June 16, 2014

Capturing the Wedding Dress in Photos

The other day I felt inspired to capture the grace, simplicity, and innocence of April's wedding dress. It's been hanging in my room for so long now (it only left for a few days during the wedding) that it seemed the right place to photograph it. After cleaning all the clutter that was next to my bed, (a pile of unfolded, clean clothes) I propped a mirror against my nightstand, moved my lamp slightly to the right, then draped her veil across both. I opened wide the blinds and with sunshine flooding the room I arranged her dress on a wooden hanger and placed in the doorway. Standing in my kitchen, I shot several views and angles of the dress--front, back, up close and far away.

I worked some magic in Photoshop and refined a few of the shots. I designed this sepia composite of the back and front of her dress, and added several borders and textures. I have a favorite. Which one do you like? The Latte, Coffee and Cream, Mocha, Raisin, Blueberry, Slate, or Rose?

a. Latte

b. Coffee and Cream

c. Mocha

d. Raisin

e. Blueberry

f.  Slate

g. Rose

June 4, 2014

April's Bridal Shower {Coral, Navy Blue & Coca-Cola Themed}

On a breezy Saturday afternoon in late January, one week before her wedding day, we had a small, family bridal shower for April. We sat outside in the warm, southern California sunshine at BJ's Pizzeria and enjoyed good food, yummy cupcakes, and family time.

Aunt Debbie made these gorgeous chocolate cupcakes with coral-colored frosting and delicate white pearl candies placed around the top. They were so pretty, I wanted to save them. They tasted so delicious, I wanted to eat more. Recipe coming soon.

Sippin' some lemon water, showing off her engagement ring . . . and long nails!

The BJ's waiter took this shot of the whole group. 

I can't remember which pose April and Michelle did first--the silly, sarcastic faces,
or the happy, smiling ones.

{If anyone would like the hi-res photos for their personal use, let me know. You can PM me in Facebook and I'll email them to ya'. --Renee}

Lookin' good, ladies!

Such a lovely picture with Aunt Darlene. We we're so glad
she made it to the bridal shower.

Camera shy . . . Jill and Brandi! Don't worry, my pics are
ALWAYS flattering. :)

Cousins, aunt and niece. :)

I really like how this picture turned out. I processed it in Photoshop,
and got this funky shot. Looks surreal, obviously,
almost fairy-tale-esque!
April and Kim, definitely NOT camera shy!

Mikaylah looking pretty!

{If anyone would like the hi-res photos for their personal use, let me know. You can PM me in Facebook and I'll email them to ya'. --Renee}

May 13, 2014

Time4Learning - Down Syndrome Kids: Homeschool, Afterschool, and Summer School

Joshua loves his "school time!" (Review was written a few years back, my kids have grown up!)

Joshua loves his “school time.”

My Joshua is a special child. God has gifted him with an extra chromosome (Trisomy 21, aka Down syndrome.) It takes him longer to learn some things. He’s a very visual learner and makes connections when he can see it, feel it, hear it, touch it. His learning comes alive through his life and world experiences. Enter Time4Learning – a new approach that takes advantage of today's technology. It's a convenient, online home education program that combines learning with fun, educational, teaching games. (From their website.)


I have 2 of my kids working in Time4Learning. My youngest, Joshua, works in the Kindergarten level. Here, he is learning phonics, special sounds, counting by 2’s and 5’s, ordinal numbers, comparing numbers, and odd/even numbers. Joshua is just beginning to learn these number concepts and Time4Learning provides the “fun” school time he needs to reinforce these concepts. He loves it. Since I am homeschooling, Joshua likes to think of this as his “school” time. I have been most pleased with the Language Arts section. It does a very good job of introducing new sounds or sight words, and then working with them. Creative-looking, colorful sock puppets, finger puppets, and little bugs are used to teach the lessons. He would be on this site all day if I let him! Joshua loves his “school time.” If I could afford it, (it is reasonably priced) I’d keep Joshua on Time4Learning indefinitely. He truly enjoys it and is making connections. It has been beneficial, indeed, for him. 

The only drawbacks are the size of the graphics in the math sections.

• At times, the items to be counted are too small for him to clearly differentiate.
• The number grids and graphs are also too small for him to see and therefore
• He has a hard time understanding the concept being taught.


The Science and Social Studies sections are fun and interactive also. But, it seems some reading is involved, which the parents will need to read to the student. This is fine in my case since Joshua likes to sit on my lap and learn that way. We read through each section and I help him to understand the lesson, then we take the quizzes together. The program leads Joshua through each section with flashing arrows. He can click on any icon and work in any section, but it keeps track of what he has or hasn’t finished. So, each time he works, it prompts him to what he needs to finish.

My other son, Jonathan, has been working in the 6th grade level. He’s been focusing on the math and language arts sections. This is quite different for him, since he’s been engrossed in Saxon math for the past 2 years. Time4Learning is big, and bouncy, and loud, and he was a little embarrassed when he began. I think he felt it was too juvenile for him. He’s gotten over that; he keeps the volume down… For Jonathan, I see Time4Learning acting as a great supplement to his math and grammar studies. The lessons are very entertaining and keep his attention.

Reviewing Time4Learning has been a privilege. You simply sign up each child in their appropriate level and then they are assigned a username and a password for each time they log in to learn. There are two levels for logins, an Upper Level Login, and a Lower Level Login. There is also a Parent Login that gives access to a parent forum, and lesson plans. It gives an account status and allows you to make changes to the student levels.

Time4Learning’s interaction is very similar to the kid’s computer programs JumpStart series and Winnie-the-Pooh learning software. There is also a child’s portfolio icon which shows what they’ve worked on, how successful they’ve been, how much time they’ve spent on each section, etc. These reports can be printed out for reference.

Their website says...
Time4Learning's curriculum can be the foundation of a homeschool program. Many homeschool families use Time4Learning as core curriculum in one or more subjects: others use Time4Learning to supplement other homeschool curriculum with a fun interactive reinforcement of the day's lessons. Families with children in school use Time4Learning after school as an alternative to tutoring, learning centers, or supplementary workbooks. Time4Learning is also popular as a summer skills sharpener or instead of summer school.

Click Here For Time4Learning

May 8, 2014

Throwback Thursday ... When was this taken?

Seasons in the AV -- Winter and Springtime

I took this picture in my backyard just a day or two after the Butterfly Bush blossomed. 
I loved the purple against the blue sky.

This shot was taken from my backyard, also, but during the dead of winter in the high desert. 
This is all we get for our winter weather--beautiful, dark, cloudy skies and whipping wind.