Friday, April 30, 2010

Something Wicked This Way Came

When Durham decided to  build a performing arts center a couple of years ago we heard a rumor that Wicked would be one of the first season’s shows.  I was so excited—we’d given Cindy Lynn tickets to Wicked for Christmas in 2006, and it was so extraordinary I couldn’t wait to see it again. 

In a rare moment of “you only live once” we decided that we would take all of the kids this year.  We’ve prepped this week by reading the synopsis online (to eliminate questions during the event itself), listening to the cd, and playing “Name that Wicked tune” when in the car.

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Last night was THE night, and it was amazing.  The music was fantastic, the sets and costumes were beautiful, and the script was clever.  We laughed and laughed and in the end, cried. 

It was beautastic.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blog Editor Options

In the beginning I blogged with the old blogger editor. And it was annoying.

Don't get me wrong. I understood that it was really a miracle of technology that I could get a program to upload my pictures onto my blog at all. But it was annoying that only 5 could upload at a time, that they were uploaded to the top of my blog post,and were in the reverse order that I had uploaded them.

Sometimes I tried to fool the blog editor by listing my pictures backwards so that they were uploaded in order. But sometimes I wasn't up to that kind of mental challenge. And it was annoying.

Much to my happiness a few months ago Cindy Lynn told me that blogger had a new editor. (choose settings, scroll to the bottom of the page, and under "global settings" change to "updated editor.") The updated editor made uploading pictures so much easier. First, it lets you chose as many pictures as you want to upload. Instead of plopping the pictures right into your blog post, it keeps them in a little picture window. Then you can choose one of the pictures and insert it into your blog post. Wherever you want it to be! I was thrilled. No more cutting and pasting pictures from the top!

You can also click on the picture to select size and placement.

There are a couple of things I don't like quite as well about the updated editor. You can't upload videos, so you have to switch back to the old editor for that. You can't be typing your blog post while pictures are uploading, which is a little annoying. And if you save the blog post to work on later, the pictures that you haven't inserted from the picture window are gone. So if you're not going to finish, go ahead and insert those pictures. You can always move them or make them different sizes later--as long as they're already in the post!

A few weeks ago I was blog-surfing and stumbled across the blog of someone who lived in our ward several years ago. I was fascinated to see that her pictures had cool frames around them, and so I asked her how she did that. She emailed and told me that she blogged using Windows Live Writer, and that it had the frame option in the program.

It turned out that I already had Live Writer on my computer, but if you don't you can download it here.

There are several things that I really like about Live Writer. There are lots of options for your photos. You can add a drop shadow,

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a frame w/ drop shadow,

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and even an instant photo frame if you want.

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There are other options that I haven't used including rounded corners and black outlines. You also have a lot of control over what picture size your picture is. You can specify small, med, (which was big enough that I changed my blog width to accommodate the pics!) large, etc. But you can also specify by pixels so that you can have something between small and medium like I did with the pictures above. This also makes it easier have your pictures the same size. I like that.

You can also manipulate your photos quite a bit from within the program. You can rotate, change contrast, crop, tilt, and add a watermark. And I just this minute found another list of effects that you can add, including black & white, sepia, color pop, blur, and emboss.

If there's anything I don't like about Live Writer it's that you have to wait a few seconds while it uploads the picture into the program--but it will put it right where you want it, and it really doesn't take that long.

It does look like you can upload a video clip using Live Writer, but I haven't tried that yet.

Have fun blogging, and enjoy all of the new options!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

They’re Back!

Russ and Jason returned late last night from their week-long get-a-way in Puerto Rico. Here are some of the highlights on their trip. (all pictures taken by Jason, except of course the ones that Jason is in!)

First they took an 8 minute flight to the island of Vieques.
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In Vieques the streets were narrow
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and the beaches were beautiful.
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This Ceiba tree is 375 years old. Puerto Rico 066
and huge.Puerto Rico 068
Once they were back on the main island of Puerto Rico they went on a canopy zip-line tour,

went to church in the international ward,
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visited the rain forest,
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had a surfing lesson,
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and finished with a segway tour of Old San Juan.
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I think they made some memories they'll never forget. They came back well-bonded, sunburned, and not ready for the cooler temperatures we’re experiencing this week!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Few More Pics From Spring Break

I found a few more good pictures from Spring Break that I wanted to share.

First, our really cool kite that was almost as big as the kids.  It was dive-bombing a lot because it was so windy so this was the final solution on how to have fun flying it.

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Our other new kite is pretty cool too.  Costco had these kites before Christmas, and I felt pretty dumb buying them then.  But they’re awesome now!

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Next, how Rachel and Jenna responded when they realized that we were rowing straight towards an alligator.

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Here’s a picture of the car that the boys wished they were in instead of a mini-van.  (Sorry it’s not the greatest picture, but even the purse cam has it’s limits!)

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And last of all, an exit sign for you.  When I figured out how to pronounce this name, I just about laughed out loud…

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Movie Review: Hachi--a Dog's Story

Friday night I invited a group of women over to watch "Young Victoria" with me.  One of my friends needed to bring her kids and so I decided to pick up a movie for the kids to watch as well.  At the Red Box I just scanned the family movies, and picked one because it looked like it was about a dog and my kids love dogs.

One of the previews on the "Young Victoria" dvd was for "Hachi," and as I watched it I started to worry.  It looked like a tear jerker.  But Martha was sure her kids would be ok even if the movie was sad, and so I let them keep watching it.

Ninety minutes later my two girlies came downstairs with tear-streaked faces, needing hugs and wanting to tell me how good and how sad Hachi was.

Tonight we all watched it together while I cleaned up my room.  Well let me clarify that.  During parts of it I cleaned my room.  And during other parts I sat and hugged my kids and we all cried together.  Like babies.

This is such a sweet and tender movie about a man and his dog.  The story is actually true—it happened in Japan in the 1920's.  I won't tell you what happens, but I recommend it to anyone who has some kleenex available.  One of the reviews I read (after the fact) said that every single person in the theater who saw this movie was crying— even the men!

PS—there is some confusion as to what the movie is actually called.  Some places list it as Hachiko—a Dog's Story, and some as Hachi:a Dog's Tale.  Or vice versa....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Increasing the Odds

Tonight I’ve been going through lots and lots of pictures for a project I’m working on.  I found a folder of pictures I hadn’t looked through—pictures of birds I’d taken on the beach at Thanksgiving.  I was experimenting with the continuous shooting mode on my camera, hoping that if I shot enough pictures I’d end up with something great.  (This is usually my modus operandi!)

What I’ve just learned is that if you shoot enough pictures you’ll at least end up with something…interesting!

Check out this framing.

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And this one is almost an optical illusion.

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This one makes some kind of statement.  I’m just not sure what it is.

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  And these?  Well these are just lovely…
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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tender Mercies of the Purse Cam Kind

Last fall I would run errands while the little kids were at their art class.  Every week I would look across the Kohls parking lot towards the Witherspoon Rose Gardens, wondering if they would mind if I went and took a few pictures.  I never did though; there were always too many errands and I usually didn’t have a camera with me.

Yesterday, however, there was only a short errand, and thanks to the purse cam I almost always have a camera with me.

I decided to check it out.  And all I can say is Wow.  And Cool.  And I Will Most Definitely Be Going Back.
I parked near this lovely structure.  My aunt would call it a pergola, and indeed it might be a pergola.  Whatever it’s called, it was covered with climbing roses.

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They were even climbing into the tree up above the shelter/pergola/thing.  For some reason I just love these tiny yellow roses.

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The rest of the garden was just as serene and lovely.  There were several different arbors, and in the middle was a little pool.  And all around, rows and rows of roses.  Did you know that roses bloom in the spring?  I did not, but now I do.  Apparently roses really like the cool nights and warm days of spring, and something about the weather in the spring enhances the multi-colored roses.  And wow, do they have some amazing multi-colored roses!

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Needless to say, I had a terrific time.  After about an hour the low battery light on my camera started flashing.  I nursed it along for as long as I could, but eventually it shut off and wouldn’t start again.  I consoled myself with thoughts that I could come back again when more of the roses had bloomed, and headed to the fabric store.

I was sitting in the parking lot in front of the fabric store (which is near Kroger) talking on the phone to my sister when the strangest thing happened.

A car pulled into a spot near me, and a monk got out.  Really.  A MONK.  Not “Monk” in the tv show.  A man with a long brown robe on, with a hood hanging down the back and a rope belt and a fringey haircut.

My first thought was to grab the purse cam.  How often do you see a monk in Durham?  So I gave it a try.  But no, the “recharge your battery” message was all I got.

I sat and talked to my sister for a while longer.  When I saw the monk walking back to his car I told her how sad I was.  I really wanted a picture of that monk!  Without really hoping, I picked up the purse cam and turned it on again.

And it came on!

I was so excited.  I quickly snapped a couple of shots, hoping all the while that he wouldn’t turn and see the crazy lady in the convertible taking pictures of him.  He might have been embarrassed, and I certainly would have been!

So here you have it.  The picture I didn’t think I was going to get.  Isn't it a fun tender mercy that the camera turnd on?  Now you, too, can see the monk in the parking lot.  And if you know him, please don’t tell him that he’s on my blog!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

While the Cat's Away the Mice are Playing!

Well the convertible is just not that much fun in the rain…so we’ve had to figure out some other ways to occupy ourselves while Russ and Jason are living the Puerto Rican high life.

Yesterday the girls had a cake decorating class with a friend in the ward.

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We made a super yummy dessert last night—Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert.  I highly recommend it.  Or eating a jar full of hot fudge sauce, either one.

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At lunch today it was hard to decide…beautiful cake, or ice cream sandwich dessert…or a little of both?

We picked up Josh from driver’s ed this evening and went to Panera Bread for dinner. 

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After dinner we went back to Josh’s school to watch the talent show.  Our favorite acts were the teacher who did a numchuck demonstration, (is that a real word?  the spell checker suggestion is “upchuck”!) the girls who did a hula hoop routine, and the girls who sang a Justin Beiber song and sounded exactly like him!

It was bedtime when we got home, but of course there was time for a bit of dessert first.  Tomorrow we’re having a movie night and Saturday is the big day of service at church. 

I just hope Russ & Jason are having as much fun as we are!

Morning Sun

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The upside to having to drive Josh to school while Russ is gone…

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

His and Hers

I almost titled this post “Separate Lives,” but then I decided that might sound like something is wrong.  And nothing is wrong.  I have just noticed an interesting trend in our home this year.

His and Hers vacations.  Seriously.

In February Russ went to Utah for a long weekend to celebrate his parents’ 80th birthdays.

rays (do you see him there in the back right—right in front of his wonderful sister Marilyn?)

In March I spent a week in Idaho & Utah.

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A few weeks ago the kids & I had a spring break escape…without Russ.

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In August I’ll get to take Jason out to Utah for college—Russ won’t have enough vacation time to go.

And yesterday I took Russ & Jason to the airport, so that they could fly off for a week long Puerto Rican adventure.

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All I can say is, I’m going to spend the week working on my farmer’s tan!

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