Friday, May 29, 2009

Dallin's a preschool grad

Today was Dallin's last day of preschool. Next week is actually their last day and graduation, but we'll be in Utah. So they let me put the cap and gown on for pictures a little early.
It's always kinda sad to see the year come to an end. He had gotten especially close to teacher Mariah, one of the high school student "teachers." He made her cards and pictures all the time, and he was sad on days she wasn't there. She thinks he's hilarious and started crying as they hugged good-bye. It's been a good year for Dallin - now on to Kindergarten.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Photoshop Fun

If you ever wonder what I spend my time doing (besides laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, shopping and other minute details of a stay-at-home mom), it's Photoshop. I guess you could say it's my other little addiction, besides the actual photos themselves. Because without Photoshop, most pictures are a little on the dull side. There's always a little fixing up to be done. I posted this cute picture of Tyler at the beach yesterday, but it's a lot different from the original.

This picture had a lot of potential because of Tyler's adorable smile and overall good lighting. But I didn't like the busy background (i.e. Megan and Peter - as much as I love them, I just wanted to have Tyler in this picture).
So first I cropped it just enough to exclude Megan. Peter was a little trickier because he was right behind Tyler. So I used the clone stamp tool and spot healing brush tool (the one that looks like a bandaid) to cover him up with the ocean and sand.

One important thing to remember is to always do your corrections on layers so you can easily undo them, compare back and forth, or reduce the %. For example, when I fix the coloring (my favorite is skin tone, which I used above - you click on someone's skin and it adjusts the color beautifully), I often reduce the % ever so slightly until it's just right. Otherwise it can be too yellow.

Then I tweak the lighting just a tad - usually increasing the brightness and bumping up the contrast.

Finally, I love to increase the saturation of individual colors. I don't typically do them all, because it ends up looking fake. My favorites are cyan (which makes the sky pop), yellow (which helps grass look more vibrant - sometimes even more than the green), and either blue or red, depending on what people are wearing in the picture. If someone's face is too bright red, I might reduce the red saturation. So those are my favorite Photoshop features. The more I do it, the quicker I get. I just kinda go throught those steps in order. In fact I didn't save each step when I did this picture for my blog yesterday, so I just redid them real quick just now. So if you thought there was a slight difference between the top picture (the one I did yesterday) and the bottom one (which I did just now), you're right. But they are really close, proving how reproducible and easy it is. Now I really need to go do something productive, like start getting ready for our big trip to Utah. Or maybe I'll go make banana bread out of all our rotting bananas.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Freezing at the beach, sweltering at the park

My sister-in-law Megan and her 4 kids are visiting from Maryland, so we all went to the beach yesterday for Memorial Day. Unfortunately it was cold and windy, so we didn't stay too long.
Here's Elizabeth warming up after playing in the waves.

Spencer & Tyler started out boogie boarding; but the waves were choppy and they kept getting pulled closer to the rocks, so we had them get out. They all played in the sand instead.

Then we went over to the shell shop where Spencer bought the leopard shark he's been wanting for months.

This afternoon we went with them to the park, and it was hot and sunny. They played on the playground for a little while, but soon they were all too hot. So they had a blast cooling off in the water fountain the rest of the time.

They had such a fun time and came home all happy.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Fathers and Sons Campout

Why do I love the Fathers and Sons Outing so much? Once a year all the men from church go on an overnight camp out together, leaving the women home to do girly things. For many moms this means watching preteen chick flicks and painting fingernails and shopping with their daughters. And I'm sure they are enjoying themselves. But since I have all boys, I get to enjoy being home alone, shopping alone, and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I think it should be a quarterly event. Our family rule is that the boys get to go once they're potty-trained, and since Brennan is successfully out of diapers, he got to go this year. My dad went with them this year and took my nephews Ethan and Jonah, who are visiting from Maryland. Eating S'mores around the campfire is always a big hit. And I'm always happy to hear there were no fire mishaps.
Spencer stayed busy making face paint out of rocks (a little Chumash Indian trick he learned from school), finding abalone shells and breaking rocks to find crystals inside.
It was a cold morning, and apparently Brennan just froze. I'll have to remember to pack warmer jackets next year.
There was an old firetruck there for the boys to climb all over.
They went to a new place this year, and so far we haven't discovered any poison oak rashes or mosquito bites. There weren't even any thistles in their socks, so I'm liking this place.
There were lots of trees there, which is kind of amazing for around here.

After breakfast they broke camp, went on a hike and ate lunch. They couldn't have had better weather; I think it was in the uppper 70's. Imagine if they had it last weekend with our 105 degree Saturday??

Friday, May 22, 2009


A friend recently asked me a strange question: "How do you get your boys to play outside?" I didn't know what she meant. My boys constantly want to be outside, but she said her kids only want to when she's out there too. When we were looking for a house to buy, we put much more emphasis on yard size than bedroom size, because that's where they spend all their time. Since this month's cub scout theme is Leave Only Footprints, we decided to take all the boys on a hike. We chose a trail along the riverbed, which surprisingly I had never been to. It had a nice shady path.
Here's Spencer with my new little Wolf, Ethan. My den is tiny and Spencer just graduated to the Bears, so I'm happy to get more boys. Have I mentioned how much I love the Wolves? They are so sweet and excited to be there - but in a quiet, observing way. For those of you who aren't familiar with cub scouts, the Wolves are 8 years old and the youngest group (except for non-LDS packs, which also have 7-year old Tigers).

See how natural these boys are in the wild? They all have a handful of sticks they've collected along the way, which of course their mothers wouldn't let them take home. It really was one of the easiest, most fun den meetings we've had. Just send boys outside, and everyone's happy. By the way, I'm enjoying a lovely quiet house while all my boys are at the fathers and sons campout.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Day at the lake

Our friends Jake and Kristin invited us to their family's lake house last weekend. It's about an hour away, and we drove out Friday night after Spencer's party. One side of the house is all windows overlooking the water. We woke up early to see a beautiful sunrise over very calm water.
They have 3 kids - Hallie, Dallon and Layla, and they all get along really well. They're the ones we went to Disneyland with last year.

As soon as we ate breakfast and slathered everyone with sunscreen, the kids were in the water, swimming and kayaking. We had just given Spencer a snorkle for his birthday (a good one with a valve, not just a cheap one with a j-tube), and he picked it right up. At first the kids rode with Dave and Jake in the kayaks, but soon the older boys were able to do it by themselves.

Kristin and I packed a picnic lunch, and then we all got in the boat.

"Faster! Faster!" Hallie and Spencer got to ride on the tube first.

We drove their boat out to a little sandy beach where we swam and played in the sand and ate our picnic lunch. Layla and the adults mostly hung out in the shade, enjoying the perfect weather and slight breeze. Don't you just love her rubber band arms?!

Tyler (center) got to ride the tube on the way back. He loved it!

Dallin didn't want to go on the tube, so he drove the boat instead. Brennan fell asleep on the way back.

Then we dropped off the tube and went for a fast boat ride around the lake. We were surprised that the kids weren't at all afraid. I know I would have been at their age.By the time we got back it was hot! I heard it got up to 105 that day. The kids did some more swimming and kayaking, but then we all went back inside to cool off. After dinner Jake and Dave took the kids back down to the lake. It was an awesome day! And we didn't even get sunburned.