Saturday, September 29, 2012

the CAKE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELLA!!!

We had planned to do Ella's birthday today (the day after), and by "we", I mean me. Tyler didn't know of this.  On her birthday, it got late at night, and we were both getting a sweet tooth, and we were like "Hey, why don't you go to the store and get cake and ice cream and we can have part of her birthday tonight.  At least the cake part."

So, that's what we did.  Tyler went to the store and picked out this awesome cake with sprinkles.  I'm guessing it was about $8.

Yes, Ella, we love you.  Despite whatever conclusion you may come to from the looks of your cake.  And the garbage in the background.


When we were getting ready to sing the birthday song, we realized he had no freakin' candles!  Where they went, we may never know.  But, luckily Tyler is a resourceful fellow, and he found a new candle somewhere else.


With great strength, he was able to jab it into the center of her cake.  There's a reason men have strong muscles.  Ella looking on.  Clearly she's excited.  (What do you mean she doesn't look excited?)

The candle actually even started when we lit it.


Ella looking on in anticipation as we sang her the birthday song. (Not like she has a clue what is going on).


Her famous "reach", which she does to things and people to bend them to her will - it's her own personal super power.

She really wanted that candle.

The crater left by the candle:


Ella enjoying her cake and ice cream:

TS trying to stop the paparazzi from taking his photo:

Rhys too busy enjoying her cake & ice cream to look at me.

Violet & Ella eating theirs.  I never did get a better photo of Emma (her "official" personal photo was kind of scary because she looked like an alien).

Back to Ella, who is very eagerly eating everything that she can:

(the lighting is very annoying.  it's so dark on her eyes!)

Then I handed the camera to Emma.  She's the only one of the kids that I trust with the camera (when being watched carefully).  And she enjoys taking pictures.  So, these are a few from that:



Here's proof that Tyler and I actually do sit by each other some of the time.  (I was dressed kind of like a slob...at least it's an improvement from my pajamas.)  TS & Ella look so cute!   I guess Tyler is being the creepy man who is coming to sit down by the girl.  I'm not sure, though, because clearly my eyes were closed & I didn't see him make this face until I was looking at these photos.  haha.


Love Violet's expression.  Not sure what we were doing.  

Happy Birthday to the beautiful birthday girl!  We love you, Ella.  Even though we didn't make the cute little cupcakes we had planned on, it was just as fun.  We had a ton of fun being goofy, spending time together, and being spontaneous.  We love you so very, very much and are so happy you're in our family.

I'll be writing more later.  We'll be doing her presents today and will include that too.  Hopefully.  I still need to do Violet's, and her birthday was in July!!  (I'll also be posting her birth story finally for those who wanted to read it.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

strawberry faces

Rhys loves strawberries.  She almost ate a whole container full of them.  She gave me some funny expressions while I was taking some photos of her.  They crack me up.  It was like she was a model, changing her expression after each photo.







 Then back to pretending she's normal.  Well, except for the hair that she chopped off the top of her head (yes, I miss it!).




Saturday, September 22, 2012

bathtime

Things have still been a little crazy around our house.  The adorable psychotic two year old, Rhys, who has learned to escape her crib and won't co-sleep, still stalks us at night.  But she's does it less often, is a little quieter now, and usually doesn't wake everyone up anymore (thank goodness).  It is very adorable to wake up to a 2-year old snuggled next to my head, meowing like a cat.  hehe.  So cute!  How can we be upset at that?

We've been able to get her to stay in her bed (after she gets up and comes in) by having one of us sleep on the floor in her room until she's asleep.  Tyler has volunteered himself almost all of the time now since Ella is teething and is quite the restless sleeper at night, and I wasn't sleeping when I was doing both girls (read that to mean I WAS GOING TO LOSE MY MIND!).  If one of us doesn't stay in there until she's asleep, Rhys won't stay in her room.  And, neither one of us are into just putting up a baby gate and letting her scream in there by herself.  So, this works, and we are getting better sleep again!  Yay!

But that also means that I've been getting up at 5:45-6:15 most mornings (time Rhys gets up), which isn't really a favorite time of mine. That also means by 9pm, I'm so tired I usually end up going to sleep & haven't been getting much personal time (good thing I can pay Emma during the day to babysit for an hour or something, though, that hasn't really been successful yet).  But it actually works a lot better for homeschooling.  So, I haven't tried changing it too much.  I can usually get both babies down for naps for a couple hours at least, which makes schooling much easier.  That's the one thing I find really difficult about schooling - when the babies are demanding and screaming/crying when I'm trying to help the kids.  Rhys is definitely getting much easier, but Ella...she's getting harder as she gets older, more mobile, and teething.  So, this is a perfect solution!  Get them up early enough that they'll sleep for a nice, long time in the morning, and we can have a few hours to do stuff in a much more relaxed atmosphere.

I haven't been putting much time into playing with the camera as I had been, but I've pulled it back out a few times to learn a little more.  I'm expanding my horizons and trying to do more pulled back shots.  It's been hard with the 50mm, especially since my camera has a crop sensor (still don't know what that is, just that it makes it more like a 70mm or something).  And, it's hard to get back far enough to snap photos that include our surroundings more.  But with the 18-55mm lens, if I set it on 18mm (or anything under 50 really), it is awesome, but I really don't like that the aperture isn't very wide open (or however one says that).  It only opens up to f/3.5, which doesn't give very nice bokeh OR work very well with low light.  And, I prefer to use no flash and just use natural lighting when I can...so it's not the best for that.

Anyway, here are some of my more recent offerings with the 18-55mm lens.  Maybe one day, like in several years, we'll be ready to spend money on a wide angle lens with a better aperture option!

I spied on my kids (because I'm a ninja) and took some photos of them playing a video game together.

Have I mentioned that I love to take pictures in our new house.  It's so much more fun than our other house.  When you're at home almost all the time, especially in the flu season due to an immune compromised child, it's really like a whole new world in the new house!  (The way it all worked out was just really amazing.  I still need to share that story - definitely lots of blessings from the Lord).

Anyway, here are some photos of Ella taking a bath in our bathtub.  The sun was in a really nice spot outside (maybe a couple hours from sunset) and shined in really nicely through the windows.  I would try to line things up a little better on some of these, if I could redo it, but they're still cute!

(And, I just looked out the window as a truck drove by and a guy was texting on his phone!  Don't freaking text on your phone while you're driving.  There is no text important enough to risk anyone's life over it.  I find it so ridiculous that people still do that!)

Now, to the baby girl.  These are mostly not edited.  I think I tried lightening her eyes in the one below (they looked almost black!), but that's it.





I brought out my nifty reflector to try to brighten up Ella's face a little better.  Since I have friends even newer into photography than me, here's what a reflector looks like (or at least part of a reflector).  It takes the light that is shining in from the windows, bounces it off of the reflector and onto Ella's face, brightening her eyeballs and face up nicely.  It's not very expensive.  (I got this one HERE.  It's under $14.)  I should have used the golden one, but I didn't and then had to warm it up a bit with PS (or I could have changed my Kelvin setting to make it warmer, but I didn't.)



It brightened her eyeballs up nice and bright!



I am definitely a fan of the reflector thing.  It can be challenging trying to hold it myself while taking photos at the same time.  I'm glad there wasn't anyone to watch me. Actually, no, what am I saying!  It would have been very entertaining having someone there, especially one of my sisters, to make fun of me.







If only I could have gotten her to look somewhere besides the reflector most of the time.  hehe.

Ella is almost a whole year old!  I knew it was going to go by quickly, and it did.  While I love the baby stage, I am looking forward to a little more order, which will come with age.

Rhys is getting easier.  She is communicating better and making a whole lot more sounds and saying words.  It's been nice.  There's still a ton in there that she's not able to communicate to us yet, but she'll get there.  I tease about Rhys being insane, but she is really a very gentle, precious, sweet little girl.  Compared to my others at this age, she has been one of the most laid back ones.  She's usually very happy and likes to play on her own a lot.  I regularly feel grateful that she has been the one just older than Ella because she's not a very demanding little girl and is content overall with life.  But, a two year old is a two year old!  Life is fascinating and exciting and they want to check it all out.  And, it can get exhausting!  haha.  And make for funny memories. LIKE HER HAIR.  But we are completely smitten with our sweet Rhys and are absolutely in love with her and her wonderful, adorable little self.  She regularly melts my heart with her sweetness.  She makes me laugh hysterically because she's so funny...and not always on purpose.

(Oh, and for those concerned, the boob in the other entry was actually the floaty for Ella, and it was Tyler's arm.  I'm sure you were all very, very concerned.)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

money/allowance

Upon researching allowance for children, I came across some articles that talked about kids who were given allowance vs kids who were not given allowance - there didn't seem to be a noticeable difference between the two come adulthood.  One set was not more responsible with their money than the other.  In fact, both were rather irresponsible overall.  (I wish I would have bookmarked the article so those who want to could read it, but I didn't.)

It surprised me quite a bit and made us think a lot about why that would be the case.  Is there a missing piece here?  I read a lot of people's opinions about whether or not to give allowance, and to keep a rather long story short, in the end, we felt like the missing piece was work.  Not work, as in chores.  Those are normal, daily responsibilities where they can contribute to the family.  We don't feel like we should pay them for that.  We felt like the missing piece was where they get hired at a job - a job specifically and solely for the purpose of earning money.  We feel like by doing that they are learning what needs to be done if they want money - go out and do something to get it.  We feel like if money isn't something that isn't given so easily, they'll feel more responsibility over it, and in turn, hopefully they'll have more desire to use it correctly because they worked so hard to get it (of course, we could be completely insane & wrong about that, but it makes sense to us!).

Thus we came up with a new idea that I'm sure isn't truly a new idea, but it was new to us.  The idea is that we hire them for a job, pay them by the amount they do or length of time it takes.  We feel like it teaches them about goals and how to achieve them.

So basically they have their normal jobs that they do around the house.

Here is TS folding his laundry (he does really good).  I never fold their laundry and put it away.  That's their jobs.  Violet folds hers too:

Currently, the jobs we'll hire them for are jobs that are typically our own responsibilities.  These include things like after they fold their own laundry, they can fold & put away any laundry we normally would fold.  They get paid by the basket full.  Also, there are times I offer to let one of them watch Rhys (in the playroom where it's totally baby proofed and safe) while I go do something else for a little bit (of course, I remain in the house!).  Also, Emma sits in with Rhys at night to make sure she stays in her crib to go to sleep.  But they can't do any of these extra jobs until they do their own jobs and their school work first.  (My goal is to not nag my kids.  I want them to motivate themselves.)


It's been a lot of fun!  Here's our first success story:

Emma really, really, really wanted a specific doll.  We talked about how much it was and how she can now work to earn that money to buy the doll.  We explained to her how it all worked, and she responded very interested.  She wanted me to give her jobs.  She now eagerly folds my laundry and puts it away!  hehe.  I'm not good at folding laundry these days, so it's been a HUGE help.  And, I don't feel guilty at all having her do it because she's making money doing it.

Here are some piles showing her laundry folding skills (we've yet to ever notice much struggle with her lack of thumbs, which if you're new here, it's due to FA.  She does awesome with everything):

She folded Ella's clothes...

Rhys' clothes...

Of course, her own clothes...



We'll be making a more official "Hire" list.  Maybe something along the lines of a job board where they can go job hunting and choose the job they want.  Then we'll have a little contract that we write out our agreement (how much they get paid per amount of whatever they are doing).  It'll help us keep track of everything they do too.  It shouldn't be too complicated since the jobs will repeat a lot so I can make set ones.  It'll help keep track of it easier too.

Emma has been working for the past several weeks (can't remember how long) to save up about $25-30 to buy this doll.  Today she finally had enough, so we went to the store to get it.  Then we discovered they don't freakin have the doll anymore!  I wasn't expecting that.

So, here's the replacement doll:



And, then she changed her mind ten minutes later and went with this.  It was a whole $8.  She loves it.


Anyway, just wanted to share.  I find it a fun way to do allowance & to get kids to eagerly do chores that I don't want to be doing anyway.  hehe.  In the future we would like them to be responsible for buying their own clothes, and whatever else they want, so we'll have to come up with ways for them to make larger amounts of money.  But, again, it's been super awesome having Emma help...and having her excited about what she's doing and achieving her goals.



Monday, September 10, 2012

iphone treasures, part 1

I'm sure I can't be the only mom who looks through her iphone pictures and is surprised at the treasures she finds.  I thought I'd share some of them with you today (some are from me too).

You win if you can guess which child this is!



Um...someone's leg?  I don't recognize the pants or shirt or whatever this article of clothing is.  I am pretty sure it's a leg.  Or an arm.  Maybe it's a sweater?  Why do I not recognize this.





I forgot about this (below)!  We were getting ready for church and had some major shoe issues with TS (as in, I think we couldn't find his socks or one of his shoes or something.  Whatever it was, we could not get his shoes on his feet).  So, he wore these shoes:



Close-up




Here, you can see it a little better here:

I don't recommend wearing those types of shoes with dressy clothes...and, if you do, maybe just stay in the van.  We didn't actually go inside church that day.  (we were so late that we didn't actually go in!  we can't really go to all of church due to Emma's immune system issues, so we missed the part we could go to).


Rhys really wanted to put Ella's diaper on her:


As though she didn't look bald enough...thank you, sun. (from cutting just the top of her hair off, of course)


Is that me or Tyler or what?  I'm so confused.  It was with the swimming photos, so I know it's from our way out to the van.  I was wearing a blue swim top.  It kind of looks like a boob there.  Tyler doesn't have one, so I'm guessing it's mine.  But that doesn't look like my arm to me because my arm is more slender (or so I thought).  It looks like Ty's arm to me.  I bet it's my boob and Tyler's arm.  Maybe it's not even my boob!  I don't know.  I'm pretty sure it's my van.  What are we seeing in the reflection?  It looks kind of like llama...

Okay, seriously!  This is bothering me.  WHOSE ARM IS THAT?!!

Here's my arm.  I just took it just now:
I don't know about you, but it's pretty clearly not the same arm as in the photo above this one.  Look at the wrist size.  That has to be Tyler's arm.  But why is there a boob in that picture if that is Tyler's arm.  Are we really positioned so perfectly that we look like one person, but it's really two?  Is that even a boob?  It seems a little...um...too Barbie shaped to be mine!  IS THAT THE FLOATIE?!!  Is it?  I've been calling it a boob, but it's the floatie?  Oh, i don't know.  I'm going to have to go look tomorrow and see if Ella's floaty is blue on the bottom.  That would make more sense...um...but if it's not the floaty, then I'm more than confused.  Have you noticed how I spelled floatie two different ways.  Floaty.  It's because I don't know how to spell it and am too lazy to look it up.  I'll be sure to update you on my findings.


Awww...doesn't that look cute?  Well, maybe at first.  You figure out what her arms are doing and then let me know.


This is a very creative one.  I wonder what it is.

I upped the exposure, and this is what you can see now.  What do you think?


This would rate as one of my favorite Rhys pictures ever.  As well as the other ten photos that look almost exactly like this.  The hair...the position of the fan and her face...everything.



I don't recommend keeping your drivers license in the water proof phone case.  It can get in the way.

Yay.  I'm so glad I have this photo to remember this swimming adventure by.

I'm pretty sure she looked cute here.

Here's a better one.  At least you can see her eyes..well, at least her eye...and her nose....and her arm.




She was too cute here.  It's like she's looking at her foot suspiciously, wondering what it's doing there...looking at her.  Perhaps she's having a stare down.


YOU ARE SO CUTE, ELLA!


It's like 1/3 of her is her body/head.  The other 2/3 is her legs.  She's actually very proportional with edible chubby legs.  Oh, and she's being a cat.


I wonder whose legs these might be.

Okay, well, I should go to bed.  I have a ton more photos to post.  Sorry if these are boring.  I found them amusing and thought that I should do something with them instead of just keep them hidden in my photos!