Saturday, January 30, 2016

Colored Envelopes, Treats, Sombreros, and Murder

In other words...birthday fun!

I usually like to do a separate post for my and Tyler's birthdays, but today I'm just lumping everything together and calling it good.

In the beginning, I was very adamant about celebrating separately, but the older I get, I see how foolish that is. Why make two cakes, when you can make one? (Or in our case...just one batch of brownies.)

I had a delightful birthday. I went to lunch with some of my wonderful friends. I happened to choose a Mexican restaurant, so I ended up with a Sombrero on my head, but that didn't even spoil the day. (You and me, Tim.)

In the evening, we had big plans. We went to a Murder Mystery dinner. There is a little back story to this. When Tyler and I planned our monthly dates for the year, we decided to do a Murder Mystery. I suggested around my birthday. He agreed and I didn't think much more about it. Then in December, a good friend said she was planning a Murder Mystery evening. She said she was thinking about New Year's or mid-January. I immediately voted for January. It would incorporate our date and our birthdays and I wouldn't even have to host. Pretty sweet.

Our characters were the lord and lady of the household. We got all dolled up for the big occasion.

I even tried my hair in an old-fashioned pin-curled style. Trust looks nothing like it is supposed to, but it worked for the evening.

The evening was so fun. The food was great, contributed by all. (We brought a ton of shrimp...yum!) I met a lot of new people and enjoyed everyone's company. We played the game through most of the event and there were prizes awarded at the end. I managed to snag an award for being one of the best to stay in character. But I did not get any awards for keeping secrets. By the end of the evening, everyone knew of my torrid fling with the bad guy right before I got married and the confusion about whether my daughter was really my husband's child. (Spoiler: She WAS my husband's child, thank goodness for that.) I'm sure it brought scandal on the household, but I am all for honesty and I was tired of being blackmailed by the scoundrel. So much for secret keeping.

I also did not accomplish my goals (in the game), since one of them was to keep the good doctor out of trouble and he turned out to be the murderer. (Oops.) At the end, there was a vote for who everyone thought was the murderer and I got the most votes. (Although the doctor got the second highest number of votes.) Hannah's parents were at the party as well, which made it very fun. They are to the right of us in this picture. (Your right, not my right.) (Oh, and Mr. Keen was the good bad doctor.)

I couldn't have asked for a better 'birthday' party. I'm thinking that we might do this again next year.

The kids watched themselves and we came home to a clean house and treats. Look at this cute sign.

But my favorite part was that later, on my camera, I found a little photo shoot of the treats...just like I do. Here they are close up.

And then the best part...eating them.

Birthdays mean colored envelopes. I think a colored envelope is about the best thing that can come in the mail. I opened the mailbox to find three one day and it was exhilarating. Sadly, one of them was from Geico. Granted, it was a birthday card of sorts, but I don't think that counts. Don't spoil it Geico. Colored envelopes are special.

You already know that we played some Laser Tag around Tyler's birthday. I don't know what to say. I don't mean to win. It just comes naturally. (That sounds more conceited than I mean it sound.) He forgot to post a picture, so I'll put it here. (And yes, I am holding up one finger because I came in first...that is purposeful conceit.)

We opened gifts as they came. The card from my mom was a little too generous, but happily received. (Seriously, thank you mom.) Tyler helped the kids burn their names into a cutting board for me. It will be well used.

Tyler received clippers. (Which we promptly used to mow his mane.) The girls gave us a dozen love notes with pictures and candies. They are the sweetest. You don't need much when you already have fantastic kiddos.

I did manage to make some brownie bites in lieu of a cake and we blew out our candles together. Ahhh.

It was a great birthday for both of us. Another year under the belt with the love handles to prove it. Some say we are older, but I like to say we are more experienced. Either way, we felt the love from so many people who made our days special. Thanks!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Picture This

I really need to get blogging. I haven't been in the groove, and the posts are stacking up. Such is life. However, today I have a treat for you.

Family pictures.

Those are always the best.

And unlike last time, I am going to post them right away. I will eventually change the banner at the top, but no rush. Baby steps.

I did clean the freezer out today. And made bookmarks for our family book group. And I am watching two sick kids who probably are not sick enough to be home, but everyone always seems sicker in the morning. (Makes sense, I usually feel like crud in the morning as well.)

We used Fotofly again, because I love their pictures. And they do such a good job with lighting and avoiding the glare on glasses. (No easy task.)

So let's see how cute my girls are. They are growing so quickly, I can hardly stand it. I love them so much with all their quirkiness and individual personalities. They are my besties.

And don't forget the family shots.

It was a very fun evening. I adore my family.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Portraits - Simple Natural Light

I love natural light. If there was one thing I could change about the house we have right now, it would be the lights. Really, I would just add a whole bunch more windows. In our last place, we had lovely large windows in the living room and up in our bedroom and the lighting was so fantastic for picture taking. If we ever build again (which I highly doubt), big picture windows will be a must.

When I do the photo shoots with the girls, we usually do them outdoors and use natural light. Sometimes we score a nice cloudy day, but more often, I go somewhere with shade. I don't like the harsh shadows on the face, although sometimes that can be fun.

The photo challenge for the week comes out on Sunday, and last Sunday, I woke up to a cloud. The whole world was enveloped in white fog and there was new snow on the ground. It was really quite lovely. I thought about taking a picture, but ran out of time before church.

But how lucky am I that the fog didn't quite burn off by lunch? (Very unusual.) I came home and grabbed the nearest child and we went outside. It wasn't nearly as foggy as first thing in the morning, but you still get a good idea and I love the soft white light.

Behold...June in a natural light. (i.e. cloud light.)

I took some photos a little farther away so you can see the softness in the background.

Since I took those on Sunday, I have been lazy all last week. But I will have my work cut out for me this week with FREEZE MOTION. The gears are already turning in my head.

p.s. There are strict instructions to use a different person in each portrait shot throughout the year. So, you may see June in other photos, but if it is portrait style, June has already had her turn.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The 10th Anniversary of Cazier's Birthday Bash Laser Tag Mayhem

This year marks ten whole years of the annual Laser Tag event. For all of those years, Maleen has DOMINATED (if not won) every laser tag competition. Tyler's had a few lucky high-ranking victories, but the real King Queen of laser tag is surely Maleen.

Here are this year's top ten by rank. There were other players that did not come from the DHI shooter pool, so they're names are left off.

1 Maleen Green
3 Tyler Green
4 Carbine Red
5 Caleb Red
6 Foster Green
7 Doug Red

9 Tristan Green

You can see that 7 of the top 10 were from the DHI group. Woot!

Red Team
As you can see from the point tally, the red team won by virtue of most kills. Congratulations to Tristan, Lisa, Doug, Carbine, Caleb, Arthur, and William. They managed to pull off a 498 to 445 victory.

Carbine (K/D; 56/39 or 1.4)

Caleb (K/D: 55/61 or 0.9)

Doug (K/D: 47/40 or 1.2)

Tristan (K/D: 43/23 or 1.9)

Lisa (K/D: 27/25 or 1.1)

Arthur (K/D: 39/35 or 1.1)

William (K/D: 32/45 or 0.7)

Green Team
And now, the noble defenders of truth, righteousness, and virtue: the Green Team. MVPs on the green team include both Maleen and Tyler, ranking 1 and 3 overall respectively.

Maleen (K/D: 90/38 or 2.37)

Tyler (K/D: 82/54 or 1.5)

Foster (K/D: 54/65 or 0.8)

Jay (K/D: 45/36 or 1.3)

Dan (K/D: 49/60 or 0.8)

Langi (K/D: 12/45 or 0.3)

David (K/D: 4/40 or 0.1)

Naturally, some recognition is in order.

Dominator. First, Maleen "The Dominator" is worthy of the title, coming in at number one again. Any more, it's just a battle for second as the forgone champion is pretty much always Maleen.

Most Accurate. Langi edged out Dan for the most accurate. Langi's accuracy was 8.57%, Dan's was 8.55%.

Wildest. Tristan sprayed 1,649 shots with only negligible accuracy at 2.61%. It's like having a mini gun operated by a drunken sailor.

Let There Be Peace. This year's shooter of the least shots was David James at 113 whole shots. Langi came in a close second at 140 shots.

Most Deadly Three. This is classified by highest kill / death ratio: Maleen (2.37), Tristan (1.9), and Tyler (1.5).

Battle Fodder. Every battle needs those guys that run into the hail of lasers, lighting up, and waving to everyone else to come join them on their cloud with a cute little harp. These three were the lowest kill / death ratio: David (0.1), Langi (0.3), William (0.7).

Martyred. Foster died the most at 65 eulogies required. We're sure he died for a cause, we just don't know what cause.

The Gift of Avoiding Lasers. Tristan look the least lasers at 23 deaths. Lisa was close at 25 deaths.

I Stood Up To Maleen. There's always one that stands up and tries to take down Maleen. Caleb gave it his all and scored 10 kills against Maleen. (Of course, she scored 21 against him...ouch!)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Do It Yourself Bangs

Daisy used her DNT (designated nap time) on Sunday to give herself bangs.

I'm thinking she is old enough to know better.

It will take a long time to grow back into a normal style.

I guess I don't care so much, except that we do have family pictures next week.

Always good to document the awkward phases.

I'm thinking a good headband will go a long way.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

View From Under a Bridge - HDR

Okay, I am not expert on HDR photography, but this is the best way I can describe it:

You take a picture at normal exposure. Then you take the same picture over-exposed, and again, under-exposed. You can take more than three actually. You can take many pictures at varying exposures. (I believe my Photoshop HDR function takes up to 11.)

Then I used Photoshop HDR Merge to combine the images and it gives you extra detail that you might not be able to capture with just one level of exposure.

Like I said, I'm no expert. That was a pretty rudimentary explanation. So I'll show you some pictures along with it.

First, I want to say that there aren't a lot of bridges around here. Certainly none that I can think of with beautiful city scapes underneath them. (Oh to be back home by the Narrows.) So I was limited in that respect. But the challenge was simply the view from under the bridge and that was doable.

Here are the ones I took. (It snowed the evening before so there was a light dusting on everything.)

Let's take this last one for an example. Here is the original photo.

Now over exposed.

And under exposed.

When combined, they give you this image below. (Interesting to note that in the original, it is still too bright to see the detail in the snowscape beyond the bridge. Without the underexposed photo, you would not be able to see the detail in the trees.)

It is an interesting effect that I would like to play with some more. In fact, I'm kicking myself that I didn't know what to do earlier in the week when we had an amazing sunset.  Here is what we saw - no edits.

I tried to cheat. I took the picture and over exposed it in photoshop and under exposed it saving each copy. Then I combined the three. (So not original pictures, but the same basic idea.) It went a little psychedelic on me.

I will definitely be trying this again next time the sky gives me pink and yellow stripes.

Next week: Portraits - Simple Natural Light