Monday, June 28, 2010

i heart faces ~ pets

This week's photo challenge at i heart faces is all about pets! I've gotten some pretty incredible shots lately of animals (remember that tame squirrel at the park?*) so I had a really hard time choosing which one to submit. Since this is a pet theme though, I'll submit one of Charlie, our Labradoodle. Charlie is one year old and we got him from a breeder who donated him to our family because of Anna's special needs. I had hoped that Charlie would become Anna's dog and had intended on taking him through all of the delta training necessary to become a service dog. I had also hoped that he would sleep with her at night and alert us to any seizure activity. The good news is that Anna hasn't had a seizure since we got him (shhh! the 4th of July marks one year since her last seizure but we don't want to jinx the seizure gods by talking about that) so we haven't had a chance yet to see if he will detect seizures. As a result, I still sleep with her every night... maybe one day I'll sleep with my husband again. Charlie didn't bond with Anna as much as me so he's really become my dog. He is so funny and so human in many ways. He is a dog that is more than a dog, kwim?

I took this picture of Charlie a couple of days ago for my 365-Project and used my 50 mm prime lens. I love the DOF I got with his nose in focus and the rest of him gently blurring in the background. I used My4Hens Glee action from her Kiddy Pop collection (free!) but otherwise it is pretty much SOOC. I decided to use this picture because a photographer friend and fellow special needs mommy that I respect and admire so much told me, "It's a surprisingly human dog portrait." Good enough for me! Thank you, Mary!!!

Wow, there are already so many great entries! I'm number 364... I don't envy our judge this week! She is a teen photographer with an incredible gallery. Check out her work, Emilee Fuss, and be sure to visit i heart faces to see all of the fabulous entries this week. You can click this image to see a larger version.

* If you'd like to see all my animal and insect pictures, check out my Critter set on Flickr.

Thanks for looking and for visiting my blog!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Semifinalist in a photo contest!!!

I am in total shock! I recently joined Clickin' Moms, an amazing site for hobbyist and professional photographers. I have learned so much there in such a short amount of time. They recently held a Bathroom Photo Challenge, where you locked yourself in the bathroom for 20 minutes and picked your three best pictures to submit. Creative editing was encouraged as was natural light. One of my photos was chose as a semifinalist!!! OMG!!! You would not believe the talent there, I seriously could cry I'm so excited. Here was my photo... the faucet processed with a gradient and TTV filter.


Thanks for sharing in my excitement!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Release by AnnaBV Designs

I haven't had time to scrap much lately. Luckily, Anna has been very kind to let me go part-time on her CT for the summer. Thank you, Anna! Today she is releasing a new kit and bundle called Jungle Babies. It is so cute! Look at all of these adorable jungle animals. Perfect for scrapping zoo pictures or photos of your own wild child, this kit's got you covered. She is also offering a separate alpha and wordart, or you can get the entire bundle!

Jungle Babies

Jungle Babies Alpha

Jungle Babies Wordart

Jungle Babies Bundle

My Layout

Thanks for looking!

Monday, June 21, 2010

i heart faces ~ teens

This week's photo challenge at i heart faces is all about teens! I have so many beautiful pictures of Jenny that I could share and I know the talent out there is going to be amazing but I have to show off my beautiful daughter! This was taken in January this year when we were in Corpus Christi for our first college visit to Texas A&M. Ultimately, Jenny has decided to attend there this fall as an incoming freshman to study environmental science. I couldn't be prouder of her! There is something about this photo that I love... it was a very candid moment, not posed... I'm not even sure she knew I was still taking her picture.


Thanks for sharing this moment with me and for visiting my blog!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fix-it Friday #59 at i heart faces

This Fix-it Friday photo was submitted by Julie Rivera Photography, an IHF contributor. Here is her before:

And here is my edit:

As soon as I saw the image, I knew I wanted to go black and white with a really soft focus. (I think colored stripes in general are very distracting for photos.)

My workflow, using Photoshop CS4:
~cropped to focus on baby's face
~levels adjustment layer to lighten midtones
~reduce noise
~unsharp mask 100, 1, 10
~convert to black and white
~duplicate, gaussian blur set to 4, then selectively masked to increase softness
~a little tweaking of contrast to add pop

Thanks for looking!

Monday, June 14, 2010

i heart faces ~ babies

This week's photo challenge at i heart faces is all about babies! There are so many incredibly talented photographers out there, and the baby market is infused with amazing photography and art. I love browsing through the professional galleries and being inspired by the poses, the lighting, the processing, but most of all... the beautiful babies!

This is a sweet little baby that used to live in our neighborhood. When she was three months old, her mom said I could take some photos of her as I was trying to learn to use my camera off the auto settings. There was so much I did wrong in that session! Lighting, ISO settings, oy! But I connected with this baby, and that filled up something in my soul I didn't know was missing. I took over 600 shots of her in the space of a couple of hours and several ended up being quite good. I just love the eye contact in this photo and the processing too. I still have so much to learn, but this session is what really sparked my initial passion for learning more about photography.

Thanks for letting me share!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Calling All Son-Shines!

My4Hens is an incredibly talented photographer and Photoshop action queen. She is having a little contest featuring"son-shines"... our sweet little boys who brighten our lives so much.

Calling All Son-Shines!

Of course, I have to enter my sweet boy! For this photo, I did the whole My4Hens treatment... starting with the Photographer's Tool Box, I used her basic editing workflow, soft pop, and eye pop. Then I ran the Total Softy action. Simply stunning! I ended up loving this photo so much that I also made it my photo of the day yesterday for my 365-Project. The winning photo will have a boy-themed action set created just from his photo! Thank you for this opportunity, Sarah!!!

Here is my SOOC:

And my edited photo:

I also loved another photo from my little "photo shoot" with pickle but it was a little out of focus. I did the same workflow but ran the Watermelon Blues action on it at the end.

And one more! This one I used Black and Whitish, then Total Softy.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fix-it Friday #58 at i heart faces

This Fix-it Friday photo was submitted by Susan Keller, an IHF contributor. Here is her before:

And here is my edit:

My workflow, using Photoshop CS4:
~cropped to remove arm aiming camera at self
~levels adjustment layer to lighten midtones
~noiseware, then art history brush at 50% add freckles back in
~unsharp mask 20,30,5
~duplicate layer, high pass, .5, overlay
~duplicate background layer set to soft light 100%, add a gradient of cyan to white from upper left to lower right set to soft light, erased at 30% opacity over faces
~new layer of yellow set to color 20%

Thanks for looking!

The park and the squirrel

I was really dreading today. Curtis and Jenny left for Corpus Christi last night for her freshman orientation at TAMUCC (wah! it's coming too quickly!) and I am on my own today and tomorrow. With the bustle of the morning, I totally forgot to give Anna her new Luvox. She had been getting so bad about her obsessions that the neuro was doubling her dose today before we've even weaned her off of the Lexapro.

I noticed at lunchtime that she was really pleasant today, then I remembered what I had forgotten to give her. Interesting, eh?

Looking back, AEDs (anti-epileptic drugs) increased her seizures. She has very unusual reactions to medications and maybe, just maybe, the medicine that is supposed to help her stop perseverating has been making it worse. I emailed her neuro and expect to hear from him tomorrow.

Anyway, we went to the park for a couple of hours this afternoon and right as we were leaving, I look down to see this squirrel dancing behind Anna. I really thought he was going to jump on her! Of course, I had my camera and got some pictures. We gave him a fruit snack and he loved it. He came back for 2 more and I got some really close-up pictures of him. It was so cool!




I also took a picture of this tiny ladybug that I just happened to notice. So cute!


Thanks for looking!

Monday, June 7, 2010

i heart faces ~ play

To get my mind of this rough day, I decided to participate in this week's challenge at i heart faces... play! This is a photo of my daughter, Anna, if you don't know her. She is nine years old and has PDD-NOS, a form of autism, so play skills are not natural for her. I created a box of dress up clothes and accessories when she was five to encourage make-believe play, but she never really took to it. Recently, we got the box out again, and to my delight, she started dressing up and playing pretend. She's still not great at making eye contact, especially for photographs, but I love love love this photo of her! After days like today, I need to remind myself of this sweet smile.

Thanks for looking!


I feel like I have poison in my blood. At the end of such a long day with such a crappy ending, I have this intense dislike of my daughter's chemical imbalance in her brain and subsequent feeling that I intensely dislike her. Which of course, I don't. But it's hard to tease apart the complex layers of her disabilities, her moods, her perseverations, her aggression, her issues... and see the little girl that is trapped inside of all that. At the end of such a day, I am filled with disgust for myself, for losing patience, for hating this, for losing sight of that little girl that needs me so.

The day ended with me not talking to Anna, with me putting her to bed without her bath or bedtime routine, because I just couldn't take anymore. Her obsession with getting yet another babydoll (she has 21, yes that's right, 21 dolls) is so out of control that we saw her neurologist last Wednesday about it (changing from Risperdal to Abilify in April helped the aggression and impulse control but the perseverations are much worse). My out-of-town relatives got to witness it the weekend before last for Jenny's graduation and it hasn't eased at all since then. The neuro is changing her from Lexapro (which is just for anxiety) to Luvox (which is for anxiety and OCD) but it takes 2 weeks to transition the meds and another 2 weeks to see improvement. I called him today and left a message with the nurse that Anna is getting much, much worse since beginning the switch and if this is what we should expect. I hope to hear from him tomorrow. I also got an appointment, finally, with the child psychiatrist for June 21st. It can't get here soon enough.

I had the idea today that we could make a doll instead of buying one so I took her (and Jenny and Dominic) to Hobby Lobby late this afternoon with the intention of buying materials to make something simple. I was so overwhelmed with the sheer choices and the kids' behavior that I feel like I caved. I bought a premade doll that you just add stuffing too. I hope I didn't make a big mistake in rewarding her neverending behavior in asking for another doll. Although, frankly, if the doll obsession is satiated, she'll just find something else. I then took them to Applebee's... Jenny and I have been on Weight Watchers for over three weeks now and I'm tired of cooking. They have WW point meals there and though we really shouldn't have spent the money, with Curtis and my mom out of town the last few days, I was just too wrung out to cook another meal. It didn't go well.

As soon as we entered the restaurant, Anna wanted to leave. Her fear of babies (there were none present) led to an initial resistance to sitting down. We ended up getting seated next to a huge party... maybe 20 people and it was loud, though there were no babies. She began putting her hands on her ears and asking to leave. Looking at Jenny, who was so looking forward to eating out and looking to Dominic, who was really excited too, I sighed and went back up to the hostess and asked to be seated elsewhere in the restaurant where it was quieter. With relief, we got a booth that was a lot quieter, but Anna still wasn't happy. After ordering drinks, she began clutching her stomach and crying. I feared that she was going to throw up, wondering what in the world would bring on this sudden onset of pain. Right after our food arrived, I got her up out of the booth debating on whether to take her outside for a walk or to the bathroom. I had to really talk her into going to the bathroom because she has a huge fear of autoflushing toliets (we had quite a scene at the Oasis when my MIL was here because they did have those kind of toliets... you'd thought she'd seen a monster, her fear was heartwrenching). I got her calmed down in the bathroom and we went back to our booth. She didn't want to eat and Jenny had just about finished her meal so she took Anna to the car to wait on me and Dominic. I got our meals in to-go boxes and paid the check. Oh well.

After getting home and already feeling pretty defeated, I put the stuffing in the new doll and Anna became obsessed with showing the doll to the neighborhood kids. It was already time for bath so I said no, we'd do it tomorrow. While getting her medicine ready, she went outside without permission. She ended up in the neighbor's driveway, bouncing her soccer ball against his garage. I warned her, gave her to the count of three, and she laughed at me and refused to come in. So I had to stomp over there and threaten her (I took the new doll away for the day tomorrow) and she threw the ball right in my face. I staggered backward, it was a direct hit and it hurt... a lot. She ran toward the house laughing. And I filled with anger, so much anger. I felt like crumpling to the ground, I felt like running away, I felt like yelling at her and being mean. I just became silent.

I had to man-handle her up the stairs and into her room. She continued laughing and calling me "idiot girl" and "stupid-head" and saying that I would not be her best friend, ever again. I stayed silent. I handed her medicine to her and she batted it away. She began trashing her room. I left the room, quietly, closing the door, holding her medicine, and sitting by the door, and I waited. Ten minutes went by, then she opened the door like nothing was wrong. "Are you mad at me, mommy?" I was still so angry, I stayed silent. I led her to the bathroom, helped her wash her hands and brush her teeth and take her medicine, then I put her pullup and jammies on her and put her to bed. I read one book, then turned off the light. I felt awful. I don't think I've ever skipped her routine before.

As she went to sleep, I feel this poison run through my blood. I don't hate her, but I do hate her behavior. She challenges everything I know about parenting and even parenting special needs. Some days, I feel ill-equipped. Some days, I feel like giving up. But of course, in a couple of hours, she will be up again, and she will need me. And I will be there.

The List

The List is what keeps me on track... I write everything I need to do on The List. I am trying to spend some time updating The List with June tasks, work, appointments, and ideas. In reviewing this, I discovered that no where on The List does it say:
~Manage the children on my own for the month of June (Curtis is out of town as is my mother most of this week, then Jenny is gone at the end of the month)
~Not have enough money to accompany Jenny to Corpus Christi this week for Freshman Orientation (so Curtis will be going while I stay behind with the kids)
~Go slowly insane while waiting on the transition from Lexapro to Luvox to take effect with Anna's obsessions and perseverations
~Have Anna get up at 10:30 p.m. every.single.night and interrupt my only work time/alone time for the day

I started a post about Jenny's graduation over a week ago and still haven't finished it. I haven't even edited photos from that day yet. I've missed so many Wayback Wednesdays and Thoughtful Thursdays, and I have many ideas for these posts to share. Creative ideas and projects are spilling out of my head like never before so I'm writing them all on The List. Hopefully, I'll be able to address them at some point.

A week into the summer and I already am painfully aware of how dependent I have made my children on me. I have my work cut out for me getting them to be more independent. Anna won't play with Dominic, the neighborhood kids won't play with my kids, so they both turn to me for entertainment. I know there will come a day when they prefer to spend their time with others, but the 24/7 nature of this summer overwhelms me.

So! I am committing to at least get a post finished about Jenny's graduation complete with pictures this week. One thing at a time, right? Thanks for reading. I really miss everyone!!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

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