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:


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


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...