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30 April 2010

Fix-it Friday

I had a number of "firsts" with this picture: my first attempt at editing in RAW - that's definitely something that I'm going to have to play with some more, as soon as I convince my camera to do it. It was also my first serious exploration of brushes, and this is also something that I'm going to have to play some more with. For all those "firsts" I'm pleasantly surprised by how it turned out: normally I don't expect much at all from a "first," but this I'm relatively happy with. Downright pleased, for a First. Even if it is slightly out of season, now that I'm finished with it.

28 April 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: Foot Edition

It's been a tough week, because I had a bad reaction to some medicine on my foot... and I couldn't walk at all at first, then not much for several days after that. Makes life interesting. But, in spite of that, we got plenty of reading & snuggling done, and started Black Beauty for our new read-aloud. I had Monkey count some eggs he cracked for me early in the week; that kid loves to crack the eggs! I'm forever entertained at how much "trouble" I get into for doing my own eggs. We actually managed a couple of cooking projects. I'd meant to blog the recipe for my english muffins, but that never happened. Friday afternoon is supposed to include some chocolate chip cookies, and I'm sure he'll want to help with those too. We sang along with our "preschool songs" CD on some counting songs to practice counting to 20. Not much happened with Monkey reading himself, though he did read/recite the first several pages of Green Eggs and Ham to me. That book cracks me up.

26 April 2010

My First Bouquet

Monkey brought me my first weed bouquet this afternoon. What a sweetie! So I put in one of our medicine cups; nothing else was small enough. Then I set it on the shelf next to the trolls my sister gave me for Christmas a few years ago. Of course, with a set-up so entertaining, the next thing to do was obviously to take a picture!

23 April 2010

Another Conversation

Daddy: Monkey, you're in my spot.

Monkey: I stole your spot!

Daddy: How is that fair? Whenever I sit where you want to be, you cry and get mad at me.

Monkey: It's fair in five weeks!

Fix-It Friday

The clipping mask is from ShadowHouse.

20 April 2010

Partners in Five

The Math Expressions book that I got to do with Monkey is mostly on hold right now, because it requires more writing than he is ready for. But one of the concepts that it works with is "partners" in numbers - that is, the partners of 5 are the pairs of numbers you could add to get 5. We played with this concept this afternoon for a few minutes, using Monkey's cars as manipulatives. I'd give him a few cars, then ask how many he had. Then I'd ask how many he needed to make 4, because that is his favorite number. Then he'd choose the right number of cars & we'd count again to see if he was right. He did really well with 4. Five was more difficult, but he did get some, and I think that he was understanding the concept of partners this time, which he didn't seem to be the last time we played this sort of game. We only did it for a few minutes, which is fine, and I was pleased with how it turned out.

Incidentally, this is my photo of the day for Project 365 too.

I Heart Faces: Collages

I used this tutorial to learn how to do the polaroid effect, and it was surprisingly easy. The picture is from a trip we took last summer to go to my brother's wedding.

Check out more collages at I Heart Faces.

19 April 2010

A Bloggy Discovery

A friend posted on facebook late last night, about the abuse the Constitution is taking from the Federal Court over the "Day of Prayer". In looking at the article, I found myself looking at the blog, and liking what I saw. He posted this video a while back:

And in honor of tax day, he has some tax day quotes. My favorite? This one:

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”--James Madison

But I think my favorite from his blog thus far is this bit on how principle is so much more important than position when dealing with politics.

However, one's personal feelings should never guide policy and never trump the protection of liberty. Yes, personal feelings are at play in any matter. They inform our decision making processes and are important in a number of ways. But in the ultimate scheme of things, principle--not preference--should be the deciding factor in all we do.

This idea of principles over preference would be a huge benefit to the nation, could we get Washington to go there. Of course, We The People would have to have some idea of what the principle is, and that's going to involve some self-education, as the Constitution is not taught in schools in any meaningful way. So, what are your guiding principles? What is the underlying standard that you judge a bill by? For myself, I love the principles laid out in Ezra Taft Benson's essay, The Proper Role of Government.

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Project 365

17 April 2010

All About Umbilicals

Monkey: Do you have a 'bilical cord?

Mom: I do right now.

Monkey: What will happen to it?

Mom: It's helping the baby to eat. The food goes right into his tummy.

Monkey: Babies are supposed to eat with their mouths!

Mom: Not in the tummy. Heavenly Father gave babies umbilical cords so their food can go straight into their tummies.

Monkey: Where's mine?

Mom: When you were born you didn't need it anymore, so the doctor threw it away. All that's left is your belly button.

Monkey: checks his belly button. It's still there.

Fix-it Friday

Here is the original picture of today's Pretty Lady:

*Curves adjustment, to brighten things up a bit.
*Vibrance adjustment, increasing both vibrance and saturation.
*Pioneer Woman's "Boost," then turned down the "zip." This is one that I used all the time. I should figure out what she's done to make this action, as this is one I haven't done that with yet.
*Spot healing brush on the Pretty Lady's forehead, just a little.
*Smoothed out skin tones, just a bit. I used the dropper to guess what skintones she ought to have, then a soft brush at 7%, then toned down the whole thing with an opacity adjustment, because I always loose depth when I do this. Wished I could see the Pretty Lady in person, so I would know what she really looks like; that always makes this part so much easier!
*Flatten again.
*Pioneer Woman's "Define and Sharpen." This is another favorite that I need to figure out what she's done to make it work so nicely!
*Pioneer Woman's "Bring on the Eyes" at about 22%, but the Pretty Lady's eyes are brown, and it doesn't seem to do much for her eyes, though the whites of her eyes benefit. I'm thinking that I've seen a thing for brown eyes somewhere...
*Ah, yes, it was on I Heart Faces. I used the Julie Rivera method from this tutorial. I love tutorials.

At this point, Pretty Lady looks like this:

I like it, but all that lovely background is begging me to play around with some texture stuff; see if I can get it "right" today. Whatever "right" is.

I put in Old Paper 2, from ShadowHouse Creations, changed the blending mode to soft light, then used the "hot pink technique" from the video at the bottom of the post to get the texture, but not the warm color of the texture, off her face. The hot pink thing is around 5:30 in the video, but the whole thing is great. I like it, but I think that for once my texture is more subtle than I like, so I'm going to try adding another one. I picked "bosch," again from ShadowHouse, decreased the saturation till it was B&W, since I didn't think that I needed any more color added, copied, stretched it so it fit the picture with the darker sections going vertically on the barn walls, and changed the blend mode to hard light. The effect was cool on the barn, but not cool on the Pretty Lady, so I added a layer mask. Thinking of how Dana Suggs (contributor #3) made the Pretty Lady pop so nicely from her background, I tried for a similar effect, by masking out her face & shoulders at 100%, then decreasing the opacity of my brush until it was at about 30% when I did her hands. Then, to sort of blend it all together, I did a Gaussian blur on the mask, which got rid of the edges for me. Then, I turned the opacity on the texture down to about 70% and flattened.

Hurray!! I actually like this one! I think this is the first time that I've been happy with a textured picture that I did!

Because it's fun to look at the pictures side-by-side, here they are:

13 April 2010

Pondering Boy Names

This little boy is already giving my insides a good kicking, and we're still clueless about what we're going to name him. So I'm making a list. Andy will likely veto at least 90% of what's on here; that's what seems to happen with lists like this that either one of us makes. But that always leaves us with a few names to consider.

Abram "exalted father"
Alec "defending men"
Anders "man; warrior"
Cohen/Kohen "priest"
Everett "strong as a wild boar"
Ezra "aid"
Garrett/Jarett "strength of the spear"
Gideon "hewer; mighty warrior"
Isaiah "God is salvation"
Jesse "gift"
Josiah "the Lord saves"
Zacharias "the Lord remembers"

08 April 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: Furnace Edition

Phonics first, because that's what's most exciting this week: Monkey's fluency is really picking up with the VCV words! He's able to read the 1st two Bob books, and is doing so with increasing fluency! We played the penny game a couple of times this week, and I've added the new words from Book 3, so that when we actually get there it should go a little easier. I notice that reading words in context seems to be much more difficult than reading a single word on a card in the game - even though the book offers pictures that give clues about what's happening. I talked it over a bit with my Mom, and we're thinking that the pictures are actually distracting him from the words. In any case, there is definite progress in phonics. I've added words from book 3 to the penny game, so hopefully next week he'll be able to do that.

The nice thing about the penny game is that it works Math at the same time, so math was easy this week. Practice counting, practice identifying coins - dimes, nickles, and pennies, though we haven't really talked about what they're worth much. We got a great flannel-board book from Nana this week that does some fun addition work, but we haven't had it out to read and play with yet.

That's because our furnace died. Well, it did still technically make heat. But it also made carbon monoxide. We couldn't have the one without the other anymore. This is a problem. One that is now remedied: we have a new furnace. The AC was about to go too, so we have a new one of those too. This process did a number on Nature Study this week, as we needed to be home for the Furnace Man. Plus, it was raining cold rain, and with no heat, though we weren't really suffering, I didn't want to risk getting chilled. So we stayed in on Tuesday. That turned out fine, because furnaces, heat exchangers, and AC units all come in boxes. We made a box castle instead. Monkey has a designated "bedroom" with a small pillow in it, and a cardboard "bed." He's got a kitchen that he uses to bake for me, conveniently located right inside the front door.

On Thursday, we actually got some Nature Study done. Monkey was especially pleased because we got snow. He's been so sad because all his snow melted, and it kept raining, rather than snowing. But Thursday, we got a couple inches! Of course we had to get out and play in it. Monkey's activity of choice was shoveling, and when that got old we attempted a snowman. It rolled into balls nicely, but when we started trying to stack them they broke, so there are no pictures of the snowman.

Our Scripture Study is going well. Family scripture reading in the evenings is pretty consistently every night. We've got room for improvement on my reading to Monkey at naptime. I'm going to have to come up with another routine for that and our read-alouds, because naptime is an endangered species. Our memorizing is also going well enough that we added a new one, Ephesians 4:32, late last week. Monkey also requests "stories about Jesus" for bedtime stories almost every night. This week, it's been the Easter story just about every night that he's wanted to hear.

06 April 2010

Project 365

This is today's Project 365 picture. I've been having a hard time with getting the pictures done, and a harder time figuring out what to take pictures of, so there are more than a few days that won't have anything for them in my 365 scrapbook. But I'm still working on it, and this evening I found a flicker group that should have some nice around-the-house ideas. And my husband suggested that I do some of his Battlemechs, which I thought was a great idea. So I glanced at CoffeeShop's recent tutorial on the fuzzy backgrounds - an aperture trick - and tried it out. This is the best of the 3 I took. For a first time, it's not too bad! I would have liked to have the focused mech in the middle, and I couldn't make that happen, but it's a new skill, so I'll take what I can get and keep trying.


05 April 2010

Raven is a Boy!

I had my "20-week peek" today. I love ultrasounds! It's so much fun to see what's going on in there. And the measurements that said all is well were nice too. But mostly, I just love to see the baby.

This baby is a wiggly one. He was just moving all around, especially his little feet - perilously close to the very full bladder that the doctor's office told me I needed. Kick, kick, kick. Wiggle. Climb. He pushed himself way up till the lady had to have the ultrasound thingy right under my ribs, then later slid back down and sat on my bladder. Fortunately, by that point they'd finished the stuff they needed there & I'd gone and emptied it.

We were certain that we'd be having a girl. We have a girl's name all picked out, but nothing for a boy. Happily, the nickname we picked for internet use works, so he can be Raven until we figure out who else he is. We're taking suggestions.

His feet weren't the only busy parts of his body: his arms and hands were also all over the place. Started out lounging around, ankles crossed, arm stretched over head. Then the tech caught this picture of him "blowing kisses," as she said. He tucked one arm behind his back, and another time we saw his hand up by his neck. But generally, he doesn't hold still much. This could be an exciting ride! I'm thinking this little guy is going to be of the "energetic" sort.

Two boys! Monkey and Raven. What fun!

04 April 2010

On Natural Rights

I'm just starting to study the Federalist Papers. It's a fascinating and thought-provoking thing to do. Yesterday, while Monkey was in the bath, I started working on Federalist #2, written by John Jay. Sitting in the bathroom's not so very interesting, you know, gotta keep the brain from decaying somehow!

Mr. Jay starts out with the following statement:

Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government; and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must cede to it some of their natural rights, in order to vest it with requisite powers.

This makes a lot of sense. Government certainly is necessary; anarchy is wholly undesirable. And, to function, government must have power from somewhere. Monarchy often rests on the idea of "divine right" - that is, God made him King, thus he has the right to rule. The Declaration of Independence asserts instead, that government's just powers are "derived from the consent of the governed." This idea reflects our Founders' belief in Natural Rights, that is, rights that belong to men because they are men; rights that come from God. Ezra Taft Benson explained it this way in his essay, "The Proper Role of Government:"

Thomas Paine, back in the days of the American Revolution, explained that:

"Rights are not gifts from one man to another, nor from one class of men to another… It is impossible t discover any origin of rights otherwise than in the origin of man; it consequently follows that rights appertain to man in right of his existence, and must therefore be equal to every man." (P.P.N.S., p. 134)

The great Thomas Jefferson asked:

"Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath?" (Works 8:404; P.P.N.S., p.141)

Starting at the foundation of the pyramid, let us first consider the origin of those freedoms we have come to know are human rights. There are only two possible sources. Rights are either God-given as part of the Divine Plan, or they are granted by government as part of the political plan. Reason, necessity, tradition and religious convictions all lead me to accept the divine origin of these rights. If we accept the premise that human rights are granted by government, then we must be willing to accept the corollary that they can be denied by government. I, for one, shall never accept that premise. As the French political economist, Frederick Bastiat, phrased it so succinctly, "Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place." (The Law, p.6)

Now, if rights are gifts from God, if they are inalienable as the Declaration of Independence asserts, then it follows that they can never be "ceded." Territory, for example, that one nation cedes to another, is gone. When Mexico territory to the US in 1848, following the annexation of Texas, the modern states of California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of current-day Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming became US Territories. Mexico no longer has anything to do with governing this land - it no longer belongs to Mexico. To cede our rights to government would be to remove them entirely from the individual. If our natural rights are to be "ceded" to our government, those rights are no longer ours, but the governments, and it would be within the government's proper power to deny us those rights. I, like Benson, can never accept that. However, government must have some power, it must have something in order to function. Benson addressed this, later in his essay, in terms of delegation of power:

[I]t is obvious that a government is nothing more or less than a relatively small group of citizens who have been hired, in a sense, by the rest of us to perform certain functions and discharge certain responsibilities which have been authorized. It stands to reason that the government itself has no innate power or privilege to do anything. Its only source of authority and power is from the people who have created it. This is made clear in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, which reads: "WE THE PEOPLE… do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

The important thing to keep in mind is that the people who have created their government can give to that government only such powers as they, themselves, have in the first place. Obviously, they cannot give that which they do not possess.

Look at the difference in the definitions of the two words, cede and delegate:

Cede: to yield or formally surrender to another: to cede territory.

Delegate: - a person designated to act for or represent another or others; deputy; representative, as in a political convention.
- to commit (powers, functions, etc.) to another as agent or deputy.

I see the point that Mr. Jay was trying to make, but I think that his statement would be much better rendered thusly:

Nothing is more certain than the indispensable necessity of government; and it is equally undeniable, that whenever and however it is instituted, the people must delegate to it some of their natural rights, in order to vest it with requisite powers.

02 April 2010

It's Cessearian Awareness Month

Didja know that? I didn't. But then I went and browsed around on some of those birth blogs I enjoy reading, and I found out. In the process of following a few links, I found this entertaining - and thought provoking - post. Here are some of my favorite bits:

VBAC, people, is a normal birth. It just happens to be performed by a woman who has previously had a cesarean! There are some very good reasons why a repeat cesarean may need to be *performed* in specific cases but overall, nobody but MOM needs to DO anything when VBAC time comes around, other than offer actual, factual support. The reality is that if a doctor is saying “I don’t do VBAC’s” what he’s actually saying is “I refuse not to meddle with your birth and I AM going to cut you”. We need to get away from this idea that vaginal birth is a procedural option. Vaginal birth is what happens when you don’t DO anything! It’s the natural conclusion of pregnancy! It’s kind of like a doctor telling a patient that he doesn’t DO bowel movements! Come on! And since when are mothers children that need permission to do something that is an inevitable given? Pregnant women give birth. It makes zero sense to me to suggest that you can’t “allow” a woman to do something she cannot help doing. ...

You’re telling me that it’s not
safe for 32% of this nation’s women to give birth? Something’s not adding up here! Wait…adding up, adding up…what adds up exponentially when 1/3 of the nation’s women undergo surgery instead of giving birth?! *gasp* Money! ...

01 April 2010

Fix-it Friday

I don't have specifics for what I did with this one. Pioneer Woman's Boost, and I think her Define and Sharpen as well. Some adjustment layers that I can't remember anymore. The Album Cafe's Dreamy Soft Diffusion. More tweaking. I don't know exactly what I did. But I like it.

I started with #1, and played around with a lot of different ways of taking this black and white. It's desaturated, and the vibrance turned way down. I fooled around with a threashold layer, and different blending options. Then, when I was done fiddling and experimenting (and deleting, and reverting, and plain old reloading), I ran CoffeeShop's Moody Pop. I'm not terribly happy with this one. Definitely still need some practice on the whole black & white thing.

Dirty Boy Feet

It's beautiful outside today, perfect weather. Right about 70ish, a little breeze, sunny. So we went outside to blow some bubbles on the back deck. Monkey loved it. Great big belly laughs; those are always wonderful. Even if we did both get covered in bubble juice. But there was something else we found on the deck. Particularly Monkey.

Apparently, my deck is dirty. I realized within about five minutes of going outside that I was going to need my camera. I have a sticker that will eventually go into Monkey's scrapbook. Maybe with these pictures.

Boy: noun. 1. noise, with dirt on it.

I've been looking forward to kissing tiny baby feet again. These feet are obviously no longer kissable.

By the time we came in from an hour on the deck, I decided a bath was probably the simplest way to get him clean enough to be inside. (The dirt didn't confine itself to cute little feet.) Happily, we have bubble-bath, and he thinks that's fun too. Must be a good day for bubbles.


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