Thursday, June 30, 2011

Edit Me Challenge

One of my favorite things to do during my free time is edit pictures.  It's still a work in process and I'm still figuring out what "my style" is.  Right now, it just kind of depends on the individual picture and the mood I'm in.

Branson, at My Reflections of Something, has a fun editing challenge. She provides a picture and then gives us free reign to edit it however we choose.

This week's picture is in honor of the 4th of July and we were encouraged to include a quote.

By the way, can anyone believe that it's about to be July? The first half of 2011 has flown by!

To achieve the final image on the right, I cropped the original just to zoom in on the flag a bit.  Then I added the mountain background (a picture of the Cascade Mountains that I took this weekend).  I layered the images and then set the blending mode to multiply.  I made sure to use the smudge tool to blend the backgrounds together.  In the end, I desaturated the photo, increased the contrast, and brightened it.  And what is a 4th of July image without a quote?

Take care everyone!

My Reflection of Something

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Click It Up A Notch: June

I'm sure it's no secret that my photography interest has really taken root this year. I'm not sure if I just really needed a hobby that I could do with Nate or if I just really wanted to improve the pictures I take of him.  I think it's a combination of both.  With every month that passes, I realize just how quickly time passes.  When he's older, I want to have good pictures that really capture this period of our lives.  So many of the pictures I have from when he was a tiny baby are blurry or grainy.

So if it seems that my blog is becoming more and more photo-centered, that's because I am becoming more and more photo-centered.

This is my favorite picture from the month of June.  Before I started learning about the ins and outs of photography, I might have tried to get the whole picture in focus.  Or perhaps I would have taken a picture of the bears and then stood in front of Nate and tried to get his expression.  I like how this picture puts the bears as the focus, but you can still see the interaction that Ryan and Nate are having.

Be sure to check out Courtney's blog, Click It Up A Notch, to see all the other "June Favorites."

Dating While Married

Have I ever mentioned that I have an awesome father-in-law? After spending just a small amount of time with him, it's easy to see that he has a lot to offer the world.  He is quick to share bites of wisdom regarding most subjects and is a retired art teacher who has now delved whole-heartedly into marriage and family therapy simply out of a desire to help those who are struggling.  And after being married for nearly 40 years and raising 4 children, including my awesome husband who I (of course) write about quite often, he is the perfect guy for the job.

I'm not saying this just because he is going to be visiting shortly after the baby is born and I want to earn brownie points with him, but because I want to share an interview that he did recently.  He is very passionate about teaching couples to maintain healthy marriages and, as a result, advocates for continuing to "date" while married.

And no, this isn't a reference to "Sister Wives."  If you've followed the popular TLC show at all, you'll know what I'm talking about.  Although Cody had 3 wives, he began dating a 4th woman resulting in a 4th marriage.  When Frank (my father-in-law) talks about dating, he is talking about kindling the romance between a man and wife-not going out and dating an entirely new person.  Any married couple can tell you about the butterflies, the excitement, and the chemistry that existed during the dating period.  My relationship with Ryan was no exception.  Ask him and he'll be quick to tell you about all the blushing I did when we were dating.  He'd show up at my dorm and I'd blush.  He'd compliment me and I'd blush.  He'd kiss me and I'd blush.  It was a never-ending cycle that sometimes left me embarrassed, but I had no control over it.

And while these days certainly contain a lot less blushing, Ryan's parents have provided us with a great example of what a lasting and loving marriage is.

If you'd like to be let in on a few of their secrets to a lasting marriage, you should definitely check out this interview on dating while married.  It's about 30 minutes long, but worth every minute.

And if you're interested in reading a little more on this subject, here are a few recent articles written by other bloggers:

Simple Mom: The Power Behind Date Nights
Simple Marriage: The Best Way to Date Your Spouse


Friday, June 24, 2011

{This Moment}

In Soule Mama’s words:

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Life As A Family of 3

Nate will never remember being an only child. 

The road trips, tickle fights, or trips to the park.

But will he remember the countless times we've told him that we love him? 

Told him what a good boy he is? 

Or told him how incredibly adorable we think he is?
I doubt he'll remember our life as a family of 3. 

Our life as Dad, Mom, and Baby. 

Will he remember laying with Dad in bed and watching a ball game?

Will he remember the books I've read to him over and over?

Or the times we've listened to his music in the van, singing "A, You're Adorable?"
I'm not sure what he'll remember about our life before we became a family of 4,

But if he doesn't remember any of those things,

I hope he always knows how he instantly made our lives richer,

That our love for him is deeper and stronger than we imagined it could be, 

And I pray that not a moment passes where he doesn't feel special and cherished.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

I grew up not caring much about Father's Day.  My Dad wasn't around and when I did eventually have a "dad" figure, he wasn't really worth celebrating, but I did what was expected of me.  

But since getting married and having a baby, Father's Day has a totally new meaning.  I don't dread it anymore, but see it as an opportunity to make sure my husband feels loved and appreciated for being so utterly wonderful.  

I hope Nate always knows how lucky he is to have Ryan for a Dad.  Not every child gets to grow up with such an attentive, caring, and involved Father.  And if Nate ever seems to forget how lucky he is, trust me, I will be there to remind him.  

The pictures I have of Nate and Ryan are some of my favorites.  It makes me so happy to see them together and have visual proof of the bond they have already formed. 


Thanks love, for always being such a great husband and an awesome Dad.  We love you. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

{This Moment}

In Soule Mama’s words:

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What I Learned

Yesterday, Courtney from Click It Up A Notch, shared a tutorial from Ramblings and Photos on how to turn a photo into a circle or a planet.  I took it a step further and inverted it differently because I wanted my deer to be on the inside of the circle, instead of the outside.  

I have no idea when this technique would ever come in handy, but it was a lot of fun.  If you browse through the comments on Courtney's blog, as well as the comments in the tutorial, you'll come across a lot of awesome examples.  

Anyway, just thought I'd share what I've been learning. 

This first shot is the original picture taken at Woodland Park Zoo.

And this is my crazy experiment.  :)

Only a few more days until the weekend! 

Sunday, June 12, 2011


What could be more fun than sliding down a slide and knowing that your Dad will catch you every single time? Judging by the look on Nate's face, I don't think he could have been convinced that there was anything better.

And on a side note, does anyone feel like having just a bit of pity on me?

I'm 34 weeks pregnant today, but I feel like I'm about 45 weeks.  I usually try to hide behind the camera but I let Ryan have it for a bit today.  I'm pretty convinced that the end of pregnancy has to be incredibly uncomfortable in every manner possible in order to prepare us to actually look forward to giving birth.  I will gladly endure a day of pain and child birth for two reasons.

 #1). To have my sweet, precious baby in my arms.  
#2). To get back to normal. 

I'm counting down the days and praying for the days to pass quickly.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Woodland Park Zoo

What is there not to love about the weekends? We sleep in, drink coffee in the morning, make breakfast, and then head out to find ourselves an adventure.  Living in a big city makes this so much easier.  Today, we decided to make the big six-mile drive to the Woodland Park Zoo.  It's been on our to-do list since we moved to Seattle, so today we made it happen.

I'm sure glad there was a fence separating those two bears and my two boys. 


And a day just isn't complete without a messy meal.

We made it home, fed Nate dinner, and then put him to bed.  He was beyond exhausted.  And so am I.  I just let out a huge yawn.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend and having some adventures of your own with the ones you love.

Friday, June 10, 2011


After putting Nate to bed and straightening up the house, I've been having some fun editing photos.  But sometimes, editing photos of the same people (let's face it, 90% of my pictures are of Nate) can get a little boring.

So I decided to take on the Fix-It-Friday challenge going on at I Heart Faces.  On Fridays, everyone edits the same picture and then posts the picture on their forum for everyone to see with step-by-step directions as to how they got their finished result.

I thought I'd share my edit here.  There were already a ton of awesome edits on the forum.  Every type of edit imaginable had been done, including the types of edits that I usually do.  So, I decided to venture out and do an edit that I don't usually do.

Here is the original:

Here is my edit: 

My steps: After making some minor adjustments in ACR (bumping up the exposure, brightness, and blacks), I created a layer, desaturated the photo, adjusted the contrast, and then applied a layer mask and painted w/ black to reveal the color in the headband.

I usually prefer a much cleaner and simpler edit, but it was fun to create something a bit more dramatic. 

And by the way, editing this photo totally made me want a little girl with pink headbands and bows.  :)

My Best Shot

In March, I got my very first (but certainly not last) digital SLR camera.  I had been talking about getting one non-stop, so when I finally had it in my hands, I found myself a little nervous.  After all of the reading I had done about shooting in manual, ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and focal points, I was scared that I wasn't going to be able to do anything with this new piece of equipment.  I was absolutely determined not to ever shoot in automatic.  

So, from day one, I shot in manual.  This is one of my very first pictures taken the day after getting my dslr and I was so proud of it.  I didn't have my 50mm lens yet, so this was taken with my kit lens on my balcony.  I was stoked to be able to blur the background a bit even with the kit lens.  

While I've taken some other shots that might be a bit more technically correct or more aesthetically interesting, this is my favorite. I nailed the exposure on a rainy, overcast day in Seattle, blurred the background just a tad, and captured one of my favorite sides of Nate's personality-that pensive, thoughtful side.  

Chelsey, at The Paper Mama, is hosting a challenge and asking us to link up "our best shot." She has some awesome prizes and there are already over 170 great entries.  Wowza! The judges are really going to have their hands full with this competition. 

The Paper Mama

I hope everyone has a great weekend! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hit The Road, Jack

I've been meaning to share some pictures from our mini-vacation to Vancouver, Canada.  To get there, we only had to drive about 120 miles from Seattle and were able to use our nifty enhanced drivers' licenses to get across the border.  It was mine and Nate's first time out of the country, and aside from a few GPS malfunctions, we had a great time. 
The city is absolutely gorgeous! There are so many trees, mountains, and so much water.  

Ryan brought me a little flower, which was really sweet of him, but Nate really wanted it.  He kept smelling it and the poor flower eventually wound up crumpled in his hand.  I told Ryan that he'll have to remember to grab one for Nate next time too. :)
We even got ourselves some Canadian money. Did you know that they call their dollar coin a Loonie? Isn't that great!?

We went to an awesome aquarium (although not quite as awesome as the Monterey Bay Aquarium) and saw Beluga whales for the first time and a dolphin show. 
Dolphins are crazy jumpers! These guys had the entire crowd in awe. 
And they had an Amazon exhibit where we walked right underneath amazing birds and this guy, a two toed sloth!

As we returned home, we were greeted by this sign.  Oh, the good ole' U.S.of A.

We had a great time. Next time, we'll have the GPS all set up and ready to go so we aren't scrambling around and looking at maps the entire time.  Who does that anymore?  Seriously? I don't know where we'd be without our GPS anymore. 

Have you ever been into Canada? 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Through the Eyes of a Toddler

On Monday, we headed out of town without a real destination in mind.  While that might sound odd to some, we always find something fun to do.  This time, we wound up at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.  We decided this would be fun for Nate, so we parked, grabbed the stroller, and headed into the park.  

Isn't it interesting how much more fun an outing can be when you have your child with you? I look at things differently.  The monkeys were cooler because I was seeing them for the first time, just as Nate was seeing them for the first time.  Every time Nate ran up to the glass aquarium, saying "Whoa!" really loudly and getting those around us to laugh, I couldn't help but marvel at the fish and sharks that swam over his head.  Looking at the world through the eyes of a toddler makes everything more exciting, bigger, and more impressive.

That is just one of the many, many perks to having a toddler.