Thursday, December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I was worried about what it would be like to celebrate the holiday season in warm weather with palm trees as opposed to our usual cold and snow.  I can say that although at times it's weird to be wearing shorts and flip flops while listening to Christmas music, overall, it's awesome.  I love seeing all the Christmas lights wrapped around the palm trees.  It's so pretty!  And shopping without freezing?  Amazing!  Trimming the tree while a warm breeze blows through your window?  Awesome!  Putting your daughter in a pretty Christmas dress without having to cover it with a sweater and worry about big fuzzy tights?  Perfect!  Seriously though...I like it.  It's not as weird as I thought it would be.  I think it helps that we are getting ready to go to Ohio for a visit and we will still get to experience our 'normal' Christmas stuff too.  Honestly, the one thing I really miss is having a fire in the fireplace and the stockings hanging from the mantle.  But other than that, we have really been enjoying the Christmas season here.  I know I will really be loving it when we get back from Ohio and I won't be freezing for the next 3 months like I would there!

So...I meant to send Christmas cards this year...but I never did get around to it.  I am so sorry!  I feel like a bad friend / relative!  I even took my kids out and took special photos of them with the distinct purpose of doing a card.  Actually, I did that twice!  The first time, I got them all ready and we drove over to the beach with it timed to be there around sunset.  Only on our way there it kept getting foggier and foggier to the point where I could barely see 10 feet in front of the car!  I kept driving though thinking we were going through a low area or something and crazy optimist that I am I kept thinking that surely by the time we got to the beach the fog will have lifted.  Um...yeah...there is this thing called 'sea fog'.  You can google it and find out why it forms and all that if you are interested in weather stuff.  It's apparently rather rare as the conditions have to be just so for it to happen.  It is seriously thick weird fog.  When we got to the beach (yep, I still drove all the way there!) you couldn't even see where the sky ended and the water began.  Just one giant grey blob with some sand.  So, obviously we didn't do photos that day.  I went back a couple days later and the weather was fine, but we forgot our Santa hats.  I got home and looked at the photos and didn't really like them because they weren't what I was picturing in my head with the Santa hats.   So, I was going to do another photo shoot...but who am I kidding, I didn't have time and the kids were not in the mood to do it again.   I sat down and looked at the photos again this week and realized that they weren't really all that bad.  They are actually pretty good, just not what I had planned in my head.  So, I'm gonna share them with you today. Aren't you lucky?! ;)

Cuties.  Just picture them wearing Santa hats, okay?

Her shirt has little gold sparkly thread woven through it but it didn't show up in the photos.  I need to remember to take photos of the outfits before I do a shoot in the future.

This kid was in a very silly mood that day.  I have tons of photos of him laughing at himself.

I don't usually do this, but I had so many outtakes from this shoot that I thought I'd share some.  Just in case you were under some illusion that my kids are super cooperative during photo shoots.  Yeah, they're not.  Especially this one...  He thinks he's so funny...

Yes, that's spit in the bottom photo...boys are so gross...

My girl isn't quite so bad, but she does have a tendency to do her super dramatic, super fake, super giant smile.  And her frowny eyebrows are another favorite.

After all that I almost forgot to share my 'card'!  Here you go!

I really want to wish everyone that reads this blog a very Merry Christmas.  I hope you have an awesome time with family and friends and that you truly experience the joy that comes from knowing that your Savior came to Earth as a tiny baby in order to grow into a man who would die for your sins that you might have eternal life. I mean, really, when you think about it, it's the most amazing thing!  It's definitely cause for a celebration.  Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 9, 2013

House Tour ~ Part 3 ~

Are you guys sick of looking at our condo yet?  Too bad, because here's some more photos for you!  This is the last part of the indoor portion of the tour because I really don't think any of you need to see our 1960's style bathrooms and our master bedroom is going to remain a secret. ;)  Today I'm going to show you our main living space.  It's supposed to be a combination dining room and living room, but I don't like playing by the rules, so we switched it up to be a school room and living room.  It works great for us.  We have an eat in kitchen (see House Tour ~ Part 1 and House Tour ~ Part 2) so we didn't really need another eating space anyway.

This is the hallway that is immediately to your left when you walk into our front door.  Behind the first set of closets is our water heater and our clothes dryer.  Washing machines are forbidden to be in the units because of issues with leaking (we already experienced a leak from a 5th floor unit above us by 3 floors so I now understand where they are coming from...and I must mention how nice it was to just be renting and not stressing one bit about repairs for that issue!).  We have to go to the 4th floor to use the washing machine which hasn't been as big a deal as I thought and it forces me to keep up with my laundry.  The second door hides the air conditioning unit.  That doorway to the left is the kids' room.

This is what you see when you get to the end of the hallway.

This is standing in the middle of the schoolroom looking back towards the hallway.

Looking to the left over to my girl's desk area.

Turn around and you see this.  You can see a tiny bit of the other room to the left that I shared in the first House Tour.  It's like a big L shape.

Looking the other direction.  You can see my office behind where my girl is standing.  That hallway off to the right leads to the master bedroom and the guest/kids' bathroom.

Standing in my office looking towards the tv.  I am so glad my mom came down to help me organize and unpack because trying to figure out what to do with all my photo frames was so hard!  She helped me figure out this arrangement where we worked the tv and the bookshelf into the collage.  I like how it turned out.  Right now our Christmas tree is in that left hand corner.  

Another shot that I took from the balcony looking in.  You can see that it's really just one giant room.  It was kinda hard to figure out how to arrange the furniture since there isn't really a lot of wall space because of all the sliding glass doors.

Just wanted to include a close up of one of my favorite new additions to my decor.  My aunt made me this for me as a going away gift and I love it!

I hope you enjoyed the tour!  I hope it helps you to get a better feel for what it's like to downsize and go from a house to a condo.  It's really not bad at all.  We like the freedom of renting and not having yard work and house repairs to deal with.  It really does give us a lot more free time to spend doing fun things. Of course there are things we've had to sacrifice, but overall we are very happy with our decision.  Thanks for stopping by to look and if you are ever in the Clearwater area you are welcome to stop by for real!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Just Another Sunday at the Beach

We go to the beach at least once a week.  We vowed when we moved here that we wouldn't turn into one of those families that lives minutes from the beach and never goes.  So we decided that we would go at least once a week.  Now that it gets dark so early that means we go on the weekends mostly now.  When we first moved we would go after my husband got off work to watch the sunset.  I can't wait until we can do that again!  I don't usually take my camera to the beach for a number of reasons.  I don't like it getting all sandy and salty from the wind.  I don't like having another thing to carry out to the beach.  I don't like worrying if we go for a walk that someone will come by and snatch it (not likely, but still, I don't like leaving it unattended).  And sometimes I just want to sit and watch and not take any pictures.  And mostly I just forget to bring it. :)  Recently, I knew we were going to stay for a couple hours so I took it.  And I'm so glad I did!  I don't need to take it every time, but I'm glad I captured some memories from what is a pretty typical day for us now.

Since some of you said you'd appreciate photo tips in my posts, I'll add some today.  First of all, these aren't portraits.  Nothing about these was planned.  This is what people refer to as "lifestyle photography".  I think most lifestyle photography is still pretty planned out and styled, but this is the real deal.  I think that when I look back at my family photos, some of my favorites are these because they are more true to how we are in real life.  And my favorite thing about lifestyle photography is that it tells a story.  I think in order to showcase this style of photography you need to keep a few things in mind.  You need to have a variety of types of shots.  Some wide (with lots of background) and some close up.  I think it's especially important to get some wide shots to give context to where you are.  After you get those, you'll need to include some detail shots.  The things that really grab you, the things you want to remember.  Little things like the way the your daughter has sand all over her forehead.  Or the way the sunlight catches the tendrils of her hair.  You might also want some action shots.  The boys playing catch, or your girl digging in the sand.  After you get all of these types of shots, you'll naturally see that you have captured the story of your day.  This is so much more meaningful than being at the beach and then pausing for a couple minutes and telling your kids to smile at the camera.  That's great if you are doing a portrait session or something, but what kid wants to pause from playing in the sand to come pose for shots for mom?  It's so forced.  I think that's why these photos resonate so much with me, they aren't forced and so I see my family for how it truly is.

I take a ton of photos, so going through them and deciding what to share is a very important step.  I think a lot of folks tend to either overshare or undershare.  One or two shots of your kids on the beach doesn't tell a story.  Over 50 shots and we've got too long of a story and we start to yawn.  I think around 15 to 30 is a good goal for something to share.  I tend to lean toward being an oversharer, so I try to keep this in mind!  I think then you just have to sort of let the photos speak for themselves.  Something I need to work on since I tend to just keep typing!  So here you go...enjoy a little photo story of our day at the beach!

I'm going to interject and not let the photos do all the talking so that I can point out that my girl caught a fish in her net for shells.  Can you see him?

Okay, so I did ask her to stand there for this photo.  I wanted to practice some shots of silhouettes.  I don't want you to think I never ask them to stand still or pose.  I do sometimes and that's okay.  I just try not to let it turn into a photo session when I do.

We stay until sunset usually.  It never gets old.  The sky is different every time and God paints us a beautiful picture each time.  We love it here.  How could we not?

I hope you enjoyed my tips!  I will try to get more creative with them and include some more technical stuff too in the future.  It was fun...I do like to talk about photography stuff!


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