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Making the World Cuter: August 2009

A blog where one woman is on a mission to make the world cuter, one kid, cupcake or crafty thing at a time.


What's an F/Stop?

So, I have this photography hobby, that I want to turn more into a money making hobby.
Now, I'm no expert at mine or anyone elses camera.
But I want to be.
I know enough to get a pretty great picture, but I want to understand what I'm doing more, and really learn the how's and why's better.
I was hoping you all would join in with a discussion of sorts as we go through the settings on our cameras.
I know a lot of you have SLR's like I do, and we are all probably on different levels of understanding.
I think we could all benefit from everyone elses knowledge.
So let's get started.

Today I want to talk about APERTURE, because it falls in the most basic, and necessary things to know category.

This is what I (think I) know.

The size of your aperture (or f/stop) controls how much of your photograph is in focus.

When you change your f/stop, it changes the opening on your lens.

One thing to remember about f/stops and aperture is the higher the number the smaller the opening, and vice versa.

The smaller the opening on your lens, LESS light is let in, which allows more of your photograph to be in focus.

Here is an example of a photo of a pine cone I just took with my f stop set at 25.
Which is a very high f/stop, and considered a closed aperture. Notice how you can see clear to the back of my backyard, (which is very large, you can see the trees, and the stuff in our neighbors backyard).

The next photo I changed my f/stop to 14, which is still a high f/stop, but it opened the aperture up a little bit, and I lost some of that focus that was in the backyard.The next photo I took at an f/stop of 4.5
The aperture is WIDER and therefore let more light in to the camera, so LESS of my photo is in focus and gives me that nice blurred background.For taking pictures of people and they are all on the same plane you probably want to set your f-stop at a lower aperture, then the noise of the background is blurred and all of the focus will be on your subject.
If they are all over the place and on different planes then you want to set your f-stop to a higher aperture, so that they will all be in focus, but remember so will most of, or all of your background.
Unless you are trying to only focus on the people in the front, then you will want to adjust your f/stop accordingly.

So if you have never shot with your camera out of automatic, then I challenge you to shoot in your aperture priority (usually the Av or A symbol on your dial) mode for the next few days. Try to figure out if a higher or lower f/stop is required for the ideal photo you are trying to capture.
Share your examples on your own blogs, and link them in the comments.

For those of you who know more about aperture, please comment and let us learn more from you! Correct me on my mistakes, I'm sure I've made them, and let me know what you have discovered!

Next time, I want to discuss ISO (shutter speed and film speed), and how to adjust it with the aperture to get the best results.


This just in...

Took some pics of the kids for back to school. See them at my photography blog.
And yet one more link for you, for those interested in what we do all day during home school. Just click on the button.

My most favorite blog to get inspiration...Just in case you are lacking.
Just click on the button.

"Where'd that Topher go?"

Conversation between Chad and Topher, Saturday morning.

Topher: Dad, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Dad: I want to work in medicine.

Topher: (giggling) No, dad, what do you really want to be when you grow up?

Dad: That is really what I want to do buddy, work in medicine, and work in a hospital.

Topher: Oh. Ask me what I want to be when I grow up.

Dad: Okay , what do you want to be when you grow up?

Topher: A pumpkin!!!

After, Chad related this story to me, while Topher was in ear shot, he came up to me all excited. The conversation that followed, cracked me up.

Mom: So you want to be a pumpkin huh pal? That's awesome!

Topher: Yeah, totally awesome! When bad guys come, I can turn into a pumpkin, and they will say, "Hey where'd that Topher go?" and the other bad guys will say, "I don't know....Hey! I think he turned into a pumpkin!"

Then he laughed a good jolly pumpkin laugh.


Start em' Young

This little guy wants to get in on all the action too.
He sits in his little chair while we sing and read and listens intently most of the time.
Lately he has wanted to get in on warm-up time too, and requests...rather loudly his own pencil and paper.


With a neigh neigh here...

This little baby is such a horse whisperer.
He loves all animals, and gets so excited when he sees anything that even resembles one, but his favorite are horses.
He is so funny with them, Chad will reach out his hand, and talk quietly and softly to them to get them to come to him, and Porter totally mimicks him.
Sticks his hand out, babbles quietly to them and pets them gently.
They love him.


Cilantro, Peanut Butter and Limes, Oh MY!

I made this for dinner last night.
It was delicious.

Thank you Summer.


More Bars in More Places

My kids in the truck.
Look at that headline.
They make the perfect AT&T commercial.
Don't ya think?

Handy Chaddy

Just another shout out to my McDreamy.
He is deluxe.
He is always thinking of how he can serve me.
I am always coming up with new ways for him to do so.
Putting up a new screen door is on the agenda for the day.

Hello, I'm Homeschool

If Bekah had a Hello nametag, this is what it would say.
She loves to go around and tell people that she is homeschooled, although it comes out-
"I'm Homeschool."

It sounds like a nickname that some mean kids would call the nerdy kid on the playground.

"Hey homeschool-why don't you go back to your mommy?"

"Yeah homeschool, you big mama's boy!"

Well, I am trying to make homeschool as "cool" as possible, so that maybe the kids on the playground will say something more like...

"Hey homeschool, you are the awesomest kid here, I wish I was awesomest like you, maybe my mom can homeschool me too!"


Schedule, "What do you do?"

I get a lot of questions when homeschool is brought up-I thought I would answer them here.

The first question, not always the first question asked, but no matter what, always comes up, is "What do you do?"

Well at first we just pulled stuff out of the air, and hoped it worked.
It didn't.
I learned real fast that we needed some sort of routine.
Maybe as the years go by, we can get away from it a little bit more, but for now, where my kids are, they need a routine.

There are some things we do every day, Monday through Friday.
It's how we start every morning.
  1. Breakfast. Every morning, very first thing we do is eat. Usually a bowl of cereal, because it's easy and fast.
  2. Get dressed. I do not start school until Bekah and I at least are dressed, the younger boys are usually dressed, but it is not mandatory.
  3. Bekah starts warm-ups, while I gather what we will need for lessons. Warm-ups consist of a worksheet that she picks out of a hanging file I have hanging on the wall. They can be from math or English, or a dot to dot, anything she chooses to do that day. Christopher also has a file with worksheets, but he is still a little young, and would rather play during this time. Warm-ups also consist of each kid tracing their name that I have written out in marker and then cutting out a shape. (I picked this up from a local preschool, that I might teach at, or might not, and thought it was a fantastic idea). Bekah can write her name already, and Topher can write T O, but this really helps with handwriting as well. Cutting out a shape each day helps them with their hand eye coordination. Besides the kids really like doing it.
  4. We have morning devotional. This is one of the reasons that homeschool appealed to me so much. My sister in law homeschooled her kids and mentioned that they did a devotional each morning and it helped make my decision to do this for my kids. Of all the learning I want my kids to do, spiritual learning is the most important. Devotionals also set the mood in the home for the rest of the day. I swear since we started doing these, it has felt calmer, the kids are nicer to one another, and I have more patience with them when they are not. It's a wonderful way to start the day. Our devotionals consist of:
  5. Song-usually a Primary song, that the kids are working on in Primary. Or sometimes, a hymn that they know, or just another spiritual song that the kids want to sing.
  6. Opening prayer to start our school day.
  7. Story from the Friend magazine-we are flying through these, which is great, since before they would get one or two stories read out of them and then stuck in the FHE box for church talks. This is a great way to open up discussions about the subjects they teach, and since my kids are so little, this is a great way to teach them gospel principles without going to far over their heads. As they get older I will probably incorporate scripture study in as well when their attention span is a little longer. We also sometimes go over Articles of Faith at this point if I feel I still have their attention.
  8. Next we say the pledge of allegiance. Both kids know this now, and we have only started this, as of this month. It is amazing how fast they pick things up when repeated every day.
  9. Story time. I read a book every day, sometimes we get our lessons from the book...
  10. Next we go onto our lessons, this is where it varies from day to day. (see below)
  11. End with some form of exercise, whether it's going outside and having a race, turning up the music and dancing or doing some pilates or yoga for stretching.
  12. The kids then have free time, while I blog, check my email, work on school assignments for myself etc.
  13. Lunch time. We are generally all done with school by about 11:30, and the kids have learned a lot, but are not mush for brains by the time they are done. School doesn't have to take all day when you are giving them such individualized attention.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday

  • English
  • Math
  • Music
  • Art

Tuesday, Thursday

  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Life Skills

For lessons I pull them from all over, and I don't do all that much prep. I have found a few sources that work for us, and I stick to them. There is a great series of books, the first one being "What your kindergartner needs to know." It has every subject in it, and makes it really easy for the kids to understand. I also have a few websites that I frequent, and have a mountain of books that my sister in law handed over when she heard I was homeschooling. I will have to go into more depth on some that I have read in later posts.

  • English usually consists of some sort of writing-Bekah has a journal that she writes what she learned that day, or we just expand on something we read in our story for the day-such as vocabulary in the book, or other language themes, such as "What happened first?" "Why did that happen?" "What would have happened if they made this choice?" Just really basic-but effective, and it doesn't feel like I am shoving this down her throat, while she is just in the beginning stages of reading and writing. I want her to enjoy this more than anything and not make it feel like work.
  • Math-there are a lot of good ideas in the before mentioned book to make math fun, but Bekah is pretty advanced for them-she is already adding and subtracting fairly well, while most kindergartners are still learning their numbers and that numbers actually mean something. So I do the activities in the book for review and for Christopher to get to feel like he is participating more, and then just try to advance the activity as much as possible to challenge Bekah. She enjoys math, and usually picks a math warm up anyway. We find little ways to incorporate math throughout the day as well, like in cooking or cleaning.
  • Music-this is not a subject I am strong in. I try to make sure that they enjoy music though and learn what they can from me. I am basically just teaching them rhythm, beat, loud and quiet, high and low and we always sing lots of fun songs. I've introduced my kids to musicals through DVDs as right now they are not old enough to take to real productions, (Bekah could probably sit through one-but money is also an issue at the moment). Bekah loves Phantom of the Opera, Oliver, Fiddler on the roof and has seen many others. She goes around singing their songs instead of singing little kid songs. As they get older, I will have them do piano lessons, and Bekah is in ballet now, so that is also teaching her about music as well.
  • Art-This is something I never have to really plan for, my kids would do art all day long. I just have a cupboards and buckets full of art stuff, plenty of paper, glue and scissors and I let them just go at it. This is when they get the chance to be individually creative and I am constantly amazed at what they come up with. Sometimes, if the other lessons were short, or I feel like they are still in learning mode I will teach them some basics about art-warm and cool colors, lines, different forms of art or show them masterpieces from art books. I am pretty fluent in the arts, and feel like I have a lot to teach them as they get older, but for now I just want them to appreciate art and appreciate the ability they already have to create wonderful and beautiful things.
  • Social Studies-Tuesdays and Thursdays are my favorite days, and the kids' too. It should come as no surprise, because these were my favorite subjects as well, but the kids LOVE to learn about geography, cultures, legends, facts about other places and the places they know and love. Right now we are learning the continents-there are only 7 after all, and I feel that Bekah is old enough to learn them and learn some basics about each of them. Right now we are learning about Asia-I am not going into extensive details, but just giving her some fun facts that she can store away and pull out to impress her dad and grandmas. She thrives on that kind of stuff. We are learning about directions on a compass and finding things on a map. Both kids think this is so fun-seeing where they are in relation to other places, and realizing just how small their little spot on earth is.
  • Science-The other fun subject that both kids eat up. I have tried to mix it up so that they are getting a basis of all kinds of science, so that as they get older, they have a good base to start from. On Tuesdays I am trying to stick to nature, their bodies and the like. We have touched on seasons, recycling, insects, habitats, birds, plants, the 5 senses, their hinges etc... On Thursdays we do the experiments, sometimes they go with what we are learning in other subjects and sometimes they are just a fun way to make a mess or see how things work etc...We have done volcanoes, magnets, experiments about cavities and not brushing our teeth, today we made cornstarch slime. Good times.
  • Life Skills-This is something that we probably do every day, I just try to be more conscience about it on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Here we learn about service, or cooking, or organizing, tying our shoes, getting dressed, matching our clothes, doing our hair, why we need to clean, sewing, helping dad with the cars, how to navigate the Internet to find what you need, how to use a phone, remembering your phone number, address, birthday etc... These are all things that easily fit into other parts of the lessons and I don't usually have lesson planned per say-it's usually just having them help me or their dad out in things that we might otherwise not include them in and just do it for them. Teaching them things that will help them feel more independent and capable.

That's pretty much it, it seems like a lot when I type it all out, but it's pretty basic, not hard and for the most part free. I get most if not all of our reading material from the library or the Internet. We use stuff we have around home for our lesson materials, and the only thing I really buy are basic school supplies, a few things here and there for experiments and art stuff when we are running low. If you have more questions, feel free to ask.

I will be answering the question, "Why do you homeschool?" "What about their social life?" and "How long are you going to do this?," in future posts.



This is an experiment I think most have tried, but my kids hadn't had the pleasure until today.
We are learning about Polymers in science for the next little bit.
What's a polymer?
Materials made up of long chains of identical molecules called monomers...yadi yadi yada. I don't know, but chemists found a way to make synthetic ones that help make all sorts of stuff like toothbrushes, basketballs and even ice cream.
SO I am a fan of polymers.
Plus this slime is a polymer, and no matter how many times you see it or make it, it's just plain cool.Here is the basic recipe for enough to get good and messy and entertain your kids (or your husband) for a good long time.
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 5 drops food coloring (optional)
  • 3/4 c. cornstarch

Put water and food coloring in a bowl, and then sprinkle the cornstarch into the bowl a little at a time until it is all in the bowl.

Let it sit for 3-4 minutes while you try your darndest to explain polymers to your kids, and why this is a non-Newtonian fluid because of cross-links of molecules and the right proportion of ingredients. Or you can just eat a cookie while waiting. Your choice.

Now reach your hand in and make a ball with the stuff and then relax your hand and let the ooey gooiness run over your hand.

It is super cool, right?

You can store your slime in a plastic bag for future polymer discussions.

Recipe from book "Cool Chemistry Concoctions" by Joe Rhatigan and Veronika Alice Gunter.



Couldn't Help Myself...

I know it's only August.
But I saw real pumpkins in somebody's garden yesterday when our family went out for a little Sunday walk.
That's good enough for me!
Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven at my house!
Recipe here.


Super Baby

Capes for babies.

Labels: ,


Peek-a-boo. Jayden.

Just put up some new pictures on the photography blog-go check em out!
I think you're going to like them.
Click on the picture to see the cuteness.


Breakin the Mold..again.

Porter has been breakin the mold since the day he was born.
What I mean is, that Bekah and Topher were so similar in their milestones and everything else, that Porter sometimes seems alien to me.

First of all Bekah was born 4 days late-Topher 5 days late.
Porter decided to come 5 weeks early. Making him the first kid that had to stay in the hospital for any extended amount of time, and the only child that wasn't monster sized at birth (still 6 pounds at 5 weeks early, but it made for a much nicer recovery than the 9.5 of Christopher).

Then there was bottle feeding. Bekah would take a pumped bottle occasionally if she was starving and I wasn't around, but it was difficult. Never formula though. Christopher wouldn't touch a bottle, binky or anything in the fake plastic nipple form. Both nursed until they were 14 months, and I had to wean them through painstaking measures on both ends.
Porter had to take a bottle being born so early, he nursed after the first week or so pretty good, but was never a great nurser like the other two. He was too busy, and was much happier with a bottle, and I had to fight to keep him nursing until 9 months when we finally both just threw our hands in the air and said that's enough!

Bekah loved and still would love to sleep with us. Topher is the worlds best cuddler and would love nothing more than to cuddle with mom and dad every night.
Porter HATES sleeping with us. He tosses and turns and fusses and acts like he just can't get comfortable and makes everyone in the bed miserable. He welcomes his crib with open arms and gives you a happy little binky faced smile when you say night night and walk out of the room.

Next Bekah started walking at 9 months old. Not just a few steps, but walking. Topher was walking and running around at 10 months.
Porter is now 13 months and still flat out refuses. He has taken one or two steps to get to the next thing to climb, but that's it.
That's another thing. Bekah and Topher never started climbing up stuff until they were much older. This kid will climb anything and everything. I have found him on counters, high beds and on the back of the couch. He has learned what a stool, overturned bucket or a few strategically placed pillows can do for him, and utilizes whatever is handy.

Finally, Bekah and Topher have never been sick enough to require antibiotics. Not once. Topher for the first time, might need them this week-but he is 3 years old. I feel very lucky to have such healthy kids.

Porter once again decides to take a different path. I took him to the doctor 2 days ago and found he has infections in both ears and both eyes. Heavy antibiotic treatment required. This was one mold I wanted to stay in tact.

Still smiling and happy though, that is one thing that they all have in common. My kids have awesome temperments for the most part. Hopefully no one breaks this mold!

Wild Things

We went to Bend last weekend and met up with my whole family minus Tabitha's hubby Trae who is off in the Navy in Italy or something...
Our first stop was The High Desert Museum.

It was a lot of fun, and very educational. There were so many things to expand in with our Homeschooling that we will be set for the rest of the year! We learned about bats, Indians, Old saw mills, pioneers, otters, beavers, fish, birds of prey, big cats found here in the West, mustangs (the horses, not the cars), and snakes and lizards and the list goes on and on.
Porter loved seeing all the animals, and couldn't get close enought to them. I think he is ready for the zoo.
The kids got to do a lot of hands on exhibits like cutting wood with an old saw and listening the way a bat does. I think they learned a lot.

We walked around downtown Bend, ate some dinner, ate a lot of junk food and just had a really great day. We even ran into our friends the Youngs that we knew and loved while we lived in Portland. It was great catching up with them-Bekah and Taylor fell right back in where they left off and I was able to see their newest addition Alston. I didn't have my camera with me at the time-darnit!

Anyway. We parted ways that night, came home and we were all sick. Chad had strep. Bekah had a scratchy throat. Topher was just feeling miserable. I was sick of taking care of all the sick-o's and trying to fight off whatever they all had, and then there's Porter. That kid....
Well that's why I am just now getting to this post now.
Porter is feeling better, but Topher is getting the short end of the stick now. He has a bad sore throat and burnin up at all hours-of course it's the weekend...we're just drugging him up till Monday and hopefully then get him on some sort of antibiotic. Yech!


Guess What?

Dress-up Drawer SUPER giveawaysOne of my favorite people, Jaime has a super cute, super hero cape makin business.
This week she is hosting a HUGE giveaway for a TON of stuff from a LOT of really cool people that make stuff.
Oh and I'm one of them.
Mine is coming up later this week.
You need to go over there and check out what she has to giveaway today! I was just there, and there is a headband that I am in LOVE with, some yummy looking soap, an adorable tutu, gorgeous bowl and serioulsy like 5 other really cool things.
Go back every day this week, and be on the lookout for little old me!

If you are coming to me from the giveaway-welcome!
There is a link to the left to see the stuff I'm selling.
Leave me a comment while you are here!
Thanks for stopping by. :)


Support my hobbies!!!

I have opened a couple of new links up on the old bloggity blog here.
First of all I am trying to get a little photography business going.
If you live in the Klamath Falls area and want a killer deal on some fun family or kiddo photos clickety here on this button....

By popular demand, I have also decided to sell some of that stuff I make.
I am still working on this blog-but will have it done in the next little bit, so if you want some "handmade goodness" clickety here on this button...
Thanks for your support!


Decrepit Doorstep under some Dirty Kids

We rent. Our doorstep has lost a lot of it's ummm structure. It is struggling, but we rent, so the no money that we are in abundance of, is not being poured into a cement mixer to fix the problem.
No worries, I just cover it in dirty kids with some bubbles.
Makes the place seem a little brighter and happier somehow.
I love how Porter is peeking behind Bekah in this.
He is such a funny kid.
Bekah is a pro bubble blower, even with that huge hole where her cute little baby teeth used to fit.
Topher, bless his heart, can get it, maybe 1/10th of the time.
Too much spit in his blow you know?
But he sure is excited when he does get it.

I love these bubble blowin, dirty, crazy little monkeys.


Why I haven't seen my husband for going on 3 weeks now

I know this isn't the most interesting thing to post on, but it is what has been occupying our lives for the last couple weeks.

The story: Tyler (my mom) bought a truck back in February and worked on it with Chad up until June when he went back home.
Fast forward to the week I go to girls camp and Tyler comes back out to watch my kids and finish his truck. I come home and there is another truck in my driveway. They decided it would be easier to just take the motor out of his old truck and put it in this new truck.

It has seriously occupied all of their time since I have been home. It is running and driving now, and I am more excited than both of them...
...except now Tyler is staying the rest of the week, and they have a list of stuff they still "need" to do to it.

I love having a husband who knows how to do this, but it can be very time consuming, and most of the time very inconvenient to my selfish needs of having him with me from the moment he comes home from work.

I have to say though it's a pretty cool first truck for a 16 year old.

A real chick magnet :)


Potato Pota'to

It was late last night, Chad was working with Tyler and Jason on the junk yard that has accumulated in my driveway (2 trucks are Tyler's, one is Jason's, Chad just finished a car of his friend's, and then there is his truck and my Yukon...yeah-Jeff Foxworthy-we are here for all of your redneck joke pleasure).

I needed to go to the store to get Sunday dinner, and some cookies for the primary.
Chad wanted to go get candy to watch a movie, but not until they were done, and he had cleaned up.
I told him he could go shopping and just get everything we would need for a Roast dinner.
In his defense, he did ask me to make him a list.
I said, he was a big boy and could figure it out.
He showed me.

This is what Chad added to the crock pot when we got home from church today.

Frozen carrots, and frozen french fries.

"What? They are potatoes, right?"


Hanging with a bunch of 12 year old girls

And I am not talking about the actual 12 year old girls either.
I had such a fun time at girls camp playing with my very immature friends,
sneaking out in the middle of the night,
catching frogs,
spying on people,
looking for big trees,
and giggling like,
well giggling like 12 year old girls.Try not to judge us by what we looked like, it was 2 in the morning.
I don't have any other pictures that I am in, because I was behind my camera the entire time. I was not only in charge of crafts, I was camp photographer.
I got some awesome pictures of all the girls, I am putting a slide show up on the camp blog after I get done posting here, and then I do have a video of all of us leaders shaking our booties on skit night.
That's must see TV right there.
I will be posting that there as well, again no judging-we were sleep deprived and a little giddy.
The crafts went well, the food was awesome, we were not roughing it at all, showers, cabins and homemade bread every day.
It was more like staying at a resort.
My kind of camping.
I can't wait for next year.
If I can just get Chad to forget how much he missed me while I was gone....

(I missed him and my babies too, but they were well taken care of by my baby brother. My mom sent candy, presents, and even paper plates so they wouldn't have to do dishes! Ha! They had fun, and I got to talk to them on the phone every day, so it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be).