Thursday, June 26, 2014

Being a "momtographer"

My mom got me a decent camera for Christmas in 2012. Although I didn't spend much of 2013 using it because I was pregnant or recovering from medical complications, I have been putting the camera to use quite a bit this year. I have to say, as a mommy, a decent camera is an absolute MUST! My desire for a camera was born out of necessity-I cannot afford to pay a photographer to do my pictures, so I've been doing them myself. Here are several of my family that I've taken over time this year! Trust me-a good digital camera is money well spent! Spend some time playing with it and getting familiar with it and you'll be able to capture beautiful memories of your family, candid AND posed.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Schooling decisions

This year I was sad to learn that my four year old will miss the kindergarten cutoff by a few weeks. Preschool is out of our budget and she needs something to keep her learning brain going. With some internet surfing and lots of research, I finally settled on the Heart of Dakota Little Hands to Heaven curriculum. 
At only $80 for a teacher's guide, the books, and a music seems to be money well spent. I will update the blog when we get our school year underway, approximately the first week of September! I'm excited, the curriculum seems great, and with a few supplemental supplies and worksheets I think it's going to be a blast to use!
Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sad state of affairs

This has nothing to do with my typical content, but something I feel compelled to write about.

Today I received several links to an article by an anti-gun group stating that there had been a whopping 74 school shootings since Newtown. I was genuinely saddened by this, but also puzzled because I certainly haven't heard of 74 shootings and, since Columbine, school shootings are something that make national, if not global news. 

I read through the list, then came across an article disputing the 74 shootings figure reported by the one group. Never being comfortable in trusting someone else's word entirely, especially when it comes to controversial topics like gun control, I did my own research. I was shocked at what I's my list of just the first sixteen shooting on their list, and a few from the end of the list. I did not research the list in it's entirety because I was pressed for time...

Milwaukee girl caught in crossfire at 7 PM on playground

A suicide attempt in a parking garage on college campus

Occurred in front of the church attached to the school, something personal between shooter and victim. Victim was taking his kids to daycare.

Man upset over financial aid shoots advisor...gray area, not necessarily a "school shooting"

Quoted in the article that it had nothing to do with the school, it was a domestic dispute...occurred at 6 PM when people were exchanging a child

Fight broke out at 9:20 PM after a basketball game

Two males, altercation, one started shooting the other, collateral damage but no deaths, gray area...

Guy shot sitting in his car NEAR but not ON campus-he was at an intersection.

Reports around town of man brandishing a gun-hit and run-man and police exchange gun fire in parking lot after 4pm

Man killed in field BEHIND school after playing a game of dice with others...

17 year old girl accidentally shoots herself in her thigh with a .380 during school hours (GA)

Gunman had plans to kill fellow students, but ended up shooting himself after midnight.

Boy commits suicide in school bathroom before classes started, left a suicide note

Off-campus shooting of student by two teens

Shooting in the evening outside of dormitory, shooter not a student, I couldn't find motive

These are all being reported as "school shootings" which, in my book, all of the incidents in my list have nothing to do with school shootings from MY point of view. When I think school shootings, I think Columbine and the terror that rang out across nearby schools. It was scary. Believe me, I was in a school twenty miles away from Columbine when it happened, delivering passes and doing errands for my school office when we got word to "lock the doors, there's been a shooting at Columbine". I was immediately pulled out of the hall and was told to stay in the office until further notice-we didn't know if a shooter was loose or if there were several attacks planned or what was going on. So please, do not preach to me about my lack of understanding of the gravity of school shootings...I get it. 

I don't know, 13 of the first 16 incidents reported in the article had almost nothing to do with what I would classify as a "school shooting", which to me means alarmist reporting and SCREAMS "this organization has an agenda". This is why I always recommend one do their own research, and to never take anything reported by an organization at face careful what you read, believe, and what you put your stock in. How many people are going to read this and believe every single incident reported had something like Sandy Hook happen? 

Does something need to be done about violence? Yes it does, but unfortunately I don't have any answers. Do I think tougher gun laws are the answer? No, I don't...bad guys don't follow laws. I am saddened to hear of each and every shooting where innocent people are targeted, where they die at the hands of a sick person. I wish I had answers, I wish it would stop. Sadly, skewed reports and misleading lists are not the way to being about change. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Vacationing with a big family

As summer vacation has gotten underway, the harsh realization that we have many a big trip planned this summer has hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm nervous...there is so much potential for things to go wrong! I have been scouring the internet for tips on taking a very long road trip with kids of all ages and I found a few gems-plus some of the tricks I've been using before.

1. Pack a lunch box instead of a cooler...each kid gets a lunchbox packed with snacks and a few drinks. This has to last them the day, and if they run out, it's too bad, so sad. This has worked WONDERS for me in the past!

2. Walmart sells colored lunch baggies-buy them! My kids have a nasty habit of leaving trash in the car. Each child picked their own color of bag and I packed all their snacks accordingly. When someone leaves trash out it's no longer a game of he said/she said...if your baggie is on the floor, you're getting in trouble.

3. Pack the suitcases as far in advance as possible. I've already started packing for our trip to Michigan in a few weeks-the stuff that my kids don't need but we will be taking, that is. Actually, the girls' suitcase is completely packed, and the boys' suitcase is almost done. I'll pack mine later on!

4. Invest in some activities! We recently had a dollar store open here which has been a fantastic place to get cheap coloring/activity books and keep little ones' hands busy. I packed a medium sized tote, small enough to fit on the floor, full of fun activities for the boys and girls to do. 

5. Presents to open at certain intervals. I purchased other small gifts from the dollar store so the kids would have something to open when we stopped. I also picked up some of the $5 DVDs from Walmart and wrapped those. At each stop, ONE kid gets to open ONE thing...

Things that do not work for me...

1. Packing specific outfits in gallon ziploc bags. I find my kids like to march to the beat of their own drum...predetermined outfits are a no go.

2. Letting the kids pack their *own* suitcases. For one, we don't have the room to have them all take their own bag. Second, I cannot trust my kids to pack a proper amount of clothes. They would wind up with tons of swimshorts, two t-shirts, and no underwear...