How Photoshop Saved the first day of School

Like many other FB moms of today, I feel the pressure of not just being a great mom, but also presenting it well to. After all if the pictures don’t show up on FB, did it really happen? Okay of course it did, but as we look from post to post, Pintrest board to Pintrest board the pressure builds. This social media has caused us to want to up our game. I mean, I thought first day of school pictures with back packs were great until I saw my friend’s kids with signs. Those were awesome. I thought what signs were cool until I saw the full color ones…and so on.

I want to be that cool mom. I do . I make their halloween costumes. I do an all out party (every-other year) But when does it just become too much? Like yesterday morning as I readied for day one. I want that perfect photo. You know, the one like Sara Luke puts on her blogs.

Oops, forgot to get cute new outfits. Oops, forgot to make signs.  No problem, we’ll just do this…. Here hold this…

We can be adorable too dog-gonit. Now smile and look happy!

Click – Got it! Awesome.

130808_8684Yes – I know. Looking back, What was I thinking? But I was in a hurry, but really? “Here children hold up this photo in front of the house. Don’t worry about the strange looks from neighbors. It will be fine.”

You can tell by their expressions that they are not convinced.

So, after literately running from one thing to the next yesterday until the kids bedtime I sat down to post my great first days shots. Hmm. Not quite what I was going for. This doesn’t say “cool Pintrest mom” this is more along the lines of “Pintrest fail!” I had about decided to trash these and pretend the event never happened when Sara Luke and the ever cool Less Ordinary Designs came though. On their face book page…Downloadable cute signs. Do I make them repose with cuter clothes and happy faces or do my best with Photoshop? Okay I have to draw the line with torturing my children with photos somewhere. So Lets Try Photoshop.

A few hours later…

First Day 2013Okay, So it still won’t make it on the cover of a magazine. But hey this mother is happy – I have something to put on Facebook!! And hey, Perhaps my kids won’t remember standing in front of their house holding a photo collage. They will see this photo and think. See my mom did do it all… Okay maybe not. But that can be our little secret. Now the only one question remains…Is there a way to just Photoshop on the Halloween costumes so I don’t have to make them as well? First Day 2

10 Loads of Laundry – Really?

I have a confession. I just folded ten loads of laundry. How did I get so far behind? I could blame sickness, I could blame balancing the new school schedule, I could blame that life is just too busy. All that is true but what is the real reason. Procrastination.

One of those funny signs of facebook went by the other day. “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”

I laughed but the sad thing is that too often I live my life by that philosophy. In fact, when I was a freshman in high school, I had perfected this philosophy. I actually did my homework in the class before.  I must say I am not that bad any more but I still fall into the American mindset of – reward now, work later.

The more I evaluate this life style, the more I think it short changes me from a lot of joy in my life. By procrastinating I always have stuff hanging over my head to do. I want to change – now the challenging part – actually changing.

I know we are a long way from January but this is my new resolution. I want to seek God first and let him lay out my day. Pushing hard all day so I can feel good about what I accomplished at the end. Even if I can’t do it all, if I have done my best then I have a lot to be proud of. I will check in with updates.

What about you? What is one bad habit you could break that would change your life for the good?

Do You Hear With Both Ears?

This past week I got an ear infection and even though I am on medication my ear remains plugged on the one side, leaving it pretty useless. I assume it will return to normal in time but in the mean time it has given me a lot to think about – specifically Matthew 13:13. In this verse, Jesus talks about the Pharisees listening but not hearing.

However, they didn’t have ear infections but rather their ears were full of themselves. They had been so confident they knew what God was up to that they couldn’t hear when God was speaking to them through His Son.

So often in my own life I find myself running ahead of God and yelling over my shoulder, “I know where you are headed God. I’ll meet you there.” And I often end up on my face.

I have discovered this week with my bad ear that to really hear people I have to look at them and focus on them. Otherwise I am bound to miss a key part of the sentence. I think the same is true for God.

I don’t just want to listen to God with one ear.  I want to look at Him and focus on Him. When I do, I trust He will lead me where He wants me to go.

Do you struggle to listen to God with both ears? How do you keep from running ahead?

Save Me Super Cake Girl

My boys were playing super heroes the other day, and my daughter not wanting to be left out (but still as girly as they come) stood up and said, “I want to be a cake super hero.”

She said she would drive around and make cakes for everyone who didn’t have one. She cracks me up.

But this got me thinking about my writing. In My Book Therapy we learn that the heroine needs a superpower. No, she doesn’t have to leap tall buildings and lift cars but some strength or special skill that can help save the day in the end.

In the Hunger Games, Katniss’ super power is to hunt. It is that super power that saves her and ultimately Peeta in the arena. In Twilight, Bella’s super power is her ability to shield her mind. This saves everyone in the end, even Edward. (Man, YA books have really great superpowers)

My current work in progress, my heroine’s superpower is her ability to do genealogy research. Not glamorous as a bow or a mind shield but in the end it is what saves the day for my hero.

Think back to one of your favorite books. Does the heroine have a superpower?

What do you think would make a cool superpower for a book? Baking cakes? It could work and who knows, it may just show up somewhere in one of my books in the future.

Building a Heroine – Literally

So I have heard a lot of lessons on how to build a character for you story. You need to consider motivations, back-story, fears, goals, and so much more. For a great instruction of building a character for a story, check out From the Inside…Out by Susan May Warren.

But this blog isn’t about that.  As I tried to create the vision I had for my heroine, I needed to find a “Hannah”. Really how hard could it be to find a cute, whimsical, full length shot of a red-head with curly hair, preferably in a green sundress. Like this photo. Only I couldn’t find one.

Being an istock contributor myself (my portfolio), I have no problem paying for an image but search after search left me empty. Okay, maybe I was being a little picky and specific but that has always been my down fall in my life.

My vivid imaginations comes up with EXACTLY what I want and nothing less with make me happy. Try dress shopping with me sometime.

My Junior prom I gave my mom a detailed description of what I wanted in my dress: blue, short, off the shoulder, with thick lace around the top. (Hey it was 1993 and this was very cool) My mom actually bought this dress without me because it was exactly what I wanted. She was right it was perfect and I loved it.
My senior year it only got worse as I drew the dress I wanted on the back of a bulletin during church: short, black velvet, 3 spaghetti straps that cross/weave in the back. My mom laughed at me, but we searched and found nothing close. But I did find a dress three sizes too big, velvet , and full length on sale for $15. So I snatched it up and marched off to the tailor and $40 of alterations later this is what I had.
So you can see, I know what I want. But tailors couldn’t help me this time. Fortunately, I’ve learned a little about digital stitching along the way.

So I found these two shots.

And with a little work (changing hair color, skin color, dress color, swapping heads, and making the dress a bit more CBA approved) I made the the Hannah I wanted.
Yes I confess I am a Photoshoper.

In fact, if you have ever seen a photo of my family that we are all smiling – yeah it has been Photoshopped.


Many claim that this is “cheating.” But I have to laugh. I am not after a photo-journalistic approach to portraits. Back when people would sit for paintings, do you think that the people never blinked, the kids never cried, and everyone stood perfect for hours. No, the painter painted what he wanted. It was not journalism but a portrait, art.
So what are your thoughts on Photoshop?

A good thing or is it cheating?

My One Sheet

You may have picked up by now, I am a writer . I don’t have anything published as of yet, but I do have a book I am pursuing to get published.

I will be attending the ACFW conference next week to meet and connect with other writers as well as agents and editors. For this conference, I have to have what is called a one sheet. It is one piece of paper that tells a bit about my plot and myself that will stir up interest in my book. So here is my one sheet.


So…did it work? Are you interested in knowing more? Maybe I’ll give you a peek next week. Better stay tuned.

Where Were You?

There are certain events in history that will often beg the question: Where were you? Where were you when Pearl Harbor was hit? Where were you when Kennedy was shot? Where were you when the Challenger blew up? Where were you when the two towers were hit?

I love these questions and it is not because of morbid fixation. I don’t want to know history from facts; I want to know history from stories. I want to picture what it was like. I want to feel the emotion of that moment with the storyteller.

Pearl Harbor was bombed exactly thirty-three years before I was born. But when I think about it, I picture my grandfather in his college dorm gathered around an old radio, hearing the news, knowing his life had just changed forever. Kennedy was shot about twelve years before I was born but I know my father sat in a college lecture and how the class all left un-dismissed when the news broke.

But I can tell you where I was eleven years ago today when the two towers were hit. I remember the sickening ache in my gut as I watched them crumple to the ground live. I remember the days that followed as the country struggled to find its emotional feet. I remember watching the country unite and heroes rise up for unexpected places.

Story has the power to change someone like the facts never could. That is why I write. I have never written an historical fiction but the idea intrigues me.

Whether you write or not, you have a story. Pass on those stories, so as your kids learn history in the class they don’t just know the facts but what it was like to life through it.

So, where were you?

Social Media Sweet Spot

One aspect of a writer’s life is social media. An online presence, if you will. This has been a struggle with me. Inconsistent blogs (if you haven’t noticed), an occasional tweet, but I have struggled to really find my grove.

This week I started my author page on Facebook. I must say that I think I have found my sweet spot. I have had a personal account on facebook since 2007 so I am not sure why it didn’t occur to me earlier that this would be a good fit. After all – facebook is already a part of my life.

I created my page Wednesday night at 8:30 and by Friday morning at 8:00 am I had over 116 likes and By Saturday morning 181.
To have so many friends, family, and strangers interested in my journey as a writer is exciting and humbling. Everyone is excited to see what God will do next and frankly so am I.

So, thanks for stopping by my blog. I am striving to be more consistent. I appreciate your support too. If you want to find me on facebook. I am at www.facebook.com/tari.faris.author If you tweet join me there @FarisTari.

I will try not to have too much overlap but I sure there will be.

So what is your favorite avenue of social media?

Biggest revelation for me to date…

So what was my great discovery? Before I get to that – let’s talk reading.

When did I fall in love with reading? About eight years ago. I was nearly thirty and on bed rest with my first child and before wifi I had limited options. So, I decided to read.

Before this time, I hated reading. It was hard. I could never remember what I read and it made me so tired. Occasionally the letters would move around and I consistency struggled to stay on the right line. Just after college I picked up a novel everyone said I had to read. Just 300 or so pages. Took me a month a reading a little every night. As much as my eyes could handle.

But on bed rest I pushed though and read novel after novel. I think it took me days to finish one book but I did it. I soon discovered that I loved the story and that I’d push though the frustrations just to be able to read another good romance story. (practice makes perfect)

Now – I love to read. Eight years later I can fly through books. I read all four books in the Twilight series in a week (not so good for the house cleaning though.) I recently reread the novel that had taken me a month and finished it in a night.

So what was my discovery this weekend? By my description you may be able to tell if you know much about reading problems. I am dyslexic. I am severely dyslexic. Out of the 37 possible characteristics I had twenty-eight. (it takes 10 to classify as dyslexia)

I must say my husband and I had a good laugh about the description since it make so much sense to many of my “quirks”.

I also love the irony that God has called me to write. I mean I did well in math and science why not focus there? No he calls me to literature and I managed to graduate high school with a 3.6 with never completing one required reading book.

But God isn’t concerned with what I can’t do as much as what He can do. I choose to be open to people he has placed in my path to teach me. After all if He can take me from reading a novel over a month to reading it in a night He can do anything.

Here are the 28 characteristics I could identify with. They may give you new insight into our past interaction if you know me. :)
•    Appears bright, intelligent, and articulate but unable to read, write, or spell at grade level.
•    Isn’t “behind enough” or “bad enough” to be helped in the school setting.
•    High in IQ, yet may not test well academically; tests well orally, but not written.
•    Talented in art, drama, music, sports, mechanics, story-telling, sales, business, designing, building, or engineering.
•    Seems to “Zone out” or daydream often; gets lost easily or loses track of time.
•    Difficulty sustaining attention “daydreamer.”
•    Learns best through hands-on experience, demonstrations, experimentation, observation, and visual aids.
•    Complains of headaches while reading.
•    Confused by verbal explanations.
•    Reading or writing shows repetitions, additions, transpositions, omissions, substitutions, and reversals in letters, numbers and/or words.
•    Complains of feeling or seeing non-existent movement while reading, writing, or copying.
•    Seems to have difficulty with vision, yet eye exams don’t reveal a problem.
•    Lacks depth perception and peripheral vision.
•    Reads and rereads with little comprehension.
•    Spells phonetically and inconsistently.
•    Easily distracted by sounds.
•    Difficulty putting thoughts into words; speaks in halting phrases; leaves sentences incomplete; stutters under stress; mispronounces long words, or transposes phrases, words, and syllables when speaking.
•    Handwriting varies or is illegible.
•    Clumsy, poor at ball or team sports; prone to motion-sickness.
•    Can be ambidextrous, and often confuses left/right
•    Has difficulty telling time, managing time, or being on time.
•    Computing math shows dependence on finger counting and other tricks
•    Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations, and faces.
•    Poor memory for sequences, facts and information that has not been experienced.
•    Thinks primarily with images and feeling
•    Extremely disorderly or compulsively orderly.
•    Strong sense of justice; emotionally sensitive; strives for perfection.
•    Mistakes and symptoms increase dramatically with confusion, time pressure, emotional stress, or poor health.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Shadow of Your Smile

I know I am behind the times since this book was released over six months ago but hey my life’s been a little busy. (Did I mention that I finally finished writing my book? No – Well I will have to talk about that as my next post.) :)

I must add though that I loved reading about the bitter cold north as I sat in 110+ temperatures. It is like reading a beach novel in the dead of winter. I figure if I want to escape into a novel – might as well be different from where I am.

Okay, on to the book. First let me say – I LOVED IT! Susan May Warren has the ability to create such a real world for the reader and compelling characters that are both real and loveable. They are the kind you want to fight for and make it difficult to put the book down. I read it in two nights.

But there are a lot of great story creators out there, so why do Susan May Warren’s books stand out to me? They hold a strong element of life truth and biblical truth in them that hangs with you after the book is done.

I am the mother of three children Boy, Girl, Boy. And in a way, looking at this family pre-tradegy was like a glimpse of my little family in fifteen years. I pray I never have to face a tragedy like they did, but the reality is I cannot control that.

We don’t know what our future will look like but I know I want to enjoy every day I have with my kids while they are young. I also will place my faith in a God who loves me much and believe it or not loves my kids even more than I do.

This book really challenged me to be a better mom and wife. And if I can walk away from any book wanting to be a better version of myself while enjoying the story – that is a great book.

Thank you Susan May Warren for allowing God to speak though your words into my life.

Have any of you read this book? What makes a good book in your opinion?

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