Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing

When we arrived the first day to ride horses with Mr K, it looked, for all intents and purposes that Monkey Shine was going to be the fraidy cat.

She does not like animals AT ALL! In fact, ANYTHING furry that moves is OUT -in her mind!
You can read about it HERE.
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So she was the one I thought I would really have to sweet talk. She was the one I thought would chicken out, and I was not disappointed by her hesitation to even approach the animals!
She would rather climb into some branches than get close to the fence where they are being held!

You can tell by her face!

So while Monkey Shine was freaking out and needing to be sweet-talked by Mommy Monkey (that would be me), Monkey Do was having a ball.

She got to brush the horse, a lovely girl named Autumn:

I love Monkey Do's face in this one! She is really enjoying it!
And there is a sense of caring and doing something that is nice for the horse!

So Monkey See and Monkey Do brushed the horse together and then...

Monkey Do stepped back and watched as Monkey See had a lesson in how to saddle a horse...

And went for a ride!

And then it was her turn!

Mom! I am scared! I don't want to ride!

WHAT!?!? You have been talking non-stop about this for TWO MONTHS! WHY in the world are you not going to GET ON THAT HORSE?!

Well, I have never seen an animal that big up close!

Now here is the part that baffles me: She was NOT afraid to brush this huge animal looming above her. As a mother I was standing there thinking, "Be careful! Don't get trampled or kicked!" But she was happy to brush this enormous animal, but when it came time to go for a lazy little walk, around a corral, led by a very experienced horsewoman, in a saddle, with a handle and NOW we chicken out!

So Olivia, one of the darling young women helping, tried to "convince" her to get on the horse.

Guess where it got us!

Full out meltdown mode. She was HYSTERICAL!

Finally it was clear that riding that day was going to be a lost cause, and we gave up.

I am really torn about that! I do not want this child -who lives in fear and is afraid to try ANYTHING- to cheat herself out of fun!
When she was learning to pedal her bike -with training wheels on, mind you- she would want me to push her around the cul-de-sac because she was too afraid to pedal. I must have looked like a terribly mean mother for yelling to her "NO, you go! C'mon! PEDAL!" all the way around. I must have seemed so mean! But she had to be pushed, and not in the literal sense. She simply needed to be MADE to do it so that she could see how amazingly capable she was! Now she is trying to teach herself to ride without training wheels! Larry took them off for her, and she is slowly getting it!
I push my kids to do things that are hard and that they are afraid of so that they do not live a life ruled by fear. When they do something hard for them it gives them such a sense of accomplishment and increases confidence! And if I do not make them face fear then they may be afraid to do the right thing and give in to those fears. And make a choice that could negatively impact them for the rest of their lives!
Fear can cripple them for life.

But it was clear that this was not going to be the day.

So what about the other "Fraidy Cat"?

These pictures say a thousand words:
She loved it! And the next time that we came to lessons, she was the first one on the horse!

So to give our little story of bravery and fear closure, what happened when Monkey Do was next there for lessons? Well before we even left I told her that if she didn't ride this time I was not going to bring her back for lessons. I simply am not going to have a meltdown to deal with three times a week for the entire summer!

So she swallowed,


Now that was not so bad, was it?

"That was fun Momma! I think I will ride next time!"

Much ado about nothing.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Miss Fix-It

So yesterday I posted some pictures of my blog about Mr K -who(dagnabbit!) captured my sweet littlest Monkey's heart and attention.

Well, I posted those pictures straight out of the camera.

Which I should not have, but I did.

I know that there are these talented people who take the most amazing pictures in composition and with a trained and artistic eye, and then they get on Photoshop, and they can make that photo EXACTLY what they imagined in their minds as the shutter flew!
They are artists!

But poor, pitiful me! I do not have Photoshop any longer.
My free trial ran out.
And even during the trial, I had NO IDEA how to use it!

Would you like to see the fruit of my efforts?

The original:

Ok. Cute, sweet baby! But there is some work that needs to be done, she looks blue, and poor sweetie has some of that baby acne stuff going on.

So here is MY first attempt at Photoshopping the picture:
Do you see the difference?

Me neither. For everything I did, there did not seem to be any change at all.

Effort 2:
Do you see the difference now? No?

Not surprised. I can't find a difference either.

I think I am not very good at this.

So I called my OOBER-TALENTED sister
(who just so happens to have this whole photoshop thing down, you know) and the result took my breath away!
I have NO IDEA how she pulled it off! But all the baby acne is GONE, her skin is rosie and lovely, and her eyes are even more twinkly!

That is worth another look!

Here is what she did in Black and White:

You can see the family pictures she took of my family and me HERE and HERE.

Now, I am inept at Photoshop, but there are a lot of things that you can fix with simple Windows Media.

So here is the photo of Mr K straight out of the camera as you saw it in THIS post:

Ok, we can see that there needs to be some work done. Here it is on my laptop.

My poor laptop sure gets a workout!

First head to the "Fix" at the top left-hand corner of the viewing screen.

Now, you all may wonder WHY I am walking you all through it! Well, I am guessing that there are people who read this blog who are just like me. And I, for all my intelligence (no comments from the peanut gallery!) had all this on my computer for THREE YEARS, and JUST realized THREE WEEKS ago that I could actually DO something with it!

So those of you who have gotten all this figured out, sit back and watch all the rest of us "Ooooh!" and "Ahhhh!" at the discovery. Just laugh where we can't hear you, OK?

I HEARD that!

Back to business.

Now a menu will drop down on the right.

It looks like this:

With Mr K's picture I decided to start with the "Auto Fix" option. Sometimes it makes the picture just perfect.

Here is the result:
AAACK! I think it made it worse!
Mr K looks like he has been holding his breath for WAY too long!

Back to the drawing board.

So first I pulled up the "Adjust Exposure" option:
I bumped up the contrast just slightly, and simply nudged the brightness down. Not shown in this picture, since I took it AFTER the fix, and I did not want to mess up what I had just done!

Next I picked the "Adjust Color" option:
Now, I went up in the color temperature, making the picture a little warmer. Mr K is actually that tanned and dark from being in the sun, so it was appropriate.

Next, I nudged (there is that word again) the saturation to the right. You really don't want too much of this one, but a little bit can keep a picture from being too washed out!

Here is the result!

Well? What do you think?


I like that one much better!

See I CAN do this "fix-it" thing!

This is a really easy way to fix pictures without the expense of Photoshop and the training needed to be really effective at it! Now of you want to make this a profession, you are going to need much more than Windows Media, but for the shutterbug, this can really be a lifesaver for your favorites that need help, and give your pictures a new dimension.

I like this also because you can fix red eye:
When I found this particular feature I went through all my old pre "natural-light-love-affair" days and fixed them all!

And crop pictures too:

So, you can use this feature if you just cannot figure out how to make Photoshop work for you, or if you are cheap, married to someone who is cheap, or an expensive program like that is not in the budget for you. Make the best use of Windows Media, and you might be able to make your photos pop!

Just don't forget THIS amazing, and TERRIBLY important button!

Located in the bottom right-hand corner of your window, make this little puppy your friend.
Simply click repeatedly to undo multiple steps!

And then have some fun!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mr K

This is Mr K

He is the giving soul who is providing the horses to ride for my Girls' lessons this summer.

Because, you know, lessons might not be NEARLY as productive if you don't actually have a horse!

Just a thought.

I just LOVE taking pictures of people when they have no idea!

Don't you?

I like Mr K. He reminds me of my Daddy that I MISS TERRIBLY!

See the resemblance?

But it is more than that just the facial hair.

They both have cowboy's souls! We may live in an age where the traditional cowboy and the need for them has greatly diminished, but cowboys are alive and well! They just carry it in their hearts.

A sense of right and wrong and the willingness to fight for it.
A chivalry that is not dead.
A love of the things that are given to us freely, but worth more than all the money in the world.
Work (yes, it IS a gift!)
Making your word count for something.

And even though my Daddy is not wearing his hat in this picture, he is a cowboy at heart and can be seen sporting it on any given day!

There is one other thing that is alike about my dad and Mr K.

Babies LOVE them!

This is Mr K with a sweet little girl that appeared for riding lessons too! I believe that she is a past client, and knew him, and couldn't wait to see him!

And THIS was the reaction of the tiniest of my monkeys (yet without a monkey name) when she first got the chance to meet Mr K!
Do you see the little bit of surprise at him bending down to talk to her -and his hat, I am sure.
And the delight at being talked to -and the hat too, I am sure.
It was love at first sight!

And THIS is what she did when he asked if SHE was going to ride a horse:
I said, "She sure does like you, Mr K!"

To which he replied, "Honey, there ain't a baby in the world that don't love Mr K."

Matter of fact. Not prideful, not bragging, just fact -like "The sky is blue."

THIS was her reaction when he asked of she was going home with Mom now:
I hear crickets.

And THIS was her reaction when he told her that Mommy dressed her so sweet:
Uhm, is this thing on?

And THIS is what she did when he asked if he could keep her:

No loyalty! I carried you in my body! I have nursed you at my chest! I have the stretched out abdomen, the broad hips, baby weight, and windsails for clothes, and you go flirting with the first grandfatherly figure to come along!

That is it! We thought all along that we would have to use a bat to beat back the boys, but now I see that if I have any hope of your loyalty, I will need to arm myself against cowboys with facial hair and grandfatherly dispositions!

And THIS was her reaction when he said "You LOVE Mr K, don't you!":
It is ON Mr K!

It is ON!