Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Meditating on editating...er, editing

Emotions -- the frustrated kind -- have been directed at my iMac most of today. Did I mention this is a new iMac? The really snazzy kind with all the bells and whistles? Yeah.

Anyway, I am working on the latest Free Hugs footage in iMovie. There is a lot of footage, by the way, so I am most likely looking at several edited drafts and I'm currently only just finished with draft one. The problem that keeps coming up is one with iTunes, but I think I finally have it (semi-)solved. We'll see what the future holds, but for now at least I've made it over that teeny tiny hump...(rolls eyes heavenward as she types this).

We like to think that our devices/appliances/computers/etc. will be reliable, especially the newer ones. But they're not. Nothing and no one on this earth, in this life, is 100% reliable but God. Did you see this turning into a sermon post? Me neither. Seriously though, it's true. I have been trying and trying to get this done, and I leave it and I come back, and a few more hairs get pulled from my head. And this isn't even for me! I am doing for the campus ministry, trying to reach out a little further...and just knowing that I'm doing this for God's glory makes me want to work at it that much more. Okay, everything I do is -- or should be -- for the glory of God. There's a whole other sermon post in there, I'm sure of it.

On to happier things: As of last night, two baby birds have hatched! I got to take a look after supper yesterday evening, and there they were, so very tiny. I could barely make out their breathing, and I could see one egg still lying next to its two siblings. And Casey noticed that there are actually some eggs in the porch-eaves nest, so now we have two sets of hatchlings to watch over! Miles, ever the observant child, makes sure we know where the bird poop is located on the porch, telling us "Poo-poo!" and pointing every single time he is near it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bird eggs and toddler beds

I know you wanted those two subjects to be somehow linked together...sorry, they're not. Just two different things I happen to be sharing in the same post.

First, the bird eggs. I've posted before about how martin birds have been laying their eggs in the eaves of our porch since...well, since we moved in, but most likely before then. At first, Casey had wanted to knock the nest down before they could lay the eggs, but he was too late. Baby birds do tend to make a mess on the porch...I don't think I need to say more than that. Even with the messiness, I still love the whole process we get to see them go through. We watch as they build the nest, we peek in at the eggs (sometimes three, sometimes up to five!), then we begin to hear the tiny sounds of newborn baby birds. Pretty soon, we watch them as they make their way onto the eaves and learn to fly away. This will be our third year to witness this little miracle of life, and it hasn't even begun to get old. The difference this time is that our climbing roses, which rest right by the porch, have become the martin birds' new home. Casey discovered the nest one day, and I was a little worried that it wouldn't hold up in there, but it looks pretty sturdy. We took our usual peek into the nest (had to use the stepladder) and I took a photo of three tiny blue speckled eggs. There may be more at this point, we just haven't looked in a week or so. Aren't they just beautiful?

And in other news, last night was Miles' first night in his 'toddler bed'! I put that in quotes because it is basically still his crib, only converted into a toddler bed by taking the front side off. I don't think anybody can know for absolute certain if their child is ready for this change (although there can be some signs, but Miles hasn't shown any), but Casey and I decided that, well, he is two now...let's just see! That was our basic plan right there. And to our pleasant surprise, Miles took to the change very well. I guess we shouldn't be surprised, because he has always seemed to adjust to new transitions without even blinking. Skip a feeding and sleep through the night? Sure! Take the bottle away? What bottle? That kind of thing. We were still a little cautious, and left some quilts and blankets on the floor in case he rolled off in the night, but so far so good. Naptime today went well also. I thought I'd include a photo of Miles trying out the 'big bed' (as we call it -- yes, even though it's the same size) for the first time. All smiles!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Editing, counting, singing and baking

As I sat today looking through and editing our latest 'Free Hugs' footage, I found myself smiling throughout. That's not something I usually do when editing, because I tend to get so focused that it's just all about the work and the technical side rather than the emotional. But really, I couldn't help but smile. I am very blessed to play this part in our campus ministry. And Casey -- well, he's actually getting paid to give out the hugs!

Miles surprised both Casey and I this morning by knowing his numbers from 1 to 10. At least, the best that a two-year-old can know them. We counted slowly and he would fill in the missing numbers as we went along. He is also starting to sing along with us, and what's even more, he is really making up his own little songs here and there which is a lot of fun to hear. I remember doing that exact thing myself when I was about five, playing outside and singing my own made-up tunes.

A new thing I am doing these days is letting Miles watch me as I cook and bake. He absolutely loves it, and we've already made some fun memories with our cookie-making, like licking the beaters (which I got him doing on video) and eating chocolate chips. Yummy times!

With the weather turning so warm the past couple of days, I have been taking Miles outside to burn off some of his seemingly never-ending energy. The best part is that I can sit on a chair and read one of my books while he runs around exploring all things green. It has left me feeling a sleepy peacefulness, and I'm sure we'll be out there again tomorrow.

Mentioning the cookie-baking earlier made me think that I should give a well-deserved (although free) plug to Reynold's Wrap. You heard me! They have a new non-stick aluminum foil, and it has made all the difference in the world in regards to my cookie-baking. I just lay a piece of it on my baking sheet -- which is supposed to be nonstick but I still have to pry the cookies off with a spatula -- and voila! Perfectly golden brown cookies that lift right off, preserving that beautiful underside where you can actually count how many chips you'll be getting with each bite. Sounds like I've been eating too many cookies, doesn't it?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Free hugs and free coffee?!?

Yesterday was not only a beautiful day, but one that was fulfilling. Our campus ministry had experienced their 'Free Hugs' event last month, and decided to bring that back here and give some hugs away on their own campus, plus offer free coffee as well this time. Casey and I were excited about it because this meant that Miles and I could be there as well -- maybe pass out some hugs ourselves! And that's just what we did. I wish I had the kind of time and energy to already have yesterday's footage edited and burned and YouTubed, because there are some truly priceless moments in there. At one point, Miles decided he wanted to hold the sign himself (having watched all of us for more than an hour). This was a whole piece of poster board, so he pretty much could not see over it if he held it directly in front of himself. I don't know if it came through on the audio, but he would say, "Hugs? No?" as people walked by. My very favorite moment, which I've watched over and over, is when I tell Miles that 'this lady here wants a hug, can you give her a hug?' and Miles promptly puts the sign on the ground, says "Okay!" and holds his little arms out wide for that hug. Yeah...that one's definitely going in the video.

If you're wondering, there were plenty of laughs at our expense, plenty of students avoiding us at all costs, and even male students saying to some of our male students, "No thanks, I'm straight." But with all the rejection coming our way, we also got a lot of positive responses, people who actually said, "I could use a hug" and then thanked us afterward. One of our students got a hug from a campus cop! One of my accomplishments was talking someone into coming back for a hug after they had already walked by and said, "No, I can't!"

It's a very simple gesture, and maybe it seems strange to offer a stranger a hug...but let me challenge you to just try it before you voice any skepticism. It was an awesome day.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Twenty-Four Months = TWO YEARS

Dear Miles,

What a ride it has been! Thinking back on the past two years, sometimes it seems like this very long race we have all been running together, while at other times it has been a mere hop-skip-and-jump...and suddenly here you are in the preschool years (which, by the way, I find difficult to wrap my brain around).

I'm trying to take in as much as I can of your adorable cuteness, the kind that only comes with the chubby-cheeked grins and slobbery-wet kisses. There will come a day when I won't be able to pick you up off the ground and swing you high in the air before bringing you into my arms and squeezing you tight. And you may roll your eyes one day as you read this, but it is just something that your mama will always tear up at...the joy and pain of watching her baby become a boy.

We've had such a busy last month! There was your very first Easter egg hunt, in which you were not so much concerned with finding the most eggs but rather with what was in each of those eggs when you picked them up, and also how much you would have liked a bubble machine like the one that was at that hunt! And don't worry about being nervous around that Easter bunny...he means well, but I might have been nervous myself at seeing him for the first time.

You have really grown in your sports abilities. I have seen you making baskets in our garage, throwing a softball at the latest intramural game (outside the field, of course) and also working on your frisbee throw with Daddy. I have no doubt that you will be talented in whatever you choose to do, sports or no sports.

Something else that has caught your eye, especially because the weather is warmer and we are outside more often, are all those bugs flying and crawling around. First thing you do upon seeing one of those creatures is yell, "Bug! Bug!" and then "Get it!" because you have seen both Mama and Daddy 'get' the bugs. I have shown you some bugs up close, and even offered to let you hold them yourself...but you're not ready for that. I'm sure that will come soon. Hey, if Mama can pick up a hairy caterpillar, surely you can do it too!

Miles, you have such an amazing, silly and crazy sense of humor. It thrills your Daddy and I (your Daddy especially, since he's the goofier one) to watch you discover the humor in things. It is something that has drawn us closer to one another -- laughter with your loved ones is so special -- and we love drawing closer to you through laughter as well. There are times when I am so impressed by how quickly you catch on to funny things, and I am happily surprised when you and I, with a 30-year-gap between us, can laugh and laugh at the same things. Although, that might just say something about my own sense of humor.

It seems you've experienced so many new things this month. I think your relationship with Junebug, our resident kitty, has even grown. She even inadvertently taught you how to scratch your 'claws' on the tree the other day -- go figure! And I have come to appreciate her more as I see her give every ounce of her patience to you. She endures so many kisses and hugs, and she may have a slight gleam in her eye at the time, but I think deep down she enjoys the attention. You will always love your Junies.

We visited the zoo as part of your birthday weekend -- your very first time at a zoo! It seemed to take you a while to get the idea, but I think once you saw those elephants -- really all the biggest animals -- you were sold. And I couldn't help but notice that moment when you were staring through the glass at the panda bear, and all the while you clutched another bear in your arm. I always feel as though I am getting another chance at seeing things for the first time because of you. It is unreal how the rest of the world can melt away when you view the world through your child's eyes. Because of that, I thank you for sharing that pure, untouched joy in your heart.

Speaking of joy, I don't know that I imagined how excited you would be at finding several dozen balloons waiting for you on the living room floor when you woke from your nap yesterday (the continuing birthday festivities). It was a last-minute idea I'd had, and so there was your sweet Daddy, blowing up all those balloons (I helped with about three of them) before you woke up. I think it was all worth it, though, hearing you giggle and squeal with delight while running back and forth, inviting any and all to join you in the "'boons!" Ah, the simple things.

And wasn't I right about you being able to blow out your birthday candle? You did it! Not only that, but you actually requested that we sing 'Happy Birthday'
twice. And today I must have sung that song to you at least ten times over. Maybe I didn't want the day to end myself. It's tough, kid...it's tough.

I know I won't always be able to watch over you, my sweet boy. But at least for now, I will hold you and give you all the love I can possibly give so that when I am not there with you, at least my love will be. You are my heart.



Monday, April 07, 2008

The time...it flies

Here I sit with my almost-midnight snack: warm milk and chocolate chip cookies. Yum.

I couldn't let the day go by without mentioning an anniversary of sorts. I should have mentioned it two days ago, but as I was very busy with Miles while Casey was away it slipped my mind.

Two years ago today, I took a very painful and seemingly endless ambulance ride to a hospital over an hour away because a doctor thought that Miles might need to be delivered early. My appendix had been ruled out and the fear was that I might have an infection in my uterus, which would be very dangerous for a baby. By this time that night, the infection had been ruled out, and although I continued having horrible Braxton Hicks contractions, I was convinced that I would be going home within a few short days...

...and you know the rest of the story, but Miles was born less than a week later in that hospital.

Friday, April 04, 2008

If frogging my knitting is wrong...I don't want to be right

I can't really think of anyone else who will read this and be as excited about it as I am (except maybe Vivi), but...I am finally getting the concept of double knitting -- woohoo! For some reason I will get it in my head to try a new pattern, and usually it will be something I want to give as a gift. Not only that, but oftentimes this new pattern will involve some kind of knitting technique that I have never tried before. I've been knitting a little while now, but I'm only just starting to get more and more outside my comfort zone of, well, scarves and such. I haven't made it to full-blown sweaters, but that time is coming (and I have just the pattern when it does!).

So I was looking up a certain theme -- which I can't reveal at the moment, just in case the person reads this and figures out the gift is for them -- and found a plethora of patterns. But only one really caught my eye and I knew it was perfect. However, it involved the aforementioned double knitting technique which I've never attempted. Now, I could actually knit this pattern without doing the double knitting, but it doesn't look near as cool (nor does it make me feel as cool, and isn't that what's important here?). So for several days I have been looking and looking...and looking on the internet to get help on this technique. I was sure at least two of my knitting books would have all the details, but no. I found different things, but I must be a very particular type of learner because it seemed like each set of instructions just wasn't helping. At one point I was sure I had the technique down in my head, but when I tried to carry it out with yarn and needles, I fell very short of the mark.

I think I started over no less than four times -- and I mean, I put in a good amount of time and effort on those beginnings -- only to have to frog all my work. In knitting, 'frogging' your work means pulling worked stitches out rather than going back stitch by stitch on the needles. It's called 'frogging' because what you have to do with your work essentially is rip it...which sounds like 'ribbit'...and that is the sound a frog makes. How clever is that? I've lost the attention of the non-knitters already, haven't I?

Anyway, getting back to my project. I finally had found a decent pattern online that really helped me grasp the concept. So I cast on my stitches and knit the first round. When I came to the second round, that's where it all started falling into place. I think in anything you are really trying hard to accomplish and struggle through until you finally get it, that moment is just so rewarding. So I thought I would share.

Now, let me get through the next several rows and make absolute certain I'm doing this thing right before I share anymore...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Free Hugs: Rebels For Christ in West Virginia

Lately most of my time has been spent in front of the computer, but obviously not to post on the blog! I've been entrenched in video editing, something I have come to enjoy so much. I guess it sort of goes along with my photography work, but I really do like the cutting and pasting of clips, pulling audio and adding it to a title page, adding music to a clip and making sure that one note hits at just the right time...good stuff.

I have mostly finished editing the footage from our campus ministry's trip to Morgantown, West Virginia (still working on the outtakes portion, but already gotten lots of laughs from Casey, who has seen what I've done so far). After watching all that video over and over again, I actually felt like I had been on the trip with that group of students. There is plenty of hilarity in there, but also some very heartfelt moments, which is my reason for writing today.

Two days ago I posted a video on YouTube from just one of the seven days they spent traveling or working there in West Virginia. Day six was spent on the campus, where the Rebels For Christ did their own version of the 'Free Hugs' campaign -- something started a while back by one guy and since then it has pretty much been everywhere. Casey picked the perfect song to add to the video, and thankfully I love it because since I had to listen to it so many times it has not stopped running through my head! If you would like to see our students giving out free hugs in West Virginia, just click here.

Added later: You can also just click on the top YouTube video in the sidebar to the right...I just saw that I could put that in today!
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