Wednesday, June 29, 2011

the post in which I tell you how I feel about camping

Preface: This post may seem like I'm a Negative Nancy, but I'm not, and I had an awesome weekend getaway with my Husband. 

This weekend my husband and I spent a lot of time doing this:

(I spent a lot of time riding along.)
To get to here:

We stayed here:

Which may be comical for some people because I do not camp. I am not a camper. I enjoy air conditioning, nice sheets, bug free zones, and internet access. I also feel as though it's an injustice to ask this of people:

Ok, I'm pretty much kidding about it being an injustice part...but it did suck when I was halfway through my shower, had only brought one quarter, had legs covered in shaving cream, the water stopped, and I had to problem solve. What would one do in such a predicament?

I'm glad you asked. 
(I love blogging partially because you can talk to yourself, answer questions, and it's totally acceptable)

Well I first had the thought of just calling my husband, because of course I brought my phone, but not extra quarters. I'm glad I brought the necessary things to the shower rooms. So he would be my prince charming and bring me a quarter and I would just finish up my shower and go on about my day. Until I realized that it probably wouldn't be acceptable for him to enter the woman's bathroom and walk to the back where the showers were to hand me a quarter through the shower stall. So then I let out a big sigh. 

After the sigh and my little wallow in self pity, I wrapped myself into a towel and finished shaving my legs in one of the sinks without shame, grabbed my toiletries, and went on about my day.

Needless to say next time we will not be intentionally camping. The drastic climate changes from night to day may be bliss for others. Sleeping  on a borrowed air mattress that won't stay inflated and being one with nature (or in our case the camping neighbors in their pop-up with thick and loud New Jersey accents and their 5 loud children with thick and loud New Jersey accents) might be the perfect criteria for a fun weekend getaway for others. For me, it is not. 

All jokes aside, these little hiccups were just a small portion of my great weekend and if I had to camp all over again to spend the weekend away with my Husband I would do it again and again. We needed it and I can't wait to tell you about the really fun parts. Right now though, I need to sleep because I have to work a 12 hour shift tomorrow and will be going to the Kenny Chesney concert if I can scrape the last bit of my energy up and make it.

Really, is there anyone out there that enjoys camping?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This is my beautiful daughter Riley playing in our garage last week on a sticky, humid, raining on and off day last week.

It has been raining a ton on and off here and we've had to spend a few days playing in the garage, wishing the rain to stop.

All I can keep thinking is, "holy cow, how and when did she become so tall!" Also, I keep thinking that you can tell that it's a humid day because look at the curls in my girl's hair. I am also thinking that one shouldn't judge the condition of my garage, unless of course you want to come clean or organize my garage. Then please, judge away until it's nice and tidy by all means. 

My girl drew this little snail on the left and this big, I-don't-quite-know-what-it-is on the right. I think both are quite impressive and she's awfully proud of herself here, don't you think?

I'm not sure where it got started, but I have been wanting to get an authentic Philly Cheese Steak for awhile now.I had a little giggle when I searched my blog and found that I have even mentioned it more than once before here and here. This weekend Brandon and I went on a little get away, and on our way we stopped in, non other than, South Philly.

There was a stretch before we got rid of cable (but now have it back, since it ended up being cheaper than without it, go figure cable company- but I still hardly ever ever watch TV these days)  that I used to watch The Food Network all the time. There was an episode of something or another where they showed these two dueling Philly Cheese Stake spots that are directly across the street from one another and compete for business all 24 hours of the day. I was super intrigued because they sold food that I have been coveting for such awhile.

On a side note, I realize that I'm totally weird that I am this interested in a bun filled with meat, cheese, and oiniony goodness. Glad we clarified that, moving on.

So when we took a trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey this weekend we stopped in Philadelphia for some cheese stakes. We bought one from Geno's:

And one from Pat's, cut them in half, a half from each stand for each of us, and compared the two. I honestly was a little concerned that the other place wasn't going to let us bring the other sandwich onto their property haha but I think they don't take the competition as seriously as the food network made it out to be.

Here is my hub in all his taste testing glory.

Doesn't it just make your mouth water looking at it. And the smell, oh my goodness, I wish I could convey the smell to you.

Honestly I thought the two looked the exact same and tasted almost identical, but if I was forced to choose one or the other I would have to say Geno's, the flashier, brightly orange stand would have to win the toss up because it was juicier. I would a cheese stake from either place all day long though, just sayin'.

So next time you're in Philly stop on this street corner and enjoy some realllly delicious Philly Cheese Stakes from Pat's or Geno's because they are both cheese melty, perfectly cooked oiniony, seasoned steak goodness.

FIT to photograph

I only know a tiny bit about the technical aspect of taking a photograph, but I would like to share the little bit I do. I have taken a photography class, but learned more from just playing with my camera day to day and stalking my children to take their portraits. So  here are the very basics of shooting with a DSLR.

There are three really important technical parts to consider:

F (f stop)
T (Time/Shutter speed)

These three things have to be balanced to get that great photograph with the goal of allowing enough light to hit the sensor. You have to be FIT to photograph.

F stop or aperture (which I can never spell correctly on my own)  is a measure of how open the lens is. When the lens is at a low aperture, like say f/2.8, the lens is wide open. This allows lots of light to hit the sensor. It also makes the depth of field very shallow. The point of focus is very sharp, but the background is very blurred or out of focus. I love shooting at a low f stop.

I remember ISO the way I remember film when you used to buy it. If you were going to shoot outdoors you needed 200 speed film because there was going to be plenty of light outside. If you needed to shoot indoors you bought 800 speed because there wasn't so much light. That's how ISO is. If you are outdoors and there is so much light that you don't know what do with you shoot as low of an ISO you can go, because it makes the photo crystal clear, but if you are shooting at night and you crank up the ISO, but you have to sacrifice because there is going to be some noise in the photograph. My camera can shoot at about 800 with virtually no noise, but once you get above that you can start to notice. You can avoid this though by adjusting your f/stop so that enough light is hitting the lens or your shutter speed is slow enough that it gives plenty of time for plenty of light to hit the sensor.

Time or Shutter Speed is the aspect of your camera that tells you how long that little shade that closes over the lens stays shut. A shutter speed of 50 means that the shutter is closed over the lens for 1/50th of a second. This is where is usually stops movement. You can show motion in a photograph by slowing down shutter speed to somewhere like 25 or 1/25th of a second. To get that clear crisp moment stopped in time you would need a super fast shutter speed, like 500 or 1/500th of a second (and not always necessarily that fast).

The important key to all these three things is to find a balance to achieve the type of photograph you are looking for.

If you have one subject that you want clear in focus that's good, because you can open your lens wide open and get plenty of light that way, but if you have 10 subjects and you want them all to be in focus you need to use a larger f/stop where the lens isn't open so wide, and you need to make up for the less light hitting the sensor by either uping the ISO or slowing down the shutter speed. It's all about balance, just like life.

Cameras these days are crazy intelligent, sometimes  even more so than their users, like in my case sometimes. You can shoot in shutter priority and the camera will figure out the appropriate settings for your f/stop based on the lighting conditions picked up by the camera. And in aperture priority you choose what aperture you would like and the camera figures out the shutter speed for you. I personally would rather shoot manual because you can manipulate all of them just the way you like, I can be a control freak like that sometimes.

Shooting manual can seem overwhelming at first because who knows the lighting conditions and where to even begin, but I usually throw my camera into P mode (which I honestly don't even know what the P stands for, but it predicts what f/stop and shutter speed you need based on the lighting conditions but does not allow you to change them) make a mental note of what the camera is metering for the lighting conditions and go back to manual start with that P setting as a baseline and manipulate the f/stop and shutter speed until I achieve what I'm looking for.

So there you have it, the basic of the basics of shooting with a DSLR

Monday, June 27, 2011


Today it rained and I may or may not have let Raigan run on the deck in the rain in just a diaper for a few minutes.

We made s'mores in the microwave, since we couldn't roast marshmallows with no fire in the rain. Also because Riley is terribly terrified of fire.

Microwaved s'mores are just as good in my opinion.

And in the girl's opinion. Well, I'm speaking for them, because neither one of them said, "Hey mama, I think microwaved s'mores are just as good as fire roasted marshmallow s'mores." but I think they were thinking it.

We hope you enjoyed your Monday morning like we did ours.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hi, I'm Raigan, and I'm cute.

This is my ear.

This is my mouth.

This is my eye.

 I'm still working on the others, but I've definitely have the cute down.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The 30 day turned 3+ month challenge

I finally finished the 30 day turned 3+ month challenge. It took me well over 30 days, but at least I finished it, right?

Here it is in all its glory:

Day 01 - A picture of yourself with fifteen facts.
Day 02 - A picture of you and the person you have been close with for awhile.
Day 03 - A picture of the cast from your favorite show.
Day 04 - A picture of your night.
Day 05 - A picture of your favorite memory.
Day 06 - A picture of a person you'd love to trade places with for a day.
Day 07 - A picture of your most treasured item.
Day 08 - A picture that makes you laugh.
Day 09 - A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most.
Day 10 - A picture of the person you do the most crazy things with.
Day 11 - A picture of something you hate.
Day 12 - A picture of something you love.
Day 13 - A picture of your favorite band or artist.
Day 14 - A picture of someone you could never imagine your life without.
Day 15 - A picture of something you want to do before you die.
Day 16 - A picture of someone who inspires you.
Day 17 - A picture of something that has made a huge impact on your life recently.
Day 18 - A picture of your biggest insecurity.
Day 19 - A picture of you when you were little.
Day 20 - A picture of somewhere you'd love to travel.
Day 21 - A picture of something you wish you could forget.
Day 22 - A picture of something you wish you were better at.
Day 23 - A picture of your favorite book.
Day 24 - A picture of something you wish you could change.
Day 25 - A picture of your day.
Day 26 - A picture of something that means a lot to you.
Day 27 - A picture of yourself and a family member.
Day 28 - A picture of something you're afraid of.
Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile.
Day 30 - A picture of someone you miss.

I'm glad it's over, because I don't especially like  having something that I should be blogging about. There's so much in my life that is already so planned out and scheduled.

Day 30

Day 30 - A picture of someone you miss.

Believe it or not this is not Raigan, this is the baby version of my first born. 
They get big so fast, I can hardly even believe that she is 4!
I love this photograph of Riley and her daddy. She missed her  first experience of The Salty Dog Cafe in Hilton Head Island because she slept through it. I'm glad she did a little bit because I have this photograph to keep for the rest of our lives.

Wordless Wednesday

3 Pictures of Raigan

These 3 photographs don't really have anything in common, I just like them. Well the last two have the fact that they were taken one right after the other in common, but I still just like them.

It's really neat to watch these two little girls grow up. I'm pretty lucky to be their mama and get to be the one to see them them grow firsthand, day to day.

"Um, excuse me mom, can you wait till I wake up to start taking my picture?"

The whole, I can do it myself has begun way sooner than I had anticipated. It breaks a little bit of my heart that she's growing out of her babyhood so fast. When she was a newborn I never wanted to put her down because I knew days like this would get here so fast. Now she won't even let me hold her for more than a few minutes because she's a busy toddler.

When her and her sister fight I see a flash into the future of their teenage years and I know it will be here faster than I can even imagine. Sometimes I feel that inevitable mother guilt that grips us all when I don't spend every second soaking up my children and their babyhood. Or when I'm not totally fully present even though I'm physically present.I've been thinking about this a lot lately. Being there, really there, fully present. I wish I wish I can be for the rest of this summer that is flying by, and the rest of this year that is now halfway over, when did that even happen?

Balancing it all is so hard and sometimes I feel as though I'm pulled in a million different directions. The days whiz by and before I can even plan how I'm going to balance time for myself, my kids, my marriage, keeping the house, work, and everything else in between, the whole week is over.

Someone should just go ahead and invent a device that can pause time or at least slow it down a little bit, thanks in advance.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Our Labor Day Parade... a little late

I forgot to post about our Labor Day parade.

This summer had just been blowing by, so fast in fact that I feel like I should make a list of all the things I would love to do before it's over, because it will be before I know it.


This is my little Riley; the little that made me a mother. She no longer likes to be stalked by her mother holding a camera and sometimes asks not to be photographed and other times just makes expressions like this:

She is creative with an imagination bigger than her little 4 year old self. 
She is very energetic for a zest for life. 

She loves to “explore the world.”

She has never met a stranger, She could (and does) approach anyone and begin a conversation or ask them for help or tell them what she is thinking. 

She is very strong willed. This is a girl that knows exactly what she wants and doesn’t stop until she attains it. 

She loves toothbrushes and brushing her teeth, a strange but very welcomed trait. 

She’s nuts. 

She sleeps with her lovey, Froggy  and classical music every night , does not like the dark and her closet door must be shut before she goes to bed.

We let her watch way too much tv.

Her best friend is her cousin, Chloe and they fight like they are sisters more than cousins. 

She loves hot dogs and berries of all kind. 

My girl is very loud and is very interested in what she wears, because she wants to be “fashionable”. 

Sometimes I let her wear her crazy outfits to express herself and other times we compromise, because boots and a vest jacket aren’t the best choices on a 90 degree day here in the tristate. 

Whenever I bake, she asks to crack the eggs and lick the spoon and usually I oblige, until I’ve picked out the 9854923th egg shell and send her on her way. 

She rides in a booster seat. 

She is no longer scared of the uneven bars at gymnastics, but can still not swim regardless of her 2+ years of swim lesions, but I guess I’ll cut her some slack since she’s only 4. 

She still has a crooked little toe on her left foot and I love her to death. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Bakery Shop

Last night my sister in law and I set up shop in my kitchen to make stuff for a bakesale for our girls carwash/bakesale today for cheerleading. We baked, well she baked 4 boxes of cupcakes...

Patriotic chocolate dipped strawberries...

And S'more pops...

You just put a marshmallow on a stick...

Dip it into chocolate and twirl as you tap the excess chocolate off...

Sprinkle some crumbled graham crackers on top...

 And voila...

I had a vision of sharing photos of the end result of the bake sale and all the other goodies that the other mamas came up with, but... of course it rained this morning, so now we have lots of baked goods because the car wash was canceled. Too bad for us haha, but I had so much fun hanging out with my sister in law regardless. We now have future career plans of being a food stylist & food photographer team if nursing doesn't work out for us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Unconditional Love

I try to stay away from things on my blog that are related to politics or religion, but sometimes they just come up. I have my own personal beliefs about things, and think that everyone that is educated on the topic should be entitled to their own opinions as well. I don't agree with pushing religion onto others and believe strongly in the, "they will know we are Christians by our love" philosophy.

I have a little side story to bring truth to that:

One time many years back when I was still in high school I helped a man that was on the street. I didn't have to help him and could have waited for the next person, but that is not what Christ would have done, so when I helped him with no mention of religion, the man said to me: "You're a Christian aren't you?" and then I proudly told him that I was.

Sometimes though I just can't stay away from it, because it's who I am and this blog is about me and my girls and this post is about my faith, so if you're not interested, I can respect that. But here it goes.

I had a rough day today.

I was reminded (by myself and others) that I am not perfect. I make mistakes, mess things up, and do things wrong sometimes.  We all do.

Sometimes I'm too hard on my children, say unkind things to my husband, and hurt the one's I love. We all do.

But you know what? I try my hardest to be positive, work hard, be a good person, mom, and wife and to love like Jesus would love. And the trying part? The trying part is what matters.

When I was a young one in Catholic school religion class, I thought it was the coolest thing when I learned that a sin in God's eyes is when someone consciously disobeys or chooses to do the wrong thing. Even cooler is that when we consciously disobey  we can still ask for forgiveness and God loves us anyway. God knows that we are not perfect and that we sin and make mistakes, but he loves us anyway. I wish I could love like God. I wish I could love everyone regardless of their choices or their mistakes. It all comes back to love; John Lennon said it best when he spoke the words of wisdom, "All you need is love."

I know I wasn't sinning today when I made mistakes because I wasn't consciously choosing to do the wrong things, it's just that I'm human. God knows that too.

I can't say the same for when I act unkind to my husband or my children sometimes, but I can ask for forgiveness and he loves me anyway, and my girls love me regardless of my mistakes. That's a pretty incredible thing to have someone love you like God loves you, unconditionally, even when you consciously make a decision to say or do hurtful things.

The point I'm trying to make through all this is that the only opinions of me that matter in the end are myself, my family, and the Lord, and they already love me unconditionally, so I'm pretty lucky. As far as everyone else, I hope that they can see that I try to be a good person, hard worker, and hippy that believes love could save the world. 

Lets all celebrate our mistakes and embrace them as learning opportunities not to repeat  and as ways to grow.

Day 29

Day 29 - A picture that can always make you smile.

My little Raiggie putting make-up on with her mama. 
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