May 30, 2009

Green Screen


My brother Brett just left after coming over and setting up a little studio in our basement. He filmed Jovana on the green screen doing her interpretation of Voices of Chernoble. It was difficult for me to stay still the whole time. I just wanted to move or cough or use the toilet.


The video will appear on YouTube one of these days...probably after she brings home her first place prize from the National Speech and Debate Competition, which is a few weeks away.



She is really a good sport and wasn't expecting the kind of set up that Brett brought. It's kind of like a pay back for all the mileage that he's gotten out of putting Jovana's face on our advertising at the driving school. Ha ha ha. She's everywhere! She's also got 3 photos (including this one) in our student workbook that we just had printed a couple of weeks ago. The ad below is Brett's latest creation.

May 27, 2009

The First Time

This past weekend we went camping at Ensign Ranch in Eastern Washington with Tymon's cousins. The sun shone and warmed our hearts. We loved it and had a wonderful few days. On the way over the mountains we stopped at Snoqualmie Falls. It was Jovana's first time being there and a great memory for me of Tymon and I having dinner in the lodge on the hill. We had a private dining room with the best meal ever. We took a walk after dinner to see the falls. It was misty out...okay it was drizzling...but a little way down the walkway Tymon got down on one knee and proposed to me.

The boys are taking their first official horse rides.




Jovana's first time on a horse. She did wonderfully!

Of course, she got a little nervous when this old Moses horse started to back up and stand on his hind legs. This is the first time a horse has tried to remove me from his back. But I stayed on until I could get my feet out of the stirrups. Then I jumped off and tried to get away as fast as I could. I was afraid that he'd step on me...and the camping trip would be over at that point. I'm so glad that I don't have a broken leg or crushed ribs. I've only been on a horse 3 times and am almost totally inexperience. I got back in the saddle again, but not on Moses. Izzy (Israel) was better for me, but also had a mind of his own but I learned to control him a little better than Moses.

We took a little hiking adventure walk and each had to have a walking stick personally picked out for us by the boys.


We happened upon a baptism on our walk. This is definitely the first time we've seen a baptism while camping. Outside of my mission, I think the only baptisms I've seen have been in an actual church font.

Jocelyn's first canoe ride. She did well sitting on my lap. Her legs were wrapped around one of mine. She didn't like her life vest very much but it was still cute.


Jovana doesn't row very well, but she loved her first time in a canoe.


In fact, she built up her biceps to twice their former size.


Jett also enjoyed his first canoe trip. He looked over the edge while Jovana and I rowed...and he only tried to stand up a couple of times. That's when we were able to patiently explain that he needed to sit down because he was rocking the boat. Ah, who am I kidding? I yelled at him to sit his butt down before we all ended up in the water.


Jovana's first camping trip.


Jovana's first S'MORE. Why yes, she did want some more s'mores. I think she had 7 of them.


Jovana's first tent.


Jovana and I spent Sunday with one of my college text books entitled What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. We went through 5 chapters and came up with some great story lines.
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These are some first lines for potential stories:
1. By the time we got back from church on Sunday, Jett had peed his pants three times.
2. Looking dejected and with a thumbs down, she came to my tent silently weeping.
3. Heading to the campfire, I confiscated Jacob's stick before he hit Elliott over the head again.
4. I'm not sure if it was the wind or our lousy paddling, but we were rowing with all our might and still going nowhere fast.
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There are many ways to write a first line and in the following examples, I've taken my first story line and applied some different techniques...amazing how the same story changes a little bit just with the style.
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1. Generalization: After a small boy learns to control his bladder, we shouldn't have to clean up his messes several times a day.
2. Description of a Person: Jett's pants usually sag low like a gangster rapper and the teenaged boys with flawed fashion sense who imitate them. Jett, however, knows nothing of style. The biggest contributors to his low-riding jeans stems from having a small bum and soggy underwear.
3. Narrative Summary: The frustrations of a young mother peak after she guides her child every day helping him learn to use the toilet and then he regresses and wets his pants three times before coming back from church on Sunday.
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Here I begin a story with a given first line: If I went there a second time... (About our experience going to church in a "come as you are" congregation filled with others from our camp site.)
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If I went there a second time, I would take a shower and dress up a bit. A couple hundred people filled the chapel and lined the halls to hear what the speaker had to say. We sat in the foyer, too self conscious in our casual clothing and body odor to enter the room. When the bishop invited all those in the halls to take the choir seats in the front, we declined. We felt way more comfortable sitting with each other removed from everyone else.
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Jovana also tried her hand at writing. She's learning to improve her style and I'm pleased with her progress. She's only got two guidelines to follow. She should avoid using "thing" and "stuff" in her writing and she must use descriptive verbs instead of forms of "be". It's a lot harder than you might think...but it helps keep a reader engaged.

May 25, 2009

Tymon's Birthday

Before we left to go camping in Eastern Washington last Friday, we called Tymon up from the basement by telling him that he had some friends who were visiting.


And aren't they a happy bunch? Jovana and I got some new clothes for him and since he was working out next to the wrapping paper in the basement, we had to think of another way to give him his gifts before we left. As we hid the clothing in Graeden's room until we could nonchalantly get the paper, I noticed the stuffed animals and we decided to change our plan a little bit.

Would you believe that the Safeway in Cle Elum doesn't have a bakery? What I really mean to say is, how in the world are we supposed to pick Tymon up a birthday cake while we were camping if they didn't sell any? And the local bakery was already closed for the afternoon? Well, there are always Dairy Queen's ice cream cakes. There wasn't a lot of choice though. I decided against the princess cake and the fairies. I even passed on Transformers as Tymon just watched that movie and didn't have much positive to say about it. I ended up with the best choice ever...Cowboys. See Tymon's surprise and excitement below.


Right after this he did a knee slapping hoe-down clap. The cake was a hit. How often do you get ice cream while camping?

May 19, 2009

Highly Effective Habit

About 13 years ago one of my roommates was reading an amazing book that she shared with me and we discussed it at great length. We spent hours exploring all the what if situations in our lives and how to apply the principles we learned. Looking back, I recognize that in some way or another, I'm always thinking about happiness. For the times that are. The times that aren't. And the times in between. Through it all, it's who we are on the inside that helps us cope with the trials of life and leads us to the greater good and brighter future.

The Constitution [of the United States] has endured and serves its vital
function today because it is based on correct principles, on the self-evident truths contained in the Declaration of Independence. These principles empower the Constitution with a timeless strength, even in the midst of social ambiguity and change. "Our peculiar security," said Thomas Jefferson, "is in the possession of a written Constitution."

A personal mission statement based on correct principles becomes the same kind of standard for an individual. It becomes a personal constitution, the basis for making major, life-directing decisions, the basis for making daily decisions in the midst of the circumstances and emotions that affect our lives. It empowers individuals with the same timeless strength in the midst of change.

People can't live with change if there's not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value. (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey, pg. 108)


By request, I am posting the personal constitution I made 13 years ago. Each item is listed in order of importance to me. If you want some great fun and deep conversations, get together with a friend and bat around all that you value. Put an order to it. You may be surprised. What's interesting to me now is how much flavor has been added to my goals over the years. I never would have imagined how some of my choices would have played out. I don't consciously think about my personal constitution so much anymore. It's just a part of me.

1. I honor, obey, and respect God. I strive to be like him through following the example of Christ. I am temple worthy.
2. I love my family. I show my love through my actions.
3. I value human life and thus use my means to help others.
4. Personal integrity and character of of the utmost importance. My happy spirit radiates peace and friendship toward others.
5. I choose what leaves me free to choose again.
6. I am not mediocre in my testimony, family responsibilities, generosity, character, purity, education, endurance and investments.
7. I am intelligent and well educated. I go to great length to gain and retain knowledge.
8. I am physically fit in such a manner that I can enjoy God's beautiful nature and share priceless memories with my family.
9. I am financially independent.

Once you have that sense of mission, you have the essence of your own
proactivity. You have the vision and the values with direct your life.

May 18, 2009

Lovely Soil

Sara, these yard shots are for you (and my posterity should they ever want to see them).

Before:


After: Same view as above. I've planted a memorial garden for Evan where the little green ball is. I'm excited to see it grow this summer along side the grass. We just got the sprinklers adjusted today so that they water everything that I've planted thus far.

The other side of the yard where the kids' fruit trees are planted.

May 17, 2009

Graduating to Shrines of Dirt

Yesterday, my brother's wife Katie graduated cum laude from Seattle University's Law School. We were in the nose bleed section and I was pretty happy to have Katie on the big screen.


I guess I don't read invites very carefully, because I thought it started at 11am and that's when Jovana, Jocelyn and I arrived. I knew something wasn't quite right though when they were already reading names as soon as we entered the Key Arena. Katie's brother-in-law (her sister's husband) applauded my good move and wished he'd done the same. So, it really started at 10 am and I guess we missed all of the speakers. We actually looked all over for Katie after the ceremonies but couldn't find her or anyone we knew. We dropped by the Center House on the way out and watched a few Bollywood dance numbers by these cute 10 year old girls and then headed to the parking garage...and happened to run into Katie's sister and parents. So wild. So random. So helpful in finding out which restaurant we'd be meeting at for lunch (Brett's phone was on silent and I didn't have Katie's number programmed into mine).


When we got home later that afternoon (after lunch and shopping), I was delighted to find that Tymon had cleaned our kitchen desk counter and made a little shrine for Evan.


I rearranged it a little by adding a plaque that my college buddy's sister-in-law made. It's great that that counter is clean...and even better that we have a memorial for Evan.




This past week we've had landscapers in cleaning up our back yard. We added 5 truck loads of topsoil.
Let me tell you, I had a really HARD time paying so much for dirt. The lady at the topsoil company told me it was helpful if I didn't think of it as dirt, but rather soil. It didn't help though. To me, no matter how many times it's been filtered of rocks or how many nutrients for great lawn growing have been added, it's still dirt. Like the air we breathe, dirt should be free. There is plenty everywhere. What's undeniable though is how great this rich dark soil looks in our yard. It's beautiful and our yard is taking shape. So, I've almost forgotten the cost. It will continue to look better as the plants I planted yesterday in Evan's memorial garden space grow and bloom. I really look forward to filling our large yard with whatever plants my heart desires. I also want to do a garden...I just haven't figured out exactly where I want it.

May 12, 2009

Poll Results

Jovana and I were shopping a week or so ago and I wasn't in a very good mood. I can't even remember why right now...and that's probably a good thing. We got what we needed and happened to walk by a sunglasses display. She took these totally '80s glasses off the rack and told me to put them on. They were so cool (she said).

Ha ha ha. I just couldn't wrap myself around them or convince myself to like them.
We did have my camera and took photos...

I see the glasses and immediately think about the show about the California Highway Patrol (CHiPs) that I used to watch as a kid. Erik Estrada was one of my favorites.


Imagine my surprise when I'm checking out Jovana's photos that she took in Leavenworth last Friday and see that she has these glasses on...uh yeah, I didn't know she actually bought them. I now call her Erik Estrada's girlfriend.

So you, my readers...or 15 out of the 18 that voted anyway...concur with my thoughts. The glasses are bug-alicious, totally '80s, and 100% CHiPs.

Bug-a-licious 2 votes (11%)
Fabulously Trendy 3 votes (16%)
Hello '80s! 8 votes (44%)
CHiPs Officer 5 votes (27%)

And Jovana's response to me and all of you?


"Bridget, you look totally gorgeous with those glasses... Those people who don't like it, have no idea about the current trend. (of course with the assumption that I do =])

Your Chips =] "
So there you have it. Maybe I should've bought them and really have been trendy. If only I could reconcile my heart and mind with fashion. When did I get to be so old that I don't know what's in style or not? I think I used to know. My family called me the "fashion police" when I was a teenager. I taught my little brother everything I know and he always looks great. I think it was when I was 19 and in Russia that I learned that you really wouldn't die if you wore black and navy together and then it's all gone down hill from there. Next thing you know I'm going to be buying clothing for Jocelyn's birthday and she'll turn to me and ask what planet I'm from because NOBODY wears stuff like that anymore.

May 9, 2009

Jovana's Senior Prom

Jovana's day was PACKED today. We left early to go to Seattle so that she could take the TOFEL test. It turns out that the testing center moved locations a couple of months ago, 1-800-GOOG-411 has never heard of them, the address appeared to be in the Westlake Shopping Mall, Tymon did a Google search but the address was wrong, he checked the company's website but that gave the old address. After an hour of searching for the new place, we found it on the other side of the freeway and we were 30 minutes late. LUCKILY, they allowed her to test.

After the 4.5 hour test (plus 2 hours travel and one hour lost), we went to a department store to have Jovana's make up done. Then we raced home with one hour to spare. And it that short hour we curled Jovana's hair and got her dressed and got her ready to for the prom tonight. She was a bit stressed with all we had to do, but it's all over now. All she has to do is enjoy the evening.


I was a little frustrated the Spencer wouldn't look at the camera when I was snapping photos this evening...but now that I see my finished product I think that Spencer was looking. I just think he has a lazy eye.

So, Jovana, we're thinking of you tonight. And hoping that you'll have a great experience and praying that you'll be safe. You're beautiful and we're so happy to have been a part of your day.

May 4, 2009

My Little Lover

Of all my boys, Elliott has always been a lover. Lover of people. Lover of animals. Lover of back rubs. Lover of bath time. Lover of books. Lover of games. Lover of videos. Simply put, a LOVER.


Saturday, we went to the communion mass of my niece.


We sat in the back, which really worked out well because both Jett and Elliott decided that they needed to use the restroom 3 or 4 times. And yes, the service is only an hour long. At the end, we were waiting to greet my niece and the congregation was leaving. I was sitting down holding Jocelyn and then happened to see out of the corner of my eye that Elliott had fully attached himself to someone's leg...as in he's sitting on the foot and has wrapped his body around the leg. I looked up and saw a guy in his late teens or early 20s and his mother.

Here's me: Elliott, do you know that guy?
Elliott: Nope.
Guy: (chuckles)
Guy's Mom: It's okay, we're used to kids.
Me (smiling): Elliott, if you don't know him then you need to get off him.

Awkward silence for me. Great amusement for Guy and his Mother. Elliott hangs on tighter. Guy tries to take a few steps. Elliott still clinging.

Me: Elliott, get off please.

Yeah, I think he was on him 2-3 minutes...which is a REALLY long time to be hanging onto a stranger. So Elliott, this post is for you, my uninhibited little lover.
 
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