Thursday, March 29, 2007

Playing With my New Lens

Not so long ago I got some new toys for my Olympus E-500 camera. One is this Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 lens. I have to say that I love it. I played around with taking some macro shots tonight to see what type of results I could get.

The following shot is of my grandfather's fishing reel:
Grandpa's Reel

Here is a 1 to 1 crop of that photo so that you can see the detail in the image:
Fishing Reel Crop

I am rather impressed so far. After I get some more play time with the lens, I will try to do a better write up on it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Jason and Chuck Wii Boxing Video

Jason and Chuck Wii Boxing

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Bluebonnet Photo Shoot

Bluebonnet Photo Shoot

We here in Central Texas have seen a rare phenomenon lately: rain! This drought stricken area has been overjoyed to see the liquid gold pouring from the skies. Consequently, we've also been blessed with a good bluebonnet season, the first in a few years. Today a few friends and I decided to take advantage of it, and do a bluebonnet photo shoot with our boys. Chaotic fun is what it was, really!

Bluebonnet Photo Shoot

Alex and Zac, Charlie's "dudes"
Bluebonnet Photo Shoot Bluebonnet Photo Shoot

Ethan, the photogenic one ;)
Bluebonnet Photo Shoot

Bluebonnet Photo Shoot

And a few more of the boys...
Bluebonnet Photo Shoot Bluebonnet Photo Shoot

Whew, what a day! Kids are definitely the hardest to photograph, but also the most fun because it's a real accomplishment to get a picture that you like! I can appreciate photographers more after today! My own boys were the hardest, of course. But we had fun, nonetheless. If you get a chance in the next week to go sit in some 'bonnets, I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Oprah and Carpet Burns

Wierd title, I know.

But Charlie lately has been talking like Oprah. He builds up to what he wants to say. I'm not sure how to describe it, but first he talks in a small voice, "Mommy, first I eat my dinner," (then gets louder) "and I have ICE CREAM!" He gets all excited. It's really funny. Chuck keeps asking if he's been watching Oprah with Mommy. But I don't usually watch Oprah so I have no idea where he got it from...

Secondly, Charlie has a nice little carpet burn on his nose. This weekend he was playing and started crying, and his nose was kinda pink and swollen. We put ice on it for awhile, but had no idea what was wrong. By the next day, it was obvious he'd gotten a carpet burn. He keeps telling everyone he did it with his finger. Oww! Lots of people at Bible class today wanted to know what had happened. He's my accident prone child, just like his mommy. If I had a penny for everytime I had to tell him to slow down and be careful...I'd have his college paid for by now! Funny thing is, this isn't even the first big carpet burn he's had on his face. 2 years ago at Easter he had a big ugly burn for all the pictures. I just hope this one heals enough for this Easter (in less than 2 weeks, yikes!)

Charlie, the next day...if you look closely you can see the burn. It's becoming more apparent as it heals.
Hanging with Caleb and Benjamin

To expound on my baby-holding heaven of a weekend, this is Charlotte. She is the sweetest thing, and a beautiful addition to my friend Cheri's lovely family. She slept on my chest for quite awhile, making those sweet newborn noises. I'm wishing now I'd gotten those little noises on tape when my boys were babies. Anyhow, it was a great blessing to meet Charlotte.

Meeting Charlotte

Also, notice the new 'do. It's a little subtle, but I like it a lot. My sister Randi and I had a girl's outing, where we went to the movies and hair salon a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't been to a professional salon in a long time, so it was a great treat...and for once I love my hair!

Melanie's Baby Shower

I'm sharing this because you're seeing 2 of the 4 future nephews/nieces we have coming! (Hope you don't mind Mel and Meesh! ;) ) We have babies in the family due May, June, August and October! And the baby Heaven just continues! Fun times!

And I'll close with an update on Chancey Boy (and more Charlie). Chance has developed the ability to figure out a lot of toys. I see him playing with toys now that he had no interest in just a few weeks ago. He also loves to talk on the play phone, and even says "Bye" as clear as a bell. His only hindrance in learning how the toys work is: Charlie! Charlie has become quite a teacher, and constantly takes Chance's toys away in order to demonstrate to Chance how they work. Chance only sees this as Brother being mean, so he cries. Thus he's not paying attention to Charlie's lesson and the whole plan backfires for Charlie. Even as Charlie plays with toys on his own, he now narrates what he's doing, as if he's teaching someone else how to do it. He also often corrects other kids, and even adults, like he's a teacher and knows it all. He even tells me how to drive (Chuck thinks I deserve it, haha!), and often tells me I'm turning the wrong way, that I need to turn around. So if you ever need your own personal GPS, just let me know, I'll send Charlie right over.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Baby Weekend

This weekend we went to 2 baby showers, and held lots of other babies. Yes, I was in Heaven. No, I don't want another one. ;)

But in the midst of it all, we managed to have some Wii time. Here's one of Chuck and our brother-in-law, Jason, boxing:

Wii weekend

And Charlie's Wii pose:

Wii weekend

And lastly, Charlie took a pic of Mommy and Daddy. Not bad if I do say so myself! We have a prodigy in photography and Wii bowling here! :)

Wii weekend

We have a bunch of pictures (big surprise there, huh?!) on flickr if you wanna see all those babies! (And the ones on the way)...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wii Love it!

Ahh, there are so many fun things going on these days...

It's a bird, a plane

1. Tonight, we FINALLY got a Wii! I'd been checking Costco for almost a month now on a daily basis, thinking the shipment would come in. The funny thing is, this morning they said they still hadn't received them. So this evening I stopped by just to pick up some other things (I rarely go in the evening), and they had just gotten the shipment in about an hour before! For anyone who doesn't know, the Wii is in limited quantity and high demand. It's not easy to find. I've never thought I'd be willing to camp out for something...until now! Wooohoooo!

And I have never been so excited about a game system. Usually Chuck does enough game-playing for the both of us! Yet the simplicity of it is really awesome, and the fact that you move around instead of sitting in one spot pressing buttons is very intriguing. But what truly won me over was when we tried it at a friend's house, and I saw Charlie play! He loves it and he's really good at it. Maybe even too good! He nearly beat Chuck at bowling. It was then I knew, this is what I wanted for my birthday (which is still a month away, haha). Charlie and I will probably play all day tomorrow. Ahh, fun times!!

2. We have a mulch problem, and no, I'm not talking about the mulch fire that's burning about 5 miles from here. There have been tree-trimmers in my neighborhood for the last week and I asked them if I could have some of their mulch (they run the tree limbs thru mulchers as they're working). Well, I got more than I asked for... I have probably what is the equivalent of 5 truck loads! If you live nearby and want some mulch, please let me know!! I can't complain though, because my friend/builder is going to bring a crew with a bob cat over soon and spread some in the back yard, making it ready to put in a playscape. I can't wait! I'm so excited for the boys and all their friends to have a place to play!! So stay tuned, I'm sure we'll have lots of pics soon with all that. In the meantime, some of Charlie's friends (his dudes, Alex & Zac) came to play, and they all had fun in the mulch piles...

White boys can jump Stair steps

And on the piano...
Piano playing boys

3. Charlie is praying more. We watched a (cheesy!!) Christian movie, and in it the young kids pray to God, so now Charlie has no problem praying! Before, he would rarely pray himself, and often didn't care to join us in praying. But he loves to do it now, and even picked up phrases we don't normally say. His prayers often go something like this: "Thank you God, for our family and our friends," (I've never heard him say 'family' before; usually we just name each person.) Thank you for our food, my choc milk, and my monster truck, Amen." And tonight, as I put him to bed, he told me he hadn't prayed yet and wanted to. Then he prayed, and afterwards told me a story about how last night he was really scared of a big monster, but then he prayed, and there was no monster. He was really excited about it. It was a great moment, to be able to tell him how God loves and protects him, and to know he understood! There are no words to describe how much that means to me.

Just Chillin'

4. Chance has hit another milestone I guess, in that he can now play at McDonald's. Before he always was content to sit in the high chair the entire time. While he doesn't go into the playscape yet, he loves being able to run around with other kids. And today he imitated us (Charlie, Alex, Zac and me) by blowing bubbles! He would hold up the wand (in the air, not in front of his mouth), and then blow. It was so cute. He was so excited to be "one of the boys." He's also imitating sounds more. He tried to say "Night night" to Daddy. It's so great seeing him grow. I'm not enjoying the new need for discipine and the fits that follow, but I just love where Chance is in his development; showing more of his personality. Life is just getting to be so much fun!

Play time!

4. One other story: Today Charlie cried a little because he'd hurt himself, and I kissed his bobo. Then Alex and Zac both said, "Yeah, Charlie, I'll kiss it and make it better," and they both kissed his bobo too. It was just the cutest thing!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Upgrading to Edgy

I decided to take the plunge this weekend and upgrade our main computer from Dapper to Edgy (Ubuntu Linux). It went fairly smoothly with just a couple of hiccups. I thought I would blog about the hiccups that I ran into in case anyone else runs into similar problems.

  1. No more K7 Kernel? Yes, it seems that starting with Edgy, there is no longer a K7 specific kernel. So if you are using a recent AMD processor (or even more importantly any of the dual core processors) you will want to use the generic kernel instead of the i386 kernel. Running the i386 kernel only saw one core of my dual core proc, and switching to the generic kernel opened it back up to both cores

  2. No boot screen? After switching to the generic kernel, I didn't get the boot screen and a message with the following error: "usplash: no usable theme found for 640x480". I re-installed the usplash package through synaptic, and it fixed the problem.

  3. Picasa slows to a standstill? After upgrading, Picasa would quickly grind to a halt when started. Angie could hardly get anything done in it at all. After some poking around, I noticed that it starts up an explorer.exe process that hogs almost 100% cpu. After some googling, I found a link to this posting in the picasa forum. Following the instructions to add a line to the startup script for picasa fixed that problem.

All seems well now, and I can get back to my regularly scheduled hacking :)

If a pic is worth a thousand words- here's a 9K word essay!

The River in Boerne Falls

I love blogging. I love having a record of all the little stories that happen with the kids. Last week I printed them out and put them in a notebook for the boys to have forever...and it's huge!! And I also love the feedback I get from friends and family, and just knowing that they know what's going on, even though I don't usually have the time to talk. I also love blogging because, as my friends have said, it can be therapeutic. When I have thoughts in my head, I can get them out through this blog.

But today, I got nothing. It's almost like a writer's block.

But I do have pictures. Sometimes those tell the story better than I could anyway!

The pics above I took while at the park in Boerne. This weather has been so great lately, so I finally was able to take the boys to see the river. We had a great time. Charlie kept saying, "This walk is fun!". I wonder if it's because we also stopped in at the toy store across the street?! ;)

So here are a couple I took of the boys while there, as well:
Charlie Chance

And also, my sister Randi, surprised me by coming up for the weekend from SE Texas. I was bummed to not get any really good pictures, but here a couple I had fun with:
Randi Visits Randi Visits

[I especially liked the color one because I didn't even mess with the color saturation; it was just that bright! I did bring up the shadows, since my camera tended to white things out]

Lastly, I've been playing with my camera in manual mode, and found that it actually works better. I'm also beginning to understand what I'm doing, which helps! This is at a park in a neighborhood near us:
A park at twilight A park at twilight

And a silly one to end our time:
Silly Chance

PS I'm posting all my pics smaller. What do you think works better (big or small)? If you want to see the bigger version, just click on the picture.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Life is Funny Again

It seems the sickness is truly gone and we're back to funny stories. Here are a few from yesterday:

~As we were playing in the front yard, Charlie started playing with my cell phone, pretending to call his imaginary friends. The funniest part was the things he said, which I realized I'm hearing a recording of myself on the phone. His conversations usually went like this: "Hi Cheecha, What's up? Nothing, just hanging out at my house with my Chance. Ok, I love you too, bye!" Then he tells me, "Cheecha is coming over to my house and bringing me a present!" He loves presents, I tell ya...

~As we were leaving the playground, Charlie asked what the other people were doing. "They're getting in their car to go home," I told him. "They wanna come to our house," he replied. So I tried explaining to him that we don't know them, so they don't want to come to our house. "That's mean, Mommy! Yes, they wanna come to our house!!" Sigh...whaddaya do?!

~The nice thing about daylight savings time is that Chance isn't waking up at 7 am, he's waking at 8! So last night we all went to bed before 10. And actually, the adults were asleep before the kids, because I dozed off to the sound of the boys laughing at each other (thru the monitor) because they were going to sleep in the same room again! I figured as long as they stay in bed, it doesn't matter to me...

~Yesterday also brought us a step closer to being potty trained. I have a calendar for Charlie. If he goes potty for 14 days straight, he'll get free tokens at Chuck E Cheese. I told him about it Sunday, so he said he wanted to go potty, and he did. I thought that would be the end of it. But then when he woke up Monday, he kept going potty. After his nap, he came downstairs telling me how he went poopie on the potty....and he did!! He's never done that without me prompting him first!! So far, he's gone poopie on the potty twice and his diaper once. So we're 2-1 so far! I don't want to get my hopes up too high, I know this may not last... But anyhow, all day yesterday Charlie kept asking to go to Chuck E Cheese and get the free tokens. I think doing this for 14 days is going to kill him! :)

One last thing: I know I've already posted this pic, but I had to show it again, and show you one of Charlie at the same age. To me, they look so much alike. Can you see it? They even have the same teeth that have come in (you can see their molars in both pics). Enjoy!

My Cry Baby Chance
Cry Baby Chance

My Cry Baby Charlie
Cry Baby Charlie

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Brothers and Friends

Sorry I haven't blogged in awhile.

It's been a very hectic (and disgusting) week with all the stomach bugs. Once Chance and Charlie recovered, Chuck came home from work with it. I kept thinking that my turn was coming, but I dodged it somehow. Either because I washed my hands 20 times a day, or because I was already on antibiotics for something else. Either way, I'm thankful I was passed over. And most of all, I'm thankful it's gone.

Thursday the boys went to Austin to see the grandparents, which was so much fun for them, and allowed me to start chipping away at all I was behind on from the sicknesses. The big thing we did was notarize our wills. If you have small kids, you definitely need to have a current will in place! I know with all the Anna Nicole Smith stuff going on, people are much more aware. For us, we'd thought of it before, but had always put it off, until in December Chuck's uncle passed away suddenly, and didn't have a will. We realized how much harder that is on the family (even if you don't have lots of assets/dependents), so we knew it was time. And thanks to our friends Mitch and Holly, who loaned us their will-writing software, it was free. And the program was really easy to use, and we got them written in an hour. So all that to say, if you haven't done it, do it. Until we had kids I never wanted to think about dying. But now I know it's my obligation for their sakes to have this sort of thing figured out. I just tried to not think about it from an emotional standpoint. Anyhow, the last thing to do was notarize it, so some friends from Chuck's work helped us out by being witnesses, and we got it done (thanks, guys!!). I can sleep a little sounder knowing that's done...

So Chuck and I got a night at home without the boys, and while we really enjoyed it, it was really wierd. Little sounds on tv kept making me think Chance was up in his room crying. I turned the monitor off in my room, but felt odd about it. They truly make this place home, and I don't know what it'll feel like someday without them!! The house just felt so empty. It's a paradox once you become a parent (or at least a mom) that you long for a break from your kids, but when you get it, you don't know what to do with yourself and you miss them terribly! "Can't live with'em, can't live without'em," kinda thing. Anyhow, we got them back Friday and it's been nice to return to normal, and spend time with them.


A few new things: Chance is really throwing full blown fits now. When he can't get his way, he'll arch his back to where I can't hold him anymore, and basically throw himself on the floor...then cries harder because I'm not holding him anymore! LOL. He "screams" when he can't get his way, so finally the other day he got his first time in the bathroom. That's where I have Charlie go when he throws a fit. It's kinda like time out. He has to go in there and cry it out, especially if he's just crying in protest, not pain. So Chance is begininng to be disciplined. Then today he wanted to touch something and when I told him "No," he leaned over and started to bite Charlie. So he got his first real spanking, too.

While they were in Austin, my step-mom was telling me that Chance got mad and bit Charlie's toe. Charlie was crying, and she asked, "What does Mommy do when Chance bites?" He said, "Puts me in the bathroom." LOL! Then she said, "Do you want me to spank Chance?" He cried, "No! Don't spank him." "Do you want me to put him in the bathroom." No, he sobbed, not the bathroom! "How about I knock his teeth out?" (kidding, of course!) Noooo, don't hurt him! Charlie cried. I thought that was so sweet, Big Brother didn't want revenge. I think it gives a glimpse of Charlie's heart, and how much he loves Chance.

And of course Chance isn't all bad! While he has a new challenge, with this biting thing (Charlie never did that), Charlie was harder in that he started arching his back, to where I'd have to wrestle him into his car seat, from 6 months-18 months old! Also, Charlie preferred to take out his frustration by hitting his head on things, from 6 months old! Even now, he'll hit himself when he gets mad about something. It makes no sense to me, and it has been very difficult to break. The boys are just so different. Chance also has a thing for electrical outlets, another thing Charlie wasn't into. And lately Charlie is starting to defy even the grandparent's authority. My dad would always marvel at how Charlie was so well behaved...when I wasn't around! They said he always obeyed (although I figured it was because they were more lenient, as grandparents have the right to be). But this last visit brought Charlie's first spanking by the grandparents! I guess he has to test those limits as well. And I don't have a clue about how to get it across to him that they are to be obeyed, other than to keep reinforcing that if he disobeys he gets consequences, from them and from Mommy and Daddy. Even though I have gained confidence in the value of discipline, I'm still constantly unsure of how to do it as these new challenges arise...

One other little quirk of Chance's... I usually put him in his crib and he cries for a minute or just goes to sleep. Lately, he's been throwing everything "overboard" first: the blankets, pillows, pacifier, etc. It's pretty funny to see him just sleeping on the mattress alone.

Anyhow, the good things: Chance is now pointing at things! Before he didn't seem to know what he was pointing at, but he's got it down now. And we know better what he's trying to say or show to us.

Daredevil Charlie

Charlie has started understanding what it means to say, "I'm sorry." He knows to apologize when he hurts Chance. And lately, even if something happens that isn't his fault, he'll say, "I'm sorry, Mommy, that that happened." It just melts my heart that he empathizes. I've tried to explain to him that he shouldn't feel like something is his fault that isn't, and now I'm pretty sure he's just being sweet.

And the boys play so well together. Usually when I sit Chance in the high chair, Charlie will bring Chance little cars to play with, and will play with him while I fix Chance's meal. It's sooo sweet. And I've begun letting them sleep in the same room. Previously I've had Chance sleep in the pack-n-play in the guest room, but now that he's (usually) sleeping through the night, I've decided it's time to move him into his crib in Charlie's room. This works great as long I get Chance to bed first. But today for naptime I decided to let them go to sleep at the same time...of course that didn't work. They were just laughing at each other the whole time! But we'll get there...someday! :)

Monday, March 5, 2007

Ugh! More Sickness

And the bug continues. By Friday evening Chance seemed to be feeling better. Then early Saturday Charlie began his bout with it. This continued around the clock until Sunday afternoon. It seemed at this point that it was finally passing for Charlie. Then Chance started having diarrhea and acting sick again. And late Sunday evening round 2 started again for Charlie. There aren't really any funny stories to share, sorry for the yuckiness.

Today Charlie continued to suffer, but Chance seems to have made a full recovery. At this point I'm confident this is the rotavirus, which is especially bad this year, and usually only affects kids. It's also nearly impossible to keep your home clean enough to prevent it from spreading. So we're quarantined for awhile. :( But I am thankful that Chuck and I haven't been sick. And the good news is, the boys will be building immunity as they get through this, so hopefully next time it won't be so bad. This also reminds me that we need to stay away from indoor playgrounds like Chuck E Cheese, McDonalds, Chik-Fil-A, etc. No matter how good they are at keeping their playscapes clean, this virus can last on surfaces for a long time...

One happy thing happened today: Chance started saying more words. He said "Bye Bye" as he pretended to talk on the phone. He also imitated the dog, saying "Arf, arf!" And he's been saying "Momma" today, where I can tell he knows what he's saying. Finally we're starting to see what Mr. Chance is thinking. On the other hand, I keep trying to teach him signs for things instead of him just screaming (with the most grating, high pitched scream you can imagine from a 14 month old!)...and all he will do is clap or wave "bye bye." All in due time, I guess...

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Glimpses of the Future

Cry Baby Chance

Well, it is the stomach bug! This morning Chance woke up very fussy. I had planned to take the boys in to the pediatrician for Charlie's 3 year well check and for Chance to get some more immunizations. Charlie wasn't happy about the fact that he'd have to get a shot too! So to his delight (and mine) the doctor said he didn't have to get any until next year! Yay!! And by this time Chance had started running a fever, so he was off the hook as well. He cried the entire time we were at the doctor's office, which is very unusual for him...those poor nurses!

Anyhow, the doctor instructed me that I needed to give Chance gatorade instead of apple juice, so we stopped in at HEB on the way home. I put Chance in the umbrella stroller because I thought he'd be too weak to sit in the grocery cart, and Charlie followed me pushing the smaller grocery cart. It is an amazing thing when your child can help you like that! I was trying to rush getting a few items because Chance was so fussy, but I didn't make it in time: he threw up in the store. Poor guy! I'll spare you the details, but it was very embarrassing.

He's made it through the rest of the day keeping everything down, and I'm hoping it is passing. I'm just praying for God to protect Charlie and Chuck and I...

But about my title, I got two glimpses of the future this evening.

First, Chuck recorded Charlie saying, "I love you, Mommy and Daddy," then changed the pitch on the computer and it sounded like a grown man! It was a little scary!! I guess Charlie growing up is on my mind today because the doctor said Charlie's in the 95th percentile for kids his age (that's big!), and the doc said he thinks Charlie will be about 6'1" or 6'2" fully grown! Whoa! He'll be taller than both me and Chuck!! It all makes me want to hold on that much tighter, because his childhood is going so fast.

Second, I was sitting at Starbucks this evening, working on my Bible study (thanks, Chuck, for giving me the break!), when two teenage boys came in and sat near me. I overheard bits and pieces and here's what I gathered...They were brothers, and one talked to their mom on the phone and ended the conversation with "I love you." They chatted for a long time together about typical guy stuff, like video games, music, even girls. But their conversation was not what I expect from their age...they had character and they spoke candidly, comfortably, deeply. You could tell they were best friends. One of them even said "Have you heard that song...I didn't like it at first because they say 'g-o-d-d-a-m' but once I heard the edited version, it's actually kinda cool." What struck me was, they're not saying that because someone is around that they want to impress. Usually when I see teenagers at Starbucks, they're talking bad about their parents or friends, or making out with the boyfriend/girlfriend because Mom and Dad aren't around... These guys were just being themselves, and they enjoyed each other's company. THAT is so what I long for, someday, for Charlie and Chance. For them to want to hang out with each other, even on a Friday night, and talk about their lives, and to genuinely care for each other, and for the Lord. It was so refreshing and gives me so much hope for my boys, that they can make it through those sometimes foolish years. That's a glimpse of the future that doesn't scare me but encourages me in what I do...raising them!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

12 and 4

12 is the number of hours Chance slept last night~ ha-lay-lou-yah!! He also took a 3 hour nap yesterday and today. I guess he's catching up...

4 is how many baths Chance has had today! It seems like once he gets one thing taken care of, another comes along... So today he woke up with diarrhea. That always leads to diaper rash, and today's is the worse I think he's ever had. Thus I couldn't clean him when he'd make a dirty diaper because it hurt him so bad, so we did the bath instead.

So if you're reading this, please say a prayer for Chance. My hope is that this is not the beginning of the stomach bug. I know so many people who've had it, and we've been blessed to have dodged it up until now. We've also been avoiding indoor playgrounds, until the last couple of days. I hope there's not a connection!

Chance at Chuck E Cheese
(Having a good ol' time at Chuck E Cheese!)

Otherwise, it's been a nice day. We just stayed home and played all day. It's been great.