Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Miss Mattie

These are just a few more pictures of Mattie that I took yesterday that I really loved.

This child is a NUT, and she only agreed to let me take pictures of her if I would take a few "serious" shots of her first. What? She's 5. Is this normal? Nevermind, I'm pretty sure I know the answer to that.

So here's "serious" Mattie:

Really pondering some deep thoughts here:

I should mention that she had just gotten home from dance class, which is the reason for the leotard. This was a very impromptu "photo session" (and I use that term very loosley)

I used the spot metering technique again for these pictures, and I'm now seeing the difference this makes.

I just love this....

And this is maybe my new favorite picture of her. I love the light behind her head, the look on her face, the pretty green background. I love it....

I even like the black and white of it:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beth V Photography Class: Day 8 & 9 - Near and Far

Knocking out two assignments with one post this time in an effort to catch up.

Day 8 - Assignment Near

Instructions were to take a close up of something near. This is Mattie holding some flowers she just picked. I like this.

iso 200, 1/800, f/2.0

Day 9 - Far

Instructions were to back up from your subject, and capture some background in your shot. Again, Mattie posing with her fresh picked flowers. I like this too.

iso 200, 1/125, f/3.2

Monday, April 25, 2011

Beth V Photography Class: Day 8 - Light

Well, I have fallen behind in my photography class, but I am not quitting! I got behind when I went out of town last weekend, and then we had yuck weather all last week that kept me from getting outside. So, I'll probably skip a few of the assignments in order to catch up and finish, or maybe I'll go back and do them later.

This is really no different than how I made it through my entire college career. Always behind, lots of late or missed assignments, but always eeking out a decent grade at the end. Ha!

The assignment was "Light", and the instructions involved backlighting your subject and using spot-metering, which is something I had never done. I found this VERY tricky, and clue if I got this right.

I took this in the late evening (around 6:45) as the sun was starting to set, and Presley is sitting on our deck railing. I had to hold on to her with one hand, and shoot with the other. The sun is directly behind her head, but because it was kind of cloudy and with so much tree coverage, it's a little hard to tell. I had to constantly watch my focus and adjust my light meter, which was hard with one hand.
Also....I took about 35 shots trying to get this right. And this one.....very first shot I took. Ha!

SOOC - iso 200, 1/250, f/2/2

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An Easter Reflection on Lent and Coffee

According to Wikipedia:

In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year
from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation
of the believer — through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial — for
the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and Resurrection of
Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates
in Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

According to the Synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spent
forty days fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry,
where he endured temptation by Satan. Thus, Lent is described as being
forty days long, though different denominations calculate the forty days

This practice is common to much of Christendom, being celebrated by Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Anglicans.[3][3][4][4] Lent is increasingly being observed by other denominations as well, even such groups that have historically ignored Lent, such as Baptists and Mennonites.

I observed Lent this year for the first time ever. I've made unsuccesful attempts before in years past, when the thing I chose to sacrifice was self-serving in some way. One year, I gave up soft drinks thinking I'd shed a few pounds. Another year I gave up fast-food for the same reason, only to fail miserably after a few weeks. As a Baptist, Lent is not something that's widely observed in the church. According to the information above, it's mostly practiced among Catholics, Lutherans, Etc.

But this year, in the days leading up to the 40 day advent season, I felt a want or need to truly observe Lent this year, as a way to center my focus and prepare my heart for Holy Week and Easter.

I considered several things to give up, but I quickly fell into that same old line of thinking of what can I give up that will ultimately benefit me. Sad. I prayed for some direction, and days before Ash Wednesday, I knew what it would be. My beloved coffee.

I am not a life long coffee drinker. I started drinking coffee when Mattie was about a two years old because Matthew drank it, and got me started on it. Most addictions start from a partner's influence, right? I quickly became addicted and have had to have my morning fix every single day. For a long while, I drank two huge mugs each morning (around 40 oz of coffee), but I eventually cut that down to one large mug.

When I became pregnant with Presley, I completey cut out coffee for my entire pregnancy, and it wasn't difficult at that time except for the first couple of days. With both of my pregnancies, I craved chocolate milk in large quantities. I would drink large, large amounts each and every morning until I delivered my babies, and after that I can't stand the sight or smell of it. Pregnancy is too weird. My only explanation for not needing/wanting coffee during pregnancy is that my body was distracted by and/or needed the chocolate milk. Once Presley was born, I was back hard on my daily habit due to sleep deprivation, and I eventually had to cut back again because I was drinking way too much.

Lately, I've been drinking around 20 oz. each morning. I don't drink it black....I put some Splenda and Fat-Free French Vanilla Coffee-Mate. I neeeeeeed my coffee each morning. I don't do anything until I go straight to the coffee pot and at least have my full cup in hand, then I can function.

Physically, the first couple of days were very hard. My afternoons were filled with bad caffeine headaches. In the days after that, the headaches subsided, but I still would crave that morning cup. Each and every morning when I woke up, my first thought was "coffee!". And then, "oh yeah, no coffee". I'm not exagerating when I say that each and every one of the forty days of Lent I thought about my coffee several times a day and how bad I wanted it.

But from the very first day, I decided that when my thoughts would turn to coffee (which was often), I would immediately redirect them to the Cross. I would focus my thoughts on how weak my flesh was, and how much I need my Savior. I would think on the sacrifice made for me, and offer silent thanksgiving for that. I would praise God for loving me enough to sacrifice his Son for me. I would thank Jesus for the redemption he provided me. I honestly took every craving as an opportunity to give thanks.

I'm reading this book right now, which talks about transforming your life and finding true joy through Eucharisteo. And in this experience of my life, I can say it's absolutely true.

What started out as frustration with my deprivation turned into an advent filled with thanksgiving toward my Redeemer, which in turn filled me with joy. I can't say that of any past year. I have never entered an Easter season with a heart as full as this year. My heart and mind were in tune praising and worshipping Him like no other time in my life.

All that to say, Lent "worked" for me and I highly recommend it to you if you're looking for a way to prepare your heart and mind for Easter. And for the record, as soon as my feet hit the floor this morning, I headed straight for the coffeepot, and brewed a pot. I had no intention of giving it up forever, and this morning was sweet as I drank the first cup of forty days.

Friday, April 22, 2011


But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sin; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Isiah 53:5-6
~old testament~

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24-25 ~new testament~

To most of the world, today is a regular day. Perhaps it's the start of a three day weekend for some, which is nice. Maybe it's payday. Or date night. Or maybe it's just a much anticipated Friday after an exhausting week at work.

But to those of us who call Jesus our Savior, it's Good Friday. This Holy Week that has commemorated the Passion of Jesus comes to climax today marking the crucifixion of our Messiah.

Words fail me. So I'll let the scripture above speak for me. And I'll share the links below that say what I'm feeling on this most important day much better than I ever could. These posts have been especially poignant to me as I read them this morning. The prayer on my lips today has been that this day and the remainder of this weekend would not be oridnary to me. That my heart would be broken again at the sacrifice of my Jesus and filled with gratitude anew at what was done for me on Calvary. I can assure you that He is faithful to answer a prayer like that.

Living a One-Piece Life: A Good Friday Reflection (His Mother Before the Cross) - Ann Voskamp

The Body and The Blood - Beth Moore

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Living Proof Live - Little Rock, April, 2011

What a great weekend!! We had the best time in Little Rock. The conference was amazing, and Mrs. Moore did not disappoint. She brought a great message, and was as entertaining as ever. And in addition to her, her praise team was absolutely AMAZING. I cannot remember when I've ever been part of such a powerful praise and worship time. I left with a fresh word and a renewed spirit.

If you read the Living Proof Ministries (LPM) blog, you know that Beth refers to her blog community as her "siestas". So, at the very, very end of the last session of the conference right as everyone was getting up to leave, a message came up on the jumbo-tron screen that said "Siestas meet with LPM coordinator at Sec. 103 of the arena floor". To anyone there that doesn't know what a "siesta" is, that message would mean nothing. But to us, we knew it was *maybe* a possibility to get up close with Beth Moore. And we were right!

We first started to leave, because Verizon Arena is gigantic, and the flood of people trying to move upwards out of the arena when we needed to go down was just looked like it would take an hour to get to the meeting spot. But, we decided to try, and we finally got down there. There were only about 50 or 60 "siestas" that came back, which to me was astounding considering there were about 8500 people at the event. We were escorted back to an area off the arena floor where we were divided into two groups and positioned for a picture, and then out came Mrs. Beth Moore herself. She came out, stood about two feet from me, and spoke personally to the group for a couple of minutes, and then jumped in for a picture with each group.

Little Rock Group 2
That is me on the left end of the bottom row in the red top and white crop pants, and Beth is in the middle front.

I just could hardly wipe the smile off my face. It was so totally unexpected and such a neat end to what was already and amazing conference. If you ever have the opportunity to go to one of her conferences, I highly recommend it!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Few Things Of No Importance

1. Tomorrow (Friday) my mom and I are heading to Little Rock to see Beth Moore at a Living Proof Live event. I'm beyond excited for several reasons:
a) Beth Moore.
b) Shopping with no strollers, sippy cups, lost pacis, whiny kids, and so forth.
c) A hotel room.....I know I'm weird, but I love sleeping in hotels.
d) The possibility of sleeping past 7:00 on a Saturday....even if it's only to 7:30.
e) Not working on any sewing orders for at least 36 hours....monumental and overdue.
f) Coming home refreshed and renewed.

2. Knowing we were going to see Beth made me feel a huge need to get my hair cut and colored today. So I did, and I feel like a new woman.

3. Presley has tee-tee'd in the potty about a dozen times this week. She just turned 18mos old this week, but we got our potty chair out a few weeks ago, and set it up just for her to get used to. I did the same thing when Mattie was about 18mos old. We got the chair at 18mos, did some practice runs for a few months, and then started actual training right when she turned 2....she trained fairly easily and quickly, and I would LOVE it if Presley did the same. I think we're several months away from actual potty-training with her, but I'm very excited about her interest and ability to actually do it this early. And I think Mattie is going to be a HUGE helping factor to getting her trained. She is loving helping Presley to the bathroom, and onto the potty. She is a little mama for sure. And Mattie has wanted Presley potty trained since she was about 3mos old.

4. I had something very neat and God orchestrated happen to me last week that I have to share. Most people know that I have an Etsy shop, and that it has become my main source of income since the end of last year. I have been bombarded with orders recently, and have had no room in my schedule for an "off" day....basically for my schedule to stay on track, I'm having to sew every single day. All that to say, I can't be without my machine for even a day. So imagine my dismay when one day last week I'm sewing in the wee hours of the night, and my sewing machine jams up. Not like normal jam, but more serious. I won't go into boring details, but it appeared my beloved machine that I have literally sewed miles on was biting the dust. Not great timing for me!! Not only could I not afford to be without a sewing machine, I didn't really have the money set aside for a new machine. Normally I would plan and save for an expense like that, but that wasn't possible. Lucky for me, my mom sews and had a brand new machine that I was able to borrow for a few days to get me out of a pickle. I liked it so much that I decided I was definitely going to buy the same model to replace my broken machine. I had shopped online, found the best deal, and had even added it to my cart on Amazon. to pay for it? And y'all.....I do not lie. That very DAY I got a (very) unexpected check in the mail that was almost to the dollar the same amount as the machine I was going to buy. I got a refund on a portion of the deposit I paid my OB when I was pregnant with Presley (b/c she came a little ahead of her due date). I was pregnant with Presley TWO YEARS AGO! I had not thought twice about that money, and I have no clue why they are sending it to me 18 months after I had my baby. But I do know that I serve the The Great Provider who loves me and wants to meet my needs. And I have a fancy new upgraded machine that I am in love with. How cool is that??

5. Sometimes I wonder....would I still love her if she had straight hair?! Of course I don't wonder that! Because of course I would. Right?

Straight is cute too.....Mattie has become mostly straight-haired after a pretty curly baby-hood, and I adore her.
But these curls....they own me. I die for these curls.

Please curls, never leave. OK?

Hope everyone has a great weekend!!

Beth V Photography Class: Day 5 "Quiet"

Assignment: "Quiet"
We don't do quiet in our house. It's only quiet when both girls are asleep at night, and by then, I'm too exhausted to pick up my camera. So........what to do?

I asked Mattie to "show" me what quiet looks like, and this was what I got. I have to say, I kind of love the captures her silly personality pretty well.

iso 200, 1/400, f/2.2

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Beth V Photography Class: Day 4

Assignment: "Out"

This assignment left me frustrated. It's much easier to shoot roses and strawberries than it is to shoot a very active 18mos old little girl. But since my whole goal is to be able to take better pictures of my children, I thought I'd use Presley as my subject.

I read all the tips and tricks, and thought this would be easy, but the fact is, trying to put all those tips and tricks into action with a moving subject is hard!

I'm still hanging in there with manual mode, but I'm not totally pleased with any of these.

This is probably my favorite of the three, but still....she wasn't where I wanted her as far as lighting goes.
iso 200, 1/320, f/2.2
I like this face, but it's not super sharp.

iso 200, 1/320, f/2.2

I like this, but her face is shadowy. Blah!
iso 200, 1/320, f/2.2

I've got a ways to go! This really give me an appreciation for professional photographers who make this look so effortless!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beth V Photography Class: Day 3

Assignment: "In" I chose to photgraph these "In" season strawberries. Photo taken inside on my kitchen counter, mid-day light from the window on the right. No flash.
ISO 200, 1/30, f1/8

Friday, April 8, 2011

Beth V Photography Class: Day 2

I'm doing an online photography class over at Beth V Photography this month. It's free, and I'm hoping to develop my photography skills a bit. I never shoot in Auto camera stays in Apereture Priority mode, but I've also never shot in full manual mode. I'd like to get comfortable with that. So....I get a new assignment every other day, and I'll post my pic here, and link up to her blog. I missed Day One (assignment: old), and I was gonna try to get around to it, but I'm just gonna skip it. So, I'm starting on Day 2.

Day 2 Assignment: New

ISO 200, 1/1000, f/1.8

I did shoot this in manual mode...progress made. No edits other than a crop. These assignments are open to interpretation, and I went with this pretty rose because to me it represents Spring...a new season, a new bloom, new growth. I like it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

SSMT: Verse 7

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:5-6, NIV