Monday, January 9, 2012

Family Portraits

It has been 3 years since our last family portrait, so it was high time we remedied that!  My favorite portrait studio closed a few years ago, and ever since then, I have struggled to have portraits made on a more regular basis.  The place we went to was affordable, and they took AWESOME pictures!  I have yet to find another studio that is THAT good AND affordable. 

The family picture was to be for our Christmas cards.
Anyway, I decided to beg my sister for the use of her Nikon D60 for the afternoon (she's really quite protective of it :D ) and take some outdoor portraits of the family by myself!  I took photography in college, but am still quite an amateur.  I know what I like, but executing what is in my head can be a challenge.  I also do not have good interior lighting or backdrops so shooting outside was a must for professional looking results.  Well, as professional as I could get them, anyway!


It turns out, the very best family portrait turned out to be the FIRST shot I took!  It's certainly not perfect--the posing could be a little better, someone could have smiled a little less cheesy, but I was happy with it!

Yep, for Christmas cards, that'll do!
Evan is all boy. Well, so is Levi. Did you notice their dirty knees in the family shot above? Yep. Kept them clean all through church and lunch, then it took me two minutes to set up the tripod and they managed to find mud.

Here are some random shots.

What a good lookin' bunch of kiddos.

That shot was a good pose with a nice background, but obviously, the lighting was not perfect.  So, we moved on.

Well, we moved on after some little boys got their fill of hanging from the chain.

And one right-side-up.  For good measure.

We had lots of cheesy smiles.  At least they smiled, right?  Stinker.

Ava's glasses are Transitions so I had her remove them so I could see her beautiful, blue eyes!

There they are!

Me and my sweet girl.  I'm so happy to have a girl! 

     Ava loves to read, read, READ!  This girl can polish off a dozen books in just a few days.  And I don't mean Amelia Bedelia, either.  I'm talking about books like, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Guardians of Ga'Hoole

     She also loves to cook and make crafty things.  She's becoming quite good at cooking.  I tell her she's on her way to becoming an amazing wife and mother!  Her children will say, "Mmmmm..........."  when she sets food in front of them.  I also tell her that she might not think so now, but one day, hearing her kids say, "Mmmm....." will make her very happy!

Levi is very photogenic. The kid hardly knows how to take a bad picture.

He is brilliant with numbers.  Really.  This little dude has been multiplying numbers since he was about 4.  He is also the kind of kid you find taking stuff apart to see how it works, and tying things up to see what will happen when you hang from them.  We think engineering of some kind may be in his future!

See what I mean?  Seriously.  Is that boy not handsome?

This one, too.  Handsome little fella.

If I could use one word to sum up Evan's personality, it would be LOUD.  Now, I mean that in the dearest way :)  He might be the youngest, but he has never tolerated being left out of any.thing.  He makes his presence known.  We joke that he will become a preacher someday, lol!

Ok, so this one was pretty good, but I couldn't stop there.  Nooooooo, I just had to keep going. See the progression for yourself.

Oh, all right.  We're done, ok?

After pictures were over, we let them play and had a great time.  This park is beautiful and we've been going there for years for pictures and just for fun.

I just love those kiddos.

Looking back, it was a really fun day.  I hope they remember it :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Book of the Week - January Week 1

So, last year I challenged myself to read a book a week. I did fairly well with that goal, however, I did not document it. I know there were times it took me more than a week to finish a book, and other weeks where I read 3, but I didn't write it down, so I really have no idea how many books I actually finished in 2011.

Well, here is my solution to that. I'm going to keep an online diary of it here. Just for myself. And if anyone else finds that interesting, well GREAT!

My first book of the year is sort of a cheater. I actually started reading this book to my daughter before Christmas, but just finished it this week. We try to read a chapter every night before bed while Daddy reads a book to the boys. But, with Christmas and all, we didn't end up reading every night and it just took longer.

This book is called, Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. What a fantastic book! I just happened across it at Half-Price Books, and thought, "Wow. I didn't know he wrote anything else." You see, I knew this author for Where the Red Fern Grows. My 4th grade teacher read this book out loud to our class many moons ago and I will forever be grateful to her for that. I loved that book so much I just knew Summer of the Monkeys had to be a great book, as well.

I was not disappointed! This book takes place in the late 1800's and gives you a feel for country life and simpler times. It beautifully illustrates the relationships a boy SHOULD have with his father and grandfather. I felt proud of Jay Berry all throughout the story and wanted to applaud his grandfather for taking such an active role in his grandson's life.

Here is the synopsis on Amazon:

The last thing a fourteen-year-old boy expects to find along an old Ozark river bottom is a tree full of monkeys. Jay Berry Lee's grandpa had an explanation, of course--as he did for most things. The monkeys had escaped from a traveling circus, and there was a handsome reward in store for anyone who could catch them. Grandpa said there wasn't any animal that couldn't be caught somehow, and Jay Berry started out believing him . . .

But by the end of the "summer of the monkeys," Jay Berry Lee had learned a lot more than he ever bargained for--and not just about monkeys. He learned about faith, and wishes coming true, and knowing what it is you really want. He even learned a little about growing up . . .

This novel, set in rural Oklahoma around the turn of the century, is a heart-warming family story--full of rich detail and delightful characters--about a time and place when miracles were really the simplest of things...

Normally, I am easily amused. However, most books do NOT make me laugh out loud. This book did. Many times. My daughter and I LAUGHED. OUT. LOUD!

A little note: There is one chapter (Ch. 9) where Jay Berry inadvertently becomes drunk. If this would be a sensitive topic for your child, pre-read it and the following chapter and determine for yourself if you want to read it or skip it. I don't think it would take away too much of the story if it were skipped, BUT, I will say, there is good that comes from it! We did not skip it and I'm glad.

This book was so enjoyable, I highly recommend it! The back cover says it is a Reading Level 5.0 and for ages 10 and up. My daughter (almost 10) is a voracious reader and could read this in a day or two. It could be a challenging read for some 10 year olds, but it also makes a great Read Aloud for parent and child(ren).

Whether your child reads it on their own, you read it to them, or you just read it for yourself, don't pass up Summer of the Monkeys! Really, you don't know what you're missing!