Friday, March 28, 2008

Tech Stuff: Backing Up Your Photos

The other day I was thinking about the many digital photos that our family has taken and how they are being stored on the various hard drives in our household when it occurred to me, what happens if that computer locks up and the hard drive fails? Now, one of our computers is a Mac, so I know it will never happen (wink, wink), but I realized that we have several years worth of memories that should probably be protected. I decided to start looking for an easy way to back them up online, so that I wouldn't have to worry about dying computers ever again.

Xdrive is a service from AOL that allows you to upload up to 5gb of data for free. It's a pretty sweet deal, but I found the interface a little clunky, and it wasn't optimized for photo sharing.

Google's Picasa Web is a service that I currently use. They only give you 1gb of storage for free, but it's fairly cheap if you need to upgrade. ($20/year/10gb) I like the interface, it's easy to share albums, and it works well with the Picasa desktop application, but I wanted something even easier. I didn't want to have to load pictures onto the computer, and then manually upload them to the web. I thought there should be an automated option.

That's when I found Sugarsync. It's a brand new service that automatically syncs your pictures (or files, videos, music) to the web. Not only that, but if you have several computers, you can keep them synced as well. When you load your pictures onto one computer, it will automatically add them to other computers if you want it to. In fact, you can see them on your smartphone as well. It costs a little bit more ($50/year/10gb) but it is much more sophisticated than the other sites. And, they are offering a half price promotion if you sign up before April 15.

Try some of these out before you have the unfortunate realization that hard drives don't last forever!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who his the Head, that is, Christ." Ephesians 4:15

Paul's words from the book of Ephesians seem simple enough, but in reality they're a lot harder to live out. Sometimes it's just easier to tell someone what they want to hear, rather than being honest. A clear example of this is played out every week on American Idol. Paula has such a hard time telling the contestants what she really thinks, because she wants them to be encouraged. She thinks she is doing the right thing, but actually she is speaking love without truth. This can be just as damaging as her counterpart Simon who regularly shares the truth without love. So we come back to this statement "speaking the truth in love." I believe that in order to speak the truth in love, there are a couple of things that you must consider. First, will the truth that you are going to share be beneficial to the other person? What will they do with the information once it is received. Will it help them change for the better? Next, what are your motives for sharing? Do you want to knock them off their pedestal? Hopefully it's because you want what's best for them and you are sharing because you love them.

I have fallen short of these ideals many times, but I was encouraged last week when I received a call from a friend in a church where I used to minister. There was a time when I had to have a difficult conversation with him about his participation in a musical group I was leading. He called me to tell me thank you for the way that I handled that conversation. I was floored! He said that because I was honest with him, it helped him evaluate what steps he was supposed to be taking, and he has actually used that example in his life to help others. Back when I had the conversation, I took a risk. But I was willing to risk the relationship because I thought that what I was sharing was in his best interest. I know that it can be easier to just sweep things under the rug and ignore them sometimes, but in the end, you will be better off when you speak the truth in love.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another Anniversary

While it's much less significant than yesterday's anniversary, today marks an important day also. It's the one year anniversary of God. Life. Stuff. I didn't know when I started if this was going to be one of those ideas that I would actually follow through with, or a fad that came and went. I'm pretty excited that I've made it a year! I re-read my first post and it pretty well sums up what this blog is all about. Through the first year, I have written 100 posts, and have been able to stay in touch with a lot of friends, both old and new. Thanks to everyone who reads this. I hope that this blog will continue to be a source of encouragement, fun, and information for you.

Friday, March 21, 2008

16th Anniversary

Today is our 16th wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe that we've been married that long. I am very blessed to be married to my best friend. She knows what I'm thinking even when I'm not saying anything. Someone asked us yesterday what we were doing to celebrate, and it was almost embarrassing. "Well, we went to the Cheesecake Factory last week...and...I got her a card!!" We are pretty low key about events like this. It's a good thing she's forgiving. We don't have anything special planned, but it's a great opportunity for me to share how much I love her and that she means the world to me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tech Stuff: itunes Subscriptions?

As much as I love gadgets, I have never owned an ipod. It's not that I don't like them, I've just been on an ipod boycott. The reason is because I have been waiting for Apple to come out with a Subscription service, so that I wouldn't have to buy each song individually. I have used Napster and Yahoo for the last three years instead. If you're new to this subject you can read where I wrote about it here. Last week I was going to give an update on the status of the subscription model for music when I saw this article. But today, I read this article and this post about the fact that Apple may be coming out with a subscription plan of their own. Now I know it's too early to get giddy, but it's the first glimmer of hope I've seen on this. I guess my boycott is making a difference!! I knew I had the power to bring "the man" to his knees. :) I will make this promise. If Apple does come out with a subscription service, I will end my ipod boycott THAT DAY and buy one! Until then, long live Zune, Napster, and Rhapsody!

Gracie Graduated

We are very proud of our puppy, Gracie, who graduated from puppy school last night! I have to admit, there were times when I didn't think she (or I) would make it. But sure enough, she performed like a champ at her final exam last night. She knows how to sit, stay, wait, come, down, turn, spin, and is getting better at walking without pulling us everywhere. I have to say that I'm starting to get used to our scruffy gal.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Verses to Live By

I'm a firm believer in the concept that it's the simple, foundational truths that mean the most. I've heard it said that "everything I need to know, I learned in Kindergarten." I'm not sure that's totally true, but I can see their point. In our spiritual lives, it's easy to make it complicated. We can get so caught up with the latest book, or chasing after some new idea that will take us to the "next level," that we forget the simple truths of God's word. A while ago, someone asked me to give advice to graduating seniors, and I came up with this list of four verses that serve as my life theme. I certainly don't live up to them all the time, and that's why it's always important to come back to the fundamentals.

1. Matthew 7:12 - The Golden Rule. Why is it so hard to treat others the way that we want them to treat us? Even though I learned this lesson when I was just a toddler, and I've tried to teach it to my kids, it's still something that takes work.

2. Matthew 25:22,23 - Small things matter! I've met a lot of people who complain about where they are in life, but have yet to learn this lesson. The way you handle the small things in life, whether it's at your job, the way you handle your finances, or even in relationships, will affect your ability to handle bigger things down the line. Use what God has given you, even if it's not a lot, and God will reward you.

3. Matthew 6:33 - Keep your priorities straight! Sometimes we get worried about our lives and what our next steps are. But this verse promises that if we stay focused on Him, He will make sure that we are taken care of.

4. Philippians 2:1-11 - Get over yourself! When you start feeling like you've given all you can give, remember the sacrifice that Christ paid to come to earth and die for us. Nothing we could ever do could repay what we have received.

What are some verses that you live by?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Last week as I was going through one of my daughter's homework folders I noticed that she had received an 87 on her spelling test. Now I recognize that an 87 is not really a bad grade, but she typically gets higher scores on these tests. I wasn't upset with her, but when I looked at the words she had missed, it was clear to me that she had not spent much time studying. So, when I asked her about what had happened she said, "'nesesary' is a hard word! And besides I lost my study sheet." It was clear that she had put zero effort into this test, but wasn't really concerned about the fact that she had received a grade that was lower than her usual. To be honest, I didn't really know how to respond. I needed to tell her why it was important to do her best, but I was finding it hard to understand why she wouldn't already know that. In that moment I realized something about motivation. In my whole life I've never needed any other reason to want a 100 on a test, other than the fact that a 100 exists. My personality tells me that if there is a possibility of getting a 100, then of course that's what I want to get. If I ever got an 87 in school, it was clear to me that I needed to do something different next time so that I could get a 100. I guess I never stopped to consider that anyone would ever accept less than that if they had the chance. Now it would be different if someone was working at it and putting in effort and received that grade. But to make a conscious decision not to study because you know that you will pass anyway, is just something that never crossed my mind.

Since that happened, I've started thinking about the difference between leading and motivating. I've always felt like I was a good leader, but I recognize that I'm not the best motivator. What I mean is this...the times when I have been most successful as a leader, I have had staff that was high-capacity and self motivated. My strengths come into play in these situations by helping these groups of people reach consensus, prioritize and focus, and redirecting them when they go off course. However, I have had other situations where a staff member really wanted to be told what to do, and needed "encouragement" in one way or another to get things done, and it ended up being frustrating for them and me. I guess I am learning that I need to grow as a motivator, whether it's as a parent or as a leader. I need to recognize that different personalities are motivated in different ways, and so I need to respond to them accordingly.

Does anyone have any thoughts to add?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Backyard Soccer & Donkey Kong

The girls are getting ready to start soccer season this year. We took some time Sunday afternoon to practice in the backyard. It's nice to feel some Springtime weather.

I decided to check out some of the advanced features on the Wii. One of the things you can do is download games from older systems. I noticed that they had Donkey Kong from the original NES. Back in the day I loved playing Donkey Kong and wasted countless hours away climbing ladders and jumping barrels. I decided that for $5 we needed that game, so I downloaded it. I've had a blast reliving my youth. But it just seems wrong to have a "next generation" game console, and playing a "last generation" game.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I think I might need an intervention. I have always been a fan of Pringles, but recently I've discovered some new flavors. Specifically, Salt & Vinegar and Screamin' dill pickle. Once I start, I can't stop. Those things must have crack in them or something. Anne caught me literally drinking the crumbs out of the bottom of the can. I gotta get off this train, I can feel myself spiraling...Put the can down....that's it, I'm never buying those again. I'm just too weak.

Make it Count

This afternoon I took advantage of the privilege that we have in this country to have a voice in government, and voted in the Texas primary. I know that all of America is watching this race closely, but mostly on the democratic side. Since I'm a registered republican, I didn't get to choose between Obama and Hillary, but I let my voice be heard anyway. Except in one race....when I got to the voting booth I realized that I had researched the wrong congressional district race. This is my first election in Texas, and I had looked at the candidates from district 3, but I guess I actually live in district 4. So...the list of candidates were completely unknown. I decided it was probably better not to just guess so I just left that one blank. I suppose you could say that I mostly made it count! :)

Monday, March 3, 2008

Texas Snow

The girls are enjoying their first taste of snow in Texas tonight! It's hard to believe that yesterday it was 73 degrees and we were wearing short sleeve shirts and shorts! Crazy! The girls were having fun making snowballs. Sami thought she would be cute and throw hers at me after I took this picture. Good thing she has bad aim! :) (She is with me writing this)

Sami: I think that my dad is wrong.

Dad: About what?

Sami: My bad aim

Dad: Don't get defensive--you have plenty of other great qualities. :)

Sami: Oh I'm getting defensive.

Dad: All right, All right. I'm sorry I said you had bad aim. Now, go to bed.

I knew it was a bad idea to let her start typing. :)

Sami: Hey I thought you said that I coud take a long warm bath p.s it really was a good idea to let me typ.

Dad: I'll be the judge of that. Take your bath and go to bed.

Sami: oh fine

Great seats!!

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to go to the Dallas Mavericks game versus the Sacramento Kings. A friend from church invited me, and of course I said YYYEEEEESSSSS!!! I love going to sports events. I even decided to buy a shirt to show my dedication to my new team. When we arrived and walked to our seats, I couldn't believe it. We were sitting on the floor!! Just underneath the basket. This picture was taken from my seat. I have to tell you, it's a whole different game from up close. I took it all in, and had a blast. I may never get that close again. :) Oh yeah, the Mavs won, but they had lost the night before to the Spurs and then lost yesterday to the Lakers. Why is it that teams start to lose when I jump on the bandwagon?