Sunday, May 31, 2009

Flower Child

Averi looked so adorable in her dress today, so I thought I'd take her outside and get some pictures of her. But she was having none of it. So, budding photographer that I am, I thought, "Ah! A prop! That's all she needs. Then I will have the stunning photographs I've always dreamed off." So I got her a pretty yellow flower to hold and prepared for some amazing photos of her pondering the beauty of nature. Instead, she promptly ate it. And I let her. I think I'm a bad mom.

I love those pictures.

I also got some other good ones after she decided it wasn't worth fighting me; if she was very good, she might get to devour some more flora.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Marley and Me

I just finished Marley and Me, and I thoroughly loved it. I read it on the recommendation of my sister and mother-in-law; thanks, guys! It's been a while since a book has had me bawling. Now I'm torn between wanting a dog that my family can love and wanting to keep my house from looking like it's entered World War III. Fortunately, I have a husband who's already made that decision for me. I might be tempted to do something rash.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Woohoo! We're Number Two!

From All Financial Matters:

Here’s a quick look at Kiplinger’s 10 Best Cities for Jobs. I’m surprised that only one city from Texas made the list. Click on each city to go to Kiplinger’s write-up on each city.

No. 1: Huntsville, Alabama

No. 2: Albuquerque, New Mexico

No. 3: Washington D.C.

No. 4: Charlottesville, Virginia

No. 5: Athens, Georgia

No. 6: Olympia, Washington

No. 7: Madison, Wisconsin

No. 8: Austin, Texas

No. 9: Flagstaff, Arizona

No. 10: Raleigh, North Carolina

Monday, May 18, 2009

Internet Safety 101

So apparently there was an Oprah episode on internet safety (I'm not quite sure, since I didn't watch the episode) a while ago that caused a huge stir. People left and right are making their blogs private, and I wanted to share my thoughts on this.

1. One incident isn't the norm. People don't stop driving their cars because someone heard of someone in some other state who got in a car accident. We would think that was ridiculous. However, when we hear about some girl in Australia whose photo was used for an advertising campaign without her permission, we all rush and either stop blogging or publishing pictures online altogether or go private and make it such a hassle for people to view them that it seldom is worth the effort.
2. You are in more danger from those you know than from those you don't. People who are concerned about blog privacy often are worried about "lurkers" they don't know obsessing over their blogs. Statistically speaking, you are far more likely to come to harm from acquaintances than from random people. I'm afraid that it would take a "perfect storm" for the scenarios that so many people envision to occur. First, someone with an obsessive tendency would need to stumble across your blog and become obsessed with you or your family. Second, they would need to able to gather enough personal information about you to be able to stalk you or your children. Third, they would actually need the incentive do so. It just seems very unlikely to me.
3. Just because Oprah says it doesn't make it so. Likewise, just because other people are doing it doesn't make it necessary. People ought to think critically about what they hear and see from other sources. Wikipedia has taught us that group think is often correct, but it is still up to us to think for ourselves, especially about issues that are so open to interpretation.

Now, having said that, I do believe that internet safety is important. I think that there are smaller, more important, and more useful steps that people can take to protect their families. Here is a list of some of my ideas:
1. Remove any references to your last name. If your blog address is, change it. Don't use "The Smith Family" as your title. Only list your first name (or a nickname, if you want to be even more secure) in your profile.
2. Consider removing references to the city you live in if you want to be extra safe. NEVER show pictures of the exterior of your house or your child's school.
3. Use a watermark on your photos. Place a transparent watermark on your photo that cannot easily be cropped out. This is easy to do, and I am going to begin watermarking the photos I put on this blog. I will be happy to make a tutorial showing how you can do this. I know that one reason people are making their blogs private is that they worry about people using their photos inappropriately or without permission. This can go a long way towards mitigating those fears.
4. Don't post your full email address in a forum, blog comment, or anywhere else that may be unsecure. I've seen people who are (apparently) concerned enough about their family's privacy to make their blogs private but will post their full email addresses in other blog comments. This is not smart or consistent! At the very least, form your email in such a way that bots can't harvest it easily; for example, myemail AT whatever DOT com.
5. Keeping your blog out of the google directory will reduce the number of unwanted visitors. In blogger, there are a number of privacy settings under "settings." I'm sure wordpress has similar options.
6. Use an internet filter. If you're truly concerned about keeping your family safe on the internet, use a filter. It's just common sense. We use Safe Eyes and have been pleased with it. I know there are several other good ones out there.
7. Think beyond the internet. Remove your phone number and address from the phone book. Place your home phone and your cell phones on the Do Not Call Registry.

There are several other steps that you can take to protect your family that I won't list here. Truly, I am understanding of those who feel the need to make their blog private. I just feel that there is a lack of dialog on this subject and that some people are not thinking about the information that is coming to them from the media. Remember, the media's job is to sell, and fear is one of the best ways to do it. There are so many wonderful blogs out there, and it would be a shame if they were all closed because of sensationalized reporting.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Always laid back???

It's funny how wrong some of these quizzes can be...Zany? Laid back? I'm afraid that these are some of the last words people would use to describe me. I do, however, still like to run through the sprinklers. Maybe the warm weather brings out the spontaneous kid in me. So, what part of spring are you?

You Are Kids Playing

You are a free spirited soul. More than anything else, you are often just happy to be alive.

You are always laid back and cheerful. You enjoy whatever happens to come your way.

You are spontaneous and zany. You're the kind of adult who still runs through the sprinklers.

You don't take life too seriously. You try to have fun at all times, even when you're working.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


It's that time again! And be warned...I've been a busy scrapper!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mother's Day

I love Mother's Day. It's a perfect time for everyone to reflect on how wonderful I am!

Just kidding. Sort of.

We did have a great Mother's Day weekend. Most celebrations around here a pretty low key, which is nice. You don't have to get stressed out about finding the one and only perfect present for your beloved (I did get an extremely nice watch, though). We don't throw huge parties, and it's really just a nice time to be together.

On Friday, Aaron took Katie and Paul to the Fathers and Sons (and daughters that might feel left out) Campout. Whoever in the EQ presidency came up with hosting this on Mother's Day weekend is a genius. I LOVED having some quiet time to myself. I got to finish up a few projects, organized a closet, played with my new sewing machine, took a bubble bath, talked to my mom, and read. It was sheer bliss.

On Sunday Aaron made me a lovely dinner, and for dessert we all made flower cupcakes together. It was such a fun project to do with the kids, since there were so many parts they could really participate in. And they turned out so cute!

Paul, being 100% himself, got very into his cupcake. Literally.

Katie, being herself, thought Paul was hilarious, but wasn't quite up to making the mess he did.

I love my kiddos!

Averi and Paul, partners in crime:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Garden

I was flipping through a notebook we have, and in it Aaron and I had listed several goals that we had when we were first married. I had to laugh at some of them (I'm nowhere close to playing the harp, and we're not going to Greece any time soon), but there were some I had forgotten about that are goals I still want to work on. I had forgotten that even back then I wanted to learn how to garden. I dabbled last year, and I'm thrilled with how my flower bed is taking off this spring. I used xeric plants that I purchase from High Country Garden, and they are doing so well. My favorite is the Jupiter's beard; one of my plants has gotten so huge and its pink flowers are so cheerful.

The salvias I planted are also very nice. They were the first ones to bloom, and they attract a ton of bees. This is a very good thing, as we need bees for our garden and it gives the kids an added incentive to stay out of the flower bed.

(This was taken almost a month ago, so it's filled out a ton since then.)

I planted several extra filler plants, so hopefully the flower bed will be completely filled out by the end of the summer. And since I used xeric plants, they require very little care!

I'm having mixed results with my vegetable garden, but I think overall it's doing pretty well. Here's a rundown of the things I've planted:
Lettuce: Looking GREAT!!! I can't wait to pick some!
Spinach: Birds ate these when they were young, so I lost at least half the crop. But what's left is doing really well. Note to self: cover for next year!
Radishes: AMAZING!! Nearly ready to harvest.
Carrots: Nada. I did look this up, and apparently you should cover the seeds when you plant them, so maybe the birds got these as well.
Green onions: Fine. They don't seem to have grown much lately, though.
Broccoli/cauliflower: Okay, I think. I lost two at transplanting, and I have 2 more that look like they might be on their way out. The transplants were quite leggy since I hadn't figured out the whole "grow light" thing, so I thought they might have a hard time. The other half seem to be doing okay, but I'm not getting as much growth as I would have thought by now.
Tomatoes: Something (another bird, I think) snapped one of the transplants in half, but the other 3 seem to be doing okay. Since I grew these from seed, I'll be thrilled if that's the only one I have to replace. Right now I've got an Early Girl Hybrid, an 85/100 cherry tomato, and a Brandywine. The Better Boy Hybrid is the one that bit the dust, but those are easy to find around here.
Peppers: My peppers I was growing from seed had a hard time of it (it's so difficult to keep them regularly moist!), so only one of those survived, but the 2 I got from Rachael are doing well, so I've got 3 bell pepper plants that seem to be doing just fine. I just planted some poblano seeds, so I'm hoping those will grow well so we can make some chile rellenos!
Cilantro: Just transplanted 3 of these this weekend, so hopefully they'll survive. We use TONS of cilantro.
Celery: Totally fried. I'm wondering if the spot they were in was just too hot.
Raspberries: These are looking really good. They're starting to send out runners, so I'm really looking forward to having a good crop in a year or two.

Radishes (foreground) and lettuce

I've still got to put in some beans, cucumbers, zucchini, and a few more herbs, but most of those will wait until it warms up even more.