Meagan Musing: March 2012

Meagan Musing


Roses in Bloom

Andrew was at Mother's Day Out this morning and Caroline took a marathon nap (like 3 hours! crazy!).

I should have been doing laundry or finishing up some work, but I've been really productive this week already. So, I decided to grab my camera and my 100mm f/2.8L and capture our blooming roses.

Our yard guys cut our rose bushes back to these little tiny stubs last fall, and I thought there was no way they'd ever again be as beautiful as they were last year, but they're trying to prove me wrong this spring!

There are so many buds out there!


And the ones that are already blooming are just gorgeous.



I love our backyard so much. We spend lots of time out there as much as Andrew likes to be outside so having pretty flowers really makes it more enjoyable.



I love this time of year!

I'm working on some Easter printable cupcake toppers to share with y'all. They're so adorable and I can't wait to show them to you next week! You'll have to come back to check them out.

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Manual Mode - The Scary "M"

My friend Courtney is writing a photography series on moving to manual. She's doing a great job explaining the fundamentals of learning your camera.

Reading her posts got me thinking about when I started shooting in manual over two years ago, so I thought I'd share with y'all how it worked for me.

I can precisely remember the first photos I took in manual mode on my Canon Rebel XSi. It was the end of January, a few months before Andrew's first birthday, and we were playing in our den.

It was cloudy so we didn't have too much light in the room, and I couldn't get anything I was happy with in aperture priority mode (Av) which is what I'd been shooting in for months.

So I switched the camera over to that big M and got this:

The first ever manual mode photo I posted to my blog.

Wow! I've come a long way!

This is a photo I took the other day in very similar lighting in the same room:

Fenway photo bomb! :)

I'm showing you this to encourage you to experiment with your camera's settings. (And to read Courtney's Move to Manual series if you don't know where to start!).

Often in aperture priority your shutter speed will be too slow and your camera won't crank up the ISO enough to get a proper exposure. (This was what was happening to me the day I took that photo of baby Andrew with funny hair!)

As a general rule you should keep your shutter speed faster than 1/160 when you're shooting kids. But if you're in a low-light situation, inside your den for example, and shooting in Av your camera will often drop your shutter speed to 1/60 or 1/80 to get the right exposure.

This is way too slow for shooting moving kids. You'd be much better off upping your ISO to 800 or even 1000. And if you're shooting in manual you can make that happen! But in Av your camera makes most of the decisions for you.

I know there are some lighting situations that are trickier than others and you're scared to miss a shot, but...

I'd encourage you to start easy: playing in your backyard, hanging out in the playroom. If you miss a shot due to a terrible exposure it won't be the end of the world. But you might just end up with a real winner.


Also this week,

I talked about photographing your kids while on vacation over at Ana's Bluebird Kisses. Go check in out! Ana's whole site is lots of fun!

Questions about manual mode? Let me know! Be confident - if I can do it, you can do it! :)

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Eleven Things


I've been tagged for the 11 Things Meme that's going around the blogging world!

I was so excited to be tagged! I never get tagged for anything. So thank you April, Sarah and Branson!

I know y'all want to know tons of stuff about me so here we go. Whee!

First, here are the rules:

1. Post these rules.
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
3. Answer the questions set for you in the post of the person who tagged you.
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer.
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them.
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag 11 people.

So here are eleven things you always wanted to know about me:

1. I really don't like fruit. I'd pick vegetables over fruit any day. My exceptions are tomatoes and cantaloupe and I eat both of those with salt and pepper.

2. I have a horrible, awful memory. I can't remember details to save my life. High all seems like a big blur. My family likes to give me a very hard time about this. Ha!

3. I've always liked the band Guster, but in college my friend Ally and I took a 48 hour road trip from Dallas to Colorado to see them do one show. Clearly we were crazy.

5. We also road-tripped to Kansas City to see Dave Mathews. It was a 24-hour trip. We turned around and drove home that night after the show. I'm falling asleep just thinking about it.

6. When I was sixteen I drove my mom's brand new car into the side of the garage, knocking her fancy side mirror off. It cost $800 to replace! My parents made me literally "iron" it out, buy ironing our family's laundry until I paid it off at $1 a shirt and $.50 for shorts. It took me years! I still have excellent ironing skills, but I really hate to use them now. Brian's clothes go to the cleaners.

7. I used to be so tidy and clean and organized. And then we got a dog and had kids and now I let them all eat off the floor if they've dropped something important. But I still have to leave my kitchen clean every night when I go to bed. I cannot sleep with dirty dishes in the sink!

8. I'm not an adventurous eater at all even though I love to watch cooking shows and eat at fancy restaurants. Cooking new things at home makes me nervous because it's quite possible they won't turn out, see: sourdough fail, and then I will have just wasted all that time and we'll have turkey sandwiches anyway.

9. I have not worked out a single time since Caroline was born. She's seven months old. This makes me so sad. But I think I'd have to do it in the middle of the night and I just have't made it a priority. I have lost all the baby weight though - thank you breastfeeding and life with two kids.

10. I love to watch TV. I used to start almost all my mornings checking the "Watercooler" on the TVGuide website. Hahaha! Now I'm lucky if I sit down to watch one or two shows a week.

11. I'm a huge professional sports fan! Mavericks basketball makes my heart race and Sundays in the winter are for football. I like to watch all four days of the Masters. But I can take or leave college sports.

Now...I'm going to answer the eleven questions from April because she tagged me first.

1. What are you most passionate about? Being a mother. I think it's my greatest calling and in this season it's pretty all-consuming. I want to grow and be better at it daily.

2. What was your first concert? I saw New Kids on the Block in 5th grade. My friend Kristen's mom waited in line to get our wristbands to be able to buy tickets for us.

3. What is your biggest fear? That something terrible would happen to someone in my family. But, I'm not a worrier and I really try not to even think about the possibility.

4. Paper or Plastic? Plastic. I reuse them for lots of stuff. I usually try to remember my own bags though. I love that they hold so much stuff - fewer trips to unload the car!

5. If you could be any one character from a movie or TV, who would you be? I think I'd like to be Brenda Lee Johnson from The Closer. I know she's got a tough job, but she's so smart and quick and all those men work for her! Ha!

6. Which reality show best describes you? This is hard - maybe the home makeover shows. I'd really like to spend more time redecorating and organizing my space.

7. Why did you start blogging? I really like sharing my thoughts and pictures with y'all! I've ended up making some sweet online friends and blogging has certainly helped feed my photography love.

8. If you could do whatever you wanted for a whole 24 hours, what would you do? Brian and I would be on the beach at a fancy hotel. We'd wake up at 7AM totally refreshed and rested (ha!) and go for a quick jog at the gym. I'd then spend the day relaxing on the beach with a good book. I'd have a crisp white wine with a yummy lunch. Shower in the evening and get ready for a fancy dinner out. And I'm pretty sure we'd have zero responsibilities or decisions to make the entire day.

9. Where did you take your best or worst vacation? Best vacation - a boat trip on the Amalfi coast.

10. What is your favorite piece of technology? My iPhone, hands down.

11. What is one thing on your bucket list? Learn how to take those dreamy, beautiful newborn photos.

And my questions for y'all:

1. What was your favorite class in high school?
2. What college teams do you cheer for? Football, basketball or both?
3. Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
4. Do you follow the no white before Easter rule?
5. Do you watch TV shows live or recorded?
6. Do you open your mail right away or let it pile up?
7. Would you rather do laundry or go grocery shopping?
8. Do you prefer to watch movies at home or in the theater?
9. Do you like summer or winter?
10. What's your favorite holiday?
11. What inspires you?

Tag! You're it, friends!

Elaine, Courtney, Megan, Kara-Kae, Wendy, Stephanie, Colleen, Ana, Jamie, Ginny, Nancy

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Updating the Blog


I've been working on a few small tweaks to the blog the last few days. I didn't make any major changes, but I'd been using a very old template, and I couldn't get a few of the features that Blogger is finally offering (like the ability to reply to comments) to work.

So I decided to update my template, but then I had to customize it.

I love designing things in Photoshop, but honestly it's all trial and error for me. I'm completely self taught so I feel like I often do things the loooong way.

But I also like designing my site on my own because then it's just what I want it to be. And if I want to change something I can do it very quickly and easily.

I've used a lot of the tutorials at Pugly Pixel and The Coffee Shop Blog.

But then I actually have to make the changes to the CSS and the HTML in the template and then it's really trial and error.

I know next to nothing about it and so I end up making a change - preview - nope, didn't work - try it someplace else.

See? I'm slooooow.

I recently looked into a few books on CSS, but didn't ever decide on anything. Any recommendations? Do you have any favorite web design blogs to share with me? :)

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Project 52 Catch Up

So maybe I'm going to have to post my Project 52 photos a few weeks at a time. I'm keeping up with the photos, it's just a matter of getting them posted.

So far I'm loving all the prompts!

Week 9: A Great Leap


I love our mall. There's no play area, but there are these cool planters that kids have played on for years and years. Andrew loves them!

Week 10: Be Still


Andrew was so still and quiet on his first plane ride as a big kid. I was very proud of him!

Week 11: The "Eyes" of March


He's my almost St. Patty's day baby - his birthday is the 16th.

Week 12: Hunger


This baby is hungry all the time!

Be sure to check out more Project 52-ers at My3Boybarians!

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge

Next week is Details. I'll try to be a little more timely with my post! :)

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Sourdough Fail



I'm not exactly sure what went wrong, but whatever it was, it was terribly important.

Yesterday Andrew and I watched the Steve the Bread Guy video so Andrew was expecting tall fluffy bread.

I think he was a little disappointed, but he was very sweet about it.


He even told me he thought it was yummy after I ripped a hard chunk of it off to let him try.


I'm thinking that my starter just needs time to grow and get a little stronger. I'm planning to make a batch of crackers with it tomorrow. They don't need to rise much so surely I'll have better luck.

I'm afraid I'll never be mistaken for a baker, but I'm not giving up!

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Too Busy & Sourdough Bread

Do y'all know what happened to my baby?


Apparently, she's all grown up. She's seven months old now and has decided that this is a perfect time to start crawling (fast!), getting in to everything and flopping around during diaper changes.

It's like one day she was a sweet cuddly baby and now she's an explorer.

I'm still bathing her in the baby tub in my kitchen sink. Hahaha! She splashes water everywhere and generally makes the biggest mess ever. Bath time is her favorite.


All the exploring also means that she's too busy to nurse during the day so she wants to nurse all night. Umm, once I can handle, but midnight, 3AM and 5AM? I neeeed to sleep more than that.


She's eating real food during the day. She eats a lot I think. I give her apple chunks and cheese sticks, watermelon, mum mums and puffs and she usually eats two 4oz packages of baby food too. She should not be that hungry!

Sleep, baby, sleep. Mama is tired.

Andrew is back at Mother's Day Out today. It had been two weeks since he'd been because we were on our trip for a week and then it was Spring Break when we got back.

He was a little hesitant to go back today, telling me that he was scared and wanted to stay home with me. But when we got to school he literally ran in to his classroom and didn't even look back to say goodbye.

He's my stoic child.

And now my house is quiet.

I'm working on photo editing and bread making. That's right. I'm making sourdough bread from scratch. I've never done this before. My starter has been sitting for almost a week. It was bubbly and smelled very sour-ish, so we'll see what happens.

I let my dough rise last night and today I've added more flour, kneaded it and it's currently rising again. So far it hasn't been much hands-on work, but a lot of wait time.

If you're interested in sourdough you can read this post from Kitchen Stewardship. She has lots of other links too if you want to investigate further.

(I made my starter with white flour and I added a bit of packaged yeast to get it started. Maybe I'll be braver next time.)

I'll keep y'all posted on the bread. If it works we're having sandwiches for dinner!

Happy Tuesday friends.


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Third Birthday

Andrew, my big boy, turned THREE last Friday. I can hardly believe it.

We've been celebrating all weekend with a special day on Friday and then his party on Saturday. We had family over Saturday evening and GJ, Brian's mom, was in town all weekend, too. Today, we've played with every single new birthday toy.


We had a little five minute photo session in our backyard Friday evening.

How do y'all take pictures of your 3-year-old boys? It's hard!



Also, he's in a serious tongue out phase. It's his concentrating face.


I'm sure he'll grow out of it....right?

He's so sweet and loving. He gives good hugs and likes to sit on my lap when we read books. He also likes to love on Caroline when he's not putting his feet in her face. :)

He's very busy and has endless energy. He really doesn't need to sleep very much. He gave up his nap months and months ago and is still awake from about 8am - 9pm without getting tired or whiny most days. I don't know why this is, because I certainly need lots of sleep.

One of my favorite bloggers, Beth, interviews her kids on their birthdays and I love this. I thought I'd give it a shot with Andrew, so here it is. His first birthday interview:

(He thought this was very cool, by the way. I tried to keep it pretty short and simple.)

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

A: How 'bout a firefighter!

Me: What's your favorite toy?

A: That excavator over there.

Me: What do you like best about Daddy?

A: I like to dance with him!

Me: What do you like best about Caroline?

A: Fenway! (Umm...I think this means he like the dog better than his sister. I'm hoping he grows out of that one too! Ha!)

Me: What do you like best about me?

A: I like to do something with you. (???)

Me: What's your favorite TV show?

A: Wow Wow Wubzy (I don't think this is true, but he'd just watched it when we did the interview.)

Me: What's your favorite food?

A: mmmm....sandwiches!

I asked him if there was anything else he wanted to share and he thought about it for a long time before answering, no, he was all done.

He's so funny now. I think he has his daddy's sense of humor, lucky guy.

I just couldn't be happier about the little boy he's growing into. I'm looking forward this this fourth year - what will it bring?


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Boat Baby

I really love the water. Yes, we're pretty landlocked here in Dallas, but we have great lakes nearby. And growing up in Oklahoma our family and friends spent many, many weekends on a pontoon boat at Grand Lake.

My family has also cruised quite a bit, and we've chartered a boat for trips in the Caribbean, New England, the Amalfi coast in Italy and the French Riviera.

We really love our annual vacations and more often than not they're on a boat.

Well, apparently my kids are going to like boats too.

See, that's Caroline pulling up for the first time on a boat.



We took a New Years cruise when Andrew was 10 months old and he decided that was the perfect time to start walking.

Who starts walking on a moving boat??

My kid.


Now that we're home and back on solid ground she's not slowing down.

Poor baby has a cold and is teething and not sleeping well, but she's on the move anyway. She's crawling, slowly, but she's crawling.

And yesterday I found her pulled-up to standing on a toy, holding on with one hand.


I give all the credit to the cruise.

Being on the water seems to inspire these kids.

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Disney Dream in Instagrams

We're back! I'm knee deep in laundry, but so happy to be home again after a wonderful week on the Disney Dream.

We sailed from Port Canaveral to the Bahamas and back on a five night Disney cruise and it was awesome. I took tons of pictures on my big camera, but I'm still sorting and editing.

I also took about a million iphone photos. That little phone is just so much easier to carry than my big dSLR, especially when you're lugging around a baby and a toddler and all their stuff.

So I thought I'd go ahead and share my phone pictures today and then share my dSLR photos in a later post.


We flew out super early on Sunday morning. Caroline was sleepy and did great on the plane.


So did Andrew, but he didn't sleep. This was a reoccurring theme on the trip.

The boat itself was so pretty!


I thought it was beautifully decorated and very tasteful. Not over the top at all, which I've definitely seen on some cruise ships. There were little Mickeys hidden throughout the boat; lots of mirrors were shaped like Mickey. It was really cute.

And all the light fixtures were amazing! I was really impressed with its design.


This was the pool deck during the sail away party. It was definitely full, but we really enjoyed the show with Mickey and friends.


Andrew says his favorite part was building sandcastles. We spent two days at Disney's island, Castaway Cay. We rented one of the beach cabanas so we practically had the place to ourselves.

(What, doesn't everyone use empty Miller Lite bottles to decorate their sand piles?!?)

The cabana also provided a little shelter for us so the babies were able to nap there out of the sun. And we had drink service. You really couldn't beat it. Hanging out on the beach is not my favorite, but I loved it with the cabana!

And really Andrew couldn't have been happier.


The cabanas were there behind the beach umbrellas and that was the view of the boat from the cabana.

Dinner was an adventure. Andrew did great and went to dinner with us every night in the dinning room, but Caroline was hit or miss. Most nights she started in the dining room with us and then ended up in the nursery.

Yes, there was a nursery. With the sweetest girls who loved on the babies. It was wonderful. I could drop C off there at bedtime and then pick her up a few hours later when she was ready to eat again anyway. This made the trip soooo much easier.

Brian, my favorite piano player. Also, how beautiful is that light fixture?

Brian is so busy right now with work and school. It was nice to get to spend so much time with him last week.

It was such a fun trip! I'm already looking forward to the next time.

I'll be back later this week with my other photos. I'm also working on a post for Ana at Bluebird Kisses on tips for photographing your kids on vacation.

And, Andrew will be THREE this week! I can't believe it. So I'm busy working on his party too.

Whew...March is such a good month!

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Mickey Boat!

Hi y'all!

This week has been full of Mickey Mouse and Captain Hook and Goofy!

We're on the Mickey Boat! Andrew has been so excited about this trip for so long.

Everyone is having a great time. The lack of a schedule and dedicated nap time has been a little rough on Caroline, but she's mostly just been going with the flow.

And Andrew has been so wired! It's like he has enough energy for twelve people.

Here are a few iPhone pics and then you can be sure I'll be back with lots more photos soon!

Oops. Never mind. Apparently the internet at sea is too slow to upload pics....I'll get them up soon. There's lots of beach pictures and Caroline in cute bathing suites and Andrew dressed like a pirate.

Arrrgh Matey!




Simplifying - My Notebook

So I've been working on organizing and cleaning and simplifying for two weeks now and I feel like I've really made some progress.


The first thing I did was create a home management notebook thanks to The Simple Mom. I printed out two weeks worth of her Daily Docket and I love it.


I fill out the next day's docket at night before I go to bed (waaaay too late - I'm working on that soon!) and then review it again first thing in the morning. It's totally keeping me on track and helping me to waste less time.

And I really like knowing what I have to get done in a day and then planning for when I'm going to do it.

I've also had to edit myself a lot.

I've realized that on the days I'm home alone with both kids that very little is actually going to get done. So I shouldn't schedule four errands and an hours worth of accounting work. I'd just be setting myself up to fail.

But I can change the crib sheet, do a load of laundry and return emails that day. I can also play outside with Andrew and read two books and I'm putting this on the list. Andrew and I do better when we spend some quality time together during the day and I like penciling this in. It's a good reminder.

And, I haven't forgotten an appointment once in the last two weeks! (I can't say this was the case the prior two weeks...oops.)

I've also set up a tab for my bills and to-dos that come in the mail. These tabs have pockets and I can keep all these important papers together. This is key because I don't have my own desk so all these papers had just been sitting by my laptop in the kitchen and driving me crazy.

My little corner can stay tidy now and I know where everything is!


I also set up sections for the blog/photography and the house/kids projects.


I feel so much more together. Now, things are still crazy in the evenings. Caroline and Andrew are hungry and tired and Brian's not home from work yet and I'm worn out and just want everyone to go! to! bed!.

But at least the rest of the day seems a little more peaceful and productive. And it's not too much work. I can totally keep this up.

How about you? How do you organize your time at home?

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