How To Respond To “K”

Happy Monday Friends!

The last time we were together I talked about text etiquette and that obnoxious little letter, “k.” Now that we know why “k” is a little annoying, let’s talk about ways to respond to the “k” people in your life. Here are some funny things I came across online (& a few that were sent to me by other people). Snowflakes beware, there’s an F word in here somewhere. I apologize in advance for the 4 swear words.

PS – I don’t take myself seriously half the time. You shouldn’t either.

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K…an We Talk About Text Etiquette?

Good Morning Friends! Happy Friday! (If you’re reading this from Facebook, for the love of all that is holy, just CLICK THE LINK. Thank you) 🙂

Now that the 30 day 60 day blog challenge is over, it’s time to talk about something else & today I want to talk about the alphabet. There are numerous languages, each having its own unique means of written communication, but for today we are going to focus on the English alphabet; just 26 letters is all it takes to create all the words you see here & many, many more. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. We can say anything we want to say with the use of just 26 letters, & maybe the occasional emoji (or not so occasional if you’re like me & people don’t know you’re kidding unless you use a smiley at the end of everything). What happens when we have all these magnificent options at our disposal and we choose to use only one of them? You know which one. That’s right…the obnoxious “K.”

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We’re all probably guilty, but let’s examine this for a moment. Why do we do this? Are we just getting so many texts that all we can manage to muster is a single letter before we move on to the next text? Like celebrities: when you get their autograph they always write “best wishes” or something arbitrary followed by an “x” (or an “xo” if you’re really lucky) and a scribble that looks vaguely like it might contain at least one actual letter of their name. Then you get shoved down the line so the super important celebrity can lather, rinse & repeat with the hundreds of people behind you. Are we that important that we can’t wrangle up at least one extra letter? “OK,” perhaps? (Though, to be honest, that’s probably only marginally less annoying than “K.”)

What about the days when you were charged by the text, both incoming and outgoing? I can’t be the only one who got more than a little annoyed when someone cost me 10 cents just to say, “K.” For 10 cents you better have been sending me a full sentence complete with no unnecessary shorthand & proper punctuation.

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I know the point I made above is now considered moot since the majority of us are fortunate enough to be on some sort of plan which allows for unlimited texting, so why is this “K” thing still so annoying? For me there are two reasons:

1.) “K” has too many possible interpretations.

K, what?

As in, “Ok, Cool,” “I’m looking forward to it,” or ‘K’ as in “whatever. I’m done talking to you, you chatty nerd.” Or, “I’m sorry, my hands were bitten off by a t-rex & I can only text with my nose. ‘K’ is the best I can do.” The most terrifying thing to go through my mind might be, “K. Because I’m going to feed you to a shark. Shark has K in it.”

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135ee6abbb34c616b6b3144d97f77e65-jpgWhat do you mean?! There are no tonal clues with the letter K. There are no facial cues, no body language we can assess to determine if this letter is friendly or if this letter has nefarious, diabolical plans which include me ending up with a hole in my neck. Those of us with anxious brains prone to over-thinking need answers to these questions.

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2.) Time. I am busy. Maybe not I get 5000 texts in a day because I’m so important busy, but I do have a husband, 3 kids, a small business, a need to take time out to exercise, errands to run, a dog to walk, bills to pay, homework to help with, & endless amounts of laundry & dishes to do. I’m busy the way most of us are busy so while my time may not be any more or less important than yours, stopping what I’m doing to find my phone (which, at this point, is basically always on a charger which is not in the same room with me) just to read one lonely letter & nearly have a panic attack over the possible meanings of that letter & how to respond (or not), feels like a waste of time, energy, & internet data.

Bonus reason: while I know this is not always the intention, it can be rude.

Of course, we’re all going to do it every now and then, but if you frequently reply with a letter when I’m trying to have a conversation with you, please know that I’ve thought about cutting you.

Me: Hey, love! How are you?

Them: k

Me: K, good? or K, bad?

Them: just k

Me: There is no such thing as “just k.”

Them: k

Me: *screams*

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Can you relate? Does ‘K’ bother you? Why or why not? Do you have any fun reasons to add or creative responses to people who frequently do the ‘K’ thing? I’m planning a post on how to respond to ‘K’ and I’d love to see your best answers!

Why You Should Be Scared Of Your Wife (Or At Least Pretend To Be Occasionally)

Ladies, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t there some sort of undocumented rule somewhere stating that husbands (boyfriends/significant others) are wise to retain some level of fear deference to their spouses? The same applies to the ladies in regard to the men of course, but we’re just going to focus on the one right now for simplicity’s sake.

I get the whole thing about mutual love and respect. I feel that my husband and I have that in most cases. What I’m talking about is, admittedly, a bit more petty than that..at least on the surface. Let me give you a real-life example:

image My husband is not always playful and lighthearted, but when he is, he  is dramatically so. I love when he’s playful and lighthearted. I don’t care so much for the “dramatically so” part. He doesn’t always know when to cease fire. For instance, he may get in a playful mood and put ice down my shirt or something silly like that. I laugh, I jokingly tell him he’s in for it and I repay him with two cubes of ice down his shirt. I feel like at this point, he’s gotten me, I’ve gotten him…it should be over, right? But no. He cannot accept this. He then feels that he must retaliate by putting three cubes of ice down my pants. It’s still rather humorous so I go with it and respond in kind. We both laugh. Then I notice that he might be laughing, but the look in his eye is starting to get a little more impish than it was before. You see where this is headed, right? It’s not just going to be “you got me, I got you, that was funny, now it’s over.” Now it’s a war. He needs to get me again and for everything I do to him he has to get me back twice as bad. Suddenly, it’s not fun anymore. Suddenly it’s not playful and lighthearted; it’s about who wins. Suddenly, he has a few small, nearly-dry wet spots on his clothing from where ice has melted on him and I’m standing in the kitchen, mad as a wet cat, drenched from head to toe while our dinner burns & he’s feeling triumphant as he’s holding the sprayer from the sink. And trust me, he ALWAYS wins because I’m not willing to deal with The Wrath of James Dean if he doesn’t.

I don’t want to see how uncomfortable his retaliation can get and I don’t want to see him hurt or angry so I generally give up before I help get him to this point. He does not give up before he gets me to that point. I get so angry that

A.) There’s nothing I can do to him that won’t get me something worse in return and/or

B.) There’s nothing I can do to him that actually has any effect short of junk punching him and I feel that’s a little extreme as revenge for a harmless prank.

Not to mention the (very trivial) fact that I’m a little a lot annoyed that I never get to win.

^ All that up there, while true, was my attempt at being amusing and flippant, because really, it’s supposed to be all in fun. Underneath the surface, however, there is a lot more to be revealed. Allow me to get a tiny bit serious for a second.

I honestly feel like when my husband starts something with me and I repay him for it, at least sometimes he should respond with “well, I deserved that” and let it be done. I’ll tell you why. Nobody can really claim to be the winner in that scenario, but when you push too much and upset someone, everybody loses. I don’t need to win so badly that I belittle or upset my spouse to do it. It makes me feel weak and inferior when I can’t seem to get any edge over him or have any effect on him at all. He just laughs at me or does something worse to me than I could even think about doing to him. If I blithely punch my husband as retaliation for tickling me or something equally harmless, (even if it doesn’t hurt) I don’t feel like his response 100% of the time should be laughter. Sometimes? Yeah, laugh at me…it’s funny that I’m a kitten pretending to be a tiger, I get it. But choose your moments.

Sometimes, guys, you should just let your girl win and make her think that punch to the back really hurt you at least a little bit because otherwise, you’re just slowly (unknowingly & – I know – unintentionally) beating down her self-esteem. And don’t make it obvious by abruptly falling to the ground if she pokes you in the chest with her index finger…that’s just insulting. You have to make her believe it. You have to let her know that she has an effect on you, she’s important to you and that your love and respect for her far outweighs your desire to always reign victorious. 

We get it. You’re the big, strong, masculine guy. You’re stronger than us. You’re probably faster than us. And a lot more adept at pranks, sports, shooting, manual labor, video games, gambling, grilling, navigating & beer pong. WE GET IT. We know you CAN win everything; that doesn’t mean you always have to. You don’t have to be a prick about it. In a world where girls & women are constantly told & shown how inferior they are (both to men and when compared to one another) we don’t need another reason to feel like we don’t measure up.

While I’m at it, it wouldn’t hurt you to point out things that she’s better at than you every now and then as well. Don’t just say, “you are strong and important” after she tells you that she doesn’t feel so. That just seems contrived and insincere. Back it up with an example. Give her a reason to believe you mean what you say. “I think you’re strong because ___________.” Fill in the blank. Don’t just tell her she’s a great wife or a good mother. Back it up with some sort of proof. “You’re an awesome mom because _______________.” Maybe she’s more patient than you are. Maybe she’s a large part of the reason your children are so respectful and compassionate. Maybe it’s because of her that they love to read or pray or retain some other positive trait that the world seems to be lacking these days. Tell her that. It’s a lot like being in a courtroom; the judge and jury aren’t going to believe your client is innocent just because you told them they are. They need evidence.

Your wife needs to feel that you’re sincere when you give her compliments like that. Believe me, I realize that in a man’s mind, “you’re so beautiful” is a great compliment and that they are being sincere most of the time. It IS a nice compliment and we appreciate it. You should keep doing that. But every now and then mix it up by backing up your claim with some sort of proof. Just because you feel genuine in saying it doesn’t mean your wife hears that in your voice or feels it for herself. In my personal opinion, since she’s the one you want to make believe it, you should put some effort into making her feel your sincerity as well. Try pinpointing specific things about her that you find beautiful next time and see how she responds to that; compare it to how she responds to the generalization of being beautiful & I bet you’ll see a difference.

And obviously, ladies, the same goes for you. I’m not just beating up the men because that isn’t my thing. You can take this advice and apply it where necessary in your relationship, too. I apologize in advance if I sound completely self-righteous. I just got fired up this morning & had to find a way to vent my frustration. I hope maybe it helps someone. At the very least, I got it off my chest.  :p

Now it’s your turn. Agree or disagree? Why?

Don’t Put Two In The Hole

Just a few things that have been said to me today:

“You have to wrap it or bad things happen!”

“You can’t put two in the hole! Only one goes in the hole!”

“wrap it, stick it, bring it out, wrap it, take out two…” to which I responded, “take out two?!”

Admit it, you’re all thinking I must be participating in some very unsavory conversations, but I assure you, I was was not. My second mama was teaching my best friend and I how to crochet. It’s very dirty business y’all.

 

Wrap that around your crochet needle and stick it!!

Anna and I are determined to conquer the art of old-womanry crocheting. Even if our “blanket” doesn’t look like a blanket when we’re finished, it will be made with love and laughs…and an over-abundance of dirty thoughts.

 

What I’ve Learned About Being A Girl

I’ve never been too much of a “girlie-girl.” Throughout the majority of my life so far, I think I’ve kind of associated being a girl with negative things like being weak, vulnerable & needy, ect. ect. I didn’t get into makeup until I was about 23 years old despite the fact that I’ve always been kind of curious about it. Who doesn’t want to be pretty, right? But I wanted to be tough even more so all girlie desires got tossed out the window and instead, I pursued anything that would make me seem strong, smart & resilient; I didn’t want to be an easy target like I learned to think females were based solely on some unfortunate personal experiences & the general characteristics of the gender. That didn’t stop me from having super-sensitive feelings, but I managed to hide even that (to a degree) after a while. Fake it ’til you make it, right?

This might surprise a few of you who are used to the feminist me who is all about girl power and ‘I am woman; Hear me roar’ type stuff. Now, I’m proud to be a female. Yes, there are things I don’t like (hello monthly visitor, pregnancy hormones & menopause; please die. Sincerely, Me) but over time, I’ve discovered what an awesome thing it is to be a girl.

We can get away with all sorts of things that aren’t necessarily socially acceptable for the average male.

We can wear men’s clothing and it’s considered sexy.

The following picture…not so much.

Maybe this counts as clothing, but we look good in men’s hats, too.

We can cry (and other such nonsense) to successfully get ourselves out of potentially sticky situations. If a guy does this, he gets labeled as a sissy and is completely unable to live this down. Dawson’s Creek fans can attest to this. James Van Der Beek will never be able to escape the image of his character’s famous ‘cry-face.’

 

It’s generally accepted that a woman can say what she likes about a man or even do what she wants to him without many (if any) repercussions. A man who so much as calls a woman “hun” or “sweetheart” (especially in the workplace) can have a sexual harassment suit slapped against him in no time.

Please note that I am in no way defending sexual harassment for either sex, but sometimes it can be a little overboard, hence the funny above 🙂

A woman who drives an energy/fuel-efficient car is called ‘environmentally conscious’; a guy does it and society labels him a ‘fag’. You’ll have to excuse the use of the word fag – it’s not meant to offend.

There are a ton of other things I could list here, but this post isn’t about male/female inequalities; I was just making the point that while it’s awesome to be a girl for some of these reasons (the whole crying and sexual harassment things are not so great, but you get my point, yes?) it’s also awkward at times. It’s taken me a while to grow into my Girl Power, but since I have, there are few things I’ve discovered about myself in particular. Let me know if any of this rings true for any other women out there.

You remember me mentioning makeup, right?

I never would have voluntarily worn the stuff before I reached my 20’s. The only time I did was when I had to; my theater classes in high school for example. My drama teacher would demand that someone pin me to a chair and assault me with stage makeup before plays because I refused to put it on myself. I had the theory of how to do it, but having no experience with regular makeup, the idea that I could successfully apply stage makeup was laughable. I wore makeup at my wedding and proms, but again, someone else strapped me to a chair and did it for me.

Now, on the other hand, I’m certifiably addicted to 3 things: Carmex (or pretty much any kind of “lip stuff” that is mentholated and isn’t displayed in the lipstick case at the mall), eye-liner and mascara.

When other girls my age were terminally self-conscious when they ventured outside without wearing makeup I was the girl who walked with my head down to avoid inviting anyone to see that I was wearing makeup. Weird, right? And if it was noticed, God forbid anyone to mention it out loud. My face turned 7 different shades of red at the words, “OhMG, you’re wearing makeup!” I almost felt actual shame at these words because it was like going back on everything I told myself that I was; surely strong people don’t insist on doing anything as dainty as painting their faces before appearing in public, right? And even worse was the fear that I looked better wearing it than I do without it. I never wanted to be one of those girls that looked in the mirror and hated what she saw so badly that she felt the need to hide it under a bunch of crap made from whale blubber and bat poop. But, the sad truth is that I DO look better when I put on a bit of makeup. I don’t wear it religiously because despite the fact that I now know how much I actually like feeling like I look good, I still don’t feel compelled to spend an hour in front of the mirror so I either go without it or I just run to my 3 main go-to items listed above which takes me a total of 2 minutes to apply. I’m just SO high maintenance like that.

Take a second to imagine me trying to learn how to apply makeup correctly after having a whole makeup-free adolescence. Add to that the fact that I didn’t want anyone else to know that I was trying to learn to apply makeup and you’ll get a really funny picture in your head.

I’m locked in the bathroom as if I’m doing something shameful, watching my back to make sure that no one is attempting to peek through the hole at the door knob while I’m hunched over the sink protecting the various items that I very sneakily (and bashfully) purchased from the store. You would have thought I was a 12 year old trying to buy condoms and I promise you, I am not exaggerating.

MY PRECIOUS!

I’m staring at some strange, yucky-colored, pasty concoction called “concealer” and while I get the general idea of what I’m supposed to do with this, what I’m not familiar with is exactly what feature I’m supposed to “conceal.” I’m also curious as to why some of these concealer’s are yellow while others are various degrees of beige. I got a light beige and even though it was the lightest one available, it still looks too dark for my nearly translucent skin.

I look at the pink blush with disdain, preferring instead to pinch my cheeks repeatedly rather than over-apply the ugly, stiff powder in my hands.

Lipstick is an overwhelming item if ever there was one. Red is much too bright a color for someone wanting to go unnoticed, but what the hell is the difference between plain ol’ “Red” and “Lady Bug?” Should I go with a shimmery color or something closer to my natural lip color? What is my natural lip color? Is it “Pink Grapefruit” or “Jujubee Luster” or neither? Should I buy something cheap or something that will only come off with turpentine? Shiny or dull? Do I need a gloss with this kind or that kind? And how did one come up with the name “Cat Fight” for a lipstick?

Eyeshadow is just as overwhelming. Does anyone ever look good with blue eyeshadow?

It says pink will accentuate green eyes, but there are 4 different shades of pink in this container. I feel dumbfounded at the idea that one color is simply not enough to put on a tiny eyelid. Is there even room for that many colors on an eye? And my eyes change color from blue to grey to green on a whim. How do I know which to wear and when? And again, I just can’t reconcile how I’m going to put multiple colors on my eyelid and come away looking like a human girl rather than an alien or a clown. *Sigh*

Eyeliner is another scary prospect. I will poke my eye out for sure. The same goes for mascara.

The good news is that after, very secretively, playing with all this junk like any normal girl would have been doing at 8 or 10 or even 15 years of age, I gained a little (and I do mean A LITTLE) knowledge.

First, I did not poke my eye out with the mascara. Instead I left a trail of inky, black smudges along my brow bone. I learned that in order to keep this from happening, one must make a silly face. It’s true – the sillier you look while applying mascara, the better it will turn out. I even have a demonstration for you:

While applying eyeliner, I learned 3 things:

1.) Liquid eyeliner burns horrendously when it gets in your eye. It’s even worse if you wear contacts and must take those out before you can get any relief.

2.) The threat of poking an eye out is not irrational! But over time you start to put it on like a pro with smooth, swift motions rather than my earlier sloppy application that I’m too embarrassed to even speak to you about.

3.) The smooth application of this product is also reliant on making a funny face.

I learned that instead of lipstick, Carmex is my Lip Crack of choice. If I must have a little more color or shimmer, I apply a very thin layer of a light pink of light brown liquid lipstick and mix it in with my Carmex so the effect is that my lips look like they are just naturally colorful and shiny. I prefer to skip blush altogether.

I learned that red eyeshadow looks terribly hilarious on me and anything considered ‘smoky’ looks pretty awful, too. Maybe I’m just doing it wrong? Lime green is only good for halloween and white is for teenage girls in the ’90s. I figured out how to use those 4 colors in a palette and when I feel like going through that much trouble, I have pinks and bluish-greens that I use sparingly. The majority of the time, I use natural, earthy looking colors that you can barely tell are there. I learned that the concealer is for covering unsightly blemishes and you need it to be a bit darker than your skin to actually work. The yellows are great for toning down redness, but I won’t need those unless I develop an unfortunate case of high blood pressure when I’m older. It did come in handy when we got into that horrible wreck in Germany though and I wanted to cover some of the colorful bruises scattered around my eyes. Too bad concealer couldn’t do anything about the broken neck.

Even though I’m slightly more educated in matters of beauty where face paint is concerned, I’m still comically inept with hair. The most complicated hair-do I can achieve is a smooth pony-tail. When my hair is short, I’ll use a round brush and a blow-dryer to get a nice look, but other than that I’m not the girl you ask for hair-styling advice. While I’m comfortable with my status as “Bethylicious: Female” some things have just become part of who I am and a complete disregard for hair-styling is one of them.

One thing that is a part of who I am that I’m not entirely okay with is the fact that, at 26 years old, I still can’t clasp my bra from the back and I am continuously amazed at women who are able to do this so effortlessly. If anyone is teaching a workshop on this subject, email me because I want to attend!

I also need to attend dinner. Back to my enemies reality of all things foreign & domestic.

Feel free to comment if you’re cosmetically-challenged (or backwards-bra-clasp challenged) like me. I’m convinced that there is a whole support-groups worth of people out there that can relate to this. Also, I’ll be skipping a post tomorrow as it’s my 8 year anniversary. Although, I’m toying with the idea of videoing myself getting dolled up to go out with the hubby so you can see all my beauty-related funny faces in action!

Chick Troubleshooting: Volume 1

Computers are a lot more like people than we realize. Lemme s’plain.

Ever feel like your “special lady” (Terry Bellfleur again!) should come with a trouble-shooting manual a lot like the one built into your computer’s hard drive? My husband & I were talking & he said he’d like it if he had a wife manual (Hello Anniversary Present!!!) so I decided to put my own little spin on it. For some of us, electronics are far less complicated than other humans so I’m doing my troubleshooting manual in a dialect you gamers can better understand.

Here’s my take on what to do if your honey isn’t operating regularly &/or to optimize her performance. Feel free to help me add to the list in the comments or request a different problem for me to address in the next post—> I’m going to focus on one problem, the causes & the fixes for it. I’ll add a new “Troubleshooting Manual” with a new problem/solution every week until further notice.

Problem of the Day: The lady is running slow.

What May Cause Problem:

1.) Hard disk is cluttered with too many temporary, unnecessary files.

Quick Fix 1: Help empty out those old files. She talks, you listen. <—I swear to gravy if you open your mouth to say anything other than “I understand” or its equivalent, this “fix” will backfire on you. Just. Shut. Up.

The whole time her mouth is moving, it’s like you’re pressing the delete key in her brain. Or at the very least, running a highly effective defrag.

You may also try the following:

  • Take the kids for a while
  • Help with household chores
  • Cook dinner
  • Run her a hot bath
  • Give her a massage
  • Give her a thoughtful gift that says you appreciate her
  • Don’t complain – Just be supportive!

If all else fails, ask her what she needs. If she knows, she’ll tell you. (If she knows & doesn’t tell you, that’s a whole new troubleshooting problem.) And if she doesn’t know, it generally means she needs a break that lasts longer than 30 minutes so she can have time to figure it out. If possible, try to plan for her to have an entire day (or better yet, a few of them!) to do whatever she wants with. Tell her ahead of time so she can plan for them & try to make the necessary arrangements for the kids, work, ect. so that she’ll have less to worry about. If that’s not possible & nothing else is working, click Restart & pray.

2.) Left over programs & bad files.

Quick Fix 2: If you did Quick Fix 1 & you’re still having problems, maybe you didn’t delete the right files. Run a scan to see if there is any malware poisoning her hard-disk: Examples: Ex-boyfriend/Ex-husband/Ex-Anything Issues still lingering in her hard-drive. Ex issues=Bad files. Deal with them or you’ll keep troubleshooting the same problems with no real effects. If the bad left-overs are from you, repeat Quick Fix 1 regularly until the end of time.

3.) Data Corruption.

Quick Fix 3: You said, “Not right now.” She heard, “I don’t have time for you because you’re not important to me. GO AWAY.” Find out what stuff she’s hanging on to that isn’t exactly…in tact or correct. Delete it so she can move the bad stuff out & take the good stuff in.

4.) Outdated Drivers or Missing Updates

Quick Fix 4: Women change. Don’t treat her like you did when you were 16 if she’s not 16 anymore. Check with her every so often to see if certain things have changed in a particular area. Tell her you notice a change when it occurs. Women like to be noticed. Also, she’s not a mind-reader so yes, you have to tell her. Whether the change is positive or negative, she needs to know that you pay enough attention to her to know when something is different. Stay updated on what’s going on with her & there are some drive(r)s that will stay just as active as they’ve always been. 😉

5.) Overheating

Less-Than-Quick Fix 5: You either made her really mad or she’s about to visit the land of menopause. Either way, tread carefully. She’s not an old-school Nintendo; you can’t blow in her mouth (or her ear) and viola! problem solved!    No random keystrokes! (i.e – don’t try to touch her!) You wait for prompts! (i.e – you wait ’til she gives you the O.K! For EVERYTHING – Or she may murder you.) You do this until she cools down. Then you can try any of the Quick Fix’s above. Preferably, all of them.

6.) Corrupt Operating System

Quick Time-Consuming Fix 6: She’s not operating normally because her whole system is off (i.e – depression or some other health issue). It happens when you have too much craptastic crap on your plate. Be nice, hold her, take her to the doctor and see if he can fix her up. Just be patient & supportive while she reboots.

7.) Bad Hardware

Quick Time-Consuming Fix 7: Something’s going on that she can’t work with. In this case, maybe the problem isn’t heryou need to go to the doc with her to get yourself…”rebooted”. Just sayin’.

So in a nut shell, here are the basic troubleshooting steps we just covered:

Reboot, Scan for malware, Clean Disk Space, Update software & drivers, Install more better clean new memory. See a pro if you can’t fix it on your own.

For additions or suggestions on what to troubleshoot next, visit the comments section; comments make me happy in my heart. ❤

 

Healthtacular Update: The Sequel

Hello All!

It’s been a rough five days without my bloggerificness, yes? No? Oh…

SO ANYWAY –

As most of you know, I had another appointment yesterday for X-rays to see if I could go without the neck brace.

The ballet says….


*Drum Roll* (Yes, it’s played out and yes, I’m still doing it.) But, if you know me, you’re not expecting a normal drum roll so imagine something kooky & alien sounding….

The brace is getting bedazzled! I don’t have to keep it on 100% of the time, but I do still have to wear it often. So it’s official, I will be drawing shrooms & only God knows what else on it tonight. (Pictures in next post!) I plan to let the kids draw on it and we’re going to glue all kinds of fun stuff to it, too!

I had my X-rays done yesterday, but they couldn’t tell me anything definitive because the clinic doesn’t have the original X-rays from the hospital to determine what my injury was in the first place so there is no comparison to see if anything has changed. Enough healing hasn’t taken place for them to allow me to go without the neck brace permanently, but the doctor did say that it would be fine if I went without it sometimes as long as I don’t make any sudden movements, am very careful & I put it back on immediately at the first signs of pain (which I pretty much always have lately.) We’re going to have to find a way to get the original X-rays from Offenbach (the hospital I was in) and that may require us going back up there to get them. I really hope not though. I’m kinda peeved that they didn’t give them to us in the first place. They wouldn’t even let James see his own X-rays from his ribs. What is that about?

Besides that, the only other news is that I apparently have a slipped disc, but I don’t know if I’ve always had that since the injury or if that was something that developed afterward. Again, everything depends on us seeing the original X-rays. The slipped disc is causing a lot of pain in my upper back and my arms as well as some muscle weakness so I’m really hoping that gets better because if not, there’s a possibility that another surgery could be in my future. I’m thinking I want to avoid that, thanks. My doctor here referred me to a Orthopedic doctor off post, but it takes so long for referrals to go through the insurance company and come back here that I will probably be back in the states before the thing even gets approved and have to do it all over again. By then, my injury could be healed, but if I have a slipped disc and it heals incorrectly, that could cause me to need surgery, too. But, right now, there is no concrete facts about anything…just a lot of “if”s. GRRR.

I woke up this morning with a killer headache so if that continues, it’s back to the hospital for me. Those of you that pray, please send some prayers up for me that I don’t have to do that. Being in the hospital makes me feel seven shades of crazy.

On the bright side, I did find out that my oxygen level is great so my lungs are a lot better! Also, I look human again! I am making a little bit of a sad face on that one though because soon I will no longer qualify under the heading of “Tye Dye.” 😦 I’ve got to stay positive though so I came up with something to smile about. That squishy blood bruise on my head is going down a lot so by the time I get home to GA, it should be gone completely which means my brother won’t be able to poke it to see how squishy it is which means one less pain I’ll have to endure. If you know my brother, you know he’s gonna wanna poke it…I did.

In other news….hubby’s ribs are still broken and he’s pretty much in pain all the time, but there isn’t a whole lot we can do about that. I wish I could because I hate to see him hurting so much. The kids are doing fantastic with their grandparents here. It’s pretty much a party everyday for them! 🙂 My parents have been a gigantic help to me. I haven’t done laundry or dishes since they’ve been here. How awesome is that? They helped me straighten out my storage room today and we’re going to do some more packing tonight. I don’t plan to keep them here packing and doing my laundry the whole time they’re here though. I hope we get to go out and do some fun things, too.

Kira just ran out from the hallway and informed that her hair is glittery so I’m thinking I’ve got some little heads to wash now. I’ll update later with pictures of the return of my human face! 🙂 Until next time:

Peace, Love & Chicken Grease

 


		

Replacing Backgrounds: Part One

Welcome to the next tutorial!

This one is on changing the backgrounds on a photo that already has a solid background to begin with. There are a few reasons one might do this, but for me, it’s just because I wanted something a little more colorful (& because I wanted to do this tutorial.)

This is the photo I’m working with today:

I have a ton of backgrounds from ezbackgrounds.com. Great site for those of you looking! I didn’t spend a large quantity of time searching through the backgrounds – I just chose one with coordinating colors so it may or may not work well…we’ll see! 🙂 You’ll want to be choosy with your backgrounds though!

I want to keep it relatively dark since the black background in the original photo and the dark purple of her dress blend so closely together in the back. I don’t want to draw too much attention to that area because if it doesn’t blend well with the new background, everyone will know it’s totally fake 🙂

So this is the background I chose:

Make sure you have both the photo you’re working with and your background open in photoshop.

Let’s see how it turns out!

Also, note that these are instructions specifically for CS5. The steps are the same in Elements, but some of the tools work slightly differently. I’ll note those when we get to them.

The first thing you want to do is select your Magic Wand Tool.

You’re going to use it to select only the solid background of your photo. Just click it once on any portion of the background. Depending on how much your subject blends with the background, the tool will probably select portions of your subject that are similar in color to that of your background. See example below.

Everything inside the dotted portion is what the tool selected to begin with. Notice how the darker parts of her dress were included in the selection? To fix this, you need to go back to where the magic wand tool is and select your Quick Selection Tool.

After you select your Quick Selection Tool, look at the options at the top of your menu (the same place you would find the size settings for the paint brush.) You want to make sure you have the minus (-) sign selected before using this tool so you can deselect those parts of the photo that you don’t want to include in the background change. If you mess up a little, just click the (+) sign to reselect those areas.

I brought the brush size up to 20 px before I started my deselection. Use the size you think is appropriate for the amount of deselecting you need to do.

Then I just clicked and dragged on the areas I wanted to deselect. In this case, it was my daughter’s dress and her little toes that are showing. I had to use my own judgement for deselecting the area of the back of her dress that was blending so heavily with the black background so be very careful and try to be as precise with the lines as you can be while doing this. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but get it as close as you can before we move on to the next step. This is what it looked like after I finished deselecting my daughter. Only the background should be selected when you get done.

The next thing you want to do is go to Select>Inverse. This is going to select your subject so that when you start refining the edges (next step) of your selection, your subject is left alone. In Elements you would skip this step for now. (Whatever you have selected in elements is where the changes happen – in CS5 whatever you have selected stays safe & unaffected.)

Elements users will go straight to this step. Next you want to click Refine Edge…

This window below will pop up in CS5 (in elements, this looks a little different and you don’t get as many options. Refining is more accurate in CS5.) On the left you see what the window looks like when it first appears. On the right, I’m showing you what I adjusted it to. You do not have to put your settings the same as mine. Watch how it affects your photo to get a feel for where you should put your own settings. Be careful with the “Feather”  & “Radius” options – if pulled out too much, these will put a gap in between your background and your subject so that when you put your new digital background in, there will be a line separating it from your subject, hence making it look horrible & fake. This is an essential step so play around with it to make sure you get the right settings for your own photos! You’ll mess up a few times, but you can always go back a few steps in your history to re-do it. (Your History window should be showing on the right hand side. If not, click Window>History to bring it up.)

This is what should happen to your photo once you click the refine option:

It does look very rough around the edges at first, but after you adjust the settings:

It should look something like this. In Elements, you won’t be able to see your changes as accurately as you can in CS5 because it doesn’t turn your background white like CS5 does and it also does not make your background transparent. Elements users have an extra step you’ll need to follow. Cs5 users can skip this part.

For Elements only: THIS is the part where you go to Select>Inverse. This will select your subject for you. You may or may not want to refine the edge again – that is up to you. Just be careful not to refine too much or there will be a noticeable line around your subject that will cause it not to flow seamlessly with the background. Then you need to go to Layer>New Layer>Layer Via Copy. This will duplicate your subject for you.

Both Elements and PS CS5 users can now make sure you have your background open in photoshop. Select the Move Tool at the top of your tool bar and move your background over on top of your photo. It will appear on the top layer of your photo. Adjust the size accordingly.

This step is slightly different for Elements users.

In CS5, you’ll go to Layer>Arrange>Send to Back. This will put your background behind your subject for you.

In Elements you will go to your layers pane on the right-hand side of the screen and make sure your copied subject layer is selected. Then you will go to Layer>Arrange>Bring to Front in order to bring your copied subject in front of your background. For Elements users, the new background will be in between the original background layer and your subject. In CS5, it will be the same, but your original background layer will be invisible to begin with. Check the box beside the layer to put the little eye back in and make it visible if you like. It won’t affect the immediate appearance of your photo.

See the eyeball—>

Your photo may already look good without any further adjustments, but there are other things you can do. The rest of these steps are optional, but go through them anyway because there are several things you can do to perfect the look of your photo.

You do not have to make your original background visible, but I did because I wanted to lower the opacity of my new purple background so that it would blend better with Kira’s dress by blending on top of the original black background. You can see in the photo above that I have the opacity set to 45%. This tones down the brightness of the new background and blends it with the original black one as stated above. (Sorry for the redundancy – just want to make sure I’m clear…I always think I suck at explaining things lol)

Another thing I did was select the top layer (labeled Background Copy) and I clicked inside the layer mask (the area that is black and white in the photo above.) I chose my Brush Tool, selected the color White, Blend Mode set to Normal and painted around a few edges of my subject so that it would blend more seamlessly into the background. You may do this, too if you need to. If you mess up, just change the color to black and paint back over the area’s you need to fix.

Next, I selected my purple background (the middle layer labeled Layer 1) and added a layer mask to it as well. Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All. It adds a white layer mask to my purple background layer. I can use the brush tool to paint certain areas of my background to make it look more blended and natural. (Note: When using layer masks, if the layer mask is white, you will use a black brush to make changes. If the layer mask is black, you will use a white brush.)

You will notice above that my layer mask is not all white. There is a gray section at the bottom where I used my paint brush to lower the opacity of that one area on the floor. I selected my black brush on normal mode and changed the opacity to somewhere around 40% and began painting over only the floor area of the background. I did this to allow for more depth because without it, it looked as if Kira was floating in the photo rather than sitting. It’s still not perfect, but here is the result:

After that, I merged my layers together. You do not have to do this as you may find there are other adjustments you want to make along the way in the existing layers. The reason I did is because I wanted to blur a few of the outer edges of my daughter and I needed the background to blur with her to make it look more natural. Go to Layer>Merge Visible.

Then select your Blur Tool. It looks like a tear drop. There are other tools in this same area so if you do not see the tear drop-shaped one, look for a finger (the smudge tool) or a little triangle (the sharpen tool.)

I ran my blur tool around the edges I wanted to blend a bit more. Be careful not to do this too much if you use it. Sometimes it helps to duplicate the layer so that if you do overdo it a little, you can adjust the opacity so that the blur isn’t as prominent. You can also adjust the blur amount of the tool itself in the same bar at the top that you use to adjust the size and opacity of every other tool.

After I was satisfied with the blur, I duplicated my layer for the next step. Layer>Duplicate Layer.

I selected the Burn Tool (pictured below) to make a few area’s around my subject darker (like the edges of the back of her dress) since they blended so seamlessly with the black background, I had to make them blend just as well with this purple one.

When I was satisfied with that, I adjusted the opacity of the burn layer to 38% so it wouldn’t be as noticeable that I’d burned the edges with the background.

And here is the finished product. 🙂

Baby Bella ~ Another Photoshop Tutorial

NOTE: I apologize for the weird formatting of this post! I did not do it this way, but I can’t seem to fix it without having to do everything over again and it took a long time so this b!tch ain’t doin’ it again lol

This one is for Susy. (Again). I’m going to show her from start to finish what I would do with this gorgeous photo that she took of her Bella 🙂

Here is the original:

As you can see, her focus is great on the eye in the foreground so I’m really going to emphasize that. Lot’s of screenshots coming!!

First I’m going to brighten it up a bit. I like to do this by using Levels rather than the Brightness/Contrast feature. The reason is because you have more flexibility with the highlights, the shadows and the mid-tone contrast. To do this in PS CS5, go to Image>Adjustments>Levels. (In PSE, you would go to Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels.)

This is what pops up:

Those are the original level settings you see there above. The next screen shot shows you what I changed them to. The slider on the left is for the shadows, the middle is the mid-tone contrast and the slider on the right is for the highlights.

I set the shadows to 4, mid-tone contrast to 1.03 and highlights to 192 to reduce the effect of the slight redness on her face. For photos with more of a red cast you can click the Channel bar at the top of the levels window and change it from “RGB” to “RED” and it will affect only the red areas in the photo. Be careful not to overdo it – it will give your photo a green cast.

I didn’t do anything with the output levels on the bottom.

Next, I’m going to select my Healing Tool. You can select it with the mouse or you can press “J” if you want to use the shortcut. It looks like a band-aid. Make sure it’s set to “spot healing tool.”

All I want to do is take a few spots off Bella’s face so her skin will look smoother when I get to that part. Select a soft round brush. I set my brush size to 70px. You may need something bigger or smaller depending on what you’re trying to remove.
There are 3 other options at the top of the screen where it says “Type.” They are “Proximity Match,” “Create Texture,” & “Content Aware.” Make sure your healing brush is set to Content Aware.  Then I just click over the areas I want to heal. I circled them in the screen shot below.

This is what it looks like after they’re healed with the healing tool:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next I’m going to duplicate the layer. Layer>Duplicate Layer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I named the Layer “Smooth Skin.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look to the right in your layers pane and make sure the duplicated layer is selected in blue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then we’re going to start the process to smooth the skin. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I set the Radius to 15.4 pixels. It’s high(ish), but I did that on purpose. We can lower the layer opacity later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I’m going to use one of my favorite things : Layer Masks!! To do this go to Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After you do this, in your layers pane you will see the following:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure to click the black rectangle before moving on to the next step! I’m going to paint inside the layer mask and nothing will happen if you keep the other rectangle (the one with her face in it) selected.

Now select your paint brush either by clicking on it or by pressing “B.” Make sure your color is set to white, blend mode set to normal. You can use a larger size brush for this step. And then use your paint brush to paint over the areas of the skin that you want to smooth. I am going to paint over everything except for the areas that I have circled in white in the image below. If you make a mistake, just change your paint brush color to black and go back over your mistake and its all fixed!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After smoothing it looks like:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I may need to lower the opacity later, but for now it looks fine so I’m going to leave it. In all honesty, I probably should have taken the blur radius to a higher number to smoothher skin out slightly more so keep that in mind when editing other images. It’s easy to lower the opacity if the smoothing effect is too much, but it’s a whole extra step if you have to smooth again.

Next, I want to remove the small red patch between her eyes and a couple of other places I circled in the picture below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To do this we need to click on the bottom layer in the layers pane. It will be marked as “Background.” Then, go to Layer>Duplicate Layer. I named my new layer “Remove Redness” but you can name yours whatever you want. After you duplicate the layer, go to Layer>Arrange>Bring to Front to bring that layer to the top so that when you make your next changes, you can see them. If you leave this layer in between the background layer and the smooth skin layer, the only parts what will change are the parts that you skipped over in your smoothing layer so make sure you have this in the right place; on top! Then go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Desaturate the layer by pulling the middle slider in the pop-up window all the way to the left as pictured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your image will turn black and white, obviously. Now, we make another layer mask by going to Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All. At this point, your image will turn back to color. Select your brush tool again, make sure the color is set to white, blend mode to normal. Change the opacity of the brush from 100% down somewhere between 20%-40%. I chose 40% brush opacity and a brush size of about 125px.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now look in the layers pane at right and adjust the opacity of this layer until the skin blends seamlessly to reduce the redness. I chose 30% Opacity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is what the photo looks like now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to flatten the layers before I move on. Layer>Flatten Image.

Then I’m going to duplicate the layer again. Layer>Duplicate Layer. I named this layer “Contrast” but you don’t have to name it at all. It just helps to keep me straight when I am using multiple layers at once and I’ve developed of habit of naming them even when I’m not using a lot of layers at once.

This is where I am going to play with the contrast a little bit. Go to Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast.

I don’t want to push it up too much because I don’t want to give Bella’s face an unnatural color cast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After you’re satisfied with the contrast (which you can always bump up or down a little more/less later if you want) it’s time to brighten the eyes.

I already did a detailed tutorial on that and you can find it HERE, so I am going to save myself a little bit of time by not rehashing all that completely in this post. I’m just going to quickly review the steps below. If you need the details click the link, it will pop up in a different window and you can just do that step and come back here for the rest.

Also, if you’re not Susy and you’re reading/doing this with another photo, she did mention that she likes to use the Burn Tool for defining the eye rather than the black paint brush. It works just as well if not better, so if you’d like to try that instead when it gets to the defining step in the other tutorial, have at it! Everyone will have a different way of doing things that seems to be better for you and that’s great!

For brightening, flatten the image. Duplicate the layer. I’m sure everyone has the hang of those two things by now. Then grab your white paint brush, blend mode set to overlay, adjust the size of your brush appropriately and then paint the iris of the eyes white, adjust opacity to taste. Then repeat those same steps on the whites of the eyes to make them pop a bit more. For defining the eyes, either change your brush color to black and outline the tops and bottoms of the eyes, around the iris and around the outer edge of the pupil OR you can do this step with the burn tool and (again) adjust the opacity to taste.

This is what it looks like when I get done with that step:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I flattened the image and boosted the contrast a little more (to 18). Image>Adjustments>Brightness/Contrast.

I also still see a bit of red between her eyes so I’m going to do another Remove Redness layer. If you need a reminder on how to do it, refer back to the top!

I like the little black or white faded borders…that’s kind of a signature of mine, but no one else has to do that as I realize a lot of people don’t like them. So here is the before and after…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And just for fun, I took some extra steps to create the look below…not much different than the one above I suppose, but Susy likes high contrast images and so do I so I played it up a little more 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below!!! Comments rock my mismatched socks 😉