Friday, February 27, 2015

Three kinds of snow - Captain's Log, Week 253

Hi! I can't believe it's time for another Captain's Log already. I only wrote the last one on Sunday, which is definitely the reason this one feels like it came up so fast.

We had more snow this week. It's funny, because it's snowed three times in the last week and a half, and they've all been completely different kinds of snow. We've had very very icy snow, really powdery snow, and slushy snow.

Because of the snow, Jason's classes were canceled on Tuesday. He actually drove to school, as did most of his class, because they had a test that morning. They took the test, and then all went home. And then we got to have a snow day!

We came in and warmed up afterwards. Zelda played some Ticket to Ride.

Other than that, this week has been full of tests for Jason. He's taking his third one right now. He also had something called an "OSCE" (I think that's how it's spelled; it sounds like "oss-kee"), which is like practicing diagnosing a patient.

And today we're going to Ohio! Our friends Jill and Tommy live up in Cincinnati, and we're driving up to see them. We are SO excited. We packed almost everything yesterday and are finishing packing today. Jason's classes get out about 2, and we're planning to leave around 3. It's about a 9 hour drive, so we should get in pretty late. And then tomorrow we'll get to have so much fun with them! Yaaay!!!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ice Storm - Captain's Log, Week 252

Sorry for the delay in me posting the Captain's Log, we've had some computer troubles and changes this week that kind of threw everything off! But hopefully we're back on track now. :)

What the girls said this week:

Ellie: "In the spring, will the bananas grow?"
Me: "Yes."
Ellie: "In the monkey trees?"

Ellie: "Mom, will you play with me?"
Me: "Yeah."
Ellie: "Splendive!"

Zelda's saying more and repeating more words, but it's hard to think of every word she's repeating. Her main phrase is still "Mmhmm," which she uses as the answer to most questions directed at her. This morning she was saying "No," though, and Ellie was following her around asking her questions and she was answering "No, no," in her little voice and it was so cute. Yesterday when the girls were taking a bath I counted down "5...4...3...2..1...blast off!" And Zelda repeated "Blast off!" after me. It sounded really close, too! She's like a surprising little parrot, haha. :)

What we did this week:

This week was crazy. "Winter Storm Octavia" blasted through on Monday night, pouring freezing rain all night long and coating everything in half an inch of solid ice. When we looked outside on Tuesday, it looked all snowy and we were excited to take the girls out to play. But as soon as we got outside, we realized that while it looked like snow, everything was covered in ice. The whole world was like an ice skating rink.

Here's our first couple moments coming out the door:

I've never seen anything like it. The bushes were particularly cool; every single leaf had half an inch of ice on top. If you were careful, you could slide the ice off the plant and have a big piece of ice shaped like a bunch of little leaves.

Our car was absolutely coated in ice:

The front car window
Another angle of the car
Some of the plants

The girls (well, really Ellie) had a blast playing in it. (Zelda just kind of stood on one spot of the lawn, watching the rest of us.) Ellie liked stomping through the ice on the lawn, crunching down to the grass.

After a little while we ventured to the backyard (we had to scoot, crouching, to get there, because we were sliding down an ice hill to get there). We tore up an old cardboard box we had back there, and used the pieces to go sledding. It was really fun, and this little hill we have worked really well. Both girls loved it.

We went in after that (Ellie and Zelda were getting cold), but we did go out again later in the day and played again. While Jason was shoveling our walkway so that we could get back up our steps, Ellie and I built a snowman. She really really liked building the snowman. (Also, she made it a potty. The bunch of leaves in front of it is its "snowman potty.")

Jason's classes were originally supposed to be delayed until 11 on Tuesday, but after the ice storm came through and the school saw how bad it was they canceled classes entirely. All of the schools in the county were actually closed (along with several surrounding counties), and the North Carolina governor actually declared a state of emergency. No one left our block that day; we saw neighbors out shoveling and some playing in the snow, but no one drove to work like they usually do. It would have been impossible.

Luckily the next day was warmer and the ice on the roads melted. Jason's classes resumed (with a delayed schedule), and we played outside again later in the day. About six that evening, it started to snow. Real snow. We quickly bundled up the girls and I took them outside. We tried to catch snowflakes with our hands, and our mouths. It was fun looking up into the sky and see them twirling down.

After all the ice and snow had passed, the really cold air came and settled in. Apparently the air was coming straight from Siberia over the North Pole to us. Our lows the last couple days have been single digits, with wind chill pushing them down into the negatives. But, it's warming up somewhat now, so that's good.

On the computer front - well, we decided to buy a new one. Jason took apart the old one last Saturday to see if her could fix it, and it was a no-go. There was nothing to be done. So he researched new computers and we ordered one earlier in the week. Our last computer was an all-in-one (no tower) which was great because of the lack of cords, but we decided to go with a more traditional monitor+tower computer this time for performance. It has 3 terabytes of memory, which I just can't get over.

We were trying to decided between using Linux for the operating system or buying Windows 7. Linux is free, and Windows 7 is five years old at this point (and Windows 10 is coming out this summer), so we decided to try Linux. But after doing Jason so much work and getting Linux all set up on the computer Friday night and Saturday morning, we figured out that it Adobe Photoshop can't work on Linux. I use photoshop more than any other program on the computer. Linux does have a photoshop-like program called GIMP, but it's missing some of the tools photoshop has and also has a "steep learning curve." So, we (/I) decided to order Windows 7. I feel really bad; Jason's already put so much work into setting up the computer with Linux. :( - guilty-feeling Jocelyn.

Saturday was Valentine's Day. We had a yummy breakfast in the morning (complete with bacon and orange juice), did a new puzzle later, and played more Lego Hobbit on the ps3 after the girls went to sleep. It was great. I decorated our mantle with some hearts and snowflakes a few days before. Ellie decorated too, on the walls:

Ellie and I also made some colored rice this week for her and Zelda to play with. I've seen it on Pinterest a couple times, but assumed it was complicated and didn't look at how to make it. Well, I looked it up this week, and it's actually really easy! You just put a cup of rice in a bag with a tablespoon of vinegar and some squirts of food coloring, close the bag and mix it up, then spread it out to dry. It dries really fast and then it's ready to play with! Ellie really liked making it, and both girls love playing with it. I've been cleaning a lot of rice up from our floor this week.

Some random pictures and stories from this week:

(As Jason said, "This seems a bit backwards.")
The girls in new valentine jammies from their Nana:

Zelda took this selfie at some point:

One day Jason built a fort for the girls in the playroom. At bedtime, Ellie expressed her desire to sleep in the fort. We told her that she couldn't sleep in the playroom, but if we carried it into her bedroom she could sleep in it. She said, "But I'm too heavy!" (=it was too heavy for her to carry.) When we told her Daddy would carry it for her, she got really excited. We moved it into her room and set her up, and that's where she slept that night!

And a video of the girls playing in the fort earlier that day:

I think that's brain feels a little fried because it's been kind of a crazy week.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ellie's Haircut - Captain's Log, Week 251

What the girls said this week

Zelda said "Ellie" for the first time. We were showing her a picture of the family and she was saying everybody's names, and we pointed to Ellie and asked her to say "Ellie." And she said "Eh-ee"!

Ellie: "I was driving crazy! Drive, drive, drive! I drive you crazy!"

Ellie: "I made two big flowers and one little baby flower. It's like my old baby. Like my old baby sister."

Ellie: "Zelda, come here because it's your naptime."
Me: "Oh, is it her naptime?"
Ellie: "Yes, because she hitted me in the heart."

What we did this week

On Friday Jason and I had a more elaborate date than usual since it was the tenth anniversary of our first date. On our first date, we ate at an Italian restaurant and then went to our high school's winter formal. So, for this date we had a big Italian dinner (we bought the really good bread from the store and made garlic/mozarella toast, and also had lasagna, and salad, and sparkling grape juice) and then played playstation Lego Hobbit and ate different kinds of fancy chocolate. It was great!

On Saturday Ellie had her first haircut. We've trimmed her bangs at home before, but we've never taken off any length. This was her first real haircut.

We decided to cut her hair it was getting to be too much of a battle with her to take care of it. Ellie really hated washing, conditionering (is that a word?), and/or brushing her hair, so nights that we washed it were pretty miserable. Plus since she hated brushing it too much (she'd cry and say that it hurt), we'd often go places without brushing it, and it was kind of embarrassing. It was time to do something!

We took her to a place called Baldi's (that name cracks me up) in Holly Springs, and they did a great job. Ellie was wiggly (although not as wiggly as she could have been - she did really well), but the lady was really patient and managed to give her a really cute haircut.  I saved one of her curly locks of hair, too. :)

Ellie's hair before:

Ellie's hair after:

I think I may have confused Ellie, though. The day after she got her haircut, we watched the Disney movie Tangled. At the end (spoiler alert), Rapunzel's hair gets cut short, and turns from blonde to brown. And in the movie, if her hair gets cut and turns brown, it stops growing. I pointed it out to Ellie and said, "Look! She got her hair cut, and it turned short and brown, like yours!" But now Ellie keeps saying that she doesn't need to get her hair cut ever again, because it's brown. And she's pointed out a couple people with brown hair and said that they must have gotten their hair cut. So, apparently Ellie now thinks that anyone with brown hair has gotten their hair cut, and it stops growing from that point onward. Oops!

Zelda, meanwhile, has had a really rough week. She's suddenly getting all of her molars in at the same time, and she's been pretty miserable. We keep rotating giving her ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help with the pain, and it does help, but overall she's been pretty grumpy. She demands different things all day long, but then isn't happy even if she gets them.

Some moments have been good though:

One thing that has really improved for Zelda this week is her, um, bowel functionality. She's had constipation issues since she was seven months old, and has been on Miralax since her twelve month doctor's appointment. At her fifteen month appointment last week I asked about it again, and the doctor recommended really cutting back on milk and switching her to almond milk instead. Ellie's already fully on almond milk (she gets perpetual sniffles if she's on regular milk) so it was a really easy transition. And since Zelda's been on almond milk, she's been able to go a lot easier! We've been reducing the amount of Miralax she's on every day, and today is the first day she's off it entirely. So we'll see how that goes!

Unfortunately, our computer problems have only gotten worse this week. Remember how I said that our computer now had a couple streaks of light running through the screen? Well it got way, way worse. One day after the computer had been on for a couple hours, I walked in to see the screen crazy all over, with streaks and waves of light just going nuts over most of the screen. We turned off the computer, but even that was hard to do. We didn't know if we'd be able to use the computer again. And the worst part is that our external hard drive just broke like two weeks ago, and we're sending it in this week to get replaced (it's still under warranty). So our files weren't backed up!

Luckily, we had another (much smaller) external hard drive that I usually have just for my Mac (which has also been broken the last couple months, but that's a different story), but we reformatted it and were able to fit all the important stuff onto it the next day. Fortunately, the computer was more functional when we turned it back on and were able to copy all that we needed onto the external hard drive. So that's a relief.

Unfortunately, the screen is still really messed up, and it's now really impacting functionality. Plus, the computer doesn't turn on correctly now; it has to go through this restoration cycle every time it turns on, and it takes about a half an hour. So this weekend we're going to take the computer apart, and hopefully be able to fix it. If not, we're going to be looking at new computers.

I'm so excited to say that, despite computer difficulties, I finished our 2012 photobooks this week! There's two of them because there's so many pictures. I made them on Shutterfly, and now they're just sitting in my cart because I'm waiting for a really good sale/coupon combination to come along so I can get them at the best price.

In the meantime I've started on my next projects. The ones I'm working on right now (kind of all at the same time) are the 2012 home videos, the 2013 photobook, 2013 home videos, 2014 photobook, 2014 home videos, my home movies from when I was a kid, and my grandparent's photo albums.

For the 2013 and 2014 photobooks, the action plan is first to delete the extra/blurry/lame pictures from each year, then choose good photos from each month for the books, then photoshop all of those photos, then upload those pictures to Shutterfly, then make the books. That's how I did the 2012 book, and it worked great. For the 2012 book, I gave myself a month to make it. I planned for the first two weeks to be filled with choosing pictures for the books, and the second two weeks to be actually making the books. Choosing the pictures is always the hardest part of making a photobook for me, and this time frame worked well because that meant each day I needed to choose the pictures for just one month. By breaking down a big task (choosing the photos for the whole year) into twelve smaller tasks (choosing the photos for just one month), it made it less intimidating and kept me on track.

For the 2012, 2013, and 2014 home video projects, I'm first relabeling all of the videos so they have consistent titles (Year-Month-Day), deleting the obvious duds (videos that are one second long, or are only of the wall, etc.), rotating the sideways videos upward, and then uploading all the videos to Youtube as private videos (so, only we can watch them).  I'm uploading them to Youtube on one of our email accounts I've dedicated just to our home videos, to make organization easier.

I'm uploading them to Youtube for a couple reasons. One, Youtube has unlimited storage. You can upload as many videos as you want, and it will never cut you off. Two, it's online. So even if all of our computers and external hard drives crash simultaneously, we won't lose the videos. We'll still have them, as long as Youtube's around. Three, it'll make them a lot easier to watch. A lot of these videos we haven't seen since we took them. Now they're on Youtube, I'm organizing them into chronological playlists and it will be super easy to play them for Ellie and Zelda, and we can watch them (on our computer or the TV, through our roku or Chromecast) any time at all. And I do plan to watch them with the girls; I know they'll love them.

This is essentially the same plan I have for my own childhood home videos, as well. Years ago I started a project where I planned to convert our home video VHS tapes to DVDs and make copies for all our family members. Well, I did get the VHSs converted into computer files, but the project ran into major roadblocks there and I couldn't finish it. To explain the problem in a nutshell, the video files were in a really weird format and even though I tried several different programs to convert them, they were really difficult to work with. It became so frustrating that I abandoned the project and haven't even tried to work on it for three years. Three years!

Well, now that I've figured out how to convert the files into a youtube-ready format, the project is easy! All I have to do now is to convert all the files using Adobe Premier, label them chronologically, upload them to youtube, and share them with my family. That's it! It's so easy! I'm so excited that this once hard, very frustrating project has suddenly become easy and I can see the end in sight, so soon.

Finally, I'm also working on what I'm calling the "Smith Picture Archives," which is all the pictures I got from my grandparents last year. First I need to reorganize and relabel some of them photos, and then upload all of them to Google Drive so that I can share them with my extended family.

So those are all the projects I'm working on right now, kind of all at once.

Ellie's projects - making valentines.
Finally, the girls and I went to library storytime this week. Ellie did so good! She's really  getting better about sitting down and listening to the librarian telling the stories. The library had a special Valentine's storytime this week, which was fun. After reading the Valentine's-themed books, they gave the kids Valentine's coloring pages to do, and each child got a little Valentine's bag to take home. It was fun. Afterward we went to a friend in the ward's house ,and Ellie and Zelda got to play some more with some kids from the ward (and I got to "play" (talk) with some of my friends from the ward, haha!). I'm glad going to library storytime is one of my New Year's goals, because it's hard for me to push myself to go, but I'm so glad when we do.

Anyway, I know this is a super long post. I guess I just feel chatty today, haha. I'll end with a couple cute videos. I hope you have a great weekend!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Captain's Log, Week 250

What the girls said this week

Zelda has started to say "My" when she wants something. She'll reach for it, opening and closing her hands, and say "My, my, my."

One day Ellie got my deodorant and started rubbing it on Zelda. When Jason took it away, she said, "I want to armpit Zelda!"

What we did this week 

Before anything else, I just wanted to tell you that today is the 10th anniversary of me and Jason's first date, and also we've been married for exactly 250 weeks today.

I love this guy. I have forever, and I will forever.

So, what we actually did this week: Well, the girls and I got ready for Valentine's day. Zelda had her 15-month checkup at the doctor's on Tuesday, and afterwards we went to the dollar store and got some Valentine's Day stuff. Zelda's stats from her checkup, by the way, are that she's 19 pounds 8 ounces (7th percentile), 31 inches long (68th percentile), and has a head diameter of 18 5/8 inches (87th percentile).

Other than going to the doctor's and the dollar store, our week was pretty much just staying at home. The girls and I did a mix of stuff, from painting to playing outside to making and decorating cupcakes to just chilling out and watching Frozen like four times. I worked a lot on our 2012 photobook, and I'm almost done.

Every day Ellie asks me if it's Valentine's Day. The first couple times I showed her the calendar and explained that it's in a couple weeks, but I've given up and now just say yes every time.

We made Valentine's cupcakes using this cake recipe. They turned out really weird shape/texture -wize, but they were delicious. So they're forgiven for being weird. Ellie had a really fun time mixing the ingredients. Every time we ask her if she wants to help us make something, she says, "Okay, we need to start at the beginning."

Also, one day when we were playing outside the girls were driving around in their power wheels, and Ellie put her arm around Zelda to hold her in and keep her safe.

And here are a couple pictures of Zelda:

Notice the cat's leg on Zelda's back? That's my favorite part.

And a couple videos for the grandparents (I'd recommend "Underwear Head" to anyone who wanted to watch just one):

And that was our week!