Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Christmas Tree

Do you like decorating your Christmas tree?  It's a trip through time for me.  I'm always reminded all the way back to our first Christmas as newlyweds. The tree was tiny and looked much like it belonged to Charlie Brown.  My sister-in-law felt sorry for us and brought over some spare lights and ornaments. Then the tree looked pretty long as you didn't look at the back side.  Sparse is the word that sticks in my mind.

The next couple years I made it my goal to get more ornaments.  If it was on sale after Christmas I snatched it up. If there was 100 in the box I was even faster putting it in the basket.  Everything was unbreakable; first there was the dog, then kids.  The tree was always pretty but I thought it was lacking something.

Over the years, I've figured out what that something is.  First, I thought it missing a theme. You see the beautiful trees in the magazines all decked out with lights, ornaments, bows and ribbons all one color. Or the ones with all one style of decorations; Western was always popular around here. I remember one year telling the family our tree would have only red and white decorations. It sounded good. But when I opened my box of ornaments I saw the truth.
A bell? A manger? I don't remember but it was made by a very young Matthew.

And I realized every ornament on my tree told a bit of our story.  What our tree was missing at first was life.  Today it is filled with our past and present; dreams of children; places we've travelled; and we're reminded of special people who gave us unique ornaments. Why don't you join me as I decorate the tree this year?

Riding the trolley in San Francisco...just like in the movies.

Love hand made ornaments like this reindeer made by a niece!
A young Rebecca made this ornament in school. I love the smile!

Rebecca through the years...
Celebrating her first Christmas
and the pink dress represents her cool style in couture!

Matthew's pretty glitter angel using a tongue depressor (teachers are clever).
Matthew loved to find ornaments with his name.

This gold foil ball is one of our original 12. There aren't many left, they are delicate and crumple easily.
Found in a little store in the swamps of Louisiana. Too funny to pass up.

You have to look close but these are ballet shoes representing Rebecca's many years of dance.

Kids make great ornaments in Sunday School, don't they?
It's Santa on a seashell! From my sister at the beach
in very patriotic NC!
This one is my reminder of riding the people mover escalator
past the Crown Jewels three times... it would have
been more but the family thought they'd seen enough.

When we first lived in Arizona my folks picked up these beautiful and unique tin ornaments in Mexico.
We were never able to find more but I finally inherited some. They are uniquely Southwestern.

Did somebody say FOOTBALL?
Yes, we're fans.

Have you seen Rebecca's Nutcracker collections?

Of course, everyone between 10 and 30 will know that the Nimbus 2000 is the best and newest broom!

A school picture captured as an ornament reminds of a young nephew.
A reminder of trekking through and around the subway system of London.

Matthew, lover of maps and globes picked this special ornament.

Another Rebecca ornament celebrating her cheerleading.

Yep, our tree may not be pictured on the cover of a magazine but it sure is beautiful!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Where Do We Draw the Line

How much government intervention is too much?  When is too much of a good thing not so good?

Michelle Obama has made it her mission to combat childhood obesity.  No one argues that eating healthy and regular exercise is good.  Few argue the merits of providing nutritionally better school lunches or offering daily physical education programs.  But where do we draw the line?

Should schools be able to ban home packed lunches as in some areas of Illinois?  Does the school administration or board know better than mom what a child should eat?  What if a parent has concerns about processed foods, hormones in milk or meat as well as herb- and pesticides used on produce?

But what if a child is seen eating only chips and soda for lunch?  What if he throws the apple and carrots in the trash? Who takes responsibility?  Is is the school's responsibility?  Is it still the parent? Where do we draw the line?
Mrs. Obama wants kids to exercise.  Today many schools have cut out Physical Education programs.  Only 8% of elementary schools still offer regular PE for the students.  Even more surprising 20% of the schools have removed recess from their schedule.  It seems the government wants to tell us what to do but isn't following it's own advice.

One of this week's big stories is about a two hundred pound eight year old boy who was removed from his home.  He weighs too much and Child Protective Services decided his family is not working hard enough with him to lose weight.  "They say" while he has no imminent danger he could develop problems in the future. The child weighs three times as much as a typical child his age.  No one will argue that being obese, particularly to this extent, is not good.  But... Should the government take him from his home?  Because of privacy the public has limited information on this case.  We don't know what the family tried; what the child's genetics are; whether better food has been provided in the home or just suggested.  There are many unknowns.
Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that we agree this child should be removed and forced to exercise and eat healthy.  After all, we do agree that he will benefit by losing weight and becoming fit.  So the government is allowed to make the decision in this case.  But what about a child who weighs 50 pounds more than he should?  And it wasn't that long ago that bulimia was a top issue...  Does that mean the school should be watching our young girls to make sure they are eating enough?  What if a child is too skinny?  What government assigned BMI number might cause your child to be whisked away to a fat farm (or an anorexia clinic)?  Where do we draw the line?

If the school or a health clinic reports to the Child Protective Services that they observe a child either not eating right or maybe testing anemic (not enough iron) can the government agency come in to your home and check the cupboards or your meals for nutritional value?  Aren't we already seeing this in the push towards restaurant portion size and kid's meal offerings?

My farmer cousin once showed me how he managed feeding his many cows.  Each cow had a digital chip attached to its ear and at the food trough there was a reader that could tell which cow had eaten and which had not.  Food would be released only to the cow which hadn't yet had it's allotment.  It seems a far fetch that this same method could be used on people.  But is it really?

Does the Constitution give government agencies the right to make sure we grow up eating our vegetables and skipping cake?  Does the government have the right to take our children if it decides they might have health problems in the future?  If we say yes here, where do we draw the line?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Matthew Shares More Pictures

Apparently, some people, besides Grandma, actually want to see more of Matthew's photographs.  He has taken hundreds in the past few months since being given his own camera. Today we'll share a few fun pictures.

Taking a picture of Sadie's head. She is very cooperative.
These three pictures were taken up in the AZ mountains on the Mogollon Rim. It's beautiful up there. 
Tall Ponderosa Pines, a flower filled field, and pond.Or...what Matthew sees.

These two pictures were taken in the back yard. We were working on the landscaping under the Mimosa Tree. And picture two? The inside of a galvanized bucket.

The following pictures are taken at Grandma and Grandpa's home.
Matthew never takes pictures of people. I'm pretty sure the third picture is a hummingbird feeder...

A lucky dog's foot?
These last pictures are from a visit to France.
This rope borders the cemetery at Normandy

Paris honors Churchill with a statue.
A cathedral in Northern France. But Matthew is not looking at the Gothic structure.
No, he wants you to see the teeny, Gargoyles on the edges.

And that's enough for today! Come by and visit though, Matthew will be happy to share more with you!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Printer Ink Study Project 5

Nearing the end of this fun project.  Everyone is jealous that I was selected and that I got to print so many pictures.  (I didn't tell them that as part of the study many pictures are the same, just looking for differences over time.)

This week's project included printing a Power Point presentation on both printers and comparing.  Both printers did a good job with the colors.  I saw the persistent banding on the refill prints, when looking very carefully, but they would have been acceptable for a project.  The bigger thing was that I ran out of black ink half way through the last page.  The print below is the HP ink.  If you look closely there are some lines but they are on the scanner, not the print.  So, two things: First, I have used twice as much ink during this project, to date.  There is still ink in the HP printer. (I just looked--slightly under half of the color is left and 90% of the black).  The second thing is that my frugal nature would not generally allow me to print a picture with so much black background.  Though it does look good.

In addition to the Power Point I printed my every week photos and did not notice much difference in quality.   The green of the refill is definitely darker...would it bother me?  Probably not.  The streaking or banding lines would bother me more.

Also this week we were asked to print out any business jobs we might have.  One of my most particular customers (okay, my mom) asked me to print up some flyers for their raffle.  All the prints came out similarly.  I felt the Refill ink was a little more blurry in some of the small detail areas.  Though you can see the text on the photo came out crisp on both pictures.  Notice the red text though. The photo on the left is HP ink. I picked a red based on the quilt color and the HP print is very much like my choice.  On the right, though, the Refill ink color is much more brown.  I'm not really sure why as the quilt colors, particularly the reds look similar. 

Now, as you admire this quilt you may be thinking it would be fun to have.  Give me a shout and I'll set you up with some raffle tickets.  In fact, if you win and live out of state, I'll spring for the shipping.  The drawing is in February coordinated with our state centennial celebration.   Your donation will go to help the club find more prospecting sites out in the Quartzsite area.

So to recap:  This week I ran out of black ink.  I can purchase HP brand for about $30 a cartridge (or less as I have seen lots of 20% off ads).  Each color refill cost $15, the black is $10.  Plus three trips to the store.  And don't forget that one of the color cartridges had contaminated colors.  I thought I was being smart saving money with the refill cartridges but  this side by side challenge has showed me the error of my ways.  So week 5 score HP 5 = Refill 0