Kindergarten and Preschool Too!

Last week, I decided (on a whim) to begin homeschooling our Little Kiddle in the Middle - our almost 3 year old Abby. :)  We're using Little Hands to Heaven, the same curriculum I used with Rachel when she was 2.  It's going very well, although I do feel quite busy these days!  Our routine has changed a bit to fit everything in.  We do the preschool program in the morning and whatever I can fit in of Rachel's kindergarten after that.  The rest of kindergarten is finished when Abby and Timmy take their afternoon naps.  I save the academic subjects for that time so that Rachel can concentrate without so many distractions.  So far this is working well for us.

Abby is responding very well to having her own "school" time and she loves the extra attention from me.  It's also been wonderful to see that 5 year old Rachel remembers many of the things that I'm doing with Abby.  Rachel loves to help out with her sister's school time (sometimes too much).  But there are other times when Rachel needs reassurance because the sudden attention that I'm giving Abby has made her a bit jealous.  Today I explained that I love her with all of my heart and when I'm working with Abby my love for her doesn't change.  She smiled and curled up on my lap and I just prayed that my words were sinking in.

Here are some of the highlights of our recent homeschooling days:
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I'm Walking for Life. Will you help?

Hi Friends,

On June 18th, I have the awesome privilege of participating in the Walk for Life.  Choices of the Heart, the Christian pro-life organization we're raising money for, offers free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, emotional support, counseling, training, and many other services to women in my area.  They're about the business of saving lives.  What an honor to support such an organization!

If you have a few minutes, please watch this powerful video by Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor.  If you're touched by this, would you consider sponsoring me with a tax deductible, one-time pledge?  You can visit my very own fundraising webpage to add yourself as a sponsor and to see my goal and how much money I’ve raised so far!

Fix It Friday!

It's Fix It Friday at I Heart Faces!
Here's the original photo taken by Andrea Riley:

Here's my fix!


Questions Answered about the Nikon D7000

One of my readers (Hi Kristen!) is considering a camera upgrade so she asked me some questions about my camera the Nikon D7000.  I thought I would answer them here where it may benefit some other readers too.  You can also read about what's in my camera bag and the story behind my upgrade here.

1. What is your favorite feature of the D7000?
My absolute favorite thing - and the reason why I switched from Canon to Nikon for this particular camera - is it's incredible ability to take high quality photos with extremely high ISOs.  My Canon Rebel XSI could not go above ISO 400 without introducing a lot of grain and compromising the image quality.  With my D7000, I don't start to worry until I get above ISO 2000.  I also really love the more accurate metering system, white balance, and the fact that so many more of my pictures are in focus now!!  I always had inconsistent results with my XSI.  I thought it was user error until I upgraded.

2. Why the D7000 and not another Nikon?
To be honest, I had my heart set on the full frame Nikon D700 (not 7000) for a long time.  Right about the time when I was going to buy it, the crop sensor D7000 was announced.  When I looked at the features and saw photos of the amazing high ISO performance, I knew that this was the upgrade I wanted.  Professional photographers that I respect were calling the D7000 the best crop sensor camera currently available.  It had everything I was looking for and it was $1,000 less expensive than the D700 which made the decision even easier!  I'm not a professional photographer so I couldn't justify the extra expense for the D700.  If I ever pursue photography professionally, I will definitely purchase the D700 (or its replacement) and keep my D7000 as a backup.

3. Do you use the video much, and for home use, how does it perform? 
I don't use the video a lot.  It's more of a gimmick than a useful tool.  The image quality looks very nice, but autofocusing in video mode is a nightmare.  It's not accurate, it hunts a lot, and the microphone picks up the noise from the autofocus motor.  During video playback, you can hear the LOUD sound of the motor and it really takes away from the video.

4. Would the video feature be anything that would draw or pull you away from purchasing the camera?
I don't mind that the video feature leaves a lot to be desired.  Even if the D7000 had no video, I would've still bought it at the same price.  I bought it for photography and it absolutely shines in that area!

5. Would you say the 39 point AF gets used some, always, or "you could get by with a measly 11" (ie if I choose something like the new 5000 or the 3100)?
I toggle my focus points all the time, so I would definitely say "always".  You could get by with less AF points, HOWEVER, I would NOT recommend the D5000 or the D3000 cameras.  The entry level Nikons including the D40, D60, D3100, D3000, and D5000 cameras do not have an autofocus motor built into the body so they will not autofocus with many lenses including the popular Nifty Fifty (only AF-S lenses will work).  You do not want to manually focus your lenses so skip these entry level cameras and get something midrange.  A discontinued D90 will serve you far better than a new D5000 will.

6. I take pics for other people often and would like to get into that more...do you think there'd be any reason to look at a different Nikon if money were not an issue?
If money were not an issue, I would have gone with the D700.  However, I should mention that as a beginner, I would have been completely overwhelmed by the D700!

7. Also, in regards to blogging, I was thinking about starting and wondered if there was any specific resource that jumps out to you as a helpful resource that I might want to look into.  Do you worry about the security of it all...?
The first thing that came to mind as a blogging resource is the place I got my blogging template from.  I love having a cute, organized blog, but I don't know anything about HTML.  Copying and pasting a tweakable template was such an easy way to get started immediately.  Everything was done for me, but I was able to choose my colors and create my own banner.

As far as security goes, I definitely do think about it!  I'm careful about not including too much personal information on my blog.  I don't mention our last name or where we live for example.  A lot of bloggers watermark their photos to prevent them from being stolen, which is something to consider.  The reason why I don't watermark is because it's very easy to crop or edit out a watermark unless it's plastered all over the picture. I think I worry less about security now that I've been blogging for a while (this is my 3rd blog).  When I first began, I didn't use the first names of my children for security reasons.  I used nicknames instead.

Thank you Kristen for asking such great questions!  I hope some of these answers are helpful to you as you make your camera upgrade decision.  If you end up starting a blogging, please come back and let me know!  I'd love to "follow" your blog!

~Catherine :)

Links Worth Sharing

The End is Near? The False Teaching of Harold Camping by Albert Mohler

Excerpt: Harold Camping is now warning the world that the Day of Judgment will begin at about 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, 2011. The 89-year-old founder of Family Radio has made such pronouncements before, most recently in 1994. He now says that he simply miscalculated then, but he is absolutely certain that he has the right calculation now. You have been warned.

Why Would Anyone Be Crazy Enough to Homeschool? by Ann Voskamp 

Excerpt: So a series of questions land in the inbox for a print article on homeschooling, asking how a Christian family makes educational choices for their family? {Why would anyone really be crazy enough to homeshool?}… And I smile and nod… and tentatively, prayerfully, attempt to meander through some of these queries…. but only with no small trembling, and this humble preface:

The Word of Assurance by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Excerpt: How many in this room would say that you have ever struggled with doubts or fears over what happens after death, whether your own death, or that of a loved one?

Parenting, 85mm 1.8, blogging woes, sleeplessness.

 The girls enjoying lunch in their playground tree house.  (Sometimes I even let Rachel do her schoolwork up there. Shh!)

~ Parenting Is Complicated ~
My friend Erin linked to a post about parenting by Kevin DeYoung.  It's called Parenting 001 and it was honest, refreshing, and funny!  I exhaled a sigh of relief to learn that his moments spent "shepherding his children's hearts" don't always turn out as planned either. :)  From his site, I found a link to another gospel centered parenting book he recommends called Give Them Grace.  I spent some time reading the Amazon preview and I'm pretty sure I'm going to order it.  I figure I've only read 8,243 gospel centered parenting books.  Perhaps book number 8,244 will do the trick.  Has anyone read this one yet?  Thoughts?

~ Yippee! ~
My super awesome husband got me something new for my camera for Mother's Day!  I've been having so much fun getting acquainted with my new 85mm 1.8.  Hooray!  The bokeh (background blur) is sooooo pretty because of the longer focal length.  I really like it for outdoor shots and I think it's going to live on my camera this spring and summer.  I plan to do a post comparing the 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm focal lengths soon.  (Soon is a relative term around here!)

~ My blog is about to get really dusty. ~
Before I began homeschooling, I always wondered why so many homeschooling moms didn't have blogs.  Now that I'm homeschooling Rachel and now that I've blurted out a promise to begin Abby's preschool program on Monday (why did I go and do that?) I can TOTALLY understand why.  If Rachel and Abby had to... hypothetically... go searching for clean underwear in the laundry basket this morning because there was none left in their drawer... I probably shouldn't be devoting a lot of time to blogging.  All hypothetical of course. ;)

~ I need more sleep. ~
I've been doing weird things lately.  I put a box of cereal in the refrigerator.  I drop things constantly.  I forgot how to drive to a place I've been to 5,000 times. I can never remember if I've already shampooed my hair or not.  I can't remember how to spell words I used to know how to spell.  I've caught myself copying my two year old's grammar.  I go to the store to buy one very specific thing and I leave with 10 other things instead.  I guess the 6-7 hours of sleep with 2 wake up calls from Timmy per night isn't cutting it.  Will I ever recover or is this permanent damage? :)

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge - Motherhood

So many pictures came to mind as I thought of the theme for this week's photo challenge, but I've always loved this picture of me and my sweet 3 day old Timothy.  It was so nice to enjoy him for three days in the calm and quietness of my hospital room.  I missed my two girls terribly, but I knew I had to soak in the quiet moments before returning back to the hustle and bustle of being a Mommy to three!  This picture reminds me of counting fingers and toes, caressing baby wrinkles, and marveling at this new little person that God blessed us with. 

To see more Motherhood entries, click on the graphic below:

I Won 7th Place!

...in the I Heart Faces Photo Challenge!  Yippee!  This made my day!  Click over to see the other winners and to read what the judge said about each photo.  So fun!

I Heart Faces Photo Challenge - Soft and Sweet


I just love the softness, the curve of his baby belly, the curled fingers, and the way Rachel is breathing in every moment of being a big sister.  I love the sweet expression on her face.  It makes me want to relive this moment every day.

To see other Soft and Sweet entries, click on the graphic below: