Heat Wave

May 18, 2015 at 10:29 pm (Family, Personal, Photography)

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Well, I thought the worst of the poison ivy was over after Mother’s Day weekend – but oh was I wrong!  What a horrible, evil plant!  My right hand and arm swelled up twice the normal size, and oh the itch was absolutely maddening.  My advice – forget the whole “leaves of three” thing.  If it’s green and you don’t know what it is, don’t touch it!!  So I ended up on a steroid and two antihistamines and couldn’t work for all but Monday last week.  Averaged 2-3 hours of sleep a night until Saturday.  Pure misery!  But instead of taking a picture of my afflicted skin (there are plenty of nauseating pictures of poison ivy online), I decided to spare you all and just put up a happy picture of our blooming pink roses :).  It’s starting to clear up now, though, and I did make it through the whole work day today.  The weather has gotten pretty toasty, so the pictures I have this week are of my kids playing in the sprinkler in our front yard yesterday afternoon.  Thankful that the swelling in my fingers had gone down enough to actually be able to get some pics!

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My daughter was there first one out and stayed out playing in the water for a while.  My son took a little coaxing…the boy is seriously addicted to playing the piano.  He’s gotten a little better about playing outside now that he’s become a master at swinging, but he would still rather sit and tickle the ivories all day.

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First tastes of summer!  And some garden love…

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The roses are making me happiest now, since our lilacs have sadly lost their bloom.

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The little sage, already giving us some purple hues!

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And I’m thrilled with the lilies!  I started these from bulbs and they have sprouted very quickly!  Can’t wait to see them flower!

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And hubby’s front walk…

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We’ve been planting more flowers and bushes along the walk’s edge, and got the veggies in the ground out back finally.  I’m really loving gardening…as long as no poison ivy’s involved!  And on the baby front…I’m almost to 34 weeks now.  Getting close…  Still no name, poor little guy.  But he’s weathering the poison ivy ordeal like a trooper.  The third trimester swelling kicked in hard these past couple of days with the heat, but other than that, things are going very well.  It’s actually been a fairly nice pregnancy…pregnancy wise.  It’s the two weeks of flu and the two weeks of poison ivy that have made it a little rough.  But it won’t be long now before we meet our sweet little addition!

Have a very blessed week!

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Happy Mother’s Day 2015!

May 12, 2015 at 12:00 am (Family, Personal, Photography)

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The past week has been a little rough.  I came down with a bad case of poison ivy from doing yard work, and I have been itching like crazy.  The only thing that brings relief, in case you ever have to deal with this horrible plant, is running scorching water over it until it goes numb.  But Mother’s Day itself was wonderful.  My sister and I both got each other gifts with 1 Peter 3:4 on them, so I decided that’s the Mother’s Day verse of 2015.  So to all of the amazing mothers in my life and all those who love as mothers even when they aren’t able to have their own children, thank you for being such an inspiration to me and light for the Lord.  So here is our Mother’s Day in pictures…

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I’m so blessed that these two darlings call me mom.  They are the greatest joy on this earth, and they teach me something new every day.  They are so very different from each other, but they complement each other perfectly.

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My son making everyone laugh!

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Ice cream and chocolate covered strawberries with Popple!

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Baby swing?!?!?

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Always the wild one!

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Always thoughtful and pensive…

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Hanging with daddy on the front porch.  Poor hubby got some of the poison ivy in his eye…it was swollen almost shut for a few days :(.

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The walk hubby made…  It’s done now, and I will have to take a final photo once he moves the trailer and tools out of the way!

My dad’s gorgeous garden…

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And some shots from the car window on the drive home from my parents’.  I love the country backroads we get to take…it’s such a wonderful break from the city life that surrounds us!  And there’s just something magical about a field framed by lush green trees with a simple red barn standing watch in the sunset…ahhh…

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I hope everyone enjoyed a beautiful weekend! Have a very blessed week!

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Baby Faces and Kid Portraits

May 6, 2015 at 10:03 pm (Family, Personal, Photography, Uncategorized)

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I had to get another ultrasound today to make sure that everything is still going well for a VBAC.  It went great!  I’ve never had an U/S this late, and it was fun seeing the 3D pics and watching the fully-formed heart beat.  He’s measuring a week and a half big…go figure.  Already 4 lbs. 8 oz. at just under 32 weeks!  Hoping he’s not too much bigger than my daughter was when he finally decides to come out!  Today also brought a trip to the pediatrician since my daughter seems to have caught a stomach bug.  It gave us a scare because she had the first tick of the season last week and we didn’t catch it right away.  So I was concerned about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  But the doc says it looks like it’s just a bug, thankfully.  And those are the updates here.  I also took a little bit of time to edit some photos of my baby girl….

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Have a very blessed end of the week!

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Welcome May

May 2, 2015 at 9:29 pm (Family, Personal, Photography)

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Can you believe it’s seriously already May?!?!  I’ve been saying since March that April would fly by with busyness, but I didn’t really expect it to go quite so quickly.  Today has been a wonderful Saturday outside. It is gorgeous!  Perfect temperature; perfect sunshine!  So hubby and I took advantage of a day to get lots of stuff done around the outside of our property.  I started out the day on this…

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Yep, a girl and her tractor mowing two acres of grass that had way overgrown.  My allergies will be killing me tonight, but it was a nice time of riding around looking at the crystal clear blue sky and the horses!  And while I was working on that, hubby was working on this…

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He’s laying the concrete walk up to our front porch, and I’m loving how it’s turning out!  He’s been working hard!!

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We also started putting newspaper and rock into our front flower bed…

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I far prefer mulch to the rock, but hubby insisted this will be less of a pain and less expensive in the long run.  I may get used to it once the plants get bigger.  We haven’t filled it in all the way yet, either, because hubby still has to put in a watering system.  I spent a lot of the day weeding, which I’ve found is great since I get to practice my yoga squats in preparation for giving birth in a couple of months!  These hostas are probably the happiest of our plants right now…

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They’re getting half a day of sun and half a day of shade, and they’re absolutely thriving!

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Weeding also led to the discovery of some four-leaf clovers!

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I’ve always had a minor obsession with finding four-leaf clovers, so this was fun for me.  I actually left them in the ground for now, too.  I know they’re weeds and will have to come out eventually, but I’ll let them enjoy living for a while longer!

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The Japanese Maple is getting so pretty and making me that much sadder that we will have to part with it.  But I’m glad my dad is willing to give it a happy home!

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And our indoor veggies and herbs going strong…

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Then the kids played for a while and I got some pictures.  I felt like processing these like aged photos…

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They’re getting more daring, going down the slide backward and crazy!  I also got a book my friend recommended in the mail and blew off some laundry and housework to read a little…

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This is exactly what I need right now!  It’s a wonderful book about giving birth that is already making me feel informed and empowered as I get ready for an attempted VBA2C.  The birth plan is filled out and I am feeling much better than I did the past month!  So that’s been our weekend so far.  And here are some parting pics of the gorgeous sky and the trees filling out!

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Welcome May!  God bless!

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Miscellany

April 30, 2015 at 10:03 pm (Family, Personal)

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Ah, another week gone by in a blur.  It started out with this cute little baby bunny burrowed in our front lawn.  My daughter loved going out to visit him, but I think his mama wised up and moved him elsewhere.

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He is very cute and sweet though.  We also noticed that another one of our trees in the front yard is a white Dogwood.  It’s just smaller and bloomed later than the first one.

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Exciting for me though!

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The bigger Dogwood is starting to slowly lose its pretty blooms, but it still looks beautiful.

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On the inside of the house, I finally got one of my Pinterest projects hung up on the dining room wall…

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I finished these a while ago, but just hadn’t gotten around to hanging them.  So now they’re up…yay!  The outer ones are just frames with the glass still in them.  I glued a small glass vase to the frame glass and put a fake flower in.

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For the inner plaque, I took a cheap wood plaque from Michaels and stained it by first applying a mixture of steel wool soaked overnight in apple cider vinegar, then a coat of green tea mixed with instant coffee.  It worked beautifully and didn’t smell like vinegar at all.  Then I painted the M and glued it on and put a nail in for the picture frame so we can change out the picture if we want.  Finally, I added a burlap rosette.  I’m so happy to have this project done and up!!  Although I am seriously dying to paint the walls.  Baby steps…I know.

31 weeks…

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This has also been the turning point in my pregnancy.  Every pregnancy, there’s that point when I realize I can no longer do everything I used to do.  This week has been that point.  It seems like it came sooner this time around, but I can’t honestly remember when I started feeling this way with the last two.  My OB appointment went well yesterday, though!  So here are the 31 week updates.  Baby is head down…yay!!  Heartbeat is strong and he is measuring right on schedule.  The OB practice I’m using oversaw 23 VBACs last year, 15 were successful.  The other 8 ended in repeat C-sections, but no ruptures.  So that’s very good news!  We still have no clue what we’re naming him…boys are so hard to name!  We had a girl name picked out right away, but can never agree on a boy name.  On the plus side, my dear friend is set on throwing me a baby shower and kicked my behind into gear choosing a theme for the baby (Snoopy) and starting a registry.

On the not so good side, commuting is getting much harder.  I reached that point where I can’t walk up the escalators while carrying my laptop any more.  For those who have never commuted mass transit, there are really just people who walk up the escalators and people who don’t.  I’m one who does.  Not because I’m in a hurry…I mean really, when you commute as far as I do, a few minutes one way or the other hardly matters.  But to me it’s like in an action comedy movie when the action is going, all set to fast-paced music.  And then they get in an elevator or something and it all comes to a hilarious screeching halt, set to the cheesiest elevator music you can imagine.  That’s how the ridiculously long ride up an escalator feels to me. And to top it off, my lap is getting too small to sit somewhat comfortably on the bus with my laptop, purse, book, etc.

But it was really awesome today because some random lady standing in the commuting line gave me a Similac feeding kit.  Apparently, her GYN had given her a couple even though she didn’t know anyone who was pregnant.  Crazy how stuff like that works.

And a final shot of a pretty moon…

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I hope you all have a very blessed Friday!

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30 Week DIY Maternity Photo Shoot

April 22, 2015 at 5:13 pm (Family, Personal, Photography)

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I finally carved out a little time to do a makeshift DIY maternity photo shoot.  It was the perfect day for it.  I so wish my photographer friend still lived in the area!  But as painful as it was to get in front of the camera and do these myself, I’m glad I got some pictures of this pregnancy.  And the kids helped me out!  My son was sweet enough to be my focus stand-in, so I got a bonus adorable shot of him :).

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So here are the pics…

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A yoga pose for my new exercise regimen recommended by my midwife.  I love the yoga, just wish the people narrating the video weren’t so earthly spiritual.  Anyone interested in doing a Christian yoga video?  I’ll be the first to buy it!

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The belly…

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Thirty weeks and already getting the “you are going to pop at any minute comments.”  LOL!  Happy Wednesday!

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Tracking Growth

April 21, 2015 at 12:09 pm (Faith, Personal)

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I know, I know, more plant pictures!  I can’t help it.  I am really in love with spring this year…even as the pollen starts making me all sneezy and watery eyed.  I don’t think I’ve ever really stopped to appreciate watching the various plants and trees come to life.  It seems like they’ve always just been all brown one day and lush greens the next.  But it’s so fun to watch the little green buds grow and turn into gorgeous full trees.  I’m just in awe of all these perfect and intricate systems God created!  How anyone could not see a higher power behind the complexities of life is so far beyond me.  We watched a video of Andy Stanley during my grad class last week, and he talks about the systems of nature and life.  He made a point that really stuck with me.  Without systems, doctors and scientists would be useless.  If every human body and all the complex systems therein didn’t behave consistently, doctors could never diagnose and treat us.  We could never come close to predicting weather if it didn’t operate on certain systems.  We wouldn’t know when the sun would rise or the tide would come in.  Humans wouldn’t work in perfect harmony with plants to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.  The worm wouldn’t serve a vital purpose to a garden.  It’s endless.  So that’s what I’m enjoying so much about growing plants this year and watching all the trees on our new property come to life.

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The thing I love most about our Dogwood is that it doesn’t look like much from a distance.  The flowers just look white and non-descript.  But when you get closer, you can see the Dogwood markings on the blooms and how truly ornate they are.

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Plus I love the trunk and big limbs!

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My kids, hubby and I are really enjoying watching this willow grow.  It sat dormant in a pot in our garage through the winter, and we doubted it would survive.  But it’s thriving!

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I’m sad that we may have to take this little beauty out…

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It’s a Japanese Maple, which can be poisonous to horses depending on what hybrid it is.  Since we don’t know, we aren’t going to take any chances.  Not only are we planning on getting a horse some day, but the neighbor horses occasionally (like yesterday) get out of their pasture and make their way into our yard.  I really don’t want to kill a neighbor horse with our maple…  On a happier note, the Sedum my dad brought this weekend are already thriving!

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Those will one day bless our yard with beautiful coral blossoms!  And, of course, the lilacs…my favorite!

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And finally, inside we’re growing the beginnings of our veggie garden…

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Praising God for so much spring beauty!  May your Tuesday (and mine) be better than your Monday!

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Encouragement for a Monday

April 20, 2015 at 3:34 pm (Faith, Personal)

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Yep, it’s a Monday.  Some Mondays you just dread more than others.  And maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy, but those tend to be the worst Mondays.  It’s really hard to stay focused when your work environment is just soul draining.  I’ve found over the years that as a Christian, I have the most difficulty finding joy in my job when times are tough.  I like what I do for a living…just not always the way things run.  Since I work with military and my main boss is military, the people change on a regular basis.  That’s a great thing when you’re stuck with people who are, well to put it at least somewhat kindly, not fun to work for or with.  But it’s also really sad when the people you enjoy working for and with leave.  I had four years working for quite possibly, at least in my humble opinion, one of the best military general officers our generation has known.  It was an awesome four years.  No matter how long my career here drags on, I will always consider myself “his writer”.  He trusted my writing, skill, and knowledge implicitly.  I didn’t have to meet with him every week to make sure we’re on the same page. In fact, I hardly met with him at all.  But any written work that came across his desk for signature, he asked if I had looked it over.  Those years were such a blessing.

Then came four years of the next boss.  Although it got off to a rocky start, I built a level of trust with him, too.  And by the end, he would sign anything with my name on it.  Six months ago, his time was up.  When his successor was named, I was elated.  I had prayed for this officer to take the role.  He was rumored to be the protégé of my favorite boss, and I was looking forward to working with him.  Be careful what you pray for!  It’s been a nightmare now for six months.  This was the first transition where the entire military staff changed over at the same time.  The level of incompetence is mind blowing, even though I will acknowledge it’s not entirely the new staff’s fault.  There was no continuity.  But it’s painful.  Every work day is a struggle.  I like when things run smoothly at work…let’s face it, most of us do. No matter how much you like what you do, work is just that, work.  It’s what pays the bills.  And most of us would rather things run like clockwork and cause as little extra stress as possible.  I thought about this a lot during my grad class residency last week.  We were discussing leaders and how important change is in a work environment.  Many respected writers on corporate culture view change as a necessity and cite some workers who have been with an organization for a while as a stumbling block for progress.  I agree with this to some extent.  Sometimes the old ways don’t work in the new situations and we have to learn to let go and let things change.  But sometimes, when I look back on the years I’ve been at this job, all I see is how things ran smoothly at one point or another.  I’ve seen processes that work, and I recognize when those processes are broken.  I’m not opposed to change if it makes sense and makes things better.  I’m opposed to change that makes things worse and kills the morale of the entire staff.

So anyway, I’ll end that rant.  But I did want to share some verses that remind me from where my help and strength comes and encourage me with the knowledge that I am not working for someone else, only for God.

“Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.  Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people.”

~Ephesians 6:6-7

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

~Joshua 1:9

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

~Psalm 34:18

And an anonymous quote from the September 2012 “Our Daily Bread”…

“Be not always wanting

Some other work to do;

But gratefully perform the task

The Lord has given you.”

I needed these reminders today and hope they will help anyone else who is struggling on this Monday!

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Spring Planting and Pinecar Derby

April 19, 2015 at 8:00 pm (Cakes, Family, Personal, Photography)

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This was one of those uber-busy weeks when I have work and grad school residency days.  We also had our women’s breakfast Bible study and the pinecar derby at church yesterday.  So I am just wiped out…to the extent that my eyes were fighting to stay open at church today even though the sermon was amazing.  But it’s nice to take a little breather as I get ready to dive right into another crazy week and just get some pictures and a blog post in.  My dad came down yesterday and brought some fun plants for my front garden!  He stayed for the pinecar derby with the kids, too.  It was great! Here are some pics of the new plants.  More lilacs!!

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A Rose of Sharon (that stick in the middle) and some hostas…

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And some of the plants I got from American Meadows online…

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The garden doesn’t look like much yet, but one day it is going to be full of color three quarters of the year…I can’t wait!  The lilac we already had here is starting to really bloom…and let off that wonderful lilac scent!

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My dad also let me know what some of the other trees on our property are, and I am thrilled that we have a beautiful Dogwood in the front yard!  It’s starting to really bloom!

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And the kids had a fun time at the Awana Grand Prix pinecar derby.  My daughter won first place in her age group for speed…

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And my son took third in his age group…

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And really they just enjoyed having their Popple there!

I also had a cake order for today…Captain America…

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Today, I took a break from laundry, cleaning and homeschool planning to get outside with the kids for a little bit and take some pictures.  My daughter looked so cute picking Dandelions that I had to get some portraits.  Hoping to get into Photoshop with these and have some fun!

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I did play with one in Photoshop!  Original…

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With a black and white adjustment layer set to “screen”…

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And black and white with a pop of color.  I didn’t have time for all of the many steps you’ll find in most tutorials, so I just made a B&W adjustment layer set to “normal” and used the eraser tool to bring the Dandelion color back.

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Enjoy this beautiful Sunday and have a very blessed week!

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My Cherry Blossom Tribute

April 13, 2015 at 10:04 pm (Personal, Photography)

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Well, it’s not looking good for a visit to the cherry blossoms in D.C. before they lose their blooms.  This week is far too busy, and I’m thinking the blossoms will be withering after the rain that’s predicted.  So I’m contenting myself with pictures of our little cherry in the front yard.  It would be so much more awesome with the backdrop of the capitol or the TJ memorial, but hey, I’ll take what I can get :).  So here is my tribute to the cherry blossoms…

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And a sunset shot of the neighbors’ tree (dogwood maybe? – I have to learn my trees!).

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Have a blessed week enjoying the spring weather!

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