Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 59 - Feb 28th

Peter snuggling with mommy watching those darned Canadian's score another goal against the US hockey team. Come on USA!

Day 58 - Feb 27th

Peter had his birthday party today. It was a lot of fun and the weather cooperated. During the present opening, the kids kept scooting in closer and closer and closer - it looked like a rugby scrum!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 57 - Feb 26th

Peter's 4th birthday!

We have a tradition in our home of using just newspaper comics to wrap gifts. And we encourage the kids to do the wrapping themselves. Peter thoroughly enjoyed opening his family gifts today! Tomorrow is his birthday party with his friends.

Day 56 - Feb 25th

Thursday night - the boys and I did a little running around and I snapped this photo of Alexander getting in my most awesome vehicle. That's right - I'm a proud owner of a much maligned Pontiac Aztek and I love that car. I don't actually know of any vehicles I would trade it for right now.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 55 - Feb 24th

I stayed up too late last night watching the women's short program at the Winter Olympics - I was thrilled I caught Rochette's performance and sad I missed Kim Yu-na's. I have to say - I thought Rochette did a fantastic job. And I don't know if anyone else noticed it or not but out of respect for her grief, the announcers said NOTHING during her performance. I don't think I've ever seen that at the Olympics. They let her honor her mom without interruption.

All that to say - I slept in too late. I usually get up at about 6:30 - 7:00 am and take a shower, check personal email, etc before starting work at 8:00. And I had a conference call at 8:00. So when I woke up just a few minutes before 8:00, I tossed on my robe and rushed to my office - YAY for working from home! Over lunch I took my shower and got cleaned up. I had an 18-hour old whisker-beard I had to get rid of that's just starting to show in the pic.

I lit this with only the small window to my right and a white sheet of paper held at arms length to reflect a little light on the left side of my face.

Day 54 - Feb 23rd

One of Lydia's new pet diamond dove's. This is the chubby one. They were not very happy about me photographing them and kept moving around in nervousness. So I had to take quite a few pictures to get a few good ones.

Day 53 - Feb 22nd

Due to an unusual circumstance, MY photo of the day was really out of focus. So I'm taking an unprecedented step here - I'm posting a picture that was not taken on this day. I wasn't going to post anything, but I found these pictures on Jill's camera from Feb 20th's horse riding lesson for Maranda and thought I'd share them.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 52 - Feb 21st

I had a project today. Down in our fruit tree area, when we first planted it I made a critical mistake. I planted four strawberry plants. They've since grown to cover the entire 60 plus foot long area and produce an enormous amount of strawberries, but they keep creeping and have gone up to the walkway above them. And there is no where to walk in the fruit tree area without stepping on them.

So today I started the process of making a walkway. I'm just laying down newspaper and covering it with bark. It's a short term solution, but I got the bark for a bargain, so might as well use it!

Peter came by while I was doing this and saw me start to shovel onto a newspaper that had a picture of Lindsey Vonn on the cover skiing. He was very concerned and asked me "Daddy, you don't like the Olympics anymore?" (We've been watching a lot of them) When I asked why he said that, his response was that I was "burying the Olympics". It was pretty cute.

Day 51 - Feb 20th

Lydia today got to claim a reward. Last year, she hit a major goal in school and she was rewarded with a pet. So today was the day - the Woodinville PetsMart had Diamond Dove's in stock, so we went down and bought the gear and their two dove's. Lydia is quite happy about it - even if it's not reflected in the picture! Once the doves become acclimated, we'll snap a picture of them.

Day 50 - Feb 19th

I have always had a fascination with walls. Funny as it sounds, I originally went into Architecture because of a photograph of the exterior walls of Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House. I could look at that house all day long and not get tired of it. So on Friday, my eye caught the lower of my retaining walls and I enjoy this view, so why not share it?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 49 - Feb 18th

Had a little bit of excitement last night at work. See that empty spot in the upper corner? That's where a KitchenAid mixer used to be. One of my coworkers, Joe, spotted a jittery suspicious looking guy carrying it by the spider tag and walking towards the door. Sure enough, he doesn't even slow down, just runs out the door. Spider tag goes off - loudly - and Joe follows to watch. Easy enough to follow - the spider makes a lot of noise. Guy runs across the highway - the box is heavy - across the railroad tracks and into the bushes separating the railroad tracks with an apartment complex. Joe is on the phone with the police the whole time.

Guy stops to smash the spider tag with a rock or something. It's wailing is giving him away. But, it allows a few officers to position themselves for when he comes out of the bushes. He's ditched his coat and the merchandise in the bushes, but he's easy enough to identify - he's exhausted for one thing and another he's high as a kite on something. Turns out he's got 4-5 outstanding warrants for his arrest. Bring in Joe to identify. Bring in the dog to sniff the suspect - dog goes into the bushes and finds the coat and merchandise with his scent all over them.

Buh-bye suspect.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 48 - Feb 17th

These are the three books I was reading currently (I always read more than one at a time). I finished Anne Rice's book last night. I'll talk briefly about the other two before moving on to Rice's book. This is going to be a long post. And, once it replicates from my blog to Facebook, I may lose a friend or two over it. If they read this, that is.

Grave Matters is a fascinating book on the modern funeral industry and the alternatives out there. I've always been a bit uncomfortable with how removed American's are from the death process, but the first couple of chapters blew my mind. I highly recommend this book AND I highly recommend EVERYONE, regardless of age, share with your loved ones what you want to happen to your body after your death. Jill's parents did this and I think it was a wonderful thing.

The Spartacus War I got after watching the first two episodes of StarZ Spartacus: Blood and Sand online. Sadly, I don't believe the subsequent episodes will be free because I thoroughly enjoyed the first two! Not for kids or the lighthearted, oh no, no, no. Think 300 but more of everything. Anyway, this book is fascinating because it covers the real gladiators - not the hollywood version. The matches were a lot more structured and similar to modern boxing/UFC matches ... just with the possibility of death. Plus I just so thoroughly enjoy history.

OK, on to Anne Rice's book, Called Out of Darkness. I'm going to talk about religion and politics, two areas I've usually avoided in my blog. I live my life, I have my beliefs and in general I do not try to project them on others - especially since my beliefs seem to run counter to BOTH what Christians and non-Christians practice today. And this book was simply superb. The last several chapters captured my feelings on Christianity almost to a "T" albeit from a Catholic perspective rather than a Protestant one, but that difference was rendered nearly invisible.

First the author. I've always enjoyed, and still do, Anne Rice's books. I've read roughly half of them (including all her pen name books) and really engage with her more visual and auditory rather than literary style. Her struggles transcend the metaphysical world her pre-Christian phase encompassed. They reflected the eternal struggle between existence and greatness, between love and loathing, between frantic and languid. She writes, oftentimes, like I think. Making leaps in continuity, stream of consciousness, organized chaos resulting in seemingly opposing yet concurrent thoughts.

Now this book. And a revelation. Jill and I became "born again" Christians in 1992 - approximately one year after my sisters death at the hands of a drunk driver. That's an intensely personal story that I'm not willing to write down yet, but will tell in person if I am asked. We joined a large mega-church and for a while embraced the rather conservative, evangelical line that is well known in the country. But I always had uncomfortable moments with it. We have gay family members and we have gay and bisexual friends. We have "liberal" friends and family. We know single moms, some of whom never married. And the love of Christianity that is resplendent throughout the gospels was often sorely lacking in the church when it came to these people. Would an "outed" gay, bisexual or liberal person be allowed to actively participate in any conservative church? I cannot see it.

As time has moved on, I have grown increasingly uncomfortable with the standard conservative lineup. I still believe in some items, but the rampant and often unintentional embracing of Friedman economics, the "hinge" issue of abortion (by that I mean that if anyone does not unilaterally oppose abortion then their entire platform is meaningless), the hypocrisy of all politicians and many religious leaders, the continued sense of inequality amongst all fellow humans and many more have slowly driven a wedge between myself and blind obedience to a party line.

Especially when I compare it all to the gospels. I see no support for big business and disdain from government or social issue in the gospels - rather I see a sense of community and sharing. Jesus treated men, women and children of all stripes equally. Did he condemn? Certainly - oftentimes hypocritical religious leaders were a target. Acts 2: 44-45 and Acts 4:34-37 have been used to support socialism, although I think that is taking it a bit far. In the gospels, I see Love. With a capital L. I see a savior who lays his palm lovingly on the cheeks of anyone who seeks him, regardless of their circumstances, their lifestyles, their gender. And I don't often see that in the Church setting. That has driven a wedge - not between me and God but rather between me and churches. That is why I seek out churches that use expository teaching - that's what I love and that's what feeds me spiritually.

Anne Rice says it so much more eloquently than I. The first two thirds of her book are her growing up as a Catholic girl then losing her faith and living for decades as a committed atheist. Then the last third is her "conversion" back and her journey since. It's a remarkable book and the last couple chapters are her thoughts on Christianity and it's place in our lives and relationship with people. I simply cannot recommend it enough - her thoughts are how I think of Christianity. All I can say is if you are not rigid in your beliefs, read it. Plow through the book if you must. And if you wish, let me know your thoughts.

There is more I could say, but I feel it would be belaboring the point. I've been considering how to write this post for a long time, but each time I compose it in my head it was different, so I just wrote it. And now I shall stop.

Day 47 - Feb 16th

We've been doing for years. Jill's sister first told us about it. It tracks the coupons you get in your local Sunday paper as well as the local ads and matches them up to give you the best deal. We routinely save 40+% off the regular price, but this weeks was really good at Albertsons! If anyone signs up for TheGroceryGame, refer us - philnjill at hotmail dot com. (Putting it that way so the spam bots have less chance of snagging our email address). Referrals get a month free, I think.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day 46 - Feb 15th

Lydia has a couple strengths illustrated here.

First she (and Maranda) are both highly skilled at Microsoft Word. They can do some amazing things with that program! Setting up columns, creating graphs, inserting and manipulating images, inserting form controls. Those two are good at it. Not too long ago, Jill had a copy of a math page and Lydia duplicated it in no time in Word - it was quite impressive.

Second, Lydia has a natural inclination to teach. So we encourage that. She created a two page "quiz" for Sophia testing her math, reading, writing and comprehension. It was well done! And Sophia enjoyed doing it because she loves doing school work and is really blooming on her reading.

Day 45 - Feb 14th

Pure Valentine's Day unhealthy deliciousness.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 44 - Feb 13th

Jill and I went to a wonderful Valentine's dinner tonight. It was really a nice time and the food was sumptuous! I snapped this picture of the centerpiece.

Day 43 - Feb 12th

Our big task for today? Family pictures. And yes, we ordered some for each family member :) Many of them came out well - except for the ones that emphasized the lack of exercise a couple certain people have...

I liked this picture I took - the girls are posing for their all girl pose while an increasingly tired Peter clutches a bear prop.

Afterwards, we went home and watched the awesome opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. But we finally had to shut it off because we were all so tired. We watched it through the "mountain" sequence.

Day 42 - Feb 11th

I've been really buried at work for over two months. Every spare moment, it seems, has been spent on clients. So I took two days off to relax, sleep in and get some things done. Including my car battery. My battery has been giving me fits for a while but I've simply had no time to spare to change it. I discovered that whomever designed the battery compartment of my car had long, skinny hands, four different contortionist socket sizes and a rather sadistic streak. It took a long time to extract the existing battery. Then I put in the new, very powerful battery. And I still don't think I've got the negative terminal hooked up properly. And the bracket that holds the fuse box snapped when I was reattaching it, so I have to deal with that soon as well!

But the car actually starts and does so in a way it hasn't in quite a while, so that's nice!

Day 41 - Feb 10th

Due to my mom being in the hospital in December, she couldn't get out the Christmas presents then. We received them this day and it was a blast - Christmas in February! One of the gifts was a microphone that "chipmunked" your voice - they've had a lot of fun with that one! She sent some winter gear - which we were really hoping to use this Friday, Feb 12th, to go to the mountains and go tubing, but the weather just has not cooperated! While the rest of the country is giving their snow shovels a workout, we aren't! The weather up at the pass? Mid 30's, raining and wet mooshy snow. Blah.

If we get a good cold snap some weekend, we'll try then. I'm keeping my eyes open!

In the meantime, thanks mom! The gifts were well appreciated!

Day 40 - Feb 9th

Lydia found a birds nest in one of our flower beds.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 39 - Feb 8th

Peter likes holding long conversations on one of our old cell phones. He dials the number and chats away. It's pretty darned cute.

In addition, here are a couple pics the kids took the last couple of days of them being goofy.

Alexander, in a box, with a boot on his head.
Lydia in a redone swingset hammock enjoying the BEAUTIFUL day we had on Monday.

Day 38 - Feb 7th

We gave the kids a 72-spot rack for seeds. They split it three ways for the three older kids, planted seeds and put them in the new greenhouse.

Day 37 - Feb 6th

Prepping for taxes. We ended up donating a lot - we had purged a lot of the infant stuff in 2009. We typically donate to the Community Services for the Blind because they pick up on our porch.

Day 36 - Feb 5th

Finally got my SD card reader situation figured out - I bought a new reader.

Our spring flowers are in bloom. Blizzards on the East Coast, early Spring on the West Coast . I applied a vignette and minimized the midpoint in Photoshop to focus on the crocuses.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Day 35 - Feb 4th

Lunchtime project: assembling the greenhouse. I've wanted a greenhouse for a long time. McDaniels hardware had a fantastic sale - only $30 for an $75 greenhouse. The kids are excited. Below are assembly pictures Lydia took.

Day 34 - Feb 3rd

Lunchtime project: replacing the burners on the grill. Covered by warranty! Shiny! Then in the evening, I found new flavorizer bars and grates for half price from Ace Hardware closeouts. Woot!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 33 - Feb 2nd

Lydia snapped these pics with Jill's camera - Maranda cooking lunch and the beautiful day out our back door.

Day 32 - Feb 1st

Maranda is getting used to her new braces.

Day 31 - Jan 31st

Lydia had her friend Roo spend the night and when I drove her home, I snapped this photo of their canoe in their playground.

Day 30 - Jan 30th

This past week, Maranda got braces. Before that, they took a mold of her "as is" teeth. I find this mold endlessly fascinating.

Day 29 - Jan 29th

We went to a "family fun" event on Friday. I snapped this pic of Peter with my iPhone after he put together this puzzle by himself.

Day 28 - Jan 28th

I accidentally erased this picture! I'm having trouble with my SD card reader. And I lost this picture :(