Thursday, June 24, 2010

Who Knew?

This past May I took an online photography course with Angie Seaman.  If any of you may recall, May was downright chaotic 'round these parts.  So what do I do? Throw a photography course with homework assignments into the mix. Duh, me. I was worried that I would not be able to do it justice or get my money's worth since you sort of get out it what you put into it.  As with most things. 

So did I get my money's worth? You betcha!  I had honestly made a valiant effort to read through the owner's manual when we got our camera.  I got very little out of it.  It read like Mandarin Chinese or something like that.  ISO?  White Balance? Exposure Compensation? What in the world? So I just left the camera in auto mode and prayed for some lucky shots with decent exposure.

But, I also wanted to get my money's worth out of our camera.  I paid for some bells and whistles, by gump, so I needed to learn how to use them.  ( this post has taken on a real Sara Palin-ish tone, eh?) After taking Angie's course I could actually decipher my manual and apply it to certain shooting situations.  One thing that had me a bit confounded was setting a custom white balance to get the most out of a weird lighting situation. I read the tutorial. I read the manual. Multiple times - and just couldn't seem to figure it out.  Then in the middle of our Olive Garden anniversary dinner with our children (should children be allowed at anniversary dinners? Whole other post entirely.) it came to me.

So here's the funky before.  The Olive Garden had some strange orange light going on that night.  The setting sun, the reflection of the marinara sauce, who knows? But no matter how much I changed my manual settings, the above picture of our children who should or should not have come along to our anniversary meal was about as good as I could get.

The tutorial said to take a picute of a napkin, kleenex, white card to get your custom settings. This happens to be the napkin that the numerous breadsticks we consumed were wrapped in.  Lovely, right?  I'll be sure to copyright it. I call it The Greasy Breadstick Napkin.

Then go to the menu on the camera, find custom white balance - select - and it politely asks do you want to use this picture to set your white balance and you say you betcha yes and then you're all ready to take your next shot. Which was this:

What a difference, huh?  Now if you are going for mood and want to keep the marinara lighting effect - well not sure how that works.  But look, it even works on MadFish.

MadFish Before.

MadFish After.

Who knew?  Technology completely baffles me, but I sure like what it can do.  If I can figure it out.  I learned lots of other nifty things in Angie's class so if you are looking for something that you can work into your schedule - even such a schedule as my May was - I would highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Where Am I?

For a minute - well, make that about 30 - last night, I thought I was back in Tulsa.  We had one doozie of a storm.  I have always said that storms up here in Iowa are different than what I had experienced in T-town (does that "t" maybe stand for "tornado town"?).  They seem a little whimpier up here.  A little less violent.  Never quite had that intensity that one feels down South.  Well, I take that back.

Typically, the weather yesterday was hot and humid and then some.  The girls and I went for a bike ride (Hey! I got a new bike - more on that to follow) to the folks and came home just sopping wet with sweat.  We're talking a measly 5 blocks here folks and it looked like we had just completed RAGBRAI or something.  The evening news warned us about the bad weather to come and in retrospect, they had the time and place pretty much nailed.

So, about 10:30 or so the far off rumblings of thunder seemed to build.  I brought Maren to the basement to sleep down there with Marissa.  By 11:30 they had called the first tornado warning for our area, but it was east of here by a ways, so figured we were good on that one, but you could definitely feel the intensity of this storm.  It was non-stop cloud to ground lightning followed by quick and noisy cracks of thunder in succession.  I told the girls we could stay in Marissa's room unless the sirens went off or we heard the "train" coming.  I added this last bit jokingly to lighten the mood for both them and myself.  No sooner had those words been breathed from my lips than the sirens started.   I think I may have scarred them for life - if you went by the looks on their faces.

Off to the bathroom with the brick enclosed shower we went.  We sat on the floor with the lights flickering and our ears pitched for the train.  We prayed. Fervently.  Marissa actually suggested this.  I had been praying in my head all evening, but this was a good reminder for me to not only pray for my children, but with them.  I hate storms when the Captain is gone and tend to get a little uptight in time such as these. Not long after this the storm seemed to lose some of its oomph, but not before pouring out 5 inches of rain in those same thirty minutes I mentioned above.  Today at the hospital I heard they had a funnel cloud spotted just west between here and the next small town over, making good time, aim, and effort to hit the OC.

I'd like to think it was our fervent prayers that changed the course of this storm. Some may say, maybe. Some, maybe not. Some may say well, it was just a little storm, but these things do happen.  Just ask Mrs. E or the people of Parkersburg, Iowa.

 Parkersburg, Iowa  EF5 tornado 5-25-2008

 To me, it was a remarkable lesson in His faithfulness, protection and care, both for me and the girls.  I hope they remember that and not what a basketcase their momma was.  So along with your flashlight, your battery powered radio, your bottled water or whatever you need for your tornado preparedness kit, add a little fervent prayer - preferably by a nine and five year old.   It's a powerful thing.

Monday, June 21, 2010


I tried to write a Hallmark type of Father's Day post, but just wasn't feeling it.  It seems a little bittersweet this year. 

Here's the sweet.  I am so grateful for a wonderful husband who also happens to be a wonderful Daddy too.  Although he is gone a lot, the Captain does his best to make up for that when he gets home.  The girls love their Daddy time and it's always fun to see the joy on their faces when his pickup hits the driveway.

Here's some more sweet.  My older brother Don and his wife are expecting in October.  This week, they found out they were having a BOY.  And guess what?  The plan is to name him Bennet James.  Bennet for our Dad and James for Michelle's Dad.  I can hardly type that without tearing up a little. It will be good to have another
Bennet in this world. Dad thinks so too. It has put a smile on my Dad's face and he has had some really good days this week.  It's been fun watching my brothers become Dads themselves.  They do a great job! I would post a picture of Nate, but he was dressing like a golf pro and wearing a white belt, so I couldn't bring myself to do it.

The bitter pill to swallow is seeing my Dad where he is at right now.  If I made a circle with my thumbs and my middle fingers, this would easily encompass the circumference of his thigh - with room to spare.  He tried so hard to be a part of the goings on of celebrating Father's Day but it all seemed to be way too much for him.  

I do know that good fathering gets passed down. I see it in the Captain with our girls. And in watching my brothers with their kids, I see echoes of the Father dad was for us.  When Nate tickles his boys to the point of bladder rupture, it reminds me of our Sundays after church, when it was an all star wrestling free for all.  When Don gives Lizzie sloppy kisses in her neck that she pretends to hate, it is all too reminescent of what my Dad used to do to me.  He has taught us all so much. For that and all the above, we will always be grateful.  Happy Father's Day Dad! 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Something for Nada(s)

We got to see the Nadas here in the OC on Saturday.  They have always had a reputation as a good local band - if you can call Des Moines local in respect to the OC.  They were great. Entertaining.  Funny. Maybe even cool.  Love this song.  I heard it once and it has stayed in my head for the past week or so.  I think the Nadas might be on to something.  They might be going places. Yay for them, but I think I might like to keep them to my little old Iowa self.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Do you know what today is?


Do you know what else today is?

It is The Captain and I's 13th Anniversary!  Happy Anniversary Baby, I've got you on my miiii-hind! ( name that that tune and the artist in five seconds) So he's on my mind, and that 's about it.  He unfortunately had to work today.  I am wondering if we can acutally count all 13 years since he has been on the road for about half of them.  Oh well, it's the life of a pilot wife for sure. 

He is always ready to pose for the camera and give me a silly grin.  Always ready to be the horse that takes Miss Maren to the bathtub when he is home.  Always ready to let Marissa kick his butt in Super Mario Brothers.  Always ready to let me drive off to Walmart to clear my mind after a long week at home.  Love you Honey! Wish you were here! 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mad Fish

We have a tween in the house.  Sweet Marissa is suspended in that awkward position of not being a child, but  still not yet a teen.  She will hit double digits this July so we have a few awkward years to go.  It is at times perplexing, sometimes trying, and sometimes quite charming.  As in the case of Mad Fish.

Sweet Marissa and Abby enjoy playing Barbies.  Yet, I think they feel a little uncomfortable with that.  Like they shouldn't like to play with them, you know, too cool for that. Or something.  So instead of calling them Barbies (they hate the name Barbie) they call them "Mad Fish".  I would ask Marissa what she did over at Abbie's that day and she would tell me they played "Mad Fish".  Say what?  Then she would would patiently explain that they played Barbies - like duh mom.  Why Mad Fish?

Because if you squish their face like this 

they look mad.

And if you squish their face like this

they look like a fish.

Mad Fish.  Makes perfect sense to me.  Makes just about as much sense as those weird pre-teen years (or the fact that I am taking pictures of Barbies and posting them on my blog).  I am glad they are using their imaginations and mixing in a little humor to go along with it.  Mad Fish.  You heard it here first.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sleep Interrupted

Sweet Marissa has transitioned nicely into her new and improved basement bedroom.  Princess Maren - not so much.  Granted, I have probably been a little lenient on the sleeping situation when the Captain is gone.  Who wants try to reason with a five year old in the wee hours of the morning?  Five year olds with bed head dragging their bunny down the hallway and smelling of sleep can be hard to resist.  So I give in. You would too.  Trust me on this.

And granted, we have been having a few storms in the late evening hours - right about bedtime.  Princess Maren does not like storms.  She doesn't get this from a stranger.  When I was her age (and much older I might add)  I would be on the couch right outside the door of my parents room faster than you could say lightning.  I take pity on her.  If it is storming she may gladly sleep with me.  I welcome the company, what can I say? We can whimper togther.

The thing is she is a cuddler. And she snores a little.  And she has the nerve to insult me while sleeping in MY bed.  "Mom - the hair on your legs is really sharp."  Hmm, maybe I would have the inclination and motivation to shave them if I actually got a full nights sleep. Sigh. And so it goes, another nights sleep  interrupted.

Then I remember a story my BSF leader told us about her husband and their daughter.  Every night without fail, their daughter would come to their room and ask for a drink of water.  And every night without fail her husband would get up out of bed and patiently get it for her.  She suggested putting a glass at the bedside, giving their daughter a drink before bed, and so forth.  Her husband wisely said he didn't mind because one day down the road she wouldn't need one anymore.  And he was right. 

So I'll just put up with the sleep deprivation, the snoring, the insults, waking up next to a bunny that has been drug across its share of dusty floors, because someday she will decide she is just fine on her own.