Monday, December 29, 2008

post processing - picnik

Any post processing junkies out there?

I'm always checking out different editing tools and programs. I used the 30-day free trial of Lightroom and loved it, but the program is $300...too much money for my SAHM uses & needs. I've been using the free version of Picnik lately and, until today, hadn't really branched out into its "creative" tools.

I thought I'd share the finished products in case there are others who are looking for a post processing program. In the "creative" section of Picnik, there are a variety of actions and each is represented by a little frog who has been processed with that action. Not very attractive. But some of the actions actually do look nice when applied to people!

After some failed attempts to get some new closeups of M, I used an old photo of him and then took some of myself. Yes, go ahead and call me a desperate dork but, if you do, you have to come model for me! I am really glad I did this though because it ended up being good practice. M and I have different skin tones and the editing/actions seemed to affect us a little differently.

1960's: Love those rounded corners. Notice the orange-ish cast to his face.
CINEMASCOPE: This action seems to squish the subject when it adds the black bars.

CINEMASCOPE: The "black bar squish" isn't as noticeable in my photo.
ORTON-ISH: I think this pic looks really freaky since my eyes look different colors and my pupil is so severe! If I didn't know myself, this is the kind of photo that would give me bad dreams. I DO like the way Orton-ish seems to smooth out hair and face. It gives a soft look to the subject.

DUO-TONE: This may look like B&W but is actually an action that allows you to pick two colors for the editing. I ended up choosing dark blue and light gray but, for a moment, I was looking quite lime green!

HOLGA-ISH: While it looks like a huge square spot-light is on my face, this action actually changed where the light was hitting my face. I don't like it on this photo, but Holga-ish would look cool if your entire subject was in the highlighted area. I think LOMO-ISH does the same thing except in color.

I tried both 1960s and CROSS PROCESS on mine and the colors were funky...I think the blue background in M's photo kind of neutralized the orange-brownish cast of those actions...but not totally sure. Other things: Every time I use Picnik, I have major slow-down issues. At first, I can edit quickly but after about 3 pics, my computer starts grinding like crazy and I can finish mowing the lawn before an action finishes applying itself. This, however, could be an issue with my computer. Also, the FREE Picnik only allows you to upload 5 photos at a time.

If you have an editing tool that you recommend, feel free to share!

O, Israel!

This morning my homepage was full of news headlines declaring the crisis in Gaza:

Hamas calls on Arab nations to break peace treaties with Israel.
War to the bitter end.
No signs that conflict will end soon.

Then my eyes looked to the top of my the Bible verse of the day...and it read:
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:3

What good news in the midst of the stories of fighting and bombing, hatred and death!

If you are familiar with the Bible, the situation in Gaza doesn't surprise you. Events are unfolding just as God said they would, and we can take comfort in His faithfulness even when things look chaotic and frightening.

If you are interested, Joel Rosenberg of the The Joshua Fund is keeping his blog updated about the Gaza situation. Due to the Fund's relief support to Israel (and her neighbors!), Joel has many connections to those living right in the heat of the battle.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you. Psalm 122:6

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Ours was very relaxing and fun. M was lavished with gifts from friends and family, and he LOVED every single one. Scott and I have been watching movies at night...a welcome treat!...and all of our Christmas decorations are down and boxed for next year!

Slideshow photos are from making a birthday cake for Jesus (yes, the cake was THAT red and, yes, it did stain his face), singing into the tinkertoy microphone, a few from Christmas morning, and one of M and cousin Layne at a family gathering.

The train set. Yes, it was a hit, but I now concede to toy makers and their recommended age for toys. The train says 3+, and M is not even 2. I didn't even think about this because he plays so well with the set at the, yeah, but it is BOLTED DOWN! Even though M has some kickin' fine motor skills, he lacks the finesse and gentleness to drive the train without causing some major destruction (picture M pushing the train with his hand through the tunnel and then lifting his arm without taking it out of the tunnel.) And so this toy that I had hoped would help him play on his own and allow me to get through a sink of dishes....well, the dream is dashed for now. BUT...he likes his train!

Scott said of M's tiny train town: "A series of natural disasters has hit this week..."

Here is a bit of the video from Christmas morning when M first saw the train set. Nothing overly exciting...he just got down to playing!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

the Bright and Morning Star

"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am...the Bright and Morning Star." Rev 22:16

My heart seems to smile when I think of this description of Jesus. The Bright and Morning Star. Perhaps it's because I have a "visual aid" that keeps this title fresh in my mind.

A mountain range is located to the east of us, and daybreak brings a faint light outlining the mountains...a hint of what is coming. Then, as a warrior conquering his enemy, the mighty sun rises over the mountains, ushering forth its light and declaring victory over the darkness that had covered the city.

At Christmas we reflect on Jesus coming as an infant, but we also look ahead to His return. And as the morning star arrives to dispel the darkness of night, one day the Morning Star will return to dispel the darkness of sin and death. Forever. We have so much more than our Savior's birth to celebrate!

I'm sad. I'm sad, and I miss my mom. But just as the sun gives promise of a new day, Jesus gives promise of a new eternal life with Him. How grateful I am to be absolutely confident...that I will see my mom again.

Today I have been thinking of those who are alone...or are in a crowd but lonely...or are simply sad this Christmas. My heart aches for you, and I would love to pray for you over the next few days. As I pray for God's comfort for myself and my family during this first Christmas without my mom, I will lift you in prayer, too. If interested, you may email your prayer request to 1sttimemama1 AT gmail DOT com.

May your hearts smile as you celebrate the birth of Jesus and anticipate His return (may it be with the excitement of a child awaiting Christmas morning!).

Merry, Merry Christmas, my friends!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

when a photoshoot turns sour

I just looked through some photos that never made it to blog because most of them were WAY overexposed and because they do not represent M's most flattering side.

see how oVeReXpOsEd??!!!

So I messed around in picnik postprocessing to salvage a's the recount of the madness:

We arrived at the river on a beautiful fall day. M saw some kids and, because they were more than 10 ft away from him, he decided they were OK.

Laughter, great! We're going to get some awesome photos!

We headed up to the bridge; the happiness continued.

As we began to walk through the bosque, the revolt began...

...and the walls came tumbling down... matter what cool thing I showed him...

...or what area in which we walked...

...MAD.MAD.MAD... I had to resort to photographing a plant:

Now here is where it gets good. I asked M on the way back to the car if he would like to sit on the bridge and eat his snack. Affirmative. I got him settled, and pulled out the ziploc of treats...a trio of animal crackers, puffs, and alphabet crackers. As I offered each one to M, he would shake his head "no." I explained that these were the only snacks we had and, again, offered each one to him. With more zeal (read: throwing a huge fit that caused nearby walkers to raise their eyebrows), he not-so-politely refused the snacks again. In all of my motherly maturity, I took the ziploc...stuck it through the bars of the bridge...and dumped the entire contents into the flowing waters below. "I guess the fish will eat your snack then" I replied. ACK!!!!!! Did I just do that? I quickly glanced over my shoulder to see who was watching then slunk back to my car...screaming kid in tow.

I did manage to snag this cute one because I am sooooo sneaky:

POLL FINALE: 60% said they would have plastic surgery but only if medically necessary. 40% said, "just do it!"

Monday, December 22, 2008

i'm getting giddy!

sitting on the floor with the following:

1 screwdriver (both flat & phillips in one, thankyouverymuch!)
a 100+ piece Classic Train Table with Roundhouse
a 156 piece Lifesavers Halloween Variety Bag

i'm being careful not to get my "pieces" mixed up...

and getting ready to crank some carols!!!


Is anyone knowledgeable in external hard drives...and know why the photos that I transferred from my computer to the hard drive are no longer there? As in NO.LONGER.THERE!!!!??? The file folders show up, but they are now empty.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mother Nature, Father Time

I think it was right after my 35th birthday that I received the message. It went something like this:

Dear Tish. Stop. Happy Day after your 35th birthday. Stop. The party is over. Stop. Yours truly, Mother Nature and Father Time. Stop.

Yes, that was the year in which Father Time cackled as he pushed the "warp speed aging" button on my life, and Mother Nature lifted her wing of protection and, well, kicked me to the curb. Since then, my physical self has been coasting downhill at the speed of a Jamaican Bobsled Team.

Now...I know that in God's economy, a youthful appearance is not what it's all about. And I am so grateful to know that, by His grace, as my "outer man" is perishing, my "inner man" is being renewed day by day. It's like having some serious 100% effective anti-deterioration cream slathered on my soul by the hand of God.

HOWEVVVVVVER, I inherited two lovely traits from my Papa. #1. Big hands. #2. Some funky-droopy-eyelid thing. I'm thinking that, unless Jesus calls me home soon, my eyelids are going to start brushing against my kneecaps when I walk. Not even kidding. In my mind I picture holding them up with toothpicks, but really, when did toothpicks ever make good fashion sense to anything but an olive?

And so...I heard that this can be corrected with surgery. Suuuuurrrr-gery. Not a word that gets me giddy. I scar like madwoman (hmmm...could it be from vitamin deficiency from lack of vegetables in my body?), and I'd rather spend the money on something useful like clean water for villages. BUT...on the other hand being able to see without having to tape my eyelids to my forehead could be considered useful, I guess...and due to the sight-hindering nature of funky-droopy-eyelid thing, some insurance plans cover it!

Now I don't need these lids propped in the next week or anything...but we might as well "poll" about it, so let me know your thoughts about plastic surgery in the sidebar.

unimportant sidenote: have you tried the Archer Farms Hot and Spicy chips? They will make your mouth cry "UNCLE", but your hand will be going back for more!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A baby is coming!

M has a little kissin' cousin on the way!!! She is due in January, and I had the pleasure of hosting a shower for her. I got some adorable photos of some of the kids who attended, but I won't post them w/out parental permission. However, I am posting some pics of big sister since her mama has allowed me to do so in the past. We actually had the shower at the baby's home so that guests could see the nursery and presents wouldn't have to be hauled back and forth. It was a very fun...and pink!...event!

(Hey...anyone who edits with Lightroom know why the photos lose their sharpness when you blog them?)
Selfish heart: There are days when I just want to build a cool structure of Mega Blocks without having little hands try to add to it or knock it down.

Funny husband:
Me: I'm having a Mexican dinner and Asian salad dressing.
Scott: Fusion!

Me: These berries are they taste sour to you...I think they're sour.
Scott: Anything south of chocolate is sour to you.

New model:
Since M and Scott get facial tics when I ask them to model for me, I called on an old friend for a class assignment. She was a joy to work with and didn't even complain that I failed to wash her face before the photoshoot. Her name is Poor Pitiful Pearl. Yes, that was the name on the box!!! And I asked for her because I was afraid that no one else would buy her...with her ragged, patched clothes and stringy hair...and that she would be sad and lonely! Some toy exec sure knew my number, huh?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas cards

OK, I am interested in your thoughts about Christmas cards!

Why do you send them? What is your purpose?
How do you choose your annual card? How much thought do you give to your selection?
Do you include handwritten messages?
What do you do with the cards you receive from others?
Any other thoughts?

Comments appreciated!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

let's face it!

The many faces of Matthew...please excuse the runny nose!

Hope everyone is doing well! I'll be catching up on your blogs soon...I've missed you! We've been busy lately with hosting a baby shower, enjoying an overnight guest, going on a date (WOOOHOO)...and being bitten on the lip by M (he and I were wrestling and he got a little excited, bit my lip, and left me a bloody, swollen, bruised mess...but it healed quickly!)

Scott is enjoying M's recent verbal explosion and has taught him to call me "mamacita!" M is speaking very well and now will say things like (when I get out his blue hat), "no, red hat" and if you ask where to put something, he'll tell you "right there."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

martha, martha

This post has been bouncing around my brain for a while now, and yet it never seemed the right time to publish it. I guess it was never God's time until yesterday. Because yesterday was when He made it real for me.

I've been thinking of the story in Luke 10:38-42 where two sisters, Mary and Martha, are contrasted. You may be familiar with the story but, if not, here's the lowdown:

Jesus came to town. Martha invited Him to the home of her family. Mary sat and listened to Jesus talk while Martha worked feverishly to get everything "just right." Martha got ticked and questioned Jesus, "Don't you care that Mary is sitting on her duff while I do all the work? Tell her to help me!" (my paraphrase)

Jesus responds, "Martha, Martha..."

sidenote: I once heard a message that was focused on this initial part of Jesus' reply. The speaker noted that Jesus said Martha's name...twice. If He had just said "Martha", we might convey that He was angry (MAR-THA!!!!) or frustrated (Marthaaaaaa...). But He said her name twice, and when we are angry or frustrated we don't usually do that. Try it. Just yell "Martha, Martha" in a really angry tone. Doesn't quite sound right, does it? Nope, even as Martha questions and commands Him, Jesus responds in tenderness.

Anyway, the Bible says that Martha was "distracted with much serving." Distracted...suggests she had turned away from her original focus of attention. Much serving...suggests she was going over-the-top, busy with unnecessary details.

Jesus continues His response to her, "...But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

This year I have been doing less holiday shopping/stuff and have been trying to choose the "good part" spend more time in God's Word. So, while this passage has been stuck in my brain for the past weeks, I didn't think it was really applying to me during this holiday season. (You can laugh now.)

Yesterday morning after breakfast I decided to bring out the playdoh in hopes that M would entertain himself while I did some other tasks, but something stopped me from taking my busywork to the table.

Martha, Martha.

UGH! But I have stuff to do! And the baby never takes long enough naps! And...

Martha, Martha.

I found myself reaching into the drawer for the playdoh "big guns"...the utensils I get out only when I play with M. As M and I sat at our table enjoying the squishy dough, soft music and falling snow (lasted a few minutes and never stuck), I was reminded that Jesus was there with us. He was there. So I talked to M about Jesus...His Presence with us, His love for us.

Suddenly M put down his playdoh and reached over for my hand. With a big smile on his face he gazed at me...then pointed to Scott's chair...and then turned his sweet face back to mine. His countenance was one of joy.

As I was enjoying time with my baby, I was sitting at my Savior's feet. It was the good part. THE GOOD PART. And it dripped with His tenderness.

You know, if the story of Jesus' tenderness toward distracted, demanding Martha stopped there, it would be enough. But if you read John 11 you will find another gem. You see, Martha's sister Mary was the one who seemed to really "get it." In humble adoration, Mary sat at Jesus' feet. Nothing else mattered. She was the one who would later anoint the feet of Jesus with very expensive oil and then wipe them dry with her hair. (Note to self: grow hair out!) Mary was, Biblically speaking, "da bomb."

Yet John 11:5 states, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister..."

Just WHOM is mentioned by name? Yes, good ol' Martha, Martha. Not that it is a competition. God has enough love to go 'round. But I find this very comforting...that the God of the universe chose to speak of His love for and mention by name the sister Martha. A woman who was too busy to sit with Jesus but then questioned His care for her. One who lost focus of the Good Part, Christ Himself.

I love, love, love my times alone reading God's Word, but often as soon as my Bible snaps shut, I become distracted. Yes, I know He is with me all the time, but I don't live like He is with me all the time. I am like Martha who invited Him into her home but then was too busy to enjoy hear be with Him. I allow my focus to be diverted too easily...and too often on things that really don't matter (except in my little mind!). This doesn't mean I stop doing housework and sit in the middle of my living room floor all day (although on days that would be nice!), but instead to be more mindful of His Presence with me...even in the mundane and in the busywork.

What about you? Are you more like Mary or Martha? Do you find it easy to sit at His feet even in the midst of a busy day? Or do you lose focus and become distracted with much serving? Feel free to share!!!

another sidenote: At lunch I was reading to M about King Saul and how he became prideful and no longer loved God. M started making funny squeals, and I looked up to see him pointing at himself. I asked, "What?...Do you love God?" He nodded with exaggeration and then picked up another cracker to stuff in his mouth. Rationally I question a toddler understanding any of this, but with M you just never know.

Christmas Songs

The wonderful Fernando Ortega has a new CD entitled Christmas Songs. I watched his video about the making of the CD, and his hope for the music was to draw people back to the the lyrics of some oh-so-familiar highlight the words proclaiming and celebrating the birth of our Savior and Lord. To listen to a few songs, go HERE. There is a also a button (as shown below) to download a song for free.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


not sure what i said to get this reaction, but it was a good one!

Hope your day is filled with laughter!

Friday, December 5, 2008


I Wednesday I had the privilege of photographing the ADORABLE M kids. We were outside on a warm, sunny day...the conditions were perfect...the kids couldn't be cuter...I had reviewed my teacher's lesson on photographing outside in the light...and I STILL FLUBBED UP. If I had taken the photos a few months ago, I would have been very happy with them. But now...I notice the shadows on the faces, the overexposed backgrounds from shooting toward a lighter background, the lack of good composition, and on and on.

And I just want to scream, "RE-DO! I want a RE-DO!"

But here are a few of the shots anyway because the kids' precious faces are going to make you smile!!!

edited2add: I must have been in a state of chocolate sedation when I wrote this because I meant to say "Do-over! I want a do-over!" Not a RE-DO!!!! Re-Do??????? What was I thinking?????

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the polls are closed!

Thanks for voting in my very important polls!

I have to say that I got a little queasy when I saw that SIXTY-TWO percent of responders keep their opened, refrigerated items until the expiration date! I am so freaked out by rotten food that I throw things away like 2 weeks after opening them! One week for cottage cheese! Scott, on the other hand, would keep items waaaaaay past the expiration date if he could.

The shower question was brought up by my cousin, and I figured this would be a great place to test her hypothesis! She was right! More than half of the voters said that the male in their marriage faces the showerhead while the female faces away! Isn't that interesting???? Or am I the only one intrigued by random information like that?

BTW, for all of you who said that BAKED CHEETOS were as good or better than the regular kind, I have one question. ARE YOU DRUNK????? It is like comparing a year-old Halloween Baby Ruth to the Great Wall of Chocolate from PF CHANGS! No comparison.

Since we had such a great turn-out at the polls, I have another question....coming soon!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tish's Top Model

My friend and personal artist (grin), Kim, agreed to give up her Saturday painting time to let me practice photography on her. She was game for anything I suggested, she held still (unlike M) and actually smiled (unlike Scott), so she has stolen the spot as my favorite model!

This is my very favorite shot of the day because I think she looks so beautiful and this photo is straight out of the no retouching! She is just that gorgeous!


For my online class we are practicing post processing in Lightroom, a great but intimidating tool, so I gave some of the other shots some heavy Lightroom lovin'. Thankfully, since Kim is an artist, she's not scared of a little SHA-ZAAAM!









This is from M's Jesus Storybook Bible, a paraphrase of John 1:12-13:

For anyone who says yes to Jesus
For anyone who believes what Jesus said
For anyone who will just reach out to take it
Then God will give them this wonderful gift:

To be born into a whole new Life
To be who they really are
Who God always made them to be -
Their own true selves -
God's dear Child.

And this is from me: Today, if I could just reach through my computer screen, take your precious face in my hands, I would look into your eyes and tell you, "God is crazy in love with you...let Him love you."

M at 22 months!

M turned 22 months on Thanksgiving, so I wanted to post a "keepsake" update about him.
- He has suddenly become more affectionate and playful...more free with the kisses!
- He continues to do really well with his letters, numbers, colors, shapes, opposites, superlatives, following directions, etc.
- His favorite friend is Elmo.
- His favorite activity is helping daddy make hot tea.
- He has become more talkative and, although he doesn't say a ton of words, he does put them together well, such as "help dad hot tea." When he wants to tell you something and knows he can't (this usually involves food), he looks at you like he is hoping that he can speak through his eyes!
- He eats. A LOT. For ex, the other morning it was two Eggo waffles and a whole banana. He often asks for more even when I give him a full plate the first time.
- He has started attending Little Gym and loves it! When he finishes an activity with his teacher, he does a little happy dance.
- Sleep. Still not great.
- Skin. The dry weather has brought out the worst of his I am trying a new product that I found at the pharmacy.
- Teeth. Has some in front and some in back...just waiting for those in-betweeners.
- He is doing fairly well at taking off his own shirt...needs help to get going.
- He just finished his first week with a Helping Chart (read "chores")...and he did a great job! His payment was 25 cents and a sucker. I paid in 2 dimes and a nickel so we could start teaching about tithing.
- He does little things that surprise me as a 1st time mama. For ex, he wanted something so I said I would get it when I was finished picking up the folded laundry. Rather than just waiting for me to finish or standing there whining, he actually helped me (on his own initiative) to put the clothes in the basket.

I was pretty amazed when he could "read" words like Bob and Wow, but the other day I tried spelling some words for him verbally, and he was able to say the word. So I tried to recreate on video:

Because many of M's photos show his more serious side, I thought I'd share his goofy side: