Torgesen Family Times

{We are trying to enjoy and record the moments that make life special}
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All I want for Christmas is my…

Two front teeth


And the one’s next to those are pushing through, too


All at the same time


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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!



torgesen 2010 holiday

photo by Jamie Neilsen

Let your days be merry and bright

The year has gone by so fast, warp speed now that we have two kiddos!

And trust me, the first one is just the “warm up” for having two –

We’re now in marathon mode – in for the long haul…

The first 6 months we weren’t in shape for this marathon, but slowly we have hit our stride and now can’t even remember only having one child.


We are now a family of four, and it feels just right!


Sara Jeanine was born April 10th with a amazing vbac labor and delivery.

She is a mellow, sweet and a easy baby.

She is very different from her brother and is so content with sitting and observing

It’s so true that your kids are each so different from each other, so true!

She is on the *verge* of crawling, if she could just get that knee underneath her..

…and then know what to do with it! It’s just right around the corner now – any day.


Alex is attending preschool/daycare and has learned to write his name this year.

Potty training was very easy for him, when he was ready, he did it “all by himself”.

“Big Boy” Spiderman & Batman underwear proved to be a big motivator for him!

He asks such good questions and is learning so much and soaking things up like a sponge. He loves going on bug hunts, playing hot wheels, reading books, wrestling with Daddy, entertaining and snuggling with Sara, watching cartoons and playing *any* and *all* sports (tennis, golf, soccer, football, baseball, basketball, etc). You name it – he’ll play it!


Lance bought a boat this summer and it’s his pride and joy! He’s been saving up for a long time and finally he found “the one” to buy. We keep it at our property in the South Puget Sound, near Gig Harbor, during the summer and plan to take it camping many times next year. The kids love going on the boat, even the dogs get to join! It’s a whole family affair!


I am taking a ton of pictures of our beautiful and wonderful kids. It is so much fun for me to capture them in unique and authentic ways. In fact, I keep up a blog where I post pictures of what is happening with us – stop by and say hello! Tell us what you think! (obviously, since you are here, ha ha ha!)


Peace, Love & joy in the new year!


We hope you and your family are well and happy.


Allison, Lance, Alex & Sara

Cheerio girl

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All I want for Christmas is…

Not two front teeth (that’s Sara), but a big black eye!


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Unfortunately, this is what happens when you’re wrestling with Daddy and the coffee table comes out and jumps at you!  It’s all puffy and sore, it looked like it really hurts.  We hope it feels better, and looks better soon.

Hands and knees and funny faces



Sara is up on her hands and knees now – her latest and greatest trick!  She is up and rocking back and forth and still doesn’t quite know what to do yet.  She’ll be playing on her tummy and the get up and rock away, plop back down, spin around and do it all over again.  Sometimes when on the hardwood floors she’ll push herself backwards quite a bit and ends up in a different location than she started. 


Let the games begin!


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She is quite smitten with herself!

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Making funny faces, must be copying her brother.

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Because his favorite thing to do right now is make funny faces for the camera

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3 things that totally changed my pictures

There are 3 things that I think totally changed the way my photographs looked – monitor calibration, white balance correction and shooting in manual.  These 3 things have taken me from where I was to where I wanted to be – from snapshots to artwork. 


First, monitor calibration.  I’d heard of it, but didn’t really think much of it until I wanted my pictures to be better.  And the more I learned, the more I got confused with too many acronyms and concepts that were mind-boggling: color space, color temperature, sRGB, adobeRGB, RGB, CMYK, ppi, dpi, etc.    AHHHH!  I came across a simple post (I don’t remember where?) that talked about all these things, but at the end just stated that modern monitor calibration is easy and will do wonders for your photos.  You don’t have to know exactly everything, just starting with monitor calibration and it will fix A LOT.  So, there are millions of choices out there on which monitor calibration system to buy, many price points, so many options again!  I chose to go simple, read reviews, made a choice, purchased it and it is working well for me.  I chose this system below,  the Spyder 3 express.  I can’t tell you how much my photographs have changed!  Blacks are blacker, reds are more rich, skin color is realistic even in weird lighting.  Blues are clearer.  Amazing!  I have it set to remind me to calibrate every 2 months, I hook it up, click go and D.O.N.E!


Spyder 3 express



Datacolor DC S3X100 Spyder 3 Express


Second, White Balance correction.  I “get” this concept (making sure that the undertones of your photos aren’t skewed one way or the other), I just didn’t know how to do it best.  Again, after reading blogs and articles all over the web I learned how to do this that fits my knowledge level and workflow. 

In Lightroom, I have it set to auto white balance upon import (also, auto tone and sharpen a bit).  This corrects most problems.  But, sometimes auto WB is totally off.  This is where I manually make fixes.  In the develop module, I select the eye dropper and go to an area in the photograph that is supposed to be neutral, light colors are best.  White areas or grey areas are what I look for.  Hover over the spot and look at the numbers below, are they all close to the same number (ex. 99, 98, 99)?  If so, it is neutral and click on that area.  If not, scroll over more areas until you find something that fits this criteria.  You can also click and then select again if it doesn’t look right.  this will get you to a great spot, usually.  You might need to tweak a bit, but since you have your monitor calibrated – you can do this with more confidence. 



Eyedropper is on the right hand side, just below the word “treatment”, just click it and start moving it around your photo.  This photo was imported using the “auto WB” preset.


You’ll start to see the preview picture in the left side changing white balance.  Some will look pretty good, some will look really bad.  Here I have hovered over, and clicked, the white board behind my wonderful trust subjects.  See how the blue tone is gone?  It’s hard to see, but the numbers below the grid say about 76, 76, 75 RGB.  When these numbers are fairly equal – it means it is a neutral and is good to use. 





If I hover over the red shirts, this is what I get. (RGB is 45, 18, 14)image


If I hove over the brown frame of the white board, this is what I get.  (57, 47, 26 RBG)


The “Ah-ha” moment for me was that I didn’t need a grey card in each lighting setting (which I could not get myself to stop shooting and just do!)-  I just had to find something neutral in the picture already and use that!  Almost all pictures have something neutral.  If they don’t exactly, then get close and do the correction manually by using the temperature and tint sliders until you get something that looks good (using your newly calibrated monitor to assure you it’s the right color when printed).


Third, shoot in manual.  It took a workshop by Me Ra Koh to teach me how to shoot in manual, but once you learn it – you never go back.  I read books about it, couldn’t figure it out.  Read articles on line about how to do it, couldn’t figure it out.  I mean, when the lighting was great – sure I could do it a little bit.  But, when the lighting was even a bit tough – I switched back to auto.  I probably used Av mode, thinking that this was manual, it wasn’t!  It has taken me from where I was to where I want to be. 


From this, yes a cute photo – but maybe not the best.  Flash fired, dark background, flash shadows, bright foreground, etc.

18mm, ISO 400, aperture 4.0, shutter 1/60th = auto settings all around

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cutie pie Alex at 9 mo old and Bella on Christmas morning enjoying their new toys – 2007


To this – metered on his face, adjusted the exposure to be within range and voila!  Snap!

50 mm, ISO 250 , aperture 2.8 , shutter 1/160th = manual settings all around

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Cutie pie Alex enjoying his hiding spot underneath the table, 3 1/2 year old big boy - 2010


Plus, practice practice practice.  And, I know so much more about light now.  Ahhh – light!  I’ve seen the light! 


Does this mean that I get everything right – in camera – all of the time?  Heck no!   But, I’m slowly working on it.  Slowly but surely. 


I’m sure having a ton of fun at it though!

Weekend roundup

What do you do when it is pouring rain outside?  Take pictures of the kiddos! 


I caught some very cute snapshots of Alex this weekend, you gotta love the lips!  


Sara loves the bath now and splashes around gets everything nicely soaked, and looks so cute in her hooded towel! 


The 49ers won this weekend – maybe it was because the Torgesen household was decked from Lance to Alex to Sara in 49ers gear?  Lance was SO proud!   (by the way – that is an 18 month 49ers outfit Sara is wearing – Alex wore it when he was 18 months old.  Sara, on the other hand, wears it when she is 8 months old!)


And finally, I wrapped a few presents and put them under the tree on Friday night – apparently – Alex was so shocked/excited in the morning and wanted to open them!  So, he just had to get in there and check them out.  Maybe that’s the reason for the sullen face below? 


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These two…



Sure do seem to love each other!


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Who does Sara look like?


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Or Lance?


I think she looks like me, but I’m probably a bit biased.

Ice skating

Oh my gosh – so much fun, so much work…

(to hold a 3.5 year old that is 37 lbs. around a slick ice rink while he is having a blast)
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Guess how long I lasted?  4 times around, yep 4. 

He had so much fun and didn’t want to leave, but I was so exhausted.  I fell once, he had a breakdown and wanted to stay, but it was dinner time, Sara was cold, I was D.O.N.E. carrying him around.  I probably should’ve let him do it by himself, but there were a lot of people there!

He had a blast, I had a good time, but let’s just say that I wouldn’t hold him up again anytime soon.  My back just can’t take it!

What {I want} to do this holiday season

All the things I want to do this holiday season involve something, but none of them are material, in the traditional sense.  None of them are stuff.  How many times have I tried to remember the “stuff” at any occasion and have not been able to remember, like only a week afterwards???  The things I remember are the experiences, the outings and adventures.  Although I may not be able to remember the year (was it in 2008 or 2009?) I can remember vivid details.  What I was wearing, how I felt, the look upon Alex’s face, funny things he’s said, and so on.


That is what I’m focusing on this year for the holidays, not the stuff, but the connections. 


This time of year always goes by so fast, year end goals at work, trying to “get things done” before the end of the year, holiday parties, shopping, this and that.  It can go by before you even know it!


So, this year I set down a bit before Thanksgiving and wrote down what {I WANT} to do this year.  I found this to be so helpful to me in so many ways.  Things can be so busy that all of a sudden, the holidays are past and I didn’t get to do anything {I WANT}ed to do! 


So, here is my list, and some of them accomplished already!


[X]   Santa pictures with the 2 kiddos

[X]   Christmas Tree Farm

[X]   Lights decorating the house, this year LED lights

[   ]   Send out a holiday card, with letter

[X]   Make easy kid friendly ornaments

[   ]  Make Sara a felt stocking

[X]  Go ice skating with Alex – the first time

[   ]  Giving to charity (we’ve decided to take the money we’ve spent on our kids and give that same amount to charity)


So far, we’re making good progress.  Thank goodness for online shopping, too – a lifesaver!  If this list is complete, I am a happy Mama.  I don’t need or {want} anything else.  What a great place to be!


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Alex got to hold the saw and wanted to wear his Santa hat (who can resist?)



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And even test it out a bit!


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Sara was loving it at the tree farm!  She was a smiley happy girl (glad she had her snow suit on – it was in the 30’s)!


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We got to ride the tractor cart and bring our tree back – one of Alex’s favorite things (so many!).

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And a family picture 2010 – tree farm.


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And at the end a beloved candy cane

Stranger anxiety and more T-giving

Sara has got some stranger anxiety lately, she just doesn’t want to be held by ANYONE except Mommy and Daddy. 

Not Great-Grandma Myrtle.

Not Santa Claus

Not Grandma Sandy or Grandpa Dave

Not Grandma Judy

Not Grandpa Steve or Grandma Connie

Just Mommy and Daddy!  Otherwise – this is the face we get.  (Which is all very quickly resolved when firmly back on Mommy’s hip or snuggled in Daddy’s arms)

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We enjoyed a day at the beach this Thanksgiving weekend, and boy it was cold!  So, we took our snow suits and had a blast!  Sara chewed on some shells (It’s almost the same picture I took of Alex in 2007!) and was just generally a happy girl.  Alex had a fun time exploring all around.  We didn’t spend too much time there, as it was so darn cold.  But, it was fun anyways.

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Alex 2007
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We got the kids dressed up and had Santa pictures at Chapters Photography.  They have a great thing – make an appointment (don’t stand in line!) and have Santa pictures with a (totally funny and fantastic) Santa, choose your custom photography package, and they mail you the prints!  You can’t get any better than this!  This year, Alex was soooo looking forward to the Santa visit – he knew exactly what he was going to ask for – a skateboard.  Last year, Santa was still to scary (so Santa had to be peeking behind the chair).  We walked in and Alex had a big smile on his face – it was so fun to see. 

Like a child’s dream come true type of smile.

He sat on Santa’s lap and Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas.  He said what he wanted and then asked Santa what he wanted for Christmas – this is the funny part.  Santa said that he wanted “Verizon to start carrying the iPhone”.  After I totally cracked up, I said that that was a good one and I wanted that too! 

We put Sara on Santa’s lap to take the picture (and see above – we got a screaming little face) and got another one with Alex sitting in the chair, and Santa peeking out behind the chair.  This one she is smiling.   She loves her brother!

So, when we got home, they were dressed so nicely – I just had to take a few photos myself!

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