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Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

June 26

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On Friday afternoon a brood of red bearded newfies (and their mother) showed up at our door. We had family visiting from Newfoundland. We kicked it off with a big summer buffet at my mom’s house, but they were also able to squeeze in a visit to our house as well 🙂

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We had a nice time chatting and shooting on my mom’s back deck 🙂

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The last time they came they brought their fancy cameras and extensive knowledge, and taught me a couple things, but I really didn’t get to use them until I started working in manual. This time I had a lot more knowledge myself, and was able to ask more helpful questions than just, ‘how do you do this?’

Practice shooting
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Since they both have a couple lenses each, I thought they would be the best to explain to me why somebody would want to buy additional lenses, how they differ and the improvements they offer. I knew the basics: better glass creates a sharper image, a larger piece of glass lets in more light, and different lenses offer different zoom capabilities. However, there’s more! Different lenses will also change the way in which the background is blurred. Besides fancy lenses that turn blurred lights into stars etc, I guess I would just have to try them out to see what I liked. But it’s good to know about for when I do want to upgrade someday.

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My favorite thing about our family dinners after the family: Dinner!
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We had roast chicken with 8 different salads. To bring the plain green salad up to the standard of the other 7, Mom made her delicious homemade ranch dressing:

The Best Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup mayo
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cove garlic minced
2T parsley
1T chopped chives
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 celery seed
1/8 onion powder
pinch dried marjoram
2 drops Worcestershire
salt and pepper

Directions: whisk mayo and sour cream, whisking, pour in buttermilk, add everything else and chill.

And, where would be without dessert?? Three to be precise 🙂
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It was too bad that DH was away for the family dinner, but it turned out ALL were without their spouses as my brother’s wife had a friend in town, my nephew had to leave his wife and baby back home and my other nephew was on his way to Texas to marry his s/o. So, it was just Russells, and we had a lovely time. However, because of this my brother wanted them to come over to meet his wife, and I wanted them to come over when DH was back, and see our first house 🙂 We had settled on Monday evening, but when that fell through we asked them to lunch instead. The meal didn’t change, summer bbq with burgers and salads, and they were not only able to squeeze in the second visit, but they were glad to be treated to yet another delicious meal at no cost, as my half sister told me they were so tired she didn’t know what they were going to do.

While they were here they ate like royalty! They went from brunch at one person’s house to dinner at another. Since they don’t get up early, I’m not sure they paid for even one meal since they’ve been here, as everyone was only too happy to have them come over for a meal.

DH was able to get the day off work to help tidy up and to be there to visit, so we got to show off the house.

Here they are checking out our Texas-acclimatization room, aka the sunroom. My Nephew dubbed it the Texarium. (They are headed to Texas for a wedding, where one of them will actually be staying!)
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Then we had a nice chat as I finished the prep work and then we sat out in the back yard munching burgers with a grilled corn salad and an Italian bread salad.
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An interesting tidbit: none of our Newfoundland family like cilantro. Apparently there is some genetic trait that makes all cilantro taste like soap. And they ALL have it. Luckily, I mentioned that my corn salad contains lime and cilantro before I made it, so I knew not to put any in! This must be why dear Jen can’t stand the stuff also, I think it tastes great, but if it actually tasted like soap I wouldn’t want it either.

We also had chocolate bread pudding for dessert. This was a little ambitious on my part because I’d been having problems with my bread puddings lately, but I found the dial and was able to turn it fully to low and there was no acidic fruits involved and it turned out just fine. And, they loved it. My half sister said she loves bread pudding anyway and was not disappointed, and my nephew was skeptical but brave and discovered that at least the chocolate variety is very nice. We ate it warm topped with vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries 🙂

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I also got to ask a couple more photography questions, as we hadn’t had the chance to discuss the manual settings on my camera on Friday ( Too much going on with 8-10 different salads and 3 desserts! ) I had read the explanation on the camera, but still didn’t understand several of the options my camera gave me, and they said that the explanations aren’t always that clear. I now have a better understanding of metering, and when to use it. Metering changes how the camera adjusts for uneven lighting. For example if you have a bright object against a darker background, spot metering will tell the camera to base the photo off the main subject, the bright chair, ensuring that it will not be lost in the shadows. It can also can be used to even out the light and shadow areas for less contrast.

So, I would select spot metering to get a nice photo of this chair.
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It’s also usually the best setting for photographing people.
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(One other photography note, my friend mentioned to me at the b-day party that putting the f-number up will also put more of the image in focus. Once again, completely obvious and self-explanatory, and yet I didn’t realize I could actually use that information. But, often my camera’s auto-focus will mess up at the last second and cause my main subject to be out of focus so with less focus blur, this would be less of an issue. )

*Photos of me coutesy of my Nephew in orange.

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The topic of family has really been on my mind.

First off, Focus on the Family had a lot of good parenting insights this week:

“He has created an institution — the family — through which He can shape, mold and form each family member, parents included.” Thriving Family – Am I a Bad Parent?

I’m pretty sure God is in control far more than we think; why wouldn’t He have a specific plan with regard to where we live, who we marry and even the children that He chooses to bless us with?! I believe God handpicks a house for us: He knows where He wants us and also where we need to be. I believe He chooses a spouse for us that will best rub off our rough edges and vice versa, and I believe He does choose specific children for us too:

“God is a brilliant discipler. He knows exactly the kind of kid to give to an adult to push those buttons that need to be pushed.” – Gary Thomas-Focus on the FamilyEmbracing God’s Design for Parenting

But, I’d say our children are not just chosen from a pool of souls and assigned to us, I think they are also designed and uniquely created, especially FOR US as well. How awful then is the sin of abortion! To spurn this perfect gift from God and the future that goes with it. People reject not only a sweet innocent child but the wonderful life that comes with them, how they would have matured and shaped their parents and made them better people, had they been allowed to live.

Then On Tuesday I experienced my first taste of having a real family. Of course with 3 kids I have already had a family for some time, but when they’re babies, they can’t contribute to the family dynamic like they do when they get older. I had a glimpse of family way back when our second son was born, the first time we set out in the car and each of us was responsible for a kid. I’ve also gotten glimpses when Daddy does his bedtime antics and makes everyone laugh.

But the last month or so my 2 year old’s personality has really been coming out. He’s very silly, he is the jokester alright. Now that he’s getting bigger he’s repeating everything his brother or we say… even if it’s completely random. This makes us laugh and he seems to find it very amusing. One night DH was asking me to take the baby because he was being cranky or something, so I said, ‘aww poor daddy.’ My two-year old apparently disagreed; he replied, ‘no, all done poor daddy! ‘ Awww.

DH said he was telling his coworker about our kids and she said just wait till the big one goes off to school: All of a sudden he’ll be a real little person! I feel like he is already, he has his own little stories to tell and his own interests. And with my 2 year old’s emerging personality, it’s actually feel like I have a FAMILY now; where it’s not just one ‘big kid’ in the house, but several unique and vibrant personalities that each bring something different to the table.

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It’s something I’ve been looking forward to; being able to really engage with my children as they get older,and watching them grow and interact with each other as well. I’m finally getting to experience a taste of what the radio has been communicating to me about the joy of family life, where the house is busy and the dinner table is noisy and filled with stories and laughter and excitement.

And as I’ve been cooking more, we’ve been getting to sit down together more often and have dinner as a family; before we usually fended for ourselves and ate whatever. The fact that we had dinner together only occasionally has been one of the motivating factors for developing a better working system at home. Numerous studies have shown that the small step of regularly sharing a meal together as a family has the single biggest influence in preventing teens from engaging in problem behaviors such as drugs and alcohol (see this study.)

The importance of family dinners has been a prominent theme on Focus on the Family, most recently surrounding the book, ‘The hour that matters most’. The dinner table is the one place where a family can take time out of their busy schedule to come together and share what’s going on in their lives. This is part of what I love about our weekly sunday brunch at my mom’s house, it’s a chance for us to sit down and talk, as a family.

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I want that in my home too. Especially with this in mind, I ordered the book in the hope of really getting the most of this time together.

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As scary as the future is, I am actually excited for my kids to get bigger, even though I love them being little. I look forward to watching them grow and mature as our family grows together.

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I’m delighted to be heading into this season of parenting. I love my little family, how BLESSED we are! My heart is full.

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