Friday, December 31, 2010

365: Something New!

Photo a day

My sister-in-law issued a challenge for a 365/photo-a-day blog for 2011.  The idea is to take at least a picture a day.  Ideally, one would also post them somewhere.  Eventually.  Maybe sooner than later.  And maybe peek in on others who are doing the same. I've accepted the challenge, and created a new somewhere.  It's here! I'm calling it my Photography Journey, and using it as a place to keep my photography resources, thoughts, and ideas.  I'll still be posting photos with stories here at The Journey.  Would anyone care to join us for this adventure?  You don't have to start a new blog, or get a flickr account up and running by January 1.  You just have to start taking pictures!

Star Search at the Capitol

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You know it's just like us to go searching for stars. We are like the paparazzi. OK, maybe not. But we heard there was this thing you could do at the State Capitol on the weekend, where they would give you some "art treasures" in the architecture to search for and you would put a gold star by each one. At the end if you get them all, you get the official state seal and the autograph of the architect. So we had to check it out.

We found a lot of cool stuff there. But THIS was my favorite!

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The rest were pretty cool too, though. Highly recommended if you are in my neighborhood!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I've been busy!

A few weeks ago I told you that I had earned some free cards by posting about Shutterfly. In fact, I had a total of 70 cards that I had earned, and that was more than I wanted to use for Christmas cards. So I made up some winter cards, and some anytime cards, and some special birthday cards. I also have my 2010 scrapbook done because I got a great deal, and had done most of the work on a book for the grandparents for Christmas. I took advantage of a special on multiple copies of our vacation book as well for my brother and nephews. I've been super happy with the results, and all the great deals for members. Plus, I appreciate that they are now giving some tangible encouragement to bloggers who love and share their products. Seriously. Get to know Shutterfly!

Classic Powder Blue 5x7 folded card
Unique party invitations and announcements by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

If the kids had their way... (which often they do)

Apparently it is now a tradition to go to the parade downtown at Christmas time each year. We didn't really mean for it to be. But according to Bethany, it is. Not according to Ben. He decided he didn't like freezing his back side off and stayed home. He's a big boy. He can pick and choose his traditions if he wants to.

Of course, it is also a tradition to ride the light rail, and to go to the Macy's display afterwards. Honestly. It's hard to argue with all of that cuteness.



Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Wrap-Up

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We added a new Advent tradition to our Christmas celebration this year. Before we decorated the tree, Bethany wanted us to leave 25 ornaments off and add one each day until Christmas. There should be a star at the top on Christmas, she thought. It reminded me of something a friend had told me about called the Jesse Tree.

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The Jesse Tree tells the story of redemption from the creation to the birth of Christ, demonstrating God's covenant relationship with Israel, his faithfulness to the covenant, and Israel's unfaithfulness and need of a Savior.

We found several great resources online, including a daily devotional and ornament patterns. There appeared to be some variations, but we used what worked for us. Our ornaments were very simple color, cut and paste, but there are some beautiful patterns for more elaborate ones. The devotional was fairly brief, and on days when the Bible reading was familiar, we let the kids choose whether to read it or to tell the story themselves. Each day included a discussion question that related the lesson to our own lives. Perfect for our kids' ages. Of course, there were a number of days we had to catch up for a missed day or two. Christmas time is like that. We are flexible!

Just in case you need something to stash away for next year, the links are here. And yes. There is a star at the top.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Blessings

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Oh holy child of Bethlehem
descend to us, we pray
cast out our sin and enter in
be born in us today.

We hear the Christmas angel
the great glad tidings tell
Oh come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Immanuel.


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Merry Christmas, from our home to yours!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Home for the Holidays


My creation

The past two years we have driven across the country to see our parents for Christmas. It's been warmer there, yes, and no snow shoveling. We have precious memories of our kids and their grandparents and other family members. I suspect we will do it again. But this year we are home, and it is extra special to decorate once again. The tree is up and the lights are up. The little village is bustling with activity. When the kids went to decorate the tree, they squealed over each of their ornaments like a long lost friend. I kid you not. And of course, it's snowing. It is good to be home for Christmas.

Updated: Now I am laughing because I noticed I already wrote about the kids squealing over their ornaments. I am a broken record. Truly I am. Just wait 'til I'm 80!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Digging deep for Jesus

Wow, do I ever have a lot of catching up to do over here. But I'm just trying to keep my priorities straight, ya know?

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We REALLY dig Jesus!

And since you made it this far, I'm offering three more pieces of Christmas randomness free of charge:

1. You really haven't lived until you've stood on a stage singing at your church Christmas musical while your kid makes a beeline for the door, followed closely by the kids choir leader, and watched through the windows as he bolts for the bathroom.

2. I get totally distracted if I'm listening to someone read the Christmas story and they say, "...she wrapped him in clothes...". It's CLOTHS. She wrapped him in cloths. NOT a onesie.

3. I cry every time I hear the Hallelujah chorus. Every. Single. Time.

"The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. And he shall reign forever and ever! Hallelujah!"

Monday, December 13, 2010

School is cool!!

During the fall trimester our kids have had some amazing opportunities to explore their creative sides at school. There has been a choir for a long time that goes through the winter months, but this year for the first time they put together a show called "Pirates: The Musical". Seriously, an elementary school musical production! The music teacher didn't know what to expect, but she thought she would give it a try. She was more than a little surprised when 96 kids signed up! It was way beyond what we could have imagined--so very cool! Bethany loved it!

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Ben would have made a great pirate, but he was too busy on the school's robotics team. He programmed up a storm to make the robot accomplish missions, which they took to competition last week. I can't tell you how great it was to see Ben competing with his brain instead of his body.

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The competition has a different theme each year, and this year's was biomedical engineering. Each of the robot's missions had something to do with a technological solution to a physiological problem. The team also had to do a presentation based on research of a specific medical challenge of their choosing. Ben's team did awesome, especially for a first-year team of fifth-graders. They also came home with the team spirit award. No big surprise! :-)

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When I quit teaching to stay home with my kids, there were several people who were surprised that I didn't choose to homeschool them. But I was a public school teacher, and we always knew that public school would be our first option for our kids, as long as it turned out to be a good fit. While we intentionally live within the boundaries of a good school district, we didn't choose our house by first hand-picking the school we wanted. We just bought the house we wanted, and went with our neighborhood school.

Our school has talented, articulate, committed teachers who go so far above and beyond to give our kids great opportunities that it truly humbles me. It grieves me when I hear people complain about "how terrible the public schools have gotten". Sure, there are tired out teachers, and some schools and districts that have gotten into trouble. Horror stories sell well in the news. And yes, everyone needs to know their children and choose the option that is the best fit for each of them. But I would love to give a tour to anyone who thinks that public schools on the whole are bad. They would stand in AWE.

I thank God for public school teachers all over our country who are doing a totally incredible job of pouring their hearts and lives into our kids, each and every day! They are shaping the foundation of our society's future. Pray for them!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Picture me festive!

Right now, I am in the throes of getting ready for Christmas.

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We've been out of town the past two Christmases, so we haven't decorated much since three years ago. This year we have gone all out. The other night when we decorated the tree, the kids oohed and ahhed over the ornaments like they were long lost friends. It was very sweet.

There is all kinds of stuff going on in our world. Good stuff. Much of it Christmas related. I hope I get to sit down and write and post pictures about it soon. Ben was so juiced after a busy day yesterday that at bedtime he requested time to write an ABC acrostic poem about his day. How could we say no to that? We have such fun kids.

This week at iheartfaces, the theme is self-portrait. My sweet friend and photographer extraordinaire Susan Keller is always challenging photography enthusiasts to get in the picture. I couldn't agree more. Stop over this week and check out the creative ways to include yourself in the photo. Better yet, DO IT, and enter your own!



I'm curious. What does "getting ready for Christmas" mean to you?