Friday, August 30, 2013

my new toy

For our anniversary (#13, in case you were wondering), I told Bill I wanted a new hood for over our stove. This was a few months ago. I was cleaning it one day and I realized it wasn't grease or dirt that I was trying to clean, it was the paint. The old hood was a creamy, butter color. And it was old. All of our appliances are black. It's an unusual gift, but it would be for both of us and then I wouldn't have to worry about buying him a present (not that it matters, he's not big on gift-receiving).

I mentioned the hood again a week or so before our anniversary.

Our anniversary was Monday (the 26th). I had a wedding that previous Saturday. When I came home, I walked through the sliding glass door. The first thing I noticed was a new, shiny, black hood over the stove!

Bill had bought it and installed it while I was at the church.

After dinner he told me he wanted me to at least have the box to open, and pointed toward the living room.

I had been in such a hurry to eat dinner once I had arrived home that I had paid little attention to anything other than the new hood and going upstairs to change. I had completely missed the large hood box that was sitting in the living room.

I thought it was a little odd that he was going to make me open the box. Then I realized he must have hidden something else in the box.

A few weeks earlier, out of the blue, he had declared, "I have a secret!"

Really? Thirteen years and you're going to taunt me with that?

Well, he held out. He didn't let it slip what this secret was.

Now I'm putting two and two together and I play along, going into the living room to open the box.

I knew something was up when I realized he was recording me with his phone.

I opened the box, and down in the bottom sat a large camera bag.

A fancy, Canon camera bag.

I pulled it out and asked, "what's this?" (That's genetic, to ask what it is when it's very obvious because it's right there.)

I opened the camera bag to find a Canon DSLR.

In other words, a really fancy camera that will let me take amazing pictures. Once I figure out how to use it.

I was given a tutorial by the man that recommended the camera to Bill (Scott rents space in the office in St. Joseph). Now I'm just playing around, figuring out what ISO I like and testing out all the different settings. The best part about a digital camera is that you can take 1500 pictures, upload them to your computer, delete the ones that are bad, and unlike the days of film, no time (money or material) was wasted developing all those pictures only to find out they weren't good.

Here is a sample of what I've done:
 The bug that is hidden on the leaf is what I'm trying to capture in this shot.
 Our neighbor's Black-Eyed Susan.
My Aster, already blooming...

I took a picture of the new camera with the old one. And, when there's good lighting in the kitchen, I'll take a picture of the new hood!

I can't wait to go to Meijer Gardens with this!

I have pictures I took from our trip to Detroit, so I'll blog about those too.

Thanks Bill! It's amazing and you totally out-did yourself.

Monday, August 19, 2013

hungry for more

Two weeks ago, I had a mission week with my Jr. High youth. We "gave back" to our community. It was a lot of fun and a lot of good work. There were ten students total and four volunteers (plus myself) who helped out throughout the week

We worked with Spark Foundation. We bought school supplies and assembled ten kits to send to the Mzesa school in Africa. We also learned how to make friendship bracelets by finger weaving (a style of friendship bracelet I learned to make back in my days as a counselor at UM camps in southern Indiana). We kept making bracelets all week long. By the end of our week (Thursday was our last day), we had made seventy-nine!

We volunteered at Westminster Food Pantry. Our church collects items year-round to donate to this particular food pantry. They are just a block away (however, it was over the construction and around the block to reach them). They serve the immediate downtown area and are only open a couple days a week. A person will walk in, hand over their id (proof of their address, if they live outside the area that Westminster serves, they are told where they can find their local pantry, but are likely given food that day), be entered into a computer database (part of the funding grants provide is collected from this database), wait to be called over for an "interview" (the interview is where they pick several items from different columns on a marker board), the list is given to the kitchen volunteers, the kitchen volunteers pack bags full of the grocery/toiletries as selected in the interview, and then the person is called up to a table to receive their "groceries".

It's a lot faster and easier than all of that.

The ten students chose which area they wanted to volunteer and took their station. We had a very busy morning. I don't know how many people came through, but it had to have been close to fifty.

The people who visit the food pantry are only allowed to come in once a month. They also receive an extra item if they bring in their own bags. That got a little confusing back in the kitchen. The sheet with their chosen items would also tell what type of bag they brought. Except that the descriptions were a little vague at first. "Black bag" belonged to several different owners at one point. Once we started to clarify details on the bags (black with blue handles, black with "Spartan") it went faster and easier.

Each student had the opportunity to switch spots. I'm very proud of them for trying things that were out of their comfort zone and never once complaining about any of the tasks.

We volunteered with Kids Food Basket. In the morning, we met for a "poverty simulation". We split up into three groups and were given actual scenarios and had to budget accordingly. The coordinator from KFB, Catrina, was thoroughly impressed with the youth. She told them that their questions were better than any high school groups she had. She was also very impressed with how well they thought outside the box.

Again, no one got frustrated, even after "reality checks" were thrown at us (not literally, although that could make the simulation more stimulating).

We went with the Arts Alive Camp to Howell Nature Center. We took a tour of the Global Village. We did a low ropes course and we saw the wild/native animals that HNC cares for.

The goat
We also helped keep track of money raised to buy a goat during the Arts Alive Camp (our church's version of VBS, except completely different). On Monday, one of my students drew a goat on a poster board. To keep track of dollar amounts, she added flowers. Each flower represented $10. The first day they had collected $20. The pastor challenged the Arts Alive campers. If they collected the $120 to buy a goat, he would match it and donate the money for a second goat!

On Tuesday, it was announced that an anonymous donor said if the kids collected $120 and the pastor donated $120, that another $120 would be given for a third goat.

Guess what happened on Wednesday?

Another donor stepped up. If these kids collected $120, Heifer International was going to get four goats.

Back to Tuesday. After we finished working at Westminster, Dairy Queen was on our minds. I called the church to let the director know that we wouldn't be back in time to announce how much money had been collected that morning ($90). The director had been given more money throughout the day and, once we did the quick math, we realized we had reached our $120! But since the Jr. High group wouldn't be there to announce it, we would just save it for Wednesday afternoon.

Why not see how much we could collect on Wednesday morning?

We collected another $120 is what we collected.

We didn't just get one goat, or two goats, or even four goats. We had enough money for FIVE goats.

I'm sure after it was announced that Sunday in church that more money came in. I haven't heard though. I also know the director was thinking that maybe instead of goats we could buy a cow or some chickens. (I think the goat is the cheapest "gift" animal through Heifer International, but I'm not sure. You can look it up!)

I don't know what happened in church on Sunday, because at 5:45am Friday morning, Bill and I were flying to Savannah for a wedding.

The wedding of the young woman who was a flower girl in our wedding.


She should not be allowed to get married.

Except it's too late and she is. He is a very nice young man and I think they are perfect together. We wish them both many years of happiness and love.

While in Savannah, I had started reading, "The Hunger Games". Finally. Skylar had sold me on reading them and then let me borrow them. I took the first one... Once I started, I didn't want to stop. I finished it before we made it home Sunday night. Then I devoured (pun intended) the second one in two days. I only stopped to eat, sleep and work. I finished the third one over this last weekend.

I realized I could write this post and double the meaning of the title. And also explain where I've been and why I haven't blogged.

We also finished the hallway. But that has nothing to do with being hungry or reading books. So I'll post pictures and tell that story later...