Monday, December 29, 2008

post processing - picnik

Any post processing junkies out there?

I'm always checking out different editing tools and programs. I used the 30-day free trial of Lightroom and loved it, but the program is $300...too much money for my SAHM uses & needs. I've been using the free version of Picnik lately and, until today, hadn't really branched out into its "creative" tools.

I thought I'd share the finished products in case there are others who are looking for a post processing program. In the "creative" section of Picnik, there are a variety of actions and each is represented by a little frog who has been processed with that action. Not very attractive. But some of the actions actually do look nice when applied to people!

After some failed attempts to get some new closeups of M, I used an old photo of him and then took some of myself. Yes, go ahead and call me a desperate dork but, if you do, you have to come model for me! I am really glad I did this though because it ended up being good practice. M and I have different skin tones and the editing/actions seemed to affect us a little differently.

ORIGINAL PHOTO: No editing.
ORTON-ISH:
1960's: Love those rounded corners. Notice the orange-ish cast to his face.
CINEMASCOPE: This action seems to squish the subject when it adds the black bars.
CROSS-PROCESS:



CINEMASCOPE: The "black bar squish" isn't as noticeable in my photo.
ORTON-ISH: I think this pic looks really freaky since my eyes look different colors and my pupil is so severe! If I didn't know myself, this is the kind of photo that would give me bad dreams. I DO like the way Orton-ish seems to smooth out hair and face. It gives a soft look to the subject.


DUO-TONE: This may look like B&W but is actually an action that allows you to pick two colors for the editing. I ended up choosing dark blue and light gray but, for a moment, I was looking quite lime green!

HOLGA-ISH: While it looks like a huge square spot-light is on my face, this action actually changed where the light was hitting my face. I don't like it on this photo, but Holga-ish would look cool if your entire subject was in the highlighted area. I think LOMO-ISH does the same thing except in color.

I tried both 1960s and CROSS PROCESS on mine and the colors were funky...I think the blue background in M's photo kind of neutralized the orange-brownish cast of those actions...but not totally sure. Other things: Every time I use Picnik, I have major slow-down issues. At first, I can edit quickly but after about 3 pics, my computer starts grinding like crazy and I can finish mowing the lawn before an action finishes applying itself. This, however, could be an issue with my computer. Also, the FREE Picnik only allows you to upload 5 photos at a time.

If you have an editing tool that you recommend, feel free to share!

O, Israel!

This morning my homepage was full of news headlines declaring the crisis in Gaza:

Hamas calls on Arab nations to break peace treaties with Israel.
War to the bitter end.
No signs that conflict will end soon.

Then my eyes looked to the top of my screen...to the Bible verse of the day...and it read:
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:3

What good news in the midst of the stories of fighting and bombing, hatred and death!

If you are familiar with the Bible, the situation in Gaza doesn't surprise you. Events are unfolding just as God said they would, and we can take comfort in His faithfulness even when things look chaotic and frightening.

If you are interested, Joel Rosenberg of the The Joshua Fund is keeping his blog updated about the Gaza situation. Due to the Fund's relief support to Israel (and her neighbors!), Joel has many connections to those living right in the heat of the battle.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you. Psalm 122:6

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas 2008!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! Ours was very relaxing and fun. M was lavished with gifts from friends and family, and he LOVED every single one. Scott and I have been watching movies at night...a welcome treat!...and all of our Christmas decorations are down and boxed for next year!

Slideshow photos are from making a birthday cake for Jesus (yes, the cake was THAT red and, yes, it did stain his face), singing into the tinkertoy microphone, a few from Christmas morning, and one of M and cousin Layne at a family gathering.



The train set. Yes, it was a hit, but I now concede to toy makers and their recommended age for toys. The train says 3+, and M is not even 2. I didn't even think about this because he plays so well with the set at the bookstore...um, yeah, but it is BOLTED DOWN! Even though M has some kickin' fine motor skills, he lacks the finesse and gentleness to drive the train without causing some major destruction (picture M pushing the train with his hand through the tunnel and then lifting his arm without taking it out of the tunnel.) And so this toy that I had hoped would help him play on his own and allow me to get through a sink of dishes....well, the dream is dashed for now. BUT...he likes his train!

Scott said of M's tiny train town: "A series of natural disasters has hit this week..."
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Here is a bit of the video from Christmas morning when M first saw the train set. Nothing overly exciting...he just got down to playing!
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

the Bright and Morning Star

"I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am...the Bright and Morning Star." Rev 22:16

My heart seems to smile when I think of this description of Jesus. The Bright and Morning Star. Perhaps it's because I have a "visual aid" that keeps this title fresh in my mind.

A mountain range is located to the east of us, and daybreak brings a faint light outlining the mountains...a hint of what is coming. Then, as a warrior conquering his enemy, the mighty sun rises over the mountains, ushering forth its light and declaring victory over the darkness that had covered the city.

At Christmas we reflect on Jesus coming as an infant, but we also look ahead to His return. And as the morning star arrives to dispel the darkness of night, one day the Morning Star will return to dispel the darkness of sin and death. Forever. We have so much more than our Savior's birth to celebrate!

I'm sad. I'm sad, and I miss my mom. But just as the sun gives promise of a new day, Jesus gives promise of a new life...an eternal life with Him. How grateful I am to know...to be absolutely confident...that I will see my mom again.

Today I have been thinking of those who are alone...or are in a crowd but lonely...or are simply sad this Christmas. My heart aches for you, and I would love to pray for you over the next few days. As I pray for God's comfort for myself and my family during this first Christmas without my mom, I will lift you in prayer, too. If interested, you may email your prayer request to 1sttimemama1 AT gmail DOT com.

May your hearts smile as you celebrate the birth of Jesus and anticipate His return (may it be with the excitement of a child awaiting Christmas morning!).

Merry, Merry Christmas, my friends!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

when a photoshoot turns sour

I just looked through some photos that never made it to blog because most of them were WAY overexposed and because they do not represent M's most flattering side.

see how oVeReXpOsEd??!!!


So I messed around in picnik postprocessing to salvage a few...here's the recount of the madness:

We arrived at the river on a beautiful fall day. M saw some kids and, because they were more than 10 ft away from him, he decided they were OK.

Laughter, great! We're going to get some awesome photos!


We headed up to the bridge; the happiness continued.


As we began to walk through the bosque, the revolt began...


...and the walls came tumbling down...


...no matter what cool thing I showed him...


...or what area in which we walked...


...MAD.MAD.MAD...


...so I had to resort to photographing a plant:


Now here is where it gets good. I asked M on the way back to the car if he would like to sit on the bridge and eat his snack. Affirmative. I got him settled, and pulled out the ziploc of treats...a trio of animal crackers, puffs, and alphabet crackers. As I offered each one to M, he would shake his head "no." I explained that these were the only snacks we had and, again, offered each one to him. With more zeal (read: throwing a huge fit that caused nearby walkers to raise their eyebrows), he not-so-politely refused the snacks again. In all of my motherly maturity, I took the ziploc...stuck it through the bars of the bridge...and dumped the entire contents into the flowing waters below. "I guess the fish will eat your snack then" I replied. ACK!!!!!! Did I just do that? I quickly glanced over my shoulder to see who was watching then slunk back to my car...screaming kid in tow.

I did manage to snag this cute one because I am sooooo sneaky:



POLL FINALE: 60% said they would have plastic surgery but only if medically necessary. 40% said, "just do it!"

Monday, December 22, 2008

i'm getting giddy!

sitting on the floor with the following:

1 screwdriver (both flat & phillips in one, thankyouverymuch!)
a 100+ piece Classic Train Table with Roundhouse
a 156 piece Lifesavers Halloween Variety Bag

i'm being careful not to get my "pieces" mixed up...

and getting ready to crank some carols!!!

oops...

Is anyone knowledgeable in external hard drives...and know why the photos that I transferred from my computer to the hard drive are no longer there? As in NO.LONGER.THERE!!!!??? The file folders show up, but they are now empty.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mother Nature, Father Time

I think it was right after my 35th birthday that I received the message. It went something like this:

Dear Tish. Stop. Happy Day after your 35th birthday. Stop. The party is over. Stop. Yours truly, Mother Nature and Father Time. Stop.

Yes, that was the year in which Father Time cackled as he pushed the "warp speed aging" button on my life, and Mother Nature lifted her wing of protection and, well, kicked me to the curb. Since then, my physical self has been coasting downhill at the speed of a Jamaican Bobsled Team.

Now...I know that in God's economy, a youthful appearance is not what it's all about. And I am so grateful to know that, by His grace, as my "outer man" is perishing, my "inner man" is being renewed day by day. It's like having some serious 100% effective anti-deterioration cream slathered on my soul by the hand of God.


HOWEVVVVVVER, I inherited two lovely traits from my Papa. #1. Big hands. #2. Some funky-droopy-eyelid thing. I'm thinking that, unless Jesus calls me home soon, my eyelids are going to start brushing against my kneecaps when I walk. Not even kidding. In my mind I picture holding them up with toothpicks, but really, when did toothpicks ever make good fashion sense to anything but an olive?

And so...I heard that this can be corrected with surgery. Suuuuurrrr-gery. Not a word that gets me giddy. I scar like madwoman (hmmm...could it be from vitamin deficiency from lack of vegetables in my body?), and I'd rather spend the money on something useful like clean water for villages. BUT...on the other hand being able to see without having to tape my eyelids to my forehead could be considered useful, I guess...and due to the sight-hindering nature of funky-droopy-eyelid thing, some insurance plans cover it!

Now I don't need these lids propped in the next week or anything...but we might as well "poll" about it, so let me know your thoughts about plastic surgery in the sidebar.


unimportant sidenote: have you tried the Archer Farms Hot and Spicy chips? They will make your mouth cry "UNCLE", but your hand will be going back for more!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A baby is coming!

M has a little kissin' cousin on the way!!! She is due in January, and I had the pleasure of hosting a shower for her. I got some adorable photos of some of the kids who attended, but I won't post them w/out parental permission. However, I am posting some pics of big sister since her mama has allowed me to do so in the past. We actually had the shower at the baby's home so that guests could see the nursery and presents wouldn't have to be hauled back and forth. It was a very fun...and pink!...event!


(Hey...anyone who edits with Lightroom know why the photos lose their sharpness when you blog them?)
Selfish heart: There are days when I just want to build a cool structure of Mega Blocks without having little hands try to add to it or knock it down.

Funny husband:
Me: I'm having a Mexican dinner and Asian salad dressing.
Scott: Fusion!

Me: These berries are sour...do they taste sour to you...I think they're sour.
Scott: Anything south of chocolate is sour to you.

New model:
Since M and Scott get facial tics when I ask them to model for me, I called on an old friend for a class assignment. She was a joy to work with and didn't even complain that I failed to wash her face before the photoshoot. Her name is Poor Pitiful Pearl. Yes, that was the name on the box!!! And I asked for her because I was afraid that no one else would buy her...with her ragged, patched clothes and stringy hair...and that she would be sad and lonely! Some toy exec sure knew my number, huh?



Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas cards

OK, I am interested in your thoughts about Christmas cards!

Why do you send them? What is your purpose?
How do you choose your annual card? How much thought do you give to your selection?
Do you include handwritten messages?
What do you do with the cards you receive from others?
Any other thoughts?

Comments appreciated!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

let's face it!

The many faces of Matthew...please excuse the runny nose!

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Hope everyone is doing well! I'll be catching up on your blogs soon...I've missed you! We've been busy lately with hosting a baby shower, enjoying an overnight guest, going on a date (WOOOHOO)...and being bitten on the lip by M (he and I were wrestling and he got a little excited, bit my lip, and left me a bloody, swollen, bruised mess...but it healed quickly!)

Scott is enjoying M's recent verbal explosion and has taught him to call me "mamacita!" M is speaking very well and now will say things like (when I get out his blue hat), "no, red hat" and if you ask where to put something, he'll tell you "right there."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

martha, martha

This post has been bouncing around my brain for a while now, and yet it never seemed the right time to publish it. I guess it was never God's time until yesterday. Because yesterday was when He made it real for me.

I've been thinking of the story in Luke 10:38-42 where two sisters, Mary and Martha, are contrasted. You may be familiar with the story but, if not, here's the lowdown:

Jesus came to town. Martha invited Him to the home of her family. Mary sat and listened to Jesus talk while Martha worked feverishly to get everything "just right." Martha got ticked and questioned Jesus, "Don't you care that Mary is sitting on her duff while I do all the work? Tell her to help me!" (my paraphrase)

Jesus responds, "Martha, Martha..."

sidenote: I once heard a message that was focused on this initial part of Jesus' reply. The speaker noted that Jesus said Martha's name...twice. If He had just said "Martha", we might convey that He was angry (MAR-THA!!!!) or frustrated (Marthaaaaaa...). But He said her name twice, and when we are angry or frustrated we don't usually do that. Try it. Just yell "Martha, Martha" in a really angry tone. Doesn't quite sound right, does it? Nope, even as Martha questions and commands Him, Jesus responds in tenderness.

Anyway, the Bible says that Martha was "distracted with much serving." Distracted...suggests she had turned away from her original focus of attention. Much serving...suggests she was going over-the-top, busy with unnecessary details.

Jesus continues His response to her, "...But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

This year I have been doing less holiday shopping/stuff and have been trying to choose the "good part"...to spend more time in God's Word. So, while this passage has been stuck in my brain for the past weeks, I didn't think it was really applying to me during this holiday season. (You can laugh now.)

Yesterday morning after breakfast I decided to bring out the playdoh in hopes that M would entertain himself while I did some other tasks, but something stopped me from taking my busywork to the table.


Martha, Martha.


UGH! But I have stuff to do! And the baby never takes long enough naps! And...


Martha, Martha.


I found myself reaching into the drawer for the playdoh "big guns"...the utensils I get out only when I play with M. As M and I sat at our table enjoying the squishy dough, soft music and falling snow (lasted a few minutes and never stuck), I was reminded that Jesus was there with us. He was there. So I talked to M about Jesus...His Presence with us, His love for us.

Suddenly M put down his playdoh and reached over for my hand. With a big smile on his face he gazed at me...then pointed to Scott's chair...and then turned his sweet face back to mine. His countenance was one of joy.

As I was enjoying time with my baby, I was sitting at my Savior's feet. It was the good part. THE GOOD PART. And it dripped with His tenderness.

You know, if the story of Jesus' tenderness toward distracted, demanding Martha stopped there, it would be enough. But if you read John 11 you will find another gem. You see, Martha's sister Mary was the one who seemed to really "get it." In humble adoration, Mary sat at Jesus' feet. Nothing else mattered. She was the one who would later anoint the feet of Jesus with very expensive oil and then wipe them dry with her hair. (Note to self: grow hair out!) Mary was, Biblically speaking, "da bomb."

Yet John 11:5 states, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister..."

Just WHOM is mentioned by name? Yes, good ol' Martha, Martha. Not that it is a competition. God has enough love to go 'round. But I find this very comforting...that the God of the universe chose to speak of His love for and mention by name the sister Martha. A woman who was too busy to sit with Jesus but then questioned His care for her. One who lost focus of the Good Part, Christ Himself.


I love, love, love my times alone reading God's Word, but often as soon as my Bible snaps shut, I become distracted. Yes, I know He is with me all the time, but I don't live like He is with me all the time. I am like Martha who invited Him into her home but then was too busy to enjoy Him...to hear Him...to be with Him. I allow my focus to be diverted too easily...and too often on things that really don't matter (except in my little mind!). This doesn't mean I stop doing housework and sit in the middle of my living room floor all day (although on days that would be nice!), but instead to be more mindful of His Presence with me...even in the mundane and in the busywork.

What about you? Are you more like Mary or Martha? Do you find it easy to sit at His feet even in the midst of a busy day? Or do you lose focus and become distracted with much serving? Feel free to share!!!


another sidenote: At lunch I was reading to M about King Saul and how he became prideful and no longer loved God. M started making funny squeals, and I looked up to see him pointing at himself. I asked, "What?...Do you love God?" He nodded with exaggeration and then picked up another cracker to stuff in his mouth. Rationally I question a toddler understanding any of this, but with M you just never know.

Christmas Songs

The wonderful Fernando Ortega has a new CD entitled Christmas Songs. I watched his video about the making of the CD, and his hope for the music was to draw people back to the the lyrics of some oh-so-familiar tunes...to highlight the words proclaiming and celebrating the birth of our Savior and Lord. To listen to a few songs, go HERE. There is a also a button (as shown below) to download a song for free.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

laughter!

not sure what i said to get this reaction, but it was a good one!




Hope your day is filled with laughter!

Friday, December 5, 2008

RE-DO!

I Wednesday I had the privilege of photographing the ADORABLE M kids. We were outside on a warm, sunny day...the conditions were perfect...the kids couldn't be cuter...I had reviewed my teacher's lesson on photographing outside in the light...and I STILL FLUBBED UP. If I had taken the photos a few months ago, I would have been very happy with them. But now...I notice the shadows on the faces, the overexposed backgrounds from shooting toward a lighter background, the lack of good composition, and on and on.

And I just want to scream, "RE-DO! I want a RE-DO!"

But here are a few of the shots anyway because the kids' precious faces are going to make you smile!!!


edited2add: I must have been in a state of chocolate sedation when I wrote this because I meant to say "Do-over! I want a do-over!" Not a RE-DO!!!! Re-Do??????? What was I thinking?????

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

the polls are closed!

Thanks for voting in my very important polls!

I have to say that I got a little queasy when I saw that SIXTY-TWO percent of responders keep their opened, refrigerated items until the expiration date! I am so freaked out by rotten food that I throw things away like 2 weeks after opening them! One week for cottage cheese! Scott, on the other hand, would keep items waaaaaay past the expiration date if he could.

The shower question was brought up by my cousin, and I figured this would be a great place to test her hypothesis! She was right! More than half of the voters said that the male in their marriage faces the showerhead while the female faces away! Isn't that interesting???? Or am I the only one intrigued by random information like that?

BTW, for all of you who said that BAKED CHEETOS were as good or better than the regular kind, I have one question. ARE YOU DRUNK????? It is like comparing a year-old Halloween Baby Ruth to the Great Wall of Chocolate from PF CHANGS! No comparison.

Since we had such a great turn-out at the polls, I have another question....coming soon!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tish's Top Model

My friend and personal artist (grin), Kim, agreed to give up her Saturday painting time to let me practice photography on her. She was game for anything I suggested, she held still (unlike M) and actually smiled (unlike Scott), so she has stolen the spot as my favorite model!

This is my very favorite shot of the day because I think she looks so beautiful and this photo is straight out of the camera...so no retouching! She is just that gorgeous!

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For my online class we are practicing post processing in Lightroom, a great but intimidating tool, so I gave some of the other shots some heavy Lightroom lovin'. Thankfully, since Kim is an artist, she's not scared of a little SHA-ZAAAM!

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This is from M's Jesus Storybook Bible, a paraphrase of John 1:12-13:

For anyone who says yes to Jesus
For anyone who believes what Jesus said
For anyone who will just reach out to take it
Then God will give them this wonderful gift:

To be born into a whole new Life
To be who they really are
Who God always made them to be -
Their own true selves -
God's dear Child.


And this is from me: Today, if I could just reach through my computer screen, take your precious face in my hands, I would look into your eyes and tell you, "God is crazy in love with you...let Him love you."

M at 22 months!

M turned 22 months on Thanksgiving, so I wanted to post a "keepsake" update about him.
- He has suddenly become more affectionate and playful...more free with the kisses!
- He continues to do really well with his letters, numbers, colors, shapes, opposites, superlatives, following directions, etc.
- His favorite friend is Elmo.
- His favorite activity is helping daddy make hot tea.
- He has become more talkative and, although he doesn't say a ton of words, he does put them together well, such as "help dad hot tea." When he wants to tell you something and knows he can't (this usually involves food), he looks at you like he is hoping that he can speak through his eyes!
- He eats. A LOT. For ex, the other morning it was two Eggo waffles and a whole banana. He often asks for more even when I give him a full plate the first time.
- He has started attending Little Gym and loves it! When he finishes an activity with his teacher, he does a little happy dance.
- Sleep. Still not great.
- Skin. The dry weather has brought out the worst of his eczema...so I am trying a new product that I found at the pharmacy.
- Teeth. Has some in front and some in back...just waiting for those in-betweeners.
- He is doing fairly well at taking off his own shirt...needs help to get going.
- He just finished his first week with a Helping Chart (read "chores")...and he did a great job! His payment was 25 cents and a sucker. I paid in 2 dimes and a nickel so we could start teaching about tithing.
- He does little things that surprise me as a 1st time mama. For ex, he wanted something so I said I would get it when I was finished picking up the folded laundry. Rather than just waiting for me to finish or standing there whining, he actually helped me (on his own initiative) to put the clothes in the basket.

I was pretty amazed when he could "read" words like Bob and Wow, but the other day I tried spelling some words for him verbally, and he was able to say the word. So I tried to recreate on video:
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Because many of M's photos show his more serious side, I thought I'd share his goofy side:
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving UPdate

WOW! Thanksgiving came and went in a big hurry, didn't it? Hope yours was a blessed one!

Our attempt at making my mom's dressing turned out not-so-great. Let's just say she didn't really give specific directions, and it was more fun making it than eating it! Since we were already in the kitchen I decided to try a new concoction: butterscotch chex mix. I got this idea because Smooch's friend had made these over-the-top butterscotch rice krispie treats with chocolate icing....ooooh...the kind of treat that, upon the first bite, you hear yourself exclaim, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!" Well, b-chips don't really melt the same way c-chips do so, disappointed, I left the mixing bowl on the counter...spoon still stuck in it...and I think Scott ate it down, down, down to China town.

Took M on Wed to see Santa. To prep him before we left the house, I walked him over to our tree where we have a small ornament with last year's photo. I looked at the photo...looked at M....and realized I had bought him almost the exact same holiday outfit as last year!!! Someone please help me out of this fashion box that I'm stuck in! So his photos look almost the same...only he's bigger.

We left Santa (BTW, M did not smile AT ALL...which made Santa's elves a little grumpy) and when we got to our car I realized I had left my camera at Santa's workshop! PANIC! It's difficult to run through the mall (in wedge heels!) holding a child half your size without looking panicked! The grumpiest of the elves handed it to me with a knowing look when I breathlessly arrived back at the sell-your-kidney-for-a-Santa-photo counter.

Relieved, M and I headed to an outdoor shopping area for a little photoshoot. Despite taking off my lens cap to find that my lens protector had been shattered (perhaps some elfish payback for my laughter at their feeble attempts to make M smile?), I was determined to get in some good practice...and sweet M was very cooperative! Below are some of the photos. Sorry some are so small. I edited them in Lightroom (a new program I am trying for my class) and I don't know how to make them bigger without sacrificing quality....and my Flickr account is maxed out for free uploads for this month!









happy thanksgiving!

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 136:1



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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

VIP (very important post)

OK, I need to know two things about you. Two very important things.

1. In the shower, do you primarily stand facing the shower head or facing away from it? Now which way does your spouse face? (If you are single, please vote but ask a member of the opposite sex which way he faces in order to keep the numbers even.)

2. Refrigerated items such as salsa, mayo, dressing, etc., have expiration dates on them. After they have been opened, do you keep them until their exp date? Or do you think that the exp date becomes null and void upon opening and therefore toss the item prior to that date? For example, if last week you bought some salad dressing and the exp date is, say, March 2010...if you open it for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, would you keep it until March 2010?



I have put two "polls" in my sidebar to the left for your voting convenience!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

post-o-rama!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you are feeling thankful as we head into this week of turkey-licious indulgence. One of the things I really wanted to learn from my mom before she passed was how to make dressing. No one makes it like my mom. The opportunity did not present itself, so I'm going to have to try it on my own. I have never (as in EVER) cooked a Thanksgiving meal before. Not even parts of the meal....well, at least not any important parts. In fact, Scott's side of the family asks yearly that I just bring salad...I think they figure I can't really mess up chopped vegetables.

M and I went to the store the other day and, as we were walking down the main aisle, he spotted the lingerie section. Now M has only seen my bras a handful of times...and they are not a topic of regular discussion...but boy did he know how to shout "BRA, BRA, MOM, BRA, MOM, BRA, BRA!" at the top of his lungs while leaning almost completely out of the cart to point at the displays. Good, good times these are.

Onto a completely different subject...you know those balance scales? The ones that have the two weighing trays? Here's my thought...at the end of the day, if you put your sins from the day on one side and your confessions of those sins on the other, would they balance? I don't mean this in a legalistic sense but in the idea that confession of our sins to God is good for our relationship with Him.

If you have accepted the forgiveness of Jesus for your sins, then your sins are forgiven.

FOR.GIV.EN. Period. Finished. The end.

However, sanctification is a process...and, as frustrating as it is, we do still sin. You may recall in John 13 when Jesus washed His disciples' feet. Peter said "wash my hands and head, too" but Jesus declined by stating, "He who is bathed needs only to wash [his] feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean..."

Through our faith in Christ, we are clean in the sense that we are forgiven and reconciled to God...and yet living in this world our feet do get dirty. One of M's Bibles shows a guy stepping in chicken poop in illustration for this story. Yep, there are days that my feet get pretty covered with the chicken poop of gossip, pride, selfishness, and idolatry (including BLOGGING!). And they need...I need...to be washed clean.

Think about when you have been wronged by someone you love and how genuine repentance and remorse by that person brings healing and growth to the relationship. Without repentance and remorse, the relationship will suffer. Perhaps, in shame, that person will begin to avoid you, possibly even cutting all ties with you. The same can happen with God and us. Whether or not we realize it, our sins can begin to weigh heavy upon our shoulders and the guilt causes us to stop seeking after God. Intimacy is broken. Additionally, our confessions basically say that we stand in agreement with what God says in sinful and, therefore, harmful to us. We line up our thinking with His. We submit to His truth.

Can't think of any sins to confess? Ask God to show you! Job inquired, "How many [are] my iniquities and sins? Make me know my transgression and my sin." Then you can pray Psalm 51 as a prayer requesting forgiveness.

Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear." I do believe this is true and that we need to be mindful of this verse. But if today you are holding onto the guilt and shame of sin and it's keeping you from sweet fellowship with God, allow these verses to hug your heart:

Psalm 86:5 For You, Lord, [are] good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


I edited this w/out sound (my computer is on strike) so I have no clue if I cut off anything cute...
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edited2add: Rebecca's Mark is home from Iraq and has shared a wonderfully encouraging post HERE!

Friday, November 21, 2008

New blog!

My precious friend, Kari, has a new blog called At Home Ministries.

I actually had a "date" with her last night, and it was like cool water to a thirsty soul. Kari is real and unpretentious...and she genuinely seeks to glorify God in all she does.

I encourage you to check out her new blog!

ONE DAY LEFT...

to help precious Owen come home!!!! Check out the To China for Owen Fundraiser. Entries will be accepted up till 11:59pm today, Friday, November 21.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

in the fire

I've received many emails, comments, phone calls, and cards sharing your sympathy in my mom's passing, so I wanted to post how I've been doing...and what God's been doing.

You may know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego from the book of Daniel. These three God-lovin' guys refused to worship the golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar, so the King ordered them to be bound and thrown into the fiery furnace. In a fit of rage, Nebuchadnezzar demanded the furnace to be heated 7 times hotter than normal.

I'm a cold-booded girl and love the heat. Before my sweaty M came home, I used to drive with my heat on full blast and never turn it down until I arrived at my destination. Nevermind that my eyeballs would dry out and my fingertips catch on fire. I loved the almost-oppressive feel of the heat surrounding me. When I think of heat in terms of the trials in life, however, I'd prefer the thermostat to be set much lower. You know, cool and comfortable...like San Diego weather.

Sometimes we have little control over the things that heat up our lives...unforeseen financial troubles, debilitating illnesses, unfaithful spouses, untimely deaths of loved ones. They simply engulf us like vicious flames and leave us gasping for air...and just when we think we can't take any more, the heat is turned up like Nebuchadnezzar's furnace.

"I have a tumor in my lung."

I feel the heat.

"The cancer has spread to my brain."

Hotter.

"He told me to go home and prepare for hospice."

Hotter.

"Tish, she's gone."

How much hotter, Lord?

Back to the book of Daniel...the three men were thrown into the fiery furnace but, when the King looked inside it, he saw not three but four figures! The consensus of most Bible scholars is that the fourth figure was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Jesus was there in the fire with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. Yes, God allowed them to go through the fire, but He did not allow them to go through it alone.

I have read Philippians 4:7 many times and wondered about this peace which "surpasses all understanding." I know that this side of Heaven I'll never be able to comprehend the ways of an infinite God; however, I do know that He has been covering me in a peace that I have never felt before. During the week following my mother's death I found myself repeatedly asking Him, "Is this what your peace which surpasses understanding feels like?" This doesn't mean that there hasn't been (and will continue to be) grief...the deep grief of loss that mercilessly entangles itself around your heart and brings that heavy sense of ache. Yes, the grief has been present, but it has been overshadowed by His steady and faithful outpouring of peace.

I believe, in my case, this peace has come through the power of His Word and its unshakeable truth. Before I knew God, I would say something like "Oh, he/she is in a better place now" when someone passed away. I didn't know what I meant by that statement or that I even believed it. Just exactly where was that place and why was it better? It simply sounded like the right thing to say. Now, however, I lean on His words and the truths that they convey.

I know with confidence that
My mother was reconciled to God through her faith in Jesus.
Because of that, she is now in heaven with Jesus.
Heaven is a FAR better place.
She is not mourning her death.
She may have wondered "why me?" while on this earth, but now she has clear understanding.
I will see her again.

And back to Daniel one more time...when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came out of the furnace, they were not charred, singed, or burned. In fact, they didn't even smell of smoke. The only thing that had been destroyed by the fire? The ties that bound them. (Cool, huh?...but that's a whole other post by itself). Needless to say, King Nebuchadnezzar was astounded when he witnessed this. However, I love that the King did not say, "I will worship you, you flame-retardant fellows" or "All bow to the heat-resistant ones!"

No, he did not praise the men. Instead He praised the God of the men.

My God has been faithful. Jesus has not only walked through the fire with me, but He has carried me the entire way. Join me in praising Him!

This song has been my comfort food: ANCHOR OF MY SOUL
(Ooops, seems like this link isn't working. The song is by Telecast if you are interested in hearing it.)

And...because my mom would have shuddered at the thought of a post without photos....i'm still practicing, practicing, practicing...

Monday, November 17, 2008

all matthew

My baby does not say words like ball or baby or byebye. He says hot tea.

matthewcatchingball



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Thursday, November 13, 2008

please...

If you know of anyone who may be considering adoption, please forward this link to them. Christian World Adoption is part of the Hope Project, which aims at helping older children in China find their families. One thing I loved about this site was watching the videos of the kids. It is amazing to see their precious personalities!

some practice shots

trying to practice without using photoshop at all....

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

on a lighter note...honest weblog

Stefanie tagged me for the Honest Weblog. I'm not putting up the Honest Weblog icon because, honestly, I'm too lazy. I think these are the rules:

“When you receive the prize you must write a post showing it, together with the name of who has given it to you, and link them back. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in their content or design. Show their names and links and leave them a comment informing they were prized with ‘Honest Weblog’.
List [if you can and/or dare] at least ten honest things about yourself. And then, pass it on.”

I'm adding pics for some of the facts because Rebecca did, and I want to be like her when I grow up.

1. I HATE drawers. None of my clothes are in dresser drawers, and I don't even let Scott have them either. I prefer shelves...large open shelves where I can just throw, toss, stuff, and wad up my clothes as shown below. And this is the neatest of my shelves.

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2. I am CHEAP. Frugal, Tightwad, Penny Pincher...ah, music to my ears. I can talk myself out of buying anything...at least for myself...I actually love giving money away. Anyway, I have had this curling iron for OVER 10 YEARS. On top of that, I didn't even buy it! I got it for free at my aunt's yard sale. It looks disgusting, but it rocks my curls.
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3. I know nothing of organization. This is my drawer (which I HATE), and this is exactly why I HATE drawers. Yes, that is my calendar buried under the mess so now you can see why I miss everyone's birthdays and other important events. This honest fact is actually perplexing to me because I used to organize events for a living.
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4. I pretty much forbid knick-knacks and collectibles in my house. In my opinion, they only have one purpose in their little knick-knacky lives...collecting dust! These shells are my only "collection," and they are from our various trips to the beach...but as I moved the jar from its spot in my bathroom to take this photo, I saw a huge circle mark on the shelf where I haven't dusted!!! ARGH, see what I mean?
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5. I'm addicted to the baby monitor. It is a love-hate relationship. The end.
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6. & 7. My toes are ALWAYS painted (my fingernails are NEVER painted). I have to keep them painted because, years ago, I attended a 70s Disco Party in some kickin' black boots and danced til...well, til the nail on my big toe was black & blue. Blaaaaaaack and bluuuuue. Now it just looks funky...way too funky to be all naked and exposed.
My tattoo is supposed to mean "loyal" or "faithful." For all I know it could mean "hippopotamus poop." I was inked while visiting Iowa for a conference when I worked in college admissions, and I really doubt that the dude had a clue about the Chinese writing system.
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8. I overpronate like a mad woman. Because I walk on the inside of my feet, I tend to fall out of my shoes if my feet aren't laced up, buckled up, velcroed up (OK, not velcro!) like a straight jacket. This seriously limits my cute shoe possibilities as even Old Navy flip flops can be mighty dangerous for me! I often look like I am tripping over my own feet. High heels are pretty much out for me, but I can do a "wedge" heel like below. Wedge heel. That sounds so orthopaedically sexy, huh?.
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9. Some of you may remember me mentioning what a difficult time I've been having shooting in manual because of the FOCUSING! I seriously could not focus to save my life. Well, I found out today from my teacher that I was switching the wrong button to manual! I was switching my lens button rather than my camera button!!!! WHEW! I might have known this sooner had I read my manual but, honestly, I can't even read and retain a STOP sign. I think I need some kind of herbal thingy that helps me improve my concentration. I would know just what that herbal thingy was if only I could get through an entire article about it.

10. I think my boy can read. We have a book called "Leon and Bob" that we read fairly frequently. Well, the other day I got out some Christmas books that had been packed away...one of which is "Bob the Reindeer." I said, "B...O...B...what does that spell?" And M replied, "Bob!"
Also, some of you have asked if M was glad to see me when I returned from IL. Well, I went in his room the morning after I arrived, he saw me...smiled...and then said, "Daddy." Pretty much he wouldn't let Scott get out of his sight that entire day. So...no, it wasn't the slo-mo running into each other's arms...smiling and laughing while we threw our heads back in glee. But he did smile at me.

Tag yourself if you want to. I'm late in posting mine so I am sure this is old news.