You might have noticed that my previous photography challenge petered out on Day 22. I chalk that up to being lazy, getting busy, and the fact that many of the challenges require you to live in a place where you regularly see the sun.
I do not live in that place.
So here is my new photography challenge for 2012: learn to use lighting better. As I look at photos on the internet, I realize that my photo skills have plateaued and I think this is what I need to take them to the next level.
As I was thinking about this, I realized, "Hey, about a week ago a package came from Tao Bao that felt like those photo reflectors I wanted. Those would really help with learning how to use light better. Was I mistaken?"
I mentioned them to Erik. His face went from blank, to "oh!" to a little sheepish. He ran into another room and came back with them saying, "Merry Christmas!" Oops.
So now I have 5 new reflectors to help with my project - black, white, opaque, silver and gold. Yay! I hope to show you some results soon. Here's one of those few times I actually noticed the lighting in a scene:
Monday, December 26, 2011
My New Photography Challenge
You might have noticed that my previous photography challenge petered out on Day 22. I chalk that up to being lazy, getting busy, and the fact that many of the challenges require you to live in a place where you regularly see the sun.
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 11:19 AM 0 comments
Sunday, December 25, 2011
The Training Continues
Our puppy training continues . . . (that's a disclaimer for those who don't want to keep reading about our dog)
The transition to "bathroom is now outside" hasn't been the smoothest. Mostly it consists of us hoping to nab Scout whenever she makes a dash for the porch where we previously had been taking her outside. Sometimes we don't notice, and we find that she just left something on the stairs for us (like, "Well, people, you weren't paying attention and I figured this was close enough!). Or, like yesterday, when we were too occupied with guests, she just goes somewhere in the house.
So it's a little like starting over. Thankfully she's past the initial, "I'll just hold it till we get back inside" thing she did initially when we went out for walks.
But there IS something that we seem to have trained her well in. We learned that whoever enters a space first a dog will perceive as the "master" so we make Scout let us go first when we go out the door or in the elevator. We've also been training her to sit while waiting for or in the elevator (because otherwise she roots around and finds weird stuff to eat).
She's done really well with this. She will sit outside our door after we've gone in and wait until we give her the OK to come in. This is a great thing, except when you get out of the elevator and forget to say "OK" to your puppy. I was unlocking the front door and the elevator door was closing before I realized that she was still sitting in there, waiting for me. Yay! Not yay that my dog almost took a solo elevator ride, but yay that she has something down.
Now for that bathroom thing.
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 8:22 AM 0 comments
Friday, December 23, 2011
The Year in Pictures 2011
|Thailand - we're going again soon in a few weeks!|
|In the spring, the kids' Chinese really started to click|
|One of several outdoor adventures around the city|
|The Great Water Balloon Fight|
|The kids earned their white/yellow and yellow belts in the same day|
|Grand Central Station - one of so many cool things in NY|
|My favorite picture from our Boston trip|
|Megan was baptized!|
|A beautiful summer with family - this one was in Milwaukee|
|We wrapped up the summer with family at the cabin|
|Megan loves soccer so much, she doesn't care that she plays with only Chinese boys|
|Track and Field Day was our homeschool co-op highlight!|
|Halloween - just another chance to enjoy the awesome community we have|
|And who could forget Scout?|
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 10:33 PM 0 comments
Thursday, December 22, 2011
My Tao Bao Christmas song
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 2:11 PM 1 comments
Labels: expat living, funny, Tao Bao
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
For Your Entertainment
My dad sent this article to me today. It was written about my grandpa, when my mom was a little girl (she's the "pixie" mentioned). I think my favorite line is, "his mind coated in hopeless perplexity." As my dad said, "They just don't write them like this anymore."
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 8:20 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
760. children with their moms
761. finding most of our Christmas gifts online
762. people who graciously bring things to us here
763. the opportunity to coach women
764. what my own heart learns in the process
765. a warm house
766. christmas lights
767. nativity sets from different countries
768. watching our son become a Boy Scout Tenderfoot
769. Megan spontaneously writing a thank you note to a friend
770. the joy our kids have in giving their friends gifts
771. playdates for the dog
772. walks with the dog
773. playing christmas songs on the piano
774. hearing our kids play them too
775. reading scripture with Megan
776. loving how our christmas pictures turned out
777. It's a Wonderful Life
778. Bebo Norman Christmas
779. advent activities that build memories
780. scarves - can one have too many?
781. how God uses homeschool to shape the kids
782. and me
783. a husband who loves me patiently and faithfully
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 4:52 PM 0 comments
Christmas Comes to China
In the past week, I have seen clerks in a grocery store all wearing Santa hats. I can't walk into a market or department store without seeing a display of crazy bright Christmas decorations (none of them including Jesus). Today in the drugstore they were playing Santa Claus is Coming to Town on the loud speaker.
I have to wonder how many Chinese children are expecting Santa to somehow worm his way into their apartment buildings (through the oil sucker maybe?). I'm guessing not many, but more and more there is evidence that this holiday is slowing inching into China.
When we first came, the best place I could find Christmas in China was in IKEA. I would go there to hear Christmas carols and buy whatever wrapping paper they had that year, if it actually seemed like Christmas. I think one year it was purple and black, but I could be remembering that wrong.
Aside from that, there was the flower market, that yearly cleared out space for Christmas decorations and trees. The only tree I ever saw out in public was outside the bank. It was small, and had brightly colored tinsel strands wrapped around it. I don't know that they ever took it down though, so does that count as Christmas?
The salesman at Nike today mentioned that it is Christmas this week, and then "your" New Year's. I just pray that while this holiday becomes more known in this country, people will hear what we're actually celebrating.
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 4:45 PM 0 comments
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Top Lips Enjoy
I bought a lip balm this week. It says "Top Lips Enjoy" so I guess the fact that I enjoy it means my lips are tops. It also bears this colorful description:
I'm particularly impressed that this lip balm will help me fight all that immorality out there.
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 8:45 AM 0 comments
Friday, December 16, 2011
Me in a Happy Place
I'm sitting all cozy on a soft hotel bed (not common in Asia!) after a great week of coaching some women through LEAF. I finished at noon and had until 4 pm free, so I walked to the grocery store and bought a jar of peanut butter. I came back to my room and took my peanut butter (to go on the buttery caramel rice cakes I bought on major sale at Jenny Lou's), an orange, my computer, a cold diet A&W, and some Andes mints I found at the convenience store upstairs to my bed to watch a few TV shows while two of my fellow coaches meet with one of the women downstairs.
So here I am, happily relaxed, sufficiently full and extremely thankful for the work I could do this week. I'm in a happy place!
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 2:33 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Good Quote for the Day
Next week I will have the privilege again of coaching a leadership development time we do for our company. Leadership development is a bit of a misnomer in this situation I think. I prefer to call it "leadership transformation." The former implies skills training when in reality it is about heart redirecting.
Preparing for this time always resurfaces my own journey and where I am on it. I have to say lately I've been struggling with owning and embracing the darker side of my soul. While I know that God knows and loves and forgives me fully, it's often difficult to extend the same grace to myself.
A friend of mine who will be a fellow coach posted this quote from Dan Allender on her blog today and it encouraged me not to run from the truth of the darkness in me but to acknowledge both the dark and light in me.
"Paul calls leaders not merely to be humble and self-effacing but to be desperate and honest. It is not enough to be self-revealing, authentic, and transparent. Our calling goes far beyond that. We are called to be reluctant, limping, chief-sinner leaders, and even more, to be stories.
The word that Paul uses is that a leader is to be an ‘example,’ but what that implies is more than a figure on a flannel board. He calls us to be a living portrayal of the very gospel we beseech others to believe. And that requires a leader to see himself as being equally prone to deceive as he is to tell the truth, to manipulate as he is to bless, to cower as he is to be bold.
A leader is both a hero and a fool, a saint and a felon. We are both and to pretend otherwise is to be disingenuous. The leader who fails to face [his] darkness must live with fear and hypocrisy. The result will be a defensiveness that places saving face and controlling others as higher goods than blessing others and doing good work. Clearly, the biblical model of leadership is odd, inverted, and deeply troubling. It is so troubling that most churches, seminaries, and other religious organizations would never hire a ‘chief sinner.’ The only one who thinks to do so is God."
--Dan Allender, Leading With a Limp
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 7:37 AM 0 comments
Monday, December 05, 2011
Scout has a friend. Her name is Sunshine. She's owned by our friends, the Olivers, who got her from a woman who found her on the street about a year ago. We took care of Sunshine over the weekend which was thrilling for Scout - playtime ALL the time! They did settle down a little after their initial time together. Here they are:
And this picture is just to say, "I thought we bought a brown dog . . . ?"
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 10:59 AM 0 comments
The Great Wide World
We've finally received the ok from our vet to take our dog outside. So far her view of "outside" has been limited to what she can see on our approximately 12 square meter porch on the 13th floor, or being held in our arms as we walk around the block.
So it was no surprise that on our first adventure out the door, she planted her little bottom and shook. I had brought a few meat sticks with me to entice her. After some persuasion, she would walk about 5 or 10 feet then sit again and shake. Altogether we might have been outside 10 minutes.
We tried again later in the day, and her times between stopping began to lengthen. We managed to walk about a half hour, and she seemed to enjoy it.
Since then we've had a few more successful walks and she is learning that outside is fun! People leave a lot of interesting things on the ground that she likes to try to eat. It's also a place where the big people seem to go wild with excitement when she goes potty, so that's a bonus.
This is all good because it prepared us for what happened this morning. We want her to learn to go potty outside now rather than on the porch, so I thought it would be good to run her down right away. She's pretty anxious to get outside first thing, so I was all dressed with her leash in hand when I took her out of the pen. I held her in the elevator so she didn't get any ideas to go until we got outside, but as we were going down I realized, "I forgot my keys."
This might not be such a bad thing if Erik weren't traveling and it weren't 5:20 a.m., but both those things were true. I tried to buzz back in after about 20 minutes, but of course the kids didn't hear it. We walked another 20 and tried again. Still no luck. Again at 6:30 I tried because I knew Ethan's alarm would go off then. He almost let the doorbell go, thinking I would get it, but then had the wisdom to think, "But maybe it's mom!"
So we had a nice long walk in the great wide world this morning and now she's all tuckered out. I think she's gonna like it.
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 9:53 AM 0 comments
Sunday, December 04, 2011
Why did we get a dog again?
Ok, so having a dog has had its moments. It's fun to see how excited she gets when we come in the door. She's a snuggler. Seeing her curled up in the sun is just plain relaxing. But here's when she isn't fun . . .
At 4:30 in the morning when she decides to start barking
Or at 1:30 a.m. That's not fun either.
When she eats half a bag of dog treats and then needs to drink a gallon of water the rest of the day, so much so that it basically leaks out of her all over the house
When she starts vomiting LIVE worms at 8:15 p.m. Thank God the vet is open late.
As I'm sitting down after a long, single parenting day with a cranberry Barcardi Breezer, a bowl of popcorn and an episode of Psych, and in the second it takes me to turn off the light she has her face in my popcorn and is INHALING it.
When we're still finding poop on the stairs, even after taking her outside 15 minutes. Seriously? It was so urgent that you couldn't tell one of us you had to go, even though 15 minutes ago you had a perfect opportunity to do that in an appropriate place?
When she has learned from the dog we're sitting to bark at us AFTER we walk in the door. We're here. You know us. Why are you barking?
When she knocks over a glass of cranberry Crystal Light onto our white carpet.
I know, right now you might be thinking, "Aww, but she's just a puppy!" Yes, but if we don't do some serious training, I fear this is the kind of adult dog we will most likely have as well. Just like with kids, they don't just "grow out" of everything. Lately the responsibility of having a dog has been weighing on me, and I'm struggling to remember why this was a good idea. Anyone care to remind me?
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 1:23 PM 0 comments
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
An encouraging word
My helper just paid me the highest compliment I've had in awhile. She asked me what I studied in university. My degree is hard to explain in English, let alone Chinese, so I explained that I studied "office communication" which I suppose could convey a wide variety of things to her, most of them not what I studied (organizational communication for the inquiring mind - basically anything that makes an organization run well in terms of its people).
She told me she thought I must have studied interior decorating, or what I assume means interior decorating. She said that the things I buy and the way I arrange them in my house is beautiful so I must have studied how to do it.
Why, thank you!
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 12:28 PM 1 comments
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Day 22 - Hands
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 6:58 PM 0 comments
Day 21 - Faceless Self-Portrait
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 6:55 PM 0 comments
Day 20 - Bokeh
Confession: I had to look this one up. If I'm understanding correctly,
it's when you have light in the picture somewhere that is blurred. So
here's my best effort:
|Sometimes I take too many pictures for their liking|
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 6:45 PM 0 comments
Saturday, November 26, 2011
We Gave Her an Inch . . .
We don't yet trust Scout to be out on her own and today she proved why.
I had to take Megan to soccer which meant we'd be gone for over 2 1/2 hours. That's tough for someone only 3 months old. Normally we put her in her crate, but today I thought I'd give her a little more freedom by leaving her crate open inside a large dog pen. We have friends whose dog happily stays in this kind of situation even when they are present in the house (we have co-op classes there).
For extra insurance, I put it all the "man cave" (our inside, tiled, not particularly warm patio) and shut the door - thank God. I threw in a few of her toys and a pee pad and thought she'd be ok.
On the way home, I stopped to get some noodles and Megan continued home to let Scout out. She found her not only outside of her pen (along with a couple of her toys) but with a noticeably larger belly. I guess I forgot about the bag of dog treats on a high shelf. They were gone, save 2.
This means that she not only managed to get out of the pen (under? over?) but she also climbed up a chair and onto the shelf where the treats were. How she got her toys out, I do not know.
I guess the only question now is - when will we see these treats again, and from which end of our dog?
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 2:00 PM 0 comments
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Don't Believe Everything on Pinterest
When I first saw this pin I thought, "Cool!" for about three seconds, and then my logic kicked in. How could the skins be uniformly another color? And how does each individual piece of pulp get colored, but nothing happens to the white parts?
We had to try it.
So we got out some dark red food coloring and injected as much as we could. As you can see below, most of the ink settled to the bottom of the lemon, making it look sadly bruised. We tried at least three different places to make sure we got as much as possible in, but it also kept leaking out the other holes.
We let the lemon sit for awhile to make sure we gave it a change to spread and soak in. Then we cut it open, and below is the result. As I suspected, you shouldn't believe everything you see on Pinterest.
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 7:59 PM 0 comments
Labels: funny, technology
It was amusing to watch, but being in this kind of thing is a crazy maker. I was a little tempted to direct traffic, but instead I just stood and watched because that seemed a more pleasant choice. Eventually it cleared when the van sticking its nose in on the right side, the silver sedan, and white van all realized they had to back up.
It reminds me of a great link a friend of ours sent us the other day detailing what it looks like to make a left turn in China. Trust me, this is no exaggeration. We can only hope this intersection gets a stoplight soon or this will continue to be a daily occurrence. Note to self: never drive this way in the evening.
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 7:45 PM 2 comments
Saturday, November 19, 2011
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 7:51 PM 0 comments
Day 19 - Something Orange
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 6:10 PM 0 comments
Day 18 - My Shoes
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 6:07 PM 0 comments
Day 17 - Technology
I'm going to post day 16 later because I have a plan for it tonight. Here's some of the technology I saw today:
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 4:32 PM 0 comments
Day 15 - Silhouette
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 3:41 PM 2 comments
You know it's been a long week when . . .
Last night I had a new friend and her ADORABLE children over for dinner because our husbands were wrapping up a long week of training. When the guys came back we talked and laughed with them for awhile before we decided that yeah, the kids really should be in bed. After they left (and completely unrelated to the enjoyable hours spent with our friends) Erik walked into the kitchen and said, "Let's see, Kahlua . . . "
Yeah, it's been one of those weeks.
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 1:57 PM 1 comments
Monday, November 14, 2011
Day 14 - Eyes
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 6:21 PM 0 comments
Day 13 - 13 Things
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 6:11 PM 0 comments
Day 11 - Something Blue
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 6:08 PM 0 comments
Day 10 - Childhood Memory
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 6:04 PM 0 comments
Lessons from a dog's life
1. Love your people
2. Show them how much you love them by wildly running at them when they come home and kissing them a lot.
3. Play hard
4. Sleep when you're tired
5. Stay close to the people in your life
6. When in doubt, play or sleep, whichever you need most.
7. Listen to the people in your life because they know what you need
8. Don't pee on the carpet or anywhere other than accepted places because the people in your life will be unhappy.
9. Love your people
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 11:14 AM 0 comments
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I've been pondering the soul this week. Ruth Haley Barton says that the soul is the part of you that is most real, the part of you that is who God made you to be. I have begun to try to ask myself regularly, "How is it with my soul?" I can really only answer that question when I pull away from the distractions of life and am silent before God.
Today I was looking over some poems I wrote way back when distractions in my life were much fewer. I hope that I can get back in touch with the part of me that writes poetry. I think if I actually do what I was talking about in this poem, that might happen.
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 3:33 PM 0 comments
Versatile Blogger Award
It's nice to know that people read my blog, particularly people I've never met. If you know me, maybe you're just following my blog because you like me (is that a pity follow?). But to know that people who've never met me also enjoy hearing my ponderings is pretty encouraging.
It's even more encouraging when one of them gives you an award for doing it. So thanks Melanie, your blog is awesome!
Now the rules of this award are as follows:
1. Thank the person who gave you this award. (check!)
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!
4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.
So here are seven things about me:
1. I am, unbeknownst to most people, an introvert. I really don't get energy from being with people.
2. I love to communicate in any form (this should be obvious). This combined with #1 causes dissonance and misunderstanding. Just because I like to talk doesn't mean it refreshes me to always be with people. I'm happiest when I can either communicate in writing or in front of large groups. Or I just talk to myself.
3. I am learning these days what it looks like to be fully present with people, to be still with them and with God and with myself.
4. I love to exercise. I mean I genuinely enjoy it! Mostly I walk or run, sometimes I even run races if I feel inclined. Lately I've been doing Insanity which is actually really fun and makes me feel strong.
5. I love decorating. If I had to start over with another career, I'd probably pursue being an interior decorator.
6. Another one of those "almost" careers is photography. I had a mentorship in photography in high school, back when I would spends hours in the high school darkroom developing pictures for the yearbook. Lately, I feel like my photography skills have plateaued a bit so I'd like to pursue improving them at some point.
7. I never planned to homeschool. I was one of those "can't wait till my kids get in school" kind of moms, but I've never regretted my investment in them.
Now here's the tough part for me - I don't follow a lot of blogs aside from my friends. I used to, but I found it took too much time to read them all. So while I'm sure lots of people are out there saying interesting things, I just can't keep up. And I don't have a blog roll on the side of my blog because it feels like picking friends in the playground - who will make the cut? So I'm going to choose not to post any links because all the new people on my blog feed are people Melanie also mentioned in her post! But I encourage you to go to her website and check out her blog roll. Thanks again Melanie!
Thoughts from Gina Marie at 7:56 AM 0 comments