Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day :(

Well the first half of our Memorial Day was HORRIBLE.  Like down right bad.  We cleaned from 8 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.  All. Day. Long.  It had been WAY too long since we did a deep clean...and deep clean we did.  All of the bedding got washed today.  Every single sheet, blanket, pillow case cover and on and on.  The washer and dryer ran all day long.  I still have more to do.  I hate washing bedding.  However, all the children make their own beds when their bedding is clean so that is awesome.  If they are too little to make it themselves an older sister has to help.  The older sisters lover that. ;)

About 2:00 I headed into the shower.  At that moment it dawned on me that 14 years ago on Memorial Day, Dan and I were having our gift opening from our wedding.  Look how far we have come in 14 years.  Instead of opening gifts, we are cleaning!!!

After we had cleaned and washed enough we headed to visit my Grandpa's grave.  We haven't been back since his funeral in January and I knew I wanted to take the kids back.  I was bummed because by the time we got there, they had taken down all the huge flags they had lining the cemetery.  I wanted the kids to see that.  I guess we came a little too late in the day.  
 The sun was shining and we stopped to say "hi" to gramps.  The kids were excited to ring the bell located right by Gramps.

 Griffin was the only one not to ring the bell!
 We walked around a little bit and looked at some of the fountains.  A nice man gave each of the kids a flag.  We were kinda disappointed that gramps didn't have anything on his wall we took care of that as well!

 We found a plastic vase, filled it with some mulch, cracked off the stick of one of our flags and Dan placed the vase up by Gramps.  Ahhh..much better.  He fought for our freedom....he deserved a flag.
 I held it together.  I still miss him dearly.  He was a good good man.  I am sad my kids won't have him around any longer.  When we got home Lanie pulled me aside and said, " I told Grandpa I loved him when we saw him today."  It was so sweet.  I hope she will always remember him.  I hope Gramps plugged his ears from some of the crying that took place from over tired kids as well while we were visiting him.
 After we left the cemetery we headed to the grocery store to get some Memorial Day dinner food and stopped at a park.  I lover this picture...Look at Griffin.  He cracks me up.

 We headed home and at hot dogs, brats, cauliflower, broccoli, watermelon, pickles, chips and a giant cookie.  And that was our Memorial Day.  A little bit of good mixed in with some bad.

I was thinking about all the guys I know that have been a part of the military.  What an awesome sacrifice.  I don't think a million "thank you's" could ever convey how grateful I am for their service.  What an honor to know such great men.

Blurry Photography by Susan....It's time to DO something about it.

I love photography.  
Simply love it. 
Before Lanie or Griffin (I can't remember which one...or could have been's all a blur to me to be honest) we purchased a DSLR camera.  We got some black Friday deal and were super pumped about it.  Finally,I was going to be a professional photographer ;)
Well, I still can't figure it out.  
9 out of 10 of my pictures are blurry.  
We have talked about taking a class.
Dan read a photography for dummies book.
And...we still stink at it.  

We can take 100 pictures and get one or two good ones.  We simply have NO clue what we are doing.  And I AM SICK OF IT.  
I have blogged about my poor photography before and made a promise to myself to do something about it and never did.  


Enter in my intervention.  
Photography by Jill Ann. 

Here's the deal.  I met Jill Ann a few months ago.  She started coming to church and was interested in attending a Friday at the Farm session.  She came (and loved it, of course).  So when she was at my house I asked to take a picture of her with her craft.  I took the picture and then she asked to see my camera.  She changed a few settings and asked me to retake the picture.  And. It. Was. Amazing.  

What the what?  Just a few easy clicks and I could have taken that same picture?  Seriously, it ticked me off.  Why oh why have I waited so long?  

So...Jill Ann started to tell me that she teaches a photography workshop.  Back the boat up.  What?  And she live less than 2 minutes from my house.  Shut the front door.  Come on now.  
 So this is the deal.  Jill Ann came to my house on Saturday.  I walked her through my process of taking a picture...then she took the same or very similar picture.  Here are the results.  

So this is Sadie.  She loves to read.  Jill Ann told me to take a picture of her reading.  So I did.  I took the first two pictures on the setting "P".  They look ok....but if you really look..she is blurry.  I know...Shocker.

 Then I clicked the setting to auto...cause that's all I know how to do.  And this is what I got.
 Then Jill Ann came in with her fancy knowledge and shot this picture.  Whoa...hold she actually in focus?  Is Jill Ann using the natural light instead of shoving Sadie in a corner?  She sure is.
 Ok....round 2.  Who is gonna win this battle of photography?

We headed out by the baby chicks.  I thought I would try to take Abbie holding the chick and was trying to get her a little out of focus but focus on the chick.  I had this super cool picture idea in my head.  This is what I got.   The chick is out of focus and the background is UGLY.

And...Jill Ann wins again.  Seriously, look at that baby chick!

Ok...I am gonna totally nail the next shot.  I got this.  So I took Griffin outside and had him sit on some old tires.  This is my shot.  Sigh....I thought it was good until I saw Jill Ann's picture.  

I mean come one now.  Look at the lighting on her photo. No shadows?  Now I am just getting mad!

 Ok...maybe a different child would help with my photo taking abilities.  I mean, Lanie is pretty cute! So she was looking adorable and I snapped a few shots of her.  Hmmmm...I guess looking into the sun isn't a good option.

 And of course...this is Jill Ann's photo.  People....we are working with the SAME models here!  Look at that picture.  It makes me want to cry.
 And another epic failure on my part.  Here is Gavin...looking into the sun with his blond hair.  Jill Ann said the sun was too high and the shadows and sun were not "good" for photography...but she turned her picture black and white and scored this awesome picture of my boys.

So I officially lost the photography battle.  Shocking, I know.  Jill Ann and I chatted for quite a bit and I asked her how she learned and what she did.  She told me all about her training and who she trained under.  Clearly she knows what she is doing!

Well, this is the part that I am super duper excited for!  Jill Ann is holding a photography workshop at her house on June 6th! (and some other dates as well)  I am biting the bullet and taking the class.  I am sick of not knowing what I am doing.  I want YOU to take the class with me!

If you want to sign up to take the June 6th class with me click is two days after my birthday....just saying...incase you want to spend the day with me!

JUNE 6 - SIGN UP HERE - This is the class where I become a Pro!  I'd love to have you join me!  
OCTOBER 10 - SIGN UP HERE - This will be Jill Ann's last Workshop for 2015 so don't miss out!

The details for the workshop are all HERE.  Go read about Jill Ann and look at what she does and fall in love and then come back and sign up for the workshop with me already!

**** USE PROMO CODE WILKE25 to get $25 off your Workshop! ****

I can't wait for Jill Ann to share her knowledge with me!  After I learn what I am doing I want to practice, practice, practice!  I want to be able to take amazing pictures.  I have this nice camera and have NO idea what to do with it!  After I know what I am doing, watch out world!

Oh and I should mention.  You have to have a DSLR camera to attend the class...and you NEED to bring it with you!  Unless you want to pay the money to just sit with me...I'm cool with that too!  (but for can do that for free anytime at my house! )

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Here a chick, there a chick, everywhere a chick chick...

Well today was the big day.  
Late in the afternoon yesterday we got an email from that our baby chicks had shipped.  They are overnighted so we knew today would be the day.

I called the post office this morning and asked them to call me as soon as our peeping box arrived.  Griffin and I had just come back from our early morning run to Fleet Farm to get a new heat lamp bulb so we got that all hooked up and headed to the post office.  

Now it's a very weird feeling going to the post office to ask for your baby chicks.  They seriously just come in a box.  When we got into the post office we could hear them peeping away.  We weren't the only family expecting chicks today either!  Their mommy hadn't come yet.  

 Griffs and I were too afraid to open the box.  Any book we have read or any chick experienced family we have spoken with all recommended NOT opening the box around kids incase a little chick didn't make it.  Well, I can tell you that there was no way in the world I was looking in that box to see a dead chick.  I would have freaked out.  So I did what any logical mom would do...I headed to my older kids school and made them look in the box!

 I had them called out of their classes and, yes, they opened the box to 8 all living chicks.  Phew.  That could have gone one of two ways.  Yay for all living chicks!
 They were so excited.  I wouldn't let them hold them because I needed the chicks to get to a warmer temperature and let's be real here...they were supposed to be in school, not playing with baby chicks.
 So we took a few quick pictures said our goodbyes and Griffs and I headed home with our peeping box.
 This is our little chick habitat for the next few months.  (well actually less than that I suppose).  I will repeat this again.  We have NO idea what we are doing.  We have a chicken book that we have read and we have sought wise chicken raising council.

 Griffin helped me unload the chicks into their new home.  ( I know this is a bit Griffin picture heavy, but he was the only one home at the time!)  I didn't expect them to be so cute and fluffy.  I guess I wasn't sure what to expect...maybe wet soggy chicks that just hatched or something.  I'll take fluffy cute chicks any day over soggy wet chicks!
 We had to introduce them to their food and water right away.  I had to dunk their beaks in the water to make sure they knew how to drink.  It was amazing.  Within a few minutes, all of the chicks were drinking.  They took a little bit longer to warm up to eating the chick food, but they all got the hang of that in no time as well.
 We checked on the chicks all afternoon.  You know, just to make sure they were still alive!

 The other 6 finally made it home from school.  They hated that I made them stop to take a picture.
 And then the chicks got lots of love.  Everyone picked out their chick.  Molly's chick is Cappuccino. Sadie named her chick Lydia.  Abbie's chick is Ruby.  Kenadie named her chick Peeps.  Gavin's chick is Sarah.  Lanie named her chick Fluffy and Griffin's chick is Stripes.  Dan names "our" chick Nugget.  And there you have it.  The newest additions to our family.

The coop still isn't anywhere near being ready.  We still don't have a grasp on exactly what we are doing.  We are going to learn as we go here.  What I can tell you is that my children are SO excited.  The giggles and screams of happiness are worth way more than the internal panic I am having on the inside.  My yard will NOT be filled with chicken poops.  Dan and I have agreed to just make them a really big chicken run.  That way the poops can stay inside the run and off my grass.

And that is all.  7 kids, 1 dog, 1 goldfish that won't die, 3 cats, 1 gerbil we are hoping got eaten by a cat and still isn't living in the wall somewhere upstairs, and 8 chickens.  What will join our "farm" family next.  Abbie is saving for a pig.  Dan wants a goat.  I think we need a dairy cow.  This 10-12 gallons of milk a week is getting old!

If you are in the area, stop by and meet our chicks!  It's like a free petting zoo here!