn was born at 2:15pm!  We brought her up and revealed her 12th birthday present at the exact time that she was born 12 years earlier!

She was VERY happy with her super clean, functional, rearranged room with a "new to her" loft bed!

The fun part is that I took pics of her when her room was revealed to her 5 years ago and took pics again today.  It's a fun comparison!



Monday, October 22, 2012

Is 35 really that far away from 12??

Jessalyn and I share a birthday month.  In fact, she was born exactly a week after my 23rd birthday.  I've always loved her birthday (as I do all of my kids), but I am not much of a party planner.  When they are little it is fun to celebrate with family,  but as they get older and they want friends to come it starts to require a bit more 'planning'.  I don't really enjoy it.  I've been saying ever since she was in kindergarten (which was about the time that 'friend' parties started) that I can't wait for the time when she is old enough to plan her own party and be entertained without requiring much planning on my part.

It has been getting better over the years, but this year was definitely that moment that I've been waiting for!  She celebrated her 12th birthday with her friends (a little earlier than her actual day) and it was a GREAT time.  There was a little work involved from Josh and I as we prepared the basement to set up her campout, helping her and her friends make pizza and then making them breakfast in the morning, but other than that I didn't have to plan a single thing to entertain the girls.

There were six of them including Jessalyn and they enjoyed partying the night away together doing the things that 12 year old girls do...or at least, what most 12 year old's do!  There was dancing, singing, hair do's, giggling, squealing, eating, running around outside....etc.

At one point they were upstairs hanging out with me and Truett (Josh and Ethan went to a movie, and Luke and Owen were at another birthday party).  They were talking about their "group" and how much time they spend together and how much they enjoy each other.  It instantly brought me back to when I was 12 and I started telling them about "my group" when I was their age.  They listened intently, quite interested and wanted to know who was in "our group".

I went on to list names....Emily, Viney, Sara, Natanya, Angela.... (I know there were more, but this was the core group of friends for the longest time)...

This conversation made me remember my 12th birthday and many other's with this exact 'group' of girls.  My sister in law Kirsten put it perfectly when she said "those were some of my best birthdays...old enough to stay up late, young enough to still be non-self conscious."

How true is that?!!

It is very bizarre to look back to when I was 12 and remember it like it wasn't 23 years ago!  Looking at Jessalyn and her friends brings back floods of memories of me and mine.  Looking back, I had no idea that the reason 12 year can have such great relationships has so much to do with just being accepted for who you are.

Of course, I remember always wanting to be one of my friends for one reason or another.  There were times when I envied the way that they were and stuff that they had.  I always wanted Emily's work ethic...and her clothes and swimming pool!  I always wished I was as smart and inventive as Viney...and love her mom and her super cool "A-frame" house, not to mention the bee's and sheep (and the big brother that I always had a crush on!).  I always wanted Sara's crazy fun personality and her PERFECTLY straight little "bob" haircut...with the natural wave in her bangs, also her house was always so fun to stay at.  We all wanted Natanya's log cabin and fun traditions that she got to do with her family during Hanukkah season!  Her mom was always super fun too....she definitely drove the "cool" bus!  And I always respected and wanted Angela's strong convictions and her hand writing!  And although she didn't go to my school, my friend Brandy who was the closest thing I had to a "sister" for a few years played a huge part in my life during this time as well.  I loved Brandy's family and the fun that we had there.  I thank Brandy for my mad "running man skills" as she was the best dancer I knew..who introduced me to how much fun it was to dance to "Color Me Badd":)

So many memories..I could go on and on.

But...even though I'm sure we all envied one another for one reason or another, we were all able to just BE who we were.  There was no faking, not a huge amount of pressure to be something that we were not.  I could still be "me"...the girl who would rather have a ball in her hand or riding a bike...the girl who never dressed up and always wore shorts/jeans and tshirts, had short hair...and who would be the only one still sleeping at 10 am after a sleepover.  "My group" accepted me that way.

I love that Jessalyn has friends like this right now.  Of course, it's not all happy all the time.  There is a fair share of drama that happens on a daily basis with this exact group of girls.  There is the added variable of technology that we did not have as 12 year old's.  Ipods, cell phones, texting, social changes how kids communicate today, but the overall relationship is much the same!  I'm thankful for her "group".

I'm also thankful that I still communicate (thanks to social media!) with all of my good friends from elementary school and beyond.  Of course, the girls that I listed above were my "12 year old group" and there were many additions and changes over the years.  I had very many friends who had a part in my childhood..and I fortunately have many good memories of this time in my life.

Was 12 really THAT far away?  It certainly doesn't feel like it at times!  Although, celebrating my 35th birthday and my own child's 12th birthday at the same time sure does make me feel old!!!

Also, interesting fact, my 12th year was the last year I spent without my husband in my life!  Will Jessalyn be fortunate enough to find her best friend...her husband... when she is 13?  I highly doubt it actually...if Josh has anything to say about it!!!  hahahaha

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mac Daddy?? (somewhat of a review of Toby Mac's new album)

Eye On It.  Toby Mac put out a new album last month.  Being that Toby Mac is one of our family favorites we were quick to make the purchase on iTunes.  We love it.  It has us all groovin' in the car in typical Toby Mac fashion and of course each of us have our favorites that are requested often.

Jessalyn's favorite is "Favorite Song" featuring Jamie Grace.  Ethan loves one particular remix of  "Me Without You".  My favorite is "Forgiveness" featuring Lecrae.

Of course the "Loud and Clear" remix is a favorite as the kids loved the original version of this song and also because it was this song that prompted the naming of our Truett!  We will remember the time we were listening to the song and decided that Truett was a pretty cool name.  The TruDog songs are favorites of every album and it has been fun to watch (listen?) to TruDog grow each time a new album comes out and each time we hear his new song.

Which brings me to his new song on the Eye On It album!  It took us a good week to realize that the "Mac Daddy" song was TruDog!!!  Wow...what a difference a few years make!  Listening to the original  "Loud and Clear" song and then listening to "Mac Daddy" only a few years later is crazy!  TruDog is like 15...and has a deep voice now!  Too funny.

Of course, "Mac Daddy" is Owen's favorite song on the album.  He likes to listen to it and he likes to sing it. It gets stuck in his head.  The song is completely harmless and quite funny actually, but if you don't know all the words hearing a five year old walking around singing  "I want a mac, I want a mac daddy, I need a mac,  those apples don't grow on trees"...could come across kinda funny.

Definition of Mac Daddy as found in the Urban Dictionary:

"Mac Daddy" or Mack Daddy, is a term used to describe a man with an unusual power over women, and is derived from the French and later Louisiana Creole patois term "maqereau", which means "pimp". Adding "daddy" makes it mean "top pimp".

I'd rather not answer the questions from people who hear my five year old singing about needing a pimp!

Of course, the song is funny.  It's actually TruDog's request to his dad (Toby Mac) that he needs a in a Mac LAPTOP.  

Here are the clever lyrics:

I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
Them Apples don’t grow on trees

I want a Mac laptop, packaging so posh
Fits like a glove in that tiny little white box
Pretty as a picture but it ain’t all show
At 8 Ram deep I be running logic pro
To make my own beats dad
Keep me off the streets dad
An xbox, would even take a back seat
So please give me a job so I can stack that paper
‘Cause this is major

I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
So I can make my own beats
I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
Them Apples don’t grow on trees

Yo I’m saving for a laptop and looking for some work
5 bucks an hour and I’m willing to serve
Ain’t no job to UG, L to the Y
I’d do almost anything to make that Macbook fly
Yo I’ll teach you to cross it over
Then play chess all day with roses
I’ll take whatever you think is fair
Dad, I’d even braid Marley's hair

I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
So I can make my own beats
I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
Them Apples don’t grow on trees

I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
So I can make my own beats
I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
Something that can Jesus bring

I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
So I can make my own beats
I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
Them Apples don’t grow on trees

I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
So I can make my own beats
I want a Mac, I want a Mac, daddy, I need a Mac
Something that can Jesus bring

So you really want a Mac son?
Yea, sir
Use it for the people
You mean we got that soul side

I do wonder if Toby Mac had any thought to the catchy tune and words of the chorus of this song?  Of course, this isn't going to stop us from listening or recommending this album but I wonder if Toby Mac realizes that he has such a loyal 5 year old fan?!

And just for's a little clip of Owen playing video games while singing the song that's in his head...

Crock on.

Beef and Broccoli

Throw some beef tips in the crock and cover them with a package of Mandarin Stir Fry Sauce.
Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.
Add some frozen broccoli and cook for 1 more hour.  

I served it over brown rice with some yummy bread.
You can also add a chopped onion to this recipe and next time I might add some red peppers!

Swiss Steak

2 lbs of top round or london broil steak...or if you want to go all out steak tips or any other good cut.
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of stewed tomatoes
1 can of beef broth

Put steak in the crock.
Mix all other ingredients together and pour over steak.
Cook on LOW for six to eight hours.

Serve with a variety of yummy things...rice, veggies...whatever you want:)

Bacon Ranch Chicken

4 boneless chicken breasts
2 TBSP bacon bits
1 tsp minced garlic
1 pkg ranch dressing mix
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
cooked egg noodles

Combine the bacon, garlic, ranch mix, chicken soup, sour cream and pour over chicken.
Cook on HIGH 3 -4 hours.
Shred the chicken.
Serve over egg noodles.

Tried and true folks.  We liked these ones.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Another crock pot fave.

Another tried and true (and EASY) recipe.

Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Chicken

Throw 4 chicken breasts in the crock pot.

In a small(ish) bowl mix the following:
     ~1 bottle sweet baby rays sauce
     ~1/4 cup vinegar
     ~1 tsp red pepper flakes
     ~1/4 cup brown sugar
     ~1 tsp garlic powder

Pour sauce over the chicken and cook on low for 4-6 hours.

I personally loved it with the red pepper flakes but it does give it a little 'kick'.  Ethan wasn't as thrilled with the 'kick' as the rest of us, so the next time I made it I didn't put the crushed red pepper in the actual sauce.  It still tasted quite yummy..just not spicy.

You do what you like:)

We had some mashed potatoes and veggies to go along with it.

Seriously delicious doughnuts.

My super awesome friend Beth introduced me to these seriously ridiculously super yummy homemade doughnuts.  I think we shall call them "SRSYHD's" from now on:)  Although, after I share this recipe, you might hate me.  Let's just get it out there.  

They're not exactly good for you:)  ....but what doughnuts are?  

Jessalyn saw Beth make them and just HAD to come home and make them for us.  Everyone is glad that she did.  I photographed the process.  It's easy.  Jessalyn did it all by herself.  

All you need is some oil, a tube of biscuits dough (you know, the kind like Pillsbury, that when you pop them open it gives you a heart attack), some butter (ok..LOTS  of butter), and cinnamon/sugar.  

Heat up some oil, crack open the biscuit dough, use a soda cap to cut out holes in the dough, put the dough in the hot oil, let it turn nice and golden brown, take them out, dunk them in some butter, then in some cinnamon/sugar....and put them on a plate to cool.  If you are like our family, the doughnut holes didn't last long as they taste extra yummy while they are still warm!  

Serious goodness.  A nice treat and fun project.  

Then run twice as far tomorrow or do twice the p90x or Insanity.  Whatever it takes.  

Waiting patiently...

Approval all around:)

Friday, October 5, 2012

Finding focus.

Well, I had a small amount of time today to play with  my decent light on a beautiful day.  Let's just say that I'm feeling much better about things already.  I think I'm figuring out which focus settings I like the best.

In the D7000 there are 39 focus points.  You can choose to use only 1 or you can choose to use them in chunks.  I finally figured out that using them in chunks for portrait type things is best...using about 9 focus points at a time.  And obviously for bigger landscape type pics I would use all 39.  I am enjoying how quickly and easily I can move from one setting to the other and didn't have a problem switching between people and landscape.

I still don't have the focus spot least not enough of the time...but I'm closer!  I'm happy to be getting more focused pics than not at this point.

Here are a few from today.

I found a flower with a fall leaf on it...and then this little bee flew into the picture just in time:)

I think after I get this focus issue figured out I'll move right into white balance...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Birthday to me!

Ahhhh...October.  The best month of the year.  Not only is it my birthday month...but it is also the birth month of my firstborn and third born.  October also brings with it the best weather and prettiest landscape.  

What better way to celebrate October (and my birthday) but with a new camera!!  I've had my D40 for four years and I can't even begin to guess how many pictures I've taken with it during that time.  The D40 was a GREAT investment and has proven its worth time and time again.  It was time though, for me to upgrade as I have been beginning to do more photography for more people (outside of my own family).  

After researching, I came to the conclusion that the D7000 was the right upgrade for me (and my price range!).  It has many cool features that are not available on the D40 and most of all it has even more customization options and most of the usual functions (f-stop, ISO, white balance etc) are just one click of a button away (rather than a process of scrolling through menu's like with the D40).  It has 16 megapixels compared to the D40's six!  It has 39 focus points as compared to the D40's three.  It has two SD card slots, a bigger review screen, the option of live view, it shoots video and is just an overall faster camera.  

With all that said, I wish I could run the thing!  

I knew that a new camera would have a learning curve.  I was expecting some work to learn where how to change the functions and how to navigate the new menus etc.  I was NOT expecting this camera to react completely differently!  It's hard to explain...but lets just say, I'm having issues:)

In my own defense...I've only had the camera for a little over 24 hours and every single hour of this has been raining or super dark.  The lighting has been horrific for any kind of photography so that has forced me to really try to 'work it' and mess with all the possible options.  I know how to get the most light in the camera by changing settings and things like that...but this camera is just different than I'm used to!

I knew my D40.  I could walk in a room and assess the light and immediately know what fstop I would need coupled with the proper ISO and shutter speed.  I am also quite familiar with the different auto white balance settings and could usually tell right away if I could use one of those options or if I would have to reset the white balance manually.  When I clicked the shutter button I could HEAR whether or not it was going to be a good shot.  If all of those functions are set correctly, you can just HEAR it!  

The problem I am having with the D7000 is that it has SO many options.  I had ISO options of 200, 400, 800 and 1600 on my D40.  The D7000 has a gazillion more...and I have no idea how 'noisy' any of them are.  The D40 had 3 focus points...and limited autofocus options.  The D7000 has 39 focus points and probably 10 different options as to how to use them.  

I do feel like I've started over a bit and because I wasn't completely expecting that, I will admit, I am a little frustrated.  But...I know I'll get it.  I will.  

I am eagerly waiting for tomorrow as it is supposed to be a beautiful sunny day and I'm hoping to have a bit of my confidence renewed.  We'll see.  

I will share the "best of the best" that I've gotten out of my camera.  It's sad..really, it is.  I get one somewhat in focus picture out of probably 8 at this point.  That's just not good enough...especially when you are doing photoshoots like the one I did last week (with my D40 fortunately) of 8 preschool kids (and some siblings).  There is a VERY short attention span there....and in order to do that right you need to get that focus and exposure/metering right on way more than 1 out of 8 times!  

Here are a few "sotc" (straight out of the camera) pictures...taken in horrible light, inside...of my kids in their jammas with bedhead:)

Rest assured...if you were to book a photoshoot with me in the near future,  I will come with my D40 in hand (after I borrow it back from my mom who is its proud owner now!).  I will not photograph any paying customer with my new camera until I am confident!  No worries:)  

Trying to work out the white balance here...

Oh wait...this one is not in jammas...and does not have bed head...and is not one of my kids (technically:).