Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Great Pictures

After waiting for weeks, my name finally came up on the library reserve list for this book:

Digital SLR Cameras & Photography for Dummies by David D. Busch.

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(I'm reading the 2nd edition, but link to the most recent version).  It has been worth the wait, and I'm only through the first chapter!  I know this book is going to answer MANY questions I have.  Don't be turned off by the "Dummies" part of the title (Eden was--she said, "Mom, you're not a dummy!"--hehe, thanks girl), the author does assume that you know a few things about cameras and taking pictures.  It is easy to read and follow.  I'm loving it.

In other news, here is our little Snow White:

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She won this apple from her brother Zeke and is loving being able to sink her teeth into it.  I'm ok with that--as long as she doesn't get confused later!  :)

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Eden!

Today is Eden's 11th birthday.  This post is really going to stretch my memory, but here goes.

What makes this 11th birthday more special is that today is Monday, and E was born on a Monday.  Easter is this coming weekend, as it was the year she was born.  It is so fun to remember.  :)  My water broke on the morning of Monday, March 29, 1999.  I was actually due on April 15th, but SO relieved to be at the end.  I quickly woke Mitch up and asked him to get a towel (the thought did not occur to me to get OUT of bed).  Mitch came back with one towel and I said, "That's not going to do it!"  We have laughed about that ever since.  I had a long piddly labor.  Since we went to the hospital right away, we invited interventions that may not have been necessary otherwise.  Still, it was a wonderful delivery with Mitch and my best friend, Joy, present.  I was thrilled to have a baby girl.

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Eden was a great baby.  She was a good nurser, and Holly convinced her to take a bottle (after a lot of struggle) when I went back to work 2-3 days per week.  She would wake up fairly early in the morning, though, and I didn't like that too much.  She had a nuk, which she loved. 
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It took Eden forever to grow any hair!
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When Eden was 2, Daddy cut the end of her nuk off.  Poor girl--she said, "Daddy broke my nuk!" She entered the "goofy grin stage" and accomplished the famous task of being able to touch her nose with her tongue (something her brothers canNOT do!!).
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The September after Eden turned five (below), she started Kindergarten at St. Cloud Christian School.  E has a very tender spirit, peppered with a strong will.  She loves girly princess things.  One day I came home from grocery shopping and went looking for Mitch.  Eden came running up to me yelling something, but I wasn't really listening.  Instead, I put my hand on her head, and let it slide down the back.  I gasped when I realized what she was saying, "Lookie, Mommy, my hair growed short!"  Yep, she had taken the scissors to her hair and cut clean around the sides and back.  It turned out cute, but I sure was sad.
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When Eden started losing teeth, she entered another goofy grin stage...not wanting to really smile and show off her teeth.
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At 8 years, Eden's hair went through a strange growth.  I accused her of cutting her hair again, but soon realized she had short pieces all over her head and there was no way she could have cut it like that.  It was all new growth, and it came in curly and thick.  But in the meantime, it sure did look funny!  There wasn't much we could do with it.
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When Eden entered 3rd grade, we began our first year of homeschooling.  She really misses her friends, but she studies well and catches on to new concepts quickly.
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Just after Eden's 10th birthday, she got her biggest wish--a baby sister, finally!  Eden really loves Tirzah.
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Eden is turning into quite the young lady.  It's so hard to believe.  In a couple months we are going to have a weekend away--just me and her.  I am excited to share this time with her!!

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Minnesota Children's Museum

On Saturday we visited the Minnesota Children's Museum in St. Paul.  We spent about 3 hours there and didn't quite see everything.  We were all pretty tired out from all the fun playing!  We had an extra surprise and got to see Mitch's cousin Charlie, his wife Jodie, and their two kids.  On the way home we ate at Old Country Buffet (a family favorite).  Patrick says he gets frustrated because he wants to try everything but knows he won't be able to.  :)  Afterward we went shopping at the Albertville Outlet Mall.  We enjoyed the Nike store, the Bose store, and a couple other places.  We finally pulled in home around 8:30 pm...it was a tiring day!

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Mitch and Patrick used the "Great Wall of China" blocks to build a model of Minas Tirith (from Lord of the Rings), then let Tirzah crash it all. 

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Change does not come easy...

Change doesn't come easy for me, but I am now stretching out my legs so-to-speak:  Mitch bought me a 1.5 Terabyte hard drive for my computer.  I went from 250 GB of space to 1500 GB of space.  Ahhhh....that feels nice.

At least it will once I get my things rearranged and reinstalled and back to like it *should* be.  :)

And I won't have to delete any pictures, either.  So there.  :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Heavy Construction

Sometimes telemarketers call here because we operate two businesses out of our home:  Pampered Cheeks and our daycare.  I really get some interesting calls.  Today topped them all. 

I didn't recognize the number on the caller i.d., so I handed the phone to Mitch to answer.  Mitch's side of the conversation went roughly like this:

Hello?
(Caller says, "Hello, is this Stephanie?")
This is Mitch.
Who is this with?
(Caller says he wants to call and confirm before sending out our invoice to update our listing)
Update what listing?
For what business?
Ok, hold on one minute.
Steph, do you want to update your yellow pages listing for Pampered Cheeks?
(I don't have a yellow pages listing)
This is already listed?
How long has it been listed?
12 months?
Who listed it?
(I asked, "Under WHAT category?")
What category is it listed under?
Construction?  What kind of Construction?
(Steph:  WHAT?!)
Heavy construction?
For what?  MANURE HAULERS?


We were rolling laughing by this point, and the poor telemarketer hung up on us.  Oh well...he didn't want to have any fun I guess.

How did a business like Pampered Cheeks, which makes custom cloth diapers, get listed under "heavy construction" and how in the world did we get a yellow pages listing?  Not to be confused with the registered trademark official company Yellow Pages...I immediately checked online and checked the phone book:  we are not listed.  Hmmmm...

I smell a scam!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lost and Found

I know it's not really a valuable thing.

It is replaceable.

But when I couldn't find it, I wasn't thinking about that. I was thinking about this:
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...and how in the world was I going to be able to sew without pins??

I had NO extras. Every pin in my house was kept in its rightful place on the pin cushion. Not just any pin cushion. I received it as a gift from my step-mom, Janet. It is beautiful. And perfect. And it held all my favorite pins.

We blamed this little thing:
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It *had* to be her. She had a new love of throwing things in the garbage can. We must not have noticed.

I looked everywhere, then gave up hope. Bonnie told me not to buy a new one. She had plenty to share. And she did. :) So the show was able to go on--yay!

Then Wednesday afternoon I moved a couple bolts of fabric and quickly let out a shout of joy (into Kristin's ear, who happened to be on the phone with me). There, peeking out of the shadows, was a bright message just for me:
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See, it wasn't about the pins. It was about the cushion itself. And the message therein: ISLY. A secret code shared between Mitch and I since before we were married. I still love you. I can hardly bring myself to use the pins since he left that message during a moment of boredom(?) many weeks ago. :)

And the arrangement on the other side:
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Left there by Kristin during a boring afternoon at my house. (Can those be boring?) It's been there for more months than I can remember--I never use those pins either!

Good thing I have a safe spot for my treasure:
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Inside Bonnie's box, my new pin cushion. :)

Isn't it a wonderful feeling to find a lost treasure, even one that doesn't seem to have a high monetary value?

Jesus told lots of stories in the Bible about finding lost items. All to illustrate HIM searching for and finding US, his lost sheep.

Something so simple, even silly, as a pin cushion, reminded me of the love of my husband, my best friend, and my Savior. :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beautiful Girls

{Eden}
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{Holly & Tirzah}
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Speaking of Tirzah, she is now 11 months old!! Crazy girl. I love having a baby girl again, and I'm going to love having a toddler girl. She is walking everywhere with ease. She hates to stop moving. She loves her brothers, even when they are mean. She is fairly strong-willed. She is learning to sign "more", "milk", and "all done". We have also tried to teach her please, water, and cracker, but I haven't seen her try those yet. She doesn't talk except for "Hiiiii" and "Da-dee". Although we're pretty certain she saw Eden through the window the other day and shouted "Eeeeee" to mean Eden. She is a pretty average size--which means small compared to Malachi at that age. She really doesn't like jarred baby foods, but is happy to try whatever we are eating. Some days she will eat more than Malachi! She loves foods that she can chew. She's very independent. She loves to copy her brothers. She has a good memory (if I take something she has and put it away, she usually goes right back to it), and is not easily distracted from something she has her heart set on. Oh boy!! She is still nursing, but she's very interested in drinking from a cup, so we'll see how she transitions now over the next couple months. For now we are focusing on learning boundaries, signing, and what the word "no" means. :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ninja

We had a birthday party here this past weekend for Selena, Hope's daughter. It was fun. Patrick taught us a new game called "Ninja."

Start with your hands folded in the middle, like Kyle's, whose you can see.
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Then someone says, "Ninja," and everyone takes one step behind into a random "ninja" position.

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Then one person starts.  This person can use one hand at a time and try to hit/touch someone else's hand. The person attacking must not take any steps.  The person being attacked can move their hand only (not their feet) out of the way.  (The point here is for the attacker to be quick).

If the attacker successfully touches the victim's hand, the victim then places that hand behind his/her back and can't move it any more.  Once both hands are hit, the player is out of the game.  The turn is over whether the attack was successful or not. 

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If you want to pass on your turn, you can simply reposition and then pass on the chance to attack.  When you reposition, you can move your feet and your body to whatever position you want.

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Last person in wins. Of course, I'm probably forgetting something here. Patrick says it's definitely ok to make up the rules as you go along. :)

Internet Safety

Caleb is taking it seriously when we tell him to practice internet safety:

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No, really, he had been outside riding his bike when he came in to ask us something. I was downloading a new game to try out on the computer (Timez Attack) and asked him to come up and try it out quickly. I didn't think anything of it until someone else pointed it out. Mitch is the one who {naturally} came up with the "internet safety" quip.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Rules when sharing cookies with friends

Did you know there are "rules" when you take time to share cookies with friends?  We are compiling a list.

Rule #1:  When you share cookies with friends, there are no calories.

Rule #2: When you break a cookie in half, the calories fall out.

Rule #3: Eating small or broken cookies does not count as eating any cookie at all (it actually counts as cleaning up, which is a chore).

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Marilyn Hostetler, our YFU field representative, stopped by today. We always love visiting with her!

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She brought two exchange students with her, who are heading out on a trip to the East coast.

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We shared some yummy no-bake cookies, all calorie-free. (Ha!)

Here is my easy-peasy recipe for the cookies (no, it really isn't healthy, but it's not *too* bad...and we love it.  It's FAST to make.).  I usually double the recipe for our big brood.

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup peanut butter
1-3/4 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

1) In a medium saucepan, mix sugar and cocoa.
2) Add milk and butter.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Boil for 1 minute.  (This is an important step...not a good time to be distracted like I always am!)
3) Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter and oats.
4) Drop by spoonful onto cookie sheets lined with foil or wax paper.  (You can also "shape" your cookies--I love to do this for Mitch)
5) Allow to cool, store in an airtight container in a cool place.

If you make 24 cookies, each cookie will have roughly 91 calories, 4 g of fat, and 13 g of sugar.  So share them so you don't have to have any extra calories!!  :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Book Review: Winston Churchill by John Perry


I recently finished the book from the Christian Encounters series, entitled "Winston Churchill," by John Perry.  I actually do not enjoy studying history much at all, but I do love reading Christian biographies.  I was quite familiar with the name "Winston Churchill" but didn't actually know anything about him at all. 

The book is a biography that details Churchill's life from birth through death.  Perry is careful to incorporate many of the shaping details of Churchill's life.  He builds these details from many of letters and correspondence written by Churchill himself.  Churchill was, in a way, a risk-taker.  At first I compared him to Jim Elliot, who said, "I am immortal till my work is accomplished."  Churchill certainly sought to put himself in dangerous situations.  He loved the thought of being in battle, and purposely asked for commissions to places where he could see some "action."  Much unlike Elliot, Churchill said, "I think more experience of war would make me religious."  Even further unlike Jim Elliot, Churchill wrote to his mother after a particular skirmish, "I am so conceited I do not believe the Gods [sic] would create so potent a being as myself for so prosaic an ending."

To be brutally honest, I was frustrated while reading this book.  I was frustrated with Winston Churchill the man, and I was frustrated with the organization of the material.  I felt that the author bounced around a lot, and I had difficulty following along in the story or paying attention.  I had to reread paragraphs, flip back chapters, and try to remember where the story was going.  Having no background as to who Churchill was, I also was trying to learn a good deal.  But maybe the greatest frustration is my expectation that Churchill was a man of faith.  I felt sort of "strung along" by the author from the very beginning.  I expected Churchill to be a Christian.  I expected at some point in the story to read about his conversion--that his beliefs as a child/young adult were foolish, and he was "awakened" at some point later in life.  In an early chapter the author wrote of Churchill's attitude, "This attitude seemingly gave Winston Churchill all the benefits of Christianity with none of the liabilities.  He could call on God for help when he was in trouble, but otherwise believe whatever he wanted to believe and live as he wanted to live."  Um...NOT Christian!!  Still I hoped.  At the end of his life, however, he joked and made light of judgment and the afterlife.  He said, "It is conceivable that I might well be reborn as a Chinese coolie."  I think that someone who enjoys history and especially war and leaders may enjoy this book.  As for someone like me, who may be looking for strong Christian examples, keep looking.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Dem's Fightin' Words!

"Why don't you delete some pictures?"

That's what Patrick said to me last night.   No lie.  :)  I was looking at my computer and realized my {{SMALL}} harddrive only had 32 gigabytes free.  Yikes!!  I have an 8 GB memory card in my camera nearly full.  What am I going to do??

It's true, I do have a LOT of pictures that probably aren't worth keeping.  But it is SO hard, SO time-consuming, to go through the database and delete them out.  I was able to delete some files I'd been hoarding, empty my recycle bin, etc, and free up about 30 more GB.  (Yes, I know...that's a lot of stuff in the trash).  Still...to even free up 1 GB, I would have to delete at least 25 pictures.

What I really need to do is move them all to their own hard drive.  But it's still "only" about 85 GB.  What in the world is taking up so much room?? (For the record, my hard drive is really small--232 GB--and we originally intended to switch it out right away, but never got around to it.  Now I don't want to stop what I'm doing to go through all that mess.  Oye.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

S.O.S.--so far, so good!

Have you missed me???  I sure have missed blogging!  Spring break is over, though, and it's back to normal here.  Also I have not enjoyed any late nights this week--the time change to Daylight Savings Time is brutal on this "29-year-old" I tell ya.

I wanted to give a much needed update on our experience so far with Switched-On Schoolhouse.  First of all, we love it and plan to have Micah, Eden, and Caleb all doing it for the next school year.  Currently Eden is doing all the 5th grade subjects--Bible, Language Arts, Arithmetic, Science, and History--as well as the Health elective.  Micah is doing the Health elective and 5th grade Bible.  Caleb is doing 3rd grade Bible.  Eden is also finishing up her 5th grade A Beka Arithmetic (she only has 36 lessons to go) and her penmanship.  In an effort to relieve *some* of the pressure I feel to "get everything done", I eliminated spelling and reading for the rest of the year for everyone.  Eden will get those in her SOS curriculum.  Micah and Caleb read waaaaayyyy more books than are required by their reading curriculum.  In fact, they have either read all their books anyway, or will read them voluntarily.  But I don't feel the pressure to make sure it's done.  Reading is NOT something they need help with.  I can see now that they are going to get TONS of practice in spelling once they start SOS, so I am not concerned about missing these last few spelling lists. 

So far nearly everything with S.O.S. is great.  I have only one small rant.  I feel that their Arithmetic is slower-paced than A Beka's.  Comparing 5th grade to 5th grade, SOS does cover some things that A Beka does not, but A Beka goes farther and does harder problems than SOS.  I'm still not quite sure how I feel about this one point.  Since she is doing very well in her Arithmetic currently, but we also want her to get a feel for how SOS Arithmetic works, I deleted any lessons from SOS that repeat material she has already mastered.  That left very little for her to cover (except a very interesting unit on using a calculator and some needed review on geometry).  I may end up doing the same sort of "pruning" when she moves up to 6th grade, then have her move on to 7th at a faster pace, if it seems appropriate.

There are other "issues" that I read in reviews of the program, and I haven't really seen them as a strong or valid negative against the program.  One of the most common complaints I read is that the program is looking for a specific answer, and while your child's answer may be correct, the program marks it as incorrect.  It is easy for me to navigate and override any grades I feel are unfair.  Eden has had a few places where she got frustrated after using 3 attempts to answer a question correctly.  I only have to remind her to go on, and I will take care of it as soon as I have a chance.  It's SO easy to take care of--I can send her a note on a specific problem to guide her toward the answer, override the grade, reassign it, or allow her to skip it.  All sorts of options, none of which are very time-consuming for either of us.

Eden seems to love the communication features of the program.  She loves to send me notes--either to ask me questions, or just to say Hi.  She also enjoys the journal feature of the program.  In fact, I think she loves everything about doing school on the computer.  She finishes her work quickly and accurately.  Every day she has been done "early."  Wow, this homeschooling thing might actually start to "click" and take off with my kids!!

I wondered how Caleb would do with the computer.  He certainly loves to play on the computer, but that doesn't mean he would love to do work on the computer.  He only has Bible right now, so it's not a super-great indication of how things will go for him, but so far he really does enjoy it.  He looks forward to his turn.  He is doing great with typing.  The work seems very age-appropriate.

Well, my afternoon is fading quickly and I already borrowed way more free time than I actually had available.  :)  But I really wanted a chance to say how well the SOS is coming along.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hiding Place

Tirzah found a new hiding place in my sewing room. She's so proud of herself. I love the tongue hanging out all the time. :)

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LAN Party

I think it is safe to say the LAN party last night was a big success.  Half the fun (?) was trying to get all the computers networked.  I was fairly proud of my little "HANNAH" (that's my computer's name).  She rebelled at first and refused to connect.  :)  Once they finally got them all going, SOME people stayed up all.night.long.  Seriously.


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