Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Converting Photographs to Digital using iMemories #CBias #Preserving Memories

I remember when my first child was born - my camera was an extension of my own body.  That child had more pictures taken of her than Marilyn Monroe.  I made my weekly trip to the convenience store to drop off film and anxiously await the return of my precious memories.  Of course, more times that not, I'd look through my 24 shot role only to find several duplicates and the occassional picture of my thumb, knee or big toe. 

When digital camera came out - I was on it!  Of course, I love all things tech.  But, the idea of being able to take virtually unlimited photos and to simply delete those I didn't want was very appealing.  In addition to that, I could store these memories away safely without worry they'd melt in the attic or turn yellow or get thumbprints all over them, or simply get lost.

What to do with those pre-digi photographs I had laying around?

The hubby and I began converting many of them to digital using the household printer/scanner.

This is a tedious process, but one we deemed worth it.  We'd scan for a while, then lose steam and quit for a while.  We've even offered young'uns compensation for a day spent chained to the scanner.

There is one tub of photos that I just can't seem to get around to scanning.

They are wonderful photos, but my motivation has utterly waned.  In to the rescue comes a wonderful shoppertunity where I was able to use iMemories for the conversion and the UPS Store for mailing and delivery!  Yay!

The hubby and I sorted through the tub of photos removing the blurry, duplicate and unidentifiable. 

Out of a LARGE stack of photos - we came up with 123 we really wanted converted.

Off to the UPS Store I went.  Mailing it out was quick and easy - yay!  They even packaged it for me!

About week after I sent them off, iMemories emailed me letting me know that my memories had been received, and I could choose whether to have them simply converted, put on DVD and sent to me or whether I wanted to use their online program to sort and lable the photos.  I said - just send them to me! 

They arrived today!  They were meticulously packaged so as to ensure no damage - I really appreciate that!

Here is my tub of memories all in jpg format.  You KNOW some of these will end up on this blog!  :-)

I have to say - it's a bit expensive, but, honestly, memories are priceless!  Having them on DVD and eventually stored in the cloud will ensure I can harken back to days gone by worry free.  What a great opportunity to preserve my children's growing up years right at a time they are starting to leave the nest!

*** This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias #Preserving Memories

Wordless Wednesday - It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas!

Decorating is so much a part of the holiday season!  We usually decorate the day after Thanksgiving, but this year we weren't able to until Sunday.  It was still a blast, and now we're ready to enjoy the beauty of the season!


When do you decorate for Christmas?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Review - The 21-Day Dad's Challenge

The 21-Day Dad’s Challenge
Three Weeks to a Better Relationship with your Kids

I really like the concept of this book.  Famous fathers like Tony Dungy and Randy Alcorn among many others offer their advice as to what it takes to really connect with your children and have a better relationship.
Each of the 21 days includes a story by one of many men, a challenge to you as a father, and a plan for you to execute your plan.  Each day also includes scripture and detail about who the author is.

I believe men would really find this book appealing if they do in fact want to develop a better relationship with their progeny.  Men like plans – this book offers plans.  Men like small chunks of advice and ways to relate that information to the “real world”.  Well, at least all the men I know do. 
The stories are all heart-felt and realistic.  Written from the man's perspective, they apply to different times in a father’s life.  There are places where our children have grown beyond the helpfulness of the advice in the context it is given.  However, one can always look back and see what he did during that stage of his children’s lives and what, if anything, he might have tried to do differently.

I think it would be interesting to have men write their own final day.  What I’ve learned, what advice I’d give that hasn’t been given, and what takeaways were the most valuable.
We all embrace the opportunity to be better parents, but, sometimes, life gets busy and it’s hard to rise to the challenge without a guide-book of sorts leading the way.  Any man willing to invest three weeks in his relationship with his children will appreciate this book.

***  I received this book free of charge from Tyndale in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back to the Grind - Creative Holiday Schoolin'

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving – we sure did!
It’s hard to get back into homeschool mode, though.  We put up the tree yesterday – there are festive adornments all about.  Changing the brain back to thinking about Biology and Geometry and Grammar is hard for the kids and for me!

Three more weeks and then we get another break!  Yay! 
Between now and then, we’re going to take advantage of some of our activities being on hiatus and use some different modes of learning from our traditional textbooks.

Today – youngest and I listened to Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky.  This week were going to put together a world puzzle to help reinforce the World Geography he’s been learning at our co-op, and both boys and I are going to build robotic bugs.  How fun!  (All in addition to the usual textbook stuff, of course!)
Baking will be taking place as well.  A little home ec for the Margaret LeBaron Academy.  I can’t wait to taste our “experiments”.    We may even throw in some art in the form or ornaments for family and friends.

I LOVE this time of year!  (Yes, I know you know that already.) 
What fun learning activities will you take advantage of between now and Christmas?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Slim Down Sunday Meme - Week 20

Heartfelt HomeschoolingWhether you want to lose lose weight, get fit, eat healthier or all of the above – it always helps to have support from those around you.

Goal – (Revised) Run in a 5K  

How it Went This Week:

I don't know about you guys - but I gobbled till I wobbled on Thanksgiving!  My mother-in-law made her famous sweet potatoe pie, which she sent home with me.  I managed to eat that thing all gone.  Yum! 

This week will reflect more self control as we're past Thanksgiving and not quite to the point of baking yet.  I hope to exericise some self control.

My ankle is still swelling like crazy and I've been sick since Wednesday to top it off.  So, very little exercise - unless you count shopping till I drop.  :-)

What’s my Plan for next Week:

This week should be good exercise wise!  We have a three hour TKD practice on Sunday, then classes T/W/2 hrs Th/3 hrs F/ testing on Saturday and our first demo Saturday night.  Phew!  My ankle is NOT going to be happy, but I'm ignoring it since there isn't any pain to go along with the swelling.  It's just annoying and uncomfortable.

I hope the cold is gone by Monday so the hubby and I can resume our running plans.

Did you shop till you dropped?  What are your exercise plans this week?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday - I think I Get it Now!

I’m a die-hard money saver.  I always say – my favorite number is free.  One of my goals in life is to never pay full price.  I can’t always make that happen, but, just ask my kids, I come pretty durn close.

Black Friday – you would think – should appeal to me.  It’s all about saving money on Christmas presents!  One of my favorite things in life is to give gifts at Christmas time.  I usually start shopping the day after Christmas and am ready to wrap by the time November rolls around.  Not so this year – it’s been an odd year.

So, I took on the idea of Black Friday.  I was a little wary as I did go out in years past to experience people running, throwing elbows and being rude.  Nothing about that exemplifies Christmas to me.
Last year, my daughter talked me into going out to Target, and I was pleasantly surprised by the deals.  This year, I decided I must partake as my lack of present accumulation, my commitment to only buying what people want, and my penchant for saving money were all clambering to be put into action.  My daughter and her friend were kind enough to join me!  :-)

Add to this I was offered a lovely shoppertunity to check out Target’s sales, and it was on.  (You can see my pictorial excursion on Pinterest.)

How did it go?  GRRRREAT!  The lines were insane, but we got into the store in less than seven minutes and giddy up!

I saved hand over fist on items for my sister’s family, my dad’s family, my sister-in-law and my good friend! Yes!   I was really impressed that Target had everything in stock!

Then, the next day, my son wanted to go to the mall, and I stopped into JCPenney.  The doorbusters were still going on and STILL in stock.  I picked up about ten more gifts.

I think I’m hooked!  What do I list as the benefits of Black Friday:

1.       A fun excursion with family or friends to kick off the holiday

2.       Saving Cha-Ching

3.       Getting gifts right before the holiday so you know they are wanted

4.       Saving Cha-Ching

5.       Regaining a little faith in retailers when good items are reasonably priced and in stock

6.       The fun of sharing my treasures with friends as we talk about our finds

7.       The joy of giving

I’m not saying you’ll ever find me camped out in front of a store, but I do think Black Friday just might become one of my new traditions.

How about you?  Did you shop on Black Friday?  Did you enjoy the experience?  What were your favorite finds? 

Friday, November 25, 2011

How Christmas Ornaments Reflect Our Family's Unique Personalities

This year we got an extra special treat!  I was offered a shoppertunity by #CBias to spend $50 on holiday ornaments at Kmart.

We LOVE holiday decorating.  Ok, I LOVE holiday decorating, and, most years, my passion for the season rubs off on my family.  We always decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving, so this opportunity came at just the perfect time.
I immediately went to the Kmart holiday web page to see what the selection was like.  687 ornaments to choose from – wow! 

I perused and thought about how fun it would be to by a new theme of ornaments to put on the tree.  Then, I realized, it would be even more fun to let each person just pick a couple they loved so that he/she could enjoy putting them on the tree in years to come.   My daughter, my hubby and my two younger boys were able to go.  My oldest son had to work. 
When we arrived we were amazed at all the choices.  They were nicely arranged so that you could get a sense of what each theme would be like on your tree.  But – we weren’t after a theme, we were after ornaments to fit our personalities.

My daughter has a fun and silly personality.  She immediately gravitated to the Christmas pickle.  Yes, you read that right – pickle.  Apparently, it comes complete with legend.  You bury it inside the tree and on Christmas morn everyone looks for it.  This encourages the family to focus on the beauty of Christmas rather than the presents.  She also went with a little red, glass mitten.  Very cute!

My middle son is more pragmatic.   Additionally, being a young teen, he was more interested in his text messaging than selecting ornaments.  He did finally go with blue snowflakes.  I can appreciate this selection as we redid the living room in blue this year, so it’ll be nice to add some blue to the tree.

I went with icicles.  There’s just something lovely about icicles hanging on a Christmas tree reminding me of the wintery weather outdoors and the season that Christmas is celebrated in.  My family always had icicles on their tree and my mother-in-law does as well. I’m happy well have some on our tree this year too!

I also went with some lovely red cranberry balls.  They just seemed very elegant and stylish to me.  I don't know how stylish they'll be alongside a pickle, but, hey, that's our family!  :-)

The youngest son and the hubby are animal lovers.  Youngest went with a silly penguin doing a belly flop.  It made him laugh when he saw it, so he had to have it.  He added to it a lovelybird from the blue collection so the penguin wouldn’t be the only new fowl and thus lonely. 

Hubby – he loves dogs.  He’s foolish over our deaf Boston Terrier, Daisy.  The didn’t have a Boston ornament, which is OK because we already have a few, so he went with Snoopy and another dog from the Country Living Vintage Collection.  Very representative of him.

I’d even more excited to get the tree up this year so we can add our additions to it.  We’ll be decorating Saturday night when my older son can be home to do it with us.  Yes, I’ll post the ornaments on the tree so you can see how it all turns out. 

What fun it was letting each person pick!  I never would have picked a penguin or a pickle myself, but the tree will mean so much more as it continues to reflect our eclectic and wonderfully unique family.

If you’d like to see our whole shopping experience, check out my Google+ album here.

Thank you to #CBias Collective Bias for the chance to make new memories with my family this holiday season as we move toward enjoying the celebration of the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ!

***  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. #CBias

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Fall Reds

My favorite colors of fall are the reds and oranges.  They are so vibrant and beautiful!  We didn't have as many of these colors growing up in Colorado, so even fifteen years later I'm still taken aback by the beauty of a North Carolina fall.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sometimes - They have to Learn the Hard Way

Learning the hard way is something I’ve always been adverse to letting my kids experience.  This has been to their detriment, I’m afraid.  I’ve always wanted to pave the way for them making life easy and pleasant.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t teach them that things can go wrong and that self-reliance is a critical life skill.

My oldest son moved out two months ago.  A few years back, I would have stopped him, but this time we realized that he needed to learn for himself what it’s like to be on your own.  No manner of us telling him was going to have the same impact as learning it for himself.
Tonight, I had a wonderful conversation with him.  Yes, it’s tough being on your own.  Yes, it’s expensive.  Yes, he has to work 40 – 60 hours per week just to pay the bills with little left over for “fun”.  No, soda doesn’t materialize in the pantry or food in the fridge.  No, the heat, water, AC and electricity aren’t free.  Wi-Fi isn’t something that is magically present nor is cable.  He’s learning all that.  He’s learning about coupons and taxes and making choices between gas for the car and eating out.  Things I couldn’t just teach him by telling him.

Yes, we did try to tell him.  But, until he experienced it for himself, he didn’t really value the message.  I think the trick as our teens become young adults it so let them experience tough times while still knowing when it’s time to walk in and help out.  We’re playing this part by ear.
He thinks that at the end of his lease it might be nice to move back in and have a family around that loves him and food in the pantry and AC/Heat without worrying about the bill. I agree.  However, if he finds his groove and wants to stay independent and on his own, we’ll support that too.  I'm proud of him for choosing to take on adult responsibility and living up to the bills and pitfalls that come with it.  I’m also glad we’re a family where he’ll always have a home.

Boy it’s hard letting your kids become adults! 
Do you have kids who have moved out?  How did that go?  How much help did they need in the beginning?  When did you know to step in or to stay out?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Slim Down Sunday Meme - Week 19

Heartfelt HomeschoolingWhether you want to lose lose weight, get fit, eat healthier or all of the above – it always helps to have support from those around you.

Goal – (Revised) Run in a 5K  

How it Went This Week:

Sorry I missed last week - time got away from me...  ;-)

This week has been interesting.   The hubby and I have committed to running together on Mondays and Saturdays.  We checked out the new satellite Y on Monday and ran about two miles on the treadmills.  That was fun! 

TKD kept us busy the rest of the week.  We're getting ready for our first big demo on December 3rd, and with the Thanksgiving holiday in the middle, we're scheduling longer practices.  In fact, we have a three hour one today.

The only problem with that is that I took a really good kick to the shin on Wednesday and again on Friday that has resulted in a lot of swelling and bruising down around my inner ankle.   Must have broken a blood vessel or something because the swelling/bruising has to be from pooling blood.  No pain, but the swelling is really irritating! 

Thus, no running for hubby and me on Saturday.  I'm a little nervous how the leg will respond to three hours on Sunday, but we'll just have to see.  I see lots of ice and Advil in my near future.

What’s my Plan for next Week:

Thanksgiving week!  Can you believe it?  Here already.  Christmas will be here in no time!  Yikes!

My goal is portion control.  I'm gonna gobble; I just don't want to end up wobbling.  So...  Portion control.  That will be the mantra until the New Year me thinks. 

Keeping up with the exercise is big.  I'm hoping the ankle cooperates and we can keep our plan of running in the works. 

Are you ready for the holiday?  What recipes do you use that are delicious and still cut calories/fat? 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Black Friday - Considering the Three S's

I’ve never been a huge fan of Black Friday.  I’m crowd averse for one thing.  For another, I did try going out one year and was appalled by the people running through the aisles when the store opened.  That’s just not in my personality.  Sure, I'm competitive, but Christmas shopping is a laid-back, fun thing to me, not a competitive marathon.

That being said – there are some really good deals out there, and I haven’t started my shopping yet.  Yikes!

So, as I see it – there are three S’s to consider for Black Friday:

Sales – this is a big one.  Free is my favorite number.  After that, anything proceeded by Clearance makes me happy.  I LOVE a good sale.  In fact, I would say I’m adverse to paying full price for anything.

Sleep – this is my other favorite!  Sleep keeps me happy.  Sleep is that cozy, warm place I go to on chilly days when the nap fairy calls my name.  I’m in bed before 10:00pm and not one to spryly jump out of bed in the morning.  Lack of sleep doesn’t wear well on me.  I can get rather, well, grumpy.

Sanity – here’s the key…  Which keeps me more sane – saving money or getting my much valued zzz’s?  Most years, my shopping is almost done by now and Sleep wins; however, this year, I’m barely started and panicking.

So…  Do I brave Black Friday in hopes of getting those great deals sans the callisthenic workout?  Or, do I sleep in, hoping those bargains will be found without the stress?  Which one will preserve my sanity? 

I have the feeling I won’t make that call until late Thursday.  Some of it will depend on whether or not my daughter can go with me.  Some of it will depend on my sleepiness that night.  Some of it will depend on whether or not I have the desire to respond when the alarm goes off (providing it’s set). 

Do you do Black Friday? What strategies do you have?  How much sanity is lost?  Is it worth the bargains you find? 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Edible Science - Cellular Cookie

Middle son spent yesterday afternoon making a replication of a cell using a giant cookie and frosting.  Now, that is fun science!  It's his final project for his co-op biology class before the holiday.  Love that she made them lable everything!  Since each student is bringing one in - I think there will be a sugar coma by the time biology lab is over.  Maybe they should do a insulin lab next... lol

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Fall is Scarf Weather

When fall hits, I think warmth.  Since I've newly discovered a love for crochet, scarves are on my radar.

Here's my newest creation - easy and fun!

I just love varigated yarns - great color combinations without a lot of work changing threads!

A perfect fall day for a scarf!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas Gift Giving - E-readers for In-laws? Help!

This year I’ve seriously been considering getting my in-laws an e-reader like a Kindle or Nook.  They both love to read, but eye-sight can be an issue at times.  The Kindle lets them increase the font size putting less strain on the eyes.  We have an older Kindle that we use all the time in our homeschool.

The problem is that they don’t have internet, thus no wi-fi.  Now, that can be resolved by getting a Kindle with wi-fi; however, it’s a bigger investment.  We’re talking the difference of about $60.  If we’re going to go that expensive, (to me that’s getting to be an expensive gift), then the Kindle Fire that includes a browser for getting online and is color is only $199.  BUT – no 3G, back to the Wi-Fi dilemma.

Add to that, my husband doesn’t think they’ll really take advantage of it, especially if they have to seek out wi-fi to use it.  (Remember my resolution to give only meaningful gifts this year?)

I tend to think there is plenty of wi-fi availability these days so that it could be easy for them to use.  They can download books at our house and would have the online capabilities for the occasional times when they want it.  It’s not like they are going to want to surf daily.  Or, who knows, maybe they will.

What do you think?

1.        Get a Kindle (or if there’s a better e-reader out there – please tell me!) that has no wi-fi and let them download at our house
2.           Get a Kindle with 3G so they can download at home
3.           Go big and get a Kindle Fire
4.           Start thinking of something else
The problem is that they already have everything.  It takes a lot of brain wracking to think of something they’d really like.  We’ve been hit or miss the last few years, but technology is one of the areas they don’t have much.  It’s worth the investment if they’ll use it, but if it ends up in a box (like the digital picture frame), then that’s not money well spent.

Do you use an e-reader?  How about your in-laws or grandparents?  Does getting online make all the difference?  To 3G or not to 3G, that is the question?  lol