Saturday, July 31, 2010

Happy Birthday Abby!

abby bday

And now, if you’ll excuse me while I curl up into a ball and cry

over my baby turning 9…

Friday, July 30, 2010


Moments like these are few and far between, so here’s proof that sometimes my kids get along :-)

sisters washed out

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thanks, Crazy…


jillian face 1

I’ve been playing around with settings getting to know my camera. Like a good girl should. So, you know, when I have something of actual importance to shoot, I’ll be ready.

This is what 6 does to me. Every. Time.

“Hey! Jillian! Look at Momma!….”

To which she replies…. “BAAAAHHHHHH!” 

I thought if I put it out on the internet, in 20 years she’ll be sufficiently embarrassed and apologize for being so damn crazy when she was 6.

jillian face 2 

And then I actually look at the pics and giggle.

So maybe she knows what she’s doing after all…

jillian face 3

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wicked- Sweet Shot Tuesday




This weekend we surprised Abby with tickets to see Wicked at the Hobby Center for her birthday. I’ve been waiting for YEARS to see this show. I loved the book and HAD to see it on stage. Abby loves Broadway, so when I saw that it was going to be in Houston, I jumped right in and got the tickets.


She had no idea… because I lied to her for months about it being sold out. Don’t judge. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do!


We were nudging each other’s elbows when we knew Popular was about to be sung.

We both got teary when Defy Gravity gave us chills.

We will never forget the day we were totally Wicked.


Sweet Shot Day

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Pioneer Woman’s Photo assignment – Water

Remember this shot?

pw assignment

This is one of the reasons I am keeping my Canon G11 point and shoot. 

Before vacation 6 asked me to get some pictures of the ocean. We were planning our snorkeling trip and were looking at buying a cheap underwater camera. Well, cheap is a relative term. When we saw them for $400 I started trying to figure out a better way to get a good pic underwater. That’s when I discovered this little gadget…



Photo and link via

It’s a waterproof housing made specifically for my G11. The blue dials allow me to adjust my settings… genius. There are compression buttons that allow me to change modes, view, etc. etc.

I was scared to death to put a $500 camera into the water even with the above mentioned gadget.

The first go around, I put the casing into the water WITHOUT the camera inside. I checked for leaks and then put it to the ultimate test… My swimming pool.

That’s where I got that silly fun shot of 6 underwater.

This is also how I got the reef shots on our excursion.


Pretty cool, No?


I will admit, the pool was much easier to shoot in. And that’s knowing that I had to hold myself under by gripping the fountain rocks and pushing myself down. The waves at the reef were brutal. Also, it was much harder to adjust the settings while those waves were pushing me away from what I wanted to shoot. With practice, this casing will be SUPER cool.

And 6 loved her ocean pictures :-)


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It’s in the bag

Did you think my shopping would be done once I found the camera I wanted? NEVER!

I know I can’t carry this fancy camera in my purse… It would be covered in grit, gum, or sticky retainer mess before you could say “Cheese”. I’ve been asking around and settled on this little beauty. The color is tame, I’ll admit. But it will also go with most anything I wear, so I like that. Not to mention, it’s lined in purple. LOVE! But the main reason I love it is because it looks nothing like a camera bag. NOTHING.

You can’t beat a camera bag that can pull double duty as a purse.

If you’d like to see more of these very cute, non-camera bag looking bags click the pic! You can also find the button link anytime over there to the left on my side bar.

There are several non-camera bag looking styles and some really great colors… It was SO HARD not picking the red one… or the teal one…

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Have your cake – Sweet Shot Tuesday

023 50mm f1.8 Nikkor lens,

Unedited shot, straight from camera.


While I am playing with my new camera, I thought I’d share a shot of an easy summer desert. It’s a white cake box mix baked in a Bundt pan. I used my super simple powdered sugar icing spiked with some lemon extract. Delish. My girls like it with fresh sliced strawberries too. :-) It’s light and refreshing and perfect for these hot summer evenings. Enjoy!

Easy Bundt cake icing:

Combine 1TBS lemon extract with 1/3 c milk.

Stir in powder sugar until icing is thick and smooth.  (Approx 2.5 Cups)

Slowly pour over cooled cake.

Sweet Shot Day


D90 update

I thought about not posting so much about the camera and just putting up some pictures… But I thought I should let you know…

I LOVE this camera.


Nikon D90 DX 12.3MP Digital SLR Camera with
18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S VR DX Nikkor Zoom Lens

I was highly intimidated by the sheer awesomeness of this thing. I sat down last night while the girls were swimming and just dug right in. Using the quick start guide to identify the buttons, and then to further figure out where things were in my menus, I was able to feel comfortable with it in about 30 minutes.

51QdTh2mj7L__AA300_ Photo via

The D90 is very intuitive as far as adjustments to settings go. I also found out that it had more awesomeness than I thought.

Take your white balance adjustments for example. Usually you scroll through and find settings for daylight, shade, indoor lights, low lights, etc. and that’s all you see. In the D90, you can choose shade… and then use your wheel to adjust within the shade range. I’m sure all of you DSLR owners are nodding your heads like you knew that 5 years ago, but I just discovered it, so leave me alone.  You can also widely adjust the power of the flash… More awesomeness.

In that 30 minutes, I had most of the basics figured out and had a custom button set up. Such fun!

I’m off to find something to put up for Sweet Shot Tuesday. While you have some time, dig out your camera and link up with me!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Inky Pinky Ponky

Inky Pinky Ponkey,

Daddy had a donkey.

Donkey died,

Daddy cried.

Inky Pinky Ponkey.


That’s the clever little rhyme that helped me choose my camera!

profile pic

Just kidding.

I’ve been researching for hours at a time to come to this conclusion. Pick the best you can afford, and then step away from the computer.

I found sites that were bashing Canon, bashing Nikon, crying about why Sony or Pentax was not high on some persons list, comparisons between system brands, comparisons within brands, professional vs. hobbyist.

There’s so much information on cameras it’ll make your head spin.

Personally, here’s how I went about deciding.

I focused on the types of photography I do. Mostly, that’s everyday shots of my kids. I do a lot of indoor shooting with no flash. I also like to do some macro and travel shots.

I pulled up the specs of my top 3 choices which were the Canon T2i, Nikon D5000, and then the D90.

Thru using the manual settings on my G11, I have found that I need a large ISO range. I located a review site that compares actual pictures of what each camera can do at higher ISOs. Both Nikon’s were better than the Canon at controlling the noise at higher levels.

I also have that Nikon film camera. The D90 has an on board auto-focus system that allows you to use many of the older AF lenses. Given the cost of lenses, I considered being able to use my old lens a bonus. 

I studied the types of lenses I thought I would like to have as well. And get this… I LIKE the kit lens that came with the D90. The D5000 kit lens seemed fairly restrictive in range.

After narrowing the choice down to the two Nikons, I drove my butt to Best Buy and played with the cameras.


I will say, the D5000 was a great camera. It also was on sale… for MUCH less than the D90.  BUT…

After adding the cost of the lenses that I wanted, the D90 was actually LESS expensive as a kit compared to upgrading the lens on the D5000. Yep, you read that right. The D90 was LESS.

When all was said and done, I got the D90, an additional 50mm f1.8 prime lens, a high quality SD card and a 4 year service plan for $1800.

About that service plan… We usually don’t ever buy those. Except I have an uncanny ability to drop my brand new cameras within a week of purchase. I decided that with the cost of this guy, I needed the insurance. It also comes with free cleaning for those 4 years. I thought it was worth the $250 for the plan.

So there you have it. I’m now the proud Momma of a Nikon D90. It scares me just looking at the thing. No lie. It’s light-years ahead of my G11 point and shoot. I can’t wait to dig in and figure the thing out. I like that I will grow into this camera and wont have to replace it in 6 months because I’m bored with it or it’s not doing what I want.

Yep. Momma likes.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

8 is nearly 9


Or at least, that’s what Abby keeps telling us. 8 isn’t NEARLY a big deal like 9 is. And with her birthday coming up on the 31st, she’ll go from being known as 8 to a very important 9.


This is 8s state of happy… when she’s eating. That’s her Mmmmm face.

My babies may be skinny as rails, but they know a good slice of pizza when they see one.


And then they destroy it by loading on the parmesan cheese.  But 8 knows what she likes, so I let it slide…

Because 8 nearly 9 still makes wishes with her eyes closed.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Slow down 6!


Jillian (aka 6) is just full of crazy energy this summer… and today, I swear she took triple the recommended daily allowance. We are talking RARE form, people.


This? Her reaction to 8’s suggestion that we save a few slices for Daddy.

hands up

Good Lord.  This kid is funny. Here, she was trying to hold up the pyramid (thank you Despicable Me).


But she’s still our sweet baby, so I guess we’ll keep her ;-)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mainland Mexico

Back to the vacation shots…


Our last port of call was Cozumel. Because Hubs just LOVES historical crap we decided to go to the Mayan ruins of Tullum over on the mainland. This was the only Mayan city ever built on the water, so it had these amazing beaches below the cliffs. They reminded me of that Leo movie The Beach.

Ok, so call it an ADD moment, or whatever, but this place smacked of our visit to Pompeii where I had to practically drag his ass away from square rocks. Don’t get me wrong. I usually like this stuff too… until I’m done taking the pictures I want, THEN I’m ready to move on to the next fun thing. That’s what I get for marrying an intellectual.

Anywho, the place was neat, and I got some good shots. The theme of the day was “spot the iguana” because they were simply EVERYWHERE!

iguana palms I felt so artistic and quirky taking this wonky crooked shot :-)

Now check this out… this was actually cool. See the corner of this temple? It’s a friggin FACE! One corner had a smilie face, they other had a sad face!

face head on

This is the same temple shot at a profile that I’m blowing up to go with our travel “gallery” in the hallway upstairs… Cool, no?

face profile

To no surprise to myself… I have a very similar shot from Pompeii… ;-)

temple at beach

This is the main temple that most people associate with Tullum. You used to be able to climb those steps, but a couple of years ago they stopped letting people go up.


And there you go. That’s my summer vacation. Quick. Easy. Relaxing. It was also probably the last time we’ll get to go someplace really cool without our kids… they are old enough now and they were sort of peeved they missed this cruise, but it was sure nice to get away and be with sister and Hubs. Hope you enjoyed the pics!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Grand Caymen

Holly Levi

By far, my favorite place to visit on the cruise was Grand Caymen. WHAT a beautiful place. I seriously wish we would have had more time here. There’s the biggest problem I find with cruises… when you find a place you can stay in, you’ve gotta hop back onto the ship.

Because of reef protection, you have to take a tender boat to the actual dock. Walk straight through to the street and you can hop a van taxi for $4 each to 7-Mile beach. This beach is beautiful… and convenient. We stopped at the Royal Palms beach club and claimed a spot by the water. The RP has a bar, restaurant, jet skis, lounge chairs, umbrellas… anything you need to hang out for a while, they’ve got it. 

The locals are friendly too…crab

We booked an excursion to go to Stingray City and the Coral Gardens through Captain Marvin’s. Again, go through the dock, to the street… look left and across the street, you’ll see Captain Marvin’s.

The biggest thing you should know about this excursion is that STINGRAYS SKEEVE ME OUT!


Hubs was lucky to get smoochin after this… Disgusting!

kissing rays

But he was totally loving it… Massage by stingray anyone?

ray massage

Excuse me while I {shiver}…

Coral Gardens snorkeling was for SURE more my speed than playing with face–sucking ray-stabbing stingrays…


purple coral

I’ll be posting on how I took the underwater shots later… You’ll really think I’m smart then :-)

After our excursion, we had to race to grab shirts at Margaritaville and then get back in line to grab the tender boat to make it to the boat. There was LOADS of shopping right there by the dock. A guy Hubs knows even stopped into a place to buy a new duty free HUGE diamond to replace the one his wife lost out of her engagement ring. Duty free is GOOD people… Real good.

If I can finagle a way to get back to the Caymens for an extended period of time, you can bet good money I’ll do it. The place was beautiful and the people were super nice. If you have a chance, Go!


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Picture perfect inspiration

You know how I’ve been looking for photography and camera information? Well, here’s some. And no, as a matter of fact, I couldn’t wait to share them… This post is also my sneaky way of making notes in a place that I can get to really fast :-) And it also may or may not be a backhanded excuse for putting up one of my most treasured shots of Abby.

Thank the blogging gods that Kim took the time to email me today, because Karen Russell has me in tears… weepy puddles of emotion just looking at her photographs… Just start reading… And once you read her post about her vows, wipe your face and keep on going.  I’ve got all sorts of lens notes scribbled down. I also found this super helpful link on there… for reviews. Karen is a beautiful woman who is living life… and thankfully documenting it for all of us to share. And her family is beautiful and her sweet little girl Annie has made me miss that time in my own girls lives. So go and read.

I’ve been going to The Idea Room for a while now. And, well, it’s full of ideas. There’s a nifty section from Kristen Duke that will give you so much information you’ll return there time and time again… and then you’ll put the Kristen Duke button on your own blog because you’ll just HAVE to share it with the rest of the world. And no kidding… You’ll be hard pressed not to find dozens of other ideas on this blog to try.

I’ve mentioned Scott Bourne before when I was searching for a new point and shoot. Which I swear, I still love. No really… I promise. Go there. His Fast Photo Tips posts are great. While you are there, poke around some more. Photofocus has a wealth of information.

And of course there’s Ree. Who we all know doesn’t know me from a tick on one of her cows. Actually, she’s for sure had more contact with the ticks. Her photography section is full of awesome. Go learn. And even if you never enter her photography assignments, follow along and see how you do. You might just be better at this than you think ;-)

Recycled pic circa 2005

Abby in Pumpkins

Film at 11


OK, so it wont REALLY be at ll… because it’s film… and you have to wait to see if you actually got a decent shot… But, well, there it is. There’s the biggest problem with film.

I am currently trying to solve the ages-old Canon vs. Nikon question. I thought I had figured out Nikon should win with me because I already have a decent all-purpose Nikkor lens that I could use with a new DSLR. (or at least, that’s what the photographer moonlighting at Best Buy said) I’ve narrowed those down to the D90 or the D5000. Then I started catching up with some of my favorite photography blogs… and now I wonder if that snazzy new Canon T2i wouldn’t be better for me…

because REALLY, it seems like nobody shoots with a NIKON. (said in my hoity toity voice )

BIG thanks goes to Angry Julie for confusing me again… ;-)

While digging in bags trying to find this lens I thought, “why not take this puppy out and see if I can take an actual picture.” You know… one so good you don’t have to manipulate the Hell out of it in some software.

Film seems so base and tactile to me… sort of like hand sewing while I have a Creative Vision sitting in my sewing room. Like walking instead of riding in a car. Like bathing instead of showering. This makes no sense to me either, but just go with it. It’s a more sensual (Webster’s definition) experience than shooting with an instant gratification digital camera. Make sense? No? Yeah… I know. Just nod your head and keep reading.

While I’m researching like crazy and bugging photography bloggers, editors, teachers for info about how to decide which camera I should get, I’m going to take a stab at shooting this Nikon N75 again. It’s what I got when we had our first baby, and really… I did get some CRAZY amazing pics with it.

I’ll share them with you after processing… I think I may just get them processed to disk… because really… what on EARTH would I do with actual prints! ;-)

And if you would like to tell me about your camera and how great it does in low light and which lenses you just LOVE, PLEASE pretty PLEASE leave me some comment love, cause Momma’s confused!!!


I do STILL love my Canon G11 point and shoot, so don’t get your panties in a twist. I’m looking for more zoom… These ballet recitals and shows are just beyond the limit of what I can get with the G11. But don’t worry… I’ll keep it in my purse… until I get a super cute new camera bag to go with my fancy pants camera :-)


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Batshit crazy…

We interrupt the vacation posts with this crazy photo…

bat face closeup

This little bugger just fell out of our patio table umbrella and scared the crap out of all of us. There may or may not have been cursing, and shivers, and general skeeved outedness involved.

Oh, and a chicka on Twitter thought baby bats were cute, so here’s a second shot of the nasty little thing… {shiver}

bat face frontal

I’ll never read vampire smut the same way again….

Yeah Mon!

Irie Mon

Our first real stop on the cruise was Montego Bay, Jamaica. We read a lot of posts on Cruise Critic that scared us a bit about getting off the boat in Jamaica. We’ve been to Jamaica before, but it was 8 years ago and it was to an all-inclusive resort that we didn’t leave for a few days. There were several warnings on the CC message board about invasive searches on your return to the ship. Considering we had an 18 year old girl with us, we didn’t think it was a good idea to get off the ship there. Luckily after a few days at sea with some rain, we were bored and ready to get onto some land.

We booked an excursion through Carnival for the Irie Mon Beach Party. Basically, Carnival threw some dj’s and rum punch into a blender and said Yeah Mon! It was fun. Hubs caught a boat to go out snorkeling, while sister and I soaked up some rays. The key to getting a great spot on Irie Beach was to get up and get off the ship early. We were on the first bus out and had primo beach chairs. That first picture up there? The view from my chair. NICE.

Sister had a good time playing on this big jumbo floaty trampoline thing they had anchored off the beach…

Conner trampoline

Mostly, while they snorkeled and jumped around, I read my Kindle and enjoyed the breeze and rum punch. They had lunch included for us… which usually scares me… but this was pretty good. Burgers & hot dogs, jerk chicken & pork, and all the fixins. The open bar was mostly beer, mixers and rum punch. The DJs were pretty good about including everyone. They had sand castle building contests and dance lessons for the smaller kids… and Red Stripe beer chugging contests and beach volleyball for the grown-ups. There was even a photographer there taking pictures for you.  I think there was enough to do here to cover a wide age range. The smaller kids really enjoyed the ocean. Us older kids really enjoyed doing NOTHING.

Hubs even found this place right next door…


The best part? NO INVASIVE SEARCHES. Hubs just had to lift his cap up off his head. We went through security with no problems, mon!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Conner on  deck

Hey guys! We just got back from a trip to the Caribbean! I was in such HUGE need of a vacation away from my children… you have NO IDEA. Well, unless you are my mother, who kept said children for a week and a half. Ever since we’ve had kids, Hubs and I have tried to make a point of ditching them and going on vacation at least every year or so. Even if it is just a weekend in The Quarter.

This year, as a graduation gift to baby sister, we decided to take her on a cruise. It was going to be a “sister’s trip” but our big sister went and got herself knocked up and had a baby at the exact wrong time to be going on a cruise with us. (He’s a cute bugger, so I don’t think she’s too disappointed)


Since we live so close to Galveston, we booked the 7 day Western Caribbean cruise on Carnival’s Conquest ship. Unfortunately for us, we neglected to think about hurricane season… The first few days at sea were ROUGH… I’m 4 days off the ship and I’m still swaying people. I NEVER felt like this when we were on the Mediterranean cruise. NEVER.


I’ll show you some cool pics in my next few posts. Until then, can one of you grab me some Dramamine or something? Bleck…