Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vado HD

A little while ago, I saw the Creative Vado HD go on sale for $99, so I picked one up. It's a compact video camera that fits in your pocket and records HD video. I've been wanting something like this to carry around with me when I'm out with the kids. I don't always want to lug around my standard video camera when we go to the park or the beach or the zoo. I want to be able to capture all the fun, cute, spontaneous kid moments that pop up all the time and be able to easily share them with my friends and family.

I knew there would be a couple of downsides. First of all, there's no image stabilization, so if you don't hold your hand steady, things can get a little shaky. Another downside is that there's no zoom. I considered waiting to see if the price would drop on something like the Canon Powershot 780IS (a fancy point and shoot camera that does HD video and has image stabilization). But since my main priority was to get something that was super-easy to shoot and share video with (and pay under $100), the Vado HD won out.

Turns out it works quite well! The video quality is quite nice, better than my old (non-HD) camcorder. The image stabilization isn't too big of a problem since I'm just taking family movies. I like being able to plug the Vado into the HDMI port on our tv and watch videos right away. And the software installed on the Vado for uploading to Youtube and Photobucket is very convenient.

Here's a video that I made while playing around with it. It's a tour of my home office and boardgame collection.

In the Toy Aisle

I was at Target the other day looking around the toy aisle. A mom and her sons were near me. They were buying a birthday present for someone and were having a hard time picking it out. It was pretty funny to watch. Some of the stuff was funny because it's stuff that I've said many times in the past when picking out presents, but some of the stuff was brand new. Here are a few of the highlights...

Mom: Now remember...we're not picking out something for you. We're picking out something for Brandon...

Boy 1: We HAVE to get THIS! He needs THIS!
Mom: Does he even like G.I. Joe?
Boy 1: What's G.I. Joe?
Mom: Ummm...that thing in your hand...

(Boys are trying to decide on which Transformer to get their friend)
Boy 1: Oh, we should buy this one!
Boy 2: No...we can't get him that one...That's from the OLD Testament.

(Boys can't decide on which Transformer to get. Boy 1 wants Transformer A. Boy 2 wants Transformer B. So Mom comes up with a brilliant idea.)
Mom: Ok, I'm putting these both behind my back. And whichever one gets picked, that'll be the one we get. And no complaining!
Boy 1 (pointing to his mom's left arm): THAT ONE!

(Mom looks at's Transformer A. Boy 1 is very pleased...)

Mom: You were peeking! That's why you chose that one!

(Mom not sure about what to do...)

Mom: Fine, I'm just going to pick one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Donut Store

Our church does not have a fellowship hall. After church, if you want to hang out and talk with your friends, there really isn't a great place to do that. There is an area right outside the main room that people just kind of stand in if they want to talk. But it's not very wide and if you hang out in one place, you basically get in everyone else's way.

For the past few summers, I've been suggesting that they take some tables and chairs and put them outside on the patio. That way people can sit outside and have a comfortable place to chat. Unfortunately, I no one's listened to me because it's never happened.

Well, the other week, Mrs. BigKat and I decided to make it happen. Not only that, but we also made it into a cool service project for kids! As a parent, I know how hard it is to find good service opportunities for young kids, so part of what I do as a Sunday School teacher is to come up with creative ways to get the kids involved in ministry. Last winter, our Sunday School class found out about a need in India. There are families there who have no doors on their houses and no blankets to protect them from the cold in the winter. So our class raised money during February to help provide blankets for them. I had planned on having my class do another 'Blanket Month' project in September. But we saw a great opportunity to have the kids get it kick started in August. That led to the creation of...


Here's the plan. Each Sunday in August, between 1st and 2nd service, our kids will run a Donut Store in front of the church. We'll have tables and chairs so that people can have a comfortable place to relax and enjoy donuts with their friends. There are a bunch of different jobs for the kids: making signs, creating table decorations, passing out flyers, serving lemonade, collecting money. The donuts cost a dollar each, and the money will go towards buying blankets for families in India. So not only do our kids get a chance to help out people who need help, but our congregation gets a place for people to socialize after church.

Last week was our first Sunday. I wasn't sure at all how many donuts to buy. At first, I was going to go with 3 dozen. But we decided to bump it up to 4 dozen. We had considered 5 dozen, but really didn't want to be stuck with any leftover donuts, so we just stuck with 4.

Turns out we really didn't have to worry about leftovers! After first service, people started lining up at the Donut Store. And I mean EVERYONE! The 4 dozen donuts were gone in a couple of minutes, and there was still a line going into the parking lot. And people were very generous. Our 4 dozen donuts led to $128 in donations. That's 25 blankets! Next week, we've decided to bump it up to 15 dozen and see how that works.

I think this will be a great illustration for the kids to show that God can use anyone for ministry. When we're helping others in Jesus' name, God can do amazing things through us. We might be limited, but He is not. I am very excited to see how the next four Sundays go!