Friday, December 31, 2010

Project 365

New camera...check. Upgraded editing software...check.

Now, I've got to learn how to use this stuff (all over again). So, like many photographers, I am going to attempt Project 365:

One photo...Every day...For one year.

I've followed lots of photography bloggers who have tried it, but I haven't seen anyone complete it yet. At the same time, even those who have tried and failed have said they were better photographers for trying. So it's my turn.

I'm going to heed the advice of those who have gone before me--no rules, no themes--just one photo every day--starting tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spies Among Us

Warning...long, boring post ahead...birthday documented here for memory-keeping!

Several weeks ago, we hosted the MOST fun birthday party any of my kids have ever had. (Does it count as THE most fun birthday party if I'm the one saying it?)

Sammy's 7th birthday spy party was as much fun to plan and organize as it was to host!

Each of Sam's friends received a "TOP SECRET" file folder with an invitation to attend the "Spy Academy of Metropolitan Chicago" (SAM).

As the kids arrived, we had Mission Impossible music playing in the background and the Academy Director (Secret Agent Rocky--aka Rob), greeted kids at the door.

Spy Rocky Roberto

The kids had to choose a code name and then they received their SAM Secret Agent badge. We had 5 games planned. After each game, the boys put one fingerprint on their badge. By the end of the party, all five fingerprints were on their badge.

Spy Academy Badge

The boys played games that helped develop skills needed to "graduate" from SAM as a successful secret agent. We played "Who Am I," cracked codes, and tested physical agility with an obstacle course in the garage.

Spy Who Am I game 3

spy code cracker caleb

Spy Physical Agility

Everyone received a certificate of completion...

Spy certificate

...and a goody bag complete with mustaches for disguise! (which of course, Sam didn't want to try!)

Spy boys 2

The party was a hoot--we all laughed a lot. I had sort of burned out on do-it-yourself birthday parties and had resorted to Chuck E. *heese for one party, but I really think this party kicked me into gear again and I'm excited to plan a Chinese New Year party for Lily's pre-school class!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The reason I haven't been blogging...

Joey ornament 2

First...we gutted our kitchen and I've spent most of my "extra" time sweeping, mopping and trying to make dinner without a stove. No, Christmas time is NOT a good time to rehab your kitchen, but it sure is a great gift to ourselves!

The night before everything came down, I let the kids draw all over the walls. Mostly, they just wrote notes to the contractor, who is starting to feel like part of the family....

IMG_3049

Second, I got a new camera and I'm having quite a difficult time learning to use it! (It's another perfect gift though!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Join the Christmas Fun!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Friends

I took some photos of friends the other day and this photo of this beautiful young lady is probably one of my favorites!

Lucy chair 6

Friday, November 5, 2010

Belated Halloween Poetry

video

Wow. I had forgotten how bad my digital video camera is.

But at least I captured Lily's favorite song/poem these days. She recites it ALL the time.

I also caught a teeny bit of our ugly kitchen. Hopefully this will be one of the last photos of before it is all torn DOWN!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Was that a compliment?

A few days ago, when we found out that one of our favorite breakfast eateries was closing forever, Sam said:

"Mom, you should open a restaurant...everyone always says you are a good cook and they love your food--except me. I hate your food."

Little stinker...

Sam in Pilsen

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I voted...

Lily gets the vote

I voted today.

And just like every other time I have voted since having children, I brought my kids along. Joey was 4 months old kicking his fat little legs from a Baby Bjorn the first time he "voted." Now he is ten.

As parents, we repeat certain rituals every year on holidays and birthdays so that those rituals become traditions that are etched in our childrens' memories. I know that I have incorporated many of the traditions from my own childhood into my family life today.

So the way I look at it...why not treat election day like a holiday and perform the simple ritual of voting with my kids so that it becomes one of their childhood traditions?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Trick or Treat

sam halloween text

Joey Potter

Lily Halloween

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We bring you this brief message from summer...

Sam on dune

(Actually, these photos were taken on Columbus Day weekend at the Sleeping Bear Dunes on the Leelenau Peninsula in Michigan. Gorgeous summer-like weather!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In which craft projects get eaten...

Last year, the boys and I made these awesomely cool sugar skulls after a trip to the National Museum of Nexican Art in Chicago.

sugar skulls 2

This year, the adorably cute puppy (who will turn 1 on Halloween), ate one of the awesomely cool sugar skulls...this one in particular:

sammy's skull

Sadly, the sequins, frosting and sugar did not sit well with the adorably cute puppy's tummy, but I did not take a photo of that.

Izzy Oct

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Love Your Shot Link-up

Horse eats
Canon Rebel XSi f/4.0 1/250 sec. ISO-100


Today I decided to participate in the Love Your Shot Link-up!

This is my favorite photo from our fall excursion to Michigan last weekend.

We were at a petting zoo and the horses loved to eat freshly picked grass from the palm of your hand. My son and daughter didn't like getting horse slobber on their hands so they chose to feed him hay instead.

I'm still a bit new and unsure of myelf in terms of editing so I tend to use the auto corrects and actions. I used PSE's Autosmart Enhance feature first. Then, I bumped up the saturation just a touch and added a bit of light with Pioneer Woman's Slight Light action. It was too light for my taste so I decreased the opacity to 50%. I finished up with Pioneer Woman's Define Sharp action.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My birthday girl

B-day girl

Lily is 4! Happy Birthday! We love you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Soccer Season

It was brisk last weekend (to say the least), but it was the first game of the season without rain!

soccer

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I Heart Faces

This week's theme is vroom, vroom! I love this photo of my nephew in the fourth of July parade. He's sitting in the back of my dad's antique car.

Jack bw flor

You can play along too...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First day of school

first day 2010

Today was the first day of school here. It was the first day of middle school for Joey and the first day of First grade for Sam.

In first grade (and actually in many grades at my kids' school), students are given a number to identify their papers, books, belongings, etc.

When Sam got out of school day, I asked if he met any new friends. He answered, "yeah, I met 18 and 20."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day in Door County

Our final farwell to summer.

Visiting Grandma and Grandpa in Door County, Wisconsin.

kids at cave

This photo was taken about 5 minutes before we left this spot (Cave Point) and got soaked by a downpour!

dad lily spray

sam jumps water

mom and kids cave pt

Monday, August 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Family bike

Family bike ride along Lake Michigan

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

We are Lake people

I've said it before and I'll say it again.

We are Lake People.

Sunsets.

Always different.

Always beautiful.

sunset

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer Road Trip - Day 11

Louisville, KY

Louisville Slugger Bat Factory and Museum

D11 Louisville sign

We spent our last day of vacation in Louisville, Kentucky at the Louisville Slugger Bat Factory and Museum.

D11 Bat factory

For our two little baseball fanatics, this stop was a hit.

D11 Sam batting

We got to see how the bats for the pros are made and we got to take home a free mini bat.

D11 Sam babe 2

Joey got to hold Mickey Mantle's bat.

D11 Joey with Mantle's bat

My kids are great road trippers--maybe they have a bit of their mom and dad's wanderlust in them. We're sad to see it's over (Sam said 12 days just isn't a long-enough vacation. Next year he wants to take a 6 month vacation!)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Road Trip - Day 9

Tybee Island, GA

We were all a bit jellyfish weary when we woke up on our final full day on Tybee Island, so we thought we would skip the beach in the morning and visit some of Tybee Island's other sights.

We headed down to the Pier and Pavilion, the south beach and the souveneir stores!

D9 South Beach

D9 sno ball sign

snoball

(I don't think we ever decided if Sam liked the snoball or not!)

But we came here to spend time at the beach, so it was back to the beach for us in the late afternoon. It was cooler, there were no jellyfish and rather than following the tide as it went out, we were able to watch it as it came in. The boys made sand castles and tried desperately to save them from the encroaching water.

D9 Sam in sand2

D9 Joey in waves

D9 Joey and dad boogie

D9 Rob

And Lily found that this big, big ocean wasn't so scary after all!

Lily collage

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Summer Road Trip - Day 8

Tybee Island and Fort Pulaski, GA

Day 8 on Tybee Island.

Otherwise known to us as "the day the jellyfish ruled the ocean."

We had such a great time at the North beach yesterday, we thought we would grab the same spot of sand on the beach again today.

D8 beach daisy

The boys jumped right in with their new boogie boards--although Lily still prefered to look for shells.


D8 Sam in sand

Have I mentioned we're Lake people? There are no pests to worry about when you are swimming in the lake. However, on this particular day, in this particular spot in the ocean, there were pests to worry about. Jellyfish in particular. LOTS of jellyfish.


D9 jellyfish flag

See the purple flag at the life guard station? If I would have paid any attention to those flags (like I would at the beach in Chicago), I would have noticed that the purple flag means "marine pests. Each of us (except Lily) got stung at least three times. I'll know next time to take a container of ammonia with me to the beach. No, we didn't pee on each other, but we were told afterward that the worst thing you can do is to go running out of the ocean, which is exactly what we would do every time we got stung.

After a few hours of that, we were all ready to move on to another activity. We took a short boat trip to see some dolphins (and a pretty lighthouse). We saw LOTS of dolphins. It's really hard to get a photo of them. But that's okay, because Sam was documenting all of the critters we saw on this trip in his journal.

D8 Sam's dolphins



D8 Lighthouse

After the boat trip, we stopped at Fort Pulaski. The boys in particular got a big kick out of this historical stop. Cannons, moats, more cannons and a jail cell for prisoners of war? What more could a kid want?

D8 Fort Pulaski grounds


D8 Sam on canon

Crossing over the moat to the fort...(Sam is into posing these days.)


D8 Sam crossing moat


D8 Joey on fort


D8 Lily window meadow