Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Waiting Game

For those of you who've done any Final Cut editing, the render is the worst part... oh, the waiting!!  I'm working on my dad's funeral piece.  It was a fairly easy, two camera edit with some sync and location audio issues.  This was the initial estimate of time to dump the ProRes file... of course, it's nearly two hours of footage!  It'll be about 100GB. 

FYI... Since I grabbed this screen shot and started writing it's dropped to 31 hours.

Here's to hoping it's a little less than that!

(And, yes, I'll be posting a clip of the choir at the finale, plus the entire event will be available on DVD!)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday Freakdom

In the past, I worked Black Fridays.  The past couple of years I've been in the States, I've actually gone out on Friday... last year for a specific sale at Alpine Shop and this year... I went to Walmart.

Now, before you chide me on my conspicuous consumerism, the trip was purely anthropological.  The Morgans clan and I just wanted to see the chaos... and take the off-chance of getting pepper-sprayed in the process.  Sure enough, when we arrived at 10.15 on Thursday night, we had to park across Hwy 24 from the store.  There were cars lined up and down the shoulder.  Once we schlepped across the road and got inside, the craziness was amazing.

But, before we get into all of that, did you notice what time we got there?  What should T-Day be?  A day of family and gratefulness, right?  Not in post-modern America.  The country that invented a national holiday of thankfulness has officially usurped it for deeply discounted sheets and shop-vacs (one of which I did end up taking home).  The first sales at Walmart started at 8PM.  Toys-R-Us started at midnight.  In one year, we jumped from 4AM door openings to 8PM the night before!  This is troubling to me... it means that soon, we'll have turkey dinners given away free in the parking lots while we wait in line for the high-noon scramble for Elmo and Cuisinart goodies.  

Thanksgiving?  Short of us dropping our deep-seated angst over bargain basement bounty, it's gone, America.

But, back to the event at hand... there were no carts when we walked in and the wall to shelf mass of humanity was so incredible, I laughed out loud.  It works like this:  At preset times, pallets of shrink-wrapped merchandise are delivered to specific areas around the store, usually in the main "Alleys."  Workers stationed throughout the store have maps to direct die-hard shoppers to their desired discount landing zones.  Once the pallets arrive, the shrink-wrap is stripped away to the magpie tune of panicked shrieks and cries of joy.  Of course, this makes the folks in Bentonville nestle deeper into their Snuggies with glee.  

Pandemonium ensues.  In Moberly, I overheard one man telling of slipping on the wrapping and falling to the ground.  Folks were cussing and ripping at each other over $4 sheets back near Electronics.  A grandmother I know (but am not related to) wrenched her back getting PJs for her kiddos.  In some cases, it was physically impossible to move in the crush of carts.  I've seen better manners at European soccer match.

And these are mild stories.  The woman in an LA Walmart who pepper-sprayed a group surrounding X-boxes, got out with her purchases before police arrived. Over 15 were treated at the scene as a result.  Including children.

"Sorry, kids, Santa didn't bring you an X-box this year... but we did get a ride in the Ambulance!  Ah, the memories we're making!"

Really?  This is where we are?  Shop Amazon, folks... it's safer.  And you can do what we should all be doing... spending quality time with each other.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

SUZI: The Thankfulness Tree

In the midst of all kinds of construction clutter that has seemingly found a near permanent place in our home, we have a Thankfulness Tree...a bundle of branches collected from our yard placed in a ceramic pitcher.  Every day for the month of November, we've written something we're thankful for on a small paper circle. The circle then gets hung on one of the branches.  The first day when I asked Cooper what he was thankful for, he enthusiastically responded, "Eggs!"  

Since then, "Elmo," "Heidi," "Babi" (the Czech word for grandmother), and "Bubbles" have all been added to Cooper's thankfulness list as well.  Scott and I have added all kinds of things from the Lord's grace, chocolate chip cookies, homemade bread, to chimes hanging on the deck, and autumn leaves.

If you haven't read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, it would be a great choice to get you in a mood of giving thanks.  Voskamp was an agorophobic who literally changed her life through the power of thankfulness to the Lord.  It definitely has some life changing principles in it. 

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, November 4, 2011

SUZI: Toothbrush Chart

Just after we moved into our new house (Cooper was just over a year old) I made a chart for Cooper for when we brush his teeth.  He gets to choose a sticker, and we put it on the chart.  It all started because I had a horrible time trying to brush his teeth.  He hated it and would clench his teeth so I could barely even get the brush in.  Great weeping and despair would follow.  I figured there would be no way he could actually correlate the stickers with the brushing, but I was desperate and figured I had to try something.  The first time we used the chart was in the evening.  The following morning, without any prompting from me, Cooper reached onto his shelf, got his toothbrush and tootled over to me with it.  He then turned and pointed to the door where the chart was.  I was floored.  And thankful.

The brushing has been much better than it was in the beginning, though I will admit that the novelty of the stickers has worn off some.  We try to rotate different kinds of stickers to try to make things a little more exciting –animal ones, sparkly ones and even some homemade ones (thanks to Cooper’s cousin Maddy).  We sing teeth brushing songs (that are loud and obnoxious and that I make up on the spot).  We “count” Cooper’s teeth with his toothbrush, and we say silly things like “Aaauuuggie Aaaalligaaaator likes to brush his teeth.”  Yeah…you have to open your mouth to say it!  Some nights Cooper just stares at me like, “What are you doing?  And why do you keep singing those songs?” But usually a reminder about the sticker and he’ll at least crack his mouth open.

Now, if you know me at all, you can understand that I made a nice, neat chart to hang on the door.  It says “I LOVE CLEAN TEETH” across the top and then thirty nice, neat squares underneath.  We would put one sticker in each box – nice and orderly.  When the boxes were full, I’d print out another chart and we’d start again.  Except I started letting Cooper put the stickers on himself.  I’d direct his little hand to the next square and help him put his sticker on.  And then one night, Cooper moved that little hand and wanted to put his sticker in a box at the end of the chart.  What to do?  Clearly he was completely messing up my process.  (Please tell me you sense my irony here.)  It wasn’t the “right” box!  It wasn’t the next one in line.  But, OK, I relented.  And then the next night, Cooper just went all wild and crazy and wanted to put the sticker next to another sticker way at the top of the chart.  I was trying to get him to put the sticker in the “correct” box when I realized that I was being ludicrous!  Little Miss Everything-Has-To-Go-In-This-Nice-Linear-Fashion realized that it doesn’t really matter where the sticker goes.  Cooper just loves to put the stickers on himself.  Now we have a lovely collage of all kinds of stickers – overlapping, hodge-podged, happy little stickers.  He’s happy and so am I.

Thank goodness for little people who remind you that there are different ways to do things.  

I think I should get a sticker for reminding myself of that.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SUZI: Flour on Floor

Scott and I are trying to eat out as little as possible, which means that we’re making as much food at home as possible.  When we got home from being overseas, we realized we had gotten pretty spoiled with our food.  In both Jordan and Prague, the bread we bought was fresh and had to be consumed in just a few days or it would go bad.  The fruit and vegetables weren’t picked before they were ripe and then stored somewhere for a long time before being put on the shelf.  There weren’t a lot of preservatives in the food we ate.  It’s been difficult adjusting to so much of the food here – everything tastes so processed.  Apparently we have unintentionally become food snobs.

So I decided that I was going to try to make our own bread.  My dad used to bake bread, and I thought I could surely carry on the tradition.  I’ve done it for several weeks now.  I’m still just working on some basic white bread to get the hang of things but am hoping to move on to some more nutritious and exciting options soon.  It’s not really that hard, but it does take a while.  It’s definitely a time commitment to do it every week.  Mondays are usually bread making days.  I make two loaves which last us for the week (the loaves are much smaller than store bought loaves).  One gets left out and one gets frozen until the other is eaten.  It is infinitely better than store-bought bread.  When I don’t feel like baking bread, I just think about some butter melting on a fresh, warm slice and suddenly I’m a little more inspired.

The only “problem” is that you have to knead the dough for about ten minutes.  This isn’t truly a problem except for the fact that Cooper wants to watch.  For anyone who read my blog entry about cooking with Cooper in the kitchen, you know that he wants to be held while he watches.  And while you can knead dough with one hand (I can attest to the fact that it is possible), it isn’t ideal.  Some days Cooper will happily play by himself with some toys while I get the dough ready to go.  Other days, he’s a little needier, so I try occupying him by giving him a little bit of dough that he can play with.  This didn’t go so well.  He stuck the dough in his mouth for a bit and then decided he didn’t want it.  He handed the sticky, globby mess back to me and wanted to be picked up.

So one day I had the brilliant idea to give him a plate with some flour on it.  I figured flour would be easy enough to clean up.  He has a little step stool in the kitchen so I put the plate with the flour, a spoon and another bowl on it.  He spent most of his time neatly (as neat as a 17-month old can be) scooping the flour from his plate to the bowl.  Great!  The next week, he spent more time raking his fingers through it.  Fine!  He’s occupied and how hard is it to clean his hands off?  A couple weeks later, he was happily playing in his flour when he suddenly decided to dump the plate, upside down, on the floor.  Hmmmm…ok…but what can I do?  I have four more minutes of kneading to go.  Let’s just say that by the time it was all over, Cooper was lying on his belly in the middle of the floor, flapping his arms and legs back and forth (imagine making a snow angel except on your belly…and in flour instead of snow).  He was happy as a clam.  And absolutely covered in flour from the top of his head to the bottoms of his feet (Aunt Helen, remember Cooper in your sand box?  Yeah…like that.).  He became quite irritated when I started washing him off and couldn’t understand why he couldn’t go tromping through the rest of the house until I stripped him down and cleaned him off. 

Then, of course, we had to get the vacuum out to clean up the floor and great glee ensued.  There’s nothing quite like the joy of having a toddler who is delighted with flour and a vacuum cleaner.

And in case you’re wondering if I gave Cooper some flour the next time I made bread... (pause for suspenseful silence)…you better believe it.  And there was plenty of cleaning and vacuuming afterwards.

Trick or Treat?

Guess who was a pirate, but didn't want to wear a do-rag or carry a parrot?  Guess who did over an hour of running from one house to another begging for candy?

Guess who did a happy dance with both hands full, while shoveling Twix bars into his mouth?

Yeah... you guessed right.