Posted by: Mark   in Our children

Tami and I are sitting in the waiting room right now, waiting for word from the doctor about Jeremiah’s surgery. We are so thankful for the great health our children have, and fully acknowledge that this good health is completely based on the undeserved grace (redundant, I know) of God.

This surgery today is a pretty minor procedure in the overall scheme of things, but placing a child in the hands of a third party (one with a knife, no less!) is never easy. It gives us an opportunity to realize how blessed we really are in that this is such a rare activity for us, and to praise God for his incredible goodness.

The doctor should be out in a few minutes with news of the surgery, and Jeremiah will sleep off the anesthesia before we’re allowed to see him.

Thanks Amy for taking Lindsey, and thanks Dad and Mom for taking Isaiah!

***** UPDATE 11:23 am *****

Everything was successful, and though there was a slight bit more to do than expected, is all looks great. To God be the glory!

Post-op 2 Post-op 1


Playing with countering direct sun

   Posted by: Mark   in Our children

Last week I played a bit with trying to balance direct-sun with the AlienBee. I had tried this weeks ago with the Vivitar 285HV, but couldn’t get it to put out enough light to get the effect I wanted. I put the B400 on top of a light stand, added my 54″ umbrella, and grabbed Lindsey for the first round of test shots. I was shooting directly into the sun, so my aperture was up over 20. I had the umbrella set up for shoot-through, and put it about three feet from Lindsey as I framed her against the sun. I adjusted a few things, and then shot a series with Isaiah, too. The B400 was great for this, and the 16-35 2.8 (thank you, Dad, for the loaner!!!!) allows awesome perspectives.

Some things I learned, most of which probably seem obvious:

  • Direct sun, even when the subject doesn’t have the sun directly in their eyes, will cause squinting if there’s too much reflecting around them. Shade may often be better to avoid this.
  • Use a sandbag on the lightstand!
  • (For the results I wanted) be sure the aperture is open enough to expose the ground/grass under by about 2 stops. Much more than that and it gets too dark.
  • Be wary of focus issues when pointed directly into the sun. My Canon 40D choked a bit, though this is not unexpected.





Building an MG-TC pedal car: Part 4

   Posted by: Mark   in Pedal car

Refer to the Introduction for links to all of the posts in this project.

This post is focused on the steering and drive components of the pedal car. These two areas have been the source of 95% of the problems, stalls, and headache for me. Admittedly, the primary reason for this trouble is my decision to use bicycle wheels instead of the plan’s plywood wheels. But no matter what I do, I can’t convince myself to eliminate the wire wheels. So I’m stuck with trying to come up with efficient ways to make it all work.

One of the commenters on the Introduction post indicated that he had built one of these years ago and used go-kart parts for the steering, which resulted in me searching for some parts I could use. I did find some web sites with decent prices, and am now waiting for a couple of sets of ball joints and tie rods, $20 with shipping. I may also break down and buy a cheap MIG welder for a few things (I’ve been wanting one anyway), but haven’t decided on that yet.

It seems I am now regularly finding ways to improve on this whole project. Bearings are so cheap that using pipe fittings and brass bushings seems silly. Kingpin assemblies are relatively inexpensive and much more clean than what the plans call for (though I am still a bit impressed with that whole assembly, made with pipe fittings). Chain drive doesn’t look all that difficult, especially with the decision to use bicycle wheels anyway, and the possibility of having a welder (though this raises some issues such as braking and coasting, but I’m planning to put together a summary at the end of all of this to address some of these things).

This post will be updated after the tie-rods and joints arrive.

*** UPDATE 3/5/09 ***

The ball joints are here, but only one tie-rod made it. They apparently only had one in stock, but the other should be coming (soon?). I expect to get a bit done this weekend, and look forward to posting some pictures!

*** UPDATE 6/8/09 ***

Hot dog! All the steering came together tonight, praise the Lord! I have a few bolts to replace since I got the wrong size, but I figured out how to make a pittman arm without any welding! Man, I’m so excited to get over this hurdle. I’ll post pics as soon asĀ  I have the correct bolts (tomorrow?). I still need to attach the steering wheel, but that’s the easy part.

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Recent pictures

   Posted by: Mark   in Our children

Here are some recent pictures from JD’s birthday, Project 365, and around the house.







Leaping lizards!

   Posted by: Mark   in Activities, Our children

Tami has been out of town for almost a whole week. We have never done a “split vacation” before, but this time we couldn’t see all of us flying back to Illinois, so Tami took Lindsey and JD. I took some time off of work, and to ease the boys’ pain of not being able to ride an airplane or see Grandma and PawPaw we stacked the days with boy stuff. Pizza, breakfast for dinner, movies, videos, and all sorts of other things. It’s been a lot of fun, but we sure are anxious to be reunited (Monday evening can’t come fast enough!). And split vacations are a stupid idea; even though we really have had fun it’s a bummer not all being together.

One of the fun places we went was JJ Jump here in Vancouver. Tami has taken the kids before, but I’ve never been. When the boys heard we might go there, that was about all I heard every day: “are we going to JJ Jump today?”

We finally went on Friday. It wasn’t all that busy there, with only three or four other moms with kids, so the boys had free reign. And they ran non-stop for over an hour. JJ Jump is an indoor play area with five or six of the huge inflatable play structures such as slides, obstacle courses, and a ball pit (I think?). Unlike many indoor play areas, this place was quite clean, even requiring use of hand sanitizer before playing! It wasn’t as loud as I would have expected a warehouse with six or more industrial inflation fans running. And the boys loved every second of it.

One of the funniest things, at least for me, was the music they had playing. It was all kid friendly, undoubtedly, but it cracked me up to hear “Ice Ice Baby” (Ice Age), “I Like to Move it Move it” (Madagascar), and others. “Cotton Eye Joe” and a version of the ABC Song with heavy techno beats were awesome. Next time we go I need to find out what they all were.

Lighting for pictures was three steps below horrible, so next time I need to break out an off-camera flash.




A new pursuit for T-man

   Posted by: Mark   in Activities, Our children

Timothy started martial arts this week. The introduction package at the facility he is attending provided two one-on-one classes and the initial group lesson with a uniform and first belt. I have no doubt that the first two classes were focused as much on selling me as they were on keeping him excited, and his instructor did a great job. Timothy thoroughly enjoyed the classes, and I think he may have enjoyed walked around the stores after class in full uniform almost as much.

Our goal for him is to increase his confidence and discipline. He’s a really good boy (in our humble opinion), but tends to have a bit of a lazy streak, not unlike his father. We’re trusting that the goals and motivation associated with this sport will help overcome that, and that he’ll really enjoy himself. If the past two days have been any indication, he’s well on his way to learning some exciting and useful things.

Next week he starts forms with the rest of the white belts. I’m sure there will be more pictures and posts as he progresses!





Project 365

   Posted by: Mark   in General

Late last year my sister mentioned she was going to participate in “Project 365” this year. I remember seeing something about it a while ago, and thought it sounded like a great idea. It’s pretty simple: take a picture a day for the entire year (and post it online). That’s about it, though you can read more here if you’re interested. Focusing on this through the year encourages more consistent camera carrying, develops more familiarity with the camera’s capabilities, and I’ve already seen that it forces new perspectives on things that might otherwise be uninteresting.

Anyway, I’ve been having fun with it. I really am going to try to grab a picture on each and every day. I may not post on the same day I take the picture, but I do intend to capture something every day.

Amy’s is doing it too. And so is Dad. They’ve got some great shots already, and we’ve barely started!

You can see my progress so far this year by clicking here.




*Post updated to include a link to Dad’s pictures here and above — more photo goodness!



Gingerbread cookies

   Posted by: Mark   in Uncategorized

We made gingerbread cookies the other day to pass out to the neighbors. There was flour everywhere, but we had a lot of fun!







And we made a special one for Uncle Paul:



Christmas card 2008

   Posted by: Mark   in General, Our children

We tried for weeks to get pictures of the kids that would be good enough to send out this year on our Christmas cards. And it wasn’t until we decided to have fun doing it that we finally captured some good pictures.

We (I) missed sending out announcements about Jeremiah’s birth, so we opted to do a bit more for Christmas cards this year. I put together a background, found some great resources with Amy’s help, and sent the order off to Whitehouse Custom Color for press-printed 5×5 tri-fold cards on their watercolor paper. We’re immensely pleased with the results!


The full layout above is the inside of the card. The three laying flat are the outside flap, inside flap, and back of the card respectively. The card reads “Merry Christmas! Jesus, the founder of our salvation, the radiance of the glory of God is the One who’s birth we celebrate! Love, the Norwoods”

Despite much proof-reading, we noticed after we received the order shipment that we (I!) forgot to put the year on them. We have the kids’ ages on the back, but not the year!

Here are the full original layouts (click for larger versions):




More Christmas card pictures

   Posted by: Mark   in Our children

Here are some more pictures from our fun time last night:







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