Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Look Back at 2008

Another New Year's Eve is here. I can't believe 2008 is coming to a close tonight. We have plans with our friends from Otsego - who we have spent New Years with for the past four years.

This year has overall been a great one. In January I became pregnant, and that is obviously how I spent most of the year. Lucy changed more this year than she did in her first year... it has been quite amazing to see her grow. When I look at photos of her from back in January (like the one to the right), or even the summer, she looks so different! What the photos don't show is how she has grown intellectually and socially. It just keeps getting more and more fun.

In May, Ron turned 30! Wow!

Our summer vacation was spent leisurely enjoying the beaches and parks, as well as a sweltering trip to John Ball Zoo, while I tried to conceal my hideous compression stocking. Of course there were times when I felt that it just wasn't worth it, and let me extra tan leg show in all its glory. Yuck. Fortunately, the issue has now almost completely resolved itself and I no longer have to wear it.

Late in August we got a phone call that we've been waiting for ever since we met our soon-to-be brother-in-law Heath. Kelly and Heath got engaged in Traverse City and we both guessed that they'd end up together, so it was exciting to hear the news. I remember the first time we met him back in 2007, we were living in our old home on Taft in Wyoming. From the start he was easy to get along with and fit right in. Lucy was 6 months old and she warmed up to him pretty quickly. Although I think Lucy is still under the impression that Kelly and Heath appear and disappear like magic elves because they always arrive and leave while she happens to be sleeping. She seems a bit confused by this, but we think it's pretty funny. Now they're planning a destination wedding in June and we're very much looking forward to celebrating with them in Mexico, and at their reception in Grand Rapids later next summer.

By the end of the next month, our little family grew by 21 inches and 9 whole pounds! Henry was born September 28 and surprised us by being a boy (since we were both sort of guessing it might be another girl). Now, I couldn't imagine things any other way. I love all the boy stuff, the little man clothes. The days seem to fly by even more quickly with our second child than they did with Lucy.

In November our country elected the first African-American President: Barack Obama. I felt very proud to participate in this year's election, as it was an exciting race and so historically significant. I will never forget the excitement of the day, and the record voter turnout.

I also officially started my photography business, Mindy Leigh Photography, and after a few sessions with clients, I am starting to build more and more confidence. I find this very fulfilling artistically, and enjoy the outlet. I am looking forward to watching the business grow, and I am trying to be patient, remembering that I've only been at it a couple of months. I get excited to think about what it will be like a year from now.

The holiday season felt like a whirlwind from Halloween right through Christmas. Isn't it weird with all the anticipation of this time of year how quickly it's over? What's weirder: I am baking more Christmas cookies today for Ron's side of the family's get-together tomorrow. The party we were going to have was canceled due to one of the biggest snow storms in my life.

Looking back I know this year had its fair share of tragedy. So many people in the world are suffering greatly, and that makes my problems seem pretty insignificant, but in they still matter. Family members have moved away, friendships have dwindled, our church said goodbye to a wonderful pastor and now is searching for someone new to embrace. But then, we have become closer than ever with other relatives, old friendships from years ago have been rekindled (some of them thanks to Blogger and Facebook), and now as members of our church we have found a place we feel very welcome and secure. So it seems life has a way of balancing itself out. Whatever ups and downs I've been through, I have come out of them still a happy, and extremely blessed person.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Morning At Home

a few more photos:

Sledding

I'm going to try to post some pics from Christmas. The Picasa (new version) collage is the way to go. Of course all my photos are on Smugmug. Anyway, Christmas day we all spent some time out in the snow, sledding. Here is the highlight reel:

Three Months Old

Our baby recently turned three months old (on the 28th). I stopped counting weeks around 12 or 13 because it really stops making sense to other people when they ask how old the baby is... "he's 27 weeks." huh? Anyway, today I did a mini shoot with him. I'm trying to put in a little more of the same "effort" with our own kids as I do with others'... I stopped myself around [way too many] photos and ended up with quite a few great ones. He was being very smiley and the light was just right. I can't believe how quickly these months have gone by... much faster than it felt with Lucy, which is fun, but it's a little sad that he's not going to seem like a baby for too much longer...I have others that I want to put on our photo site in a little while, when I get the chance.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Rolling Over

Hey, Henry rolled over today for the first time, front to back. He's three months and one day old. I'm hanging out at my parents' house while Ron works on our mantle at home (which means sanding and conditioning and staining, and no place for little kids to be hanging out). Henry was doing "tummy time" and flipped over (to his right), catching us by surprise. I really wasn't expecting him to do it, and we weren't even trying to make him roll over. Good job, buddy!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

It's been a very busy but fun past couple of days. Christmas Eve my sister and her fiance came up from Illinois, and that night we went to my grandparents' house for a party. Lucy hammed it up, and as she got more and more tired, and ate more and more cookies, she got more and more goofy. She seemed to enjoy the attention although she was getting a little too loud! She was up very late that night, but we got home and she selected two cookies for Santa Claus, and "wrote" him a note, along with a glass of milk...

The next morning she got up to find the presents Santa put under our tree for her and Henry. My sister let us borrow her video cam, so I might add a clip of that later, when we showed her that the cookies had been eaten and she saw all the presents. Well, really we didn't go overboard for our kids (3 each, plus a "shared" gift) - and I'm glad because even with that amount it looked like Christmas exploded in our great room. Just in time for us to hustle up and get showered and geared up to head over to my parents' house.

We managed to make it over there around 11:00 AM. That's without any sitting around, let alone cleaning up at home. We ate brunch and opened more gifts. We got quite a few very nice things, but the kids really made out like bandits. Afterward Kelly, Heath, Ron, my dad, and I went outside with Lucy and spent some time sledding down one of the hills in their backyard. We were probably out there for too long because when we did go inside Lucy's cheeks were bright red for a while! It was a lot of fun, so it was worth it :). She went down for a very late nap, reluctantly, and then we went to my other grandparents' house...

So, more food, more presents, more people... a lot of fun. Henry was a good sport and didn't fuss too much. Lucy was thrown way off her schedule but there's not much you can do about that besides go with the flow and hope things can go back to normal after the holiday parties are all over. We got home and got the kids ready for bed around 9:30 last night. After bringing everything in from our trunk, and adding it to the already disastrous living room, we slowly started organizing all the gifts, garbage, and packaging. We clipped zip ties, and got everything ready for Lucy to play with in the morning. It was exhausting. I have lots of pictures but as we've been trying to get things back in order I haven't had much time to go through them. I'll put some up later!

I'm sure many of you have very similar stories, but I hope that amidst all the rushing around, wrapping, baking, traveling, not to mention the weather, that everyone had a wonderful time with family and friends.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Barbie Vs Bratz: Barbie Wins!

Ron and I dislike the Bratz dolls. He says anything that ends with a "z" is no good. I think he was emotional when he said it (and wasn't even thinking about Ritz crackers), as we were hunting for Christmas presents for our nieces (and daughter) - trying to find something fun but not skanky. So hard these days, isn't it? Kelly sent me an article from The Consumerist about this! I had to share it here for all those last minute shoppers, make the right choice, please. And then I will editorialize a bit :).

Court Stops Production Of Bratz Merchandise
This may well be the last holiday season for Bratz dolls, as a federal judge ordered their manufacturer to cease production and stop selling the popular dolls.

Mattel, maker of Bratz's main rival, Barbie, sued the company, alleging that their creator came up with the concept when he was working for Mattel. Whoopsie!

Some parents are thrilled that Bratz are going away (pending appeal), says CNN:

The judge's ruling came as a relief to some parents who see the popular dolls' clothes and makeup as too racy for their young daughters. It also eliminates heavy competition against Barbie — a doll often seen as less provocative, but whose slender body also raises parents' eyebrows.
"I'm happy to not see [Bratz]," said Kristi Cassell of Sandy Springs, Georgia. Her 5-year-old daughter, Emily, has amassed a collection of Barbies.

"Barbies come across more wholesome," Cassell said. Barbie has some "questionable" clothes, "but it seemed like all the Bratz dolls were on a darker side of Barbie," she said.

Six-year-old Sierra Curry-Corcoran of Newport News, Virginia, also has a Barbie collection and no Bratz dolls. But not by choice.

"I like Bratz better. They have more fancy clothes, and they look more cool," Sierra said.

Her mother, Tasha Curry-Corcoran, strongly disagrees. "Bratz are trashy: They wear too much makeup. Their clothing is too short; their boots are too high. They look like prostitutes. That's why we don't have them in our house."

For the record, Consumerist morns the lack of available She-Ra dolls for today's youth.

I happened to notice the Barbie dolls when we were shopping, as I believe that inevitably at least a few of them will be moving into our home. The dress for this year's Holiday Barbie is unbelievably ornate and beautiful, and they are, of course, "a classic". I have to play devil's advocate for a moment though: She is not completely innocent.

Stolen from Wiki:
One of the most common criticisms of Barbie is that she promotes an unrealistic idea of body image for a young woman, leading to a risk that women who attempt to emulate her will become anorexic. A standard Barbie doll is 11.5 inches tall, giving a height of 5 feet 9 inches at 1/6 scale. Barbie's vital statistics have been estimated at 36 inches (chest), 18 inches (waist) and 33 inches (hips). According to research by the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. In 1965 Slumber Party Barbie came with a book entitled How to Lose Weight which advised: "Don't eat." The doll also came with pink bathroom scales reading 110lb, which would be around 35lbs underweight for a woman 5 feet 9 inches tall. In 1997 Barbie's body mold was redesigned and given a wider waist, with Mattel saying that this would make the doll better suited to contemporary fashion designs.

Beyond the physical appearance of either line of dolls are the activities and implied interests, intelligence, and goals of the dolls. Barbie is a little more grown up (older) than the typical Bratz doll, but it is still fairly clear that Barbie, even from the start, was portrayed as better role-model, and well-rounded person (even if she was 6'0 tall and anorexic). If you haven't had enough already, check out this interesting little "article" about Barbie, Rethinking Barbie and you'll be surprised at how "good" they really are.

With all the imagery in the media bombarded at young girls, choosing one doll over another is probably not going to eliminate all the issues they will develop. I do think that when there is the ability to screen shows, music, and even toys, it is our responsibility to do so. Those marketing sharks are good at what they do, and you have to protect your kids.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Couldn't Wait 2 More Months

Henry is in his Exersaucer. I took this one yesterday. He seems to enjoy it for short periods of time, as he likes to be upright.

Ahh... Sleep

More good news: Henry has slept through the night for the past 3 nights. Last night he had a bottle around 6:00 and fell asleep. I was thinking he'd need to eat again, so Ron got him up around 9:00 and Henry managed to have another 4 ounces (he usually has 6) while dozing in and out. We put him back down and he woke up this morning around 6:30. The other two mornings he went from about 7 or 8 PM till 7 AM. At only two months old, I think that's pretty good! We haven't done any of the Ferber-izing with him, and he does not wake up in the middle of the night just to be "resettled".

When Lucy was 5 months old, I resorted to letting her "cry it out" after I became tired (literally and figuratively) of getting up in the middle of the night just because she had a habit of waking - but not eating - around midnight. I realized I should've done that a lot earlier because the next night she didn't wake up/cry at all!

Now, I won't get too comfortable because once those teeth start working through all this gets tossed out the window. For now, I enjoy the full night's sleep.

Potty Post

Today Henry took a morning nap so I decided to give some more focused attention to potty training with Lucy. Sparing the details, she had 3 successes and 3 accidents. After the first success, she got to wear her "pretty panties" but then refused to even entertain the idea of taking them off... so of course those got wet. She immediately ran to her dresser to get another pair - but I decided to let her go completely natural instead of battling with her about taking them off again. She sat there much of the morning, without me forcing her, and drank water. I think a few hours of effort is enough for today, but we'll see if she's in a good mood this afternoon... it might be worth another try.

I remember several years ago, before I was even married, thinking about what it would be like, "someday" when I was trying to potty train a toddler. I can't believe this time has come. In some ways I thought it would be a lot more difficult / grosser, but it's not too bad. It just takes a lot of patience and paper towels. I know eventually they all get there... we're just trying to do that before Lucy needs size 5's.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

2 Months Old

Today Henry had his 2 month well-baby checkup. Our little (big) guy weighed in at 14 lb. 7 oz. - about 2 pounds over my estimate... shows what I know! He is 25 inches long! Both vital stats off the chart, but proportionate to one another. He received several immunizations and of course screamed his head off. That's no fun for anybody! However, he calmed down very quickly after I picked him up.

Speaking of which, the little guy is very clingy to me. I've been trying to figure out just how to describe his personality differences from Lucy - he is less intense but more dependent. I'd say he seems gentler but that's more an intuitive thing than anything he has shown by his actions... because he's too young to pound Legos on the slider. I just get the sense of it, although I want to be careful not to make it a self-fulfilling prophesy if I'm off the mark. Today I figured out a trick to get him to sleep in his crib more easily (as opposed to the bouncer, or my arms) - I bundled up a t-shirt that I wore last night and tucked it next to him. It actually smells like my body wash and laundry detergent more than anything, but whatever scent he detects in there is comforting, and maybe he feels like I am still by him.

We just started giving him a small amount of rice cereal (the flakes) mixed with some warm water, and perhaps a teaspoon of applesauce to help move things along. He is getting the hang of eating from a spoon, and it should help reduce the amount of formula he eats. I know it is very early for "solids" (if you can call them that), but I find it a better alternative to the child eating 35 or more ounces of formula in a day. We're blessed to have kids with healthy appetites, and Lucy enjoys such a variety of foods, but I'm very conscious of them overeating or eating for entertainment or comfort (not that I think Henry is doing that... yet. Wait until he has his first taste of ice cream). Other than that he checks out just great, and he makes good eye-contact and he is smiling more and more. I dug out the ol' Baby Einstein activity mat (with arches with things dangling down) and he seems really enthralled trying to bat at the little toys. Lucy is happy to demonstrate for him (sigh) by closed-fisted punching the little ladybug rattle. I half expected her to do this kind of stuff when I started bringing out "her" old toys. I'm sure others can relate, and it's pretty cool watching him watching her...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Homework

My sister e-mails me funny stuff from time to time... got this today:More amusement here.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Another New Lens

Yesterday I got a new lens, which will be ideal for more indoor portraits that I will be doing over the winter / spring. I have been taking tons of photos with it, and have almost zero time to edit any. However, this is one that I did get to (currently Lucy is calling for more crackers), and I think it's one of my favorites. I have a lot more that are going to go on Smugmug later on. Also, I have a session on Thursday with two young boys (with red hair and blue eyes!), and look forward to sharing some of the highlights on my other blog.

Sign of Things to Come?

Then I told her to take her foot off Henry's head...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

'Tis The Season

This was cute...I put the tree up Friday (yes, I waited until after Thanksgiving!)... decorated it Saturday... and Lucy added the finishing touch this morning. Christmastime is officially upon us! Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Winter Wonderland

I took the time to bundle Lucy up in her snowsuit - those boots don't go on easy - and take her outside late morning, when the snow was falling. It didn't even feel too cold, but I'm glad I wore my snow pants and boots too. She was making snowballs and throwing them...

Last year she could barely move with her snow pants on, and walking in clunky boots didn't work well for her either. It's fun to watch her actually able to run around and play outside.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Teddy Bear

Here's Henry in an outfit from my aunt and uncle - it has a little hoodie coat with ears on it - apparently a staple for baby boys! I even got a couple of smiles out of him when I was taking pictures! It seems like he's smiling more and more easily these days :).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Have Site, Will Photograph

If you will direct your attention to the right hand side of this blog you will see a new link: Mindy Leigh Photography. Ta-da! I suppose now I have a business. I also see from looking through my own website that I have to fill in some galleries, big time! However, it is a cool looking Flash page and I am in complete control over editing and updating it, which is very convenient. I don't even have to have a computer programming degree to do it... it is all very user-friendly for me!

So, if you're interested you can contact me through that site, or through Facebook, or Blogger, or e-mail...

I hope to have a greater variety of photos on there as the months go by, but I had to put something up because I think it is a great networking tool :). I love photographing kids, but the more I think about it the more I want to try different things like maternity and engagement photos (I'm thinking this time of year, I'd want to try more contemporary / urban settings). Anyway... check it out if you get a chance and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Puppy Livestream

Click Here if you are so bored you want to watch a live streaming video of puppies! I learned of this on Facebook. Thanks Rita!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Kids Today

I've been trying to take some photos of the kids today, in hopes of ending up with some that might be usable on a Christmas card. I already have some that would work, but since I have time, I'm trying to get some more up-to-date ones. I'm not sure if I'll use any of these from today, but I thought I'd post an update here, just for fun.

Here's Henry - 7 weeks old. I have more new photos of him here. There are only so many ways to pose a newborn. Sometimes I catch him smiling... but usually when I'm not holding my camera :)...Here's Lucy - I think her eyes look cool here. As we predicted, they are not going to change to "normal" like some suggested might happen. We like her this way. I'm hoping to put Lucy in her new snowpants sometime and let her play out in the snow... looks like we'll have ample opportunity over the next several days!

Friday, November 14, 2008

End of an Era

I was just on Facebook and learned about the upcoming closing of Studio 28. While I have contributed to their decline by going to the movies at Rivertown Crossings Mall for the past several years, it is still sad to see it close. In high school my friends and I spent at least some time there almost every weekend, and thanks to several of my buddies who were employed there, I got to see many sneak peaks at midnight. I remember seeing The Little Mermaid there as a child, and also when the Ghostbusters car was parked outside. My friends and I participated in the "lottery" for line placement to buy tickets for Star Wars: Episode 1 in 1999 - 12 of us got to sit together in row "E" at the 12:01 AM showing in Theater 1! I'm such a dork. Well, my friend dressed up as Darth Maul... I wasn't that crazy!

My first date movie was there ("One Fine Day" with George Clooney and Michelle Pfieffer, yikes! I'm sure it tanked) - it was awful, and of course entirely awkward being on this group "date" with the guy I ended up dating for almost 3 years! My friend Juan had all the high scores on the Star Wars game, and it was really quite something to watch him play - he drew a crowd! I can still see all of us, our little revolving clique, wearing our maroon varsity jackets, walking through the lobby. Now that I look back, it all seems pretty juvenile, but we were good kids and those are good memories. I still think back on them when I drive past the theater.

I read the mLive article and now that I've learned a little more about the history and significance of Studio 28, it's quite a bummer they have to close their doors later this month.

Time Out

Normally I am a red wine person, but pinot grigio is light enough it won't give me a pounding headache like, say, chardonnay, which I just will not drink. Kelly, I think you'll agree. Anyway, we (I) received this bottle of wine from my sister-in-law. She has 3-year-old twin boys, and also enjoys the occasional adult beverage once the kids are in bed for the night (understandable, I'd say!). Although it's for "Mommy", Ron shared it with me while we watched our favorite Thursday night TV shows, because drinking an entire bottle of wine is not conducive to getting up in the middle of the night.

I am a Motorcycle

I have to admit I am very surprised about my result. I answered the questions honestly... I would not think I am in this good of shape, especially since the last time I ran my 8 miles at one time was when I was 15... Then again I do not have any health problems, and believe that my pain tolerance is very high when I think back to my labor with Lucy. I am physically challenged by my kids every day (and I can see a difference in my muscle tone, especially in my arms), don't smoke, I do eat breakfast daily - which I never used to until having kids... I think that I'd most like to improve my cardiovascular health, which I honestly think is my weakest area (and probably a very important thing to work on).
44 miles per gallon

Created by The Car Connection

Young Lady

Growing out Lucy's bangs. I think she looks older, but I really like it. Plus it'll be a lot easier than fighting the circular cowlick in the middle of her forehead.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Wait is Over!

And now for the much anticipated before-and-after shots of our house. Here's the house before we moved in - overgrown landscaping (we still need to do work in that department), trees to the side taking over the place... and of course the old roof too.
Fewer trees on the side (opposite of the garage), and new roof and siding are done! Garage door painted too. I still have to paint the off-white storm door white. When we had our trees taken out, we took out some large piney shrubs in front too. We plan on basically starting with a clean slate on the landscaping next spring.
Here is the side of the house - the bumped out part is part of the garage . The bay window is our dining room. This part of the house is seen in a photo I posted a few days ago (where you can see the back part done, and the side not done)...Here we have also hacked back some major shrubbery. I'm sure it made the siding guys' job easier..
We've gotten compliments on our wood siding before - but we're always wondering if people were just being nice. I know it has character, but it also has dirt, mold, rot, and multiple shades of gray, black and green were not the kind of character we were going for...Here's a similar view of that part of the roof / inside wall of the garage. All clean and neat. Also the enormous burning bush that covered half of that window is gone.
Check this out (yikes!):Ron redid this porch before the siding was started, but I had to include the "before" photo of it just so you can see what kind of condition this place was in... Here it is with all new boards (it's just a bit dirty from the siding guys' dirty boots). And there's Lucy just up from a nap, yes with a pacifier in her mouth. Front door used to be burgundy, and is now a dark chocolate brown.Okay I think you get the idea! So, what do you think? Like it better now or the way it used to be? ;-) More photos in a gallery here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Still Waiting For Those Pics?

Well, the siding has been coming along, and is pretty much almost totally done... except for a small section that won't take long at all to finish, as long as the weather is okay. In which case, they'll be done tomorrow. Otherwise it'll be Thursday. Then they will haul away all their scraps, trailer, ladders, and whatnot, and I can take an "after" photo. The house is looking great, but it's getting really old having this crew around all day long. Today the were right outside our big dining room window... like, "hey how's it going in there?!"

Today Lucy did manage to fall asleep for an extra-long nap, despite all the hammering (and if you listen closely, the cursing). She was pretty tired from a late night at Grandma and Grandpa Denning's on Monday. I was grateful for the break, because it allowed me to take care of some photography stuff that I wanted to do today - I got a fairly large order placed and can't wait until the photos come, hopefully by the end of the week! I'm going to save some of that money to go toward my new website template / hosting. In the meantime I hope to continue taking photos and building up my portfolio even more (but I hope to have the site up within the next month or two).

So far it's been going better than I had expected, and there are even more people who want me to take photos for them. Each time out I am a little more relaxed. I put so much pressure on myself worrying that I'm not going to get enough good photos, and I lay awake the night before going through ideas in my mind (when really there's only so much you can "plan", ya know?). It's supposed to be fun for all involved, and it's getting more so that it is, and that I look forward to my next session, instead of fretting about whether or not it will go well! I guess that's the confidence issue working itself out. I just finished Katie's ;)... her kids were great - and it was fun seeing them and spending time with them in person, since I've basically watched them grow up on her blog for almost the past 2 years! Now the fall weather has pretty much passed, and I'm wondering what locations will work for any more sessions I do. My friend, a high school teacher, wants to do some out in the snow with her little girl. That should be pretty fun, and it actually makes me hope for some good snow soon! After our siding is done, of course...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Siding Progress

So, the front of the house is done (but the fascia isn't) and they are working on the side by the road. It should be finished in the next couple of days! I went across the street to the neighbors' on Saturday and looked back at our house, it looks so different! It will also be nice when the hammering stops....

Friday, November 07, 2008

View of Back and Side Corner

Here you can really see what a change we (er... they) are making to our house! I love it, but it is really weird to see our home this way. I remember when I first saw this house listed on the MLS. I actually sort of liked the wood siding, but that was when I didn't know how damaged it was. In person, it was evident that we needed to redo the exterior eventually. It's cool that we're actually seeing that become a reality now! The entire back of the house (including fascia and soffits) is completed - other than the deck which has now been mutilated beyond recognition. We plan on redoing it in the spring, but retaining the main structural joists and posts. So, several deck boards have been sawed by the house, "railings" have been removed in sections, and it wasn't even in great shape before all this started. I digress...The back of the house is done, one side of the house is done (the other end, which I posted a photo of a couple days ago), and one side of the garage - which kind of sticks out so it has two "sides". The most tedious stuff is the wrapping, trim work, j-channels, basically everything but the siding. I'm hoping they make some more major progress today. Right now they are working on the front. The bay window you see here is going to take a little extra time, but it's going to look so nice when it's all done and their gear is cleared away. It's a bit cooler today, but it looks like it's going to stay dry.

Last night I put another coat of white paint on our off-white garage door. I went out again this morning and there are still some spots that could use touching up but if I don't get to it until next spring, no one will ever notice. I'm just a little nit-picky. From the road it looks good. There are also some special trim pieces (not vinyl) on various parts of the house that are primed, but should be painted. I got some of them last night but not all of them. I'll probably go for it even if it's below 60 degrees. The storm door on the front is also off-white and I'll get that painted white by the end of the weekend. I painted the main door a dark brown (it was burgundy). I think it looks pretty nice with the green siding and white trim. If I get sick of it someday, it's just a door and only takes a small amount of paint. I'll post more photos soon!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Crazy Alphabet Song

Our daughter is funny, and little crazy... but we think pretty smart!

video

She gets a little sloppy around the middle of the alphabet (who doesn't though, right?), where usually she does a little better. Perhaps her piano playing is hindering her concentration.

You Do What Works

Lucy has Pink Bear (clever name) which she received as a gift when she was a newborn. Soon after she was born, we discovered the covering her eyes helped her to fall asleep. She got a bit older and started doing it herself, but actually covering her whole face! After she fell asleep I'd usually go in there and make sure her nose and mouth were exposed and she wasn't suffocating... To this day she still likes to put it on her face, or pretend with her dolls and other stuffed animals by draping it on their heads too. Or mine, or Ron's...

So before Henry was born my mom picked up a similar bear/blankie thing (one for a boy, one for a girl) and today when Henry wouldn't fall asleep (he likes to be held, and needs to also learn to fall asleep without being in my arms) I placed his bear across his eyes... Bingo!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Hi Mom!

Today I put him on his tummy and walked to the kitchen for a second. I looked back and saw this:He could not do this yesterday! He could only pick his head off the ground a few inches at best, and only for a couple seconds. He was sitting like this for quite a while, until he got tired. So, this was literally the first time he held his chest off the ground and looked straight ahead - and I was able to grab the camera and get a photo! He looks just as surprised as I was...

Siding Going On

This isn't even going to look like the same house... But here's some of what is done so far. In other areas of the house, guys are working on the soffits and wrapping things, etc. But this gives a nice view of what the old siding looks like and the new stuff. It is also a nice ad for Standale Lumber.

Photo Stuff...

I see it's been a while. We've been a little busy with getting some things done around the house before the siding goes on. By "we" I mean Ron, which leads to "me" being extra busy with the kids in the evening. However, the siding will commence today, later this morning when they get here (the head honcho called and said they were voting first so they could avoid some long lines... although they are still in long lines...) and they'd be here about an hour later than expected. I said that's no problem because I think it's more important that they get to vote than get here at 8:30 AM! I think it is going to take them a few days to do the siding (although they did the roof in 1 day!) because of the wrapping and j-channels and all those little details that have to go on before the actual siding does.

I'm also planning on going to vote today, of course! I just don't want to bring the kids. I think someone will be able to come over and watch them while I go. Hopefully if I go before 3 PM it won't take too long.

Halloween was a good time - Lucy went trick-or-treating but was, not surprisingly, a little shy at the doors of strangers. We were out for a little under an hour, just going around our cul-de-sac and that was plenty! She got to eat some candy and play with some new toys.
I finally finished editing the photos from that shoot last week. I ended up with many that I think are great, and the mom (a teacher at GHS) is very excited because her son's school photo was pretty bad, she says. I will post one, but you can look at all the pictures here. I had it password protected but now I have watermarks on all the photos, so I'm not worried about the handful of people who read my blog checking them out.
I may have also mentioned one of Ron's students designing a logo for me. She did it in three different colors (the oval part) and here is the main one. I like how it turned out, as I did not have any expectations. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed that this was done by a high-school student! She also made the image that I use for a "watermark" (which Ron thought was funny since it's done digitally these days...). Pretty nice, huh?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Here's our little butterfly... Going trick-or-treating tonight for the first time! How great is this weather for all the kids!? Hope everyone has a fun Halloween!

First Paid Session!

I just did a photo session with a family we know - the mom is a Spanish teacher at Grandville HS, where Ron works. She's talked for a while about me taking photos of her kids / family, and Wednesday I e-mailed her with a last-minute proposition to do it, since it was going to be such a nice day Thursday. She wrote back and said yes, so we met at Spring Grove Park (which as it turns out is quite the mecca for photographers). We were only there for a little over an hour and I got plenty of great photos of her kids, and couple decent ones of the whole family (much more challenging). I learned a lot in that hour, too! They have a 2 and a half year old son, and a 9 month old daughter. The kids were great about playing, smiling, and being themselves! I have started going through some of their photos, and I am really happy with how many of them turned out.

The other cool thing - this is the first time I got paid for a photo session. I got a nice little session fee when we were done, and they will also be paying me for prints. In case you didn't already know, I am trying to get a little photography "business" off the ground, although I definitely do not want to rush into it. I would rather build up my confidence, and continue accumulating better and better equipment, before I get in over my head. In the meantime though, I can do some sessions for relatively cheap and still make a bit of money while I get practice. So... right now I am in the portfolio and skills building stage, and I still have much to learn. I do feel that this is something I have a bit of natural talent for, and think that over time I could become a very good photographer. At least, I love it so much that I am willing to work hard toward that goal. It feels good to have a goal, as well as the artistic outlet.

I will probably post a photo or two on this blog next week, but in the near future I will have a separate blog for photography stuff, as well as a Flash site. Ron has a graphic design student creating a logo for me, and I checked out her first drafts and love it! I also want to show the photos (after I edit them) to the family before anyone else. For now, I was just excited that I took this first step, and I think it went fairly well!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Going Green

Our siding guy just called and I'm too excited: they are going to start on our house next week sometime. I confirmed the color ("cactus", which is a sagey green, not too bold, and white trim) and he will order materials. So, in the sense of the exterior color, we are going "green"... although I am sure all our home improvements are really helping the energy efficiency of our house as well. The most recent being the basement door to our backyard. It had a jamb that was all rotted and the door did not seal well, so it was drafty. The jamb needed to be replaced before siding goes on, but the door itself is just fine. We got a fair amount moisture and spiders in our basement because of this. Well, Ron fixed it up. The door seals tight, the threshold is metal now (not wood), the exterior drainage is better, and so forth. There are a few other little things that Ron will have to get done by the end of this coming weekend... but it shouldn't be too hard. It is very motivating when you know that a week from now our house will be looking completely different!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tradition

I had to give this post a title, and I almost choked on the word "tradition" because it's so cheesy! I spent too much time trying to think of something else, but there really is no way around it... that's what this is about...
Today I stopped over at my grandparents' house with the kids, so Lucy could contribute some artwork to the slider mural... which is a Halloween tradition that goes back for about 25 years. I didn't paint anything, and there is still some unpainted areas that will be taken care of by my cousins throughout the rest of the week. My grandma paints most of the outlines and the kids fill them in. When I was younger I looked forward to helping out. For a while, painting the haunted house was kind of a special honor. This year it was done by my cousin's girlfriend... my how times have changed! Maybe just because there are so many more of us! Whatever, she did a good job. It's blue and purple. I like it. Grandma always gets really into holidays and makes them so special, and it's cool to see my own children getting to experience the same things.

Check out some of these oldies with the very same slider, at my grandparents' house in Grandville, where my mom grew up.

We always did the trick-or-treating in their neighborhood because Kelly and I grew up in the "country" (read: Walker) and there were very few people home handing out candy on Halloween...that is, if you were willing to walk long distances down a curvy road in the woods, and walk up the long driveways to houses that were most likely empty at the time. My parents set out a basket of full-sized Snickers bars and almost every year they would come home and the basket would still be full. Now I live in the 'burbs and we will be able to take our kids trick-or-treating around our own neighborhood, which we plan on doing with Lucy this year. We'll still stop by my grandparents' earlier in the afternoon though, because it's tradition (and there's barbecue). If you are familiar with this family... you'll get the tradition joke (as in, "Take some gum... it's tradition."). They're big on tradition... but then again it is nice that they take such joy in these things, even if it goes a little overboard sometimes.

And, I suppose we may be guilty of it too, as new parents. We think about little traditions we could start, blueberry picking, Pronto Pups in the summer, Post Farms in the fall, whatever the case may be. Also the ones we remember that we want to continue. I still feel the need to listen to the Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers "Once Upon a Christmas" album when decorating Christmas cookies... I guess the whole idea is to hopefully see that activity carry on throughout as many years as possible. If it's a good one, and the kids grow up with it, they might just pass it on to the next generation, because it brings back such good memories. So in that respect I guess my grandparents have gotten it right.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Migraine Minus the Pain

Several minutes ago I started noticing something strange in the vision in my right eye. Toward the outer edge there was a semi-circular/crescent shaped area of zig-zaggy and wavy lights. I closed my eyes and it was still there. It seemed strange because I had just eaten (since I know that not eating enough can sometimes cause wavy lines in your periphery), and I hadn't knocked myself in the side of the head recently... I thought I'd check it out online, by Googling my symptoms.

The Internet did not let me down! When I described what was going on as specifically as I could, I found that I was having a visual migraine (AKA optical migraine, AKA ocular migraine). It is technically a migraine, although I do not have migraine problems. It is actually most often not accompanied by a headache. This site describes this in fairly simple terms. I had never experienced this before, but learned that it can be brought on by fatigue, stress, and changes in estrogen levels. I think I fit the bill for those things. As I'm writing this, it is already starting to go away (they can last 20 min. to an hour on average). Anyone else experience this before?

We Tried

This afternoon we went to Hager Park in Jenison for some wandering around and picture-taking. The main goal was what you see above. This is a decent family photo, considering it involved pressing the 10 second shutter timer, running back and getting posed, trying to dupe Lucy into looking toward the camera (or at the very least, not running off in a blur)... she can be looking at anything as long as she looks happy-ish. Anyway, it's obvious (with a 2 year old, that is) when the photo session is over. By the time Lucy was no longer having any fun with this, we had taken a handful of photos with hopes of at least a couple turning out. As we hoped... about a couple turned out. Better than nothing! I have others, and color versions, etc. I imagine it would be much easier to take photos of someone else's family... being able to take more (no timer) and watch for the right moment - even a candid one where not everyone is looking at the camera. It was a nice day that didn't require hats and mittens, so I figured we'd make our best attempt while we still could! Snow in the forecast for Monday!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's New Here

Again it's been a little while since I posted anything new. Now I'm one of those people making a post about not posting. I'll try to write something of substance. I probably won't succeed.

Ron has recently gone on "strike" as a fan of the Lions. He has been a devoted fan, watching them lose every Sunday for the past several years. He held out hope at the beginning of each season, even trying to convince me that "this is the year they can actually turn it around." Well, until that actually happens, he is no longer following Detroit football (fine by me!). It's just too draining emotionally (and not to mention of precious free time).

Let's see, what else. Henry sleeps a lot. He has a bottle and falls back asleep. He sleeps well at night. He loves to be cuddled, but will fall asleep in his bouncer or crib too, as long as he's swaddled up. He did spend a decent amount of time awake yesterday evening. He's a pretty great baby.

I made more leaf cookies and decorated them. A double batch this time. I probably shouldn't make too many more cookies till Christmas because it's dangerous to have them in the house.

Lucy is going to be a butterfly for Halloween and we are taking her trick-or-treating down the cul-de-sac. Can't wait. I'm sure she'll want to eat all the candy as soon as it's handed to her. That should be an interesting battle. :)

I haven't taken many photos lately, but I probably will try to soon, since the fall colors are pretty much at their peak and I'd like to go to Hager Park or Spring Grove Park with the kids, and maybe... just maybe... try to do a portrait of the four of us! Our first family photo (other than the one in the hospital)! We'll have to bundle up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pot Roast

Tonight we had pot roast for dinner (in the crock pot.. I started it this morning). I think it's one of the easiest meals, and is especially nice on a cool fall day like today. Plus it makes the house smell great! Anyway, Lucy was eating hers and trying to share some with her daddy. I'm not sure where she got this little phrase, but she kept saying it. Maybe it's just the way she says it that's so funny. I had to grab the camera...
video

Friday, October 17, 2008

Post Farms

Yesterday afternoon Ron and I brought the kids to Post Farms. We got there around 4 PM so we beat a lot of the crowd. The first thing we did was have Lucy ride the Pumpkin Train (of Terror). She got strapped into a barrel and waited excitedly for the ride to begin. Once the tractor started up and the barrels started winding around in figure-8's and circles, she was no longer loving it... She never actually cried, but she held on for dear life and looked at us with a pouty lip. We waved and smiled every time she came around to play up the fun she was supposed to be having. Did that help? You be the judge:
Before they started ("this is cool!"):During the ride ("Why are Mom and Dad smiling at me? This is not fun!"):
After the Pumpkin Train, we walked over to the hayride. This was really what we came for - on the way there she kept saying "hayride, yaaay" and now that we had her all freaked out from the Pumpkin Train, she was sure to love the giant loud tractor and sitting in a pile of straw with a bunch of strangers... right? At first she was nervous again but quickly warmed up to it when we pointed out the pumpkins and cheered "wheee!" when we went over bumps and mud puddles. Before long she was laughing and throwing straw on my legs. Henry never woke up the entire time we were there!We were taken to the pumpkin patch where Lucy tripped on vines and tried to pick up pumpkins which weigh about as much as she does. She had fun though, wandering around and getting a little dirty. She found an old dried up corn cob and tried to eat it as I shouted "icky!" Life is so confusing and full of contradictions, isn't it Lucy?The hayride trailer returned a little while later to take us back to the barn, and that is when we got donuts and cider. We plowed through half a dozen in only a few minutes (they're very small donuts!). After eating (we were thinkin'!) we took her over to see the goats and miniature horses. She still wasn't too interested in petting them. She also saw a kitten which interested her much more than farm animals do, and since the crowds were starting to pick up, we decided to head home. I regret not taking any photos of Henry while there, but he wasn't really that excited about what was going on, and it was just easier to keep him bundled up in the carrier, since it was a little chilly for him (but perfect weather for a fall outing like this!). We hope to go back maybe once more this fall, if we get another nice day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Checkup + Cookies

Yesterday I brought Henry to the pediatrician for his 2 week checkup. My mom came over and watched Lucy so I didn't have to bring her with. Henry was 9 lbs at birth (then lost about 2.5 oz.) and as of yesterday is up to 9 lb. 13 oz.! That seemed extremely high to me, but apparently it's only the 75th percentile for weight for boys (which is still up there, but not as drastically high as I thought). He also grew from 21 inches to 22 1/4 (90th %). Everything else is fine and we go back at 2 months for lots of shots!!!

This afternoon I made sugar cookie dough to make leaf-shaped cutout cookies. I went to get a lighter out of drawer (for a candle) and stumbled upon my oak leaf cookie cutter and got inspired. Lucy and Henry are both asleep so I quickly got the dough made, and plan on possibly baking them later tonight. It all depends on the amount of chaos going on and whether or not I'll be able to devote the time. If not, dough stays good in the fridge/freezer for a while! It's a good TV watching night and our great room is set up nicely to watch TV while baking or cooking. Sounds like fun to me...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Awake Time

Henry's eyes are a lot more open, like I said yesterday. This morning I took a few photos of him, and suddenly he looks completely different. I might be biased, but he's quite the handsome guy. His eyes are very dark blue, so I'm not sure if they'll be blue or brown (but they don't look like they'll be blue and brown!)

He actually has been a lot less fussy as well, and is starting to fall into a loose schedule of eating, being awake, and then napping (that's the order we want to achieve... as in the book "Babywise", although he still falls asleep for a bit after having his bottle). It makes figuring out what he needs easier to do, if we can establish a routine... even this early. I like this method because it helps to avoid feeding as the default method of soothing a baby (if that isn't what they actually need). Of course, life with a newborn is all about patience and flexibility, and with Henry I am a lot more laid-back than I was with Lucy. If he is clearly hungry, I am less likely to worry about the fact that "it hasn't been 3 hours yet..." and just feed the poor kid! But if it has only been an hour, I can safely assume something else must be wrong.

Last night he woke up twice to eat, but hardly had anything before falling back asleep. I think that's a good sign that he is moving toward sleeping more at night and being awake more during the day. That could change tonight, however... so I shouldn't jinx myself!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Workin' Out

For the past couple of days Henry has been on-and-off cranky. For his first week he was sleepy and calm all the time, but not anymore. He can be calm occasionally. And of course when he's asleep he's an absolute angel! But lately he's been a bit fussy. He really likes being held, which I do enjoy. It makes it hard sometimes to take care of Lucy, or bust her naughty moments when I am tied up with Henry, but I've been able to juggle it as well as can be expected. I even manage to shower daily! Well, I guess I am placing trust in Lucy not to burn the house down while I am in there... she watches cartoons for a bit and I don't take that long.

Anyway, when Henry is awake, and not crying, I take advantage of the opportunity to give him some "tummy-time". He seems to already have strong neck muscles and can pick his head up and turn it from one side to the other. That's about his only trick for now. When he is awake and not crying, his eyes are much more open, and he can look around. It seems like he is focusing better on people and objects, especially lights on the ceiling. He is less curled up now, so suddenly he seems much bigger! Maybe he is bigger... with how much he eats! He has an appointment on Wednesday and we'll see how much he has grown.

I also had my first lesson in careless diaper changing. I hadn't experienced any baby boy accidents yet (you know what I mean), so I got a little lazy and left him uncovered for a moment... whoops. So that sleep-n-play lasted about 2 minutes!

He is napping now but his big sister is not... grrrrr...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Basement!

Our basement is finished, nothing fancy, but it has potential to be quite a nice rec/family room someday... maybe we'll get around to redecorating it, but for now it's kind of a mix of Ikea stuff and Craigslist / Bargain corner stuff, our big old TV, and our poker table/chairs. When we moved in things just sort of got placed down here and now it's out of control!

I spent just a few minutes clearing some shelves and getting ruthless with random things, like a plastic box with potpourri in it. Great for toddlers and babies, I know. Trash. Random "decorative" whiskey jugs and fake grasses. Andirons. Well, the andirons I like, but for now we just can't have them out. I have a CD tower that I am going to have to make a decision about. It's tall and has a high center of gravity. Anyway, that is just the tip of the iceburg.

The plan is to convert the basement into a place where kids and their toys are welcome, and we don't have to constantly tell our child(ren) "no" when they approach something sharp, metal, fragile, and/or heavy. Where walkers, tricycles, and singing lawn mowers can roam free. By this weekend, some of Lucy's larger toys will come down here, and she will be allowed to play in this whole new special space (Henry can do his thing down here too, although that may be limited to tummy time or sitting in a bouncer). This is also where our computer is located, and may be dangerously conducive to me Blogging / Facebooking. Back to work!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

EDD

Today was my due date!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Calm

Here's a photo of our little boy from yesterday, looking peaceful.... (awwwww)

We've only known him for 9 days (I've known him a bit longer in a way, but only to the extent that he likes to be in a tight little ball - he still loves being swaddled)... but we're starting to see a tiny glimpse of Henry's personality. Ron and I both think he is a bit more mellow than Lucy was. He does not cry much or need much soothing to settle back down. I guess I vaguely remember Lucy having crying jags that would last an hour or more, usually late at night. They weren't terrible but I remember calming her down took a bit more effort. He cries when he's hungry and after he eats he is content and soon falls back asleep. He also spits out a pacifier and makes a face like he's thinking, "what is this silly contraption you keep offering to me?" Yet he does not suck his thumb...

He eats almost 3 oz. every 3-4 hours. Therefore, his nighttime schedule isn't too bad... if he eats around 11:00 or midnight, then at 3 AM, and then it's morning again. So, really I feel like I'm getting up only once in the middle of the night. I can handle that!

Lucy has actually been very happy lately, especially since she has a few new toys to keep her occupied. I think that having a birthday has helped a lot with her dealing with a baby taking my attention. Then again when Henry is sleeping, I play with Lucy. In fact, I probably play with her more than I did during the last few weeks of my pregnancy, when I was so tired!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Late Little Party

We celebrated Lucy's birthday last night with only our parents at our house. We wanted to keep it small and simple since it was going to be too hectic to plan anything really big this year. Lucy really "got it" this year about the whole birthday thing, and was banging on the front (storm) door as her grandparents arrived, and then she'd run around at top speed. We didn't waste too much time before letting her open her presents, and then a little while later we had carrot cake cupcakes and ice cream. She sat in awe as we sang "Happy Birthday" and then she blew out her two little candles without any help. Her blowing is more like a forceful "Fffffff!" but it worked!

After our parents left, Lucy was happy to get in the tub and play with her new crayons (for writing on the walls of the shower and tub... one of her presents from us). Then we sent her to bed, but of course all the excitement had her too jazzed up to sleep. She got up over and over until 9:45, and when she was in bed, she was singing "Happy Birthday To Youuuuuuu!" at the top of her lungs - she just repeats that line over and over. She was still singing it this morning when she was playing with her new kitchen set! I have a gallery with more photos HERE.