Monday, November 24, 2014

Eating Applesauce

These pictures are an afternoon at our house this weekend when the girls were both having a snack of "applesauce." (It was really baby food, and Zelda was eating some first and then Ellie wanted some too.) They were too cute to resist sharing.


 We love these girls. :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Captain's Log, Week 239


What the girls said this week

Jason: "Ellie, should we chop all your hair off?"
Ellie: "No! I want it beautiful like this." (strokes hair)

Ellie was eating a sugar packet at a restaurant.
Me: "Ellie, what does that taste like?"
Ellie: "It tastes like...imagination."

Ellie talked to Jason's mom on the phone one night. After that phone call, she told Jason, "I want to call Grandpa now!"
Jason: "Grandpa? Who's that?"
Ellie: "He's the silly boy!"

In primary at church the primary song leader was asking about the city of Bethlehem, because it was in the song the kids were singing.
Primary leader: "Is Bethlehem next door?"
All the kids: "Nooo!"
Kid in me and Jason's class: "No! It's very far away!"
Primary leader: "How far away is it?"
Same kid in me and Jason's class: "It's very far! It's like, back in the eighties!"

What we did this week

I reached a milestone this week on my blog - 500 posts. My post on Sunday, How Firm a Foundation, was my 500th post.

Last Friday Jason and I decided to go out to eat for date night - which we never do - and take the girls. We went to Applebees, and they both actually did really well! Zelda started to get really wiggly/grabby towards the end of the meal, but overall it went okay! It was nice to be able to go out to a restaurant for once.


Saturday and Sunday were pretty normal (and pretty cold - the temperature's been dropping!) and then on Monday it was kind of warm and rainy. The girls played outside in the rain a couple times that day:


Bath time sometime later:


Other things we did this week: Jason had a couple tests that he was studying for a lot, and the girls and I just did our regular thing. I got to talk to some of my old roommates on Tuesday night (on google chat), and that was awesome! One other fun thing from this week is that we got a diaper shipment from Amazon, and since it had both Zelda's diapers and Ellie's pullups in came in a BIG cardboard box. And with some tape and a knife, Jason made it into a little playhouse for the girls!

It's so cute and the girls (especially Ellie) love playing with it. I like it too, since it's situated right over a heat vent. It's like a little sauna at nigh time. Jason took this picture of me, inside, reading the other night (I don't quite fit all the way, which is why my feet are sticking out):


And here the girls are playing in it the next day:


I love it. I hope it lasts for a really really long time. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How Firm a Foundation

This week I was having a rough time with some anxiety (general anxiety, not about one issue in particular). As I was folding laundry one night, I started to sing one of my favorite hymns, How Firm a Foundation.

I love this song. I've always loved it; it's always been so powerful to me and such a strengthening hymn. But as I sang it this week, I felt like Heavenly Father was speaking to me directly through the words, reminding me that he is always, always be there for me. I just wanted to share this song with you, as it has been such a strength to me.


How firm a foundation, ye Saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say than to you he hath said,
Who unto the Savior, who unto the Savior,
Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?

In ev'ry condition--in sickness, in health,
In poverty's vale or abounding in wealth,
At home or abroad, on the land or the sea--
As thy days may demand, as thy days may demand,
As thy days may demand, so thy succor shall be.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not thee o'erflow,
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee, and sanctify to thee,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply.
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, thy dross to consume,
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine.

E'en down to old age, all my people shall prove
My sov'reign, eternal, unchangeable love;
And then, when gray hair shall their temples adorn,
Like lambs shall they still, like lambs shall they still,
Like lambs shall they still in my bosom be borne.

The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I'll never, no never, I'll never, no never,
I'll never, no never, no never forsake!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Captain's Log, Week 238


What the girls said this week

On Sunday I wore tights with my Sunday outfit. Ellie noticed, came over, and was trying to pull them off from the bottom.
Ellie: "Where are your toes? Take them off! Take them off!"
Me: "No, I'm going to keep my tights on today."
Ellie: "I want you to be Mommy again."

Ellie, spinning around her room: "I'm ballerin-ing!"

Ellie put on some tennishoes and said, "Daddy, I'm kind of like you!"
Jason: "Oh, are you wearing running shoes?"
Ellie: "No, I'm wearing walking shoes."

Ellie and I did puzzles several times this week. One time I messed up the puzzle (after we were done), and she said "That was ridiciful! Mom, was that ridic..."
Me: "Ridiculous?"
Ellie: "Yes, ridickorious."

One morning she used the word "Cute-iful" several times.

On Wednesday the girls and I drove with Jason to his school so that we could take the car home (I needed the car for the day). It was a very, very foggy morning and it made the landscape very different and cool. As we pulled up to Jason's school, the buildings loomed out of the fog, shaped like spooky cathedrals, and we said to each other that they reminded us of some kind of haunted mansion. Then, as Jason was getting out of the car, Ellie asked "Is this like a Disneyland ride?"

Ellie, closing the door to my bathroom: "Mom, I closed it. Mom, don't take a shower ever again."

Ellie was being super silly after her bedtime on Wednesday night. We heard noises in her room waaay after she was supposed to be asleep, so we went in to check on her. She was very silly with us ("I have Buzz Lightyears in my mouth. There's so many Buzz Lightyears in my mouth!") and asked for a drink of water. I went and got her one and brought her back a sippy cup that was about halfway full. When I gave it to her she pushed it away and said, "No, all the way to the top!" So I went to the bathroom sink and filled it up more and brought it back. It still had a small amount of air (like an inch) at the top.
Jason: "Look, it's full all the way to the top!"
Ellie: "No, that's just closer."
(I fill it more)
Jason: "Now it's full all the way to the top."
Ellie: (Inspecting it from every angle.) "Maybe."

Me, jokingly to Jason: "Nobody likes me."
Ellie, unseen, somewhere to my left:  "I like you! I like you!"

Ellie: "Mom, I'm a mouse. Mom, the mouse hugged you!"

Today Ellie came to me with a tissue in her hand and told me, "Mom, I got a tissue and I smelled very hard on it."

Two words: Creature Powers


What we did this week


Another low-key week for us! Our week has mostly consisted of Jason going to school and me staying home with the girls. Last Friday for our date night Jason and I watched Maleficent. We liked it; it was a clever way to re-imagine Sleeping Beauty. On Saturday we stayed home, on Sunday we went to church, and all the days this week Jason went to school while the girls and I (mostly) stayed here.

Wednesday was different; Ellie had her flu vaccine appointment on Wednesday, so the girls and I drove Jason to school (so I could bring the car home to have to drive to the doctor's office), went to the doctor's office a little while later (where Ellie actually got to have the flu nasal mist instead of the shot, so she was happy about that!), and then went to the end of library storytime and then to the park with some people from our church (and then a couple hours later picked Jason up from school). It just a little bit of a crazy day, but it was good to get out of the house.

One other thing I've started doing this week is updating the Quiet Book Blog again and responding to a backlog of emails. I'm so bad at replying to emails, voicemails, texts, facebook messages, you name it. They give me anxiety and I get kind of paralyzed when I think about them, and the longer I put them off the more anxiety I get and the more paralyzed I become. It's an ironic, unfortunate cycle. But this week I was able to reply to some emails, and get some posts up on the other blog, so that's good.

In book news, this week I finished "The Blood of Olympus," "Anne's House of Dreams," "Anne of Ingleside" and just started "Rainbow Valley" (also by L.M. Montgomery, it's the next in the Anne of Green Gables series) tonight. Also, I've eaten a lot of chocolate this week. Probably more than any other food group. I don't know why that counts as book news, but I feel that it should.

Finally, these pictures are of Zelda from yesterday. She had a fever Wednesday evening, then it went away, then it came back mid-morning on Thursday. She took a really long morning nap on Thursday and was really lethargic in between that nap and her afternoon one. She just wanted to chill on the couch, and then just cuddled on top of me.


She's feeling better now, so that's good. :)

And that was our week!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Creature Powers

Lately Ellie's become obsessed with a show called "Wild Kratts." It's about these two brothers (named Chris and Martin) and their team of friends that save animals around the globe. These two women scientists on their team make them these special suits with "creature powers" that can do things that the animals they're studying can do - the cheetah suits run fast, the gecko suits have sticky feet, etc.

Most of the time when referring to the show, Ellie calls it "Creature Powers." ("I want to watch Creature Powers!") She also refers to the two main characters (Chris and Martin) as "creature powers" and imaginary plays with them all over the house. (For example, "Mom! Creature Powers are falling down! Creature Powers, can you hear me? Creature Powers, Can. You. Hear. Me. Mom, Creature Powers can't hear me because they're in a cave!") She acts like she's holding them in her hand (on the show they can get really small sometimes), and talks to them and has imaginary little play scenes with them.

When we had leftover balloons from Zelda's birthday last week, Ellie got a green balloon and a blue balloon and started calling them Chris and Martin. (Those are the colors the brothers always wear on the show.)

Meanwhile, Zelda is sprouting up like a bean pole. She just had her first year appointment last week and they measured her height then, and I kind of want to measure her again because I swear she's grown a couple inches in the last week. She suddenly just looks longer and taller than she did before. And I noticed last night that the pajamas that used to be a couple inches too big for her (just a few weeks ago) are now stretched out all the way on her tall little body.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Collage.com Photo Book Review

*I was provided with a free hardcover and softcover photo book from Collage.com to do this review. The opinions I write below are my own. :)*


A while ago the photo company Collage contacted me and asked if I'd like to review their "One-Click Photo Books." Being the photo book nut that I am, I immediately said yes. :) So I used Collage's website to make and order two books, and I have to tell you, I really really liked their software! Making these photo books was probably the easiest photo book making process I've ever had.

I was able to make two books with Collage: a 11.5"x8.5" hardcover (the same size and format I usually order from Shutterfly) and a 8"x6" softcover. For the hardcover, I decided to make a Christmas present book with some of my favorite pictures from the last year. I chose the pictures and uploaded them to Collage's site, and then clicked their "auto place" button. The "auto place" button immediately placed all the pictures in the book, and gave me an option to make a collage on the cover using all of the pictures. I clicked "yes" to that option, it made the cover - and my book was done! It was seriously that easy. I did rearrange a couple of the pictures on the pages, but that only took a few minutes. I was pretty satisfied with how it put them automatically and there wasn't much to do.

One thing I loooove about Collage's software and wish every photo book company had in their software was what I found when I rearranged pictures on the pages. When I would click and drag a picture, the page would shift around, giving me lots of options for the layout while maintaining each picture's original aspect ratio (shape). One thing I don't like about Shutterfly is that if I want to maintain each picture's aspect ratio (keep it portrait or landscape, and make it show the whole picture), I have to customize each layout that I'm working with. It's really time consuming. I absolutely love that on Collage it maintains the aspect ratio for each picture, and still has a lot of layouts for each page that are so easy to switch between! It's seriously amazing! I know I sound ridiculous, but I seriously love love love Collage's software when it comes to page layouts. It is the best, and so easy.

Okay, so here are the books. Here is the 11.5"x8.5" hardcover:


 Close-up of the cover collage:


 Some of the inside pages (it's a standard, 20-page book):


 And the back, which is white with a small "Collage.com" logo in the middle:


Collage has different background options that you can apply to individual pages or the whole book, but I chose white for the whole book because I just like white. The picture quality is good (though perhaps not quite as sharp as Shutterfly), and the paper quality is good. I did miss the paper end pages that you find in Shutterfly's books or MyPublisher's - the Collage book starts right in on the picture pages without end pages. The binding seems good and secure.

Here's the 8"x6" softcover. For this book, I chose a bunch of pictures of family members, and made it as a kind of "Where's Waldo?" of family for the girls to play with. When it came and I gave it to Ellie, it was an instant hit. She sat on the couch and went through each page, naming each family member. It was just the right size for her to open and look at herself. She carried it around all day, and even insisted on going to sleep with it that night. :)


The two sizes compared (The 8"x6" softcover vs the 11.5"x8.5" hardcover):


And the inside:



So, Collage.com's One-Click Photo Books in a nutshell: I looooved the software. I don't think I can emphasize that enough. This was some of the easiest, best photo book software I have ever worked with. Making a book literally only took a few minutes, and rearranging pictures was so easy that it was fun. Whoever made Collage's software knew what they were doing.

The books themselves are good quality. Again, I wish that the hardcover had endsheets - they're such a good feature! - but the pictures and pages themselves were good quality, and the binding was tight.

If you'd like to check out Collage.com's photo books (or any of their other products - they also make photo blankets, calendars, canvases, etc.), click here: Collage.com.


To see my other photo book reviews, check out the posts below:

Shutterfly Photo Book Review
Shutterfly Premium Leather Layflat Photo Book Review
Shutterfly Calendar Review
York Photo Photo Book Review
AdoramaPix Photo Book Review
MyPublisher Photo Book Review
Photo Book Comparisons