Meagan Musing: May 2011

Meagan Musing


Photo Challenge - Best Face, People's Choice

This week's photo challenge at I Heart Faces is People's Choice. We can enter any photo from May that includes a face.

I had a hard time choosing one because I was really happy with so many of my photos from May, but in the end I decided to go with this one.


I just love the big grin on his face and the arc of the water from the sprinkler.

Head on over to I Heart Faces to see more favorite faces photo entries.

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Memorial Day Weekend

I am so thankful to live here, in these amazing United States. I am thankful for all the freedoms we enjoy and realize how blessed we are to get to celebrate our country and those who have served on this Memorial Day holiday.

We celebrated with our first official lake weekend of the season. And it was a good one! We headed to my parents' place on the lake Saturday afternoon for a weekend of grilling, swimming and general merriment.

My cute little nephew was there.


Look at that after-bath hair! Reid has the funniest hair I've ever seen on a baby. It's starting to grow out and lay down a bit now, but for about two months it all stood up on end just like this - all the time. So darling.


Andrew had been really excited about the lake and going out on the boat. Unfortunately it was too windy to take him out this trip, but he didn't lack for water time.



I'm so glad we've been in swimming lessons this spring. We had a chance to practice some of the techniques we've learned in class, and he did really well.

He wasn't even scared to jump in to Daddy.



My parents' pool has a tanning ledge on one end that sits about six inches deep so we were able to play with all the pool toys up there and then periodically take him out in to the deeper water.


It's perfect for babies and toddlers. We didn't even put Andrew in floaties this weekend.

I can't wait to see what he can do by the end of the summer.

Saturday night was beautiful. We grilled out and enjoyed the view.


And Sunday night we had a babysitter so we adults were able to go out for a wonderful, leisurely dinner.

I had so much help with Andrew from Brian and my parents this weekend that you'd think I'd be nice and rested and ready to start our first week of summer, but right now I'm just feeling sleepy and ready for bed. The sun and the swimming really take it out of you. Oh, and being 30 weeks pregnant will do it to you, too. :)

At least all that activity means Andrew was out like a light at bedtime tonight.

I hope you all got to celebrate this great holiday with dear friends and family and fun!

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Last Day of School

Today was Andrew's last day of Mother's Day Out. We've both loved it so much. They do such fun activities and they get to paint in almost every class. Andrew loves that part. I think it's been so good for him to play with other kids and learn to listen to his teachers.

Sigh. He's growing up so fast.

Here are photos from the day Andrew was supposed to start school last August. He was sick that whole week so we just pretended like school started a week later. :)




He was barely talking and was right in the middle of the worst climbing streak. I remember I couldn't keep him on the floor for anything. On the first day of MDO I warned his teacher to watch out, that he was fast and sneaky. She confirmed this at the end of that first day.

And here is a photo from today, his last day of school.


My big boy, looking forward to summer.

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You Capture - Pretty

I had a lot of fun getting these pretty images this week. I'd hoped we'd have more in our pretty baby girl nursery to share, but we're a long way from finished there.

So I grabbed my camera yesterday evening right before a big storm rolled in.


I loved the way the light was bouncing off the edges of this ivy on our fence.


And this is one of our magnolia blooms. I've never had a magnolia tree before, and I didn't realize how short-lived their pretty blooms are. They're so soft and fragile.

It was super windy since the storm was blowing in and Andrew didn't like that at all. I snapped this one right before he said, "it's too windy here!".


And we do have a little bit of our nursery finished.


This is our pretty new chandelier for baby girl's room. Our walls are Behr Light French Gray and the ceiling is a soft pink, Behr Pastel China. You can see both colors in the photos.

I'm so happy with the paint colors and with the chandelier. The room is really starting to come together.

Check out more great shots at I Should Be Folding Laundry.


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29 Weeks and Nursery Progress's flying by!


I'm still feeling good, but my feet and legs are really tired at the end of the day. I think though, that if that's my biggest complaint, I'm doing pretty well so far.

I'm planning to update y'all on the nursery soon, but we've made very little progress. The chair rail is up and the room is painted. My bedding from Pottery Barn, The Lily nursery set, is on back order until early June.

I still have to pick out fabric for drapes and a glider chair.

I have three prints in this set from Etsy:

But the white frames I ordered for them shipped incorrectly and now I have to send them back and wait for the right ones.

Brian did hang our little chandelier this weekend and it's so pretty. But he needs to install a dimmer because five little 40 watt bulbs put out a lot more light than I thought they would.

So, I will hopefully have an update for you soon after some of these little things get taken care of. I'm so anxious to get it finished!

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Crazy Twos

Andrew is so clearly a two-year-old that some days I don't know if we're going to make it to three. Today was one of those days where he did the exact opposite of everything I asked him to do.

M: Andrew, let's go play outside! A: No!
M: Andrew, I know you're hungry. Let's have chicken nuggets for dinner. A: No!
M: PJ's are on. It's time to brush your teeth! A: No, where's Daddy?

Brian was working on his handyman list around the house all day today so Andrew didn't get much play time with him. I think Andrew was really frustrated that Brian was here at the house, but that he still had to spend most of the day with me.

Seriously as I was washing him off after dinner he repeated no,no,no,no about 30 times. I said, "Andrew, is no your favorite word?". And he said, "NO! Dolphin is!". Whatever you say, buddy.

We still tried to do fun stuff today anyway. We just had to work it in around the bad attitude.



WEB_IMG_5451 you think we should get him a kid-sized ball?

We also made these yummy Banana Apple Muffins from Weelicious.





These are so yummy and so easy to make. The recipe makes about 48 mini muffins and I think Andrew and I together ate a full dozen today. Oops.

We also made a quick trip to Target and picked up a life jacket to get ready for the holiday weekend at the lake next week. We never took Andrew out on the boat last year, and I can't wait to get him out there soon. He's going to love it!

He was so excited about the life jacket that he wore it all around the house this afternoon.


Clearly he was in need of a floatation device in our den.



He makes me laugh even when he makes me want to cry. Ah, motherhood.

Hope you had a fun weekend, too!

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Photo Challenge - Yellow

I wanted to enter a yellow photo for this week's photo challenge at I Heart Faces.

I love the yellow light and his little yellow flag and the yellow monster on his Mini Boden shirt. And the look on his face is priceless!


Head on over to I Heart Faces to see more yellow photo entries.

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Happy Camper Tee

I knew it was bound to happen soon, but y'all I'm starting to get really, really tired. I do okay for most of the day but by about 7 or 8PM I am just done. We went to the Mavs game on Tuesday night and didn't get home until 11:30; Wednesday was a really long day.

I used to be so good about going to bed at 10:30 every night. That was back when Andrew went to sleep at a decent hour. He goes to bed so late these days that I consider it a victory if he's asleep by 9:00.

And that doesn't leave me much me time and I know you know how important that is. So, I end up staying up 'till midnight and then vowing to go to bed earlier the next night. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Anyway, I really wanted to show y'all these cute Andrew pictures.




I love his new green shirt. It's a great color on him and it's just so cute.


It's from Honey Bee Tees, the little shop started by one of my favorite bloggers, Darby, at Fly Through Our Window. If you don't read her blog I'd highly recommend it. She always has great recipes and crafts to share and lots of pictures of her darling kids.

I also ordered the tractor shirt. Andrew's really excited about that one.

These photos give me a great opportunity to point out the importance of a big aperture (low number) and shallow depth of field in your pictures.

Andrew was standing in my unbelievably messy kitchen this evening when I took these using my speedlite. I used my 50mm f/1.4 at f/2.8 and was only about 2 feet from my subject. The perfect recipe for making those dirty dishes and kitchen towels fade into the background.

Now if only I could make those things disappear in real life. :)

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You Capture - Busy

We were playing outside on Sunday afternoon after church enjoying our beautiful, unseasonably cool May weather, when Andrew decided he'd sing a song for us.

Y'all he's just so busy, which happens to be the photo challenge at Folding Laundry this week.

He was standing in his wagon, singing and dancing and keeping us extremely entertained.


We laugh at him with him a lot.

This afternoon we decided to get the pirate water table out for the first time this season.


So busy concentrating on the water.


"I'm cleaning it mama!"


Whew...he keeps me busy. I hope I can keep up these next few weeks.

*My favorite photos from the water table last summer are in this post. Oh, where does the time go? Seriously, he looks like such a baby! Sigh.

Check out more great shots at I Should Be Folding Laundry.


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28 Weeks


I'm 28 weeks today!

I had a great doctors appointment on Monday except that I had to drink the orange glucose drink. Ugh...I really don't like that stuff. I had a stomachache the rest of the day.

I realized recently that the only thing I have bought for this baby is dresses. Which is awesome because they are so pretty, but she might need some pajamas.

Or a pink car seat cover, or even a new, pink Boppy cover.

I know I have most of the big stuff left from Andrew's babyhood like the swing, the car seat, a bathtub and a stroller, but I don't have any pacifiers or socks or tiny newborn diapers.

I need to make a serious list.

I see a big trip to Buy Buy Baby in my near future.

I know I blogged some about how I was still nursing Andrew as a toddler but I never did an official we are done and fully weaned now post. He finally weaned at 22 months. We were down to just one or two sessions a day and at the end he was perfectly happy to be finished. I was already about 2 months pregnant with the new baby and felt like it was just time. It was certainly bittersweet though.

I loved my breastfeeding relationship with Andrew so much, and I'm already hoping and praying that this new baby girl and I are just as successful.

But I remember those first few weeks and how hard it was and how much time it takes and I get worried. What in the world will I do with Andrew during all that nursing time? Will she have a good latch? Will my milk take five or six days to fully come in again? Will Andrew and I know every single song on Nick Jr. by heart?

As she gets closer and closer to a reality so do all these questions.

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My Favorite Photoshop Actions

I upgraded my Photoshop Elements to the full Photoshop program, CS5, last fall, and I've been in love ever since.

There are so many things I can do in CS5 that I wasn't able to do in Elements; I use my curves adjustment layer on almost every photo and the ability to put a mask on each layer is awesome.

And one of my favorite things is the ease with which I can run actions.

I thought I'd share a few of my favorite Photoshop actions with y'all. I'm certainly not an actions expert, but I've played around with quite a few and hope this helps some of you.

Also, I've found that you really need to know what your style is before you start loading up on too many actions. It's easy to get caught up in all they have to offer and then you lose what you originally were trying to convey with your photo.

One of my favorite actions that I run on 60% of my photos is Amy McMaster's AMP Simply B&W.

It's pretty simple, hence the name, but it adds so much. (And did I mention that it's free?)! I usually toggle off the black and white layer, but if your photo is clean enough to start with it can make a beautiful black and white conversion as well.

It's a series of curves and levels adjustments playing with contrast and you can tweak them all to your preference.




And together:


You can see it's subtle, but I think it really helps most photos pop and look much more finished.

You should check out Amy's site. She is so talented and very generously shares (for free!) some of her actions with her readers. She also has tons of Lightroom presets and other Photoshop action sets for sale in her shop that can do beautiful things to a good photo.

My favorite retro/vintage action is Keri Meyers' A Little Retro.

It comes in a set of three - Take the Red Out, A Little Retro and Color Pop. I mostly use A Little Retro, but they're all great. (Take the Red Out is great for newborn baby skin.)

Here is A Little Retro by itself:


I like to run it with the AMP Simply Black & White. This is my fast, go-to combination for quick Andrew shots.

Here it is with both Simply B&W and A Little Retro:


At the end I added a curves layer with a mask and brightened up under his eyes. There are lots of ways to do this, but this one is pretty fast and effective.

Here are all three versions together:


It's worth pointing out that I almost never run an action and then leave it just like it is. With most actions you have the ability to change the opacity on different layers and even turn effects off if you prefer. I've found that almost all actions need some kind of tweaking for any given photo.

There are so many beautiful action sets out there. I also love my actions from Paint the Moon and the new Flora Bella Luxe II collection.

Both of these sites offer all their actions for Photoshop Elements users, too.

I wanted to show you some more of my favorites but it's taken me forever to put this post together. I think I'll save them for another Photoshop post soon.

In the meantime please let me know if you have any questions about actions. I'd love to share what I've learned with you.

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Summer Flowers

Before this pregnancy I'd buy a bottle or two of wine every week. Brian and I liked to have a glass of wine with dinner or maybe even more than one glass on the weekends. :) And sometimes we have company and it's nice to offer them something to drink.

But now I'm pregnant and clearly not drinking wine every week, and Brian is studying every night and doesn't have time for such fun.

So I was really proud that we were saving all that wine money at Kroger, but then I discovered that they have beautiful hydrangea bunches for $8.99. That was my maximum amount I'd spend on a bottle of wine so now I just have a new weekly expense.

I think it was a good trade though.

They're so pretty.



And they make me happy. Really, they're just like wine.

I hope your weekend is filled with something beautiful.

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