Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010

Thanksgiving was good this year. It always is. We do the traditional food.....turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, yams, rolls and Ambrosia. This year, while the turkey was roasting away in the oven we did something different by heading to a nearby zoo to watch the animals eat their feast.


The bears got some kind of berries stuffed in pumpkins. This was really neat because every other time we have been at the zoo those bears have been in their dens, sleeping. The lazy bums.




My Sweetie's mom came to spend Thanksgiving with us. She is known to the kids as Obachan, which means 'Grandma' in Japanese.




We stopped off at the park there and had a few minutes to play on the playground. Yes, it was a bit chilly.





When we got back home the turkey was almost done, so we fixed the rest of our feast. And feast we did...my mouth is watering just looking at this photo.



The girls....having a grand time eating.




Mr. Lego picked up the drumstick first and ate everything on his place. Twice!





After cleaning up everything we all went for a walk, which feels so good after eating so much. Then back home for a few rounds of Speed Scrabble.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I love the sunlight. It really helps me get up in the morning when the sun is shining. I also love standing in the sun on a cold day. That is another reason why I don't think I would do very well in the north.

What I'm reading: I am starting to read Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr. this week. I have a review due next month for this book and I need to get on it....

What I'm listening to: Christmas Music. Yup, it is now that time of year. And right now it is Fernando Ortega's Angels We Have Heard On High.

What we're learning: Back to school this week. We will be learning about the Tang Dynasty and the birth and spread of Islam in history. In science the children will be learning about marsupials and we are onto question #26 in the Shorter Catechism.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend we watched The Two Towers and Return of the King. ROTK is the only movie that still makes me cry; every single time I see the ending.

What's cooking: Yesterday we finished off the 18 pound turkey with homemade Turkey Soup. Later this week I am planning to make another soup favorite; Meatball Soup. 'Tis the season for warm soup!

What I'm buying: I don't have any buying planned this week except for my weekly run to get vegetables and perishables.

What I'm thankful for: Even though the last few days have caused us to remember the blessings in our lives, I still am thankful for those harder times when the Lord is sanctifying me through my trials.

What I'm creating: Pretty portraits. I am really, really stumped by one of my photography assignments: getting the right light (3:1 ratio) on someones face. And since it is sunny now I can get outside and work on this later today....

What I'm praying: That I would not trust in the material gifts God has blessed me with, but in God alone.

What I'm planning: This week we have co-op at my house. I am teaching about the continents and the geography of California with the younger ones and then reviewing Spanish expansion and writing references with the older children.

What we did this last weekend: We had a great Thanksgiving weekend and I am planning a blog post about it. But to recap....eating, walks, Christmas tree, apples, hot chocolate, eating, snow, baseball, lights, eating....

What I'm looking forward to: We have a normal school week this week. Then we have another church dance practice this week and I cannot believe it is going to be December this Wednesday.

A picture to share:


~Oh yeah, baby.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankfulness

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. And while I am thinking about turkey,  how I want to set the table and if my fondue will come out tonight, I still want to focus on what I am thankful for. So here is my list, followed by the children's lists as well.


Christ, and His saving work on the cross. That He saw me in my sinfulness and extended unmerited grace.




For our church. As a congregation we have been studying and memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism this year in Sunday School and I have immensely enjoyed that.




My faithful husband. My best friend, lover, and closest companion. Need I say more?




My precious children. They bring such incredible joy into my life!




My home. It could really be anywhere as far as I am concerned. As long as I am with my Sweetie and children, home could be an apartment, duplex or house. It is what is inside those walls that make it a home.




My washing machine and dryer. I could give up my dishwasher and microwave, but not having these machines to clean and dry our clothes would definitely make my life more challenging.





Music. I love having beautiful, encouraging music playing. From Fernando Ortega to Bach's concerto, I find comfort and am thankful for music.




Tea is such a luxury, but so soothing to me. I have at least one cup most every day and love to try new flavors.





My camera. I love capturing moments. Especially moments that will someday fade. And I am so thankful that I have my Nikon to take photos with.




Color. God is so gracious to give us such a beautiful world to live in and I am so thankful I can see and enjoy the beautiful colors that are in it. 



It is good to give thanks to the Lord
to sing praises to your name, Oh most High.

Psalm 92:1





Mr. Lego

  • My lego collection
  • The baby rabbits
  • Jesus who died on the cross
  • Clothes that I wear
  • For Christian music



Bookworm

  • Books to read
  • For turkey
  • That Jesus died for me
  • Christmas Music
  • That I am not sick and am not disabled


Dasher

  • For Thanksgiving
  • For God and that He died on the cross for our sins
  • I am thankful for the world that God created
  • I am thankful for my rabbits
  • For my toy cars

Nutsy


  • Christmas
  • Eating turkey
  • Bracelets and necklaces
  • Shoes
  • Pictures on the walls

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am cold. I love warm weather and get cold very easily in the wintertime, so I am sitting here with 2 sweaters, my warm, fuzzy slippers and a cup of tea.


What I'm reading: Not too much this week....
 
What I'm listening to: The wind blowing outside. It was stormy here over the weekend and this is our fourth day of rain.

What we're learning: We are taking a break from formal learning this week, but the kids still read like crazy.

What I'm watching: The fridge getting full. Although by the end of the week it will have thinned out a bit.

What's cooking: We are going to start a 'Thanksgiving Eve' tradition.....fondue. I found a crock pot recipe for one that we are going to try this Wednesday.

What I'm buying: I tried to escape the rush at the stores by doing the grocery shopping for Thanksgiving this morning. No lines at all and I got a turkey for 68 cents a pound.

What I'm thankful for: That so far this season we have not gotten sick. And I pray this lasts through this week. At least.

What I'm creating: We are hoping for more baby rabbits this week.....we'll see....

What I'm praying: That I would remember to store up my treasure in heaven and not here on this earth.

What I'm planning: Thanksgiving food, along with, I am sure, a million other people. We are having the traditional dinner with turkey and stuffing, green bean casserole, yams, potatoes, cranberries sauce and ambrosia, just for my Sweetie.

What we did this last weekend: On Saturday we had a nice day at home doing stuff around the house, then after church yesterday we had some friends over. Then last night we had a visit from the grandparents who were in the area. It was a short visit but fun to see them!

What I'm looking forward to: Tomorrow we are helping to pass food out at the food bank with 4-H, then Thursday Obachan (Sweetie's Mom) is coming for Thanksgiving. Then off to find a Christmas tree on Friday and to pull out the Christmas decorations....

A picture to share:



~Grandma and Grandpa with the kiddos.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Priorities

Life is good. And life moves fast. I really cannot believe that Thanksgiving is next week. Just like I really cannot believe that in 2 1/2 months I will have a 14 year old. I love having this blog and updating photos, my thoughts, happenings, and milestones. But I have a priority list and while blogging is on there, it is not near the top at all.

So I thought I would share my priorities and why they are in the order that they are in.

I am a child of God. Saved by His grace alone, when all I deserve is His wrath and curse. So my first priority is spending time in the Word, in prayer and in glorifying and enjoying Him. I try, every weekday morning, to spend some time praying and reading the Bible. I also desire to make prayer and Bible study a deliberate, daily commitment for my children also.

I am a wife. To the most wonderful man in the world. (Obviously, I am biased.) My second priority in life is to be my Sweetie's helpmeet. To honor him, submit to him and encourage him as we walk together. I love spending time with him, playing ping-pong, talking about food, travel and our daily happenings. I want to be more interested in his well being; making my relationship with him a priority.

I am a mother. To the 4 most beautiful children in the world. (Sorry, another biased sentence.) I love training them, teaching them, playing with them and seeing their faces light up each day. Yes, there are hard days, but the good days far outweigh the bad ones.

I am a teacher. I really love homeschooling. I think back to when my son was doing Kindergarten work and the two little girls would play at the table while we did school.....wow, things change. We are in the heat of it now; with an 8th grader, 6th grader, 3rd grader and Kindergartner. (I don't usually put my kids in a 'grade', but most people think that way, so that is where they would be.) And even though I was homeschooled, I still learn so much, everyday. I love the co-op we are in and the families we share our time with there, and all the efforts the moms put into teaching the children.

I am a housewife/laundress/cook/gardener/driver/money-saving shopper/organizer. I love being home. I love cleaning the kitchen, figuring out the kids chore schedule, making dinners, growing tomatoes, folding laundry, (but hanging it up is not on the favorites list) sweeping floors and finding the best grocery deals.

I am a friend. I have so many wonderful friends. I love our church and the ladies that I know there that encourage me, pray for me and make me laugh. Our extended family is also special to me and lots of fun to be with.

I am a photographer. I am not a professional or anything, but this is my hobby. And I do feel that it is important for a mom to have one. I love learning more about my camera, catching candid shots of my kiddos, and every now and then heading outside to get some cool photos.

I am a writer/blogger. Every now and then I write reviews for this magazine. And I do have deadlines; which are good for me, but they fill in my schedule. I also love blogging, but see how far down the list this is? If it wasn't for my Monday Musings, I am not sure how much blogging I would actually do.

I am a reader/Sudoku-solver/photo editor/knitter/crocheter/tea drinker. And this is what I do in my free time. When I get some. I love reading; in fact I sometimes prop a book up against the laundry pile when I am folding it. Knitting and crocheting might happen in the evenings, tea drinking really happens all the time and Sudoku is a fun treat.

Obviously, some of these can change in order of importance. Like needing to get the kitchen clean instead of doing history because co-op is at my house that day. But the top three are usually in that order and should really stay in that order. This list also explains why I don't blog that much; and try to stay off the computer except for quick blog/Facebook reading in the morning.  This was a great reminder for me; to write out my priorities and the reasons why they are important. I encourage you to evaluate your priorities, figure out what order they are in and why they are important to you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: We have baby rabbits again! I was getting concerned because this was the second time we had bred Thelma Lou, but Friday we found 5 cute little babies in the nesting box. The rabbit business stays alive....

What I'm reading: I am reading a book given to me by a friend called Hearts of Fire from The Voice of the Martyrs. In it are 8 amazing stories about Christians in other countries who are persecuted.

What I'm listening to: A Nerf gun war going on behind me and little voices getting breakfast in the kitchen.

What we're learning: We are doing a review of what we have learned so far this year in history, I'm focusing on reviewing math facts with everyone and we are learning catechism question #26 this week.

What I'm watching: Fall colors are upon us. So I really want to carve out some time to go take some photos this week. But I might not get to it until next week....

What's cooking: Over the weekend I roasted a whole chicken in my crockpot. Part of it went into Chicken Nachos on Saturday and then today I am cooking the bones and the rest of the meat for Chicken Vegetable Soup.

What I'm buying: Today is my big monthly shopping. Off to Costco, Trader Joes, Target and Winco.

What I'm thankful for: God's providence. I have been wanting to make some food changes...like going more organic and making my own bread. In the last 2 weeks I have been given a grain mill, have gone in on raising organic pork with some friends, and found a way to have organic produce brought to my door. Now to decide if the last find is the best decision economically....

What I'm creating: Lesson plans for the hymn I am teaching our co-op, The Lord's My Shepherd. I am really looking forward to talking about sheep and how they truly need a Shepherd.

What I'm praying: For my friend who has cancer. For wisdom as they seek other treatment and for the healing of her body.

What I'm planning: Thinking about Thanksgiving recipes....anyone trying anything new? I want to, but I love the old favorites.

What we did this last weekend: We had a lovely Saturday at home; going for a bike ride in the afternoon and watching Toy Story 3 with the kids that evening. Then yesterday we had a great morning worshiping with the saints, then off to a friends house for the afternoon and dinner.

What I'm looking forward to: We have our 4-H Rabbit meeting this week, then this weeks co-op meeting is our art history/craft day in co-op. Next week we are taking off and I am ready for a week with no school. And I love Thanksgiving!

A picture to share:


 ~The kids watching the Veteran's Day Parade last Thursday.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I am really liking the time change. I don't mind it getting dark earlier; having a cozy evening with nice candles is perfect for the fall/winter. And it is so much easier to get up when the sun is coming up!

What I'm reading: Not much this last week....a friend of mine though is downsizing and gave me two bags of books and there were some good ones in there.

What I'm listening to: Normal Monday stuff......the laundry going, little voices upstairs and Bookworm practicing her piano.

What we're learning: Early Japan and Gregory the Great in history, formatting paragraphs in Writing Skills, and feliform (cats) carnivores in science.

What I'm watching: Beautiful Fall leaves. It is finally starting to look like Fall around here and I love the different colors.

What's cooking: Tonight it is a yummy Golden Creamy Winter Soup with leeks, potatoes and butternut squash, served with Gruyere toasts.

What I'm buying: I really can't think of anything I need to buy this week, except the normal grocery stuff.

What I'm thankful for: That our future is in the hands of the One who controls the world. Every November when we vote I remember this and am comforted.

What I'm creating: I'm still working on lesson plans for co-op; and I am really trying to perfect a silhouette photo for my photography assignment this week. This is a tough one.....

What I'm praying: For our pastor and elders. That God would give them wisdom and understanding as they lead and minister to our congregation.

What I'm planning: To be more disciplined in checking the children's work. With 4 of them, all doing different things, I need to remain consistent; making sure they finish their jobs/schoolwork/chores. It is easy to get lazy this way....

What we did this last weekend: We went for a bike ride to check out a brand new bike bridge in our town on Saturday. Then yesterday after our monthly fellowship meal we headed to the assisted living center for their monthly service. I love this way that my kids can minister to those who might not know Christ.

What I'm looking forward to: This week we have our 4-H club meeting, then on Thursday we are planning to go to our towns Veteran's Day parade.

A picture to share:



~Over the weekend we ate this. What do you think it is? Guesses? Anyone?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

To Edit Or Not To Edit

 Recently I participated in a great discussion on my friend's blog about photo editing. Before last year I didn't know really anything about editing, except that I loved photos that were in sepia. I thought I was in the purest group, where there was no editing, only the raw truth. What you see is exactly the way it is, and the way it should be. But then I was asked by a friend to photograph her son's wedding. So I started doing some research and reading about wedding photography. And what did I read? You have to edit. Especially if you want those beautiful black and white shots or lovely sepia enhancements. After experimenting, I saw that editing really did help my photos. And oh my goodness, if you are shooting a wedding, you really want these photos to turn out good so I did edit every photo I shot. And now I do put almost every photo I take through my editing program (Adobe Elements for those of you that are wondering), but I still have my own set of rules that I follow.

 First, editing really is cool. I am not a great photographer at all, especially with light. And in many cases, editing my photos can bring the brightness up.

Take for instance these photos of our family taken last year.

This first one is right when the sun was setting and is pretty dark.



 So I bumped up the brightness and contrast. Much better.


You can see why this one did not make the cut...Dasher looks like she is about to fall asleep.


This next photo I shot last weekend at our church's Reformation party. It is not a bad photo; but the colors look a little washed out.




But when I asked my photo editing software to 'auto smart fix', this is the result.

This really helped the photo by giving more contrast between the grass and the other colors in the photo.


Like I said, light is one of my problems. This picture of the river rocks in our backyard is dull and colorless.





When I bumped up the brightness and contrast of my rock shot, this was the result.


Much better! All of a sudden you see the individual rocks and their colors.


There are more reasons why editing is so much fun. This shot was at an historical site in our area. I just loved this bell and its simplicity.




But I felt that if I did this.....

It gave it more of an aged sense. (I made it black and white, then gave it a 'old paper' layer.) But did you notice that on the bell in the color picture, there is this worn area that is not as evident in the edited photo? It all depends on what you are trying to portray in your photo.


And that is what I am realizing, photography is art and art is very subjective. One person might take and edit a photograph and make it look incredible to them, but then I would change it in a very different way and make it look great to me. All of the photography contests on Pioneer Woman are really fun to look at, but sometimes I do disagree with her favorites. It is all a matter of opinion.

But you are still taking images of real things, like people. And now that we have digital cameras and incredible editing software, the statement 'a photo never lies' is not necessarily true anymore. And that is where I draw the line; with people. Now if I am taking a senior photo or something like that, I will cover up certain blemishes. Facial blemishes are temporary anyways, so 'hiding' them is not something I have a problem with. But changing someones features to make them look different then they really are is something I can't do. And really, I can't do that because my editing program is for beginners and doesn't manipulate photos that way. But every single one of those billboards, magazine covers and advertisements that we see every day has been seriously, heavily manipulated. And I really have trouble with that.

I still don't know how I feel about taking landscape shots and making them look like they came out of a Polaroid camera, or giving the entire photo a blue tint, or boosting the color so much that it does look unrealistic. At first I was not wanting to do this with any of my photos, but photography really is art, and art can be anything. So far I have not tried any of this heavy editing, mainly because I am a busy momma and wife and have not had the time to explore my editing program and figure out how to do it. But there are some photos I see that I know are really edited that I love, so it is still a dilemma in my mind.

So I will edit my people photos, to give them a little more light and color; but I will not manipulate them to the point where the image has changed. Landscape and object pictures are still up for debate in my mind.....someday I'll have time to think about that and play around more with my photos.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this if you are willing to share them.......

Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I have great kids. Right now I am enjoying a nice cup of coffee courtesy of Mr. Lego and smelling yummy waffles courtesy of Nutsy and Dasher. That's the way to start a Monday.

What I'm reading: The kids and I checked this book out at the library this last week. It is a snapshot of 30 different families from all over the world and all the possessions they own. Two other companion books are this one and this one; the one about the food they eat being our favorite.

What I'm listening to: We are serious bandwagon jumpers and have been listening to the World Series on the radio. I really like 'watching' sports this way; you can still do things around the house and not be glued to the TV. Although we did turn it on Thursday to see that crazy last inning.

What we're learning: We are learning about the Dark Ages, King Arthur and his knights, and Justinian I and Theodora in history this week. The kids LOVE our logic curriculum, The Red Herring Mysteries, and we are starting a new unit in our co-op, the Spanish Expansion of California.

What I'm watching: Over the weekend we all watched The Music Man, and sang along with 76 Trombones, Lyda Rose, and The Wells Fargo Wagon.

What's cooking: Tonight I am making Cheesy Noodle Beef Casserole from my Cooking Light cookbook.

What I'm buying: We are going to go out and get some discounted candy later this week....Reese's and Butterfingers are the family favorites.

What I'm thankful for: For our health. So far this fall we have been pretty healthy. I know colds will be coming soon, but it is nice to not be sick.

What I'm creating: An organized home! Six of us living in a house that is less than 1500 square feet really forces us to purge every now and then. Which is a good thing. So after 5 garbage bags, 3 bags to Goodwill and another bag of things to take to friends, I feel much better and the house feels much less cluttered.

What I'm praying: That my prayers would be real. Not just words I recite, but a true opening up of my heart to God.

What I'm planning: My month of co-op teaching. My unit is on Spanish Expansion and is about Junipero Serra, Portola and Anza's expedition. There is not too much information out there about this and I am having a hard time filling 4 teaching periods (for two different age groups!) with stuff for the kids to do. Anyone have any ideas?

What we did this last weekend: Organizing the house is like dominoes....once you get started it is hard to stop. So we spent some of our Saturday doing some deep cleaning. Then yesterday was Reformation Day! We heard a good sermon on prayer from I Thessalonians, then a lot of people from our church went to a park for fellowship, food and fun games. Like pin-the-thesis on the door, and a three-legged race to throw the indulgences in the bucket. Then over to a friends house for more great fellowship.

What I'm looking forward to: We have co-op this Wednesday at our house, and that is about all I have planned for this week. I am also really hoping that one of our rabbits has babies this week....the kids really need to sell some more rabbits.

A picture to share:

Two photos this week: 


Before.....


and after. :-)