09/21/2012 10:51 am
I love when people document things in a organized manner, like take pictures of their kid every first day of school in the same place holding the same thing. Or when they take a picture a month of their belly, or first year of a baby’s life. It is often hard to tell growth and time in our lives without pictures. But alas, I am not so organized as those friends of mine that manage to remember to document it in such an organized way. I do however have really really great photographer friends like Cindy, Michelle and Mali who have been walking, breakfasting and beaching with me all throughout my pregnancy, and have documented my growing belly with their camera phones. And I feel so blessed to be able to share my nine months of a belly growing with this baby boy someday.
Forgive all the bikini shots, but I was growing my belly from May to September, and so it goes to figure we were at the beach or pool almost everyday.
You can follow these ladies on instagram for their full feed of amazing photos. Here are their user names:
08/26/2012 1:45 pm
It is no secret that I love taking pictures with my iPhone.
Better yet, I am slightly obsessed with Instagram. But although it is fun taking pictures of my family, it is sad when they stay on my phone, and never get printed. I mean who prints photos anymore in this digital age? Right?
Any company that plans on making it easier on me to print these pictures is greatly appreciated. That is how I came to write about Keepsy.
So, my office had a big wall, and my plan was to make a collage of all my favorite Instagram photos to put up in a off the shelf frame from Aaron Brothers. As it turns out. Printstagram offers the exact product I planned on making, and it took all of 2 minutes to put it together and order it. Something that would have taken at least an hour on Photoshop. Much like the Keepsy albums that use your online images, Printstagram had me log into my instagram account, and select the images I wanted to add into my collage. Then, Viola!
In less than a week, my idea was put into my home. A far cry from all my pins on pinterest sitting in my head.
And, these generous people at Printstagram have offered THREE OC Family readers free posters. All you have to do is tag your photos on instagram with these two hashtags:
#mommyimomments and #socialps
and you will automatically be entered to win this awesome prize. I have to say, I am a bit jealous of all of you, or should find a way to enter on my own!
So spread the word, love and happy printing!
08/05/2012 2:12 pm
There is something intuitive to a young boy when it comes to treasure. You are constantly looking for it. It is either a perfect stick, a great shinny rock, or a lego piece that is unique and valuable. It translates well into pirate stories where the treasure is often buried on some deserted island filled with jewels and gold coins. Maybe this is where our hunting began? Spending countless hours with my son exploring beaches, walking over sand that was full of possible trunks of hidden treasures.
Who can even remember.
But my son and I have become obsessed with a certain treasure that is found on the beaches of California. Sea Glass.
It started with a small and jagged piece that if I found today, I most likely would throw it right back in the water. It was a green piece of glass, that stood out amongst the shells on the water line. But it was treasured. We discovered that at low tides at certain beaches we could find three or four pieces at a time. That was the day it became a hobby. It is an amazing hobby at that too. It is undeniably relaxing and therapeutic, and the best part is, it is free.
Sea Glass is fascinating as well. We have learned that the cobalt blue dates back to old medicine bottles, red is often from tail lights when they were made of glass, and thick brown or amber pieces may be from old whiskey bottles. All of the glass ended up in the sea through storm drains or dumps, and has been tumbled through the rocks for many many years.
Of course you will mostly find green and brown or white from beer bottles, but the more you look, the more rare the pieces you may find.
So you might be asking where are the best places in Orange county to go hunting for this? Or maybe not. I will go ahead and reveal some spots that I have found these treasures.
1. Huntington Beach Pier (low tide)- I found this place on accident, going for a morning walk at super low tide one morning before anyone had the chance to get down there. Look amongst small pebble piles or tide lines, and go slow. I have walked behind seasoned hunters who have missed pieces.
2. Laguna Beach(various tides) honestly, after huge tidal surges, added with a storm or two off the coast, much is often stirred up in Laguna. Any cove can offer a great opportunity to hunt. But I warn you, you may expect a day to be great, and find nothing, while other times you go for a simple walk, and come away with handfuls of glass and treasures. NOTE: Most beaches in Laguna are protected. This means look at all the beautiful sea life, but don’t pick up or take anything except this sea glass.
Below is a pile of treasures found in only two hours. It was a long stretch of beach up in Oxnard, and according to a local, it was completely unusual to find that much. There was a pile of pebbles and rocks that was washed ashore from a storm, and amongst it was milk glass, plates, patterned tiles, red glass, all colors of blue and even the rarest of rares, an orange piece of a decorative plate from the 50′s.
Some people like to keep all their sea glass tips to themselves, but I have come to realize that there is a lot out there, and very few people are really looking for it. I hope a few readers pick up this hobby, and wish you the best of success in your journey. It is guaranteed to bring you hours of joy and peace, and it is a wonderful experience for any child from age 3-93.
06/17/2012 8:31 pm
Summer is either right around the corner, or already knocking on your door (that you don’t answer it if you are still in your pajamas and it is already 11.)
But I wanted to inspire you to try and capture five photos this summer that will remind you of all the special joys that summer can bring to you and your family. Trust me, your kids will thank you come October.
1. Water shots!
Water plays a big role in the summer, weather it is keeping you cool on a hot day, or splashing against your face from the waves at high tide. Either way, you want to remember that carefree feeling of play and it is sure to bring out natural smiles in all your little ones. No more “say cheese.”
Water tip: If water is spraying, get the sun behind the water to highlight those water drops.
Yes, summer puts you outside for most of the day, and you are sure to find yourself somewhere pretty during sunsets. Weather you are at a national park, or set somewhere along the 42 miles of beautiful coastline in Orange County, it is a good idea to try and capture all those colors that light up a summer sky.
Sunset tip: shoot straight into the sun, and get your kids to play around right in front of it for a fun silhouette.
Toes are everywhere in the summer. Kids get to kick off their closed-toed-school shoes in exchange for flip flops and bare feet! Now go grab a quick picture of those piggies against the water, sand, or grass.
Feet tip: Get a few feet together to compare sizes. Daddy’s toes look enormous next to your toddlers.
4. Summer Food
Summer brings out all kinds of food that you hardly see throughout the year, s’mores, bar-b-q, watermelon, and lemonade. Grab a shot of that deliciousness to sweeten your memories of those fun filled days.
Food tip: Look for macro mode on your camera, (usually a picture of a flower) to help focus on the details of your food.
5. Friends and Family Reunions
Summer vacations bring people together. Friends that have moved away often find time to come visit, family has a way of making more time to be together, so be sure and capture those reunions carefully.
Reunion tip: Get your camera ready for that initial hello, it can be emotional and fun to see kids get excited to see each other.
06/03/2012 2:22 pm
This image was edited using snapseed. A review I posted a while back of a iphone application.
Snapseed is a FREE app for a limited time. Go check it out and have fun with it if you don’t already have it!
05/28/2012 7:53 pm
Summer is almost here, and I am sure you plan on spending at least a few days down at the beach. Why not learn how to build a sandcastle that will keep your kids occupied for a a large portion of the day?
A few weeks back we went to the beach and stumbled on a professional sandcastle builder working on this masterpiece for a boy, asking a girl to marry him. Of course we sat and watched, for about 2 hours to be exact. It was amazing, and the builders were nice enough to give us some great tips. I am going to pass them on to all of you OC Family readers.
The first thing the builders told us was that it is important to have the right tools so you don’t get frustrated. We spent the next day after school roaming the isles of Lowe’s searching for tools that were similar to the professional’s arsenal at the castle building construction site, on a budget of course.
All of the following items were purchased at Lowe’s by me.
A large bucket to store everything in, and to transport water back and forth, you will need lots of water.
Smaller sized plastic buckets that we cut the bottoms off of with a razor blade.
Putty knives for carving walls, roofs, and stairs.
Paint brushes to brush away loose sand off larger areas.
Vinal tubing to blow into windows or small holes to get rid of loose sand.
And then we made one last stop at Michael’s for these specific tools for carving details in our castle.
Our tools in the sand….
First lesson is consistency. Dry sand does not stick to itself. There is probably a great science lesson here, we skipped that whole lesson, and just went with it. Your sand has to be wet and HARD PACKED!!!!!
Step 1: We made a huge pile of sand, close enough to the water to get more, but far enough away to avoid the rising tide destroying our castle. We kept pouring water on our pile, and simultaneously stomping on on the pile to make it hard packed. Our pile was about 2 feet tall with a moat (where we got a lot of the sand).
Step 2: We placed our BOTTOMLESS buckets of various sizes onto the mound of packed sand and packed them with wet sand. We poured a little water on top of these to be sure they were wet, and did some pounding with our fists and shovels.
Step 3: Once we made sure they were wet and firm, we slipped off the bottomless buckets one at a time and began our carving.
You can even Pile smaller sizes on top of the larger ones, but I recommend taking off the buckets slowly as you are ready to carve. The smaller putty spatula works great for carving stairs into your pile of packed sand.
Step 5: Using your oil paint palette knives, carve windows and doors into your towers. We found the best results when you carve a small portion at a time and brush or blow the excess sand away. When you are done, adorn with mermaids and drink umbrellas (optional).
Well this is actually not our castle right here, but we used it for inspiration.
05/21/2012 11:09 am
Can you remember reading books as a kid, crying your eyes out about a dog dying? Where the Red Fern Grows was the first I could remember. My forth-grade teacher wiped her eyes and took breaks as she read that aloud to the class. When the saddest thing I knew to that point in my life was not fitting in on the playground, a dead dog made me sad for at least a week. But alas, my family never had a dog. We had kittens, and chicks growing up, but they usually “disappeared”, coupled with the fact that I never grew close to those animals, I avoided that devastating experience of losing a dog. Until Now.
I joke around with the fact that I got a puppy for valentines day, and one more for my birthday, when it was my husband that was in love with dogs. He wanted them, and celebrating me was an excuse for him to get them. Two Labrador retrievers, one golden and one chocolate, were found in the newspaper ads when they were only weeks old, and we had a lot of fun incorporating them into our childless life. They were essentially our kids. Every single day I took those two dogs to the park. We made weekend trips to the beach, and loved watching Bear, the chocolate lab dart under waves to swim out to the sea lions.
And then we had a real boy. He grew up with these two dogs, and thought of them as his siblings. Sure, we stopped making daily trips to the park. (Way too hard) And the beach? That was nearly impossible what with the amount of stuff you bring for your kid, a dog just about put us over the limit. So that came less and less. But they were loved. In a pull-your-tail, chase-around-the-yard, try-to-ride-you-like-a-horsy kind of way.
But what I wasn’t prepared for was, as it turns out, humans live much longer than dogs. Labs only live to be 12 or so years old and last February our dogs turned 13. Bear, our chocolate’s health was failing. As a mom, I was hoping to figure out a way to shield CJ my seven year old from this devastation. But nothing made sense more then letting him be a part of losing him. Each night we said good-bye to him, just in case he didn’t wake up. And each night, for seven days CJ would cry himself to sleep. It was harder than I thought to make the choice to put him down, until the end when things got really bad.
But we did say good-bye. And it was harder for me than I had thought. Seriously, it is a dog!!! But he was so much more to me than that. He was a protector, a beach friend, and a comfort to me in the many years we tried to get pregnant before CJ. Tears come to me with I think of him, say his name, or look at pictures of this chubby lab.
CJ talks about him, but doesn’t cry now. He remembers him fondly. When I took him to the vet for the last time I couldn’t imagine ever going though that again. “No more dead dogs!!” I told myself. But looking back, it was a great friend to CJ, and a great lesson in responsibility, and an even greater lesson in loss. For now, we will enjoy Sandy while we can and remember Bear with the few iphone pictures I have.
04/22/2012 3:36 pm
Walking around New York for a week with a seven year old was adventuresome and active. We never ran out of things to see and do, and walked 50 blocks a day on average. Carrying around a huge camera was not only cumbersome but unnecessary when you can slip a 4.5 inch, 4.9 ounce phone in your back jean pocket.
So here were my top New York adventures, recorded by my iPhone:
Brooklyn Bridge- Free to walk accross, and so amazingly beautiful. Views of Manhattan skyline, and the Manhattan bridge, this ended up on the top of my list. We even spit “Brooklyn” gum off the side after making a wish, a tradition I hadn’t heard of until that day, avoiding car windshields and open sunroofs was a relief.
Central Park: This was first on my list. After seeing countless movies and shows filmed here, I knew it would be cool- but I was not prepared for the Springtime tulips planted everywhere. It was beautiful. And huge! It was nice to let CJ play in a few of the playgrounds giving him a chance to make a few friends and just play.
Sony Wonderlab: This was a total surprise. It was a technology and entertainment museum full of hands on exhibits that were engaging and informative. We learned how to broadcast a news report, preform virtual surgery, control robots, create animation, edit videos, and mix music to name a few.
Top of the Rock: 30 Rockefeller has an observation deck that competes with Empire state buildings views, but with a plus! You can see the Empire State building.
Dylan’s Candy Bar: A candy store full of every imaginable candy creation you could dream up, and a bathtub full of gumballs. Do I need to say more?
Statue of Liberty: This went on my son’s list first. He was so excited to see this, it was almost more fun to watch him than to even look at the statue.
Times Square: Sitting on these red steps people watching was the perfect end to each day.
Baseball: Yankee’s, Met’s and Phillies are all a train or subway ride away. We fit all three in, and although we loved them all, nothing can compare to the energy and enthusiasm of the Yankee crowd. Batting practice was a great way to get settled into the ballpark, and offered the best opportunity to get a genuine leather souvenir.
Although I have a few pictures with my canon 5d that I love, and could never live without, it was nice to have a few days that we could leave that big thing back at the hotel.
04/01/2012 7:03 pm
Once upon a long time ago, when I was a rookie mom, I used to plan trips to the beach. Strategically I would chose toys and objects that we would play with once we finally pushed the BOB- bobbling with objects over its sides down to the sand. On a good day, Cj would play with one of those toys for a few seconds, and be done. Inevitably, one by one the toys would be offered up to the sea, or sand, until all we had left was a broken sifter and a half of a shovel. Predicting what he would do at the beach was harder than picking two lottery numbers. If I brought a boogie board, he would climb the rocks the whole time. If I brought a chair for him, he would join a gang of boys digging a gigantic hole.
So now, we pack the car with ourselves, and a bottle of water, and we are there. On low tides we come home with pockets full of treasures, and on high tides we almost always get wet, but each time we go, we have a totally different adventure.
Last week, we headed down to the beach with the intention of taking a few quick pictures of Cj’s moppy head before he gets his spring buzz. CJ raced ahead of me and began climbing the rocks. As a lady approached him on the rocks, I instantly rolled my eyes, thinking to myself, oh boy-what now? But she then came straight to me to let me know that there was a baby seal in the cave. Cj and I were thrilled. So exciting to see animals up close…..right? We cautiously entered the cave, and there in the back slinking away from us was a baby elephant seal. He was tiny. If you looked carefully you could count each and every rib along side his back. But he was so cute.
Another mom and I authoritatively assessed the situation, and ended up calling the Pacific Marine Mammal Resuce since we came to the conclusion that we do not have the slightest idea on weather or not he was ok. With in a few minutes, they were there. They brought a crate, and a huge net, a beach community version of the dog catcher.
The workers let CJ carry up towels and nets behind them into their truck. And just like that our friend was gone.
After a little investigation, we found out that they named our little baby Emma Swan, and she entered in critical condition. Immediately they started feeding her through tubes to get her healthy again. Despite the tireless efforts of the volunteers, we called the next day to find that she didn’t make it. What a sad sad discovery for us, but a wonderful experience for CJ and me as we fall deeper and deeper in love with this wide and unpredictable ocean.
So, until next time dear ocean. We may build towers upon your sand, search for treasures, see a whale riding your waves, meet a friend, or go for a swim in your freezing waters. But we know one thing for sure, we will have a wonderful experience with you as our friend.
03/19/2012 10:37 am
This is Snapseed.
It is a photo editing software for your phone or ipad. Cost is from $4.99 to free.
(Every once and a while it is free, so keep your eyes out if you are against purchasing apps.)
Before Snapseed, I admit to opening my image in a few different apps sometimes to get the look I wanted. Snapseed has everything you will need to edit, and more.
After you open your image in Snapseed, you have a selection of areas to edit. Basic adjustments are under tune image. You will find the following five areas to edit.
Brightness, ambiance, contrast, saturation, and white balance. This covers your basic overall feel of your photo, or helps if there is any exposure issues.
One main menu option that I love, is selective adjust. You can bring up the exposure on one small area such as the face, and then also bring up the background in contrast or brightness. This offers detailed control and specific artistic possibilities. Brightening or saturating a certain area on your photo can ultimately bring more attention to that aspect of your photo, offering a better focal point.
This application offers endless options when it comes to a vintage look to your photos.
In the main menu options, there are three that can embellish your photo to look romantic, aged, or vintage. Those menu choices are Vintage, Drama, and Grunge.
Vintage has a few set settings that you can apply to your photo, along with control over the strength of the texture or brightness of the filter.
Drama offers much more of just that. It is more radical changes than the vintage filters giving your photos a more dreamy or dark ambiance.
Grunge can add strong textures with a variety of styles to add to that “rock and roll” vibe of a photo.
Overall the ease of use for this application is great. The controls are easy to figure out, and playing with your photos will be addicting.
The sky is the limit when it comes to looks and styles for your photos. You will have a blast turning your phone photos to art, or just helping those photos look their best. I love that if I am out and about and have a few minutes waiting in line, or sitting at the park, I can edit my favorite photos. Once I get home, they are ready to print and frame, or share with family and friends. This saves me so much time in the long run, and best utilizes my in between moments while out.
I highly recommend this application for photo obsessed moms such as myself.