Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wild Lights

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Sophie ( 9 yrs.) and Matthew
Matthew successfully turned eleven years old shortly after Christmas, which we celebrated with a trip to the zoo. We went early enough to see some animals, and then enjoyed the Christmas lights after dark.


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At our first stop, a lioness extended her birthday greeting to Matthew. He promptly shot her...with the digital camera that we gave him as a gift (purchased used off of eBay). He did not have to zoom in. She walked right up to us, as we prayed that the plexi-glass would prove to be an adequate barrier (reminiscent of another zoo trip.)


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Picture by Matthew
Bye lioness! Thanks for some birthday excitement.


My current header (also posted here for the time when it will change) features pictures of Dahl's sheep (white) and Big Horn sheep taken by Evan and Matthew on this trip.


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Picture by Matthew


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Picture by Matthew
Hay there, pachyderm!


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Picture by Evan


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Evan "swirled" his camera around to produce this impressionistic Christmas lights picture.


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Picture by Evan


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Picture by Evan

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Logan-Speak

Clearing out my sidebar to make room for yet more two-year old hilarity...

I am not a person. We are not people. I am Logan. (10/29/08)

In reference to the Ergo Carrier:
It hold ups me. (10/29/08)

In response to my teasing:
Mommy is just crazy! (10/14/08)

I want some apple spider. (10/11/08)

I want to go at the store and buy some money. (10/11/08)

Melissa attempts to sing to Logan to entertain him in the van on the cross-country trip. During all but two songs, Logan repeatedly shouts: That is not a song! (9/24/08)

Melissa to Logan: What did the clown's hair look like? Was it curly?
Logan, looking at the curly-headed member of our family: Uh huh. Evan is a clown. (9/20/08)

I am the baby van. You are the mommy van. (9/19/08)

I am not cute! I am sweet. (9/16/08)

Logan, stuck between the chair and the table: Woe is me. Woe is me. Woe is me. (9/11/08)

I am not a train. I am an SUV! (9/10/08)

Evan to Logan: Here is your Pooh Bear.
Logan: No! It's a bear!
Evan: Oh! here's your bear.
Logan: No! It's a Pooh Bear!!
Repeat 5 times. (9/8/08)

The electronic phonics toy: Press a button!
Logan: NO! (9/9/08 )

Logan, lying on the floor: I am a dead spider. (9/4/08)

James to Logan: Eat your soup
Logan: I'm too busy. (9/2/08)

Most recent quotes in sidebar...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Positively Providential

Shortly after purchasing Sophie's cello (there seemed to be no rental options in the area), the cello teacher Mrs. R pointed out that the bridge was too flat, making it difficult for Sophie to play only one string at a time. I have also been dissatisfied with the sound produced by the instrument, but the music store was so far away that we kept putting off getting the bridge fixed. Besides, I no longer had much confidence in a place that didn't fit the cello up correctly the first time. (I didn't catch the problem in the first place, because I could clear the strings more easily than Sophie when I tested it out in the store, and because I thought it was just an issue caused by a dinky-sized cello.)

At Sophie's last cello lesson, Mrs. R mentioned that another student had gotten a bridge repair done on the spot at a music store in Golden.

On Monday, Sophie and I had a homeschool orchestra concert in the morning. (I play along with the cellists in the orchestra in order to mentor them.) James took the day off to be the chauffeur. He "happened" to mention that our concert was near Golden.

After the concert, we jaunted over to Golden and stopped a the visitor's center to locate the music store. At the music store, I pointed out the problems with the bridge and also a problem with the bow. The repairman explained that the bow had been rehaired too tightly and agreed that the bridge had been made completely wrong. He asked where we had acquired the cello and when we said "Rockley's Music", he told us that their shop often received botched up stringed instruments from Rockley's. He explained other problems with Sophie's cello and showed us another messed up cello from Rockley's in the shop. We asked if the quality of the cellos sold by Rockley's improved with the larger-sized instruments, but the repairman told us that was not the case.

In other words, we spent too much on the small-sized cello that we purchased and it would be a bad investment to continue trading in the instrument on larger sizes at Rockley's Music. Bad news on the one hand, but on the other, I was glad to learn the truth before making more costly purchases.

The Golden music store, which specializes in stringed instruments, replaced the bridge on Sophie's cello, made other adjustments to the instrument, and reset the frog on the bow to relieve the pressure on the hair, all within the time it took us to run to a grocery store, get gas, and run the van through a car wash.

Sophie and I had another orchestra performance the same evening, and when I tuned her cello, I was amazed at the improved quality of sound that resonated from her cello! Sophie also noticed how much easier that it was to play.

We are thankful that, in God's Providence, we found the best place in the area to fix Sophie's cello.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Christmas Folk Song

Sophie, in her first "public performance" on cello, plays "O Come Little Children"...



Tarantella by Pieczonka

Last night, Evan kicked off our church Christmas program by playing this piece. It is not Christmas music, but it's his "homemade" gift to anyone who wants to listen. :-)


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

"Try-It-You'll-Like-It" Black Bean Brownies

The Nourishing Gourmet is hosting a Nourishing Sweets and Treats Food Carnival today, featuring recipes sweetened with natural sweeteners. Baking is not my "thing", and I am no gourmet. I tend to avoid baked goods in general due to my gluten intolerance. However, since a person can only go without brownies for so long, I tweaked a black bean recipe that I found online. I realize that black beans and chocolate are not a food combination that would seem good at first glance. However, the beans do provide a moist, gluten-free "flour" for brownies and the taste is completely masked by the cocoa.

Ingredients:

15 oz. can black beans (drained and rinsed well)
3 eggs
1/2 cup agave nectar
3 T. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly oil an 8x8 baking pan. Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender. (I use my stick blender.) Add the beans last and blend thoroughly. Bake for 30 minutes or until it passes the toothpick test. Allow to cool before slicing.

Confession: These brownies crack on the top when baking, but the cracks close up when they cool. If anyone comes up with a recipe tweak to prevent brownie crevasses, let me know! :-)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sisters...Sisters...

My sister Jen has made it quite clear that she thinks Facebook is dumb and will not join. She's a nonconformist, that one. Or maybe anti-social? ;-)

Anyway, I sent her the perfect e-card for her birthday:



She had already seen the card, though, and emailed me, "I knew you would send me that card."

Gotta love sisters!



Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Why I'm a Fan of Facebook

Months ago, several people at church ganged up on me told me that I should join Facebook, a social networking website. I thought the idea a bit pointless, wondering how it would be any different than just emailing my friends, but I caved to peer pressure went ahead and joined. Noticing that Facebook had a search feature to locate any friends that also might be members, I decided to type in the name of my long lost friend, Janet.

Janet and I grew up in a town in Kansas, attending school together, grade school through high school. We became friends especially beginning in fourth grade through the strings program. Janet played violin, and I played cello. Janet already had a head start on violin as well as other instruments, including the accordion! She always set the standard for maturity, hard work, and accomplishment at anything she pursued, whether it be music, or 4H, or academics, yet she was down-to-earth, humble, and easy to talk to. I stood in awe of her achievements, such as winning Grand Prize at the county fair for her sewing, playing accordion and fiddle in a country music band, earning one of the top chairs in the State Honors Orchestra, or accompanying our choir on piano, but she never put on airs or looked down her nose at anyone. Janet always had a strong sense of right and wrong, and was even willing to go to the mat to defend the right. I have to grin when I remember her scraps with two different school bullies over the years, and I recall accompanying her to the vice principal's office in high school in order to discuss our concerns over the conduct (no pun intended) of an orchestra teacher.

Janet and I kept in contact off-and-on through our college years and for several years after. Our last visit together occurred in 1994, I believe, when she visited me in Denver before she traveled to Europe. We wrote to each other during her trip, but I didn't return the last letter and then lost contact with her. I often regretted dropping the ball in our correspondence.

Because Janet had a very common last name, entering her name in the search field of Facebook to find her seemed like looking for a needle in a haystack. Hitting "return" brought up over 500 results! However, the very first person listed with her name featured an avatar of an orchestra with a woman conducting. It turned out to be a fan page for a music teacher in a school located in a country of northern Europe. My curiosity was definitely piqued! I did a Google search and found the website of the school named on the Facebook page. Combing through the site, I found my friend's name and an email address! I sent a brief email to the address, asking if this Janet had grown up in my hometown. When I received a return email, I discovered that I had indeed found MY friend, Janet!

Janet and I exchanged emails and family pictures, but the best part of all came when she had a layover in Denver when visiting her mother this fall. My family and I met her at the airport, and she and I had time to talk for a couple of hours, catching up on each other's lives.

Here we are at the airport:


I celebrated my fortieth birthday the week after our reunion, and I consider the renewal of a good friendship the perfect gift!