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Welcome to the hectic years

Hi, I'm Mindi.

And this is our Hectic Life.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Driving Mr. Lex

The conversation I had with Lex on the way to a Halloween Party yesterday afternoon:

Lex - "Where is the birthday party?"
"ummm, you mean the Halloween party? That's why you're wearing a Buzz Lightyear Costume."
"Yea, where is it?"
"Where's that?"
"South of here."
"Where's Bouncertown? Greenwood?"
"Yes, but if you remember, it closed."
Silence for about two seconds.
"Yes, but there are other bouncer places still open."
"Is Chuck-e-cheese still open?"
"Yes, we just went there last week."
"I want my birthday there."
"Well . . ."
"Who is that lady in the car next to us?"
After waiting about 1/4 of a second.
Seeing a lady in the mini-van beside us, I shrugged.
"I don't know, it's a stranger."
"Where's she going?"
"Not sure. We'd have to follow her."
"Let's do it!"
I made a noncommittal sound and tried to go back to my own train of thought. Then I had genius idea.
"Teach Callie her ABC's!"
"Okay! A, " (loud farting noise), "B" (another loud farting noise and a bunch of giggling), "C" More of the same, but this time Callie is joining in and they're laughing and she's spitting all over him. I sighed and shook my head.
"Look at that red tree buddy!"
"Wow, it's red. I want Lightning McQueen for my birthday."
"If I were Lightning McQueen wearing Buzz Lightyear wings, I could fly over those leaves."
"Yep, you could."
Quietly, "I want to walk up those hills." Then louder. "I want to walk up those hills! Do you?"
"Uhhh, sure, why not?"
"Where's the water?"
This one threw me for a loop.
"The water?"
"Yea, where is it?"
I tried to come up with a good answer that wouldn't inspire more questions.
"In lakes or streams or ponds."
"Where's the sharks? In the oceans? Do you like sharks? I want to find baby sharks."
Now I'm really getting lost.
"Okie Dokie."
"I don't like big sharks. Does dad like big sharks?"
"Uhh, not sure. Probably not."
"When they bite you do you get a band-aid?"
"Yes, you probably do." (he has an obsession with band-aids)
"To stop the bleeding."
"Where's Indy's?"
"Back home."
"Are we far far away?"
"Not really."
"Will we get there soon?"
Knowing that we had twenty more minutes to go, I just smiled in the mirror at him.
"I sure hope so buddy, I sure hope so."


Friday, October 29, 2010

Recognizing Color Casts In Photos

Since I recently learned how to do this properly (before this I was always guessing!) I thought I would put together a post so others could learn how to see their color casts. The next step in this tutorial will be how to fix it, and also, the result of using various methods for custom white balance.
First, I have to point out that if you use photoshop to adjust photos and upload them to the internet, you should be using a color managed browser to view them. Or, if you simply want to *see* better photos, considering downloading safari or firefox. If you use firefox I believe you have to change settings to be able to see the full range of color, but when I downloaded safari, the change was instantaneous. Now I won't use internet explorer again :)
Anyway, to begin seeing the color cast, we're going to look at this photo. Note that this is RAW, straight from camera, no photoshop work whatsoever.


The first thing I'm going to do is look at the histogram channels for the various colors. Here is the image for this photo.


Notice the red in the histogram on the right? Although there are some red bricks, there isn't a lot of red (the baby isn't wearing a red shirt, for example), so seeing the red take over the right side of the histogram is my first clue. But to be sure, I created a hue/saturation layer, and then chose the RED channel from the drop down box. See here.


After choosing the red channel, I slid the bar to 100% saturation. The image lit up like the fourth of July. See this image below.


I can be pretty confident that this photo has a red cast that needs to be corrected. But first, I want to use another method to see exactly what color is taking over the image. To do so I duplicated the background layer - then I went to Filter - Blur - Average. This will give you the average color in the picture. This color is shown below.


This shows a reddish-brown color, which is not what I want.

Next up, sometime this weekend, I'll get to the part about fixing the color casts. But for now, I have TWO MORE Halloween parties to get to!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Just a few pics of Callie playing football with us outside. She loved every minute of it, and once she figured out how to 'hike' the ball, refused to do anything but that.

And the reason why I've been behind on posting. I'm trying to get some family photos edited :)

Though I've been trying to fix my color issues first, and I have to say, I'm making headway. Still not there, but hopefully soon. I have a post drafted on recognizing color casts in your photos (yes, I have lots of them but currently no time to fix them!) and how you can go about removing them. Custom white balance doesn't always do it's job. I have a post drafted about that as well. Anyway, off to make the kids sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. And make a cup of hot chocolate - one of the best parts about cooler weather!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Color and Cookies

I've struggled with color issues in my photos for quite a while now. To make a long story short, a simple white piece of paper for custom white balance doesn't work anymore. Neither does a grey card, or other tools that I have tried. I was much happier with my photos before I calibrated my monitor, both on screen and in print. I shouldn't have messed with a good thing :) I'm also struggling with my photos in photoshop looking COMPLETELY DIFFERENT in any other program outside of photoshop,including blogger, and I can't figure that issue out.
Anyway, since I spent so much time trying to research a solution to my color problems, I didn't get my photos edited for sharing. And they're pretty cute too - Callie learning to hike a football! We had a busy weekend, as usual, but at the end of it I'm left feeling like I didn't get anything done. Except make some awesome Halloween cookies! I found a great recipe for icing - it dried nice and shiny and hard. Not like a rock but nice enough to stack Makes for a very pretty cookie. However, having 3 little 'helpers' makes it a very long process from start to finish. They want to help at every step, and wind up getting flour all over the counter, cookie dough all over their arms, and sprinkles all over the floor. Some of the cookies are misshapen (I had to explain to Gwen what that meant as she held a very skinny bat in the air), and others are broken. But as Gwen told me as I bit my tongue watching her get more icing on her hand than on the cookie, "I'm learning how to do it mom."
Yes, she was. They all were. But now I have quite a mess to clean up, and I'm pretty sure I have sprinkles stuck to my socks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The mirror

The other day Gwen said something that made stopped me in my tracks. Literally. She looked at me and told me that she was getting fat. That she had to exercise more.
Coming from any one's daughter this could be alarming, but Gwen has absolutely no fat on her body. Anywhere.
I told her that she isn't even close to being fat and that she didn't need to worry about her appearance, that she was beautiful no matter what. Because real beauty comes from the inside, not the outside.
However, Gwen is only six years old, and I knew that she wasn't getting this from other girls her age.
She was getting it from me.
Ever since I had Lex my body has not been my own. Lex was a very large baby, 10lb 11oz. I'm not quite 5ft3in tall, so to carry him my stomach had to expand. A lot. It was almost like having twins that were a healthy 5lb each. After having him I struggled for well over a year to lose the weight, and I truly only succeeded after I was pregnant with Callie and morning sickness eliminated my appetite.
Of course, at 10lb 7oz, Callie wasn't much smaller than Lex. And after a total of four kids, my body has become alien to me. As though it belongs to someone else. I've tried a variety of diets. I've avoided certain clothes, and I'm constantly saying that 'when I lose the weight' I'll do certain things. I'll go shopping. I'll buy nicer stuff, I won't be embarrassed to wear a bathing suit. We'll finally spring for a family picture with a real photographer. But only after I'm no longer ashamed to look at pictures with me in them.
For over a year I've said these things to motivate myself, to really try and lose the extra baby weight. But while I didn't see the harm in it at the time, I was harming my daughter, and perhaps my sons as well. Teaching them that bodily perfection is something to shoot for, that having four kids is no excuse to not look like you walked out of the pages of a fitness magazine. That external appearance is more important that what is inside your heart.
I decided that I had to stop my attitude about my appearance immediately. To really watch what I say about myself around the kids, so that they don't feel as though their mom is unhappy with who she is.
Of course, thinking it and doing it are two different things. It will be much harder to change my inside perception of how I look. To exercise not only to lose weight, but to feel better. To eat right not only for my body, but my health. To love who I am not only because of how I look, but who I am inside. But by changing the way that I see myself, I will hopefully influence the way that my kids see the world. I want them to love people for who they are, not what they look like.
I still want to lose weight. I want to feel better, not like I'm trudging through quicksand. But I'm not going to let life pass me by simply because I'm not happy with the way that I look in the mirror. Because Kevin has loved me through it all. He sees nothing wrong with the way that I look.
Now I just need to see myself through his eyes, and remember who is watching me, as I look in the mirror.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tough Week

This has been one of those weeks where everything goes wrong. Well, the little things. Like running late only to see the gas needle in the van lingering in the dangerous red zone. Getting caught in a traffic jam only to realize that your phone is broken and now you can't call your husband to tell him you'll be late. Again.
Waking up to find a dog mess all over the floor, mere DAYS after you had bragged to hubby that it had been two years since one of the dogs got sick. Looking out your dining room window and doing a double take to make sure that you did indeed see your precocious red pony walking around in the driveway, acting as though it were an everyday occurrence to be grazing on the pavement.
You know, happy times. Good times. The stuff you want to remember when you look back on your week.
Good thing I broke down and had a chocolate milk shake, I'm feeling marginally better about everything, though I'm still a bit peeved about buying a new phone.
So even though it's only Wednesday, I have to say I'm thrilled that this week is over halfway over.
At least we made it outside to enjoy this fantastic weather before winter rolls in and destroys everything, hiding the sun and freezing the plants until spring. Yes, I'm still bitter about losing summer.
Okay, I'm done complaining. Here are some more happy pics :) I'm off to burn some calories and bitterness off by running on the treadmill. Maybe I shouldn't have had that shake after all.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Today Was -

Sunday School in the morning, complete with pumpkin cookies and some good conversation.
A mad dash to clean the house so the kids could get to watch "Scooby Doo and The Curse of The Lake Monster"
Being outside in this perfect fall weather, rubbing the long soft coats of my favorite horses, and watching Hunter push Callie in the swing as she giggled uncontrollably.
Being surprised when Kevin walked through the door early after his weekend away, and getting a much needed afternoon nap.
Clean Laundry.
Sitting together as a family in the dining room with the windows open. Listening to the birds, the soft nicker of the horses in the background, shouts from kids down the road. Eating good food, enjoyed by even better company.

Of course that is a truncated version of our day, eliminating the difficulties of cooking dinner with a clingy baby, refereeing fights between the kids, and attempting to get all four kiddos out the door in time for Sunday School. Not an easy task if I say so myself. But years from now I won't remember the messy house, the floors that need vacuumed, and the pile of mail on the counter. What I will remember is spending time together as a family, watching the boys wrestle on the living room floor, and snuggling with my baby as she nestles in my arms.
Our life isn't easy, but no one ever said it was going to be . . .

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I like to be on the other side of the camera. ESPECIALLY after having four kids. Two of those kids being over 10lb. Plus, I usually look like I've been hit with a mack truck on the interstate. Seriously.
Still, I want the kids to remember that I was there for them, that I was indeed a part of the chaos that is our life. So I had Gwen take a picture of me with Callie and Apollo, my shadow.
Notice the porch post that has never been painted? I started sanding it to paint it, then we were going to replace them, and that was 6 months ago. Maybe I'll get it done while he is deployed (silent laughter).

And I had Kevin take a pic of me when I was semi-put together. Trust me, if I don't suck my tummy in I look 6 months preggo. And jogging thirty minutes on the treadmill doesn't seem to be helping me out any. But I have to admit, the major sunwash in the photo seems to be hiding most of my mack truck look.

So that's me. In all my tiredness and messy hair that will never stay put. I love photography, horses, dogs (can you tell?) and most of all I love my family. All four kids and the hubby who is gone from home more than he's here. But that's life. Our life.
Now off to pick up Gwen from gymnastics. But I think I should get out of my jammie pants first :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Good Friday

Today was one of those days.
The sky was so blue it hurt to look at it, the weather was clean and crisp, and every once in a while I caught the scent of woodsmoke on the breeze. I stood outside in the midst of autumn, and listened to the chattering of the squirrels getting ready for winter. The distant whinny of a horse. The wind skittering dry leaves across the ground. And smiled.
I love Fridays.
This morning, after dropping off the big kids at school, I spent the day with the littles. We headed out to a playdate at the gym where Lex and Callie jumped on trampolines and catapulted into a foam pit. They even got to play parachute, and as I watched Lex dance around underneath the colorful fabric I was transported back to elementary school. I could almost smell the crayons and glue, hear the giggles of my friends and the distant ringing of the bell.
Then I treated them to McDonalds where their Happy Meals were served in Halloween buckets. They were so cool I wanted one for myself.
After we got back home I hoped beyond hope that Callie would take a nap. She asked to go in her crib, and I waited to see if she would lay down. Nope, not happening.

So I gave up and spent some time turning the kids into airplanes, and stalking them around the house like a bear. Of course that meant laundry wasn't getting done, but that's okay. I'm so far behind I'll never catch up anyway.

After we picked up the 'Bigs', we headed back outside to enjoy the leaves.

I tried hard to get some pics of Callie wearing her headband, but that girl doesn't like to have things on her head.

We fed the ponies, and then I headed inside to make dinner with Callie.

When Callie got fussy I solved her issues with a cup of chocolate milk. That's what I love about the age of my kids, they can be happy with a bit of something sweet. Hopefully it will always be that easy. Happy now, she made fried grapes in her little kitchen while I finished the pork lo mien.

After I called the kids back inside and we ate, it was movie night with a bucket of popcorn that the three older ones devoured. At the end of the movie, like usual, I carried three of them to bed.

So it was a good Friday, and it only could have been made better by Kevin being here to share it with us. But he's training this weekend, the first of many coming our way.

I'm hoping tomorrow will be just as good :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, October 11, 2010


Saturday, after about ten minutes in the corn maze, Lex looked over and said, "Look! Corn!"

Yes Lex, it is a corn maze. We had to laugh because he was so serious. A

We shared a smile. Gwen getting into make-up, feeling all grown-up, not realizing that less is more. Of course she's too young for anything but lip gloss, but she had to at least try.

And you know what else I love? Besides chocolate milk shakes of course.

Being able to take pictures of this.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


This weekend we tried to pack as much fall in as we could into three short days. It was a beautiful weekend - summertime in October. Friday night we went to the apple orchard, where I of course tried to get a picture of all four kids together. The first one went something like this.

As a photographer I know that you don't want to mix circles and plaid, stripes, and a dress. But my kids pretty much remember what I tell them, and I like to tell them to be independent. To pick their own clothes out. So they asserted their independence and I got a mixture of clothes. Which is fine. Well, mostly fine. I really wanted that perfect picture, and I was hoping the orchard would be the day. But instead of lamenting the fact, we moved onto other things.
Such as a rope swing, a pumpkin house, a petting zoo, and hay bale jumping.

I did get an entirely unscripted picture, that after today's brawl on the living room couch between Hunter and Gwen, is going to be blown up to a 20x24 so that they never forget the truth.

Yep, they like each other.

After their display of sibling love, Callie and I played hide and seek behind a tree. I was trying to distract her from hanging out with another family who was feeding the turkeys. She kept getting really close to them, and looking at them, wondering when they were going to give her food to feed the turkeys. Ummm, Callie? Over HERE.

Lex asked me to take his picture - well, demanded actually. It was cute.

There was a huge haypile, and Hunter thought he was king of the hay.

At one point during our evening, I stopped and turned back to see this. It was very peaceful, and was the picture of fall.

By this time, it was getting late and I needed to get what I came for - apples. So I followed Callie down the trail and had to smile when she grabbed her skirt.

After I waited in line for a bit trying to juggle two large bags of apples and a lot of apple cider, I told the kids I wanted one more picture. This time, we went into the orchard.

When it was done Hunter asked me if I got my perfect picture. I just laughed. Because no matter how flawed the photograph might be, the memory of our fall tradition will always be perfect.
And that's what truly matters.

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