Every year, I completely skip over the whole New Year's Resolution thing...I mean, honestly, I'm pretty scatterbrained and making a commitment to start or stop something for the rest of eternity...yikes.  Not my thang.  But this year was tough, and I am really starting to feel my age for the first time.  And don't people my age have the self-control to say they're going to do/not do something and stick with it? 

I haven't given this much thought...kind of writing it right now on the fly...but if I were to keep some resolutions, I guess these would be the lucky few:

1. Finish reading my bible all of the way through.  This really shouldn't be hard...I'm about 75% through it now...but it takes some serious discipline on my part.  Where I continue to get hung up:  I do year-round bible studies, and aside from the few weeks between them all, I tend to dwell in the Word that I'm studying in depth rather than wander into the rest of the Book. 

2.  Enjoy the next 8 months with Pooh Bear before I hand him over to the school system.  This should be a no-brainer.  I already have lots of fun with Wyatt, but I am going to soak up every minute.  We're going to have so much fun that other people will talk.  And then, I'm going to try not to panic in August when he enters kindergarten.  He can't wait.  I'm going to need valium.  I'm guessing that this is where Resolution #1 will come in really handy.

3.  Stay true to myself in my photography business.  Something tells me this will either be really simple, or terribly challenging.  My passion for photography only seems to grow, and I cannot wait to see what this year holds for my fledgling business.  My goal is to continue to grow in knowledge and skill, but not to morph into something I'm not.  The pressure to conform to what is trendy is real, but I think being consistently my own is more important.  I will pose less, and capture more.

4.  Stop while I'm ahead.  I mean, really...I could go on about how I'd like to stop eating 2 lbs of peppermint bark in one sitting, how I should stop buying shoes that only get worn once, how I should offer more "back rubs" to the hubbs...but I don't want to set myself up for failure.


A WyTerrific Year in Review

What is it about the end of a year that makes one reflective?  Chelsey of The Paper Mama posted a beautiful year in review of her blog that inspired me to do one of my own.  I started this blog in February, after some gentle nudging from my awesome friend Kendall to join Project 64: Out of the Box.  I am so thankful that I did, along with many other blog memes, because the unique prompts and scavenger hunts forced me to get really familiar and comfortable with the manual mode on my new camera!  So, you ready to reminisce?

I started out strong with a silly post about being the mom of a little boy, blogged about the huge task of prepping my merchandise for Just Between Friends, caught up with the first few weeks of P64, poured out my heart about our decision to have an only child, and created the first facial expression study of Pooh.  We finally decorated Wyatt's big boy room with photos I took of vintage cars, and we enjoyed our first snow day of the year.

This month, I shared several more P64 entries, a recipe, and a post about using our noggins to save a ton of money by finding our property markers ourselves!  Ignore any references to getting the kid a dog...that was a total nightmare of an experience as we discovered how not-dog-people we are.
The boy and I frequented the Tulsa Zoo, primarily to visit the zoo's Nature Exchange Center (click here for a post about how this wondeful program works!), where we trade in the goodies we found on our many nature walks.  I took tons of photos while we visited friends, (some with cows and some with jumperoos), went to the Y for indoor swimming, and did schoolwork at home.  To round out the month, my picky kid ate pizza for the first, and last, time.

In this month, I expanded my love of blog link-ups to include Scavenger Hunt Sunday, Theme Thursday, and Momma In Focus Friday...in addition to keeping up with my P64 entries.  My parents stopped by randomly one evening to see our brand new fence, and I ended up taking some of my all-time favorite photos of them with Wyatt.  In our downtime, we blew bubbles and defied the incessant Oklahoma winds by playing outside constantly.  For the umpteenth year in a row, we attended the Sand Springs Herbal Affair and met some adorable baby goats on the way home.  Jason and I decided to go golfing one day with Wyatt in tow...we all had a super fantastic time and have since repeated the experience many times.  Lastly, I shared my love of garage sales with everyone...gah, I love a great deal!


I stayed strong with all of my blog photo link-ups, plus I added a couple more...at this point, I'm not sure how I did that, because I have recently had to stop them all except for once in a blue moon...I seem to have no time anymore!  I shared several delicious recipes: a scrumptious fritatta, artery-clogging hamburger gravy, and my famous macaroons...which were interrupted during their baking time by a power outage in a thunderstorm.  I recently posted the exact same recipe...hmmm...I guess they're that good.  It is by far my most requested recipe.
While most of the posts this month were link-ups, I actually did blog about my adventures with Wyatt at Safari's Animal Sanctuary and the pond in our neighborhood, where we found a dried up fish...nice.

I kept up with my blog link-ups with increasingly beautiful photography if I do say so myself.  It's amazing to me how much I grew in such a short amount of time, and how confident I became with my beloved camera! 
This month, the temperatures began their ascent into the million-degrees zone, and stayed there well into September.  Wyatt chased around billions of bugs and I started my backyard oasis...that remains pretty much untouched due to the aforementioned million-degree heat.  It's okay...I promise that this spring, I'm going to get to crack-a-lackin' on it and you'll ALL want to come sit with me in my garden!  I did manage to build a turtle habitat for our hatchling box turtle, Mach, who sadly became an easy target for a red-tail hawk this fall.  I was pretty upset, but we've moved on...we've all decided that our fish tank provides enough of the pet experience for our family now.
I posted a new facial expression study of Wyatt...this one was really funny.  Sometimes I think he must stand in front of the bathroom mirror practicing.   The last noteworthy post of the month was my entry about knocking off a really expensive Anthropologie pendant...I've sold several of these, so I'm guessing I did a satisfactory job of it.

More fun entries for all of my link-ups...this was a time of my life that I would not be caught dead without my camera dangling from around my neck, so I always ended up with really interesting stuff!  Rather than put fifty million links here, just click here and breeze through the feed for a visual delight.  I also performed my very first creative edit on Photoshop, thanks to a couple of one-on-one tutorial sessions with Kendall.  I have since learned so much, and I'm using Photoshop nearly every day with great joy rather than the trepidation I once felt.
July also marked Wyatt's first trip to the beach, which he loved.  Albeit a very short vacation, it may very well be one of my all-time favorites.  

This month I made a huge decision: to become a professional portrait photographer!  I honestly can't believe it's only been a few months...I am still loving every minute of it and I'm having a blast!  Hop over to Cindy Kay Photography to see my work!  Not too long after I started, I realized that I was stretched rather thin, what with all of my blog memes and all of the odd jobs and random obligations in life, so I decided to start saying no
The boy and I were delighted to have a couple of days with his darling cousin at the end of the month, so of course I took tons of photos!  I shared a very healthy family recipe for lentil curry, and went back to my hillbilly roots by letting my child hold wild animals that we caught in our yard. 

Again, I showed off my excellent parenting skills by allowing my child to play with snakes we found while working in the yard.  We went to the Oklahoma Aquarium for a change of pace, and I dabbled in self-portraiture and ended up loving the results.  And I shared a recipe for a crockpot bean dinner that is unbelievably delicious.  My photography business picked up quickly, as evidenced by the lack of a plethora of blog posts as was the previous norm.

Hmmm....not a lot of posts...this month I became exceedingly busy with my photography business (yay!!), so I started letting several of my link-ups fall by the wayside.  My last couple of P64 link ups were this month, and I shared a couple of totally random link ups for which I likely just-so-happened to have taken fitting photos.  I linked up a few random helpful hints over at my friend Clydia's blog, Three Mango Seeds:  a fix for stinky towels, how to color coordinate anything, and changing your perspective while taking pictures.   I was also honored to do a photo shoot of my closest friend's gorgeous ballerina daughter.  Sprinkled throughout

In true space-cadet fashion, I managed not to share any Halloween photos on my blog...Wyatt was a frog, and he was adorable.  I did however post a hysterically funny series of photos documenting his first experience with Warhead candies.  Over at Clydia's blog, I shared a simple tutorial for some classic earrings that anyone can make.  And finally, Wyatt showed off his goober side while playing with his hotwheels.

Now completely unparticipatory in all blog memes, most of my December posts had lots of fun flavor to them.  I shared a series of photos of Wyatt...the same exact pose every year for the past 5 years...that I simply adore.  Trapped indoors due to ridiculously cold weather, the boy and I came up with some educational entertainment that anyone would love.  Jason and I started a new Christmas tradition this year by taking Wyatt to see the lights at Rhema Bible College.  I reposted my macaroon recipe.  I shared another activity for anyone suffering from cabin fever who also happens to have giant scraps of cardboard lying around their home.  I made all of the time I spend on pinterest pay off by creating adorable button ornaments alongside Wyatt, and a beautiful jewelry "box" as a gift for my bestie.

All in all, I had a wonderful year.  I made a couple of new friends that I love as if I've known them my entire life.  I've taken risks for myself and have turned my passion into a job!  My baby grew another year older and absolutely amazed me at just how wonderful he truly is.  My hubby and I have grown even more in love and are happier than we've ever been.  My hair went through about 4 thousand changes this year...some of them horrible, some fantastic.  I'm looking forward to the next year:  I plan to take what I've learned during the past couple of months while building my photography portfolio and start blowing my own mind!  I resolve to brand my photography with a style that is all my own.  I also want to soak up my little buddy as much as I can in the next 8 months before I hand him over to, gulp, school.  I hope to continue growing closer to God this year by letting Him have control...harder than I wish it was. 

Thank you all for sticking with me this year!  I can't wait to see what the new year holds for all of us!


Jewelry Box::Reinvented

I love handmade gifts more than store-bought any day of the week.  Maybe that's why I am so stinkin' excited to see the look on my dear friend's face when I give her this:  a jewelry display shelf made out of an old type set drawer!  Of course, I got the idea off of pinterest...what did any of us even do on the internet before pinterest...?

I started with the type set drawer that I found for $10 at a local antique shop.  They had already done the not-so-fun part of painting and distressing it for me!  Then I bought a ba-jillion eye hooks and hook rings from the hardware store in various sizes.

I pre-drilled the holes for the bigger hooks, but even still, my wrists and arms got quite the workout screwing them all in.  I used pliers and my fingers to coax the smaller hooks into place...my fingers are in excruciating pain.  I think I may do the next one of these in phases just to spare my fingertips.


I spread out the hooks in a random fashion...I didn't have quite enough for every opening, but I figured that some of them could hold rings or bottles of perfume or some other little trinkety things.  I added a plethora of big open hook rings all of the way across the bottom for holding necklaces, and used shoulder hooks on the sides and inside of some of the larger openings for belts, scarves, or bracelets.

I had to do a practice run with some of my goodies just to make sure it looks as cool as I hoped it would.  Am I bad for wanting to just keep it for myself...?  Too bad I already told my friend exactly what she was getting.

I absolutely love it, and for about $25, I am giving a handmade gift that I am positive she's going to love!  And if she doesn't, I still win because I'll keep it!


Cold Day Activity

All of you who are parents know the ultimate irony of a child's desire to play with the packaging that fancy new things come in rather than playing with the fancy new thing.  We inherited a huge sheet of cardboard that once held a shiny new poster from my friend, and Wyatt and I didn't waste any time utilizing our new "toy."  
First, he decided to decorate the white side with his artwork.

He drew some buildings, roads, and trees...

Honestly, he simply colored for almost an hour.  Why isn't plain ol' paper so exciting?

Golly, he's cute.

He randomly wrote what letters of the alphabet he could remember off the top of his head, then traced any toy within reach.

Once he was content with his masterpiece, we flipped it over to make a game...which we played the next morning.  The top half of the board was filled with different sized circles of different point values.  The object is to each choose 10 hotwheels, then roll them one at a time to try to land them in a circle.  After 10 rolls, we add up the points to see who wins.  For the most fun, don't remove the already-rolled cars from the board...it's fun to knock your opponent off of their target!

He won 4 out of 5 games.  And I was really trying.  He was merely shooting them willy-nilly down range. 

No matter.  Two total hours of time were spent laughing and playing together.  I'd say that's a win for both of us!


I Actually Made Something I Saw on Pinterest!!

If you're like me, you could surf pinterest all day.  All. Day.  I see adorable crafts all of the time that I think to myself, "Self, that would be a fun craft to do with Wyatt...you should do that."  The thing is, while I am absolutely in love with crafting of all sorts, crafting with an almost five-year-old is kind of stressful for me for a number of reasons.  Mostly because the finished product never ends up looking like it's supposed to, but also because my little outside-of-the-box-thinker always wants to reinvent the wheel and do a totally unrelated craft with the materials I bought.

Well, when I saw this on pinterest...
Pinned Image
...I decided to throw caution to the wind and get out my ginormous box of buttons.  Here's a link to the original artist's blog post for the above photographed ornament.  Gotta give credit where credit is due!

Anyhoo, the boy and I sat down with our cache of buttons and started digging through them in search of specific colors in various sizes.  We even found star beads amongst the buttons!  After we made a couple of trees, I wondered if there were any other little figures we could do...and wouldn't ya know, Frosty and Santa joined the fun! 
Here are our mini button ornaments!

And now I can say that I actually made something that I saw on pinterest!  See, it's not all wasted time! 


My Macaroons

I love to bake, but I love eating what I've baked even more!  Macaroons are pretty much my favorite cookie, and these never survive very long at my house.  Bonus:  Jason and Wyatt don't really care for them, so I get the whole batch to myself!

They're simple to make.  Here's what you'll need:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 cups shredded coconut

1.  Preheat oven to 325.  Lightly grease cookie sheet, or do what I do:  use parchment paper...who wants to wash a cookie sheet, really?
2.  In a bowl, beat egg whites on medium to high speed until they're pretty frothy.
3.  Add sugar, almond extract, flour, and salt.  Beat until thoroughly blended.
4.  Stir in coconut, nuts, and chocolate chips.
5.  Place heaping spoonfuls onto cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  These cookies don't spread out, so it really doesn't matter if they're closer.  You might want to gently persuade them into a mound shape...what you see pre-cooked is what you get.
6.  Cook for 12-14 minutes until they're set and starting to get golden.
7.  Let cool before storing in a covered container.  But honestly, you won't be storing these for long.

*NOTE* If you're like me, until you have to get egg whites separated from the yolks for a specific recipe, you may not know the best way to do it.  Basically, break the egg in half and dump the yolk back and forth between the shell halves, allowing the white to spill into your bowl.  Until you get the hang of it, you might want to use a separate little bowl, not the one with everything else in it.  ;P


Oh Baby, it's Christmas!

It's funny how having a wide-eyed child changes your view of certain things.  I've always loved Christmas, but seeing Wyatt experience the joy and wonder of this season is truly breathtaking as a mother.  Things that I've long-since become desensitized to are so fresh and new to him, and therefore, they're new again to me!

Here in Tulsa, for as long as I can remember, Rhema Bible College has gone over-the-top with a spectacular display of Christmas lights covering their entire campus.  The lights literally cover every square inch of tree, fence, pavillion, etc, and they're all set to flicker dramatically to the fantastic music blasting from speakers everywhere.  It. Is. Amazing. 

That said, I had never been.  Until this year.  We took Pooky Bear on Thanksgiving weekend, but the blustery wind kept us in our cars for the drive-through tour.  Well, last night was pretty cold, but there was no wind, so we headed back into town to experience the walk-through tour.  Oh my peas, was it ever worth how numb my fingers got!

Here are a few snapshots from last night.  Night photography ain't my bag, Baby, and these come nowhere near to doing this place justice, but I think you'll get the gist.

By far, my favorite photo of the night.  I could've taken 4 million shots of this pavillion, pond, and the fountain (you'll see it in a minute), but Jason and Wyatt were not very patient when it came to my photographic desires last night...there were lights to see!

He was in total awe. 

 The view at the beginning of the trail.  Every light was flashing and changing colors, dancing to the music!

 Reflections of the lights on the glassy creek that runs through the grounds.

I could cry.  The entire reason we have been twice, and will likely go again. 

We were in a light tunnel that spanned over a bridge. 

Did I mention that every tree was adorned? 

The lighted fountain looked like lava erupting from a volcano!  Get a load of the light bouncing off of the ripples!  Those ducks have quite the home these days!

More reflections on the creek.  I loved this color scheme.

If you're within driving distance, I highly recommend that you put Rhema on your to-do list.  I know that for me, it has made talking to Wyatt about how precious Jesus Christ is to us...the only reason for this season...a much more tangible task! 


Shoot and Edit: Part 2

This editing challenge was harder than I thought it would be.  First of all, I guess I should've picked a picture that I didn't love as is, SOOC.  I went through about a dozen steps editing it, tweaking this, adjusting that, only to end up with essentially an edit that was identical to the SOOC shot, only with a black vingette.  Secondly, the nature of this photo is very noisy because of the high ISO...I'm not a big fan of noise, but I got over it for this one.

Here's my first attempt before and after (SOOC is on left, after is on right).  You might have to squint to see the difference...I promise I did more than crop and add a vingette!  LOL!
1. Adjusted levels  2. Reduced noise  3. Cropped  4. Spring Awakening action  5. Yellow Sky Actions Half & Half (adjusted opacities)  6. YSA Polaroid (adjusted opacities)  7. Pioneer Woman Edge Burn at 75%

I love it, but it just wasn't enough of a change.  So I started all over, and I really love the result:
Again, I think it's a subtle edit, but the coloring is much cooler, and the lights seem a little glowier (is that a word?).
1.  Adjusted levels  2. Paint the Moon Lighten & Tone  3. Spring Awakening  4. YSA Love Potion  5.  YSA Dark Fantasy  6. Pioneer Woman Edge Burn  7.  Noise reduction

After all of that, I think my favorite edit is this one:
I just added Yellow Sky Actions' Crisp Sepia on top of the last edit.  It feels so much richer in sepia than black and white, and a bit more timeless.  Love it!

This is neither here nor there, but if you're looking for some really great actions for CS-5, Lightroom, or Photoshop 6-10, you should check out Yellow Sky Actions.  They've got all of their action bundles for all three versions on sale right now for only $50!!!  I have Photoshop and received over 80 actions for that price...Lightroom and CS-5 each had well over 100 actions for that price!  And they're all really nice!

Shoot and Edit

I've always wanted to participate in the Shoot and Edit link up over at Ramblings and Photos, and this week's prompt was just the push I needed...48 weeks into the project.  LOL! 

Here is my SOOC that I'm linking up over on Jill's blog:


A little schoolin' fun

Trying to figure out ways to make learning fun has been a challenge for me, especially since Wyatt is a very kinetic learner. 

When he was a toddler, I taught him his colors and shapes using flash cards, but not in the typical way:  I would hand him a card, tell him what was on it, and instruct him to walk it all of the way across the room and place it on a table.  We'd repeat that process until we'd gone through all of the cards, then I'd ask him to go retrieve a specific card.  If he got it right, we'd celebrate and clap.  If he got it wrong, I'd say, "no, this is not a triangle, this is a square.  Go get me the triangle," and he'd have to try again. 

To learn his ABC's, I would have him do jumping jacks while we recited them, or I'd draw them in sidewalk chalk and make him walk their shapes. 

All fine and dandy.  Now we're on to sight words and numbers higher than 10.  I was totally stumped, then I read the parent cards that come with the flash cards.  Duh.  They suggest playing bingo, which happens to be one of the boy's favorite games, so I made us some game boards!  I'm amazed at how quickly he's learning these words and recognizing his numbers!  

The numbers game is not exactly bingo per se.  I just made a grid with 1-20 randomly placed in each box.  We shuffle the flash cards and select one.  I make him count the objects on one side, then attempt to find the number on his grid without seeing the number on back.  If he's stumped, I let him see the number. 

For the sight words, I set up the grid like a true bingo game (hey, who knew that "free" would be a bonus sight word?).  Although this was a chance to have 48 different words on our two grids, I chose to repeat a handful of the more common words on each card so that he could "help" me find them on my card.

Oh, and we play blackout bingo. 
If you're sitting inside your house, bored to tears and sick of Sponge Bob like I am, give this a try!

(p.s. for all of my photog friends, sorry about the horribly grainy pics...some things just aren't worth photoshopping)


Another Year Older

Every year since Wyatt's first Christmas, I've taken the same photo of him once we get out all of the decorations.  I'm always amazed at how much he changes in one year!  Since his birthday is right after Christmas, it's a great photographic growth chart!  I do the exact same thing ON his birthday every year, only at the zoo (our favorite place) on a bench next to a statue.  I'm not sure how long I'll be able to get away with this...would it be weird with a 16 year old?  LOL!