Friday, February 27, 2009

A week of wonder

Monday:b&eedited   

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Elise & Becca are *wonder*ful friends!

Tuesday:

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My whirring windmill...put the camera on the tripod, set the shutter speed to really slow, and got a fun shot of my awesome windmill spinning in the wind!

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Later on Tuesday, after the wind, we had some amazing sun and dark rain clouds, which produced this lovely rainbow. Wonderful reminder of a wonderful promise.

Wednesday:

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In the afternoon it began to snow! I couldn't believe it actually started to snow hard and stick to the ground! By late afternoon we had a few inches and it was still coming down. I had to drive in it because the girls had lessons and it was pretty nasty by the time darkness fell. I went to bed pretty convinced we would have a disruption to our normal Thursday routine due to the snow and I was right! No school! Will wonders never cease? ;)

The girls got to play outside with the neighbors quite a lot! Sarah and her friend like to build snow forts in the crawlspace access.

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Click here to see pictures of our snow day on Thursday!

For my photography-minded friends who read my blog: I used www.picnik.com to edit some of those pictures. It was pretty fun! It's a free online tool one of my fellow blogging photographer friends told me about, so I just had to try it out!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Blessed be the name of the Lord

We sang that song in church yesterday. You know the one...Some of the words are:

"Every blessing You pour out, I'll turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in, Lord, Still I will say, Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be Your name. Blessed be the name of the Lord, Blessed be Your glorious name."

and

"You give and take away, You give and take away. My heart will choose to say; Lord, blessed be Your name."

That's an emotional song, no matter when in your life you sing it. Everyone's had blessings from the Lord, and everyone's had hard times where they question how this can be God's will and where you just don't feel like saying "Blessed be the name of the Lord." And yet, when we can make the choice, to just trust, to just praise, no matter the circumstances, it's an affirmation of our faith and what we know to be true. God is good. All the time.

I was particularly moved by the song yesterday, however, because of the things that happened in our week. My last blog post was about some of the little things that "made my week". Shortly after I posted that, we found out that Ed's Aunt Joanne is dying. She has been battling pancreatic cancer for almost a year and the treatments are no longer effective. Hospice is caring for her now and she & family are saying their good-byes. It is so heart-breaking for the family, and for us. Aunt Joanne is the oldest sister of Ed's mom, who passed away a little over a year ago of cancer. They also had an older brother who died of cancer in 2001. Their father died of cancer in 2002. Anyway, singing that song in church yesterday, I was emotional. "He gives and takes away."

IMG_2384 IMG_2366 Aunt Joanne was one of my MIL's main caregivers during her treatments and time of illness. During that time she was also like a grandma to my girls whenever we saw her and Uncle Gordon. We are so thankful to her for that. She made it so much easier on Ed & I and on the girls, when Ed's mom couldn't be the grandma she wanted to be because of her brain tumor. We are so thankful for Aunt Joanne and for the life she lived and the testimony she gave and the example she set. "My heart will choose to say, 'Blessed be the name of the Lord.'" One more picture - this one of Ed's mom, Aunt Judy, and Aunt Joanne (the 3 sisters) at the big family reunion in the summer of 2005. We were so thankful to be a part of that reunion weekend.DSC04440

The day after we heard that Aunt Joanne is nearing the end, we found out that Ed's brother and his wife are expecting baby #4! Again, part of the : "He gives and takes away."

IMG_0705 This is a picture of our picture frame (sits on the mantel) containing the pictures of the "other Ball family", as we like to call them. :) (It's OK because that's what they call us.) Anyway, these pictures are over a year old, because the baby in that picture is Rowan and she turned one in September. So...I need some new pictures of them, I know, but I'll get some soon! They bought tickets yesterday to come visit us in June and we are so excited! The cute boy on the top left is Connor and he is almost 3 1/2. The little girl on the top right is Kennedy and she just turned 5. Baby Ball #4 is due in late October, so traveling shouldn't bee too hard for my sister-in-law Jacqueline in June. Again, "My heart will choose to say, 'Blessed be the name of the Lord.'"

So, those are Friday's pictures of the day.

Saturday, Feb. 21 was this cute little guy's birthday:

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My little nephew Josh is 3 and I can't believe it! This is one kid who absolutely loves life and lives every moment to its fullest! He is in love with both his parents and has the best giggle in the world. He is a blessing and he is going to be a big brother in just a few months to another little DeJong baby blessing. Josh, we love you and your mommy and daddy and the new baby, too!

Sarah also had her last basketball game on Saturday. She didn't score a lot (2 baskets, I think), but she played good defense and her team won! Hooray! Here's a picture of her fending off some defense while dribbling:

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Yesterday was your typical church and Sunday lunch day, complete with some family Wii time in the afternoon:

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Gotta love Mario Kart!

I have to make one other comment about this last picture. See how Becca's hair is totally in her face? For some reason, she likes it like that and no matter what I do, it always ends up in her face like that. Whenever we visited Aunt Joanne, she and Uncle Gordon would tease Becca about that. Whenever she had her hair in her face they would say, "Oh, here's Pete! Don't know where Becca is, but Pete is here!" To this day we still call Becca 'Pete' when her hair is in her face. Thanks, Aunt Joanne and Uncle Gordon for the memories.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

things that made my week

1. flowers that arrived as a thank you from all my GEMS CounselorsIMG_0645 IMG_0648 

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2. watching Sarah achieve her PE challenge of walking over 92,000 steps in 8 days...this picture represents yesterday's total (& picture of the day)

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3. playing outside at the neighbors' with the little girls

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Okay, I have to admit that last photo has been edited. I was messing with shutter speeds and apertures and ended up totally over-exposing this picture...so I messed around with it a bit until it looked kind of fun.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Weekend in Seattle

We spent this past weekend hanging out as a family in the Seattle area. You can view pictures by clicking here. Before you go to the web album, I'll give you a brief overview and a couple other points of information:
1. Pictures are not in order. That is because some of them are from my camera, some from Ed's, and some from Sarah's. Sorry.
2. The swimming pictures are not real great because it was SOOOO dark in the pool area and in order to get the pictures to not be blurry, I had to use a fast shutter speed, which, even with a high ISO, created dark pictures. Unfortunately the pictures turned out even darker than I thought they were when I look at them on the screen. So, I tried to add light to a few of them, so they look really weird. I should have just gone ahead and used the flash, but I am still trying to learn my camera and was trying out lots of different things. I just didn't try that one thing. Sorry about that.
3. The trip:
We left on Saturday after Sarah's game and headed down to IKEA. Lots of traffic awaited us, but we finally arrived and had fun walking through there, eating there, and buying some cool stuff. We did not get lost. Only people who can't follow signs (parental units) get lost in IKEA.
Saturday evening we had snacks at the hotel and swam. The hotel was 100% full and so the pool was also quite overcrowded, so we didn't stay terribly long in the pool that evening. We played charades in the room and just generally had fun together until bedtime.
Sunday morning we had breakfast and swam before heading out to the Seattle Center. We ended up driving because we were afraid that it'd be dark by the time we were headed back to the hotel and we didn't want to be on a bus in downtown Seattle in the dark. We found a parking place really close to the Space Needle for only $5, so we were happy with our decision! We had some lunch in the Center House and then headed downstairs for the museum. This place was also extremely packed, and we noticed it was mostly packed with couples who had only one child. I think that's what children's museums are for...at least if you think they're going to be educational. Two parents + one child + educational & fun activities = great children's museum. On the other hand, two parents + 4 children + educational & fun activities = a lot of running from one thing to the next. But it was fun anyway.
Then we had Baskin Robbins ice cream and went back to the hotel for a swim. This time it was almost completely empty, so the girls had a great time. We had snacks in the hotel and then watched "The Tale of Despereaux." It was quite good, but a tad scary. I was very surprised there were no nightmares that night! We put the little ones to bed and then Ed & I played a game of Uno with the two big girls. They thought that was absolutely the coolest.
Monday morning we again had breakfast and swam and then packed up and headed out. The girls were so tired, as were Ed & I, so we didn't do anything much on the way home and arrived home around 2:00 in the afternoon. That was nice because the girls had a chance to play and then get ready for school and even go to the GEMS Skating party, which I was quite sure we would not go to. But they begged and pleaded, so of course I caved. :)
4. Evaluation: I would not probably stay in that hotel again. For the price and for all the rave reviews I heard, my reaction was "Really? Why?" I will not probably take my kids to the Seattle Children's Museum again. Too much money for what is there, plus the two oldest ones are really too old for it, even though they advertise as being for ages 1-10. Will I take my family on an out-of-town weekend again? Absolutely! We loved every minute of hanging out together with zero distractions.
Enjoy the photos!

Friday, February 13, 2009

A few photos of the day

Sarah practicing piano:

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And the girls and the Valentines they brought to school this week:

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And the girls with the Valentines they brought HOME from school this week:

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And the Valentine Bethany made for the mother she adores:

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It reads: "Dear Honey Pie, I love you, Sugar Lips! You are my Soul Mate. I think you are Too Cool. From Guess who?"

Love it!

We are off for the weekend...will post more Valentine's Day pictures and family fun photos next week! Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Of Mice & Men

As you know, we had some guests this past weekend.

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Mosey and Cheesecake, Sarah's class pet rats were really quite easy guests, though they did rustle around at night a lot. I can't really blame them, being that they're nocturnal and all, but I am also glad to say they are gone! Sarah's pretty excited today, though, because our friends and neighbors have agreed to adopt the rats when her class is finished with their experiments this week. That means Sarah and Ed can go visit the rats any time they want. I hope they take the other girls with them so I can take a nap while they're gone. ;)

Becca's been fighting a cough, cold, and fever on and off for the last few days, so she's been doing a lot of this:

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She only coughs at night if we forget to give her medicine. And today she was fine all day until dinner time when suddenly her fever spiked again. :(

And unfortunately for Ed & I, Elise has not been doing much of this:

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I know, I know, she's precious when she's sleeping, but let me tell you, she has not been precious enough! She's been having night terrors, the poor thing. She wakes up 3 or 4 times a night between 10:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., usually screaming and rather inconsolable at least one of those times. I feel badly for her, but this lack of sleep is seriously wearing on me!

And just to be fair, here are pictures of my other two sleeping beauties:

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Let's see...what else...

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On Sunday we had my parents and grandma over for lunch and we celebrated Valentine's Day with them. The girls made Valentines for them and my parents always have some cute books, candy, and fun stuffed toy from the thrift store as a Valentine's present. Elise loved her "webkinz" and gave Grandma a kiss to say thank you!

IMG_0210 Becca loves her princess Minnie and is jumping on Grandpa to give a thank you hug!

IMG_0228 My parents seemed to really like the accordian picture Valentine card the girls & I made for them this year.

IMG_0230 Here's my grandma holding hers. I won't make these pictures bigger because there are some grandparents reading this blog who haven't received theirs in the mail yet...so just you wait! ;)

IMG_0236 Monday night was perhaps the most fun GEMS we have ever had. Each counselor took a group of four girls around town to visit some of the widows from our church. It was such a blessing to us and hopefully to them!

As promised, here's my friend Dee at our scrapbooking get-together today. She nicely posed for me while I tried to figure out how to get the right color and light on an indoor photo. I'm having some trouble with that on my new camera yet because I prefer not to use the flash if I can avoid it. I ended up doing a little editing in Picasa to get this one a tad better.

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Funny story to end this long blog post: you may remember that Dee's son Sam and Becca are pretty good friends; in fact, they are currently planning to get married and Dee & I gleefully take pictures of them together to use in their reception video someday. With that background, listen to this. Sam's dad John recently shaved off his beard, at the request of Dee. She was the only one who didn't like it, so he obliged her and shaved it off. John later asked Sam if he would like to grow a beard someday. Sam thought about it and said, ever-so-matter-of-factly, "I'll have to ask Becca."

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Superstar!

A couple short videos of Sarah's game yesterday.  The first one seems to have uploaded weird, but if you click the button with the arrow it seems to work. Sarah is running down the court with the ball. On the second one, Sarah has the ball out of bounds and throws it in with a slight error, but recovers nicely. The woman you hear talking and cheering and commenting is not me...it is my 85 year old grandmother!


Saturday, February 7, 2009

I hate feeling behind

I really do. My laptop screen has been out all week again and the only way to get at my "stuff" is remotely from Ed's computer.  But that process is slow and weird and frankly,  it's annoying. Slowly but surely we're transferring everything to Ed's computer, mostly because I'm kind of going a bit crazy with the current set-up. I really hate feeling behind on my "project 365!"

So, without further ado:

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Saturday, January 31: my life is full of laundry, as you well know.

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Sunday, Feb. 1: My DH who does dishes and washes tables. He had to get in at least one photo-of-the-day doing this for me!

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Monday, Feb. 2: Bethany is working on her violin. Yes, she usually makes that face while playing her violin. She really is just concentrating.

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Tuesday, Feb. 3: Ed works late on Tuesdays, so this week the girls and I worked on their Valentines for their classes. They were thrilled that as their reward for working hard I let them actually eat one of the chocolates! Pictures of finished Valentines to follow in a few days...

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Wednesday, Feb. 4: I captured Bethany practicing her newest CMT song, "Puff the Magic Dragon." Oh, to be back in Hanalei!

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Thursday, Feb. 5: Sarah's been participating in this great Chapel Leadership Group at school and this past Thursday was the big day! They presented their chapel to all the 5th & 6th graders and I was invited, too! These are all the kids in the group, minus the kids running the "tech" stuff. I loved being there to watch them and see how all their hard work paid off.

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Friday, Feb. 6:  I was just thrilled to go to school at the end of the day and pick up Sarah and these little critters...not! Thankfully they go back to school with her on Monday! These two are the "control" rats and are named Mosey and Cheesecake. Mosey is the name of the pet rat Ed had as a kid and Sarah actually lobbied her entire class to vote for the name Mosey! Who gives lab rats names, anyway? The rats are kind of freaking me out and Becca says they smell. Bethany didn't like hearing them squeak during the night, but Sarah and Ed are just having a grand ole' time.

Another rat picture:

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So, today, Saturday, Feb. 7 is going to hopefully actually be a couple of videos from Sarah's basketball game this morning. She lost, but she did have 3 or 4 baskets (I don't know for sure because I wasn't there because Becca is sick and for some reason neither Ed nor Sarah remember exactly how many baskets she had) and Ed got some great video. Check back soon to see if we figure out how to post them!