I haven't had time to blog very much this month, so I took everything I sent to Ohlife.com for the first 15 days of November and created this Wordle. I think it sums up the past couple of weeks pretty well.
Since we're having hard frosts night after night now, Sophia was collecting all of the remaining tomatoes from their vines (so we won't have to cover the plants with sheets any longer). I love it when I can capture something real (not staged) for the weekly prompt.
What else is happening around here these days?
Sophia and Madeline's ringette evaluations ended last week and the season started on Saturday with two practices, two parent meetings, and two very different coaches. M's coach (her friend's dad) suggested attending one out-of-town tourney in Saskatoon, and S's coach is insisting on two out-of-province tourneys and at least one more in province. Egad.
Sophia prepared (with help from her parents) a good little report on the Red Baron -- in French. Thank goodness for Google Translate.
Sophia is enjoying Pippi Longstocking. She was really struggling to find something she wanted to read after finishing Harry Potter several weeks ago, so Neil went looking for something in our basement a couple days ago, and emerged with a yellowed, musty-smelling Pippi Longstocking book (it was mine) -- with a pellet lodged in the pages! Rob?
Sophia is into making eggs with the microwave egg cooker she received at school. Always with cheddar cheese mixed in and sometimes ham, too. Great snack!
Madeline has been whipping up some excellent fruit smoothies. I love that the girls are interested in making food for themselves. (Too bad they're not so keen on the clean up.)
The girls have been playing on the iPad: Fruit Ninja, Zombie Farm, Zombie Life, Pac-Man, Angry Birds, My Horse, Cut the Rope, Pictureka, StickWars, Yummy Burger, RacePenguin, Boggle, GarageBand, Drawing Pad, My Sketch, WEcam, and WaterMyPhoto. (Neil also plays Boggle and Angry Birds.)
Sophia and I played a game of Scrabble on the iPad that stretched over several different times and places (at the rink, for example), and Madeline and I have played Boggle together several times. I LOVE that we're playing word games together!
Georgia and Madeline insisted that I make a "snuggle calendar" so we could be sure whose turn it was to snuggle with me at bedtime. :)
Georgia is enjoying kindergarten. She says her favourite part is recess.
I completed the Blurb books I wanted to get done (January to August 2011), which is mostly what kept me from blogging over the past week. I can't believe how much I blogged the first eight months of this year.
Neil and I have both read and watched all of the lessons for The Art of Composition. I especially loved the week 3 video lesson. I really wish we still had good light in the evening; I need to take pictures!
I haven't done a single thing about Halloween! The girls decorated last weekend, but we need to do something about costumes, don't we? Eek.
P.S. Neil called Delta about our kitchen faucet on Friday morning, and on Monday, we received a new hose in the mail, completely free. He installed it that day and there's no more leaking. We've had a bucket under the sink for months! Why do we wait so long?
P.P.S. Also in the past couple of weeks, the girls had some appointments. On Oct 7, Neil took all three to have their eyes checked. They all have good vision and healthy eyes. On Oct 14, I took Sophia to her orthodontist. We were very happy to hear she won't be starting treatment any time soon. He feels he can correct everything with braces after she has grown some more. She'll have another checkup in one year. Sophia learned that she has lost all of her baby teeth. The last one just came out 3 or 4 days before her appointment.
It's a bit awkward to take photos with an iPad, but I love how easy it is to share photos with Instagram. I will share them on Facebook and Twitter mostly. To share them here, I used Instaport to download the photos to my computer.
I just noticed that these five pictures, presented in the order I took them, are almost a rainbow of colour. It was totally unintentional!
I've already been to the dentist this morning. I can only eat soft cold foods for the rest of the day, which is a bummer because we're going to Fuddruckers for dinner. (I'll have to have a milk shake or something like that.) And no hot coffee all day today! :( I'm thankful I had a full cup before I went to the dentist. You can bet I'll be looking for iced coffee later.
I found this prompt a little more difficult than I thought I would, but I like how this picture of echinacea turned out. The blue tones in the background were a pleasant surprise when I looked at the picture on my computer; I don't even know how that happened! The next photo is the top of a corn stalk. The third one I shot pretty tight, but cropped it even further on the computer.
I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted. Where has the past week gone? It sure went fast, anyway. Let's see:
ringette camp. Ended on Thursday. It was my birthday and Madeline had dance after ringette, so we ate supper quickly at home and then went to DQ for treats before camp.
work work. We're in a major crunch time, so I don't have time to blog (or anything else) over my lunch break like I used to. And I worked Friday, so my weekend was shorter than usual.
BSS work. I prepared the next two weeks of content, and made a big decision (more on that later), and started making those changes (it's now free if you're interested!).
Rider game. Not for me, but for the whole rest of my family. It was the first time Neil was able to take all three girls to the game. Too bad it was so terrible! "Not even one high five."
Aunt Bev. Saturday afternoon, I visited my aunt who's recovering from surgery. It was a nice coincidence that my mom was there at the same time.
iPad 2. I bought an iPad on Saturday (using an interest- free personal technology loan from work) and spent some time loading apps, etc. LOVE! Especially instagram!
yard work. I worked in the back yard on Sunday for three hours and it was very hot out (30C ish). It looks so much better now. :)
Now, I'm off to work... and looking forward to Georgia's kindergarten welcome program/liturgy tomorrow morning, The Art of Composition starting tomorrow, and Crop & Create Saskatoon this weekend. Very fun stuff! (Less fun: packing and a dental appointment for me between now and then.)
I was presented with this symmetrical scene as we waited for the Riverhurst Ferry to cross Lake Diefenbaker (SK, Canada) on Sunday. We really enjoyed our time at my aunt and uncle's farm this weekend! It was a quick trip, but I'm very glad we went. I'll post more details and photos later. For now, I just want to mention some odds and ends.
Fact Computers This morning, my iMac computer at home was malfunctioning. The screen was black, but I could hear the normal incoming email sounds and the time machine backup was running. When the drive stopped running, I powered off the computer and then on again, but there was no change. We thought it might be the screen or video card which we've seen as a problem with a different computer. I was getting rather concerned as I have many things I need to do on my computer right now! Neil took the iMac to Fact Computers this morning and they found nothing wrong with the screen or the computer itself! Phew! The technician said it just needed to be unplugged for about five minutes. I've never had this happen before but I'm immensely relieved it was nothing major. And Fact Computers are so awesome! No charge for the checkup. :)
Ringette equipment Yesterday, Georgia had a playdate all afternoon with her friend, Dex. Meanwhile, Neil and the older girls were busy getting geared up for ringette, filling in the gaps of what we don't already have. They shopped around and got some good deals, but it was still an expensive day. They are working on this today, as well. Neil just called to tell me he got $280 skates for $50 at Sportchek for Sophia. Sophia and Madeline start ringette conditioning camp on the 29th, which is also the first day of school. The camp is three nights a week for four weeks, so we're going to have busy evenings right off the bat. There's no easing into it this year.
New job! School and ringette aren't the only things starting on August 29th. I'm starting a new job that day! It's at the same company, but in a different department. It will be my first time outside of Marketing in 17 years. I'm going to CS Operations as an editor of public support content. I'm very excited about the job as it sounds like work that will suit me well, but I learned this morning that I have to move to an office on Longman Crescent! That's way, way up in the industrial area -- and the opposite end of the city from where I live. This does not suit me at all as I really enjoy taking the bus downtown in the mornings and getting a ride home with my sister-in-law 2-3 times a week. Oh well; I still would have wanted the job even if I had known about this.
Georgia planted this grass from seed in preschool on April 1st when I was parent helper. I love that it, along with some parsley and mint, are adding a splash of fresh green colour in front of our kitchen window. Now it seems a little more spring-like both inside and out! I suppose I should have cleaned up those dead plants before snapping this photo, but I took it on impulse, and this is more like spring anyway. :)
It was nice and sunny out this weekend and the temp reached 13C today. Yay! The snow is disappearing very quickly now. The sidewalks were mostly clear on the weekend, so the girls got their bikes out. Above zero temps around the clock also means our basement is getting some water again (we had a reprieve from this thanks to a 10-day cold snap in late March and then freezing temps every night for another week or so). At least we're aware of it and Neil is using the shop vac to suck up the water periodically. Plus, the dehumidifier and fan are running constantly. We'll have to try to repair the trouble spot as soon as everything is dry. Neil has also begun the annual pumping water out of the yard (to the back alley).
On Thursday evening, I made blue and yellow cupcakes (school colours) for Friday's hot lunch day at school. I had never tinted cake batter before, but I think they turned out pretty well. I used Wilton gel food colouring which Neil picked up at Bulk Barn. This is much more work than I normally do for the hot lunch day baking. My standard contribution is Rice Krispies squares, which I still think is perfectly acceptable!
On Friday evening, the girls had a brief K4J gathering and then we all went to the Stations of the Cross event and mass. This was our third year contributing posters for Stations of the Cross. The past two years, each family made one large poster, and I helped with ours quite a bit by drawing the picture before the kids painted it. This year, each child was to make their own smaller poster (our girls were assigned III, IV, and V), and since I didn't have (or make) time to get them started sooner, they worked on their posters on Friday before and after school. I was impressed with their drawings!
Saturday was almost completely free, so we did a bunch of housework. I did some extra cleaning in the kitchen such as the inside of the microwave, around the dishwasher door, cupboard doors, etc. Long overdue! I wish I could get around to these things more frequently, but I don't see this changing any time soon. Otherwise, I took Sophia to her piano lesson at 5:00 p.m. (rescheduled) and Neil made a fantastic supper of bison tenderloin steak with garlic butter (seriously delicious and decadent!), oven-roasted asparagus, and a grill-roasted potatoes, carrots, and onions. He also made avocado ice cream (Alton Brown's recipe). He and I liked it, while the kids were not impressed. Luckily, we had Saskatoon Berry Sorbet (from Safeway) for them.
On Sunday afternoon, we all went to Sophia's ringette windup: bowling and pizza at Glencairn Bolodrome and Stats (above the bowling alley). It was a lot of fun! All of the team families are great, and it was nice to see them again. (Madeline is in the photo. The younger siblings bowled with bumper rails.) After supper, one of the coaches spoke thoughtfully about each player and her ringette skill development through the season. It was very nice. Also, each player received a necklace with her number on it. As we were leaving, Sophia said, "I think we should have wind-ups throughout the year!" :) Afterward, we went over to L&B's to visit Donna & Lou. We had cake from Coldstone Creamery (half cake and half ice cream) and watched Canada win the final (defeating Scotland) in the Men's World Curling Championship (held in Regina this year).
Also, we have been using My Job Chart for the past few days and are having some success with it. The girls are pretty eager to log in and put check marks next to their tasks. We have promised them a trip to the Milky Way for ice cream after they all accumulate two-weeks worth of points. It's going to take them longer than two weeks, but they are definitely doing much more than before! My Job Chart is pretty cool. If you have children and would like to encourage them to do chores, practice music, brush teeth, or anything else, I encourage you to check it out. I'm quite happy with it so far.
My blog is seven years old today! It all started on 04/04/04. (I wasn't aware of the coolness of that date at the time.) When I was trying to think of something to write to acknowledge this milestone, it occurred to me that my blog has been around longer than a bunch of great things:
My youngest daughter, Georgia - almost two years younger than my blog. I'm so glad I recorded my pregnancy and her babyhood on this blog!
Digital photography (for me) - of course digital cameras were available seven years ago, but I didn't have one until four months after I started this blog.
Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media sites - I had to check the history on this: "thefacebook" was born two months before my blog, but Facebook wasn't available to everyone until 2006.
Wow. My life would not be the same without these things -- or my blog! It's been a great seven years. :)
Be sure to check back tomorrow as I'll have details about my very first giveaway!
P.S. Look! Spring may actually arrive this weekend.
As I mentioned on March 21, I've been printing my TypePad blog in Blurb books using their BookSmart software. This software can quickly "slurp" blog posts into it, and it allows you to easily get photos from your computer if you need a higher resolution than what you had on your blog. Since I've made many books from blog posts using this software, I've become quite familiar with the process. I'm sure I could write for hours about it, but I'm just going to cover my biggest tips and then you can ask me questions if you have any. Also, I'm talking about TypePad here because that's my only experience, but some of these tips may apply to Blogger, as well.
Tip #1: Look for missing text. Always have your blog open to the post you're working on and compare it to the text that was slurped into BookSmart. Unless something has changed recently, [edit: I just checked and this is still the case] there is almost always a problem with missing text before links, bold text, italics, and sometimes with bullet points. (Plus, bulleted lists always need to be hand-formatted because the line breaks disappear.) Here's a screen shot I took the last time I was making a book that shows exactly what I mean by missing text and having your blog open to compare. Click on the image to enlarge and take a closer look.
Tip #2: Create a style guide. If you're going to be making more than one book from your blog and you want them to be consistent, then take some time during your first book creation to document the style decisions you're making. Feel free to look at my style guide: Download ATK-books.pdf (52.4K). This document has been a life saver for me because it's often many months between making books and I don't remember the details. You'll see that my books are not fancy! There is so much more you could do, but these are the decisions I made with my first book, and I'm sticking with them. It helps me finish faster. And I really like consistency.
Here are a few images of what my books look like on the outside and inside. Please note: this is nowhere near the number of different page layouts available or even what I use in my books. For posts with photos, I always choose a page layout based on the number and orientation of the photos, and that varies greatly. For posts without photos, I always choose a two-column layout, but there are other options.
Tip #3: Decide on comments and URLs. Decide up front whether or not you want to include comments. BookSmart does not slurp comments from TypePad blogs (I don't know about other platforms), so I copy and paste all comments into my books. It's very tedious work, but I like having them saved. Also, decide if you want to include link URLs (BookSmart gives you the option for this). I started doing that and so I continue, but sometimes I wish I hadn't. And sometimes I just delete them if I need more space, or if they're a long string of characters that no one would ever type into a browser.
Tip #4: Set your headers at the end. If you set your right and left header text at some point during your book creation and then move, add, or delete any pages, your headers will get mixed up. It's best to set them at the end (and check them before uploading your book to Blurb).
Tip #5: Decide on your standard time period. When I started making these books in 2007, I was at the peak of my blogging frequency. I decided four months (about 120 pages) was enough for each book (plus it took many hours to complete those and I just wanted to get them printed already!). I have continued with the four-month span for all of my books, but in hindsight, I wish I had gone with six months or even a year. I've had a few four-month periods in which I didn't blog as often, resulting in less than 80 pages. For those, I added blank pages at the end so I could have text on the spine. It's going to depend on how often you blog, how long your posts are typically, and how big you want your books to be. Also, each time you start a book, BookSmart will slurp your entire blog. You can't preselect the time period. What I do then is deselect all posts (with one click) and then go through and select the posts during the period for which I'm making the book.
Well, I hope that helps in some way! Feel free to ask any questions! I'll leave you with a look at all of my book covers so far (I took screenshots inside my Blurb account and then compiled them into this image). I wish I had put an image on the cover of the very first book I made. Live and learn!
A snow fence a few blocks from our house. It was snowing when I took this picture yesterday. For the end of March, it's still ridiculously wintery in my area!
Just a few things we did recently...
Friday evening, Georgia went to Laurel and Bronwyn's for a sleepover. She was so excited that it was her turn to go. Over the past five weeks, L&B have had each one of our girls over for a sleepover separately. They really enjoyed it!
On Saturday afternoon, we went to Bronwyn's bronze medal ringette game at the Coop. Her team didn't win, but they received medals for 4th place. B's team did extremely well to get 4th place because they ended the season at 7th out of eight teams and then played the 2nd place team for the bronze. We took one of Bronwyn's friends to the game as well (because she lives very close to us), and her little sister came along to play with Georgia. They had a lot of fun during the game. Also, Sophia's friend Meghan came to the rink to watch her older sister play a bronze medal ringette game (after B's game), so Sophia stayed with Meghan while we went home. It's great having friends to hang out with at the rink. :)
On Sunday afternoon, after we got some chores done at home, we went to London Drugs to try the Kinect video game. We are in the process of deciding between a Wii and Kinect. The kids were originally quite set on getting a Wii, but we parents were leaning toward Kinect. Now that they've tried the Kinect, I think they're on board. It's very cool! And I love how physical it is. Certainly not like the video games of yesteryear, or the computer games that the girls currently play (probably too much). The girls were going to buy a Wii with their own money, but I think we'll split it five ways if we get a Kinect.
Do you ever leave your phone at home? It's such a bummer when you realize you don't have it, isn't it!? This is where my phone sat while I was at work all day today. I was SO tempted to call Neil and ask him to bring it to me, but I didn't -- and I survived! I've only had a smartphone for about 15 months, but I think it's safe to say I'm hooked. (And my phone doesn't even have a camera! Just wait 'til I get one of those.)
I hit this photo with a double shot of the Pioneer Woman Lovely and Ethereal action in PSE. Much better!
Okay, this was my kind of day. Beautiful weather and nothing on the calendar! I did some work on the computer, in the house, and in the yard. I took Dash for a walk and took some photos. I worked on a scrapbook layout and sat with both Sophia and Madeline for piano practice. All three girls showered or bathed without complaint. We even ate outside on the patio (homemade tacos -- yum)! And to top it off, the girls were all asleep by 8:30 p.m. More of these days, please?!
That was my answer to the question "How did your day go?" when I received my daily email from OhLife.com yesterday. I have answered this question every day for 39 days now, and I have no plans to stop. I'm really enjoying this service.
"OhLife is a personal journal that you'll love to use." (I couldn't have said it better myself.) It's so simple. So quick and easy. I recommend it! One of the things I like about OhLife is that I can write anything and no one will see it but me -- unless I choose to share, of course. Not all of my days are fabulous from start to finish like yesterday! Some days are far from it. But I choose not to blog about negative things (most of the time, anyway) so it's kind of nice to have a little more reality recorded somewhere, just for me. And "little" is a key word here. I try to sum up my day in just a few short sentences, so it's not time consuming at all. Yesterday's entry was one of the longer ones. It was such a great day, I wanted to capture more details!
I offered to send some information about online photography classes to an acquaintance, so I have gathered the following links and decided to post them here for anyone else who's interested. There are many more online photography resources out there, of course, but here are some you may not find through a regular search (except Digital Photography School).
Picture Fall with Tracey Clark (BigPictureScrapbooking.com) Begins October 1. This month-long class/photo project is more about inspiration and creativity than the technical aspects of photography (though you can learn some of that by experimenting and paying attention to photo settings). I will be taking this class!
Get Great Photos with Any Camera with Elisha Snow (BigPictureScrapbooking.com) Begins October 28. This class is for anyone, no matter what kind of
camera you own.
Moving Into Manual Mode with Elisha Snow (BigPictureScrapbooking.com) This is for more advanced students as it's the third in a series. If this isn't for you, watch BPS for the first two classes (which I have taken) being offered again.
I was just checking the forums on Blurb.com because I had complained about numerous problems with the Typepad blog-to-book slurper, and I noticed a few posts re: Blogger. It looks like it will still work if you have Booksmart version 1.9.8 (or earlier) but will not work if you upgrade to 1.9.9, so if you still have an older version of Booksmart on your computer and you want to slurp blog posts from Blogger in the future, DO NOT overwrite it with a newer version of Booksmart. The old one is not available for download.
After we opened all of our gifts and got right into using many of them, I really wished I had had a plan for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. Any of the above would've been nice! I thought about the overnight "wife saver" egg brunch that Neil's mom usually prepares at Christmas time. I thought, I should've done that! But it was much too late for this year. So instead of something special, we just snacked on whatever we had on hand. At least we knew we'd be having a big meal for supper and had that to look forward to.
We just puttered around for most of the day. Sophia made numerous pieces of jewellery with her new Girl Crush Jewellery Designer. It's pretty neat. Madeline and Sophia registered their new Reindeer Webkinz and played online for awhile. Madeline and Georgia spent some time watching their new Dora DVD and riding on both Georgia's bouncy inchworm and Madeline's animated plush horse she promptly named Butterscotch (she really does not care that it isn't the Fur Real one). Georgia also enjoyed her new baby dolls and board books. Sophia was extremely frustrated with the game of Perfection because she couldn't get all the pieces in before it popped -- on her very first try. Maybe Perfection was not the right game for her! She hasn't played it since, so I'd like to try it with more people putting the pieces in at the same time and see how she likes that. Sophia and Neil also spent some time flying her remote control dragonfly. I'm sorry to say the antenna on the remote control part is already broken, but it seems to work anyway. Neil also built some structures with the Tinkertoys we purchased two years ago and finally gave the girls. I realize now that they're more for us to re-live our own childhood because the girls aren't very interested in them. Not yet anyway. Perhaps never. We'll see!
Since Neil's parents and Laurel and Bronwyn are all in Texas for Christmas, Laurel suggested we should try to video chat again. We had tried two years ago when they were in Toronto and could not get it to work (except one time and I have no idea how we did it). The problem is trying to video chat between a Mac and a PC. Mac to Mac is slick and easy and I'm sure it's the same for PC to PC, but ne'er to two shall meet... or something like that. Until now. Yesterday, I found some recent information on this subject and was happy to see that someone else did all the legwork of trying different applications until he found one that worked. So this is my Public Service Announcement for anyone who wants to video chat between Mac and PC: Skype actually works and it's free. We quickly got video chat going and had a little visit with Neil's family in Texas.
In the late afternoon, we headed over to Neil's aunt and uncle's house in Regina for Christmas dinner. It was great to see many of our relatives on Neil's mom's side that we haven't seen for awhile. Another wonderful Christmas celebration with family!
This is my book! It's called 9 states, 27 days, 8700 kms, and it's comprised of all my blog posts -- including all of your wonderful comments -- from our trip to Texas last year! It was such a great trip and I spent a lot of time recording all the details each and every day. I wanted to have a hard copy of all those words. The pages shown are from the day we left, December 6, 2006.
To do this, I used a service called Blurb. Blurb offers free software called Booksmart that can "slurp" blogs into book format. Isn't that cool? You can choose the elements you wish to include (text, photos, link URLs, and comments), do some of your own formatting if you like, and then order a hard or soft cover book! This one is soft cover and 60 pages. I arranged the book so each day of our trip had its own two-page spread and I only included the one photo I had posted on that day. (I have yet to do a photo album from that trip, but I still hope to do that someday. At least I have the journal now!). It cost me only $28.80 U.S. after a $7.00 discount on shipping because I had a coupon (I signed up last year and they send coupons once in awhile). I ordered my book on November 20 and it came yesterday.
This is awesome! You can have fun (and learn new words) playing a vocabulary game at FreeRice.com and for every correct answer you give, 10 grains of rice will be donated to the world's hungry through United Nations. It all adds up. How does it work? You can read about it here: Online game nets billionth grain of rice donation. For those who enjoy a little competition, my vocabulary level peaked at 38 today. I don't know if that's good or bad! What's your level?
Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart - Unknown
Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice. - Anton Chekhov
You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. - Wayne Gretzky
You are getting your wants confused with your needs. - Stacy Julian's dad
We are weaving character every day, and the way to weave the best character is to be kind and to be useful. Think right, act right; it is what we think and do that makes us who we are. - Elbert Hubbard
I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter. - Blaise Pascal
Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
- Cyril Connolly
To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of
to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
to leave the world a little better;
whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is the meaning of success.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson