Saturday, December 26, 2009

Just a quickie!

We had a great Christmas with a delivery from a Secret Santa with all the gifts we were unable to buy for ourselves! Yep! Santa really delivered and made this the best Christmas ever! Thanks to our Secret Santa's for really putting the smiles on our kids faces this year.

Unfortunately it's taking a while for DH and I to really get into enjoying it all as we both came down with some sort of stomach bug. In many ways, I've had it the worst and all I had strength for yesterday was laying in bed and running to the bathroom! DH seems to have gotten all the aches along with the total lack of appetite. Poor thing, spent a good share of the day cooking a turkey and we just looked at it and thought "Yech!" We each tried a bite or two and I can tell you it was cooked to perfection, very juicey. It's going to make great sandwiches!

Well, I will try to post a picture or two soon. After I feel like I can hold my head up that is!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Visit From Santa

The kids got a big surprise last night when Santa came to our door (played very convincingly by a friend of ours). They were so excited we were sure it would be ages before they fell asleep. But it will also be a memory they will have forever. His real beard (colored grey with stage makeup), his bushy brows, and his wonderful laugh all helped to make the whole thing real. I can't thank him enough for giving this special gift to my children!

I also got to go on a photo shoot of Christmas lights. Hopefully I can find the time this afternoon to post the one or two good ones I got.

Friday, December 18, 2009

A Christmas Greeting!

I was going to wait and do this next week, but one of our dear Grannies on the sent this out to everyone and I just had to share it. I will still try to do my own next week, but in the mean time this was too beautiful not to share!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Boys big news!

Well, my twins are in Cub Scouts this year. They have done a day camp, an overnight and visited a Fire House (well, one of them did, the other had to stay home that night). But best of all, they are now the first in their Den to receive the Bobcat Badge! We realized last week that they were really close. They had long since memorized the Promise, the Law, and the Motto. They performed the handshake and the salute with perfection. All they needed was a safety talk with me and their Dad. Well, they performed and answered all the needed questions Monday evening and will now get their badge at the January pack meeting. We are so proud as no one else has even tried yet! I can't wait to get those pictures and scrap them.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Seeing Santa!

We had the opportunity to visit Santa on Saturday. He stopped by the local Apple store for the day. It was wonderful! No lines, no high priced photos (we just took our own camera), and Santa said all the right things! As we were the very first visitors, the kids got to tell Santa what they wanted. And the very best part - all three really talked to him. The very cutest part was DD singing her own made-up Santa song right to Santa! We had a blast, and the kids came home with a little book for each of them (the owners also own a second hand kids store so they gave a coupon to pick a book to each child). Of course we also drooled over the new computers, kids and adults, but I guess that is another story!

This is DS#1!

And DS#2!

And our own, sweet DD!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

How to tell the twins apart!

We may soon have another tell tale sign for which boy is which. DS#1 was hit in the face with the piano stool that his brother was doing something with that no doubt he should not have been doing. Now he has the funniest butterfly bandage I could create just under his nose trying to keep the darn cut together long enough to seal and we can only hope that this one won't leave a scar. DH will be bringing home some dermabond to assist with the process, but that won't be for another 2 1/2 hours. So until then:
He said this was his first mustache and I wonder now if he will ever be able to grow one that doesn't have a 1/2 inch bare spot right under his nose!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A really cool LO! (If I do say so myself!)

I did some scrapping yesterday for a change (have been doing so many other things that the scrapping has taken a back burner)! Any way, I did a page that was totally outside my comfort zone and I really like the way it turned out. So, I thought I would just share it here.

All kit items are by Christine Gundersen and can be purchased at Digital Scrapbook Place. The graffitti was all me with my Wacom tablet (thanks to a friend for the gift). On my final version I have added DS#2's name.

Thanks for looking!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Loving Alaska!

It's true! I really am! Even though my arms are about to fall off from shoveling 3 inches of very wet, heavy snow! Even though teaching the kids to take their boots off before they track snow all over the place is harder than I thought it would be! Even though it's 3 PM and the sun is nearly gone (oops! just looked out the window and it is really making it's only appearance for the day as we have had a steady stream of snow and clouds all day)! I'm still loving being home, where their is family to spend the holidays with and where there is love surrounding us! OK, enough mush! (but I really do love it here!)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Just wanted to say...

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are excited to be celebrating with family. And the kids are thrilled - we had several inches of snow last night. They have spent the morning playing and so far I've heard that they were building snow tunnels. (I'll need to talk to Daddy and make sure he taught them that they don't do that unless we are present!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Extractions and their shadows!

I was asked today how to get the shadow on an extracted item to look right so I thought I would share a few tips. Most of these will be determined by the subject and lighting both in the photo and the LO, so remember, not all of these will be applied all the time.

Before doing an extraction you need to look carefully at where the natural shadow falls. This will tell you where the light source was in the photo and therefore where you need to arrange the light source in the layout. Some times you can fudge this a little, but remember, if you want the shadows to look right through out the layout, they all need to have a common light source. Once you figure out where that light source is coming from, you can create shadows that feel more natural. The more you work the light source to match the original of the photo, the more realistic all the shadows become.

The following are for Photoshop:
OK, now do your extraction and add your shadow. Play with your settings here first. Increase or decrease size, distance and opacity until you are somewhat happy with the look. Then, go to your layer and Create Layer (right click and go toward the bottom of the menu to find this option). You will get a message warning that not all settings will follow the layer, just click OK. Now you can play with your shadow even more. Try Edit > Transform > Perspective and move your shadow to match your light source even further. Think, my light is coming from the upper left, so my shadow will go in a line to the lower right or which ever direction necessary. Add a Guassian blur (between 5 and 10 usually is plenty, but I've used higher). Reduce the opacity even further. Try each of these in succession and only keep the ones that match your light source and the other shadows on your LO.

The following are for Photoshop Elements:
After doing your extraction, make a new layer below your photo layer or mask layer. Select the extraction (if you have used a mask, you will need to select the mask layer) by CTRL (CMD) Clicking the layer thumbnail so that you have the marching ants around the extracted item. Do a fill color of 50% grey. Add a Guassian blur of between 6 and 10. Try your noise filter, it may add to the look and it may not. Now add some perspective, Image > Transform > Perspective so that the shadow goes in the direction needed. Try lowering the perspective if the color is still too dark.

Again, play! Keep what works and discard the steps that don't for each project as each time you do this something different works.

Here is an example of an extraction where I really played with the shadow. Look carefully as it's not behind the subject, it falls according to the light source and drapes across the book and the floor!

Oh, how the time doth fly!

I've not been on the computer much this week. DS#2 and I both had a bit of a stomach bug early in the week. It wasn't bad and neither of us got really sick, just sort of uncomfortable for a day or so. Then, I finally get over that and end up with a near migraine type headache. Well, that took a couple days to recuperate from as well. All in all, I just had no interest in sitting in front of the computer.

I think we finally have everything fixed that broke a couple weeks ago. The new/used washing machine is now functioning. Even the funny noise it made has stopped and I suspect it's because DH finally got it level. After 2 trips to the shop, his car seems to run fine again. I kind of feel like we've sunk into it all we can afford though so if it dies again, it will have to just be dead! That is yet to be determined though and we are thankful that the latest round wasn't hideously expensive.

So, I'm hoping that we can now move into the holiday season with a true sense of thankfulness! Here's praying that it stays that way for a while.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Oh, the coolest thing!

I love having friends! And I love that we all find things around this great big world wide web that others have yet to find! Well, a friend shared a link with me today and I just can't help but share it with all of you! Especially for those of you who are interested in Digital Scrapbooking with Photoshop Elements. One of the drawbacks of elements is it's lack of a simple tool. (Well, to be honest, it's a tool that takes some getting used to, but is so totally addictive once you get the hang of it!) That's the Pen Tool available in both Photoshop and Paint Shop Pro. This one small omission is why so many of us grit our teeth and spend the money to upgrade to PS from PSE. The simple act of doing text on a path leads so many of us down the road to this bigger and much more expensive pieces of software. (Right, I know there is way more it can do, but isn't this the one that peaked your interest most?) Well, there is now an answer to this dilemma! And even better, it's free!

To find this wonderful software start at She has all the lowdown and even a good tutorial to get you started. Then follow her link, or go to to download this wonderful open source software and give it a try. (I've not done it yet, but plan on it as it has a Mac version too!)

Have fun and let me know how it goes!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I need your help!

I have entered a contest and need as many votes as I can get! Thing is, if I win, I get to give a really wonderful gift to a friend! So please, visit the following link and cast your vote for me!

Create Your World

(I've updated the link and verified that it works. Thanks for letting me know!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy! And the saga continues!

Sorry I've not been around, I really have wanted to post. Unfortunately the saga's from last week have continued. Yes, we got the washer, but no, it's still not "usable". Turns out the reason there was no book with it is they bought it second hand. The hoses need to be replaced and the connections are bad and really should be replaced as well. DH insisted it was "good enough" to use, but when I tried I got a bad enough leak from the hoses to need to towel the floor again. Also, the darn thing rocks back and forth so bad the noise is ridiculous.

Then there is the saga of the flu shots! OK, I admit, by Friday I was pretty wiped. There had been so many little things all week that this one just sent me over the edge. I had tried on Tuesday to get the kids their flu shots after nearly a month of trying to find where I could get them. The Doctors office won't do them unless they are "established" patients, ie: they've seen them for at least a physical. Well, we can't take them unless there is something wrong, because the insurance won't pay for second physicals in the same year. Needless to say, we can't afford $200 or more times 2 (DS#2 had that ear infection, so he's been seen) just to get flu shots. Any way, I take them to the Health Department - nope can't do them on Tuesday, have to come back Friday (after being told they do them 5 days a week). So I come back Friday to "Yep, we can do the boys, but not DD!" The vaccine they had was restricted to 4 and above for some reason. Oh, and we won't be getting the H1N1 at all but you can get that here (and they gave me a phone number). I have DH call, and yes, we can do the H1N1 but not the seasonal for DD because she's "not established". Arghhh!!!! OK, well lets at least get the one that could be dangerous, right. I proceed to the clinic and fill out the paperwork and wait. And wait! And wait! And watch at least 3 people get called ahead of us that came in after us and all for shots (confirmed by one woman that I spoke to after she and her husband were given their shots even though they came in way after us). So I complain, and the second time I complain rather loudly. Hey, did I miss something! Well, in the end, and after I totally lost it and started crying (a sad fact that when I'm mad I cry) they finally agree to give all the kids the H1N1 and DD her seasonal even though she's not established.

Saturday I did nothing but read and lay in bed! I just didn't have the strength! The kids would come and cuddle and we laughed and had a good time.

Then Monday came. There is this strange stain right on the edge of the carpet next to the door into the kitchen where the fridge is. We figure it's from one of the dogs, so I shampoo that area and move on. But that night it's still wet and it looks dirty again. We attempt to "suck" it up with paper towel and a phone book. Well, the book was ruined by the next morning because it was not the dogs, but a leak from the fridge. DH and the landlord got it fixed last night. The water hose for the ice maker was a very small copper tube with a hole in it! Now I have to shampoo again, but I think I'll let it be until tomorrow!

And as for disasters! No More!!!!!! Please? (picture me on my knees in prayer!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Easy Days?

Well after a very rough start the week seems to finally be looking up! The new washer arrived yesterday, but the guys didn't get one hose tight enough. There is a slight leak and DH needs to fix that before I can finally wash the towels that we made such a mess of when the flood happened. It's a really nice GE front loader, but believe it or not they didn't bring a manual with it. So now I have to find out what all the extra settings are and how much it can hold. Knowing the landlady, it will hold my king size sheets and stuff, but want to make sure! The kids have continued to have a rough time this week, with at least one ending up in bed early every night! This morning has been OK if not perfect and at the moment they are constructing a marble run and getting along. We are managing with one car until DH has time to look and try to figure out what happened to his. I'm hoping it is part of what we already knew needed to be fixed or it may just not be worth fixing at all. Oh, I don't want to go back to being a one car family!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bad news, Good news!

Yesterday was NOT a good day:
Bad news: the kids were cranky from the moment they got out of bed, and I wasn't a whole lot better than they were!
Good news: We managed to get through a lot of math, now if some of it sticks it will be even better!

Bad news: The washing machine died and leaked an inch of water across the bathroom floor!
Good news: It waited until the very last load was completely done and ready to go into the dryer (or at least it ran all the way through, not sure when it started leaking)!

Bad news: The kids barely made it through lunch in one piece!
Good news: They all napped for an hour and a half!

Bad news: I have an entire load of towels that are wet and dirty from cleaning up after the washing machine!
Good news: The landlady decided to simply replace the washer with a brand new front loader that should be delivered today!

Bad news: DHs car blew up, well it was certainly steaming from under the hood, had just moved into the red zone on the temperature gauge and there was no way he could drive it this morning until we can figure out how to get it in to be fixed!
Good news: It didn't stop dead in the road and waited until I pulled into the drive before really blowing badly!

Bad news: I really blew it with my sister-in-law!
Good news: (I hope?) She forgives me!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

And my Dad, and my sister. Oh, and don't forget, Happy Anniversary to DH and to my other sister and her DH. Wow, busy week! And it's this way every year! Of course, as usual, I didn't get any cards sent out. Guess the family is getting used to that by now!

Been a pretty slow week in some ways. DH took some extra days off work, but it doesn't mean we got much done. The schooling went about normal. Today we went to the library and spent some time on "shopping math" (we window shopped and Target and the boys read the sale signs). My photography class has been postponed until tomorrow will be on Saturdays now as far as I know. Mostly I've worked with the kids and worked on lesson plans.

So, same old, same old! Hugs to all!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Alaska Day!

Did you know that the Alaska Territory was purchased and became property of the United States on October 18, 1867? Further, did you know for the residents of that Territory the date should have been October 7th? Yep, the day the U.S. took possession of the Alaska Territory two things happened to change the date. One, the residents calendar was changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar and Two, the International Dateline was moved! So, Alaska residents got to have Friday October 6th followed by Friday October 18th!

Isn't that interesting?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The weeks pass quickly!

This week in particular seems to have just disappeared! The kids and I have worked on everything from reading and spelling, to money math and understanding the reason we have seasons. Dad takes over this weekend doing an actual experiment to show the kids how the Earth travels around the sun and the affect of that on our weather. A big favorite is the "Money Game", where they roll a die and get change in the amount of the number rolled. They have to trade pennies to nickels and nickels to dimes (we will soon be adding quarters). Even DD has learned this game and can tell you how many pennies she has to "sell" to get that coveted nickel. As a matter of fact, she asks for that game even more than the boys do. We'll be doing real world change making in no time.

I also had my homework to complete for my photography class. The one big disappointment was learning that the little tripod that I have won't hold the camera. Amazing that it would hold the big film SLR but won't stand with the little point and shoot digital. Why? Because the connection for the P&S is off to one side, making it lopsided. So, I used a dish towel. (No great art so I won't be posting here, but look for homework photo's as I get better!)

DH is taking a couple of extra days off this weekend. We won't be using it to do anything really fun as there are way to many chores to take care of. I'm hoping he will get some of the leaves cleaned up as I haven't gotten to it since I did the first 5 bags worth, as well as a little more of the garage cleaned out. Plus he needs to get his snow tires on the car (they are sitting at his brothers house) and we have things to accomplish with the boys for Cub Scouts. You know, as I read this I realize that we probably won't get half of the stuff done that I would like to, but that's really how life goes! LOL

Happy Alaska Day all! (and for those who don't know - Alaska Day is Sunday, October 18th)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finally, another Tutorial!

This one works in both PSE and PS with one small adjustment for PSE. As usual, please let me know if you find any errors in this tutorial or have questions.

This tutorial is based on “Simple Bubbles in Photoshop” by Tyler Jordan which can be found here. I have altered the tutorial to use photo’s behind the bubbles so it looks like the item is “inside” the bubble.

  1. Start with a blank page and fill it with a background that is not white (until bubbles are constructed a plain color fill works best so that you can see your bubbles).
  2. Make a new layer to make your bubbles on.
  3. Select the Circle Marquee Tool with no feather and make a medium sized circle. (You can, while holding down Shift, make as many circles as you wish. If you don't like a circle you've made, hold down the Option/Alt Key and deselect it with the Circle Marquee Tool. NOTE: If I’m going to make multiple bubbles, I tend to put each on it’s own layer so that it can be moved or changed independent of all the the others.)
  4. Once you’ve made your circles, fill them with white.
  5. If using a photo behind the bubble, now is the time to clip it to the same size and shape as your bubble. Place photo on Layer directly beneath the circle. With photo layer selected, point to the thumbnail of the bubble layer with your mouse, hold the CMD/CTRL key and click, You should now have dancing ants in the size/shape of your circle. Create a feathered Mask*.
  6. Return to the circle layer. Using the Eraser tool with a feathered brush set to an opacity of 100%, start to erase the middles of the white balls you've made. For this I adjust my brush size to about 75% of each ball and simply click inside each of them three times. That's all you'll need to erase to create your basic bubble. Just make sure you adjust your brush size for each bubble.
  7. Now it's time to take your bubbles to the next level. Using the Paintbrush, set to feathered and 100% opacity, make short sweeping strokes on the upper corner. Be sure to adjust your brush size for each bubble. Remember, if you are making more than one bubble to place this in the same approximate location of each bubble.
  8. Add a slight Burn to the bottom, opposite the spot painted above using a feathered Burn tool.
[NOTE: these should correspond with any other shadows in your LO so I do not specify which side the bright spot or burning should be on.]

*To create the Mask in PSE:
  1. Select Layer below photo.
  2. Point to thumbnail of circle and hold the CMD/CTRL key then click. You will now see the dancing ants.
  3. Make sure your colors are Default Black/White by pressing D on your keyboard. (If white is the foreground color, press X to switch them).
  4. Add a ‘Solid Color’ Adjustment layer. Point to the two-toned circle at the top of your layers palette. Click and Select ‘Solid Color’ from the drop down menu.
  5. Clip the photo layer to the new Adjustment layer by pointing your mouse to the line between the two layers. Hold your Option/Alt key and click when you see the arrow with the yin/yang circle.
  6. To add feathering, Select a medium to large feathered brush, lower opacity to around 50%. Lightly stroke around the outer edge.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Trip to the Library

We took our first Home School trip to the library today and the boys learned one thing that is good about this going to school at home. You see, at the "school" when they had library day, they got to borrow one book. Today, I gave them a limit of 10! You should have seen them! You would have thought it was a race to get their quota before I changed my mind. And they really loved getting their own cards. (The librarian that checked us out didn't seem so pleased, but I think we made it as painless as possible for her! LOL) They did complain a bit as they had to carry the books out in their own backpacks, but I think even that was minor compared to the joy of choosing great books to bring home and read. They could barely wait to come in and sit with their books and dig in. Although we still have a few months until they can read them all by themselves (even the "early readers" are at about a 3rd grade level, so you have to be pretty selective). It's so nice that all 3 of my children truly love books and I get to help make sure that continues!

A Very Special Gift!

I received an early birthday present from a friend this week! This is a present that I would neither have expected nor can I ever express my gratitude adequately. Sitting on my desk is now a lovely new tablet, the Bamboo Pen & Touch. For those who do not know what this is, it's a computer input device that can be used in place of the mouse, but gives you the control of a pen. With practice this will be helpful in my scrapbooking and will even allow for my handwriting to be used (if I ever learn to use it that way). As a person who finds themselves clicking the mouse when a keyboard shortcut could be used, I figure this will get a lot of use! Even today, two days after receiving the gift the sight of it makes me choke up and get teary. Such generosity is rarely seen in this world, and I can only say that the heart of this friend is larger than any I have ever known.

Thank you dear friend (and sorry it took two days to get this written!)

Monday, October 5, 2009

What have I gotten myself into!

Well, the home schooling is going OK. We still are short a lot of materials but that will just take time for orders to arrive. I've met a local home school Mom that has kids same age as mine, and we are planning a get together to let kids play and compare notes. And the kids are actually learning something! Yeah! (Should have seen DH and I when DD sat in the bathroom and read the company name off the stool at her feet!)

But now I've added: 2 active mentees on my digital scrapbooking web site (DSP) and 5, yes - 5, Adopted New Kids on the same site. A couple times a year the site runs a "contest" for brand new scrappers called New Kids on the Block (NKOTB) that helps them learn and this time they have asked us "old timers to follow 5 with comments and constructive criticism! I'm beginning to think I'm crazy! How am I ever going to keep up with 7 scrappers with comments, tips, and tutorials! LOL

Oh well, I need to add tutorials here so maybe I will write for both at the same time!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Keeping up is hard to do!

Well, with trying to impart what little knowledge I can each day plus keep these kids entertained and active, there has been little time to post. Yesterday was basically a non-school day as we had to go meet with the teacher consultant and tomorrow will be the same. By the time we get home, it's pretty much useless to do any real work. The kids find all kinds of ways to learn though, choosing books about the life of a Butterfly or Ladybug, or even the occasional TV show (which we actually do less of than while they were 'going to school') that includes some problem solving skill. Thinking about it, I don't think they have watched but one show all week. Maybe tomorrow I will let them hang with a good National Geographic or Planet Earth.

I also need to get some scrapping done, but evenings are spent with DH and building lessons for the next day. When I finally have all my materials, I'm hoping to do most of that on Sunday afternoons and ease up on the week day evenings. My mantra is "I will get a schedule that works for all!"

Monday, September 28, 2009

Homeschool, oh Homeschool!

This morning was pretty successful. On a scale of one to ten, with one being screaming (both kids and me) and ten being schoolhouse bliss, I would say we hit at least an eight. The boys happily did the work presented, including reading, domino math, and the beginnings of a lesson on Alaska which also included reading two chapters from "The Klondike Kid Book One: Sailing for Gold" by Deborah Hopkinson. We also had a little free dancing, putting a puzzle of the U.S. together, and a walk with the dogs where we watched two Magpies perch in the trees. DD also started her first reading lesson, but decided in the middle that she just didn't want to do that, so she moved into some matching and then art activities. The boys still need to do a writing exercise that is sentence writing rather than just practicing letters, but if we don't get to it today, we will tomorrow. I'm going to take it pretty easy this week until the funds come in and I can get the rest of the curriculum materials.

I also seem to need to research some music lessons of some sort. The boys want to learn trombone and trumpet, but they have agreed to start with piano to give them a foundation in reading music. We'll see how that goes over time. LOL

Now a peaceful afternoon and then knitting guild tonight!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Winter is coming.

As I walked the boys to school these last couple of days, our conversations have been all about the coming snow! There is lots of termination dust on the mountains which can be seen clearly beyond the school and it has been cold and frosty. We have talked about why we can see our breath in the cold as well as what causes frost on the grass. Guess this home schooling thing may just work! LOL In the meantime, it's a joy to share these little discoveries of our new home with children so eager to take it all in!

DD and I spent our last girl only day at the library this morning. It may be the only "story time" she gets to attend as I'm afraid the boys will not be too enthusiastic. We will have to continue our little family story times here at home with a mix of books and songs of the kids choosing to off set not attending the overcrowded time at the library. I don't think she will miss it too much as long as she still gets to go and pick books. I think that was her favorite part anyway!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It hasn't stopped!

Well, after meeting with the teacher, seeing that this entire year would be mostly repeat, hearing no effort to change that, and worst of all, not receiving even a hint that she had made a mistake let alone an apology - we are in fact bringing the boys home for school. We have left them for this week to give me a chance to make all the arrangements/preparations and to give them a chance to say goodbye to classmates. I filed the application with Chugach School District Correspondence School yesterday and happily came home with an armload of materials to check out. They will be there with a teacher to assist me, materials on occasion, funding for those materials they don't already have, and in general support for my endeavors. They will also help with the necessary assessments and paperwork to maintain compliance with state laws. The program choices will still be ours though so long as the children meet or exceed the standards set. I'm nervous but also very happy that the fiasco will soon be behind us!

Friday, September 18, 2009

What a week!

I have been totally scrambling. Some of you already know that my husband and I are a bit unhappy with the boys school. In over a month of education absolutely nothing has been new to them, it was all covered last year and worked on by us during the summer to maintain the great levels they had achieved. Well, I began the research necessary to bring them home for home schooling if the school/teacher can not prove to me that this is going to change. I learned that if I planned on making this move we have to do it by the end of next week to get full funding for curriculum and materials so I have been scrambling to determine just what/how to do all of this and still meet state guidelines. I have run across some very helpful people in the process.

I have also determined that we have a bigger problem than just the curriculum not meeting the needs of our sons. This is appearing to be a bit of a teacher issue. Her method of dealing with our children has proven to be thoughtless and neglectful. I was compelled to speak with the principal of the school regarding her actions after she sent one son to the empty and locked classroom by himself when she was supposed to have sent him to the office to meet with me. For any of you thinking this was minor, all you had to do was see my sons tear-streaked face and heard the desperation in his voice and you would understand the severity of this action. He is only 6 years old after all, and was devastated that he was unable to complete the task he had been sent to do. He also never received the message that he was to go to the office. Had he been able to get into that classroom he would have proceeded to the parking lot, while I waited for him in the in the building and around a corner unable to see him. As a note: I have hesitated to write about this here, but feel my thoughts and reasons for the actions we are taking need to be understood by all.

So, I meet with the teacher this afternoon and anxiously await some form of apology for her lapse. I will also be taking a closer look at the work that is yet to come. We will be making our decision this weekend. Please say a prayer for us that we make the right one.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Super quick update!

Well, I finally got the OS updated this afternoon. I just love how Macs work. It took just under an hour, I regained nearly 40 GBs of hard drive space and it is running perfectly smooth. If I lost any software, it was stuff I don't use, because everything I've opened (and do open on a regular basis) works fine. When I can, I need to upgrade my Photoshop Elements, but since I only use this in creating tutorials, running the legacy app 'Rosetta' will do for now. (Rosetta is a method used by the OS to run older apps that were intended for the non-intel chip machines. It opened my old PSE and it ran just fine, it was just a little slow to actually start up.) So far I haven't noticed any speed increases, but since this is a newer machine at only a year old, maybe I won't really detect any of that. All in all, it has once again been a very smooth transition.

DS#2 is a little ill today and we will be headed to the Doctors soon. Seems he has a bit of an ear infection, but he's not in horrible pain. It interfered with sleep last night until we got the Ibuprofin in him, then he settled right down and slept through the night.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

First Photoshop Tutorial - Using Bridge CS4 Output to Create Photo Grids

Replacing the old Photoshop Picture Package is CS4’s Output in Bridge. Here you can choose one or many photos, create a page layout and then print, or save it as a PDF or web gallery. I’m going to focus on creating a PDF so that it can be opened in Photoshop and added to a layout. Here’s what you need to do:

Open Bridge and select photos for your grid. Click the Output workspace, found on the upper right next to Essentials, Filmstrip, and Metadata.

On the Output Palette (right side of your workspace) make your document selections; size, resolution and layout. In my case I chose 12 x 12 inches so that my pictures would fit a standard scrapbook layout, 300 ppi to match my layout resolution, and seven columns (this number will match the number of photos chosen, or if you want multiples of one picture, how many images you need across your paper) and one row (my choice makes a filmstrip type layout, you may want more rows to achieve the type grid you desire).

Click PDF at the top of the Output Palette then click the save button at the bottom, choose a location where it is easy to find. You will receive a message when the process is done. Now Open this file in Photoshop. You will get an import dialogue box, leave all settings as they are and click OK.

Notice that you now have perfectly sized photos on a transparent background ready to add to your scrapbook page.

Hope you have fun working on your Grid Layouts!

(as the photo's are hard to see, if you would like a PDF copy, please post a comment with an email address and I will send it to you. Thanks)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Todays Thoughts!

I was sitting reading stories to DD before her nap and having a hard time concentrating. You see, I had turned the TV on for a few minutes while we ate lunch and caught the tale end of the Today show (well really that semi-today show thing with Hoda and Kathy Lee). Like so many others they had a brief tribute to those lost eight years ago. So, there I sat, smelling peanut butter and 3 year old sweetness and thinking of those moments that we all spent in fear, anguish, and outrage realizing just how far away it feels. I also realized just how many of those feelings will never go away.

How many times in our history have man-made disasters like this been wrought upon unsuspecting and undeserving people? How many men, women and children have suffered at the hands of others so that a wicked few could prove a point? We are none of us innocent. Even our own have created disasters of this kind and perpetrated these evils in the guise of good. How many tears do the innocent have to shed for the world to finally realize true and lasting peace? Will we ever get it through our heads that war will not solve what ails us?

I pray that some day, maybe even in my children's lifetime, we can finally live in a world that thinks more about taking care of one another than about how different we all are. In a world that smiles instead of cries.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm wearin' a frown!

Well, for those of you waiting to hear: I did not get the online teaching job. I was aware that the techniques used to convey the information were so unfamiliar to me, that I was ill-prepared. Trying to teach in an online chat was so new that I really did not show my best side. I realized very quickly that I was not passing the material on to the "students" satisfactorily. It was truly a learning experience and I look forward to exploring the possibilities further. In the mean time, I will continue my bid to teach adult ed courses through our Parks and Recs Department.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Just a quick note!

It's been a busy weekend and not all of us have been well. DD came down with a cold and was just miserable yesterday, but even with a runny nose today was a much happier camper. But the weather has been brilliant, warm and sunny so we took off this afternoon and played a little. We checked out a park that is just a short drive from the house. It was OK, but not really enough real trails to be good with the kids, and no play equipment either. So we drove down Turnagain Arm a bit and played at the turn out where they have that old train snow plow on display. The kids loved that and did a lot of running around and around the train. Hopefully I got some good pictures and will be able to post them soon!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Upcoming Holiday!

Well, we have a long weekend ahead, and what will we be doing? Hopefully something fun, but so far no big plans. DH needs to car shop. The radiator hose blew and when you add all the little things that need to be fixed, it's cheaper to buy a new "used" car. One of the dealers here is offering his own "cash for klunkers" deal and is giving $4500 on any trade in whether it runs or not. Since that is twice what we paid, we are hoping to upgrade to something a little better running.

I also want to do a photo shoot of the dogs. I will add the family in and hopefully will get some of all of us together. I haven't used the timer before and with 7 living beings we will have to see what happens. But we are supposed to have good weather, so we can do them outside where I might get some decent shots. Who knows, we might be creating our Christmas photo's this weekend.

Add to all that, the software upgrades arrived yesterday, I seem to have a pretty full weekend ahead. As a matter of fact, it might be Monday before I really get to finish the computer.

Here's hoping you all have a lovely holiday! (And for those of you outside the U.S., have a wonderful weekend and don't work too hard!)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Another very normal day!

It's kind of quiet around here. With the boys at school and just DD and I at the house it can get rather humdrum. We had our girls outing yesterday though. This time we just went shopping. My daughter is really quite good so long as it is just her and I. It's when the boys come along that things get out of control. No matter how hard you run them, they just always seem to have more energy than I do. With her along, all I have to worry about is how many times I have to say "No, we aren't buying one of those today." Yesterday this included a Hannah Montana clothes hamper, every shirt in both the boys and girls clothing department regardless of size, and a few odd groceries that we really don't need.

I'm sitting on pins and needles hoping to have big news, but it will be at least another day before it comes in. Just say a little prayer that it all goes well and we will leave it at that!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Whew! What a weekend!

OK, so I really didn't do anything! Yep, I sat at this silly machine and feel I accomplished... nothing! I didn't write, I didn't scrap (all that much), I did pay bills, well I made sure the money was in the bank to pay bills, but there were no new ones. I mostly cleaned up, the computer that is. There is a new Operating System out for Mac. It's not a big change, but it is a significant change. It will speed things up, make finding files that much easier, and give me a few new things to do with old tools. And best yet, it's only $29. Well, if you pay full price that is. Actually, it cost me less than that. I took advantage of an upgrade set and all my Mac software will be improved at the same time for just a wee bit more.

The boys enjoyed their first weekend away from school. They like school here, but I'm afraid it's for reasons their Dad and I aren't quite sure of. They keep saying that it is the "lack of papers". In other words, the lack of real work. We'll see how this plays out. They brought home a very few things, none of it really looked like work and what did, one boy hadn't even finished. We will be keeping an eye on things. They have P.E. three times per week, go to the library on Tuesdays and have art thrown in there somewhere. I didn't here anything about music, but I'm sure they will be talking about that soon too. They still don't know the names of any of the kids, but one of the boys did holler goodbye to them as we left on Friday.

Well, off to continue "cleaning". The new software shipped today, so I need to get ready.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Having a hard week!

I am delinquent in my writing. I really should have done something by yesterday at least. But I will admit, I'm having a hard time writing this all down. I emailed it to my sister this morning without tears, so I am hopeful that I can do the same here.

My male Sheltie, Chaos is getting older and with that comes difficulties that no one can predict. Although, at 12, he really isn't so old that I was expecting problems just yet. Shortly after the move, he had a really bad infection in some of his teeth. (Seems both these dogs are prone to such problems even with regular brushing!) Well, in order to anesthetize him to do the cleaning and tooth removal, they had to do blood work. For some reason, his kidney levels were high. Additional blood tests had to wait until he was off the antibiotics, but even those were not good. So, an ultrasound was recommended. This took a while to accomplish, but on Wednesday we finally were able to get it and another UA completed. And the results are not good.

His kidneys are shrinking. I guess this happens sometimes, but it means that he will never be well again. Right now, we are trying medications and we have to give him IV fluids at least every other day. Two weeks of this and more tests. It is possible that at least part of this will have to be done for the rest of his life. And that will mean a big decision. Besides that, they found a mass of some sort in his bladder. The vet did not give much idea of what this mass could be. She did say, it might even be cancer. For now though, the kidneys are the most important thing. The decision to do surgery to see what that mass is will have to wait.

All of this has been very hard to come to grips with. I have had Chaos since he was 7 weeks old and just weaned from his Mama. He has been a constant companion, who sleeps at my side and wants to know my every move. I plan on doing a photo shoot soon so that I can really get all of this down and dealt with.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Schools Back in Session

Yep! The boys started this morning. I loved the fact that I could just walk them over and not have to get in the car, fasten all the seat belts and drive somewhere to drop them off. And they start so late! Last year they were at school at 7:30 eating a second breakfast with class beginning at 8 AM. This year they don't even let them in the building until 8:50 with class starting at 9 AM. I'm sure it has something to do with winter daylight, but it just seems so very long from when they eat breakfast until they get to school.

Mostly, I was surprised at how I felt as my daughter and I walked back home. I had been looking forward to a little "quiet" around the house, but it was so silent on the way home even with her little voice singing away. Then she played happily on my bed all morning while I "fought" the computer hardly making a sound. I think I was actually a little lonely with just her here. We will have to find some good ways to entertain ourselves. And I will get used to the quiet and appreciate it again soon.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Boys

Well, it's time for them to go back to school. They start on Tuesday. So, of course, that means school shopping. And this year, that means buying a pair of 'gym shoes'. Boy, if that's not an adventure, I don't know what is.

We actually started out quite early, earlier than I figured the shoe store would be open and with all three kids and Dad as well. But we had some grocery shopping to do so we headed for Costco (nothing that can't sit in the car for a while from there). First problem - Costco doesn't open until 9:00. So Carr's instead. Chris decides to speed shop. That left me trying to entertain the kids. Not fun! In a grocery store and all of a sudden they want every toy there. Done, now back to Costco! Oops, they don't open until 9:30. So we will take the other groceries home and head back. Now, don't rush Daddy, the other store still won't open for half an hour. Kids aren't too bad, but it still is easier by myself. Off to get shoes, or at least to see if we need them. I really don't think the boy’s need new every day shoes just yet. When we find the store, it is small, crammed and has very little selection out where you can see them. The prices are ridiculous on clothes (so only shoe shopping here I’m afraid). My daughter is the only one to walk out with new shoes and I swear the sales clerk charged me $10 more than she read off the box while trying them on. Well, it’s now lunchtime, so home to eat, and then the boys and I can go back out while my daughter naps.

One store, absolutely no shoes in kids sizes at all, at least not for boys, and very few for girls. We did however find winter coats with snow pants that I think will do and for a decent price. Plus we got all but a couple of the things on the schools list. They were out of pencils and the markers I ended up getting the boys will have to just take a few and the rest will get added to the home stash.

Another customer recommended a different store for shoes and that meant going to Dimond Mall. I ended up parking at the wrong end of the mall and we had to walk all the way to the other side, and we were just going into one store! Yikes, not fun! And they had one pair, yes, just one pair of over priced shoes that were totally not what I wanted to send to school for P.E. The boys simply do not need shoes that flash for one hour per week. But the staff was great and they found one pair of simple, white sneakers at another store all the way across town. ‘Would I mind driving?’ ‘No, because I have to have them.’ ‘Well, we will give you a coupon for $3 off since you have to drive to another store.’ ‘Cool!’ Now, what about the other boy? We have to wait for the shipment to come in on Monday or maybe Wednesday. (Sure hope the teacher understands; I did all I could because I’m not going to any more stores.)

Now, back to the other store for pencils, oh, and we need lunch boxes too, because the lunch program here is “questionable”. I can’t get them to understand that we need soymilk for the boys. They figure if they can’t drink milk they will just give them juice. Well, sorry folks, but the kids don’t need sugar with lunch! They don’t get it at home, and they don’t need it at school. Still no boxes of pencils that meet the teacher’s request, but then I seriously doubt the boys will go through 24 pencils each!

Oh, I’m glad to be home!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Going 'Back to School'

Yes, it's that time of year and the boys will be starting soon, but I'm not really talking about them. Instead I am talking about me. I am starting a photography class in September. It's between 10 and 15 hours of nearly one-on-one instruction with a professional photographer. And we will be in the real world with our camera's so I'm sure I will have some interesting photo's to show off here soon. I will be taking my Point & Shoot Canon because it is advanced enough to have a Manual setting as well as my film camera from years and years ago. Maybe if I get good enough with these I will be able to justify the expense of upgrading my SLR to a DSLR. Thanks to my friend Carolyn, I do know that I can use my old film lenses with the new body. Any way, I will be going on Friday evenings and working through the maze of learning.

Oh, and we did meet the boys new teacher yesterday. I'm a bit concerned that her classroom seems awful busy visually. I can only hope that it's not too much for the boys. But I think they did well on the placement testing and things will progress as they are supposed to.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Days and days and days....

Seems like forever since I have thought of anything to write. But that's me. Plus life gets busy. I've been doing a fair amount of scrapping, but not tons, I've sent my friend on her way back home (that was sad) and I've considered what I really need to add to this site. Although there are dozens upon dozens of tutorials for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, I'm thinking I need to add a few here too. So in the coming days/weeks you will see some appearing here and there. I want to really start with the basics. The questions I get are mostly about just getting started. I suppose I will need to make things harder as I go, but for now keep your eyes peeled for some "Let's Get Started" tutorials for digital scrapbookers.

And if you have a special request, please leave a comment. I will always try to work in a tutorial that you asked for.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kids really do say the darndest things!

I am desperately trying to teach my children to turn off the lights in an unused room. This morning I set them down to the table for a snack and reminded them to turn off the light when they were done. I proceeded back up the stairs and waited to see what would happen. Of course, it was the youngest (only 3) that finished last and of course, she forgot to turn off the light. I asked her older brother to go and turn it off and she stomped into my room. "I am big enough to reach. See! See how much I've grown!" (as she spread her arms and pointed to herself trying to make her point). I couldn't help but laugh and give her a big hug. "Yes, honey, you are such a big girl. Next time, remember to turn off the light!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Taking a breather!

After a near disaster day yesterday, we have decided to take a breather. The kids really just need a little down time. And to be totally honest, so did I. I was pretty cranky myself yesterday. Our outing to the Musk Ox farm was not what I thought it was going to be, and not one of us was really thrilled with it. (I hope Carolyn got some decent photo's from it at least.) Hopefully the trip to the Kenai Peninsula goes better because that's about all I have left that I think the kids will enjoy.

Maybe I can get a few photo's processed and added here to my blog later today. We'll see.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Been having a blast!

With my wonderful friend Carolyn's arrival, life got busy. On Friday, we visited Earthquake Park where we took pictures of mushrooms of a type I have never seen before and many other things. And yesterday, we went to the Alaska Zoo. I think my favorite was the Polar Bear, but we also saw baby musk ox, baby moose, camels, alpacas and more! There were a couple of large moose including one with a rack that had to be 5 or 6 feet across. Of course there were otters and seals; they were very lively. And we got quite close, but could not touch, a red fox that they had on a leash. He seemed quite at ease with everyone with in just a couple of feet from him. The bengal tiger is still there (and still doesn't seem to move much) as are the Eagles, owls and other birds. We even saw a wolverine.

Today was an at home day, where I got a few chores done and then we took the kids to the playground where Carolyn attempted to teach the boys flag football. It didn't last long and they decided they would rather climb and slide on the play structure. Maybe we can try again later this week!

She is also letting me play with her very expensive camera! She owns a Nikon D300 professional series camera and a whole host of lenses. I've now shot with 3 different zoom lenses and a wide angle lens. I have to be careful I don't drool all over it! We also tried my old Nikon lenses on her body and discovered they would work. So we have narrowed down which body I should be looking at that would allow me to buy just the body and save a few bucks up front. Of course, I still need the chance to play with a comparable Canon, but if I don't have to buy new lenses right away, it might make it more feasible to buy sooner. We'll see.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm sooooooo excited!

Today is a very big day for me. A friend from the internet is traveling all the way across the country to visit me. I made a joke one time, many months ago, about her coming and taking pictures of the kids for me and the next thing I knew, she was really coming. Well, that was when we lived in Oregon. All of a sudden, and thankfully well before her travel plans were made, we were moving to Alaska. I wasn't sure she would still come. After all, it is a very long way to go, just to take pictures! LOL! But, like so many others, seeing Alaska has been a dream for her and now she had every reason to come. Plans continued and today is finally the day. Hope the sun we are having right no holds for a week or so, we sure have a lot of ground to cover and tons of things to go and take pictures of.

Say a prayer that we have decent weather! Hugs all!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Good Afternoon!

Well, I'm slowly getting the hang of this. You would think that having a web design background it would be easy, but that little search box you see took me over an hour to add yesterday! LOL Of course, it doesn't help when the kids interrupt every couple of minutes, but that's life. I guess it will be a while before I do a custom background, but I'm sure I will get there eventually. I'm really hoping to make the background and elements of the blog design myself. I will also be adding photo's soon. There are so many things to show you all. Time.... I need more time!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Starting a Blog

I have thought for a long time that I needed my own blog. I read several on a regular basis, receive email updates to some as well. And the list keeps growing for those I find interesting and fun. I'm not big into Facebook or Twitter (at least, not yet!) And a blog will help me better connect to all of you - family, friends and acquaintances made here and elsewhere.

So, here I am! And what to talk about. Well, of course, there will be digital scrapbooking news and probably some tutorials. Life with 3 kids in Alaska. And other interests such as education. No, I won't be talking politics or religion. One I don't know enough about and both are too controversial. Many topics will come from you, my readers. Ask questions, give me ideas. I have never been much of a journaler, so this will be a stretch for me. Oh, and any blaring errors - always feel free to point them out to me.

Hugs to all my friends!