Dr. Seuss ABC book reading by Holly

Holly likes to read to the boys like this as she puts them to sleep.  My favorite method is to grab a pile of books and get them all under the covers in the big bed and read nice and slow until they all drop off, then take a nap myself. My method isn’t as video worthy as hers, in my opinion, but you be the judge as to which is more soporific.

I shot this with my new Lumix Point & Shoot camera, DMC-ZS7, in 720p HD video and uploaded to YouTube.  I should probably be out fishing at Boat Harbor, but I wanted to come home and do stuff like this for a couple days.

I strongly recommend the Lumix ZS series cameras—the only thing I don’t like about them is that you must still switch back and forth between playback and shooting mode by moving a slider, rather than half-way depressing the shutter release button.

I think Holly does a GREAT job reading to the boys, and to the kids at the library. This video can be played in full 720p HD resolution on Youtube, so if you want to really watch it in its best form, Go to Youtube hit the high resolution button and let it download the whole thing before playing.

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A day trip to Sheep mountain

Sheep Mountain 554 On Monday, Ron Horn and I went up to Sheep mountain to take pictures of the sheep. We were on the road by 6:40 AM and were up at the border by 7:30 and were scoping the mountain for sheep amongst the snow at 10:30 AM. We took his car and he drove all the way-so I just had to keep him a wake and keep an eye out for wildlife.

I like going shooting with Ron for a number of reasons: he’s got great photo gear, he knows a lot about photo stuff, he’s smart, he loves a good story, and has a lot of stories and experience he likes to share from all branches of life.  Of course we share photo stories of all sorts.

He just got back from Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean, the site of the famous battle during WWII which was the turning point of the Pacific theater. Lots of cool stories and interesting folks there.

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At first we thought we’d have a tough time of it, because all the sheep we spied were high up resting in the sun.  Then Ron spotted this one who wasn’t near as shy.

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All-in-all I counted 34 of them, so there were probably around 40, counting the ones I did not see. The seem to be browsing on the gravel, but were probably eating lichens and mosses.

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We also saw this fox along the way, just on the other side of Haines Junction. At first he didn’t seem shy at all, but then when I got out of the car, he thought better of it.

1270 Sheep Mountain

Of course there were the usual sights of snow removal and such as we came over the pass which while it may not interest locals much, as it’s a common spectacle in these parts, I think it’s amazing that a machine can throw hundreds of pounds snow per minute so far. when we actually got abreast of the blower, he turned off the blades and let us pass in peace.

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Sheep Mountain 607 Here’s picture of Ron’s car when he went ahead to get the gear while I stayed at the base of the mountain with all the photo gear. I include this shot just to give you an idea of the mountains immediately adjacent to Sheep Mountain and the condition of the road.  If you compare the snow covered mountain in the background with the one the sheep are on in the photos, you can see that the one that the sheep select to spend the spring-time months on is nearly clear of all snow, while the surrounding mountains are almost completely covered in snow this time of year.

I also point out that Ron has the perfect car for out-door photo trips in Alaska—a very modern Toyota 4WD 4 cylinder SUV. The temperature was probably around 22-25 degrees F.

We were back in Haines by 3:40 PM.

Christmas 2009

Here are some cool Northern Lights we saw yesterday in the early morning looking off to the north.

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Christmas 2009 019I’m kidding.  This was 2.5 second exposure taken handheld at ISO 3200, wide open of Mark Daniel swinging his glow in the dark wrist bands around energetically to the beat of a Boy Named Sue.

It snowed about 14-18 inches on Christmas Eve, so we had a mess to dig out of in the morning before we could go and get Bob and Margaret for the Christmas morning festivities.  The boys all chipped in and dug with their new shovels and Holly seemed to enjoy doing an Alaskan Woman thing as well.

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Holly’s Birthday party was on Christmas evening and we had a nice visit with the family and Bob & Margaret with Margaret’s home made lemon cake with real whipping cream.

Christmas 2009 022Holly’s big gift for her Birthday was an Aero Garden from Amazon which is assembled and percolating away in the living room with herbs (Parsley, Mint, Italian Basil, Dill, Purple Basil, Chives, and Thyme)  hopefully sprouting this week.

Christmas 2009 141 Also, I got a large griddle (10”x20”) for cooking pancakes for $44 at the Canadian SuperStore.  It works fine, it turns out, but is a little bit of a pain to clean if you don’t rinse it right away—which is, I suppose, the same as any other cooking or preparation devices. It’s also a bit of a pain to store, as there are no holes in the handles to hang the thing from. I’d always thought these would be great for cooking pancakes or french toast, and just bought one on the spur of the moment. 

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Christmas 2009 138One of Holly’s ideas for the Holidays was to spread the gifts out over 12 days, since we’re not planning any big trips.  This morning, the boys got their Nerf guns with a brief safety demonstration and strict instructions on where they could be aimed (not at mommy, not at a face). 

 

But later one of the boys shot the other one in the eye from 3” and lost his gun privileges and got a few swats. Thankfully, no harm was done to John Caleb’s eye.  Although I do feel a bit bad about the spankings. They seem to always do more harm than good.

Trip to Whitehorse

This is an odd numbered year, so  we stayed in Haines this year for the Holidays with Holly’s folks.  We did take a little trip up to Whitehorse, which was pretty fun.  I neglected to make any reservations at any of the hotels, but it turns out that Whitehorse is not very crowded around Christmas time, at –21 degrees F, go figure.

We decided it would be best to drive during the daylight hours to reduce the amount of boredom and fidgetiness along the way. As you can see from the clip below, sometimes this doesn’t not ensure an interesting drive.

 

 

On the way home, we did see three elk and two moose. Here are the two moose.

 

 

Christmas 2009 068When we travel, especially, Holly likes to dress the boys in matching clothes.  This is getting harder to do ever since Mark passed the size 5 rack.  Often boys clothes of a certain type can be found from size 1 up to 5 that vary only in size, so it used to be really easy to get matching clothes for them.

The main attraction at Whitehorse is the Games Center: CLICK HERE!! We like mostly for the pool and the playground area, but what we mostly saw the locals using it for was hockey.  There seemed to be an endless stream of skaters coming and going until late at night carrying all their skating gear and pads in large rolling bags.  Better them than me.

My favorite area is the family swimming area.  There’s a three story waterslide, a huge family wading pool, a 20 person hot tub, a steam room, and a sauna.  The swimming area is about 1/3 of the size of H2Oasis, I’d say. One of our favorite new features is the Subway food stand which is right outside the swimming area.

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Christmas Letter 2009

Here’s a link to our Christmas Letter (pdf) this year, which is actually pretty cool, if I may say so.  We had it done, printed, folded, stamped and put into envelopes (but not licked) before Thanksgiving Day.

Merry Christmas

Windows Live Skydrive: CLICK HERE

Google Docs: Christmas letter 2009

If you want a printable size document to hang on the fridge, that’s too bad, because this one is only large enough to view on the screen.

Actually, send me an email, and I’ll pop you one, if I know you, duh.  Then put us on your list and send us one too.  BAM

This was the first time I used Publisher to produce a document and did not use a template.  I recommend a book to you: The non-designer’s Design book by Robin Williams CLICK HERE!!

It was one of those days

Parenthood is a tough thing sometimes.

Today I was watching the boys while Holly went to her health screening. 

First I had to get rid of the source of a BAD MOLDY smell in the boys room—which I’d discovered by using a flashlight and checking under the bed—A cupcake that had outlived its usefulness.

Then I assembled a Lego Bionicle for Luke so he could play bionicles with Mark.

Then my folks called to chat and wish Mark a Happy 7th birthday.

When Holly came home, I was relaxed and talking to my folks on the phone lying on the big bed, so she assumed I’d done nothing because she discovered this in the kitchen:

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Well.  Sometimes a picture is worth a dozen words, or is it 10?  I can’t decide.

She didn’t tell me she left a carton of eggs out on the counter.  Now she tells me that eggs work better in a recipe when they are at room temperature.  I guess this type of thing just happens with kids sometimes.

075I apologize for the quality of the photos in this post.  I only had a P&S camera at my disposal and the lighting was dim—I didn’t have my super-wide zoom, either.  Plus my subject was skittish.

 

After we got somewhat ready for dinner, Irene and Izak came over for chips-n-cheese, cake, ice-cream, and the opening of presents.  Izak is not going to be here for Mark’s birthday so they wanted to come by and have a mini celebration before the left.

Mark was pretty excited to get his present, because it’s his favorite type of toy right now: Lego Bionicle. 

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By the way, he actually requested that he get an orange crown with glitter on it for his birthday.  When was the last time I actually requested a crown (in my favorite color) with glitter on it for my birthday, at least metaphorically. 

It’s great being a kid.

Heck.  It’s even great being the father of a healthy, beautiful little troop of boys.

Mazatlán trip (Day 2)

I like the sunrises in Mexico.  We don’t get sunrises or sunsets like that here in Alaska, or in Haines.  This picture was taken with my point and shoot camera from the porch of our hotel room, looking out over the city to the east.  The boys often got up for the sunrise with me. 

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Was it actually this pretty to the naked eye?  No.  I underexposed the photo until I got what I liked.  It got more yellow the more I underexposed it.  This shot is straight out of the camera though.  When shooting gradual colors like this it is important to shoot in RAW, as JPEGs tend to do poorly with large swaths of sky in any near homogeneous color.

IMG_4137  Today the plan was to go to Sam’s Club to buy supplies again, then do a dispensa in the morning at a Francesco I Madero, to coincide with the carnival games of the Iowa team who were on their last day in Haines.

Then take a break for lunch and close of the evening with the mobile kitchen and the mobile school at another colonia (neighborhood) at Aztea, where there is still no building.  We took this van in the morning to head out to the church with our supplies after the stop in Sam’s Club.  it’s a nice sturdy van which is much like the 24-7 shuttles the hotels use near major airports. 

Jorge, on the left below in the green shirt was the driver in the morning, but transformed into a multi-talented one man traveling puppet show, guitar player, DJ, sound man, singer, dance leader, PE teacher in the evening.  He is gifted and is a hard worker for the lord.

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IMG_4192 The Iowa group did the carnival games in the gymnasium, which consisted of multiple throwing games with prizes for the winners and actually greatly resembled our harvest festival, which the local churches in Haines do for the local kids on Halloween.  There was no need for the mobile kitchen at this church because they have a commercial kitchen and lockable storage rooms already. 

Many of the Churches buildings are built like this with a concrete floor, steel superstructure, cement walls, tin roof and upper walls.  Along the sides of the church they keep the furniture (chairs and tables).  A local company builds the girders and brings them to the site and assembles them.

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While the Carnival was going on with the kids, Shannon Green, my folks, Jorge, and I were doing the dispensa from the van.  My folks had bible to distribute. 

IMG_4203The dispensa went really well until one lady decided she wanted to get four bags instead of one, because her three daughters were all off working somewhere.  I eventually just took her three tickets and she smiled, then I gave the three bags to three other women who hadn’t gotten any bags, then she went through the roof!  She set down her bag and gave me a barrage of spanish I had no hope of understanding. 

IMG_4215 Shannon was in the van giving me the bags one at a time and said to me, I’m glad it’s you out there instead of me!  While she was giving me an earful, someone in line behind her sneaked up behind her and quietly took her bag.  I have to admit, I was actually kind of thankful for that.

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I’ll write more about the evening later.  What I really need to do is load up some of the videos I took, as that really gets the color and life a lot more than the pictures and words.