Monday, June 30, 2008

Wish me luck...

We’re going camping this week. Tent camping. Yep, the kind of camping when you stay in a tent. Overnight in a tent. Yes, me. In a tent. Overnight. For three nights. In. A. Tent.

Like I said, wish me luck.

So, my project tomorrow is to pack. So far, this is what my list looks like:

  • tent
  • cooler
  • pillows, sheet, blankets
  • air mattresses
  • camera (**make sure battery is charged)
  • cell phone (and charger)
  • Bills CPAP machine (and the battery and the connector thingy)
  • hair dryer
  • DVD player (and charger)
  • MP3 player and batteries
  • Benadryl (lots of Benadryl)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Tylenol
  • Albuterol inhaler
  • Claritin
  • box of tissues
  • UNO cards and regular cards

Sometimes I try to imagine myself living as a pioneer in the 1870’s. It’s quite a stretch. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have lived past the age of 12.

At the most.

I guess that’s what you call survival of the fittest, huh?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Beautifully Serious

At my request, they gave me "a serious look with no smiles." I love these pictures...

...and I love these girls, too.

The first one is straight out of the camera. I'm not sure what setting I was using, but because I'm such a loser and cannot get the whole ISO/F-stop/aperture/white balance - thing through my head, I was probably just shooting on "Automatic", which is also known to real photographers as the "Idiot Button". No lie.

But hey, I never claimed to be a real photographer, now did I?

On the second one, I finally figured out how to use the "Spot Healing Brush" to get rid of a few stray hairs, mosquito bite scabs and the dark circles under Maddie's eyes. I also used Pioneer Woman's "eye-pop" trick and the Hard Light layer. Isn't it cool how that layer brings out the highlights in their hair? And they didn't have to go to a salon and pay $85 either. Gotta love that.

The last one is just a plain old B&W. There is something about the simplicity of black and white photographs that makes almost any picture amazing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

PW wanna-be

Conveniently, the half-way-point of our 5 1/2 hour trek back to Minnesota from Eureka, is my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Richard's house. It would truly be an understatement to say that the flowing snacks, cans of pop, the break from driving, and their bathroom, have all "come in handy" a time or two in the past 10 years.

And aside from always being such gracious hosts at a spur of the moment, there's one thing about Nancy and Richard's place that leaves my city-kids in a state of wonder and awe.

They live on a ranch.

Yep. A real ranch. Like with cows and horses and dogs and 4-wheelers.

As the kids were checking out the cows and the cows were checking out the kids, guess who I thought of? Yep - you know it...I felt just like The Pioneer Woman standing there beside the barn, holding my camera, watching my "punks" next to those huge beasts, and breathing in the manure-scented air.

So, here are some Pioneer Woman-esque photos loaded with lots of dirty, stinky cows. And for any of you PhotoShop junkies out there, I even used Ree's trick of using the Hard Light filter on some them. You her honor.

After all, she is my blog hero.

It was so funny to see all the kids lined up to look at the cows. They were all holding out grass for the cows to eat. Funny thing is, I bet the kids would have totally freaked out if one of them would have actually come over to get a little snack.

Something tells me that these city-kids wouldn't stand a chance in this stand-off... I'm not trained in Animal Science and I've actually never really been around cows, but even I could see that something wasn't right here. Poor mama cow.

While looking at this picture, I can't help but be reminded of those God-awful, miserable, hormonally-crazed days of breast feeding. Sorry, I digress...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Auction Sale

Oh my gosh! I have so many thrilling things to tell you...I have so many exciting blog posts to write...I have so many fabulous pictures to share...

...I'm almost bursting at the seams!

Well, OK. So, none of it's actually earth-shattering and I don't mean to get you excited and all, but I have been absent from blog-land for quite awhile and we've been incredibly busy doing some really fun things.

My sister Gina flew in from Seattle last week and we drove to our hometown in South Dakota. We were met there by Jill, Leif and their 2 1/2 kids....they DROVE all the way from Seattle! You can't believe how great it was to see them all again.

You're probably asking, "So...what's the occasion?" Believe it or not, it was an auction sale! But not just any old auction sale, it was my Grandpa Harvey and Grandma Alice's household auction sale. They sold their house and moved into an assisted-living apartment several months ago, so they needed to "down-size" a bit.

Grandma Alice and Grandpa Harvey

In thinking about this sale, I'm not sure how many people have had the chance to experience one of these events. For me, it was a normal part of summer growing up in a small Midwestern town. The rhythmic drone of the auctioneer's banter ringing throughout half the town takes my mind back a few years and warms a little spot in my heart.

This is how it works: The street is blocked off and the home-owners move all their belongings out of the house. Large items like tables, couches and appliances are placed on the lawn and the driveway. Small items like dishes, picture frames, and large tiger cub statues are placed in boxes upon large trailers which are parked in the middle of the street. The trick here with the boxed-items is to put some good stuff with some junky stuff since they sell them as a whole "boxed set." For instance, that hand mixer that you have your eye on may be in a box with 17 hangers, a plastic swan figurine, and a box of Brita water-filters. Next thing you know, you're out $2.00, you can now beat your cake mix successfully and your looking for a spot on your mantle for the plastic swan. Cool, huh?

The yard and street showcase...

Upon arriving, you have to sign in with the auctioneer's people and get a number. If you want to bid on something, you can either raise your hand or nod your head. Both are acceptable and considered a binding contract (kind of). After each bid the auctioneer's assistants who are displaying the items and scanning the crowd, give a loud shout-out, like "HEY!!!", or "YEP!!!", or "HAAA!!!", or "YIPPEE ZIPPEE!!!" for each bid received. OK, just kidding about that last one. That would be pretty funny, though.

The whole thing is a very fast process and for some reason my mind and ears just can't quite keep up with it. Plus, I usually have no idea what the heck the auctioneers are chanting and I'd hate to buy something and not really know how much I'm paying for it. It would be just my luck to end up with a $17 collection of used Tupperware lids.

Auctioneer Mike

Looks like somebody just bought a box of used Tupperware lids...

...and a large ceramic tiger cub statue. Seriously, this thing went for $24.

Auction sales are also a great time to catch up with people you haven't seen in ages...which for me, was pretty much everyone. I got to talk to friends from high school, friends of my parents, a brother of a friend from high school, some ladies from my old church, the pastor that married Bill and I, an old teacher, the county sheriff, and the local butcher.

As you may suspect, people-watching at auction sales is an incredibly interesting thing. Especially when you have a Nikkor 70-300 1:4.5-5.6 lens and a multitude of unsuspecting subjects. Seriously, that baby makes me feel like I'm an undercover agent in one of those cop shows. Here are some Auction Sale Spy-Shots of my family:

Grandma Alice, Cousin Amy, Brother-in-law Leif

Dad and Marva

This is my Aunt Debbie right after she realized that she lost a bet and would have to run naked down Main Street.

Cousin Mitch

Dad and Gina

Grandma Alice (middle) with her sister and a friend.

Cousin Jordan

So that's it... a small town auction sale. The weekend weather was beautiful, the sale was a success, and seeing my family and getting together with my sisters was fantastic.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

New Guy in Town

I'd like to introduce you to Brennan David:

My family totally got our baby-fix in today. We met our newest little nephew who was born to Nicole and Brian on Tuesday. What a doll!!

Isn't he cute? Isn't he sweet? Isn't he cuddly? Isn't he precious?

Yes. Yes. Yes. And, yes.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Birthday Tradition

At your request, here is the picture marking our long-standing you-must-sit-on-the-table-next-to-your-cake-for-a-picture family tradition.

...and if you're so inclined, here are the rest.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Happy Birthday Maddie & Will !!

Since entering our lives 10 years ago today, you’ve forever changed us.
You have made us the people we were always meant to be.
You have made us smile and laugh.
You have made us worry and even cry.
You’ve made us experience emotion like only a parent can.
You constantly bring us joy, energy, enthusiasm and inspiration.

You have taught us love like we've never experienced before.
You have taught us patience like we never knew existed.

You are confident.
You are challenging.
You are funny.
You are smart.
And you’ve always made us proud to be your mom and dad

You have made us better. We love you more than you know.

Happy Birthday sweet ones.

Big Day

Not only is today is the last day of 3rd grade for Will and Maddie, it's also their birthday. You can't get much better than that, huh?

It's been a really fun year filled with stuff like Word Masters, Math Minutes, Harry Potter books, Challenge Math, Book Clubs, caterpillars and friends. And they both absolutely loved their teachers!

Here is a look back to last September and the start of the school year:

...and here's a look even further back:

How long do you think they'll let me pose them in front of the house on the first and last days of school?

My guess is 7th grade.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Halo House

This is my husband:
He says he’s not a gamer.
But really he is.
His gamertag is O’Gallcobair.
He knows how to drive a warthog and shoot a plasma rifle.
He’s a dork but I love him anyway.

This is my son:
He is a gamer, too.
He just got his own X-Box Live account and he is thrilled.
He came up with the gamertag of EvilFatBanana.
I think he’s way cuter and sweeter than that name suggests.
He says he wants a MasterChief helmet decoration in his room.
He’s a quick learner.
He kicks my husband’s butt.
How could a mother be more proud?

And, so as not to leave anyone out of the dork-circus:

This is my brother-in-law:
His gamertag is leNorse
Get it?
He’s Norwegian.
Sometimes all three of them play against each other.
From across the country.
I have no idea how good he is, but I think my son can beat him.
Again, how could a mother be more proud?

Welcome to my life.

And here is a little Halo video montage that I found for my gamers. If you’re not one of them, don’t bother.