Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fun with GIFs

I was going through my photos for today and noticed something fun. Getting these two shots was purely unintentional.

I still need to learn to use this camera to take low-light shots. I hate the way the flash changes the colors of low-light shots. So, I took these without the flash. But, then they end up too dark and I had to try to clean them up with Photoshop.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sleeping Beauties

Shayna asked for and received some beauty supplies for her birthday. Lip gloss, eye shadow, the works. Then, when visiting her room to kiss her goodnight, I find her wearing this.

Night Shades

Proceeding to Kayla's room, I find this:

Night Shades

Monday, January 29, 2007

I'm Movin' Out

I'm Movin' Out
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
After two years at The Red Door, we finally decided to pull the plug. The local retail business just isn't working for us. In 24 months, I think we had 2 months where we actually turned a profit. So, today was our last day at The Red Door.

We originally had the entire booth. We cut it back after the first year to see if we could make a profit with half the rent (and just the most popular items). That didn't work out either.

On to the next venture!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Mark Preaching

Mark Preaching
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Ironically, I went to the Vineyard today and Tywana stayed home. Mark was preaching and I wanted to go hear him. Tywana had had two late nights (Brownie sleepover at some church with Shayna on Friday) and the dinner at Pappadeaux's on Saturday.

The family went to Nexus with me after the Vineyard. Tywana's getting more comfortable with it. Gregg spoke on being accepting of all types of relationships (read homosexual). Tywana would have had a real problem with this message a few months ago. But, now, not so much.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Pappadeaux's Dinner with Nexus crew

Pappadeaux's Dinner with Nexus crew
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Today, we went to dinner with most of the Nexus church. There were 14 of us. We had a great time.

Better photography

Better photography
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Shayna had another great game. The team is getting better. They still need to learn spacing. But, that's a lot to ask of 1st-3rd graders.

Shayna's a maniac on defense. They're not allowed to steal. But, they do anyway. She kept taking the ball away from the other team and the ref would have to stop the game and give it back.

This week I took the auto settings off of the camera. I also cracked the manual a little. I set the ISO setting to as high as it would go (800) and changed the white balance to account for the fluorescent lights in the gym. When taking still shots, they turned out better without the flash (more natural color). But, when taking action shots, with no flash, the shutter speed was too slow and they just ended up blurred.

Friday, January 26, 2007

My Chair Mate

My Chair Mate
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Shayna loves to come into my office during the day and sit in my chair while I work. She'll rub my ears or read a book or play with her Tamagaotchi or just watch the screen while I work and jam to my iTunes party shuffle.

It's really funny because when she was a baby, she didn't like being held. But, now she's (as she says) "the snuggly one". I know it'll come to an end someday soon, so I'll enjoy it while I can. We can't both fit in this chair forever.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

My Little Geek

My Little Geek
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Kayla is becoming a little geek (just like me). She got an AOL account a couple of months ago and is trying to organize her friends. She's had a video camera for a little over a year now and loves taking videos with it.

Today she asked me about my 365 blog project. I think she's interested in doing her own blog. Her new video camera, while far superior in quality to her old one, doesn't take photos. So, we're going to let her have one of the old digital cameras.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Beautiful Sky

Beautiful Sky
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Got this just as the sun was about to go down.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Shayna and the Bee

Shayna and the Bee
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Today, Shayna participated in a spelling bee with the OHVA kids. I was so proud of her. She and Kayla are naturally shy (like I am). It was a really big deal for her to get up and speak in front of so many people.

Shayna went out in the second round. She misspelled shoe, a word she could probably spell backwards. Nerves got the best of her. First, she said S-H-O. Once she realized she forgot the E, she tried to go back and correct it and spelled it S-H-E. But, we could tell she was just flustered. In fact, when she came back down off stage, she said "Wow, I really got flustered." I could tell she was a little upset. But, she handled it really well. She did great since age-wise she's only in first grade and there were only 2 first graders in the 18 kids entered in the bee (they were 1-3 graders.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Back to School

Back to School
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Today was a pretty tough day. I hate Mondays. It's our busiest ship day of the week and it's trash day. I didn't leave the house today and was panicked about getting a picture and a blog entry in.

The girls went back to school after a long break. They told Ty and me tha t fancy clothes were appropriate after such a long break. Shayna ended up wearing that ski vest all day long- indoors and out.

They're so tired after a day at school. 1/2 day really. But, they love it.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Finally Some Snow!

Finally Some Snow!
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
The first real snow of the year and it's the third week of January. Church was canceled, so I took some time to catch up on journaling, organizing pictures and other stuff.

The girls hit the slopes (in the backyard) for hours. I didn't think they'd ever come in. They've been so looking forward to snow and we finally have a decent board for them.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

My Little B-Ball Player

My Little B-Ball Player
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
It's weird how we perceive things different from what actually happens. Especially when it happens to me. After all, I'm completely objective. Right? Wrong.

Yesterday, on the way home from Shayna's game, I was telling her good job, etc. But, I told her she needed to be more aggressive. Both our girls are so polite, sometimes to a fault. Shayna was letting the other girls on the team take all the shots, watching them rebound and just being more passive than I thought she should be.

Shayna told me "I had fun, Daddy. That's all that matters.", which pretty much put an end to the conversation. But, when I went back to look through the pix I had taken at the game, I saw this one where she is going up for a rebound. Why didn't I remember that?

Oh BTW, through this experience, I am learning, I am NOT a photographer. I had a heck of a time getting anything close to a decent shot at that gym yesterday. I've got a great new digital camera. So, I'm guessing the problem must be me. The gym is so dark that when I put the camera on normal (auto) mode, the shots come out looking like it's night. When I put the camera on night snapshot mode, the shutter speed is so slow, the players are all blurred. This one I enhanced in PhotoShop to make it at least a little brighter. Guess I need to get out the stupid manual.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Getting a life...

Lonely at the movie theater
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
Now this is what I meant when I talked about getting a life. Today, we took the kids to a noon screening of "Happy Feet". When we pulled into the parking lot, I thought I must have gotten the time wrong. There were about two cars in the entire lot. We walked into the theater (IMAX- about a 30 foot high screen) and had the whole place to ourselves. One other woman with two children did show up later. But, we were the only ones in the whole place. Man, I wish I had a system like that at home!

I like the flexibility of being able to take a couple of hours in the afternoon, pull the kids out of school and go have the place to ourselves. We'll have to do that more often.

The movie was awesome. Literally, at one point in the movie, Shayna screamed out "Awesome!" The animation is just out of this world, really blurring the line between live action and animation. The music was a really great mix of everything from Queen to Stevie Wonder. We'll have to buy the DVD when it comes out.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

MacJournal- cool tool!

For those of you who are running Macs, I thought you might want to know about a new feature I've discovered in MacJournal. It's got the ability to upload posts to your blog. I like this because I've been trying to keep a journal for years and can never find the time. This Project 365 was actually complicating that. I want to be able to keep the posts for posterity's sake and by creating them in MacJournal, that's possible.

I haven't found a way to upload the pictures easily from MacJournal. I've found that Flickr is good way of getting the pictures up and archived in one place. So, I'm working through the process (which is still pretty clunky). I'm uploading the pictures to Flickr (I'm shrinking them first because Flickr has a monthly MB limit). Then, I post from Flickr to here. What I discovered this morning though (that is really cool) is I can download the posts (pictures and all back into MacJournal).

If you have any suggestions as to how you're uploading your pix, I'd love to hear them. It's still a pain shrinking the photos before I upload them to Flickr.

Reading between-the-lines

Originally uploaded by xpe1.
What do you see when you read this sign? At first glance, it seems pretty straight forward. I've seen signs like this many times in the past. But, there are couple of words there that aren't usually on signs like this. Could it be because it's posted in my lily-white community?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Leisurely breakfast

Leisurely breakfast
Originally uploaded by xpe1.
I caught the girls having a leisurely breakfast around 9am this morning. No wonder they don't want to go to public school.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

California Dreamin'

I hate cold. I hate snow. And, most of all, I hate gray skies. So far this winter, we’ve had very little of all three. The day time highs have been 10-20 degrees above normal for most of the winter. We’ve had a couple of dustings of snow. But, not much, at all. No shoveling. No worrying about ice on the front steps, it’s been great.

Today, it’s spitting snow and we have those typical Ohio skies. This is the time of year I’d like to have that second home someplace warm and sunny.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Jack Bauer- The Jesus Figure of 24

I’m going to kind of cheat on my post for today. We took Shayna out to dinner for her birthday and I planned all day long to use the picture of her at dinner for my post. Then, I forgot my camera! So, I'll document that we did take Shayna out for a burger at Red Robin tonight. But, I don’t have a picture. So, I’ll use another picture.

Last night we watched “24”. It’s one of my favorite shows on TV. It was the season premiere (2 hours last night and 2 hours tonight). Jack was back from 2 years in a Chinese prison. The poor guy was locked up for a “murder” he committed in defense of the United States. Prior to last season’s 24 hours he had spent a year or more in exodus because the United States pretended he had died (to prevent an international incident with China). So, in the last 3 years or so, Jack had spent about 24 hours on American soil, most of the time working for an agency that had disowned him. We see Jack come back last night barely hanging on to life after not having spoken a word in two years in captivity. And, what does the US tell him when he gets off the plane? Jack, one of the other bad guys whose brother you put away wants your life in revenge for his brother’s. So, we got you out of Chinese captivity to hand you over to this guy who plans to put you to death. Sorry about your luck. But, it’s for the greater good. It’s going to save American lives. We know you’ll understand Jack. And, Jack goes silently and willingly along with the plan willing to give his life for a country that never shows the man more than five minutes’ gratitude at a time.

Here's Jack, just getting off of the plane from China. They've explained the plan to him and are allowing him to shave and shower before taking him to his death.


I just realized I've been getting comments on the new blog. I thought comment notification was set up by default. But, guess what. It's not. So, I just realized I've been getting comments (which I usually respond to). So, I haven't been ignoring your comments. I've got notification turned on now.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

From Mega to Micro Church- All in a Day

This morning, I got up and went to the Vineyard with the family. I then came home, grabbed a quick bowl of instant Oatmeal and boogied over to Nexus, the micro-church I have been attending. It's an interesting contrast. I never really wanted to attend a mega church anyway. But, we ended up at the Vineyard because of the people there, the music and the casual atmosphere (the first casual church I had ever been to). Now, almost 10 years later, I'm ready to move on. The church has truly become a mega church (it had a much smaller feel in our old building many years ago) and the theology that once only mildly aggravated me (or so I thought) has become less and less tolerable to me.

I never thought I'd want to attend a micro church either. If it weren't for the family, I probably would have stopped attending church at all a few months ago (or gone to the Quaker church). The idea of home church doesn't appeal to me, really. But, there are some definite advantages to the micro church. I already feel more in "community" on Sunday morning at the micro church that I ever did at even the 8:30am (the most sparsely attended) service at the mega church. The fact that we (the congregation) have the opportunity to interact with each other and the pastor during the service (as limited as it might be) is a huge thing for me. The pastor has left room for questions/comments at the end of his sermons. The other really big thing, that has nothing to do with size of church, is the micro church is progressive. When we started attending the Vineyard so many years ago, if there were any progressive churches in Cincinnati, I had never heard of them or I would have been all over that.

I'm not sure what's going to happen with this. Attending both places hasn't been so bad, for a while. But, it's not something I want to keep doing. My wife is perfectly happy at the mega church and hates change. She said to me today that she thought once you chose a religion you were supposed to stick with it for life. She's already changed from being Catholic. (I'm not sure why she equates changing churches with changing religions). I'm just the opposite. I don't want to church hop. But, I feel that we should always be spiritually seeking and growing. Inevitably, that's going to lead us to outgrow some things and possibly some places (and even some people). I want to be accommodating to her (and have been). But, I can't keep going through the motions there.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The American Way

What do you do on a Saturday afternoon when the Buckeyes aren't playing? Go to Costco, of course! Don't these people look happy to be there? Go to Costco on Saturday afternoon and you even have to wait in line to get out of the store.

Friday, January 12, 2007

My Baby's 7

Today, we had a sleepover birthday part for Shayna. It was her first sleepover party with her own friends. She's attended several with Kayla's friends. Wow! What a night. Who knew that just six little 7 and 8 year old could make so much noise. The screaming and the running around was amazing.

One thing it made us realize is our girls are more mature than a lot of girls at that age. I was surprised at the children that couldn't follow simple instructions to stop running (or stop "spying" on us), etc. Not that the kids were bad. They were just more rambunctious than I'm used to.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

OK, now I realize why I need to get a life...

Day 3 and I'm struggling on the pictures already. We went to dinner with some friends last night and I didn't take my camera (doh!).

I realized today that I rarely get out of the house. I work from home, we home school the children and my wife does most of the running the kids around. My biggest outing today was going to the Post Office. That brings up a couple of other weird things though.

  1. I went to the Post Office because we had an "emergency" order to get out. A customer who was willing to pay $30 to ship $20 worth of hair products that she just has to have tomorrow. What kind of world do we live in where people have emergency needs for hair products? It's not like we sell medical supplies. But, you'd be amazed (at least I am) with how many emergency orders we get for products.
  2. As I was taking the picture I was actually nervous. I snapped it quickly and ducked into my car. Taking a picture of a government building could be viewed as some sort of covert terrorist act.
OK. Maybe this 365 thing will actually help me get a life. Winter blahs are beginning to set in (even though we've hardly had any winter this year). Gotta get out more...

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Years Resolutions

Normally, I don't make New Years Resolutions. But, this year I guess I have a couple that are interrelated. I've been so busy with work over the past year (or more) that I've had very little time for "personal things". I've grown increasingly disorganized and not gotten things done that aren't related to producing income. Case in point, my CD collection. I used to have them all alphabetically arranged, categorized and even in a database. My collection outgrew the stands I had for it (one held 550, the other 250). I don't even know how many CDs I have now. I recently bought a stand that holds 1,600. They're almost all in the stand now. Hopefully, over the coming months, I can get them into my Delicious Library. I also want to get the pictures organized (I haven't printed a photo since buying our first digital camera 4 years ago). I finally have them all in albums up on Shutterfly. The other project I need to work on is moving my journal entries over from the PC based software they were on into Mac Journal. The dilemma I face is time I spend moving them over is time not spent creating new entries.

Here's the CD stand...

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Hair Day

Apparently it was a hair day at homeschool today. The girls were taking a break playing Internet games when I spotted them with the new 'dos. They're headed to a skating party tonight. I guess they wanted their hair flying in the wind.

Blog 365 Project

I'm going to try this 365 project. I'll attempt to take a picture and make an entry every day for a year. We'll see how it goes.