Monthly Archives: February 2012

Nutrition Possible {GiveAway and Coupon Opportunity} **Updated to add winner info**

Until I had children, I was never really a vitamin taker.  But when we decided to start trying to have kids, I started taking prenatal vitamins.  During each of my pregnancies, I took my vitamins daily and rarely forgot.  But when that newborn got home and I was so tired that sometimes I forgot to even brush my teeth?  Well, vitamins didn’t even cross my mind.  Occasionally I’d remember and take them a day or two but when the bottle ran out, I never got more.  That happened with every pregnancy.

At my last checkup, my lovely nurse practitioner (Hi, KW!) reminded me that I needed to be taking a daily vitamin and I had really great intentions of doing so!  But each time I’d go to the store, I’d forget to buy any.  So, here I am one year postpartum and still no vitamins.  Oops.

So when I got an email about partnering with Centrum’s Nutrition Possible website, I figured it was just the kick in the pants I needed.

But I’ll be honest, one of the things I hate most about getting anything over-the-counter is the 50 million choices.  Do I need calcium or Vitamin D or both?  What about iron?  What are probiotics, anyway?  I don’t eat fish, so do I need fish oil?  Or omega-3 fatty acids?  Aaaahhhh!  My brain just short circuits.  So when I heard that Nutrition Possible had an assessment quiz that could help you figure out which supplements best fits your needs, I clicked on over.  In less than 5 minutes, I not only knew what kind of vitamins I needed but I also had a chance to create a personalized health and nutrition plan that includes setting up personal goals and tips on how to achieve them.  AND when I completed the assessment, I was able to get a $10 off coupon!  I’m not a couponer, but even I know that’s a spectacular deal!    I really am excited about this and you should be, too!  Click on over to get your own assessment and big ol’ coupon!

So every one can get the $10 coupon, but I also have a nice little giveaway!  One lucky person will get a $25 AMEX gift card!  Who wouldn’t love an extra $25?  All you’ll need to do is go take the assessment on and come back over here and leave me a comment about what you learned, what you didn’t know you were missing.    All comments posted before 11:59pm(EST) on Sunday, February 12 will be eligible and a winner will be chosen using

I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by One2One Network. I received incentives and am eligible for prizing. While all opinions stated are my own, I make no claims about as a product or its effectiveness.

See giveaway rules here.  (Sorry, Canadians.  US only.)

Pssst…There are several bloggers working with One2One and for this project.  The blogger with the most comments will win up to $500 in cash and prizes.  And *ahem* that would be super-duper nice to have.

Forty entries came in before the deadline.  I used to determine the winner.  Congrats to number 28, Amedeo Tritto!


Photography Tips I Learned the Hard Way

You’re not a photographer.  You don’t even want to be a photographer, but you want good pictures of your kids or your dog or the flowers in your garden.  You don’t have to have a fancy-pants camera or expensive lenses to take good pictures.   Heck, some of my favorite photos are ones I took with my phone.  So how can you – with your point-and-shoot or camera phone – get the pictures you want?

Here are some tips that I learned the hard way.  Now these aren’t hard and fast rules.  They’re just a collection of things that have worked for me.  None of these photos have been post-processed in any kind of photo editing software.  This is just like what you’d see out of your own camera (theoretically).

(Also, I am certain I have many, many options of ‘what not to do’ pictures in my archives, but it was easier to take new ones so I could show you what I didn’t like about a certain picture and how I fixed that problem.  My kids were happy to help for approximately 7 minutes.  It took more than 7 minutes.  That’s when Marshall got roped into helping me.  Bless his heart.)

1. Do what feels right.  If it feels weird, it’s probably going to look weird.

I asked Lydia to start sliding down and she stopped here.
Awkward positioning = awkward looking picture

2. It’s all about the light.  If you can’t find good light (or shade), don’t take pictures.  Have your subject facing the light, but not directly in the light.

These two pictures were taken in the exact same spot.  She didn’t move her feet at all.  In this first picture, she’s looking at me but the sun is killing her.  (She may be exaggerating the situation slightly.  I have no idea where this melodrama comes from.)  But for the second one, I placed my body between Lydia and the sun.  You may not always be able to use your body, but you can usually find or generate some kind of shade.


3. Look behind you.  Both ways.
Don’t have a gigantic ugly truck or, in this case, the edge of a picnic table in the background of an otherwise decent picture.

All I did was move myself a little to the side.  She stayed in the same exact spot.


Also look behind you before you step backwards.  I’ve hit the dirt a few times because I was so focused on the image.

4. Search for unique perspectives and even unusual angles, but also be sure to take some straight on shots as well.

These shots are cute enough, but I wouldn’t want every one of  my pictures to be this way.
(Actually, I’m not sure how I feel about the first one.  It looks like her legs are sprouting out of the corner, doesn’t it?)
Also? Some people really like pictures like this, so I guess it’s really a personal preference thing.


5. Watch out for shadows – especially your own.

I did several things wrong here.  I overexposed the image(which shouldn’t happen if you’re on automatic or using a point-and-shoot) and I didn’t position myself so that the cars were out of the shot.  But with a little cropping and photo editing, those things are workable.  But see his cool shadow on the ground?  Yeah.  That’s my head right beside it.  It’s technically photoshopable, but it would have been a lot easier if I’d just paid attention and fixed it in camera.

6. Don’t forget that you can hold your camera the other direction.  Fairly often I see a picture that has the subject doing something and a lot of distracting dead space around them.  Hold your camera vertically and fill the frame with the subject.  (Of course you don’t want to take all vertical shots either!)

I like the first shot.  It’s pleasant and shows off the playground.

But look what happens when I rotate my camera.  Lydia becomes the centerpiece.

Horizontal shots aren’t bad!  It just depends on the feel you want.
Mostly, I think people are just in the habit of taking horizontal shots and forget that vertical is an option.

7.  When taking pictures of adults or even groups, shoot from above.
This is another tip, not a rule.  Sometimes you can take a picture from straight in front of someone and it looks great, but if you shoot them from above, it gives the neck and opportunity to stretch out a little and get rid of that pesky double chin (you know, if you had one).


(Also?  Marshall’s such a good sport, isn’t he?  “Hey can I post an unflattering picture of you on the internet?” “Sure.  Why not?”  The man deserves some kind of medal, I assure you.)

8.  When taking pictures of kids, get down where they are (or lower).

Another tip and not a rule.  There are times when you want to get the whole scene and so you stretch up high and take a bird’s eye view shot.  And other times when you want to be looking down on them.  But look at how much more engaging the second picture is.


9. Anticipate the moment.  I have been known to sit with my finger on the shutter release button for quite a while.  I knew the shot would come, I just had to wait for it.  Learn how long it takes for your camera to actually take the picture after you push the button.  I’ve missed many a picture (especially with my phone camera) because I was waiting and waiting and waiting and then didn’t snap fast enough when the moment actually happened.

In these pictures, I knew that if I waited long enough, he’d look up at me and smile.  And that it would be an authentic smile because he was showing off his creation (i.e. hole that he was digging and making into a city).


10. Learn your camera.  Know what all those little pictures on the dial mean.  If you don’t have time to sit and read the manual, there is usually a quick guide that explains the basics.  Don’t just skim over it.  Look at the different modes and try them.  That way when you need them, you’ll know which one to use and how it works.

Bonus Tip: This may seem obvious, but the biggest thing you need to take good pictures is a camera – one that’s always with you.  The best moments are rarely the ‘Hey, y’all!  Let’s take a picture!” moments.  It’s the oh-my-goodness-that-is-just-picture-perfect-isn’t-it moments that you want to capture.  So when you are lying in bed with your sweet little one, put that sucker on silent and snap away.   Those are the memories that will just make your heart pound when you look at them again.  Like this one:

I am so very excited about being a Community Leader at BlissDom this year!  The photography track that the BlissDom ladies have put together is phenomenal!   The conference is sold out, but you can still have access to this great content with BlissDom at Home, which will be available for purchase after the conference is over.

Just Us

It’s not often that we are alone at bedtime.
I can’t remember the last time, actually.

But tonight you had a case of not-feeling-so-well and grumpitis
And I decided it would be best for everyone if we stayed home from church.

We sat and ate dinner.
You babbled and I watched you.
And you made a glorious mess.
(The runny nose didn’t help.)

I ran warm bath water and added some oatmeal soak.
Raging diaper rash has made bath time less than enjoyable for you lately.

I step into the tub and pull you in with me, slowly easing your backside in.
Whew!  No screaming this time.

You curl up to me, enjoying the skin-to-skin time as much as I do.
You try to stretch out and lie flat, but the water’s too deep.
I let your head rest on my thigh and you sigh contentedly.
Eyes closed.  Head tilted back.  Rosy cheeks.
You look like you belong on the beach.

Then you turn to me, your belly on mine.
Your head on my chest and your small hand on my breast.
I mourn once again the fact that I was unable to nourish your body with my own.

I feel your breathing.  The rise and fall of your chest on mine.
And I think back to a time not so long ago when we were in this same moment.
Nearly a year ago.
My, how things have changed!
(And yet stayed the same.)

I’m sorry you are sick.
But I so loved being with you tonight.
Just us.

Reason #429,650,912 That I Love the Internet

So often I find myself begging time to slow down.  But then there are days (like yesterday) when all I wanted to do was hit fast forward.  There was too much crying and too much whining from them.  And not enough patience and forgiveness from me.  It made for a very long day.

As someone who stays home with littles, I don’t have the opportunity to have much adult interaction.  Sure, I see people at school drop off and pick up, but it’s a little quick chat here and there.  I occasionally go to lunch with friends, but if you’ve ever been to lunch with me and my crew you know that the conversation is staccato at best and there are a lot of interruptions.
“Sit down and eat”
“Do not touch that lady’s hair again!”
“Oh!  Don’t pick that up off the floor and ea…too late.”

But this is where social media comes in.  Social media platforms are an integral part of my life.  It’s my connection with the real world.  And so I post.  I post a lot. ( Too much for some, I know.  Just hide me if you want.  I’ll never know.)  And I connect with real! live! adults!  And we laugh at my kids together and talk about important issues and tell jokes and make witty observations.  Those are the things I miss most about working outside the home.  Social media gives me the chance to have a little of that.  It makes this stay-at-home gig seem not quite so lonely – especially on a day like yesterday.

Yesterday, in the midst of all the tears and snotty mumbles, I got an email from a company I am working with on a post and it asked a lot of reflective questions.  One of them asked how friends would describe you.  I’ve never been good at those, so I reached out to my friends on Facebook.

And boy, oh boy, did my friends come through.  On a day when I was feeling like quite the failure, I found a big boost in an unexpected place.  You guys picked me up without even knowing it.  Words like engaging, vivacious, talented, artsy, faithful, generous, personable,  inspiring, confident, cheerful and creative, smart and compassionate, strong and honest.  Wow!  (Y’all are too kind.)

I don’t say this to brag on myself but to brag on you, on this community.  You can find experts that tell you that all this hyper-connectivity is bad for us.  That we aren’t created to handle this many relationships.  But I disagree.  My online friends have become my real life friends.  I’ve reconnected with some great friends I had lost contact with and I have cultivated friendships with people who were once just acquaintances.   Staying at home is lonely.  But you guys make it less so.  And I’m thankful for each one of you.