Wednesday, December 30, 2009

it's raining, it's pouring...

it seems like it's rained more this year than the past five years combined. i'm assuming that has at least a little something to do with the graveyard of trees we have in our backyard (oh, and the fourth and only remaining upright tree is on its way down now), and all the rain we've had has most certainly contributed to the outbreak of cabin fever my kiddos and i have been suffering from lately.

we really love playing outside in pretty weather, so i have to get creative when the weather keeps us indoors. up until recently, the most thrilling activity i had come up with was going to mcdonald's to eat lunch in the trunk (that one was a gem), but recently, we've substituted our visits to greaseville with something less expensive (read free) and certainly healthier. there's a neighborhood near our house that has a killer "dip". it's got a lake on one side, and when it's been raining a lot, water actually runs across the dip -- over the road -- from one side to another. and our kids think it's the most amazing thing they've ever seen.

especially when i turn off the music, roll down the windows, and ride through it just fast enough to make water splash up all around us.

the rainy weather actually works in our favor when we're wanting to go through the dip, so a few weeks ago when it had been pouring for years many hours, i loaded the munchkins up into the car and set out for the dip. we talked the whole way there about how super-high our splashes would be because of all the rain, and the little ones took turns squealing with delight. but as we came around the curve, things looked a little different than they normally do.

and as we got closer to our little dip of joy, it was quite clear that we were most certainly not going to be making any splashes on this particular day. the dip was a river!!

(no, i'm not the one who knocked that barrier down. we really love splashing through there but not enough to risk our lives!) i wish i could have videoed how fast the water was moving -- and how high it was in the road -- because photos just can't do it justice. but to get a better idea of how bad it was, here's the golf course that's on the other side of the road from the lake.

wow -- no tee times today!! oh well, guys, i tried.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

beep beep

ok, i'm just going to come right out and say it.

i love mac.

now don't get me wrong. i love my amazing husband more than anything. but i really love mac, too. he's a bit short and dumpy but pretty fantastic all the same. we haven't known each other that long -- only about a week, actually -- but my love grows with every minute we spend together. he's smart, attractive, and as corny as it sounds, i feel like he really knows me. like he can even anticipate what i'm going to do next.

oh, how i love my mac.that's right, folks. i've officially left the world of the PC to join the mac movement. and that tiny little 6x6 box is it. that's the whole thing!

this is the point where i really, really want to tell you every detail of how this incredible computer found its way to my desk, but the other parties involved have asked to remain unknown.

ok, i can't stand to not tell you, so how about this? let's just call our friends peter and andrea for the sake of anonymity, and i'll go ahead with the details.

josh and i have known peter and andrea for 13 years now -- or something like that. there are loads of stories to share about our friendship, but i'll skip those so that i don't risk telling too much. back when i made the decision to "go pro" with photography, andrea was a constant sounding board as well as an adviser, a guinea pig, and an ever-flowing stream of encouragement for me. and peter, who's a serious computer brain-child, has answered question after question about "how to make this work" when it came to HTML and other way-over-my-head computer issues. peter and andrea don't live in birmingham, but we've still been able to see them several times over the past few months. and as they always do, they asked about how my photography life had been going at a recent visit together. i shared with them about the ups and downs of owning my own business, and during the course of conversation, we got to chatting about my computer.

in talking with other photographers and in reading some of their blogs, it seems that most pros spend around 5-6 hours in preparing for, shooting, and editing a session. i, however, spend about 15 hours per session on those same tasks. so what's the difference (other than the fact that i'm a way-over-board perfectionist)?

it's my computer.

when we originally bought the thing, we only needed it for casual home use. nothing too big and nothing too involved. so i knew we might have given it a little too much to handle when we loaded photoshop onto it and i could hear it gasping for breath. then when i actually tried to use photoshop, it usually kicked its heels up into the air and played dead. if i had a nickel for every time i've had to do a hard shut-down on my computer because it froze up, i could actually buy a few apple stores. and steve jobs.

anyway, the stories of my computer woes got the wheels turning for our friends who are continually looking for ways to bless and serve others. and a few short weeks later, andrea called to tell me that i had a brand new mac mini sitting on her table and that they would be coming to birmingham that weekend to set it up for me.


and as if that bit of news wasn't enough, she told me that they had also purchased some amazing software to go with it! lightroom is a photographer's dream, and it does amazing things to speed up my workflow, and photoshop CS4 is a nice step up from the CS3 version i had been working off of (actually it's many steps above considering that i paid gobwobs of money for what i later learned was a pirated version of CS3 -- bad ebay, bad.)

i sooo want to tell you the many, many ways that peter and andrea have loved us, encouraged us, and supported us through everything from our adoption to josh's move to pearl ministries, but i'll honor their wishes and not say anything more (just know that they're pretty evidenced by the fact that they minister to others so quietly and humbly).

now, with all that said, there's been a steep learning curve for this here lifelong PCer, so to make sure i'm ready to hit the ground running when the onslaught of spring sessions arrive, josh and i took the kids out for a walk yesterday so i could grab some photos to edit.

plus, it gave izzy some bonding time with her new beloved car.

and it gave abby something to do to help her burn off some energy.

now jack? he's not a big fan of cold weather, and it was a bit chilly while we were out. he didn't complain at all, but i wouldn't say he necessarily enjoyed the family time.

the girls, on the other hand, loved it.

besides, if izzy ever got bored, she just looked up, saw the moon, and shouted, "look mom! moon!!". again.
(yes, this is how she rode the last half of the trip.)

but my absolute favorite of the day was this next shot. i'm not even going to try to come up with something funny to say about it...the photo just cracks me up by itself.

before i go, i promised a few friends i would get some particular photos up tonight. we all know how much jack loves to play guitar and how jazzed he was to get a "real" guitar for christmas, right? well, we thought it would be fun to let jack take his guitar to church this morning and play it while i was practicing with the band. first of all, he played it the whole way there...

...then when we got there, not only did they let him play it, they told him he could come up on stage to practice with us! he squealed like a girl and ran up to stand by his bestest buddy, mr. steve.

he took really careful notes on how all the guys played...

...and by the end of practice, he knew how to hold the pick in his mouth and how to put the guitar in a stand when he wasn't playing it. he even kicked his leg out so he could prop his guitar up while he was jamming (actually, he's been doing that for a while...i've just never gotten a good picture of it).

i hope your day has been as fun as ours has! ta-ta for now. (stay tuned for some exciting photography deals for january and don't want to miss this!)

Friday, December 25, 2009

thanks to jack, my ears are bleeding

my feet hit the ground running this morning so that i could have a nice lunch prepared when josh's family arrived. cornbread dressing, green beans, corn pudding -- you name it, and we had it. as i was skipping around through a light haze of airborne flour and sugar at 10:45, josh came in and asked what time we were eating. "i'll have it ready pretty much as soon as they get here -- in about 30 minutes," i said. josh looked at me with an expression of 85% confusion/15% panic and told me that he thought we were having them for dinner and that they may have already eaten lunch.

thankfully josh's failure to pass along that tiny bit of information didn't matter, because not only had they not eaten already, but they brought hungry tummies along for the ride. i'm pretty sure i heard papaw whispering sweet nothings to the sweet potato casserole when nobody else was around.

but before the marietta crew arrived, josh put together the gift that my parents gave izzy last night at our party -- a red radio flyer car!

she was in hog heaven riding all over the house in her little getup; unfortunately, when it came time for a picture, jack wasn't quite as excited about her getting to cruise solo in her new gift as she was...

but he really perked up when he saw his gift from us...

to say that he likes his little guitar would be like saying i kind of dig photography. he has played it almost* constantly today. all. day. long. (remember this post?)

*the few breaks he took were to play the drum he got last night from my parents.

but his head almost exploded with excitement when josh got his guitar out, too. nothing beats hanging out with daddy on the couch and playing some tunes on the guitars...

izzy's head almost exploded with excitement, too, when she pulled these out of her stocking. she loves them. clearly.

but this next one is my very favorite from the day. panning is a really fun and unique way of photographing a moving subject. too bad i really stink at it. but i had a vision for what i wanted this next shot to look like, so josh pushed izzy in laps around the house until i finally got it (on the third try!)

unfortunately, the cough that i thought was finally gone made a reappearance yesterday, and i'm not feeling so hot again. i actually coughed one of my lungs out into the macaroni as i was making it this morning.

hope nobody noticed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

o holy night

we officially kicked off the family christmas gatherings last week with my mom's side of the family at bethany's house. somehow i managed to leave our house without my camera, so my mom gets the credit for coming through in a pinch on this one...

then tonight, we had my parents and bethany's growing crew over for dinner, fellowship, and fun. my mom and bethany "potlucked" the dinner with me (which is good because they're both way better in the kitchen than i am), and we were all stuffed with goodies for our annual christmas picture in front of the tree...

once the gang had all gone, we pulled out what i hope to make a new yearly tradition in our home -- the advent candles. abby's teachers at church are stupendous (and i don't just throw around words like stupendous!) and they've been sharing with the kids a lot over this past month about advent and what it means -- the expectation of something wonderful to come. you light one purple candle for each week leading up to christmas, but on christmas eve you light each and every candle (including the white one in the center) to remember and celebrate the day that christ was born!!

the kids have loved reading the stories leading up to and surrounding jesus' birth. (well, not so much jack. he's mostly just loved the involvement of fire -- as evidenced by jack's face and the silent "whoa!" from this shot...)

the sweetest shot of the day was this little gem. (yes, bethany, this one was simple, pure, and unscripted). :-)

the night ended with another of our favorite traditions around here -- the single christmas eve gift. each year on christmas eve, the kids get to open one of their three gifts, and either they're very good actors or they suffer from a touch of memory loss, but they always act surprised to find new jammies inside the box.

and finally, we're doing a lot of things to cut back on some expenses and unnecessary costs around here, so that, combined with the fact that i was responsible for several hundred of other people's cards, meant that i didn't get cards of our own sent out this year. but as i'm looking at the clock and seeing that it's officially christmas day now, i'm thinking this is the perfect time to wish you and your family a wonderful celebration today of christ's birth. merry christmas from the five lewis crew!!

today in the town of david a savior has been born to you;
he is christ the lord. -luke 2:11

Monday, December 21, 2009

it was NOT a silent night!

ok, so i didn't do so hot on my "one-week-to-catch-up" plan, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. a couple of weeks ago, i started getting a bit of a cough. didn't think much of it...figured it was probably a cold. but by this time last week, the "bit of a cough" had turned into a persistent, deep, painful vomity kind of cough, so i finally headed to the doc. after shining a light into every orifice from my neck up, he decided that i was just suffering from bad allergies.

now i'm no MD, but i do know that i've never, ever had a problem with allergies but that i have gotten bronchitis almost every fall or winter for more than a decade now. but not wanting to woof down unnecessary antibiotics, i thanked the nurse for the prescription for allergy meds, and i gracefully yanked down the right side of my jeans for a steroid injection.

then i picked my lungs up off the floor and left.

i had heard beautiful things about steroid injections -- how i would feel a thousand percent better within an hour, how i would feel like wonder woman, how i would think i could run a marathon after getting it (i know my hates-to-run self well enough not to have bought that one). well, i've got news for all of you who shared those sweet stories with me -- they're so not true!

what i did experience was a throbbing, arthritic type pain in my right hip as well as a complete and total inability to sleep for the next 36 hours. literally.

i still had high hopes for the allergy medicine, though. while it did clear my head and sinuses right up, unfortunately, it did nothing for the barking seals who had taken up residence in my chest. i tried to ride it out -- really, i did -- but when it became super-painful to cough (not to mention the fact that my lungs had apparently begun to bleed), i called my doctor's office and begged for mercy. and now after five days of antibiotics and prescription cough meds, i'm happy to say that i'm a living, breathing, functioning human being again!

so how about some photos now? :-)

not too long ago, kerry and i decided to treat the kids to a night out on the town. and when you're between one and five years old, a night out on the town equates to dressing in your jammies...

...running out to the car to snuggle with your buddies under a blanket...

...and riding around town to look at all the beautiful christmas lights (while singing your favorite carols at the top of your lungs). so much fun!!

i've got way more to catch up on, but not tonight. it's my bedtime. ;-)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

how to bake an apple pie

all you fellow FIARers have probably figured this one out already, but one of our recent homeschool activities stems from a book we were reading entitled "how to make an apple pie and see the world". the character in this fun little book travels all around the world to gather the ingredients for the apple pie that she is making. in one whirlwind trip, she visits italy to get semolina wheat for her flour, france to find a chicken, sri lanka to make some cinnamon from the bark of a kurundu tree, england to get milk from a cow, jamaica to cut sugar cane from a sugar plantation, and then, finally, to vermont to pick apples from an orchard. abby loved reading about the little girl's crazy adventures and marking all the new places she learned about on our big map in the school room.

when we decided to bake our own apple pie, abby's ingredient-gathering adventures were a bit less enthralling. she got to go to publix -- the one five minutes from our house.

oh well. the kids had fun with the pie-baking adventures nonetheless. and let me tell you, i've made many things from scratch before, but the recipe in the back of the book was about as "from scratch" as i've ever seen. so much so, in fact, that i searched the house over for a rolling pin that i've since decided doesn't exist. in my 9+ years of marriage, i can't recall a single time that i've ever actually used a rolling pin. if i was baking bread, i just kneaded it by hand. if i was making a pie, i just used a ready-made pie crust. (each of those things has happened approximately two times in the last decade.) so once i realized there was no rolling pin to be found, we improvised and found something that worked equally as well.

we don't need no stinkin' rolling pin!

once the crust was prepared and the apples were peeled, cored, and sliced, we added the rest of the ingredients and had ourselves the makings of a delicious-looking pie.

after a short stint in the oven, we let it cool and decided that we just had to take a picture of our finished product for the blog (abby's idea...seriously!). what's so funny about this shot is that i had told everybody to stand down so i could get a good picture of the pie, but just as i pushed the shutter release, a couple of little hands found their way into the picture (and the pie!). totally unscripted...i promise!

they're little vultures, i tell you!

while i'm on the topic of our homeschool fun, i'll go ahead and share another of our recent adventures. in reading "the rag coat", we learned about a little girl in the appalachian mountains whose father was a miner. of course, the first question the kids asked was "what's a miner?". the more i tried to explain, the more they stared at me with blank expressions of utter confusion.

i knew it was time for a more hands-on learning activity.

when we finished out our basement earlier this year, we talked about cutting a window into the wall, but since we couldn't find anybody to do it for a good price (who knew it costs about a bajillion dollars to do that?!?), we left it as is. which means it's dark down there. really dark. not great when my sweet nephew, brayden, comes over and is afraid when someone turns out the lights...but perfect for "mining"!

i pulled out all the hats i could find from the dress-up box and taped flashlights to the top of each one.

jack wasn't such a fan...

...but abby took the game and ran with it! she climbed all over the furniture and boxes pretending like she was searching for coal in a mine. i had the bounce-flash on for this picture...

...but i turned it off here so you could get the full effect of the "cave" we were mining in. what fun!!

i'll be back with more catching-up tomorrow. :-)

Monday, December 14, 2009


as much as josh and i have recently found our eyeballs wearily adhered to schoolbooks and photoshop, those certainly aren't the only activities we've done around here. but rather than risk creating the world's most obnoxiously long post, i'm going to ease into my blogging catch-up by putting just one picture up from each day and then promising myself that i'll expound on each one as the week goes on.

how to bake an apple pie:

mining in the playroom:

christmas with the cobbs:

mommy date:

ballet sneak peek:

the bakers:

yes, that's izzy riding a dog...


wacky weather:

the many faces of isabel:

swingset demolition:

baby santa:

ok, that wasn't nearly as much fun as i was thinking it would be, so i'm going to go ahead and get this weekend's stories in before i go to bed. as of this past weekend, the problem we'd been having with the neighborhood woodland creatures had gotten completely out of control. not only were there now two huge holes in our chimney siding, but the hyperactive squirrel and her posse had decided that 3am was a splendid time to play chase in the wall right behind our headboard.

(1:30, 5:00, and 2:15 were all suitable options as well.)

oh, and she had boldly decided to gorge herself out of the bird feeder several times a day as well:

i don't know if the marathoner in our wall bothered josh all that much or if he was more affected by the condition known as NOWMMREM (night-owl-wife-meets-multiple-ridiculously-early-mornings). whatever the underlying cause, it spurred him on to action. and after a couple of phone calls around to our neighbors to find a mega-ladder we could borrow, josh was 30 feet in the air replacing the rotten wood with oh-so-chic, completely unmatched siding that they had on sale at lowe's.

honestly, if it meant getting rid of the squirrels, i would have taken siding that was painted with green camouflage or hot pink paisley. i just couldn't take another night with the demons.

but that wasn't josh's first man-job of the day. a couple of hours earlier when we got out of church, i told josh i had a photo order to deliver to a friend. i wasn't paying any attention when we pulled into her neighborhood, so we zipped right past her house before i could tell josh where to turn. we turned around in the next cul-de-sac (which had some houses under construction), and before we knew it, we felt a weird bumpity-bumping as we drove, and when we turned the radio off, we could hear the whistle of air escaping from our tire. soooooooo.....

josh spent the next 20 minutes prying the bolt-pierced tire off of the car and replacing it with the tiny spare. (look familiar, B and LL? too bad neither of you was home...i was totally going to bum some food off of you for my carload of ravenous preschoolers!)

as we drove 35 miles per hour back to our house, we talked about how much we thought it would cost to replace the tire. and we came up with a great plan. we could sell christmas trees!!! so here's the ad:

product: christmas evergreens
quantity available: three

dimensions: approximately 25 feet tall by 8 feet wide

availability: immediate

as a matter of fact, they're already down for you...all you have to do is haul them off!

remember that super-gusty storm we had here in the south last week? well, we had three casualties that night. this is what i woke up to the next morning on our deck...

so if any of you has a 30-foot foyer you would like a beautiful tree for, give us a buzz. we've got just the evergreen for you! (although if your foyer is 30-feet tall, i think i have to pronounce it "foi-yay"). :-)

in the "things to be thankful for" category, not a one of the trees hit our house, and the one that fell toward our deck did nothing more than rest gently damage! oh, and the tire? the guys at the tire store patched it for us for free! whoo-hoo!!!!!!!