Monday, August 3, 2015

Why You Should Learn to Shoot in Manual

Because you can tell your camera to do this...


Or you can let it do this for you...


You can tell it to do this...

SOOC manual

Or let it do this...


(Eww on the flashy reflection in the window!)

You can tell it to do this...


Or let it do this...


The first and second photo in each set were taken one right after the other. The only thing that changed is that I moved from manual into auto and let the camera decide what to do. I did not edit any of the photos. This is what they look like coming straight out of the camera.

The difference is amazing in each one! And that is why I am always encouraging people to learn how to shoot in manual!! You do not have to be a professional photographer to shoot in manual and get great photos. Anyone can learn! It took me a while to catch on to it and I think that is what makes me a good teacher of manual. 

To those that are local, I offer one-on-one camera lessons to teach you how to use YOUR camera and give you the information and confidence you need to start moving into manual mode. 

You too can impress your friends with your photos! :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My Favorite Year

I told someone recently that this is the "pay off" year. This is the year when all the hard work I've put into parenting is paying off.

All the years of reading books and trying to figure out the best way to discipline my kids.
All the years of sleepless nights.
All the years of training and molding them into who they are today.
All the years of building foundations.

All the years have led us to this one.

And while I have loved all the years... this is my favorite one yet!


I am having such a great time with Liza and Jason this summer! They were the best little travel companions when we went to Maryland to visit family. They are lots of fun to go on bike rides with and they push themselves and go far... 15 miles is the longest ride for them so far and that's pretty good for a 7 and 8 year old! They go on hikes with me and know how to just go slow and take it all in. We spend long days at the lake and would probably just stay forever if we didn't get so tired.

I'm loving this summer because it is easy. Because I can say let's go spend the day at the lake and the kids get excited and pitch in. They make their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and help pack up lunch. They play well together all day and then help unpack when we get home.

They have real conversations with each other and with me. I love being able to know what goes on in their minds!

I love their behavior and their attitudes. And no I wasn't just blessed with easy kids. I have worked for this... constantly... from the day they were born. And I never quit. And I still have years and years of work to do. But I no longer have to do things like changing diapers and cutting up food and being up at night.


I feel like I got to hit the cruise control of life and we are just riding along, enjoying life.

Yes, we have our grumpy days and our days of whining and bickering... but they are few. And so we continue to go and do and have fun.

This is the good life.
This is the life I hoped for... worked for.
I wouldn't trade it for anything!!

Especially when as we are pulling into the driveway after a long day out and...

JASON: Thanks for taking us to the lake mom!
LIZA: Thanks mom!
ME: Thanks for being kids that are fun to go to the lake with.
JASON: Thanks for being a good mom.

Worth it.
Worth it all!
Worth the years of changing diapers and spoon feeding and talking endlessly about choices and how they are in control of their own behavior. Worth the time spent reading all the books and working out a discipline that works.

Worth it.
Because my kids are worth it and summers like this are the payoff.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Liza and Jason are excited about traveling to other states. Last year they went to Ohio. This year they have been to Maryland and a few steps into Delaware. We plan to ride a bike trail from Pennsylvania into West Virginia before the weather gets too cold. And this weekend we are heading to New York to see Niagara Falls.

It's a summer of new-to-them states. They have a map and are coloring in all the states they visit.

Liza likes to brag that she has also been to Florida... because she has been... she just doesn't remember it without photos and me talking about it, because she was only 11 months old when we went.

But "contechnically" as Jason would say, he was there too... because he was... in my belly. I was only a few weeks pregnant with him.

The debate was once again happening in the car today, and I just let them go back and forth about it. Jason argues that "contechnically" he WAS in Florida and therefore should color it in on his map.

After some thought Liza said, "Well your soul was there, so I guess you were. You can color in Florida."

Body and soul... Jason was "contechnically" in Florida. But we'll have to take him back some day so he can SEE it while he is there. :)

A few photos from too many years ago when Liza (and Jason) went to Florida with me. :)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Moraine State Park Bike Trail

When the kids were at camp, me and Mike decided to do a bike trail that we didn't want to take the kids on yet... Moraine Bike Trail.


The bike trail is on the North Shore exit and you can start at the Bike Concession... where you can also rent a bike if you don't have one.

The trail is a little over 7 miles long... one way. You can park a second car at the other end, but what's the fun in that!?

The day we went was a hot day and after the first two miles I was certain I was going to die on the way back. We have been riding the rail trails and they are pretty flat and straight. The bike trail at Moraine is different... bends and curves and hills. And it seemed like we went downhill for the first two miles. But we kept going.


It was a really nice trail with great views along the way. It was also a nice change from the easy rail trails. Mike enjoyed the hills and curves and made his boy fast car noises along the way. :)


This is us at the beginning... ready to go.


This is us at the end... when we had to turn around and go back and I was dreading all the hills I would have to go up.


But the trail is deceiving. I thought it was going to be a torturous uphill ride on the way back but it wasn't. It was pretty balanced. Just as much uphill and downhill as the opposite direction.



We definitely enjoyed this trail! We are by no means serious bike riders and it took us approximately 45 minutes each way. We decided that we would take the kids on this trail once they had bikes that had gears... because we don't want to have to ride it without gears.

At one point Mike said, "My gears are getting a workout!" When we ride the rail trails there is no need to shift gears. It was a good workout for us!

Biking... it's what we have been doing lately. :)


Friday, July 24, 2015

Butler's Farmer's Market

We live just a few blocks from the Farmer's Market but for some reason it took me almost three years to actually check it out.

Two weeks ago we finally remembered about it and went.


There were about ten stands both times. Lots of garden produce. Pretty sure someone was selling meat and eggs. Oh! And quail eggs?? Baked goods. Goat milk fudge... which I really need to try one of these times to see if my stomach handles goat milk better than cow milk.

We have been buying cucumbers, zuchinni and beans. Good food! Good prices! And the cucumbers are HUGE!!



I've been making cucumber water.
And zucchini bread.
And just slicing the cucumbers and topping with tuna.

Farmer's Market in the City of Butler... it's where we've been buying our produce lately!

205 S. Chestnut St.
Open Saturdays from 8-1.
Check it out!


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