Fashion Friday

It’s Friday everyone!  Can I get a woot woot!!  Friday actually doesn’t feel that much different now that it’s summer.  Every day is Friday!  Can I get another woot woot!!   
I’m lovin’ it.  :)
Summer is such a fun time for fashion and I’m totally missing it this year because I’m too busy to shop for clothes.  Dang these kids of mine for keeping me from my mall time!  ;)  I actually took all three of them to the mall today to go shoe shopping and surprisingly we held it together.  That’s only because we hit Stride Rite, were in and out in 20 minutes, and then straight back home.  It’s the only way to shop when I’m that outnumbered!  Because I am constantly outnumbered this summer and shopping much less because of it, I have been wearing a lot of the same stuff I wore last summer…
I did get a few new things a couple of months ago that I haven’t had time to share.  But I have time tonight!  Kenny and I are staying up all night having a Glee marathon.  (Quick Glee update: we’re on season 2 and I’m liking it, not loving it.  Totally missing our annual “Jack Bauer Power Hour,” but the fact that Glee is less appealing to me makes it much easier to blog during so all in all I’m calling it a win).  Anyway, I will press on!  Until this post is finished!  Or until I fall asleep with my head in my laptop while Glee show tunes play in the background.  Whichever happens first.  
I bought this scoop neck top at The Limited.  You know how I love a good scoop neck.  I felt pretty good about it because it’s not a solid color like most of my purchases.  I took a walk on the wild side and went for some stripes.  You didn’t know I had it in me, did you.  It has been a great top for summer because it’s loose and comfy and super light weight.  Plus it goes well with just about anything.  
I especially like it with these new white pants.  I know.  If you recall my last Fashion Friday I had just bought these white pants and capris:
I’m having a love affair with white pants this summer.  

But here’s the thing with these white pants.  They were on sale at The Gap for less than 40 bucks and bootcut is such a flattering style for all body types…. can I get an amen!?    
Plus check out the way the bottom of the pants are almost touching the ground when I wear my wedges.  The length fits perfectly!  I don’t even have to have them taken in!  So you can see why I had no choice but to bring them home and add them to my white pant collection.  

If I get sick of white (which is suddenly looking like a real possibility) I can alway wear this top with jeans or shorts.  I know most of you are in the heat of summer and jeans are set aside, but we wear jeans year round here.  That’s the funny thing about San Diego.  Jeans, shorts, flip flops, Ugg boots… it all goes when the weather only fluctuates between 70 and 75 degrees year round.  {Ohh… it’s 69 today – better get out the jackets.  High tomorrow is going to be 74 – nice and toasty.  Beach weather!}  Spoiled much?  You could say that.

Hmm.. now this is interesting.  A fitted top, solid color, with a cowl neck.  I think we may have seen this one before.  A time or twenty.  Since I couldn’t be all wild and crazy wearing stripes for too long, I bought this traditional Erin style top at the Limited as well. This top can be worn casually or dressed up a bit because the cowl neck is silky.  It came in lots of colors, but I was drawn to the pretty purple.  As opposed to the ugly purple?

Pretty purple top with the white bootcut jeans.  I’m telling you.  If you have a Gap nearby, go try on these white bootcut pants.  They pull in tight at the thigh and are such a great fit.  

And a favorite dress I wore to church last week.  I bought this dress a few years ago at Nordstroms and I LOVE pulling it out every summer.  Baby doll dresses are so casual and fun and I will never tire of yellow clothing.

The fun orange and gold bracelet was a birthday gift from my sister (also from Nordstroms).  I have been loving it this summer because it always seems to add the perfect punch of color to my outfits.

I don’t love these shoes with this dress but they are currently my best option.  Hopefully I can do some shoe shopping for myself one of these days.  The kind of shopping that requires alone time and more than 20 minutes at the mall.  Until that day comes I will have to make due with what I have!

So enough pictures of me and my clothes. 
  Check out my little man in that tie! 

He’s pretty hot stuff and he knows it.  He also knows that if he is just persistent enough, mom will cave and let him hang out on the bathroom counter for a bit.

 Mom’s got her camera out!  
 Means I can get away with a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.  

 Time to test my theory.  

Last picture.  Party’s over.  
Until next Fashion Friday.
:)
Happy weekend everyone! 

Tidbits on Thursday

I was sorting through my pics tonight and this one made me smile.  I’m so happy it’s summer because once again I can control what my kids are (and aren’t) eating.  Too many times their lunch boxes would come home with all of the healthy stuff still neatly packaged and the fishy crackers?  Not a trace.  Even my napkin note reminders weren’t helping much.  Well those days are long gone!

Not only are the kids eating better under my 24/7 watch, but in true I’d rather be doing anything than cooking Erin fashion, I’ve also turned a lot of the food prep over to them.  It’s clear from the picture above that they enjoy it as much as I do.  

Daddy’s home!  This little guy gets so excited when his dad walks in the door.  
(The feelings mutual little buddy). 

He also gets pretty excited for his nap.  You can tell from this picture of him peeking out of his hiding spot right after I gave him his binkie the other day.  It’s always a fun game of chase we play, but once I catch him, he admits defeat, rubs his little arm, and puts his head on my shoulder while I carry him to his room.  And the latest?  He just started blowing me kisses from his crib.  I melt into a puddle as soon as I close the door.  Then shortly after melting, I book it to get as much as is humanly possible done during those precious two hours.  Funny how I’m always so excited to put him down for a nap and have a break, but after about two hours, I start to miss him and I’m ready for him to wake up.  Then 10 minutes after he wakes up I’m wishing there was a nap #2 in my future.  :)

Just before school let out I shared all of the fun teacher gift ideas I rounded up on-line.  For the girls’ teachers I decided to copy Jen’s “Creative Juices”gift idea.  I totally spaced putting the candy in the cups, but it was still a fun way to jazz up some Jamba Juice gift cards.  
I told the girls to get in the tub this evening and came upstairs 10 minutes later to find this:

American girl dolls are taking their baths too!  I smiled when I saw the sink drains pulled up even though there’s no water .  I also got a kick out of their “robes” sitting next to them for when they get out.  So clever since they know these dolls can’t get wet.  Stuff like this seriously makes my day.  
And while I’m on the subject of things that make my day, I am so in love with Williams Sonoma dish towels!  I bought these fun towels for a couple of friends’ birthdays last month and had to pick me up a set too.  They are so durable and just the right size for drying the counter or dishes.  Plus I love the colors for this time of year!
I also picked up some fun summer clothes for the girls.  These cute stripped tanks and solid skirts were $5 bucks each at Children’s Place!  Can’t beat that for comfy (Ellie approved) summer attire.  

And how cute are these new Reefs for my little shadow?  He HATES them.  Can’t stand the feeling of something in between his toes.  It’s kind of hilarious when I put them on him.  He walks around funny for a minute and then sits down and starts trying to pry them off.  I’m sure he’ll get used to them at some point.  And he’s got time.  Flip flops work year round in our neck of the woods.

 So what have I been up to with my girls taking over kitchen duty and Kole spending all of his spare time hiding from me and figuring out how to take off his new shoes?

 I’ve been organizing of course.  :)

This was my kitchen at around 2:00 in the afternoon yesterday.  
And I’m almost done with my little project!
“Afters” to share next week, but here’s a peek at the labels I used…
Is everyone else as in love with Martha Stewart’s new office supplies at Staples as I am?  I was in Staples today and for a minute while I was looking at all of her labels and paper organizers I think my heart stopped beating.  It quickly started again when Kole almost tipped the cart over trying to escape and Addison tried to “help” by screaming at him at the top of her lungs.  But I didn’t mind.  I was long gone in my happy place and walked around with a spring in my step the rest of the day picturing all of the organizing that is going to take place once I move into my new house.  Oh the joy!  
Organizing, shopping, and time with my kiddos.   
So far, this summer is off to a great start.
:)  

Q & A – photography tips/background

Hi everyone!  It’s Q & A time.  :)  
Could you tell us more about your photography?  What camera you use?  How you got started?


Can you share some photography tips?  
Your camera work is great.  Can you tell us more about it?  Did you take a class or read a book or just read the instruction manual that came with your camera?  ;) 

I’ve had multiple questions about photography lately and I have to say that I don’t feel worthy to answer them!  My photography skills are a work in progress and far from fabulous, but they are better than what they used to be so I’m happy to share how I got where I am.  I bought my first SLR in March of 2009 and I’m still using that same camera.  It’s the Canon Rebel XSI and by now there are similar cameras with much cooler features and upgrades I’m sure.  I did take a class when I first got my camera because I had no clue how to use it.  BUT.  I felt like I learned NOTHING in that class.  Most of the people in it were used to using SLR’s and everything was way over my head.  I guess I needed an even more beginners beginner class.  :)  So after the class I read a few on-line tips (no books…and do people ever read those boring instruction manuals?) and then I did what I’ve been doing ever since.  I take a lot of pictures.  I take pictures every single day.  And when you take pictures every single day you start to learn a thing or two about your camera.  Without really trying to, you learn about photography.  That is my best advice I would give to anyone starting out.  Forget the classes and the manuals and just take TONS of pictures.  Play around with your camera.  Try out different settings in different lighting and see what you get.  Keep your camera out all the time so you can easily grab it and snap away whenever you get a minute.  Practice, practice, practice.  That’s how I’ve learned everything I know.

Another important tip I’ve learned from taking so many pictures is to pay attention to what’s in the background of your photo.

Quick example:

Here’s a picture I took for a Fashion Friday post of a couple of my necklaces.  I took this in my bathroom and I could tell the lighting and the blah tile background weren’t ideal.  
So I took a picture of the same necklaces on my living room coffee table with natural light coming through the window.  HUGE difference.  The necklaces look like they are supposed to.  Everyone knows that natural light is better for photography, but it’s important to also remember what a huge difference background makes.  I always try to clear the background of any clutter that might take away from my picture and if it’s a staged picture like the one above for my blog, I look for a background that will make my object stand out.  If I’m taking close-ups of the kids and don’t have time to clear the background (you have to catch those moments so fast!) I usually blur the background like in this photo:
This is so easy to do with a good lens which is my next tip.  Invest in a good lens!  It makes all the difference.  I have two fixed lenses (Christmas gifts from Kenny) which means they don’t zoom at all. They take beautiful pictures.  One of them is the Canon 28mm (my every day lens) and the other is the Canon 50mm (I use this once in a while for pics of the kids).  With both of these lenses I am able to get a lower aperture setting which allows more light in my photos and makes it so I can blur the background.  
My next photography tip when taking pics of your kiddos (or any people) is to take less of the “say cheese” photos and try to catch them interacting with each other.  I have learned through taking tons of pictures that my favorites are always when I catch my kids just being themselves.  
Quick example:

This picture cracks me up!  It was Valentines day and I was trying so hard to get a good picture of the kids.  Trying to get all three of them to look and smile at the same time, AND get them all in focus with Kole whipping all over the place was NOT happening. After taking about 15 pics that looked just like the one above I finally decided to stop taking pictures for a minute and to just let the kids interact with each other.

Then after a few minutes, without them even paying attention, I stood on my coffee table and took this picture from above.  I love this picture.

There are so many camera tips I could bore you with.  They are technical things that you can learn about on any photography website or in any camera manual.  But honestly, these are the things that have improved my photos the most:
-Take LOTS of pictures (keep your camera close by!)
- Pay attention to the background
- Invest in a good lens
- Catch kiddos in their natural state 

I talked about this in my “photography – lesson learned” post but honestly, when it comes to taking pictures, capturing moments like these:

far outweigh getting a technically perfect picture any day.  So while the technical stuff helps, it’s what is going on in the photos that make the best pictures.

My last piece of advice is to focus on that.  

:)

Chore Chart

Hi friends!  I started a Q & A post tonight but it is now well after midnight and I am nowhere near finishing it.  I clearly have more to say than I have time to say it.  As is always the case.  :)  It also didn’t help that I was trying to watch The Bachelorette at the same time and got totally sidetracked.  I can’t ever decide which is better entertainment.  That show and all of its nonsense, or my husband’s witty commentary during it.  Either way, it was an entertaining night to say the least and it kept me from finishing up my planned post.  So for now since I’m short on time I just wanted to quickly share my girls’ chore chart since several of you asked what chores I was having my girls do each day for their star charts.  A lot of charts are happening around here.  :)
Two years ago when I had baby #3 it became painfully obvious how much I was babying my girls.  Suddenly I was too busy to do every single thing for them and they were clueless as to how to take care of themselves.  Little things like fix and clean up their own snack, run their own bath water, and put away their own clothes were too much for them to handle.  Why take care of yourself when mom always does everything for you?  So since then I have given my girls daily chores and I have tried to teach them how to be more independent.  I am my own worst enemy when it comes to this sort of thing because as you may have noticed by now, I’m a bit of a control freak.  Especially when it comes to keeping my house in order.  It has been a learning process for me to be able to “let go” and turn some things over to the girls even if it means things aren’t done as perfectly as I like them to be.  Kole has forced me to mellow!  It’s a good thing.  HE is a good thing.  :)
Anyway, on to the chore chart!  
This is a simple list of chores I now expect my girls to do each day.  It hangs in their bedroom where they can easily see it.  My girls are 6 & 8 years old and it feels like just enough responsibility for them (and it works with our schedule).  At the end of the night we do a quick clean up before bed and they are always in charge of their bedrooms, bathroom, and playroom.  They know that if they do a better job keeping these spaces picked up throughout the day they will have less to do at night before they get to read stories with dad.  The girls also put away all of their own laundry.  Whenever I fold the clothes I just lay their clothes out on their bed and they put it away when they notice it.  I also added on the chart a few simple things we are working on under the category “clean up after yourself.”  I’m trying to teach them to be more mindful of taking care of the little things.  The constant little messes they make and just leave for someone else to clean up.  That someone always being me of course.  They also know to ask me if there is anything else I need help with.  Most days there isn’t because we run out of time and after picking up their rooms and doing laundry they are burned out, but every once in a while I have them help with other random chores… dusting, picking up the downstairs, and sweeping (that’s always a favorite).  I also do a lot of quick pick ups with the kids where I say “pick up 10!” and they have to pick up ten things off the floor and put them away as fast as they can.  Kids respond much better to chores when it feels like a game.  If we have quite a bit of cleaning to do upstairs at the end of the day I turn on music and we dance and sing while we clean.  It gives us all the extra boost of energy we desperately need at the end of the day.  
Our chore chart is far from fancy, but the expectations are specific (my girls need specifics!) and it gets the job done.  
**Update on the star charts.  Both of my girls got all of their stars last week and we have play dates with friends lined up this week to celebrate.  We also watched a movie together – The Incredibles.  The girls decided promptly after the show that the three of us are called The Freckle Girls and we all have super powers.  We do a “FRECKLE GIRLS… UNITE!” chant with hand motions that gets us pretty pumped up about saving the world.  One freckle at a time.  
:)

New neighbors and lot pics

Our new neighbors broke ground on their house this week!  They had a ground breaking party yesterday to celebrate.  Kenny and I feel like we lucked out big time with our new neighbors.  We love them!  We are in between two darling families.  Both have kids – one neighbor has five and the other four!  This is a bit rare in my area.  There seems to be a two kid average around here.  One neighbor is a surgeon and the other is a plastic surgeon so aside from having a kid friendly neighborhood, we are also covered on the doctor front.  If one of the kids’ get hurt – covered on the right!  If one of the moms need a Botox boost – covered on the left!  ;)  

We met in the cul-de-sac of our new little neighborhood, ate food, and then went up to their lot for a quick ceremony with shovels.  Such a cute idea and it was fun to meet friends of our new friends.

Seeing their lot with a fence around it in phase one construction mode made me so excited to break ground!  Their lot is pretty much identical to ours.  Both lots are shaped like rectangles.  Deep back yards – another rarity for my neck of the woods.  I am so grateful that the timing worked out and we were ready to jump on our lot when it popped up for sale.  And that I was somehow able to convince my husband (who swore that we were never going to build) that we needed to build.  Still don’t know how I pulled that off but I’ve patted myself on the back for it every day since.

 Of course Kole was in his element with all of the dirt piles.  

 Good thing dad was close by to assist when needed.  Every explorer needs a wing man.  

View from the back of our neighbors’ lot.  We had to get creative with the shape of our house when we were designing it because of the rectangle shape of the lot.  I wanted the house to have a lot of windows (I love light!) and Kenny cares a lot about the yard, so we designed things in a way to maximize the light and to make the back yard feel private.  My architect joked with me when I kept asking him if I had enough light that I would be walking around my house wearing sunglasses.  Which is good.  Because I need a new pair and that is a pretty good excuse to splurge on one.  
A few more lot pics…
 Yes – those are my girls.  The ones in dresses scaling the construction equipment.  

 Gate to our new neighborhood.  The lots are at the top of the little hill to the left of the picture.  

 View of our lot from the front.  Our garages will stick out on the right side.  This will all be much easier to visualize when I can share a photo that actually has something in it other than weeds.  :)

Side view.  
Addie was jumping up and down so I decided to join her.  You know how you see all those cool pictures of people in mid air?  And everyone looks so fabulous and athletic and happy and carefree!?  

Yeah well we tried to pull one of those off and failed miserably.  Instead I got this picture of me doing a  sad little jump with my butt sticking out to the the side and all of my hair in my face and a husband who wasn’t in the mood for re-takes.  Oh well.  Addie looks cute and the two of us have the happy part down.  We could have got there.  20 pictures later… I’m confident we could have got there.

So I know that I’ve now bored you all to death with pictures of DIRT but oh how I love this dirt!  And I needed to post this for my own family records.  You know.  For the someday when I have time to make all of my family blog posts into books.  I might be 65 before I get around to it, but someday it will happen.

We signed all of the construction loan papers tonight and these are the last pictures of the lot before we break ground (if all goes as planned – two more weeks!).  That reminds me of the show The Money Pit with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long (“two weeks!”).  Love that show.  Love my lot.  Love that pretty soon this dream of mine is going to start becoming a reality.

And now the time has come for me to stop boring you all with pictures of dirt and bath tubs.

At least for a few days.  :)

Happy Monday everyone!