Photoshop Day 3

Well, I think I've messed myself up.  After spending way too much time downloading Actions (and wasting away half of Saturday on the computer and making myself late for church Sunday morning), I can't figure out how to use the regular tools myself.  This is why I don't like technology and am afraid of it taking over the world.  There's always a new way to make things easier (or flat out do something for you) that you can't remember how to do them yourself.  Not that I ever really knew what I was doing with the Photoshop tools, but now I really don't. Take this picture of sweet Alice, for example.

After opening it in photoshop, I ran all kinds of Actions on it.  I tinted the colors, I softened her skin, I made her eyes twinkle.  I even whitened those two little teeth a smidge.  But you know what I couldn't figure out how to do?  I couldn't for the life of me find the tool/filter/layer I needed to correct the red-eye in her right eye.

Um, shouldn't that be Photoshop 101?

Here's the picture after all my edits.  It's far from anything that could be called perfect.  In fact, I got so frustrated with this one that I just ended up quitting.  Her eye doesn't look that red anymore, but that's completely luck.  This picture is so bright to me.

So I'm thinking maybe I should take a step back and try to edit a photo without using any Actions.  I'll admit, I'm nervous about it.  But that's why I'm practicing, right?  So that hopefully I can figure all this stuff out.

Just so you can see how overboard I've gone with some of the Actions, here are some more pics I played around with over the weekend.  Go ahead, critique away.

Parker, before.

Parker, after.  (His head isn't cut off in the real pictures.  Don't know why that's happening now.)

Swimmers, before.

Swimmers, after.  (Is it just me, or does Doc look like he could've borrowed some of Adam Lambert's eye makeup?  And is Anna wearing lipstick?  In the pool?)

Wesley, before.

Wesley, after.  Take one.

Wesley, after.  Take two.

To all you photoshop users out there:  if you could give me one little nugget of advice to help me along, what would it be?  What's something you do on every photo?  What tool should I really focus on getting comfortable with?  Or maybe you have a fancy trick you could show me?  Thanks in advance; I appreciate any help I can get.