Thursday, December 25, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

He did it!!!

It's time to document a milestone! Ty said a "complete sentence" today. I know it was a complete sentence because I have a minor in English! He did this totally on his own, out of his own head, without being prompted by us. In fact, everyone else was pretty much asleep. We were all snuggled up in our bed watching Playhouse Disney...well, Emily and Ty were watching while Dee and I caught a few extra zzzzzs. Ty decided, as he usually does, that he was bored and wanted to get out of bed. Sooooo he sat up, looked at his sister, said "Bye-Bye, Emma," and got off the bed. "Emma" is his pronunciation of "Emily."

It was pretty cool. I am really pleased and have been wondering when this would happen and what he would say. Emily's first sentence involved Elmo, so it's always interesting to see what they've got in their minds to say when they can finally put together a complete thought!!!

I am hoping to post some Christmas-related greeting before the big day, but in case I don't have time, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Camera Challenge (ETA Troubleshooting)

Wanna take gorgeous pictures of your Christmas tree? Read on! I know that some of you readers are DSLR owners, so I am going to give you the steps to take these pictures. And no fair just reading and looking--you HAVE to try this on your own and post your results on your blog.



Look, our Elf on the Shelf finally arrived from the North Pole. Emily named him Gabriel, and he spent today in the Christmas tree. I wonder where he will be tomorrow?!?!




If you already know how to set manual settings, it's simple. Use a tripod, and use the following settings: F22, 6 second shutter speed, ISO 400, and tungsten white balance. Use the self-timer or a remote to take your picture.

If you don't know how to set manual settings, here's my DETAILED directions. I am describing the way I change settings on my camera, so yours may be a bit different. You may need to look at your manual for how to change settings.

First, gather your camera and a tripod. Don't have a tripod? Put your camera on a solid surface such as a table or shelf. I used to stack my ottoman storage cubes vertically in lieu of a tripod, but for these, I had hubby borrow one from work for me to play with.

Mount your camera on the tripod or set it on a solid surface. Turn the camera on!

Now, turn your dial to "M." You can do it--don't be scared!

Somewhere on the back of your camera, there should be a button that says "WB." On my Canon Rebel XTi, it is the down arrow button. Press this button, and arrow over until "tungsten light" is highlighted. Select it by pressing the select button which is the middle of the 4 arrow buttons on my camera.

Also on the back of the camera is a button called ISO. On mine, it's the up arrow. Press this button and and arrow over until "400" is highlighted. Select it by pressing your select button.

Now you will change the aperture to F22. This is how I do it on my camera. Right behind the shutter release (button that you use to take a picture), there is a little wheel you can turn. Turn it and hear it click-click-click. On the back of the camera, there is a button that says "AV." Now you will do 3 things at the same time:

Press and hold the "AV" button
Turn the wheel
Watch your display--You should see it changing F5.6, F6.3, F7.1, . . . , keep turning the wheel until you see F22 displayed. If the numbers are getting smaller, turn the wheel the opposite direction :D Congratulations--you just changed your aperture! Aren't you excited???

***Side Note***The first time I tried changing my aperture, I was trying to turn the wrong "wheel." One wheel on the top of your camera is the one you probably use all the time. It's the one with P, AV, M, a green square, and lots of pictures. You use this to select different modes to take a picture. This is NOT the wheel that you use to change aperture and shutter speed. I wish someone had told me that because I kept clicking that thing over and over, wondering why my shutter speed wasn't changing.

Now I will teach you how to change your shutter speed. On my camera, if you turn the wheel without pressing AV or any other button, it changes the shutter speed. You should see the numbers decreasing 1/30 to 1/25 to 1/20 to 1/15 and so on. These numbers mean 1/30 of a second, 1/25 of a second, etc. After you pass 1/5 and 1/4, the numbers will start to look different. You will see 0"3, 0"4, 0"5, etc. then 1", 2", and so on. Choose 6" (6 seconds). Your camera is going to take 6 seconds to take the picture. How cool is that? This is why you need a tripod. Unless you can hold your camera perfectly still for 6 seconds, your photo will be blurry.

Now, if you have a remote, you will want to use it because you don't want to shake your camera pressing the shutter release. This will cause blur. I don't have a remote, so I put my camera on the timer. Here's how I do it on mine: I press the button under AV. This button does not have any words, but it has a little picture squares and a little picture of a clock. Scroll over to "self timer" which should have a picture of a clock, and use your select button to select it.

Now your camera is ready. It's time to turn out all of the lights except the Christmas lights! Press the shutter release and wait while your camera counts down and then takes the picture. You can experiment with different shutter speeds. I tried some with 6, 8, and 10 seconds. To change the shutter speed, just click the wheel, remember?

***TROUBLESHOOTING: Since we all probably have different lenses and are standing at different distances away from our Christmas trees, my f22 aperture may be letting in more or less light than your f22 aperture. Since you know how to change the aperture now (hold AV button while turning the clicky-wheel), try using a lower number like f18 or f11 if your pictures are too dark at f22. That will let a little more light into the camera. But you need to keep the 6 second shutter speed if you want stars! Just try different apertures until you like the effect.

Here is my Christmas tree with f/1.8, and shutter speed 1/20. It's nice, but there are no stars.



And here is my tree with f22 and 6 second exposure.




Use your imagination and creativity! Think of your outside lights!!! It was too windy tonight for me to do this outside (the wind would cause the trees/lights to move which will make them blurry).

I would LOVE to see your pictures! If you have the capability of changing aperture and shutter speed, leave me a comment letting me know when you've posted yours. If you don't blog, post it on your facebook (MOM). The best part about taking these photos is that it needs to be done when it's dark, so your kids are sleeping, and you can concentrate without little ones around.

Do yourself a favor and try it. I know I was completely terrified the first time I tried messing with any settings on my camera. But it takes just a minute or two of changing settings, and the result will be a unique picture that you will treasure of Christmas 2008.

GO DO IT!!!!!!


***I am so thrilled that people are trying this! I've received questions via phone and email, so keep 'em coming. And my brother tried this on his camera which is not a DSLR (but still has some manual controls), and it worked. So if you have any camera that allows you to change some settings, go for it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Another Funny Blog

Over "Thanksgiving", my "brother" showed me a funny "blog". Do you know what it's called? The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks. I hope you get a "kick" out of it!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Adventures of the Trckas and the Hook Em Horns

Emily was in rare form after our last playoff game of the season (we lost). I wanted to write these stories down, so I won't forget what she said. We made a lot of great memories at the football game. Our game was only the 2nd high school game that has ever been played at UT, so it was a pretty neat experience in spite of the fact that we didn't win.

Story #1
We stopped at the Round Rock outlets on the way home from our playoff game at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium (aka where the Longhorns play). This is an important fact for Story #3.
As we were getting in the car, Emily was not following my instructions for her to get in her car seat. So I pulled out the old “I’m afraid Santa is not going to be happy when he sees you not obeying your Mommy” routine.
She immediately got in her car seat, thought for a second, and said, “Mommy, he will be happy because I’m not being naughty. I’m being good for good mistakes.” If you don’t get it, think “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake…you better be good for goodness sake.” Then she added: “But Ty is being bad for bad mistakes.”

Story #2
As we drove home from Round Rock, Ty was happily playing with his Elmo cell phone when Emily decided she needed it. She asked me if she could play with his phone, and I told her yes but only when Ty is finished with it. Her reply “But Mommy, I need to call the principal because my calculus students are not obeying me, and they need to go to the office and get a spanking.”
I told her she would just have to wait until Ty was done, so she talked on a pretend phone for a while, and when Ty was done with his toy 15 minutes later, she made that report to the principal.

Story #3
She continued to talk on the Elmo phone all the way home. As we neared our house, I heard her saying “We’re on our way now. Okay? We’ll meet you in a little while. See you there. Okay. Bye.”
Then, she told me “Mommy, the Hook ‘em horns are waiting for us at our house.” Okay. Great. I wonder what she is picturing in her mind.
As soon as we got home and got out of the car, she hopped out, went to the front porch, and greeted her guests. She even held their hands and led them inside. The Hook ‘Em Horns were with her all night, and when we woke up on Sunday, they were still with us.
Dee and I cracked up because I asked her how many Hook ‘Em Horns were at our house, and she said 11. I know she just said “eleven” because it’s her favorite number, but it’s pretty funny that there are 11 players on the football field. On our way to church, I asked her if they were coming with us, and she said, “No, because their grandmother is in the hospital.” Random, I know. But it’s what she said.
Then, she whispered to me during the song service, “Mommy, the Hook ‘Em Horns are not here anymore. Sleeping Beauty is here now.” And Aurora stayed with us the rest of the day. Prince Phillip even showed up after her afternoon nap. Go figure.

I love my super-imaginative girl!

I know, I know, this post is useless without pictures. Do you really think I would get no pictures of my kiddos running around on the field that the Longhorns play on? Even if you're not a UT fan, you have to admit that it's pretty amazing for a 1 y/o and 3 y/o to get the chance to walk on the field. It's too bad we lost, but Emily and Ty sure had fun at the game.

Ty with Dee's parents. He sat on his Papa's lap for the majority of the football games this year.


Having fun watching football!


Coach 'em up!


So what would YOU do on a Big 12 football field if you were a 3 year old girlie girl? Why, dance, of course!


Most people never get a chance to take this picture!


It is kinda weird to see us all wearing maroon and running around taking pictures with Longhorns.


Ty would rather be free to run than stuck taking pictures with Daddy!


See--that's better.


Emily loved making shadows on the wall.


Then, one of the football players walked over to talk to his friends/family up in the stands. I love the look on her face--she is almost in awe of this huge football player.


It is so nice having my hubby home again. We finally got our Christmas lights up on Sunday. I didn't think we were ever going to get them done with Dee working late every day of the week. Pictures will be coming soon!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008