Sunday, November 30, 2008


Only one more day left... Gosh it's gone by fast. It's nice to know we'll be back in about 3 more weeks for christmas, though after that I don't know when our next visit will be.

I've been spending some time reading through Understanding Exposure and it's proving extremely helpful. I'll definitely have to buy my own copy to keep around as a reference. I feel I've had a pretty good, basic understanding of things like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed, but this book has helped broaden and deepen that, as well as give me more insight into the relationship between the three. I realize I've been stuck in shooting mostly with wide apertures, which works great for the vast majority of the shooting I do (Donovan, indoors, less light) but have been completely oblivious to the benefits and uses of a narrower aperture. I also am getting inspired to use the manual setting on my camera more often-- I mostly shoot in aperture-priority, but am realizing that sometimes it may be better to go manual and have more control (wondering if this has been part of the problem I come across when shooting outside, and can't seem to get a consistent exposure level). I'm currently reading the chapter on light and metering, an area in which I have much learning to do. Once we get back home I also need to pull out my camera's manual and sit down to figure out exactly how to work the flash. I prefer not having to use it and will go with natural lighting whenever possible, but there are times when I want to take good photos but am in a darker place (e.g. my parents' house) where I need flash, and while I've done ok so far I'm pretty sure there should be flash settings I can play with but that I don't know anything about.

I've been uploading photos from this week up onto Flickr, have 540 up so far and that's counting through yesterday. I know, that's a crapload of pictures, but some of them are really cute! =P We had a baby shower for my step-brother and his wife today, lots of fun, so more pictures to come from that, as well.

six word sunday: Baby tail gating-- never too young.

Baby tail gating-- never too young.
six word sunday challenge

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

For some reason even with all this family around I've been stuck in the mentality of needing to be around Donovan, and thus not taking advantage of time away. Then I realized that while he does sometimes cry when I walk away, and usually cries if he seems me out of the blue and I don't go straight to him, he otherwise actually does really well with other people (especially if I stay out of sight).

Soooo.... I went out this morning for a bit of shopping. On my own. By myself. No baby. I'd seen ads that Old Navy would have their jeans for half-price, which seemed like a perfect excuse to finally get me some pants that actually fit me. And at $15 each, if I on,y wear them for a few months and then outgrow them (I do expect some weight to creep back on once I'm n longer burning hundreds of calories a day feeding an infant) it won't be that big a loss. And I might as well enjoy being this skinny and wear clothes that make the most of it. ; ) I was scared the crowds would be horrid, but when I pulled up to the parking lot at about 9am it was surpisingly empty, and inside the store it looked about as packed as on any other day. I scored 2 pairs of jeans ($15/ea), 2 pairs of pants ($8, $10) and 3 pj sets ($3, $6) for D in the next size up, and a super cute jacket that just kept calling my name for $35. I've already gotten 2 compliments from complete stra ngers on the jacket, so I'm pretty pleased.

Zach and his brother wanted to go check out the craziness at the mall, so they're there right now with their parents, and D. So I'm at home on my own, taking advantage of more alone time. Feels pretty nice.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

In honor of Thanksgiving...

Jessica recently wrote a 100 Things I Love post. In honor of Thanksgiving, below is a similar list of things I love and am grateful for.
  1. The (what feels like) extremely short 3 hour flight to see family.
  2. California sunshine.
  3. Parents and in-laws that get along with both Zach and I.
  4. Parents and in-laws that get along with each other.
  5. Not having to choose which set of family we'll spend which holidays with.
  6. Donovan's toes.
  7. The way Zach plays with Ryan, my 5 yr old niece.
  8. Donovan's giggle.
  9. Old friends I've known forever and see rarely, but when we do get together it's like slipping into your favorite pair of jeans every time.
  10. Donovan's dimple.
  11. My fabulous husband.
  12. My fabulous camera, which has allowed me to record Donovan and all his adorable details (see #6 and #10) so perfectly these past 10 months. I know I will treasure these photos for the rest of my life.
  13. Loved ones who encourage and challenge me.
  14. A warm kitty to snuggle up on my legs at night.
  15. The internet.
  16. Fellow mom friends who understand exactly what I'm going through. Sometimes a heartfelt "I've been there, too!" is all you need to end your self-pity party.
  17. Pumpkin pie.
  18. Breastfeeding, and the way it's helped me get back into my pre-baby jeans.
  19. Breastfeeding, and the way it helped D go nine months before getting his first cold (and no ear infections yet!).
  20. The way I can make everything better for D when he's upset. I treasure it now as I know it won't last.
  21. Jen finding a permanent job in San Francisco, meaning we get to see her all the time.
  22. Walking to the farmer's market on Sundays.
  23. Blogging.
  24. My health. And that of my husband, and my perfect, sweet, healthy baby boy.
  25. And for so many other blessings in my life that go unnoticed and unappreciated so much of the time, I give thanks. Life is good, indeed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

yay for cousins

Zach, D, and I spent a lot of the day over at the in-laws' house, where D got to play with yet another set of new toys and get to know Maddie the dog. Maddie seemed a bit jealous of the attention being paid to the baby, but then decided that licking D's head seemed like a good course of action. The best though was when D started crawling towards Maddie and leaning his head into her. =P


Philip picked up my niece Ryan from out of town, so in the later afternoon we came back here to let them play. Ryan's been super excited about her cousin all along, and rarely left his side during our summer visit. Apparently she's been counting down the weeks till she got to see us again, and came out the front door waving and smiling this HUGE smile as soon as we pulled up to the house. I was worried about how D would react, as he was tired and a bit grumpy by then. But as soon as he saw Ryan I saw the corners of his mouth turn up a bit behind his thumb, and then we came inside and between the little bongos that Mom had gotten out for him (which he knew what to do with from the start) and playing with Ryan, he was happy as a clam. It was so, so adorable to watch them play together and just love being in each other's presence. It was cool seeing Ryan so excited about D last time, and D was interested in her, but now he's a bit older and his interest in other kids seems to have grown and, well, it's just plain heartwarming watching them now.

Dinner tonight was HYSTERICAL. Zach's parents came over, so we had my mom, Philip, Cristina, JC, Katie, Zach, Hank, Susan, and even Andrew over, all sitting around the table, and D and Ryan were sitting next to each other. D ate fabulously, chowing down on broccoli, bread, and then 1.5 jars of pears. Every so often he'd reach over to Ryan, or smile at her, or in some other way seem to interact with her. And then he started doing this thing where he'd lift one arm up above his head, palm forward as if for a high-five, and everyone else would react by putting their hands up in the air, too, and cheering. And D would smile, and lift his hand up again, and everyone would cheer and raise their hands up, and so it went off and on all through dinner. It cracked me up. With Thanksgiving coming up I've been thinking about things I am thankful for, and family and moments like tonight's dinner definitely top the list.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Texas Playdates

We met up with a few friends here in town this afternoon. It was fun to get the kids together, and to see little Marissa who's now 2 (last time we saw her, which was also the first time, she was 4 months old)... and D loved being in a new house with a bunch of new toys. He also wowed everyone with his recently-acquired crawling skills! Yup, he's full-on crawling, up on his hands and knees, as of Saturday. It just all of a sudden clicked, and now he's crawling everywhere. I think I got good pictures, but I haven't looked at them yet other than on the camera display screen so we'll see how they turned out.

D's been amazing with all these people and events and change, playing happily and hanging out with people. I think separation anxiety is starting, though, or at least that preference for mama. He'll play without me for a bit, but every so often he'll need to check in with me and cuddle a bit, and then he'll be ok. But if I've been out of the room and then I walk in and out again, he doesn't take kindly to that. So I've been needing to stick kinda close by even as he plays with his grandparents and aunts and uncles, and hopefully he'll get more comfortable with them in the coming days and then again at christmas. I will say the expression on his face when he does see me is pretty priceless. =)

D went down to bed about 1.5 hours ago, so I think I'll retire now to read a bit (Benjamin kindly lent me his copy of Understanding Exposure, I just started it today) and then get on to bed. The kiddo is getting used to the crib, but still isn't sleeping the best (there may be a new set of teeth coming in?). And so I continue to be very tired. It always used to astound me when I read statistics about how big a percentage of our population was sleep deprived... now I know that most of them, are probably parents.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

six word sunday: Amazing how true stereotypes can be...

Amazing how true stereotypes can be...
six word sunday challenge

Howdy, y'all

So here we are, in Texas. This trip seemed to completely sneak up on me-- I don't think it was till Tuesday or Wednesday that I realized we'd be flying off on Saturday (yesterday). I have to say, it felt nice to have the trip feel so much more "low-key"-- only a 3 hour flight. Non-stop. No passports. No crossing countries. We just needed to entertaining our wiggle worm for those 3 hours on one plane, and then we'd be there. Sweet.

D did great on the flight-- he slept a bit, played a bit, hardly fussed. He didn't sleep great last night, though. My step-dad set up a hand-me-down crib in our room, and it's the first time D's slept in one, and I don't know if it was that or the newness of everything else and a long day, etc, but he had a bit of a hard time going to sleep, and then woke up quite often over the course of the night. He's been in a great mood all day today, though, even with the onslaught of people.

We hadn't realized this when we planned this trip, but this weekend was the celebration for my grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary. As such, all of my mom's (six) siblings came to town, and they had a big fancy shindig and dinner last night. Then today before heading back out to their respective home states, they stopped by here for lunch and to see D. It's been a while since I'd seen many of them, not to mention some of my cousins who are growing up at an alarming rate. And they all loved D. D seemed to love my cousins, too-- at one point he was sitting in one of their laps, the rest in a big circle around him (all of them being between 6-14 years old), and he was loving all the attention. It was so touching... and also so great to watch grammy and grampa so in awe of their (first!) great-grandson. It's rare to get all of the uncles and aunts together in one place (most of them, anyway-- Mike wasn't there) so fate did a great job there.

I also found out today that my step-dad planted a tree in the backyard for D when he was born (my niece Ryan has her own tree, too). We'll be needing to take a picture of D next to his tree before this trip is over. =P

(The picture above was taken this morning. I had just stepped outside to take pictures of this absolutely gorgeous cat that's been hanging out near the house a ton in recent months, and Cristina was holding D and, when I looked up he was there at the window, looking out like that. Had to be captured.)

Friday, November 21, 2008


D will soon be 10 months old, and thus my mind is beginning to turn to the process of weaning him. Yesterday we went to the library and I found a copy of The Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning. It's a topic that seems so simple at first (you just stop breastfeeding) but there's so much more to it-- when? How quickly? After having the benefits of breastmilk and its nutritional value imprinted on my brain, how do I make sure he's getting adequate nutrition without it? Etc.

The plan is to continue nursing through his first birthday, and then start weaning from there. I've read warnings to expect the process to take up to several months, so I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll be done by spring/summer. He's been dping better lately with drinking out of a sippy cup and even a regular cup, which I figure is pretty key to him being able to take in enough other liquids to substitute my milk. He also seems to be completely fine with the dairy I've added back into my diet, so I'm hopeful that he'll also be ready for cow's milk by 1 year.

I remind myself that I should enjoy these last months of breastfeeding, but honestly I'm not sure how much I'll miss it. It's nice to snuggle up several times a day, but thinking about it I don't know if I find nursing sessions any more comforting or special that the times he crawls up to me and hugs me, laying his head down on my shoulder (I guess I'm not guaranteed how often that will happen each day, which is the difference). I am glad that I've been able to breastfeed D this long, something I give both Zach and D a lot of credit for. There were many times in the first months when I might've quit if it weren't for Zach (they say the husbands' support of breastfeeding is a huge factor in how long mom will do it, which I think is so, so true), and if D hadn't been so adamantly against it he might've ended up on formula after the dropping-off-his-growth-curve debaucle. But I also can't help but look forward to being done with breastfeeding, for completely selfish reasons-- I want to wear regular bras again (the idea of a Victoria's Secret shopping spree makes me want to jump with joy). And be able to pick out my clothes without thinking of whether I can breastfeed easily in them or not. It also will be nice to get past breastfeeding and see what my body does once I'm not producing food for another person anymore, so I can buy clothes again and have some hope of them fitting for a while to come. Reading the weaning guide, where they speak of how nursing for two years is really the ideal, I feel a bit of guilt-- is it really that much to ask to put my selfishness aside for another few months/year for the benefit of my son and his health? But when I think about continuing to breastfeed, and all that means, I feel my heart sink, and that seems like a good sign to me that it may be time to stop soon.

One thing that will happen sooner than later, is that once we get back from our week in Texas I think Zach and I will try to cut down on D's night feedings. It's been months since I've had more than about 4 hours of sleep in a row, and while I know that's normal for some kids/moms and I know a few that get by on less than that, the lack of sleep is starting to really get to me. Even one consistent 6 hour stretch a night would be nice. I don't like taking feedings away from D or letting him cry, but I also strongly believe in both baby's and mama's need for sleep and rest. And sanity. When I find myself so tired that I'm desperately fighting off sleep while D is playing, or worse, while driving, I figure it's about time to draw the line.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jessica's Bookmark Books FOR SALE

In my lifetime (so far) I have been lucky enough to know, and be inspired by, some extremely talented people. First there was Kara, the girlfriend of Zach's college roommate. I never knew Kara too closely, but I've always admired and been in awe of her incredible creativity. Not only is she the mastermind (and worker bee) behind her thriving handbag design enterprise, she is also gifted in the areas of cooking, baking (made our wedding cake, 5 years ago, best I've ever tasted), interior design, etc etc etc.

And then, I met Jessica. Jessica who writes. And takes amazing photographs. And makes beautiful art while bored watching TV. Jessica, who is now selling her handmade bookmark books, which are not only a brilliant idea but also absolutely precious and adorable. I almost don't want to post the link because I want to buy them all for myself, but I don't think my wallet would like that very much. So I've bought 2, and urge you to go there and check out the rest, because I don't expect these puppies to last very long before they're all gone.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I'm trying to think more about composition in pictures. I've joined a few flickr groups that are geared towards giving and receiving good feedback (this one's great, this one is good, too, and this other one has fabulous discussions always). I like the challenge of dissecting what it is I like and dislike about other people's photos, and it's really interesting to hear what others think of mine. It's great to hear when others like what I've taken and for the same reasons, but I'm also taking in the criticism, the details that I didn't think of or even notice myself. One thing that's come up a few times is my composition. I know I need to spend more time thinking about that-- what do I want a photo to focus on, where is the eye drawn, am I following the rule of thirds, and do I want to? etc... At the same time, when my subject is a wriggly infant who's always on the move I don't exactly have time to stop and analyze the photo's composition before clicking the shutter, or tell him to get back to this one position so I can try to shoot that again (though I guess that's the argument for taking good, crisp photos to start with and then cropping them later).

Next week we'll be in Texas for Thanksgiving. Then we'll spend 2 weeks there again for Christmas and New Years. I've had a couple photography books sitting on my amazon wishlist for a while, waiting for me to get around to buying them... The best time for reading will probably be in Texas when I'll have plenty of family fighting over who can watch Donovan and thus let me get away, so maybe I'll grab one or 2 of those books for the holidays and get some reading in...

munch munch

The other day I was eating a pear, and D became extremely interested. As in, he wanted it, and was not going to hear otherwise. He's done this repeatedly with apples (I cannot eat an apple in front of him without him wanting some) but I guess he's a fan of pears, too. So I let him chew on the core for a while. I love the sound his little teeth make crunching on the flesh of the pear (though it also makes me worried he'll bite off a decent piece and choke, thus I watched him like a hawk the whole time).

Feedings with him are pretty hit-or-miss. I don't know if it's his cold or what, but lately he's been all about the cheerios, bread, and Gerber puffs, but most of the time won't touch anything I try to give him by spoon or with my hands, or even other foods I put on his tray for him to pick up with his fingers. But then randomly he'll devour whatever I give him. I've tried to look for patterns, and there are certain foods he tends to really like (sweet potatoes, peach, apple...) but even these will be turned away at times. And for the most part, what he eats and when seems so random. Some days he'll be all about purees, others will refuse anything that isn't a grain or that he can't pick up himself. And yet other days he'll happily eat cut-up pieces of food off my fork. It can be frustrating, but I try not to let that show or get to me as I don't want meals to become tedious or unfun. But it also makes it hard to be moti9vated to make food for him, as half the time it gets wasted (or eaten by me). If we have leftovers that are suitable for him to eat I'll give him those, but otherwise I reach for the convenience of the jar. I did find that Whole Foods carries a brand of baby food called Homemade Baby Food that's refrigerated and actually has an expiration date (imagine that!) and, well, tastes more like real food than most jarred kinds. So I buy that sometimes (when I make my way to Whole Foods). He does always eat his cheerios, and gets plenty of those... hopefully it's not too bad a thing if they make up quite the bulk of his solid foods diet.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I've had a long-standing goal of my children learning Spanish. Unfortunately in the 17 (holy cow, it's really been that long?!?) years since we left Chile, my own Spanish skills have kinda gone down the tubes. I remember the day several months ago when I realized that my proficiency in French was fairly close to that of my Spanish. That made me feel really good about my French, and pretty crappy about my Spanish. But I also knew that time and practice would go a long way towards renewing my fluency in Spanish, and I just had to buckle down and get to it to reap the rewards. Too bad I'm terrible at practicing languages on my own.

I think it is so cool when dual-language couples are able to have one parent speak to their children in one language exclusively. We met several families in Europe where the parents were from different countries, and thus mom would use one language, dad another, and when everyone was together they'd speak a 3rd language (often English). My Spanish is nowhere near good enough for me to speak to D exclusively in it, it would limit our vocal interactions way too much and I believe so deeply in giving babies and children exposure to a rich and varied vocabulary. But I figured I could pick a certain time of day on most days, and make that "Spanish time." And last week I realized that, at 9.5 months old already, I had really better get started.

Thus, D and I have begun Spanish mornings. The goal is to speak in Spanish with him from when he wakes in the morning through breakfast time, a good 1-2 hours, on most days. During that time I can concentrate on reading Spanish-language books, and pointing out objects around the house and giving the Spanish names, etc (things I probably should be doing in English, too....). Some days have gone great. Others, I'll be serving up his cheerios before I suddenly remember that I was supposed to have been speaking Spanish all morning. I'm hoping that at this stage even some exposure will be enough, or at least better than none. I've also had this idea for a while of finding a Spanish-language play group to join, which shouldn't be too difficult in this area, but I haven't exactly done anything towards that goal yet.

As I write, Zach is repeating Spanish phrases using a Spanish language program. He's always been better at this than I am, he'll actually sit down and read in French or Spanish and use programs, books, etc. I have the desire, but not the self-discipline to follow up on it. At this point, I think my morning sessions with D, and occasionally spending some time looking up words that I've forgotten, may be all I have the time and energy to devote.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Attack of the Chanchito-Stealing Baby

I realized recently that I have been neglecting my little chanchitos lately, so when D and I headed out to the front yard for some outside time I brought them along for the ride. I think I got some fun pictures that may soon make their way onto cards for my etsy shop. And at one point D grabbed my baby chanchito, and, well, it turned into a nice little storyline (not entirely unlike the one I took last year, with Sierra). The other day I also took some christmas-themed chanchito photos, so be on the look-out for a christmas card set. ; )

Friends are planting the seed in my brain about trying my hand at portraits sometime. I'm not sure if it's something I'm truly interested in, at least for now. I definitely feel like I'd need to have much more confidence in my postprocessing skills before trying to offer my photography as a service to others. And I don't have the time to properly devote to researching poses, lighting techniques, editing, etc. But, who knows. Doors can be left ajar indefinitely...

Zach has unfortunately come down with D's cold, it seems. I am trying to ignore the sensation that could be the beginnings of a sore throat. If I refuse to acknowledge it, does that mean it's not there? We shall see. I guess I should be off to bed, though, to give myself the best chance at a restful night.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Saas Fee
I was talking with a fellow new mom friend recently and she mentioned this idea she had of buying her daughter a piece of vintage jewelry every year at christmas, so that when she's grown she'll have a whole collection. I thought that was so neat. With the holidays coming up quick, and D's first birthday less than 3 months away now, it definitely got me thinking about traditions, and which ones I want to start for D, and for this new family unit of ours.

Christmas has always been spent with my parents. Zach and I are extremely lucky in that both our parents live not only in the same city, but within 2 miles of each other. This means that it's no problem for us to have the traditional christmas morning presents-opening-followed-by-gargantuan-brunch-prepared tradition that's been going on for years, and then head over to his folks' for a smaller, quieter celebration in their own traditional styling. Last year was actually the first time either of us has ever spent christmas away from our parents, and that was because I was 7 months pregnant and living in Europe. We will be in Texas once again this year for the holidays, and I'm so psyched to have Donovan around this time-- I've been picturing him sitting at the base of the tree with us christmas morn, ripping up the wrapping paper, for months. Christmas is the one holiday when everyone in our family (and that's a lot of people, folks) gets together, so I am fairly certain we'll continue celebrating it there and thus that will continue to be our holiday time customs.

But them, there's D's birthday. I know, I know, he won't remember a thing about this first birthday. But I will. And I can't help but think back on my own past birthdays, and wonder about what I want D's birthday memories to be. As far back as I can remember, for every birthday where I have been staying at my mom's house, I've been woken up on my birthday morning by my mom singing happy birthday, with at least a few of my birthday presents sitting at the foot of my bed, waiting to be opened. Looking back I realize how special these memories are to me, and how great it was to always start each birthday with a bang, even on days when school, work, and life in general might have made it easy to forget or brush aside.

I also think of the montessori birthday celebration, where you place something to symbolize the sun in the middle of a circle, and then have the child hold a globe and walk around the "sun" in a circle one ime for each year or their life, as their teacher or parent reads a few words about each year. I've seen this done many times in different schools, and LOVE the idea... though I wonder how well it would go over when D's 15 and would need to do 15 laps. ; ) Either way, whether it's the same tradition my mom kept with us or something new, I want to find something, even just a little 5 minute something, that we can comit to always doing at every birthday, on the actual day no matter when a regular party might be happening (at the party we will, of course, sing the 3 traditional family birthday songs, a tradition started by my grandmother, which will be passed on to this next generation. But, again, that's at the actual birthday party).

Ohmygosh, and I almost ended this post without mentioning what is probably my mom's most famous birthday tradition, the cake. As far back as I can remember, I've had bunny rabbits and teddy bear cakes, made by my mom. As we got older and she more creative and bold, we've had all sorts of other cakes-- Hello Kitties galore for my sister, school mascots, the groom's cake she made for our wedding, she even made me an amoeba cake for the semester in college when I took an insanely hard biology course (she actually modeled the cake after a picture in my textbook). She makes these using only square, rectangular, and round cake pans, then cuts and shapes the pieces as needed, using frosting as the "glue." I know I've taken pictures of each of these cakes and have them all stored somewhere, though unfortunately not easily accessible for sharing in this post. I always look forward to what mom's gonna pull off at each family birthday. This is one tradition I expect to take on myself, and am already trying to figure out what to shape D's first birthday cake into.

So to the moms and dads out there, what birthday/holiday traditions have you started/kept going with your kids? I'd love to hear others' ideas.

six word sunday: Building memories to last a lifetime.

Building memories to last a lifetime.

six word sunday challenge

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Girlie Day

"Um... I was promised football."

My friend Carolyn emailed out a week or 2 ago about Nordstrom's annual holiday makeup trend show. I'd gone with her a few years back, and figured it would be a pretty nice to have a girlie day away from the kiddo. So this morning I woke up early to get to the mall by 8am where I met up with Carolyn and 2 other friends, and we were served raspberry champagne and red velvet cupcakes (yes, at 8am) while we watched a runway show put on by many of the big makeup labels talking about the latest products and trends coming out for winter (did you know they're now selling vibrating mascara??). Then we got our makeup done at the Dior counter, did some shopping, watched famed celebrity photographer Steven Khan take pictures, and had a fabulous lunch at the Nordstrom's bistro that I had never known was even there. Zach brought D with him to the mall so he could feed when needed, and then they two just hung out inbetween. It worked out well for Zach, too, as he found a bar that was playing the Texas game and D fell asleep long enough for him to watch a decent portion of the game. Yay for father-son bonding time. ; )

The show:

Steven Khan at work, and the madness in the Nordstrom cosmetic department:

We got home with enough time to take care of a few small errands here at home before my friend Pat came over for dinner. It was my first time seeing her since we moved back, and so it was pretty great to get to catch up a bit. I'm now pretty dead tired from the day's events, and dinner with a good friend tends to lead to a later-than-usual bedtime (helping ensure that tomorrow won't be an energy-filled day, either) but I think it was worth it.

I must say, I'm pretty grateful to have a husband who was so very willing to take care of D all this morning, and who insists we should do this sort of thing most weekends to give me some time on my own. That Zach, he's a pretty great guy. ; )

Friday, November 14, 2008

assorted updates

Donovan weight update: The other night I remembered that we actually have a scale, and that I could use it to weigh Donovan. It claimed that he weighs 8.5kg (it's our swiss scale, thus metric), roughly 18lb 11oz. That's an 18oz (1lb2oz) gain over the last 6 weeks since his last weigh-in. He's still down in the 20% or so for his age, but he's back to gaining the recommended amount per week. I guess he just had a month or 2 where his weight really slowed due to extra activity, and then since then it's gone back to normal... and he'll just be a skinny kid for now. I don't mind, as long as he keeps those delicious cheeks and double chin for a while longer. =P

Non-weight-related D update: Poor little D seems to have a cold. Let's just say, his little nose runneth over. He seems in decent spirits still, though. He's been super cuddly lately, and I don't think it's just from possibly not feeling well today. He'll just crawl on over to me and rest his head on me. So sweet. =) It's so, so nice getting to this stage where he's able to show more deliberate affection.

Settling-in update: I've been slowly organizing things at home and trying to decorate a bit. I've managed to hang a few pictures up, and for the most part things look fairly neat. I'm really trying hard not to let clutter take over, to establish places for things and try to clear out clutter-prone spaces at the end of every day, or couple of days at most. Unfortunately I'm looking around today and things don't look so good, but they did just a day or 2 ago and I guess I'll be spending a few minutes on it again tonight. The nice thing is as long as I get to it before it gets too bad it only takes 10 minutes or so to sort through.

I am having trouble figuring out just what to do with D's room. I've moved the furniture around to all sorts of combination, I think I've found one that I like well enough. And the other day I put up these adorable vinyl wall decals that I bought from the Single Stone Studios etsy shop. But there's one wall that still looks so...bare. And immensely so. I don't know why it bothers me more than other bare walls in the house, maybe b/c D's furniture is all lower than the rest of the house's and so there's just more wall exposed? I did buy a couple frames at Target today, I'll try hanging those (and maybe try to also find a cute bulletin board? hmmm) and see how that looks.

Etsy update: I took the sage advice everyone gave, and raised my prices. Single cards are now $3.50 each. I also added a few card sets to the shop (baby, floral, and nature themes). I recently got in my rigid mailers, and then realized they're perfect for decorating, so here's a sneak peek at my card packaging. =)


PS- I started writing this post at 2pm. It's taken 4 hours to get enough bits of time to finish it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

laugh lines

Last night I looked through a set of freshly uploaded photos, and cringed when I came to this one. It was a (very) impromptu (sp?) session I'd set up with D while we were playing. As you can see, not much thought went into the set-up... he happened to be hanging out at his shelf, right where I've put mirrors on the wall that faced him, and I had the camera in the room so I attempted to click away at some mom-and-baby photos. Some turned out ok, many have really awkward composition, but they still came out kinda neat. But, what made me cringe about this one was seeing the seemingly (to me, anyway-- we're our own worst critics, right?) massive wrinkles at my eyes. Yes, I'm laughing, but still. I cringed. We live in a society that sees wrinkles as unattractive signs of old age (another unattractive thing on its own) and I can see that I have internalized that attitude to at least some degree.

But then I remembered a card I'd seen on Postsecret just this past Sunday:
When I look at the photo again with this new sentiment in mind, I do not see wrinkles anymore, but a mother overjoyed with her darling son. I almost want to print out that postcard and keep it displayed somewhere, as a reminder to wear fine lines and wrinkles as badges of a life lived so, so well and all the blessings I've been granted in life so far.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

These boots are made for... um, chewing on, apparently.

these boots
Julia found these adorable baby cowboy boots for D recently. I can't wait to go to Texas where he can wear them with his jeans, Texas jersey, and cowboy hat. As you can see from the picture here, D likes them a lot, too. =P

Speaking of Julia, we met up with her, Cyrus and Sophia, and our friend Benjamin tonight for an early sushi dinner. Zach was, as usual, overjoyed to get to indulge in sushi. D did impressively well out at a restaurant, eating up a whole jar of sweet potatoes (one of his fave foods of the moment) and remaining in a pretty good mood most of the time. The best part? We got home a little before 7pm, had just enough time to give D a bath and get him to bed by his usual bedtime, and since we normally eat dinner afterwards it was like we suddenly had all this time that we didn't know what to do with!

So we watched The Daily Show. =P

Etsy's going well, I've had 4 orders so far. Three of them were from immediate family members, but hey business is business! ; ) Unfortunately I'm realizing that I maybe should've set my prices higher to begin with. At $2 per card I'm not making much of a profit, and if I start selling sets (which I plan to do soon) I'll make even less per card. Not that I'm planning on making much of a profit from any of it, but it'd be nice to make a little something. I don't like the idea of changing prices that are already out and public, but I guess the shop's so new I might as well do it sooner than later. I'm thinking of going with $3/card. What do y'all think? Does that seem fair? Low/high?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Any green thumbs out there?

D and I took a short trip to Home Depot to pick up a couple things today, and looking through the garden center I got inspired. We have some different spaces in our front yard and enclosed patio that could use some cute plants, but I so do not have a green thumb and so am not sure how to begin. I want to get plants that are not toxic for pets or kids, obviously, but also are hopefully somewhat hearty since I'm not the best at keeping up with plant upkeep. Oh, and should be able to take a good bit of direct sun. And is it ok to transfer a plant to the ground now, as we approach winter? I know it's California so it'll be mild... It would be nice to have something in the ground by our housewarming party next month.

So, anyone have any advice?


Monday, November 10, 2008

Needing Space

ivy league
After one too many annoying instances of uploading new pictures only to be told that harddrive space was low, and constantly hovering on filling up the last 1-5 gigs of space, we finally broke down and bought a terabyte external drive for backing up and file storage. The thing that's so amusing to me, is I vividly remember getting my first computer when I graduated high school, 10 years ago, and it had a 4G hard drive which at the time was HUGE. Compared to today when it is roughly the size of the memory card I was told I should carry TWO of for my camera if I want to try shooting RAW. Or smaller than each of the DVDs in the huge stack sitting next to me, that I have used as yet another back-up method.

But anyway. So, desperately needed more space, then went out and bought it. We now have ridiculous amounts of back-up options. We're signed up with Carbonite, a web service that is constantly backing up out hard drive in case it conks out or, say, the house burns down. We're also fully backed up on the terabyte drive, which will ghost our hard drive from time to time as well as host all our video, photo, and music files to free up space on our "puny" laptop 80G drive. And then there's the aforementioned huge stack of DVDs that are serving as a second backup of our video, photo, and music files (actually I need to finish backing up the music....). Add to that that all of our videos are also up on youtube, and photos on Snapfish and flickr, and really we should be pretty set for any sort of disaster. Yet I still feel nervous deleting files off the main drive. I guess that pack-rat mentality extends to all areas, even the virtual. BUT I managed to clear off most of our videos and pictures, which means we now have 40G of free space on the laptop. WOOT! Now we just have to keep up the organization scheme and keep on top of the backing up and we'll be set. Till we run out of space again. Which hopefully won't be for a while.

The photo above is of some of the ivy growing on the fence outside our back door. A couple weekends ago I happened to look out in the morning and the sun was hitting the wet leaves in a way that was just striking, and then lightroom allowed me to bring out the beauty even more. I'm quite proud of this one. =)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

like a drug

sweet sleep
Yesterday Zach mentioned that he was thinking of going over to Cyrus's for an hour or 2 this afternoon, taking D with him. Their plans to make beer didn't quite come to pass, but I think the boys had fun with some woodworking and just hanging out. And me? I was practically intoxicated by the FREEDOM. Zach does a pretty good job of playing with D on weekends and letting me have some time to do other things, but it's never scheduled or anything. So knowing ahead of time that I was gonna have the house to myself for up to a couple hours was, well, quite exciting. I even made a list last night or things I wanted to use the time for, as I wanted to make sure to use the time as efficiently as possible. This is what it comes to when you're a mom. I'd thought about heading out to Borders to catch up on celeb gossip, but instead I stayed home and read, and played some more with my lightroom trial.

The above photo is the result of such tinkering, and I'm pretty proud of it. It's interesting noticing the way different software programs will use the same tool, but leave slightly different effects. It's also interesting that many times I'll edit a photo in Picasa or GIMP and love it when it's done, but when I look at it again after a day or 2 it feels too "done," the colors won't look right, etc. With my LR edits, maybe I'm being more cautious, but the shots I have loved in the moment I've continued to love afterwards, and the bits of editing regret I do feel are that I think a particular shot could actually use more tuning.

The other thing I've noticed is, I should take more pictures of D asleep. I've avoided it as I worry that the shutter click will wake him. For the photo above he'd just gone down, and he'd been soooo sleeepppyyy that I figured he was pretty conked out and risked it. And he looks so darn sweet when he sleeps, I need to continue to capture those moments as he grows, or at least try to.

Speaking of sleep, I've (temporarily, at least) given up on the floor bed. It worked great for a while, but transitioning him abck after the move I kept putting him down for a nap and finding him standing up at his bookshelf 5 minutes later, and with how he's pulling up on everything-- and often falling over-- I just don't trust him to have that much freedom when I'm not right next to him. So he's sleeping in his pack-n-play for now. I thought about buying a crib, but if my fear is him standing up and then falling against something hard, then it doesn't make sense to put him in something that has wooden slats that I KNOW he's gonna oull up on and then fall onto. I do worry about whether it's good for him to sleep on a pack-n-play mattress long-term, but the mesh sides are a big plus during his current stage of mobility.

six word sunday: "Sierra loves me, loves me not..."

"Sierra loves me, loves me not..."

six word sunday challenge

Saturday, November 08, 2008


Today was the second weekend in a row that I pulled out the Aunt Jemima complete pancake mix and whipped a batch for all of us to enjoy. I did add bananas this time. Donovan seemed pretty into the pancakes. I must say I kinda hope we keep this up, as I like the idea of having one weekend day when we all sit together and enjoy a nice breakfast. Zach and I have always enjoyed this weekend morning routine, complete with a nice cup of tea and maybe a KGSR broadcasts CD playing or if it's Sunday, tuning in to KFOG's acoustic sunrise. Then tomorrow as long as the weather holds up we'll head down to the farmer's market for shopping and maybe breakfast as well. That's one ritual I'm so glad to have back again.

Our city was having a special on compost bins this weekend so Zach went a got us one and now it's all set up in the back patio already working on composting some leaves and a couple of D's gdiaper inserts. Yay! Our toilet here doesn't really handle the inserts very well, so we've been throwing them away, which I know is still supposed to be better than regular diapers but still. Knowing that they now will be turned into compost (at least the non-poopy ones) feels so much better, like we really are doing something positive by using the gdiapers. Other than D's bottom looking cuter. =P Zach is really excited about having a compost pile now. I'd forgotten that his parents have always had one, so he grew up with that habit of composting, which was renewed in Switzerland, and since then throwing away compostable foods, etc, has felt like such a waste to him, I guess.

In the afternoon we walked down to the downtown area and snagged used copies of A Light in the Attic and Are You Ready to Play Outside? (SUPER cute book) at the local bookstore. Not that he needs any more books. He's got a ton of books already, and we have memberships now at 2 local libraries. But I have such a hard time saying no to buying books for him. Which I guess might not be a terrible thing, I just need to keep it somewhat in check. Anyway, D was enthralled by the cat that lives in the store. =) We then came home and noticed that it was 5:30 and D had never fallen asleep in the stroller like we'd hoped, and thus had been up since 1:30pm, and I'm kind of in awe that the rest of the evening didn't go worse considering how tired he must've been. By the time I was getting him in his pj's he was pretty darn ready to go to bed.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Holy crap this is getting fun

So yesterday we discovered D's ability to play peek-a-boo, and which it seems he'll do anytime I give him a blanket or anything to pull up over his face. I've also recently seen him bring his hands together to kinda clap, but when I clap myself and try to encourage him to clap again he stops. I've seen him get up on his hands and knees and start moving forward in a regular crawl, but he's pretty cautious about it and will plop back down to his belly quickly... though his "army crawl" is also getting more animated and forceful, and he seems to be using his legs and knees to propel him forward more than his arms as before. A couple days ago I bought D this little basketball hoop toy (you know, so he can grow up to be a baller like his Uncle Andrew), and he's put the little basketball through the hoop a couple times, seemingly on purpose. And today he also decided it's HILARIOUS when I go "bababababa." So much so, that it was the reason we managed to get through the post-bath dressing fiasco without tears. He even started "bababa"ing back at me. It was awesome.

OH, and he stood today. I've seen him let go while standing once or twice and manage to hover in the air for a second or 2 before falling. But tonight he was playing with a new set of toy keys I got him and I stood him up on his legs and was holding onto his waist, then just for kicks I let go... and he stayed standing for I swear a good 10 seconds. HOLY CRAP. The funny thing is he was so concentrated on his toy I'm not even sure he noticed. It was also cool watching him play with the keys, which come with a toy fob with buttons that make noise and he'd deliberately press the buttons over and over to hear the sound (though as cool as it was to watch, it was also a reminder as to why we haven't bought toys that make noise very often...).

The physical advances with the near crawling and standing are very cool, but even more so is this new interaction and games we're playing. It's like all of a sudden something's happened, and it does feel like he understands more, and interacts in a more direct way. Zach had a funny analogy for D's progression in his level of interaction over the past 9 months, saying it's like he's gone from chia-pet level to a regular (live animal) pet to now he's seeming more like a little person who understands and reacts. Hopefully that makes sense.

But yeah. I think we're getting to a really fun part here. =) It's all so crazy... as I was telling a friend the other day, I look at him sometimes when he's standing up and babbling and doing all these things he's doing now, and I'll think, "Just a little bit ago you were this tiny little thing that couldn't even hold up his own head!" And look at him now.

Oh, and today marks 11 years since Zach and I started officially dating. =P

Thursday, November 06, 2008


The other day I pulled out Baby 411 and was reading up on developmental milestones for 9 month olds, and was surprised to learn that he may already be able to understand the concept of "no" and other words we use, and that he may also start testing out cause-effect relationships and playing games with us. I'm always surprised to reach a certain stage of development, as they come on so fast and sometimes I feel like I'm not quite ready for him to be so advanced.

Today, I got a peek at this new baby stage. I sat down with D and in an effort to entertain him I gave him this long scarf I have. He grabbed at it with his hands, and lifted the fabric to cover his face, and then lowered it. I took the opportunity to turn it into a short game of peek-a-boo... and then he did it again. And again. And started giggling like a maniac. I ran to get the camera, and was afraid that having it recording him would distract him away from what he was doing (as so often happens). But thankfully, no. He kept at it. And when Zach came home and I gave D the same scarf, he did it all over again. My little boy has figured out how to play peek-a-boo, and OMG IS IT EXCITING.

Unfortunately after this incident he later went to take a nap, and when he awoke he was a crankomonster. We've been lucky in that I've never noticed a consistent pattern of him experiencing the famous "witching hour" (I think he prefers to spread his crabbiness around throughout the day, you know, keep us on our toes) but lately I'm noticing that he's waking up from that afternoon nap feeling kinda crummy. So after many unsuccessful attempts at cheering him up, I grabbed the stroller and we went for a walk. There's a park a few blocks away, so we went there, and D swung on the swing there for nearly an hour while I caught up with my best friend with whom I haven't talked in ages. D was happy as could be swinging there-- it's amazing how he can seem so miserable at home, but as soon as the stroller gets moving and we're out someplace else, he can be so happy. Then sure enough, as soon as we get home again he started fussing again. Oh, and when I unlocked our door I managed to break the key in the lock. We've already got someone coming out tomorrow to turn on our gas and someone else to fix a cracked window, we might as well add a locksmith to the list, huh?

It's amazing to me how quickly D's cries will drain my energy. We had a fairly good day most of today, but then just that bit of time this afternoon when he was upset and nothing would soothe him for longer than 2 minutes (other than the walk and the park) almost cancelled it out. It's sad how that works, thoughI suppose it's something I can change if I focus on it. Zach's getting D ready for bed right now (they just got out of the bath, so the getting-PJs-on-torture session should start up any minute now), maybe I'll watch the video a few times before bed so I can end the day on that positive note.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

...and we will


When Barack Obama first came out as a potential candidate for the presidency, I figured that between his name and his ethnicity he didn't stand a chance. I underestimated him, and more than that I underestimated the American people, something I'm somewhat ashamed of. My mom called me last night as she and my step-dad were celebrating, and she told me that Grammy and Grampa had voted for Obama and hed been very excited about doing so. My grandparents may not be hard-core republicans and they have been quite unhappy with Bush these past years, but as people I've heard make fairly racist comments from time to time (they're from a different era, after all) and who are not exactly the most, um, open-minded individuals, I think it speaks volumes that they've been won over by Obama.

Yesterday morning I was driving with D and listening to NPR broadcasting about how the polls showed Obama ahead, and how people were showing up in record numbers to vote, and I got tears in my eyes just thinking about the momentousness of it all. Thinking about Donovan, how he was born the same year that the US voted in our first African-American president. Just a year or 2 ago I didn't think this was any sort of remote possibility anytime soon. Now here we are, and my son will never know a time when the most powerful position in this country was reserved only for caucasian males. That is a HUGE shift in our history, and something I am so, so proud of.

I don't want this to sound like I support Obama just because of the color of his skin. His ethnicity and place in history because of it is only the icing on the cake. The truth is he is a man who has already inspired so many people. This election had a voter turnout higher than this country has seen in decades. He's managed to get people excited, both young and old, at a time when many see so much doom and gloom. He is inspiring people to do better for themselves, and for their country, and if that's not a mark of a good leader then I don't know what is.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Donovan the Baby says VOTE!


Donovan the Baby says "VOTE for Change! We need change! Like diaper change. And other changes, too. By the way I kinda like that Obama dude. Bummer I have to wait 18 years before I can vote."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Today was quite the productive day, I got a lot done during each of D's naps. As such, I am somewhat exhausted, though. BUT I can now announce that my etsy shop is up and running. WOOT! =) So head and over and take a look.

I have several cards up for sale, most of them featuring photos in a nature motif. I did manage to add a couple chanchito cards at the end, and I hope to do more of a series of these in the near future. I'm also planning to add photo cards with cats, and possibly also some with photos of our village and other shots from European cities.... and of course I think I'll have to do a christmas/holidays series. All the listings are individual cards right now, but soon I'll have sets of 4-8 (or more?) cards for sale, too.

By the way, the paper for the cards and envelopes is 100% recycled, so my cards are not only purty, they're "green," too. =P

I would love feedback, I'm trying to figure out what's marketable and what appeals to people. Are pictures of flowers still good, or are they overdone? What photo cards do you really love, and which ones don't seem like anything you'd want to send anyone? And so on. Send me email at mightymarce at gmail dot com with any thoughts, ideas, criticism, etc. Oh, and if you'd like to spread the word, that would be great, too. =)


Sunday, November 02, 2008

When did this happen?

I cannot believe that D will be 9 months old tomorrow.

You know what else seems unbelievable? The fact that his first birthday is only three months away. How is this possible?

I guess I need to start thinking about a birthday party...

six word sunday: Sometimes he is almost too adorable.

six word sunday challenge

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Let there be Light(room)

I've had ambivalent feelings towards the whole post-processing part of photography. There's probably a few different schools of thought along a whole spectrum about this in the photography world, from people who believe the "true magic" of photography only happens on the computer, to the way part of me still feels, that it's almost "cheating" to use software to make your photographs outstanding (not to mention the hassle of finding the time to edit your photos). It is true that you shouldn't depend on a computer program to make your photos into something worth looking at, but at the same time as I've dabbled here and there with even simple programs and effects I've discovered how even a tiny tweak in colors or contrast can turn a blah photo into something that's stunning (to my eyes, at least). And so, I've been wanting to experiment more with this aspect of photography, to learn more and try to master a few techniques.

I blogged before about my frustrations with Picasa3 and the GIMP. Both fabulous programs, but just not quite what I want. So I downloaded a free 30-day trial of Adobe Lightroom and played with it for the first time today, and I have to say I'm quite pleased. Part of this may be a carry-over of what I've learned using the other programs, but Lightroom does feel like it's pretty user friendly. I've had a handful of photos sitting in the My Pictures folder for a couple months that I've wanted to do something to, but haven't taken the time to yet, and after just a few minutes I'd transformed them into something I am pretty pleased with:
LR edit
LR edit

As expected, Lightroom is basically a souped-up version of Picasa, with the same sort of organizational capabilities but allowing me to do much, much more editing-wise. It's still limited compared to GIMP or Photoshop (eg, no layers) but I'm thinking LR would work for the vast majority of what I'll be doing now, and anything I encounter that I decide I want to do that goes beyond LR I can always open up GIMP for. So, um, I think a permanent version of LR might be my christmas present this year. =)

As a semi-random aside, I think the feature I was most excited to see in LR was the ability to make vignettes. (the darkening at the edges of a photo, I have slight ones in the first 3 photos above) I love vignettes . I just love the look, I think it can really "finish" a photo and make it look grand. So that's exciting to have at my disposal. =P


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