The Hall Family


Blog #20




Happy Birthday Hat!


   Today we celebrated Harriette's birthday.  Joan took the Berenstain Bears Classic children's book and inserted Harriette (AKA Hat) as the main character.  Read the entire modified book here.




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Blog #19



Pippi Ki-Yay!

Svea's drawing of Pippi Longstocking


   The girls have been going "Pippi Longstocking" crazy for the past few days.  I checked out two Pippi DVDs  at the library last week and Svea and Brigitta absolutely love them and have been playing Pippi all the time.  The movies are from about 1967 and 1970 and were originally recorded in Swedish and have been dubbed into English.  The acting is not all that great, the special effects are minimal and the pace isn't especially fast, but they still love them.  (The lead character, Inger Nilsson, is quite cute though.)   In case you don't know much about Pippi: she is the strongest girl in the world (and can even lift her horse), she eats nails, she lives in her own home with her monkey "Sir Nelson" and horse "Little Old Man", her best friends are Tommy and Annika, her father is a pirate who left her with a bag of gold, so she is quite rich and she basically does all kinds of outrageous things that kids only dream about.  In spite of being a bit mischievous, Pippi is a pretty good role model for girls.  Svea and Brigitta love nearly any children's' story and usually act them out after being read to or after watching a movie, but they have especially taken to Pippi.  I downloaded the theme song for the girls to play on the computer and made the mistake of teaching them how to make Windows Media Player play the audio clip in a loop.  It's only 21 seconds long and apparently the repetition never gets old, to them at least.  Perhaps having Swedish names has given our daughters an affinity for all things Swedish.


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Blog #18



Sick Babies

  Thursday night Annika woke up barking like a dog; Harriette literally thought there was a dog barking somewhere and didn't realize that it was Annika.  It was quite frightening for all of us.  I grabbed the camera and took a movie clip so that I could play it back on demand; I expected that we would be calling the doctor soon.  If you've never heard a barking cough, you can hear Annika on our movie page.  We thought it was croup and Googled the phrase "barking cough" to confirm and find recommendations.  It clearly was croup and the recommendations pointed toward calming and providing moist air.  We turned on the shower and steamed up the bathroom; she started to improve within a few minutes.  Croup can lead to hospitalization; the serious ER visit risk indicators all seem to focus on restricted airway and breathing.  The hospital treatments were pretty much the same as home treatments except they will often prescribe steroids as well.  I found a drugstore that was open past 11:00 P.M. and bought a couple cool mist humidifiers.  I set both of them up in our bedroom and Annika slept through the night without waking up from coughing.  Brigitta had been suffering from cold symptoms and an ear ache on Thursday and actually seemed run down.  On Friday Joan took both girls to our pediatrician; he prescribed oral steroids for Annika.  Both girls are doing well.  We are especially relived that Annika avoided the hospital.  We have been prematurely celebrating that Annika has made it through the first year of her life without re-hospitalization since her release; 80% of babies born as premature as Annika are re-hospitalized within the first year of their life.

   Thursday night also was World War II Korean War Roundtable night.  Bill and I have been attending for the past two and a half years.  Our neighbor, Carl Weakland, has been coming with us for the past year.  Another neighbor, Ed Shoman, who lives behind us and recently lost his wife, has also begun attending with us.  Ed came over early for diner; Harriette and Joan fixed a great meal and it gave us and excuse to eat at the formal dining table in the dining room; nearly all of our meals are eaten at our porch dining table which is a bit cramped.  So once a month now I drive three 86 year old WWII veterans to these meetings.  For each of the past two months I've had IHM students attend the meetings and read their reports.  Last semester I gave my seventh graders an assignment of interviewing a veteran and writing a biography-research report and presenting their information as a webpage.  In most cases students interviewed their grandfathers who were WWII veterans.  Most of my students did not know much or even anything about their chosen veteran's war experiences and were the first to record the experiences in writing.  The reception at the World War II Korean War Roundtable has been very positive and both of my student readers did outstanding jobs.  Sometimes I am amazed as to how adolescent junior high students can be, but at other times they amaze me with their capabilities. 


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Blog #17



Ho Hum...

Check out a clip of Annika crawling on our movie page; also look for a new kayaking clip.  I battled some pretty thick ice today at the reservoir.  Svea and Brigitta have been going to a lot of birthday parties lately; I guess we've hit that age.  The dancing season has started at the German Family Society; we take the girls every Wednesday night.  Our neighbors behind us have twin daughters who are Brigitta's age and they are also now taking lessons with our girls.  Annika can now crawl from room to room and is drawn toward anything small enough put in her mouth.  We vacuum often but she bee-lines to the nearest speck.  She has become pretty good at rolling over, sitting herself up, pulling herself up, walking while holding onto furniture and crawling.  Actually, she's pretty inefficient at crawling but makes up for it with determination.  We normally do not watch much TV but have been watching the Winter Olympics quite a bit this past week.


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Blog #16



Just Pictures

Harriette, Bill & Annika


David & Annika




Brigitta, Svea & icicles


   Brigitta, Svea, Joan & Svea went to see Curious George Saturday night.  It was our first family movie in a theater in over a year.


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Blog #15



Hello Fisheye!

My girls


Taken by Svea




Porch through Joan's stained glass window


   The long awaited fisheye lens arrived and I just love it.  Above are the first images that I've taken with it.  More fisheyes to come.


   Annika crawls now.  One year ago last night Joan's water broke; we were convinced that we had lost the baby.  Within a day we had learned that the most likely scenario would be that the baby would survive, but have significant physical and/or mental problems.  It's been an amazing year and it's a good reminder of how lucky we are to have three healthy, smart and beautiful daughters.


   The most exciting news this week is that Luke and Marian are finally engaged.  Luke is Joan's nephew in Atlanta.  They are an adorable couple and everyone is delighted that Marian will be joining the Wilsterman family.


   If you make it a habit to only look at our blog, be sure to check out our homepage, the Hall Family Website.  Last weekend I added a few pages including a page of Svea's and Brigitta's artwork; it will be updated whenever we feel like scanning their work.  I also added a copy of our homepage; it has picture/icon hyperlinks to our favorite sites.  It's especially good for pre-readers and has lots of good/safe kid links.  A couple of weeks ago Joan asked me to make a picture webpage for Brigitta.  She found a site that had several sound clips from the Wizard of Oz and said that Brigitta loved playing these sound clips, but couldn't tell one link from another because they were all text based links.  We found pictures to go along with the sound clips and I built a webpage that has 28 picture/scene to sound links for pre-readers.  After you download it, unzip it to your a folder on your PC and send a webpage link to your desktop or favorites for your kids to use.  Brigitta plays these clips all the time and dances around the house to them.


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Blog #14



Look What Teaching at a Catholic School

for Four Years has Done to Me!



   Catholic Schools Week has just ended.  It's always full of extra activities and can be a bit wearing.  Joan caught me taking an after school holy catnap. 


   Today is Annika's 11 month birthday.  She is rolling onto her tummy and back at will.  We are seeing her pull herself up to a standing position from a sitting position regularly and I find myself encircling her with pillows and cushions to protect her from the inevitable falls.  Tonight when I was making salads I set her down to free up both hands. Within a few seconds she had pulled herself up with the aid of a dining room chair.  Most of the time she only held on with one hand and I even saw her let go for a second or two.  I don't know what she is thinking, she's not even close to being ready to walk.  I think she wants to though.  She is also starting to cruise (walking while holding onto furniture).  Her biggest problem is getting from a laying position to sitting.  For her birth age, she is a bit behind.  Based on her gestational age, however, she is doing what eight month olds should be doing.  She complains when she needs to, but she really is a delightful baby.


   One of the selling points of my Nikon was that it can accept attachable lenses.  I've really missed shooting things from the perspective of a fisheye lens and Nikon makes one that fits my 8400.  Most of the different Coolpix cameras can take lens converters.  Since I bought my 8400 I've been shopping on ebay and Amazon for a 0.2 X wide-angle lens and a 3.0 X telephoto.  They each need a relatively inexpensive adapter to fit any particular Nikon Coolpix camera model, so I've actually been shopping for four lens pieces and an extra battery.  One piece has arrived and the rest are on their way.  In a week I should have a lens range from 5 degrees to 180 degrees (or a 35 mm film camera equivalent range of 255 mm to 7 mm).  Yesterday I took a time laps movie of the drive home from work.  The camera will take one picture every 30 seconds, so it only captured about 40 frames.  It's not very fluid, but is still fun.  Check it out on the Movie page.


   I've been playing online WWII flight simulators for almost a decade now.  Like anything, flight sim pilots have their own community, traditions and sense of humor.  One thing that has persisted since before even my time has been a running joke that flight sim pilots prefer sheep...  We never tire of this joke and it pops up constantly.  Recently the flight simulation game that I play (Aces High) released the most significant update in four years.  It's almost a new game and is a hybrid between a multi-player online simulation and a boxed, store-bought sim.  The announced the new version with a few screenshots, including one of a pilots pre-mission briefing room.  I took the briefing room shot and worked in the running joke with this animated cartoon.


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