slide show

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tuyết Phương

When I took the photograph below, I didn't notice it.  But later, when I had a moment, I saw it.
That nose.
I still think about and study that nose a lot!  Too much.  Way more than a nose should be thought about.
That crinkled-up nose.
That crinkled-up, sweet nose that makes her eyes disappear to squints, the crinkly nose that I first saw two years ago on a computer monitor.  I first shared it here, in 2008.   But I couldn't show you the whole picture back then, just the decapitated version.
There she was, with all the booty I had sent in a care package, chewing on the teether I had picked out at Target.  There she was wrinkling up that cute little nose at me from half way across the world.  It was the first and only picture we'd get from the orphanage that had our Tuyết Phương, our Tess, smiling.

Adoption is funny like that.  There is so so little, if you're lucky, and sometimes nothing to know about your child in the beginning.  Your child.  So when you have a tiny little something, like a crinkled-up nose from half way across the world, you hang on it.  And study it.  And remember it.  And think about it way more than seems right.

Her little birthmark is still there too between her eyes.  Looks like a little rash.    I think it's funny that at both at 9 months and now at almost 3 years old, one eye is more open that the other in the smile.  Kinda Popeye.  See, I told you I think about it way too much!
I just LOVE that she still does that!
I just LOVE that nose!
It doesn't get much better for me.

PS-Any Vietnamese readers out there?  I thought there might be one?  I'd be so thankful if you'd help me with your translation of Tuyết Phương.  I keep getting different interpretations.  Help please?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

For Auntie M in Buckeye Land

Auntie M, we had SO much fun during their visit!  The boys were a lot of fun, including the late night glow stick wars of 2010!   And we hope they visit again soon.  C has lots more pics.  I just wanted you to have a little surprise!
Crazy me

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A good stick

(Disclaimer-This is actually 2 golf tournaments stealthy portrayed as 1, for ease and sanity of the Crazy writer.)

We're smack in the middle of golf season.  I guess in the land of desert and heat and perpetual sunlight, it's always golf season.  But in the summer, Papa and the boys have many more opportunities to play.

Our club offers a junior golf clinic that culminates with a golf tournament for the kiddos.  We've been participating since Sunny was wee tiny.  Now just the boys, Papa, Boo, and Patch, play.
Boo, again competed in the 3 hole division.  Let's just say, at best, his swing isn't the most natural.  He swings like he has a baseball bat in his hands.  Baseball and golf, the 2 sports my boys play, don't really mix well. But in the end, he held his own, surprisingly taking second, and more importantly he had lots of fun!

Jujube tags along.  Not being golfers, Jujube and I drew stick figures on the score cards.  

Much to Papa's excitement, Patch, at 11 years old, is finally coming in to his own.

One of the things that makes Patch a natural at golf, is he really doesn't care.  Golf is a really mental sport, as Tiger Woods now attests too, and not much rattles Patch's cage.  He just plays.  He's finally good enough to play with adults, albeit slowly.  This year he competed in the 9 hole division, and did quite well, scoring a 37!  (Tees were moved quite a ways forward as is was very wet.)
Since he won, from now on he'll compete in the 18 hole division.  I think that may be a bit much for a 12 year old, but he is looking forward to it.

The weather was gorgeous...

most of the time.  Did you notice that pic with the clouds closing in?  Then this happened.

Lots of fun was had by all.  Patch received high fives, and Papa beamed as Patch got his trophy.  And honestly, it makes me pretty excited too, maybe someday, he could earn himself a golf scholarship, anywhere, and that would be a very good thing!  
In this picture I notice how much younger, smaller and stranger goofier my boy is!  I asked all of them to give me their best model pose!  Silly boy!
I LOVE it when they shake hands at the end!  Seems so grown-up!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunny & Someday

My baby, my first baby, Sunny, really more a young woman now, is just starting the process of looking at colleges and universities.  Right now, she has it narrowed down to one in-state university and one out-of-state college.  She has a while to choose yet.  She'd love to go out-of-state.  She'd love to leave home.  Go away.  From here.
You can hear it, can't you?  The sound of a mother's heart being crushed, slowly, as her first born leaves.

She loves us... dearly.  I know she does.  But away is not here, and she craves this independence and this distance and sadly, this awayness.  I think this is good.  I hope this means we, her parents, have done our job well.  My heart is still sad.
So even though in my heart she is still 2 or 6 or if I try very hard 12 years old at the very most , I help her look at colleges that are not so close to home, and not so close to my arms that are about to feel a little empty without her.   I miss her already.  I miss the woman she's becoming, and she's still here.  It doesn't make any sense.  I can't pretend it does.
I will miss her.  I will miss her singing songs at the tender age of 2, songs she made up about washing a car, songs she sings with bubbles in her hair.   I will miss her confidence when she started wearing glasses at 8, saying, "I'm so lucky I'm one of those people who looks SO good in glasses!"  I will miss the trips we started when she was 14, to the senior home to play bingo.  I will miss her doing my hair and me brushing hers.  I will miss the tears we share when a friend isn't there and the shoulder I can offer.  I will even miss holding her hair back when she's sick.
I know I have days, when there's nothing I want more than to not parent.
There are day that the kiddos are everywhere, all over me, touching, poking, tugging, 12 hands, 12 feet, 60 fingers, 60 toes, again and again and again...
There are days that the only thing I want is to not be jostled!
Days when I think I will just lose it if I find another pile of sand on the floor or a dirty sock crumpled in the corner.  And then I find another pile of sand.
If I'm patient, and if I just do the best I can to endure, day after someday will come, and there will come a day when I will not be jostled as I try to relax.
Someday there will be quiet in my home.
Sweet quiet.
Sweet lonely quiet.
Lonely quiet.
Someday there will be no piles of sand on my freshly mopped floors.  No smelly boy shoes and dirty socks to carry sand in the house.  Someday there will be wonderfully clean floors.
The day is coming where there won't be a constant enormous pile of laundry.  No little ruffle socks to match, or little boy briefs, or hoodies and jeans and sweaters to wash and fold and hang and put away.
Someday my calendar will afford me time to do things for myself.   And on this someday there won't be boy scout meetings, or parent-teacher conferences, or sudden trips to the nurse's office, and I'll have time to read that book and get a pedicure.
Someday I'll know exactly where my hair brush is, and my kitchen scissors, and the fingernail clippers.  Because they'll be exactly where I left them.  No one will be there to move them... someday.
And eventually, someday, I'll sleep soundly and quietly without interruption, because there won't be anyone who wakes with a nightmare, or tumbles off a bed, or a tooth fairy commitment, or needing a mama to wrap her arms around them to drift back sleep.
Someday I will largely be done with my responsibilities.
And everyday is one day closer to someday.
Someday soon.

There's this sudden realization as we look at pamphlets from far off colleges, that the time has slipped away.  My parenting is largely done.  My impact is now largely nill.  My someday is just around the corner.  Did I forget to tell her that 3 in 10 teenage girls will get pregnant?  Did I emphasize enough how much she is loved by me and how God loves her even more than that?  Does she know what the superfoods are? Did I tell her teenage girls are the most victimized members of our society?  Can she make Nana's chicken soup from scratch?  I don't know.  But it's largely done never-the-less.  A realization that occurs, and has occurred every every other moment since her birth.
Where has my baby gone?
Is it too late?
Have I imparted enough wisdom?
Did I yell too much?
Did I praise often?
Does she know she's beautiful?
And smart?
Did I do enough?
I don't have an ending for this post.  With the time I have left with my sweet baby, my first baby, I will try to remember to teach more and love more and embrace Sunny more.  I will try to surrender that it will never be enough, and God will be watching her when I can't.

My someday is coming soon.
Too soon.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Photo Gallery--Mama love

For our little guy, who I think had a buckle fracture right when this photo was taken, but still looked adorable through it all.
And his mama who knew to have it looked at.
Love and kisses to you, sweet boy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

SOOC and After

I have a fear of showing any of my SOOC photographs.  
I'm just as scared of this as I am mosquitoes and detached hair.  
Don't get me started on the whole detached hair thing!  
Scarier than Hannibal Lecter!  
A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti. 

If that census taker has some loose hairs, then I would've lost it!  
You know, like those hairs that are still on your head but aren't attached anymore?  
Just hanging there... a little longer than the rest?! 
Someone get the smelling salts, quick!

I do enjoy a nice chianti though, but what in the world is a fava bean?

Who declared it Bunny-Trail Thursday anyway?

Come back to us Crazy Mama... come back to SOOC.

SOOC = Straight Out Of the Camera

Just wanted to give y'all and idea what's possible with photo editing, specifically, I used Lighroom.

This is our nephew PC.  I think he's pretty stinkin' cute as is!  Those big dark eyes!  But we're gonna make some small changes that will bring out his cuteness even more.  These will be subtle changes.

One of the things I like about Lightroom, is that all the steps to edit are laid out, (on the right hand side) pretty much in the order I'll use them.  I just follow the steps.

Ok, don't judge me too harshly...
First, I do an adjustment to correct the color balance.  This makes the colors "truer."  
{Is that a word?}  
The whites are now whiter and the blues are bluer and...

And I upped the the exposure/brightness?  
{I don't think "upped" is a word either!}

Then I'm gonna bump up the blacks making anything that is black, blacker.  Does that make sense?

And I also kicked up the contrast a bit.
This one is hard to see in this little picture.  But sometimes baby's skin can be kinda ruddy or splotchy.    So at this step, I'm turning down the clarity, creating a "soft focus."  It evens out his skin tone and makes it looks like his skin is peaches-n-cream, a "soft focus."  (Did anyone else smear Vaseline all over their filter way back when?)  It's a great tool for for say... when you in your 40's and say... a Crazy Mama, and need to soften out some of those wrinkles too!  Clarity and soft focus... It's a good thing!
Toward the end, I'm adding a vignette, around the outside.  A vignette is a blurry or color change, darker or lighter, toward the periphery of the pic.  If you look closely, you'll notice that it's now darker around the outside of the photo.  I think it draws your eye to the subject.  I thought the darker one just looked better.  And I don't like the vignette to be too noticeable, again so the subject is still the center of attention.  

On this image, I've sharpened and brightened PC's eyes a bit.  Again, I don't want it to be too noticeable, or he'll start to look like some cyber-droid from the future.  But a little eye editing can go a long way.  I don't do this step on all my photos, usually just my favorites or ones I'm gonna print.  

Did you notice the spot in the background of the previous pictures?  That glare coming off the chair in the upper right corner?  It was kinda bugging me... distracting me from PC's cuteness.  So here I've taken that spot out.  The background is pretty blurry already, so my alteration isn't too noticeable.  I'm getting kinda picky here, but I wanted to show you it's possible to remove spots.    

I think I'm done now.  
And here's a screenshot of the before & after on my Lightroom
I don't think I actually increased the cuteness-factor!  But I do think the image looks better.  So much of it is subjective, and I like it!

If any of y'all have Lightroom and want more tutorials, holler!

Well this is just wrong!
Am I forgiven Auntie Sherri?  I think he looks kinda French, yes?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Photo Editing Software

SOC or SOOC = Straight Out Of the Camera
I've seen many amateurs and professionals tout their pictures as being SOC.  (I, and apparently others, are too lazy to type that extra O) I'm not sure they're being absolutely honest.  In digital photography, I think nearly every pic you see has has some kind of post processing.  Certainly nearly every picture you see of mine has tweaked with photo editing.  I wax my upper lip too.  Some things are just necessary!

How?  Ok, I could give you lots of tutorials on how to do post processing, but if you didn't have the software, it would be pretty meaningless.  So for now we're just gonna talk about 3 kinds of photo editing software.  You'll have to decide which is best for you.  THEN if you want tutorials on the way I do it, let me know.  There are MANY other types of photo editing software out there.  These are just the 3 that I know about and would recommend.
  • - We'll start cheap.  And by cheap I mean free.  That's pretty darn cheap!  But also the most limiting.  Here you can crop, resize, turn to black/white, fix red eye, add text or borders to a pic and do many other things too.  You can do a lot with Picnik, and it's a great place to start.  If you're just starting out, I'd give it a go, and if you find there's something you can't do with Picnik, then you can shell out some hard earned moola for something else.  If you look at the pics on Kiddos of the Crazy 8 Picnik is what I used to put the text and borders on the pictures.  You can also adjust the exposure and contrast and such.  It's a great free tool!  
    Adobe Photoshop CS5Adobe Photoshop Elements 8
  • Photoshop - This is the program that I see most folks, using, ok almost all folks.  As far as I know, it is pretty limitless.  Photographers who have used it for years, are still learning all it can do. I find it very intimidating and am simultaneously drawn to it at the same time.  Yet, it scares me.  I could create for hours on end, and I have laundry to do, noses to wipe, and PB&Js to make!  So in the beginning, I decided to stay away from Photoshop.  I wanted to focus on editing photographs, which Photoshop does well, but I didn't want to get sucked into the "so much more" it also offers.  There are different versions of Photoshop that have different capabilities, ranging in price from $80-$800+.  This also scares me!  I own the cheapest version of it, and hardly ever use it because I don't very much about it.  I'm trying to learn.  It's not working.  Aside from being photo editing software, Photoshop also enables the user to create really neat effects on pictures and create things above and beyond great photographs.  This is another a reason I did not get Photoshop.  As a beginner, I didn't want to get sucked into another time sucking vortex of creation.  I am prone to do that already.   Rather I just wanted to perfect the images I had taken.  Here is a project I'm working on, when I used Photoshop, that I'm going to make note cards with.  Notice the textures around the outside.

    Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3
  • Lightroom - AKA Crazy 8 Mama Crack - The latest version is a little under $300.  Lightroom has a wonderful organizational system for all your photos.  Then you'll be able fix your photographs and tweak the initial photo, but you will not be able to "layer" textures/effects on your photographs like Photoshop.  Simply, Lightroom lets you edit your photos.  Not create other things.  I know many tricks for Lighroom.  I have many "presets" for Lightroom, (similar to Photoshop's "actions") that give photos an effect with 1 click.  But I don't add "effects" too often.  On most of my pics, I crop, then slightly adjust the white balance and/or exposure, bump the contrast and clarity a tick, and/or maybe turn it into a black and white.  It takes about 1-2 minutes per pic.    
So, again, I really don't know a whole lot about photo editing, except for the program I use, Lightroom.  And like I said, most folks use Photoshop, so giving tutorials on Lightroom is pointless unless y'all have it.  If anyone does, holler, and we'll go there.  If you have Photoshop, I suggest going The Pioneer Woman.  She has LOTS of tutorials on using Photoshop that seem easy to follow.   I however only have the cheapest version of Photoshop, ($79 then I had a rebate too) and most tutorials use CS3 or CS4, which is $600+

Melissa-I hope this is a good start.  How're the pics coming.  I want to see!
Staci-You asked for some of my favorite post processing tricks.  They are all in Lightroom.   I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no Photoshop images!  Do you have Lightroom? 
Anyone who uses Photoshop-Help!  Anyone want to offer instructions to a destitute Crazy Mama?  I need guidance.

Blog Trailer-Tomorrow I'll do a walk through of a pic I've edited, from SOOC to the final product, so you can see more specifically the editing steps I use with Lightroom

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Photo Gallery--Tess at Paradise

One of my favorite pictures from Paradise Creek.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday Snapshot {Paradise Revisited}

Last year we went here.  And this weekend, when I suggested a picnic, 3 of the kiddos asked Papa if we could go back to Paradise Creek, on the Apache Indian reservation.

It's only about a 15 minute drive from the cabin.  We invited another family to go with us, a family that wouldn't take offense to the "crazy factor" or the fact that we hauled a potty chair with us.
It was just as we remembered!  Paradise indeed!
A shady place to make and enjoy sandwiches.

Cool water to splash in.
Logs to conquer
Flowers in full bloom everywhere.
Time to nap.
I love how the big girls found a place all there own to jibberjabber away.
And how the boys instantly found a place to endanger themselves and strike fear into their parents.
A picnic at Paradise Creek.  A fabulous Ordinary Miracle!
Thank you Lord, for the simplicity and beauty of all that you offer me.
Ni Hao Y'all
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