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Monday, December 10, 2012

Still Life

We met with our 4H Photography group today.  We had a small group of six photographers but it worked well for our small set up on the dining room table at my house!

We talked about keeping early attempts at still life photography to simple compositions.  The main goal is to focus on lighting, angles, and simplicity.  We worked with candles a lot!  I think everyone had a candle shot, except Katie who was determined to get a nice still life with her boots and star.  She also wanted to try to incorporate the theme for this year's 4H photo contest....Texan holidays.  I think she has several nice photos to make a good pick.

We also discussed reflection, which often goes along with still life photography.  I showed the trick of adding water to a large shallow glass dish to place an object to reflect.  We also discussed the dew drop pictures that have an image (flower, face, etc) reflected inside it.  Brooke had done this and showed an awesome picture of a colorful swirl reflected in a dew drop.  We will need to play around with this concept and see if the boys and I can duplicate that effect as well!

The main thing I showed the group was the easy way to set up a still life 'studio' with tri-fold boards purchased at a local craft store (various colors to choose from) and an overhead light.  We used my dining room light but a lamp, flash light or natural lighting can be used as well.  The other thing is to avoid outside light creating shadows or excess light in the picture.  This can ruin a good shot.  We were able to close all the shutters and lights in the other areas so we could focus the light as needed.

I really let the 4Hers take over and play with the concept or composing a shot and determining the needed light.  I could compose photos fro them but I like to see their creativity.  I look forward to seeing what the group has learned and what they bring out in their holiday pictures over the rest of the month.

Not sure what we will do in January but it sounds like a lot of interest in special effects and story boards so we will see what comes of those two ideas.

There are no projects for the remainder of the hard to believe I will not be posting again until January.  I hope I do not get of the routine of posting on the blog in the next month.  See you in 2013 as we will find new ways "to make the best better!"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Night of Giving

Tonight we had our monthly 4H club meeting.  The main part of the business meeting was the norm for our club....project and committee reports with a little new business thrown in.  However, I wanted to focus on three things that occurred tonight that made the meeting a night of giving back to our community.

First, we had an awesome idea thanks to some great thinking on the part of some of the moms.  We wanted to do something different for refreshments this month.  Really in the past years we have not even had a club meeting in December so the issue of what to do for refreshments has never come up.  This year (due to our meeting date changed to earlier in the month) we had a regular meeting.  In the past we exchange our regular club meeting for a community service outreach (Salvation Army bell ringing...Christmas caroling...etc).

I thought we could combine our refreshments with a community outreach project.  We could have an old-fashioned cookie exchange!  However, instead of taking cookies home ourselves, we could give the cookies to a charity organization.  I sent a message out to the other moms who were signed up for refreshments and the idea grew into a full blown Christmas charity for a local women's shelter.  We made contact with the shelter and the director suggested that we gather cleaning supplies and toiletries for the families at the shelter.  It turned out that we had the same number of families in our club that were at the shelter!  It was a perfect match!

In reality, it turned out better than could be imagined.  Our club members were very generous in their donations.  We had enough cookies to fill a nice size tub with an assortment of goodies.  We also filled a basket for each family with various cleaning supplies.  These will be taken to the shelter tomorrow for distribution.  This will also include several special items that club members made or purchased above and beyond the requested items.  And...there are blankets and a quilt that we had set aside from last spring to add to the assortment of gifts.

Then we discussed serving lunch at the VA Clinic.  The last couple of months have difficult for our club to keep this activity going.  I was not sure if our club wanted to continue for the next year.  I could not continue to lead the activity myself (although we want to help), so I gave several options (including stopping the activity altogether).  The main thing that was needed was someone to lead the activity.  After the meeting, I had two moms volunteer to help lead.  I think we will be able to continue to help our local veterans each month.  I am so glad because it means so much to our family to see the veterans served in this small way.  I am looking forward to continuing this effort.

The last thing that I wanted to share from the meeting was our guest speaker.  At the last minute, the planned guest speaker lost his voice and could not attend our meeting.  Kevin (our Vice President) quickly thought of a replacement...his church youth pastor.  A great he was very comfortable talking to youth and he had a great message (it went right along with what our family had as a focus for our daily Advent devotion!).  He talked about the angels announcing to the shepherds the Good News (Luke 2:8-20).

What I thought was so fitting was the connection he made in this one line of the passage.  In Luke 2:14, we hear the angels say, "Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."  The pastor spoke about this in two parts.  First, Jesus comes to give glory to His Father in heaven.  Second, Jesus comes to give us peace on earth.  It is the two levels of being that are connected because of Jesus.  God in heaven is glorified and men are given peace...the greatest gift we can give to God is glory and the greatest gift He can give to us is peace. God does not need a gift but he is always deserving of glory.  We desperately need peace and can only find it through the sacrifice Jesus offers us by becoming man and dying for our sins.  Jesus bridges he gap between heaven and earth!  Praise be to God!

A great meeting and a wonderful way to lead us into the Christmas season.  I am so glad we were able to share all of these gifts as a 4H all ways we were able to truly share the spirit of 4H to "make the best better!"

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fashion meets Photography!

We had the joy of gathering many of the 4Hers involved in Clothing & Textiles and Photogrphy projects at a local nursing home.

The Clothing & Textile group (Brianna, Laura and ?) set up a nice backdrop with shimmery material and gift-wrapped boxes in a corner of the center.  It was a nice corner that already looked homey with bookshelves and comfortable seating.  There was nice lighting also so it helped the photographers avoid their flash.

Then they helped assure the residents looked their best for the photo.  Sometimes this included removing baseball caps and adding a dress shirt (cut down the sides so it could be slipped over the head) and a suit jacket.  For the women, a nice scarf to add color to an outfit.  Often times the residents had heard we were coming and got dressed up on their own.  (It was nice to know that they remembered us!)

Then our photographers (Aaron, Emily, Sean, Edward, James, Katie, Laura, Henry, and ?) came in for the photographing.  They did such a great job.  It was really great to see them interact with the residents to get them to smile.

We were able to take portrait shots of about 30 residents.  We had the always happy Eddie who could not wait to talk to the 4Hers.  We had Miss Sadie who was 103 years old!  We had two older couples who were still in love after all those years...holding hands and giving a kiss on the cheek....such precious moments.  Then the ones who had no idea what we were doing but smiled at the camera nonetheless.  And my favorite...the mom who invited her children to be in her picture with her!

These are moments to capture that I hope the 4Hers will not forget.  I know I will not soon forget myself.

My only regret...not enough batteries to stay and take even more pictures!  Note to self...charge batteries and bring extras!!!!  We managed to scrounge around and get everyone photographed but it sure would ease the stress if I had done this simple task!

We get together tomorrow to look over all the pictures and make them look nice...then return to give out the photos after Thanksgiving.  So thankful for this group of youth who shared their talents  to "make the best better!"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Another 4H Monthly Meeting

I blog about the every day events of our club each month along with the special events.  Each month I wonder if my blog is really that interesting to anyone else.  I really started this blog to help my husband stay involved with our 4H events.  I never imagined anyone else would read my ramblings.  Every once in a while I send a link to the blog because I cannot help but be proud of all the things the boys and I do with 4H.  It is such a joy to be involved with such a great youth organization.  So, even though it seems odd to write about the ordinary workings of our club, I enjoy sending these posts out for anyone who cares to read them.  Maybe in doing this others will be inspired by the youth of our club.

So, tonight we gathered for our monthly meeting.  We began with our pledges and then Katy introduced our guest speaker, Dr Guy.  He is a local dentist but he actually came to us to speak about building character traits.  He presented a wonderful talk about how important it is to have good character traits.  He even told us he meets with his staff to discuss these traits using a program called Character First.  He then focused on the character trait 'wisdom.'  It was nice to have his reflection on this for the youth and adults in our club.  Thank you so much for joining us for the evening.  He is one of the few speakers who actually stayed for the remainder of the meeting and spoke with our youth after the meeting as well.

We then had a short business meeting.  Katy read a poem (Be Thankful) which went nicely with Dr Guy's talk.  Then we had another interesting roll call...each member gave a word that related to Thanksgiving to announce their presence at the meeting...followed by the minutes of the last meeting read.  Sean was able to give his treasurer report with little difficulty (YAY!) and then project reports were given.

The main project announcements were:

Wildlife-I announced our results from the contests and let everyone know we had completed the project for the year.

Robotics-Sean told the group that we were taking a break from Robotics until January.  He then announced the parent meeting that would take place after our general meeting tonight.

Photography-Henry announced the project we have for the nursing home to take portraits of the residents for Christmas.

Forestry-Joseph announced the continued effort to meet at the park for Forestry on Fridays. (Hopefully we will actually get to a meeting this week!)

Food & Nutrition-James announced the results from the county Food Show.  Congrats to all those who participated.

It was nice not to have a lot of business to discuss and we were able to quickly end our meeting. This was followed by refreshments.  The table was nicely decorated for Veteran's Day, which included a picture of a past 4H member who is now serving in the Marines (I hope I have that right!).

Then the 4Hers played 7-up...I had not seen that game played in years!  So glad my boys were given the opportunity to play!

We then had a Robotics meeting...It looks like we have some more details worked out to gain funds to buy Lego Robotics kits.  We hope to start back in January with kits to teach the different age groups.  We have a parent for each group who will lead.  The goal is to have a kit for each group.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Regional Wildlife Contest

Another early morning so we could head into the woods for a Wildlife contest.  This time the regional contest was just right around the corner!  Since we actually prepared our supplies and clothes the night before, we were out the door without any hiccups!  In fact, I was in such a good mood (since I was not stressed out with last minute prep), I felt like singing!  SO...I did!  We sang out the animal plant preferences as we drove down the road!  I am not sure if it helped the boys but it was a fun way to relieve some of that pre-contest jitters!

We also arrived early enough to read a little more of that incredibly dry reading material...better known as the Hunter's Guide!  We covered a little of the fishing regulations.  The boys were so thankful to see their friends arrive.  They did not hesitate to jump out of the car to greet their team members!  So much for a captive audience!

We made our way through the normal registration paperwork and the contest began by 9:30am.  Thankfully, Zaira slept through most of the morning, so I was able to join some of the other coaches to judge the contest fairness.  This is a great opportunity to not only see the contest during the actual event BUT also speaking with the coaches and listen to their tips on learning the information.  Brendan chose to join me (probably because we were going into a warm was a little chilly at the first part of the morning!) and he behaved as we went through the contest questions.  It is amazing how he knew when we had completed our run through the questions...he immediately began asking to leave!  That is OK...Zaira was starting to wake up also so it worked out well.

We found the rest of the parents and found an extra chair so I could take care of Zaira's needs.  Brendan found the other younger boys and played with his toys.  I ended up sitting with two 4H moms from another county.  It was a nice way to spend the time as we waited for the participants to return.

Then the coaches and parents who wanted to see the contest had a chance to walked through.  I always enjoy going through the contest with others because we can discuss the more difficult questions.  This time we had Christi and Wanda, along Joseph who could not wait to see the correct answers!  For the most part, we all decided the contest was a good representation of what we had learned this year...except the dreaded technique station!  We found badger skulls...bear jaw bones...scat...and gopher traps!  The way I look at it we have some new areas to work on for next year!  You just never know what we will find in this section of the contest.

We then enjoyed another waiting period with talk of various topics over our lunches.  Around 2pm, we learned that we did not place for one of the top two spots.  We took some pictures of our teams and then headed our separate ways.  We left knowing that we could check out our scores on line.

So, I just pulled up the scores and I was so proud to see that we placed 3rd and 5th place!  We were right up there with the other top teams.  As individuals, our 4Hers placed in the top 20 participants.   I am so proud of them for all their hard work! We won't be going on to state but we improved so much this year and we have many more years of contests for this young group of 4Hers!  It still amazes me to see the young ones (9-13 year olds) competing with the high schoolers!  Great job!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sizing Up the Rifles

Just a short blog post to say that the boys got to be sized for the rifles they will use for the next few months.  I was surprised at how quickly the boys were able to use the rifles.  They have all used a rifle at different events over the last few years, but it was in a very controlled situation with someone right beside them to assist.

Today, each of them were given a rifle and asked to lie in a prone position.  The instructors set them up in a sling to hold the rifle while they shot.  Then the boys were expected to load their own rifle (I did not even know they knew how to do that!) and shoot at the targets down range.

I will not say they are marksman just yet, but they shot well for their first time.  The boys were just excited that they were able to hit the target!

Now that the instructors know the rifles they will need, they will set up a practice schedule.  We will not officially begin for a couple of weeks.

So, it looks like we have a new project to keep us busy.  I am glad the boys have this opportunity...I would not be able to do this on my own.  They need to try this even if it is only for a year.  We will see if it is the right project for them as the weeks go on.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Last Meetings for a while...

We had our regular 4H project meetings today.

We started out with Wildlife where we discussed the correct answers from the contest.  We will have one more meeting before we compete again at the regional contest.  It is hard to believe the fall classes have gone by so quickly!  We will probably not meet again for Wildlife until next year.  It seems so hard to believe.  However, we will immediately start focusing on our WHEP (Wildlife Habitat Education Program) concepts so Wildlife is not out of the picture just yet.  So, next week we might need to have a surprise for the group as we meet to look over last minute techniques.

We then went to Robotics and learned that the project would be coming to an end a week early.  It just was not feasible to extend the meetings an additional week since that would have meant learning new concepts.  We were at a good stopping point in the modules.  We are not through for the year, but we are taking a break so our project leaders can get through the busy holiday season with their catering business.  We will start up again in January.

I am looking forward to seeing where this leads us...will we continue Junk Drawer Robotics? Or will we start the infamous Lego Robotics?  Only time and money will tell!

The 4Hers did complete the goal of creating a mechanical arm that could lift objects (various weights) and move them across multiple planes.  I know I have said this many times over the last few weeks, but I am so amazed by the ideas the youth designed.  All very different and flexible in the adaptations that improved over the course of the project.  I think all the groups enjoyed the results of their efforts.  Everyone was successful at various degrees.

I also liked how the older ones learned to work with the younger ones.  It is a good skill to learn patience.  It also gave the older ones an opportunity to teach in a way adults cannot ever seem to accomplish.  For instance, these two little cuties (in the picture to the left) might have seemed like they were just running around squealing ..they were actually very interested in what was going on around them.  I was even surprised to see these two sitting so quietly as they watched the older ones at work!

Also, there were practical advice throughout the project for the actual 4Hers involved.  Tonight I heard many older ones giving tips on how to create the parts of the arm.  This was more about construction but very important life skills.  I love that about 4H!  Sometimes the learning has nothing to do with the project content.  I cannot emphasize that enough for all the 4H projects!  I think that is why there is such a wide range of ages involved in 4H.  There is always someone for the youth to admire and want to learn these skills. The project content just becomes the setting for these life lessons!

I am so thankful for the ability to invite the entire family to join in the fun!  And isn't that what it really is all about?  Having fun!  I am also thankful that even though there might be competitions to the end it is about enjoying time with your friends learning about a topic of interest.  And maybe even learning that you have an interest!  There were siblings who came only because they had to be there for their brother or the end, they usually joined in the learning and were very creative!  Of course, there were also those who learned they would never be engineers!  So, it worked out both ways!  Have I mentioned that I love this about 4H?  I see it as another way "to make the best better!"  Learning your strengths and weaknesses definitely makes the world a little bit better place!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Shooting Sports

New project alert!!!!!

Today we began our new adventure in 4H...shooting sports.  Henry has been begging me for the last four years to join this project..I was just not ready for the commitment needed.  However, after being persistent for so long, I decided to let him have a chance.  This also gave Sean and Edward the opportunity to try as well.  After all, we all have to be there anyway...there is no reason to just sit around.

So, today was just an introduction to the project.  We filled out paperwork and listened to the rules of the range.  This included each of the boys signing a paper stating that they understood the rules of the range.  There are three instructors for this project...Robert, Travis and David.  These men really seem to care about the safety and enjoyment that is needed to make this project helpful for their gun ability for recreation and competition.  I can see that the main concern is going to be keeping these 4Hers safe at all times.

The rules are safe and all will be good!  That means keeping the gun pointed in a safe direction, being aware of the surroundings, and listening to the instructors at all times.  It seems simple enough to me...I hope the boys can handle it.  Of course, it is already known that if they cannot, they will be out of the program.  There were about twenty 4Hers who all want to learn so getting cut from the program is definitely an option.

Mr. Robert did not waste any time showing the group that consistency is the key to performing well.  He demonstrated handing off the rifle for use.  EVERY TIME he gave a gun to one of the 4Hers, he would ask, "Got it?" and the 4Her was to respond, "Got it!"  This was a very important process that must be followed in order to take a gun into your hands.  Once the 4Her responded, the rifle in their possession was their responsibility.

It was a great introduction.  Next week we will meet to fit the boys for the right size rifle and determine when their time slots for the weekly practice.  I know this will be god for them.  I will just need to find a way to keep the younger ones entertained while we are at the range.

Friday, October 19, 2012

This Week in 4H

We have been very busy this week, especially with our 4H it has been hard to stay up long enough to post about our events.  I thought I would take the time now to update our activities.

Tuesday was our regular 4H project meetings.  We had a brief discussion about our mock contest from the week before.  The meeting was cut short because we were rained out about half way through the meeting.  We did have a new 4Her come to the meeting and we look forward to learning with Anna in the next few weeks.

It was a good review overall and I was able to give the group some last minute things to go over at home before the contest the next day.  The main focus was on techniques and gaming laws.

We then had our Robotics meeting.  I was not able to stay due to another event, however, the boys enjoyed adding a claw to their arm construction.  I hope to see these next week, especially since I did not leave the camera with the boys to take pictures!

Wednesday was the big day for our district Wildlife contest.  We arrived with plenty of time to study any last minute questions.  Our boys choice to listen as I read from the Hunter's Guide.  I guess this must have been a good choice because they would later find out these were the questions asked on the contest!

The contest was different from a year ago...we had no compass and pacing course.  It seemed strange to see the four groups divided and sent out to an area within view.  Normally, we would see them walking out into the woods for the contest.

The contest still took over two hours to complete.  While the 4Hers were having a BBQ sandwich lunch, Wanda and I made it around the contest.  It was great to see that we could answer most of the technique questions and the plant samples were all identifiable.  There was one tree that I had to ask about (black gum) and another that had leaves so high up from the ground they were hard to identify.  All in all it seemed like a straight forward contest.

With a short delay after lunch, we were given the results.  We do not have competition at this level so we were guaranteed the two slots to go on to the regional contest.  However, it was good to know we had divided the teams properly so the same groups will work together in a couple of weeks.  The big surprise was the high point individual...Sean was given this award!  So proud of him for that last push to practice before contest!  Also, for the first time...the scores for our groups were comparable to FFA members.  This has not happened in a while, so I guess we are finally studying the right material!  That is always good to know as a project leader.

We look forward to the next contest with hopes of going on to the State level in the spring.

Today we also joined with Ms. Christi and Jaron to serve the Veterans sandwiches, coffee and donuts.  This is always so rewarding.  I can never stop helping these Veterans...they are so humble.  They really are happy to see the young 4Hers join in to help.

And while the other activity we enjoyed this week is not technically a 4H activity, you might be interested in our wild bee harvest from the last week.  Check out my other blog (go to the end of the blog to get to that part of the story) as we had two bee harvests this week!  Today we had the second of the two hives set up in the corner of our garden.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

And the Big Winner is...

Just a quick post to say that the last of the 4Hers were able to complete our mock contest this afternoon.  I just wanted to let everyone know the high point scorer for this club contest.

Congrats to Joseph for his accomplishment!  High score was 90 points...Awesome job!  Of course you know the prize is to lead the group next Tuesday right?  Just joking, I will bring your prize next Tuesday when we meet.

After looking over the answers, I encourage all of you to study the gaming laws in the next couple of days and the animal preferences.

Also, today we attended the Beekeeper's meeting.  Check out my other blog to see the fun we had!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Mock Contest and Pneudraulic Arms

Today at our Wildlife meeting we had a mock contest.  I put together all of the parts of the contest so it looked as much like the real contest as possible.  Wow!  I have a greater appreciation for the ones who put this contest together.  Of course, the judges are experts and probably know these answers without needing to look them all up in books and on the internet.  However, I can see that it is not something you can put together in an afternoon.

I spent most of the last week culling through past contests (pictures and old emails) as I looked for questions that I never would be able to create on my own.  THEN, I had to make sure I knew the answer!  I threw out a lot of questions and realized how little I know about wildlife.  I realize that I still have a long way to go before I would ever be considered an expert myself.  Thankfully, I still can look to my personal wildlife expert, even though she is MILES away!  Amanda, graciously, answered questions about all the ones that continued to stump me.

So, once the contest was created, I was able to make it to the museum and set it all out for the 4Hers.  It was not exactly like the contest but pretty close.  It took them about an hour and a half to go through the entire contest.

I was all set to give out the high point individual for our mock contest (as promised!), when I realized that two of our 4Hers have not taken the contest yet.  I had promised that they could come back later in the week and have their chance to answer the questions.  SO, I will need to hold off a couple of days before announcing the winner!

However, I can suggest that EVERYONE review their gaming laws.  Here is the website for the hunting safety course that is online.  This will help you to study and it is fun!  Check out the link...

Also, look over the plant preferences and management technique sections in your Wildlife books!

I will announce the winner as soon as I can get the others through the contest, so keep watching for  the announcement!  Oh...and at this time the high score is a 90 (not saying who just yet!) out of 136 points.

After this meeting, we made our way to Robotics.  I wish I could tell more about this project, but it is so far beyond my understanding.  All I know is that the groups continued working on their mechanical arms.  Today they added syringes and tubes to create an automatic movement.  Because this is introducing air into the mechanical action the groups have now created a pneudraulic arm.

I thought it was great how the lessons move into this concept slowly.  The groups began by making pinwheels.  Then, using different methods of thrusting air on the wheel, they were able to move the pinwheel.  They also tried to move a bolt across the surface of the table with the use of a balloon.  From this, the groups could see the use of air to create movement.  They were then expected to use this knowledge to improve on their mechanical arms.  

We have completed our work on the mechanical arms.  Each group was allowed an opportunity to showcase their creation.  I continue to be amazed by all of the interesting designs.  We have some very creative 4Hers.

Next week I think they will start work on a mechanical vehicle.  I look forward to seeing more creativity throughout this month.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

Our photography group met at a local pumpkin patch today to learn about how to take great fall pictures.  We had a lot of fun learning some tips that I had gathered from various sources.  Here are some of the ones I liked the most:

  • To have the needed advantage of soft light needed for the vibrant fall colors, try to go to a shaded pumpkin patch, wait for a cloudy day, or wait until a few minutes before sunrise or an hour or so before sunset.
  • To avoid faces having an orange tinge, you can help avoid the orange color cast by positioning your subjects so that 1) the light source is behind them and 2) their heads are slightly tilted up toward you and away from the pumpkins.
  • Vary your angles...above, directly in front, and even below shooting up. 
  • Early morning is one of the best times to capture the color of fall reflected in a pond or lake as the water is usually still and the light is coming in at a low angle. Try to put something small in the foreground of your photo and focus on that - this will leave the reflection leaving more soft and misty.
  • Try a macro lens or macro mode. For those expert-looking close-ups of leaves, a macro lens is indispensable. 
  • Accentuate the variety of fall colors by framing one against the other. Find the red leaf in the midst of golden leaves. Shoot the golden leaves against the blue of the sky. Arrange a bouquet of fallen leaves on the green grass.

AND...for those who dared to take their camera off auto mode, I had a few tips also:

  • Use a tripod. Especially when shooting with dusk encroaching, tripods really, really help. Turn off your flash, set your ISO to 100 to minimize noise (sharper detail!) and start shooting. 
  • Experiment with your shutter speed...a 1-3 second shutter can do wonders, stilling the foliage and the colors, while letting the rest of the world turn into a blur.
  • Since the colors of the changing leaves are so vivid, it's important to accentuate them in different ways. By experimenting with the aperture setting on your camera, you can change the focus of the scenery. A lower f-stop (which is actually the higher number) will put the entire depth of field into focus, while a higher f-stop (lower number) will enable the camera to focus on the subject in the foreground and blur out the rest or vice versa. By choosing to raise your f-stop, your photo will focus on an individual leaf or tree and will create a unique perspective that draws the eye to the intended subject.
  • Try capturing autumn foliage as it drifts earthward is an effective way to reinvigorate a landscape you've shot before. Use a wide aperture to lightly blur the background until your foreground stands out, then shoot with a shutter speed between 1/2 and 1/30, depending on the speed of the leaves' fall to capture a sense of motion. This is especially effective on overcast days.

So, once we talked about these ideas, I sent them out into the pumpkin patch with the assignment to photograph a person among the pumpkins and then take either a close up or landscape shot in the pumpkin patch.  They then showed their favorite shots to me before leaving for the day.

Once again the group amazed me with their ideas.  I hope to have some of these pictures sent to me so I can post them.  For now, the pictures you see are the ones my boys took, along with a picture of Zaira, of course!

And we ended our trip by giving back to our community...always trying "to make the best better" we purchased several pumpkins to take home!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Egg-citing Times

Before heading to an egg workshop, Sean was able to make his first deposit into the bank account.  He was so proud of this opportunity to serve in this duty as treasurer.  He has never done this before, so it was a thrilling experience.

We had a great time with Mr. Scott this afternoon teaching the 4Hers about EGGS!  This was the latest Food & Nutrition meeting.  We spent an hour talking about the many ways to cook eggs, while Scott cooked using many of the variety of methods he spoke about in the presentation.  He was so clever asking the group what type of egg they liked and then creating that egg on the spot...much like a short order cook!  This kept the group interested as he taught his techniques as he went along.

While he was doing this, Rebecca was inviting each 4Her the opportunity to come forward with a sandwich size seal-able baggie with their names on it.  She would then ask what kind of ingredients they would like in their omelette.  There were many choices....from grilled mushrooms and onions to various meats...and of course, cheese!  She would then proceed to cover these ingredients with a  ladle of eggs that had been whipped.  These baggies were sealed and placed in a pot full of boiling water for about 5-10 minutes.  Voila!...omelette cooked to perfection and very tasty!

Scott also showed the group how to practice flipping an egg.  He told theme to start by learning to flip a piece of toast...gradually use other items such as a pan of beans...until this can be perfected, finally trying the egg itself.  He also told us that the action of flipping is all in how you hold the pan and the pivot of the wrist.  As the 4Hers tried this, Scott would coach them on their technique and many were getting very good at flipping the toast.

Mrs. Theresa also shared some of her yard eggs with the group!  She showed the difference between a yard egg (free range) and a store bought egg (caged).  The difference is not only in the appearance but in the nutrients as well.  Scott even cooked some of these eggs for us to try.  There is a big difference in taste also!   One of the things I learned was that there is a special coating on the outside of eggs  when they are laid.  If this coating is not washed off eggs can stay fresh for a month without refrigeration.  This also keeps bacteria from getting into the egg!  I knew there was a reason I love a good fresh yard egg!

In the end, we came away full of eggs!  Edward (who does not even like eggs) ate THREE omelettes!  This was a great compliment to our chef instructor.  It was a great workshop and I am sure my boys will all want to try to test these tricks in our kitchen.  Great job of encouraging their skills in the kitchen.  Also, it is nice to see another dad involved.  We need these male influences in our project meetings!

We then made a mad dash for our monthly club meeting.  We had the regular meeting of information.  However, I must say that Joseph made our roll call very interesting and fun!  He asked the members to make an animal sound instead of saying here when names were called.  Very clever and got everyone to be involved.

Also, the budget committee report was given.  It was very confusing and I will need to get a written report to understand what was decided.  I also would like to know if the budget needs to be approved by the club, which did not happen.  So this will come up again in a later post.

The other big discussion was our fundraiser for the fall.  We will be selling pies...taking orders during the first part of November and distributing right before Thanksgiving.  This should be fun and hopefully turn a profit for our club.  I am so glad we have something other than candy or raffle tickets to sell.  Great job from our fundraising chair, Zachary (and his mom).

Sean was able to give his treasurer report.  We also made sure to get in the reports for the projects.  Then we had to leave the meeting early.  We were sorry to miss the guest speaker for this month, the commander of the Civil Air Patrol.  I will need to ask someone who remained at the meeting for details.  I am sure it was very interesting to learn about this other organization.  However, as involved as we are in 4H, I can not imagine trying to be in another program.  We are just so thankful for the enjoyment 4H brings to our family.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wildlife Surprise and Robotic Arms

We arrived at the museum early to set up the game we had planned.  I had designed a Wildlife Trivial Pursuit game to review the different parts of the contest.

The other 4Hers arrived and they were wound up with excess energy!  I did another review of the grasses as they came into the classroom.  Then we split up into teams with the challenge to gain all the color pie pieces just as the original game is played. We could hardly get them to stay quiet to read questions throughout the hour.   The group did a great job answering the questions but we ran out of time before we could finish the game!  An hour is just not long enough to play that game, but the museum was closing!

We went outside for the remaining time.  I was able to review the new format of the contest (mainly additional questions added to each section due to the elimination of the compass).  Then came the surprise...

It was Taylor's birthday and his parents asked us to celebrate with him!  We sang happy birthday and enjoyed cupcakes.  It was a nice impromptu celebration.  We were glad to share the special time with him.

We proceeded to Robotics where the groups continued to create their robotic arm challenge.  Last meeting, the groups designed their arms to include movement on at least two planes.  Tonight they actually took these designs and created their apparatus.  I cannot stop being amazed at how many different designs can be created for a task using the same supplies.  Tonight we had 5 different ideas come to life before our eyes.

I was also impressed by the development of the designs as the groups built their arms.  We have a very creative group of problem solvers!  Each group shared their design's ability to move and pick up batteries.  Next week the groups will be able to continue improving their designs given new supplies.  I look forward to watching the continued progress as they try to "make the best better!"

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gold Star Banquet

How strange to think that we are already celebrating another year of accomplishments at the Gold Star banquet.  It seems like I just posted about this event not too long ago!

Tonight Sean, Henry and I (along with Zaira) arrived to a full room of 4Hers and their family and friends.  We really did not think we would find a seat!  Lucky for me I...I found a nice spot beside long time 4H supporter (Sandra).  We had a nice conversation throughout the evening.  We talked about the new rules of the food show...the significance of 4H...the youth in general.  I told her how much I think 4H has helped my children and how I was guaranteed 20 more years of 4H with little Zaira in arms!  It is all worth the work as we saw from the awards of the evening!

Sean found his spot in front with the other county council officers.  Henry sat quietly beside me enjoying the view through the camera lens.  Baby Zaira slept peacefully throughout the evening.

It was nice to sit back and listen to all of the successes of our 4Hers throughout the county.  The first recognition went to those who completed record books from last year.  We had 34 books turned in with 19 of those placing first place at the district level.  As Ryan told us, there are not too many more categories so it shows that our county did well.

We then had the spirit awards given out to those who promoted 4H with their love for the program.  This meant they encouraged others in our clubs or in the community to learn more about 4H.  This year our Junior Spirit award was presented to Jace Weeks.  The Senior Spirit awarded was given to Courtney Daniels (our county council president).  These two were nominated by their peers at the county level.

The leadership awards were then recognized.  These youth were chosen from applications submitted by youth leaders in our county.  These young leaders have gone above and beyond to assist the adult leadership in their projects and in county leadership roles.  The Junior Leader chosen was Kade Milligan.  Corrine Caraway was the Teen Leader.

Each year we choose a group or individual from our community who has supported 4H.  This community support is what allows our clubs to stay strong and usually entails some form of monetary donation for scholarships.  This year we were able to thank the Syler family for their generous scholarship opportunity that was granted in memory of long time 4H supporter.  This scholarship will be greatly appreciated by our 4Hers as they prepare to attend college.

The final acknowledgement went to the outstanding youth members who show leadership in all areas of 4H...from project involvement to club and county officers...these youth have shown how 4H has helped them grow into leaders for today and in their futures.  These awards are considered some of the highest honors of 4H at a local level.

The Danforth Award is given to a youth "who have demonstrated unusual integrity, balanced personal development,  and a willingness to assume responsibility."  This year's recipient was Abigail.  According to the 4H website, this award was "first offered in 1941 by businessman and philanthropist, William H. Danforth,  who dared young people to achieve their highest potential and to influence others through lives of service."  I am sure Abigail has shown these qualities to 4Hers and others.

The Gold Star award shows the importance of a well rounded career in 4H.  The recipient must show accomplishments in at least three projects or leadership roles.  Furthermore, the application states the youth "must have exhibited leadership skills by serving as a 4-H officer or committee chairman (club county, district or state), and/or as a junior or teen leader in an activity or project with or under the supervision of an adult volunteer leader. The 4-H member must have participated in one or more community service activities."  This year our county was able to award three of our outstanding youth this highest honor (limited to a certain ratio to the county membership).  The youth chosen after applications were submitted and interviews of all the candidates were: Preston, Melissa and Katy (our very own club president!).  These youth have shown the importance of taking responsibility and leadership.  We could not be more proud of their ability to "make the best better!"

Ryan ended the night thanking all those who attended and those who were honored.  It was a pleasant evening among friends!