Monday, July 27, 2015

Diving Board Shenanigans

Colin loves to come up with new jumps and dives off the diving board when I take's really funny to look at all the silly positions we capture! Camden jumped off the board for the very first time on Friday...I missed it, but was able to get some snaps this morning.  ;)

Little tip on photographing action:
To get stop-action shots like this, shoot with a super high shutter speed.  All of these were shot at 1/800th of a second in manual mode.  (Canon 5D, 70-300mm lens) The 800-1500+ range is good for sports and action.  The faster the motion, the higher your shutter speed needs to be.  I try and stay above 800 for the boys' soccer, baseball, and basketball games.  It's easier to high shutters in bright a gym it's more tricky and you may have to use a flash to stop the motion.

Cam being brave - so proud of this dude for conquering this fear

Diving boards + stop-action photography = hilarious poses:

The He-Did-Not-Land-Like-This-Pose

The Allllmost Dive Pose

Superhero Pose

Sprawling-All-Over Pose

My fav, Ninja Pose

Do your kids love the diving board?  Personally, I was scarred for life when I had to jump off the 15 foot dive at the YMCA as a little girl.  I did, however, get a Preemie Cabbage Patch baby doll out of it.  She almost made the "I feel like I'm free falling off a building" venture worth it.  The things we do with bribery.  ;)  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer Family Photo Shoot

Les and I will celebrate our 13th!!!! anniversary this December.  Holy Anniversary Numbers, Batman!  To commemorate that, we decided to do a little photo shoot, not on our actual wedding anniversary, but on the anniversary of the day we started dating.

The lovely and talented Allyn Brown shot the photos for us, braving the heat and humidity while only weeks away from delivering her third baby boy! Hello, Trooper of the Year award winner.

Our outfits are all a nod to our wedding colors - black, white, grey and red.  (It was a Christmas wedding after all.) We shot at the location where we met and then would later have our wedding reception.  I love that we have this special little place to visit every so often.  The shot with the boys and the bubbles is a recreation of us leaving our reception with all of the guests blowing bubbles.  Who'd a thunk we'd have these two little guys celebrating along with us all these years later.  Blessed.  Blessed!

Right before these pics, I cut about 14 inches off of my hair.  It hasn't been this short since sophomore year of high school.  Big changes are normally so not in my comfort zone, but I'm really liking this one.  (It is SOOOO much easier to deal with.)

Why all the Chuck Taylors?  Because I wore white chucks at my wedding.  Yes, yes, I did! My flower girl did as well!! My clumsy self was not about to hike down the aisle in was a wonder I made it down in my big ol' dress! (I needed as few distractions as possible.)

So, here we be.  Thanks again, Allyn! You rock.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hello, July!

June feels like it swept in and out in a flash, and here we are already over halfway through 2015! The boys have been out of school for nearly a month and it's been perfectly packed with camps, pool swims, bare feet, indoor tent sleeps, Legos-all-over... and of course, the Barlow wildness - without which no season is complete. 

Right out of the "schools out for the summer" gate, both boys attended basketball camp, which wrapped with seals of major approval all around.  Camden won a dribbling award medal, but I'm pretty sure it took a backseat to the hat he got in a shooting contest...kid loves him a hat!

Colin, while still timid, is embracing new adventures with a lion's heart.  He attended a week long science camp at his school with kids from all over the area.  Science, with it's tinkering and experimentation, is this kid's alley.  By day two, he was ready to say he'd go to school every day of the summer if it meant doing science all day, every day.

It's been sweltering with temps over 100 on several days, in which the backyard water hose and water guns have gotten lots of use.   (Hoses are especially helpful when baseball uniforms have seen more dirt than a mud-truck rally!!)

With no big plans to go away, we've loved our little day trips to the pool and most recently, our day-venture to a local theme park.  **Cue photo overshare**

From Tweetsie Railroad Theme Park in Northwest, NC  

To think these little hands will be on the wheel of a REAL car in four years!!! *insert ugly cry here*

In seven years, they will BOTH be driving *even uglier crying right here*

 Deer park photos (also from Tweetsie) - twinsie goats!!

This little guy rocked himself to sleep on the goat swing!

Future vet??

Panning for gems...didn't have much luck

I made my inner helicopter-mom take a step down and let the boys ride this thing.   (Chairlift up the mountain.) There were heart palpitations the entire time, though!!

So far the biggest challenge of Summer 2015?  Screen time!! ARGH! These boys and their video games and computer.  Seriously.  Les and I have tried to really focus on unplugging...for all of us! It would not be uncommon for us to each be tuned into our own little screen-thing and not even know what the rest of the house was up to.  Yeah.  Not good family time, for sure.  Since summer began, we've been limiting screen time, and the is So. Real.  These boys!!! The begging, the pleading, the promises of clean rooms...of exchange for all the money in the piggy bank.  I require a new pair of "Be Strong, Mama" britches on the daily.  At nearly a month in, they are finally starting to realize that my "Be Strong" pants are really pretty magical, and I won't give in.  (It's really hard, y'all...they have some pretty cute "pleeeeease" faces!)  

Legos are their favorite screen-free boredom buster at the moment...they're finally building things from all katrillion-bajillion of those tiny pieces.  Last year, "Legos" meant digging through all katrillion-bajillion pieces just to find and play with the little Lego People.  Now the little people have all kinds of cool places to play! :)  

To document our summer of unplugging, and since I'm on a big black and white kick as of late, aaaand since this post doesn't have enough photos are a few recent shots...

How's you summer so far?  Anyone else attempting to do less screen time and not lose your mind in the process? Tips, suggestions?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Love Wins

I have prayed and prayed that God would help me chose the right words for this.  I've wondered if He even wanted me to speak at all. My faith is everything to me, but I will be the first to admit that I am not as versed in my scriptures as some. I tried outlining what I wanted to say about a bajillion times, then second guessed myself a bajillion more...and finally, these are the words that God put on my heart tonight...errr, early this morning.

I am a sinner.  A sinner with a list of transgressions miles long.  I'm not deserving of God's love.  I am no better than the person who has done the most wicked of things; yet God somehow still loves me...and He loves you.  I believe that with all my heart.  This post is not one of judgment.  I hope this message is conveyed with love and in the way that God would want it.

There was big decision made by our government the other that brought out pointed fingers,  fierce debate, and divided the nation sharply into the "for" and the "against."  This post is not so much a focus on homosexuality and gay marriage, but to speak about how we as Christians can show love in times of controversy.  I will say I am disappointed in the way our nation handled the ruling - especially in how publicly it displayed our government's opinion.  The special lighting of the White House certainly made a bold statement and quite honestly, it surprised me.  Our nation is so concerned about being PC and not offending ANYONE...anyone...except Christians.  I'm pretty sure the nation would be in an uproar if the White House was lit up for Easter.  (And not the bunnies and eggs type of Easter.) I'm left wondering what makes us so different...conciliatory to what seems to be this new "norm."

When Christians speak up for our beliefs, we are named bigots, judgmental, and old fashioned.'s the rub.  Have we brought these labels upon ourselves?  Do our Facebook posts and Twitter comments reflect the love of Jesus?

The world is watching.  All eyes are squarely on us to see how we react, how we handle the situation.  Are we fueling the fire or are we showing grace and mercy as Jesus would do?  Do our posts of anger and hostility, of judgement, make us deserving of the labels some might give?

Now is the perfect time for Christians to show the world what we are for, not what we're against.  This is the open door.  This is perhaps God's way of answering our "whys."  Things are happening in our world - scary things.  Why?  Maybe they are happening in order for us to really be an example reflecting of God's goodness, of His mercy and forgiveness.  Our role in all of this is to do what we have been called to do all along.

No sin is heavier than another...God sees all sin the same - whether it be the little white lie or something worthy of jail time.  Things are black and white in that way.  We're called by God to love one another, not be stumbling blocks that serve to push people away.  How will we ever show the world God's love, if we're spreading hate?  Jesus was a pretty anti-hate kind of dude, I think.  Sure, He disliked the sins of people here on earth, but He didn't hate the person.  He didn't qualify the sins of people into who could be loved and who couldn't.  Jesus loved the people that communities shunned and pushed away - He brought them in and showed them love.  We cannot continue to push people away with heated debates and angry words. You don't have to agree with someone to show them love.  You shouldn't back down on your beliefs or make exceptions - God's word is perfect and unchangeable - but you can open your heart to one another and show love.

This is me preaching to myself.  I am nothing, y'all.  I am so undeserving.  I've messed up and failed in epic proportions.  I will continue to fail Him, but He loves me anyway...He loves all people, and  He loves them the same.  Love does win...but it's a love far greater than we can even being to imagine. How amazing is His love that he could love someone like me.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Dear 2014-2015 School Year,

You turned my babies into men.  Stop it.  Just stop it.  They have changed more this year than any other.

I. Can't.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015 Review

Oops! Two review posts in a row! It wasn't my intention for that to happen, but I'm truly in love with the canvas I got last week!!

**First a tiny little bit of blog housekeeping...this isn't something I was asked to review nor did I get any incentive or "kick-back".  I think that's important to note because I never want my blog to be about reviewing things just because.  As this is a family lifestyle blog, I want to share things that we use and love, but I would never push a product just to gain something from it.  Pitching stuff isn't my jam, so my intentions are just to help other families know about things that they might love too.**

Back to the regularly scheduled post now ;) is the coolest, y'all!  After working in the photography industry for several years, I got hands-on experience with lots of different print products...and their prices! Great quality is always tops, because who wants to pay anything for something that disappoints? We budget tightly,  so price is also very important.  It's not often that the two combine so easily, but I was extremely impressed with the quality and price of the canvas I ordered.  I found Canvas Discount through a Google search and subscribed to their email list to get a heads up on their sales.  While their regular (non-sale) prices in and of themselves are nice, their sales are incredible.  I was able to get a very large canvas (24x30) for 82% off! Regularly, what would have been $159, I got for less than $40.  That's pretty wild!! With a price like that, you might expect them to scrimp on materials, but the canvas, print quality, wood frame, and construction were all wonderful.  The image printed just like my file.

Other reasons to jump on the Canvas Discount bandwagon?

* A 110% price guarantee.  If you find a cheaper price online, CD will match it plus 10%.

* Completely made in the USA <--this is HUGE!! One of my favorite parts!!

*Earth friendly materials.  Water-based and solvent free, they don't have that heavy chemical smell.

*24 hour turnaround on print time.

Basically, a whole lot of awesome-sauceness!

Here are a few detail pics I took so you can see the finishing...

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Review of Tomorrowland

image copyright Walt Disney Company

Oh dear, Disney! I really wanted to like this film, but it is sooooo not PG.  The trailer and rating are very misleading and I sat watching it, the entire time thinking, "How is this not rated PG-13???"  The language and violence easily rival any PG-13 movie (and honestly, then some.) Who dropped the ball on the rating guidelines for this one??

For a PG movie to contain so much gratuitous cursing and over-the-top destruction, it's hard to even fathom this being marketed as "family friendly."  There's a lot of shooting, hand-to-hand fighting, and death.  The body count says, "Mobster Movie", no kidding!  At one point, a guy - who's a robot - but looks very much human nonetheless, gets his head savagely bashed in.  It's all done in such a casual way that one might mistaken it as an attempt at slap-stick humor, but the effects are incredibly realistic.

Tomorrowland has amazing graphics and is beautiful in its atmospheric elements; the acting is great (casting of George Clooney's character as a child is spot on Little George!!) but those things are unfortunately clouded by the overall disappointment in the movie's delivery.  The film's makers could have easily told the same story - with it's ultimate message of optimism and never giving up - without all the other shenanigans.  Not sure what Disney was trying to do here...???

Bottom line, children that are upset by violence or end-of-world type peril, should definitely skip this one, as should families that don't do PG-13 was totally PG-13 worthy!

The Barlows give it 2 out of 5 stars.*

*The low rating here is a bummer...the story itself wasn't bad, but the rating was far too misleading for families with young children.  We felt a bit like the rug was pulled out from under us. :( Disney deserves a big "Shame on you!" for this one.