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Archive for July, 2013

Last week, my good buddy Sara posted some photography tips for beginners (like me).  After FINALLY understanding some of the more basic things like what f/stop is and means, I was eager to get home and put my new knowledge to work.

I picked my favorite subject (my kid), went outside for the best possible lighting (my house is DARK) and started snapping. I took about 30 photos, kept about 15 and am showing you 4. And they’re not even fantastic but I’m learning so give me a break. All of these photos are straight outta the camera, unedited. Also I’m not loading these full size so when you read the caption comments, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

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Zoomed out shot of the deck. Ignore the cutoffs. His daddy thought it would be funny.

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Love the photo but the focus is off. Camera focused on the edge of the splash table and not that precious face. Fail.

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I wanted to get a shot of this boy’s eyelashes. Mission accomplished, though I wish I would’ve had a better backdrop or better angle. And maybe brushed his hair.

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Focus on the eyes? Check. Cute expression? Check.

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Nothing special about this one but I love the look on his face. I think I was playing music for him and he recognized one of the songs. BTW, when did my kid become a redhead?

So that’s it. I followed some of Sara’s simple tips and was able to get some nicely detailed shots that may eventually be suitable for a photo book. I’ll keep practicing but in the meantime, what’s your best photography tip? And can someone please come over to my house and show me how to back-button focus on my camera? And tell me which lens to buy next? (I have a Pentax K-r.) Ok thanks.

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Raise your hand if you love browsing home design blogs or Pinterest for inspiration? There’s just something about looking at pictures of  pretty interiors that makes me just a little bit more happy. Sometimes they give me inspiration for what I’d like to do in my current house, or better yet, our next house. Other times, I think they’re just pretty to look at even if I find them incredibly unpractical. Here are a few of those things.

Open shelves in the kitchen. Pretty right? But entirely unpractical unless you a) are a neat freak with ninja dusting powers and b) don’t ever plan to actually USE any of those dishes. I mean where does one even put all their neon, plastic dinosaur sippy cups?

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Removing ceiling fans. I love the look of pendant and chandelier lights, especially in bedrooms, but you guys, I could not survive the summer without our ceiling fans. I big puffy heart love them. We have five in our house. FIVE. And don’t say “well just get a box fan or a tower fan.” No, not the same. If I ever remove a ceiling fan, it will be in favor of a bigger, better ceiling fan. Like this one. It’s a ceiling fan IN a pendant light! Win/Win.

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Mixmatched chairs. I know that most interior designers tell you to resist the urge to make things too matchy-matchy. I struggle with this terribly. If I’m going to have end tables on either side of my couch, they must be the same. If I have two couches, they have to be the same fabric if they’re going to be in the same room. And when it comes to kitchen or dining tables, the chairs must be the same. The only exception is that the end chairs can vary slightly (say the end chairs have arm rests while the middle chairs do not). But they must still be of the same “family.”  This dining room is just too…jarring for my taste. But oh do I love that high ceiling and the wood beams.

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Animal Print. Holy smokes has animal print been making a comeback or what? Particularly in the clothing and accessories fashion world. And as much as I WANT to be that girl. The girl that can pull off wearing animal print without looking like she just walked off the set of RHONJ, I can’t. Same goes with my house. The only exception to this would be if I had some sort of movie-star quality walk-in closet with dressing room. Only then do I think I could take the plunge with an animal print piece of furniture.

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Gallery Wall. This one is hard because I WANT a gallery wall. But I can’t decide if I want a gallery wall because I love gallery walls or because it’s just the cool thing to do right now. All I do know is this: If and when I ever get around to creating a gallery wall, my frames MUST match. They don’t need to be the same size or texture but they must be the same color. This random frame assortment craze and then scattering them about on the wall is just too much for my OCD self. I look at an image like this and feel claustrophobic. Anyone else?

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What don’t you love that’s uber trendy right now? Perhaps the word “uber”? Not that it’s trendy, but my husband makes fun of me for using it.

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Five on Friday

I do these “Five on Friday” posts on my own sometimes, but then I realized other bloggers did it too and there’s even a place to link up, so I’m participating this week.

Here we go:

One: I started the Couch-to-5K running program last week. I go to a nearby park that has a lake and post a pic a day from my runs on Instagram so that hopefully by the end, I’ll have a nice little pic collage to look back on.

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Two: Speaking of the Couch-to-5K program, the free app is AHMAZING. I can play my music and instead of watching the clock to know when to run/walk, the app will lower the music, play a little beep, and say “start running” or “start walking.” I LOVE IT. The only part I don’t love is that it has built in 5 min. warm ups and cool downs, so if you hit “end workout” before the cool down has officially ended, it doesn’t register that you’ve actually completed the workout. So a little tip from me if you use this app, let it run completely through the cool down phase before quitting the app.

Three: After much deliberation, we’ve finally planned our first big vacation since baby D was born. In December, we’ll be heading to….

(drumroll please)

……….

……….

COSTA RICA!!

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This is an actual picture from one of the hotels we’ll be staying in. Breathtaking no? And for the first time since I was about 18 yrs old, my parents will be going with us. I’ll have to report back on whether or not this is a good thing. :)

Four: We’re finally addressing our finances a bit more lately. We have a long way to go, but after realizing I’ve had the same credit card for 14 years, figured it was time I called to see if I could get a better APR. Turns out, I can! Not that we usually like to carry a credit card bill balance, but sometimes it’s unavoidable so it’s nice to know we’ve got a low percentage rate now, should we need it.

Five: I hope to have some DIY house updates to share soon. Namely, some updates to our bathroom and eventually (hopefully) some updates to our downstairs spare bedroom, which I’d like to convert to a half bedroom/half office space. I’ve been looking at Pinterest for inspiration and I love the idea of removing our sliding mirror closet doors and turning the closet into an office, like this:

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(Not sure whose photo this is, but here’s the pin on Pinterest)

What’s going on in your world lately?

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13 Month Update

IMGP8026Thought I’d give up the monthly updates after baby D turned one? HA! Nope. I’ve decided to keep them going and instead of doing weekly AND monthly photos, I’m just going to do monthly photos, in one of my favorite outfits, on the same rocking chair as all his previous monthly photos.

Weight/Length: After his 12 month appointment, where we found out he’s only about 35% percentile for weight, I’ve been trying to feed him more. But the hubs still thinks he’s a tiny baby that couldn’t possibly need to eat THAT much so it took a little nagging encouragement on my part to get him to realize that YES, he does need to eat more than a bottle of milk for breakfast. Even if he’s not crying that he’s hungry. So hopefully he’s at least 22 lbs now. His belly definitely looks bigger these days.

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Sleep: We’re still (reluctantly) a co-sleeping family. He takes naps in his crib and usually goes to bed fairly easily in his crib, but around 1am, he’s screaming his fool head off to come to our bed. We’re trying to work on it but with my parents in town, we didn’t want to do the CIO method so we’ve continued the bad habit and I’m actually starting to get used to sleeping on a tiny sliver of mattress.

Feeding: The two things that stress me out most about this stage are food and sleep. I analyze every piece of food and wonder if it’s too big for him, too salty, too spicy, etc. Sometimes I’ll cut pieces of fruit too small and then he can’t pick them up. And for someone like me who is terrible at meal planning, meal time is a very stressful situation. I want to make sure he’s eating healthy, gaining weight (in a healthy way), and eating foods that won’t make him constipated or too gassy, while also trying to keep some variety going so he’s not eating the same 3 meals day in and day out. But little by little, we’re figuring it out and moving away from purees more and more, though he still probably eats one or two a day.

He’s officially drinking from a straw now. Since he doesn’t tip his sippy cups, I was tired of doing it for him so a fellow mom recommended the honey bear straw training cup. It’s basically an empty plastic honey bear bottle with a piece of clear plastic tubing (sort of like breast pump tubes) that doesn’t close when he bites down on it. The idea is you squeeze the bear a little to get the liquid to come out of the top, and with very little sucking action, the baby learns to sip on the straw. It took all of maybe a minute for D to figure it out so even though I feel like I got a little ripped off by the bear cup ($13 are you kidding me?), it worked, so I guess I can’t complain. Now he can drink out of ANY straw cup. Even the kids cups from restaurants. This is awesome because it means we’re not SOL if we forget his bottle or sippy cup at home. And apparently drinking from a straw is better for oral hygiene so win/win. Although I wonder if I could’ve taught him the same thing with a juice box or Capri Sun for a fraction of the cost.
Now that he knows how to drink from a straw, we’re on the down slope of bottles. He has a morning bottle and a bedtime bottle but only uses sippies during the day. Hooray for less bottle washing!
Developments: No walking yet, but still pulling up and cruising everywhere. Part of me thinks that because our living room is so small, he has no reason to walk. He can’t even push his walker very far before running into a piece of furniture and getting stuck, so he doesn’t use it.
He’s FINALLY waving now. Right after his 1 year check up, in the doctor’s office, he started. I don’t think he quite understands the point in it, so he doesn’t do it often, but every now and then we can get him to do it on command. And speaking of doing things on command, he typically…doesn’t. He’ll blow raspberries or say “lalalala” if we do them first, but that’s about it.
Still has just 4 teeth (two top, two bottom) and the top ones are taking forever to drop all the way down. But it’s so cute seeing him grin with these 4 tiny teeth.
But perhaps the cutest development of all was when the hubs came home from visiting his family and brought back a big stuffed teddy bear with Cardinals gear on it. Apparently his grandma had saved it back in 2006 when we won the World Series and kept it in a sealed plastic bag. (She died in 2009.) He showed it to D and he immediately wrapped both arms around it, pulled it close, and smiled a huge smile. Heart. Melted.

Firsts This Month: First trip to Nashville (and to Tennessee in general). First time (of many) climbing up the stairs. First trip to Grant’s Farm. First time in his baby pool. First time drinking from a straw. 20130715-091456.jpg

Brunchin’ it in Nashville with all the hipsters

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Hitchin’ a ride from Daddy at the Dukes of Hazzard Festival in Nashville

Likes: Still obsessed with dogs, and lately, balls. Particularly basketballs. He got a basket ball hoop for his birthday and while he’s still too little for it, he knew exactly what to do when we gave him a ball and lifted him above the hoop. Future all star. This kid just loves being outside too. He’s been spending a little time with his splash table on the deck but most of the time he just plays with his toys on the concrete or on an old exercise-step-turned-play-table that I keep outside for him. He also really loves climbing up the stairs, which has proven to be a bit of a headache lately since we can’t find any baby gates that will work with our stairs (banister plus unusually high baseboards = baby gate conundrum). So right now a giant cardboard box is doing the trick until we can find a better solution.

Favorite Songs: Still lights up when any of his bath time songs comes on. He also enjoys Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker, On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons, Cruise by Florida Georgia Line and Nelly, Seven Nation Army by White Stripes, and One Love by Bob Marley. He smiles within the first few seconds whenever any of these songs start playing.

Favorite Toys: Balls, blocks, books – still the same. His baby pool. And his musical monkey which he uses for a pillow sometimes during naps.

Dislikes: Sleeping in his crib at night. Being told no. Sitting in his high chair for any length of time if there isn’t food on his tray.

He also apparently doesn’t like grocery shopping. Maybe we just time our grocery runs when he’s tired and cranky but if we’re not in and out in 5 minutes, he throws an all out fit and screams at the top of his lungs, occasionally even head butting the cart handle, until one of us picks him up and distracts him with something. This means that shopping is a two-adult activity so that one person can grab the stuff and the other can baby wrangle. So much for my leisurely walks perusing the aisles at Target.

What I’m Thankful For: I used to worry that as each month passed, I would miss his infancy too much. That he couldn’t possibly get better than this moment RIGHT NOW. I especially felt like that when he turned a year old. No longer an infant, but not quite a toddler. Still a baby, but for how much longer? Time felt like it was moving at warped speed, and I worried that I wouldn’t love the next stage as much as I did the last one.

But that hasn’t happened yet and I’m thankful.

What I’m Looking Forward To: We’re heading to Chicago for BlogHer at the end of the month. (Holler at me, fellow BlogHer goers!) It’ll be his second trip to Chicago and I’ll be working (again) most of the time, but I’m still looking forward to doing a few touristy things with him while we’re there.

How Mommy’s Doing: I know I complain about my weight/diet/lack of exercise every month so even I’m getting annoyed by the broken record. So let’s just assume that unless I say “Hey look at me! I lost 40lbs and feel great!” that I probably still dislike how my body looks, but damn if that smores frozen hot chocolate from Dairy Queen didn’t taste good the other night. Whoever said nothing tastes as good as skinny feels has clearly never had one of those.
But body issues aside, things are pretty great. We had a crazy week at the end of the month with my MIL going into the hospital and my husband rushing off to be with her so I asked my mom to come in town to babysit while I went to work.
I don’t have much time for hobbies and have a difficult time keeping up on laundry, but I spend as much time as possible with D so I feel like things are well balanced, even if they’re not perfect. And as long as we’re all happy, what’s one day of wearing the same pants again?

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Another gorgeous night in the luxury suites at the Cardinals game. 

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Grant’s Farm!

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Riding the tram at Grant’s Farm

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Petting the goats. Loved it.

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Petted the horse. Loved it.

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A little morning stroll to the park to get our swingin’ on.

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Still one of my favorite photos from this month. 

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I was reading this post over on DesignMom which links to another article on a study that was done that basically says money doesn’t buy happiness, only temporary satisfaction and excitement, UNLESS you use that money to give to someone else. Then it technically buys happiness.

It’s an interesting thing to ponder really. I mean, how many of us dream about a new house, a new car, or a new fancy wardrobe? How often have you told yourself that you’d be so much happier if you just had that spacious ranch with the open floor plan and walk-in pantry?  (Ok, so maybe that’s just specific to me.)

The comments on the post I link to above were pretty interesting and I tend to agree with the (nicer) ones that argue that money can help relieve the stress of bills and living paycheck to paycheck so therefore, by eliminating that stress, you must be happier. I can agree with that. But I also think that what is just merely comfortable for one person is another person’s destitute and yet another person’s overwhelming wealth. For example, we own a house in the suburbs and two cars. That alone is enough for a couple that’s barely making ends meet in an apartment with a shared bus pass to think I’m living in the lap of luxury. While another couple might look at our neighborhood with a few foreclosures down the street and two eight-year-old Hyundais in the driveway and think, “Man, if we had to give up our 5,000 sq ft house and two Infinitis and downgrade to that, we’d be slumming it.”

So I guess what I’m saying here is it’s all about perspective and how much money (or lack of) already dictates your happiness.

But let’s talk about the the giving it away part.

One of my neighbors has brain cancer. She has a husband, a college-aged son, and two young daughters (youngest is 7, I believe). I wouldn’t say there’s no hope, but last I heard, doctors had told her husband that the type of cancer she had would come back. It always has in every case they’ve seen. Life expectancy: A year. Maybe 18 months. That’s pretty fucking devastating news. It hurts my heart every time I see them in the driveway, or see the girls riding their bikes up the street. Hell, just even looking at their house makes me feel awful for what they’re going through.

So a couple of weeks ago I told her I had some Cardinals tickets that we couldn’t use and since I know they’re big Cardinals fans, I asked if they would please take them off our hands. I also said,”The seats are decent so you won’t be in the nosebleeds, so please, enjoy a night out on us since we can’t use them.”

She was so excited. Neither of her girls had ever been to a Cardinals game. It was a very fast “YES!”

Then I went online and purchased the tickets. Decent ones. Not in the nosebleeds.

And even though it cost me more than what I pay for gas for a month, and even though we’ve got a credit card bill that will take a few more months to pay off, it made me so very happy to see her family’s smiling faces as their girls enjoyed their very first Cardinals game last night. It’s something I won’t forget, and neither will they.

 

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(Image Source. Click the link for more awesome money quotes.)

 

 

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Dear baby D,

It’s hard to believe that it’s already mid-July. We’ve been having so much fun with you. Every evening is an adventure. Sometimes we’ll take walks around the lake, put you in the baby swing at the park and push you for what seems like forever. You’re never ready to stop! Other nights we’ll just play at home, maybe on the deck, or take Champ to the park across the street to throw a ball and let you watch him run. You love that dog.

Dinner time is usually pretty interesting too. Some nights we’ll give you some of our dinner – a plate full of pasta or pieces of flaky fish and grilled squash. Other nights we’ll fix you your baby raviolis and some fresh fruits. I try to keep things interesting and healthy for you. And even though I was raised that we don’t sing or play music at the table, your daddy insists on dinner music, and all three of us will sit there and bop to the beat. You definitely have your favorite songs and you smile and laugh when one of them starts playing.

And then there’s bath time. Oh how you love bath time. Some nights you’re pretty tired and will just sit and relax. Other nights you’re content to play with your toys, though you don’t splash much and for that, mommy is thankful. You let me wash your face, even though you hate it. And if it’s hair washing night, you no longer scurry to the other side of the tub to escape me, but instead tilt your head back so I don’t get so much water in your eyes. We play your bath music and I’ll squirt your belly with water from your toys. You especially love it when I make your toys come to life and make noises. Oh how you giggle and I would do anything to hear that little baby laugh of yours.

You spend your days with daddy doing Lord only knows. Sometimes I’ll get photos or short videos of your antics throughout the day, but one thing is for sure, you two have a blast together. Not many little boys can say they get so much one-on-one time with their dad. You’re a lucky little dude.

My only complaint is not really even a complaint considering how much I secretly love it. You’re insistent on sleeping with us and it’s like you have some sort of super sense that tells you when we’ve gone to bed because that’s right when you wake up and want to join us. We fight you on it most nights because it’s harder for us to get a good night’s rest when we’re so worried about rolling over on your or having you wake up and jump over us and fall off the bed. But I love waking up and seeing your sweet face snoozing right beside me. And when you wake up a few minutes later, the look of joy on your face knowing that you once again won the bedtime battle is just too much.

But my favorite moments, by far, are when you come barreling toward me and want me to hold you. Sometimes that’s first thing in the morning as you climb over daddy to get to me while I’m getting ready for work. Sometimes it’s as soon as I get home, as your face lights up and you squeal with delight while crawling at hyper-speed to my feet. And when I do pick you up, you lay your head on my shoulder and even though it’s happened a hundred times already, I still make your daddy look our way because I can’t get over how sweet you are. I wish I could bottle those moments for years from now when cuddling with mommy isn’t so cool anymore.

And I wish I could bottle all of these moments, because even though life is pretty great right now, you won’t remember any of it. You won’t remember these special little moments, bopping to the beat with your dad and me, taking trips to different cities, reading Baby Woof Woof again and again and again. That’s why I write these posts. That’s why I take so many photos. That’s why I should take more video. You are so happy and have so much fun every day, and not to toot our own horns but, we’re kind of awesome parents. We may not be so awesome 10 years from now when we’re in our 40’s and you possibly have a sibling or two that’s clamoring for our attention too. So I wish you could remember us now, as we are with our happy little family of 3.

But since you won’t, we’ll just keep having fun, and I’ll keep writing, photographing and documenting as much as I can so that one day, years from now, we at least have some proof that we were awesome parents once. Because I know you’ll get mad at us and disagree, and that’s only because you won’t remember. But I will.

Love you, cuddle bug.

 

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In Another Life…

When it comes to TV, there aren’t a lot of shows for adults that are also baby friendly. Most of the shows we want to watch have a lot of sex, violence, bad language, etc. Our options are usually The Ellen Show or House Hunters International. And since Ellen is on summer hiatus, we’ve been watching a lot more HHI. Sometimes we make a game of it to see who can guess which house the couple will buy. We almost always agree on which one we would buy, but we never guess right.

The thing about watching HHI is how much it makes us daydream – from anything to future homes, different places to vacation, different places to live, even different careers.

Just some of the recent thoughts and conversations we’ve had lately include:

  • I’ll change jobs and do PR & Marketing for a resort in the Caribbean.
  • I wonder if my company would let me open an office in Hawaii?
  • We should go to St. Kitts for our next vacation. Or maybe Ecuador.
  • Let’s buy a vacation house on the beach and rent it out for extra income.
  • I wonder if my job would let me work remotely for a month (or three) so we can live some place tropical for the winter?
  • We need jobs where we can work remotely 100% of the time. Then we’ll just buy a house in Costa Rica and spend our days on a balcony overlooking the ocean with our laptops.
  • And the most random: We should go open a Trader Joe’s in my hubby’s hometown. We could totally run a small grocery store. Note: I have zero desire to live anywhere near where my husband grew up, yet I’M the one who said this! HHI makes me say silly things.

Had any crazy daydreams lately? Do tell!

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