Friday, March 18, 2011

Video of the Week - Week 9 - Blessings

So I was driving down the road the other day and this new song called "Blessings" came on the radio by Laura Story.  I was so moved by the lyrics and beautiful simplicity of the song.  Then a friend posted this video about the story behind the song from Laura's own mouth.  She's pretty funny and very honest.  She talks about and has written a wonderful song about faith, grace, mercy and sanctification.  Here is the video about the story behind the song, and then the song itself.  I encourage you to listen and watch both!

And here is the song itself, in its entirety...

Project 365 Days 58-64

Day 58 - February 27

We've had more and more deer visiting our backyard to get some corn that we've left out for them.  I think it was this morning that there were SIX deer at one time in our backyard.  I was able to sneak out and use my zoom lens to get some great shots.  I liked how this little guy came up from behind the pool and poked his head over the ridge to see where that strange 'clicking' noise (from my camera) was coming from!

Day 59 - February 28

Ava went out to ride Tinkerbell for a bit and wanted to take her American Girl out since she got a new riding outfit for her for Christmas.  Tinkerbell is thinking, "Oh the things I put up with!"
Day 60 - March 1

It was Character Dress Up day at school (aka Halloween Costume Day with a book theme) and Ava went as Fancy Nancy from "Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy."  As you can imagine, there were MANY Fancy Nancy's at school but Ava's costume was well liked and she was runner up in the second grade (or the entire school, I'm not sure) for best costume.  The funny part is, we threw this costume together within a few minutes because these are Ava's regular dress up/play clothes.  In fact, I think if we let her, Ava would choose to dress like this everyday!

Day 61 - March 2

This week is really turning out to have an "Ava" theme but I wanted to show how Ava is now starting to trot Tinkerbell over raised ground poles.  She calls it "jumping" and I'm happy to let her "jump" this high for now ;-)  Her trainer has actually raised the cavalletti to the height shown on far right.  Ava is doing well, it's little Tinkerbell whose had to pick up the slack and start exerting herself by getting those little feet up that high!

Day 62 - March 3


This is possibly one of my most favorite pictures I've taken to date.  These longhorns graze in a pasture near our house and many times I've wanted to stop and take a picture but never had my camera handy.  Well today I did!  They are just so lovely, graceful looking and beautiful with their long horns.  These aren't even the most striking ones in the herd!  Anyway, there were three laying a row and when you passed by at the right angle it created this lovely effect of seeing all three sets of horns in row...I liked the picture before I started fooling with it...

But something about that "Soft and Faded" action in the first picture just makes it look a little old fashioned and vintage.  And like it's glowing.  And it makes me want to go out and buy some longhorns!  Here is another action (Sepia) that I really liked:


The only thing that bugs me about this picture is that there was a slick wire fence in between me and the cows and when I snapped the picture it created those blurred, horizontal lines you see.  If I had more patience, I'd see if I could photoshop these out somehow.  But I don't have the patience right now.  If I had been thinking, I would have gotten a little closer and shot through the fence!  But I didn't.  Last but not least, a "Seventies" action that I liked:


Day 63 - March 4

My weekly sunrise shot - loved how crisp and clear the moon was here...

Day 64 - March 5

Amelia's sweet friend, Reagan, had her 3rd birthday party on this day.  Aren't they cute together?  Would have been cuter if Amelia's pig tail wasn't covering up part of Reagan's face but still cute!  Amelia and Reagan have been talking nonstop about having a sleep over together!  We're trying to explain to them they are too young but they don't seem to think so!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Video of the Week - Week 8 - Ava's Choral Concert

Is that redundant to say "choral concert"?  I'm not sure but it's the best way I know to describe the concert the second grade gave at Ava's school.  Their music teacher worked hard to put together fun songs for the kids to sing.  I realize most of you will be bored by this (except for the grandparents and my Aunt Dorothy who is a music/choir teacher and director!) but if you suffer through the 4 or 5 minutes you will get to hear Ava's little solo near the end!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Project 365 Days 51-57

I have known about, but only recently tried, actions in Photoshop.  Wow!  I'm addicted.  Most of the actions I use do not make a drastic change to the photo but I'm starting to experiment with some of the more dramatic actions.  So, you might see some of those in some coming photos ;-)

Day 51 - February 20

The girls were given beautiful red envelopes to celebrate Chinese New Year from their grandparents' neighbors in California.  They were so decorative and festive I wanted to try and get a picture before the girls ripped them open.

Day 52 - February 21

Another beautiful sunset - I couldn't resist!

Day 53 - February 22

Ava's grade performed a wonderful choral concert.  This age is so great because the vast majority of the kids are very into singing (even the boys) and they sing with gusto!  Look at all those open, singing mouths!  Ava even had a solo and hopefully I'll get that uploaded for the video of the week!

Day 54 - February 23

Well for some reason, the day after Ava's performance, I set my camera down and didn't pick it up for several days!  So I'm filling from previous days...this shot was taken on February 1st, the day that terrible cold storm blew in with all the snow.  Prince was crowding Ruby as they ran into the other pasture so Ruby was giving him a good old warning kick to stay back!  I was playing around with actions (I think this is PW's Heartland) and kind of liked how it brought out the contrast in their coats and with the surroundings. Here's the original:

This one is pretty too (I like the light pinks and blues in the sky) but since the foreground was so bleak due to the snow, I didn't think the Heartland action took much away.  What do you think?  Which one do you prefer?

Day 55 - February 24

This was also taken several days (weeks?) ago but I sort of like the composition of Ava with the brush blurred, as she combs and subsequently braided Tinkerbell's tail before her lesson.

Day 56 - February 25

Again, not taken from February 25th, but a few weeks ago Jason took advantage of the warm afternoon to finish mowing the back pasture down so the new spring grass can come through easier.  Again, because everything was mostly brown and still dead then, I took out most of the color in the picture and just left it isolated on Jason.  I like how it focuses your eye...

Day 57 - February 26

Now we're back to 'real' time - on this day Ava and Amelia had drug some branches Jason had trimmed off some trees and brought them over to another tree to make a crude tee pee around it.  But more interesting and fun to Ava is catching bugs - an annual past time that she keeps up throughout spring and summer.  I think there were some poor ladybugs captured in her jar this time.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Great Awana Resource!

For those of you who have children in Awana, I just wanted to share a great resource I found for helping them learn their verses!  It is a website, Homeschool Creations, put together by a homeschooling Mom (obviously) who generously shares her resources for free!  She has made many different "printables" to go along with their homeschool studies AND Awana!  She has meticulously gone through each verse and section of the Cubbies and Sparks books and created printables for each and every verse! 

The printables for each verse include:

~ a full size verse sheet {8 1/2" x 11"}
~ a 4" x 6" verse card
~ verse sentence strips for children to cut apart and
put together in the correct order.

She had a great idea to store the 4" x 6" verse cards in a photo flip album so that her kids can review them over the course of the year.  This has been such a great idea!!  Amelia doesn't do the cut apart the verse, put it back together yet, but Ava loves it and it's another way for her to learn the verse without just doing repetition.  Both the girls like their photo flip books (bought at WalMart for $1) with the verses in them.  We keep these in the car or by the kitchen table for quick review.  The author states that
"we spend time each week learning through reciting the verses, putting together our verse 'puzzles', and matching words to sentence strips. We also hang a copy in a place where it is sure to be seen!"

These printables have made a big difference in how quickly the girls learn and retain their verses; not just because they are learning them in different ways, but I think also because there are pictures with each verse, which is another memory aid to learning their verses!

Here is a link to the Cubbies verses and the Sparks verses

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Heart Faces - Sun Flare

Being a newbie novice photographer (meaning really really new to trying to take decent pictures) this challenge was quite a challenge!!  I took this picture one evening right before the sun went down so the color of the sun was pretty intense.  Difficult to capture a good image!!  But, I'm trying anyway!  Here it is...

Despite what you think about the quality of the 'sun flare' photo, I think you'd agree I had the cutest model with the cutest expression on her sweet face!

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