Sunday, October 30, 2011

craving creativity

A few days ago I found this article with before & after examples of 15 photographs that had been processed in Lightroom, along with brief descriptions of what had been adjusted for each one.  I haven't spent much time processing my photos in the past, well, 10-11 months, and reading that articles and looking through the pictures reminded me of how I've been missing it.  It got me thinking about how I may want to finally upgrade to Lightroom 3 (I keep hearing how awesome the noise reduction tool is.... would be so nice to have); how I want to photograph subjects other than my children (I love taking pictures of my kids, and if I may say so myself I think I take damn good pictures of them... but still, it'd be nice to experiment with other subjects from time to time); and I want to explore and experiment more with post-processing (for example, learning more about and becoming more comfortable with Develop panels like Split Toning and sharpening tools).
The main problem here, of course, is finding the time for all this.  These days it's all I can do to offload pictures from the camera and add keywords before sharing them on flickr.  But I miss taking time to play with a photo and create something beautiful with it. And, the only way to improve my photography & processing skills is to practice them.

So.  Not entirely sure how I'm going to do this, but I want to make a point of making time for photography again.  I figured that by now, by the time Q was close to a year, I'd have more time for myself.  Unfortunately that does not seem to be turning out that way.  His overnight sleep is basically about the same as a newborn right now, in that I never know how much time I'll get in the evening before he wakes again (this past week it was often at 9 or 10pm, after finally getting both kids down by 8pm).  Yet he barely ever takes daytime naps anymore, or if he does they're short (30mins).  Having the nanny helps, but most of her time here is taken up by both of us getting the kids fed and then to bed.  It's really frustrating having so little time for, well, anything.  But I think I need to make this more of a priority, maybe making time on the weekends.
These pictures were taken months ago.  I found them this morning and snagged a few minutes to play with them a bit while Zach wrangled the kids.  It felt kinda nice to do.  Hopefully I can keep it up.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Pictures and Camera Lust

D's costume this year was Super Grover.  This is his first year to choose his own costume. About a month or 2 ago he decided he wanted to be Super Grover, and has actually stuck to it the entire time.  Our nanny got into sewing over the summer, and volunteered to make a cape and sew the Super grover logo onto a shirt for us.  I then made his helmet following an idea I found on Pinterest, to take a kids play helmet and cover it in duck tape.  The end result, I have to say, was pretty awesome.
His school had a festival on Friday night where the kids wore their costumes, and they all recognized D's immediately. He was quite popular.  We also went trick or treating here in our neighborhood today, and again heard many kids calling, "Hey, it's Super Grover!"  D was a bit shy about it, but smiled each time.

Q had 2 costumes-- Zach insisted that he go as Quinn the Eskimo (from the song), so we tried that... although he wasn't a huge fan of the coat.
Today was a bit warmer so I opted for a lighter costume of a mini-Mack Brown.  I wish I'd thought about it sooner than this morning, or I might've been able to figure out a headset or clipboard or playbook or something else as a prop to kinda help the costume along.  But, hey, he still looked pretty adorable in his UT gear.

In other news, I had a bit of a photography-related epiphany this weekend... I don't think I like zoom lenses.  Most of my daily shooting is with prime lenses, but I use my 17-85mm for things like, well, the festival on Friday night, or parties, or other times when I figure I need the convenience of zooming in and out.  Except, zoom lenses are big.  And heavy.  And I'm never as happy with my pictures with the 17-85mm as I am with ones taken with any of my primes.  My dream zoom lens is the 24-70mmL lens which is even heavier than my current one.  Last year I bought a Canon 35mm f/2 lens and have been using it a lot lately, and I'm realizing that when I use it I don't miss the ability to zoom in and out as much as I thought I would.  And it's much lighter, faster, and better quality in my opinion.

I'm almost tempted to just get rid of the 17-85mm now, though it's still nice to have for the wide angle.  But, I'll be sticking to my prime lenses even more now, and have officially erased the 24-70mm off my wish list.  Interestingly, this means that now my next "dream" purchase has shifted to wanting a full-frame DSLR camera body (ahem).   I really like the 35mm field on my 30D which is approximately equivalent to what my 50mm lenses (Canon 50mm f/1.8 and Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro, aka my top 2 favorite lenses) would look like on a full-frame camera.

And yes, I do realize how ridiculous it is to want a $2,500 camera for a $80 lens (ok, so the better noise handling, HD video, live mode, etc would also be quite appreciated).  I have no idea if/when I'll ever upgrade to that nice of a camera-- it'd be quite a few birthdays and christmases put together.  But, hey, a girl can dream, can't I?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

list blogging: 10.19

One more of D running through the leaves...

Listening: to the sweet sound of silence.  The kids both woke up by 4:30am.  Then they both fell asleep again around 6. I don't expect it to last, so here I am in the dark, enjoying the silence and solitude.

Eating: nothing at the moment.

Drinking: pumpkin spice flavored coffee. 

Wearing: a pair of jeans I just re-discovered hidden in my closet, t-shirt.

Feeling: tired. annoyed. frustrated. and yet, grateful-- for the small village we have around us that helps make so many things a bit easier.

Weather: after a teaser week of fall temps, it's been back up in the high 80's the past week or 2. Looking forward to fall and cardigans.

Wanting: for my 10 month old baby to stop fighting sleep so much. It's been a particularly bad week for sleep, one that makes me start thinking about night weaning and sleep training.  Except his sleep patterns and habits change and fluctuate so much, that even if I spent all that time and energy trying to change them I doubt any changes would even "stick."  

Needing: more patience.  With myself, with my children.  To learn how not to lose my temper, and how not to feel angry at them for being normal kids.  

Thinking: of trying out yoga classes at a studio nearby.  Perhaps exercise can help with my mood, and yoga's one of the few kinds of exercise I can see myself actually sticking to.  

Enjoying: this momentary stillness while the kids sleep.  

Wondering: when I will ever feel rested again, or will have any significant amount of time for myself again.

Friday, October 14, 2011

evening thoughts

I had the kids solo tonight, which meant staggered bedtimes, which meant D didn't hit the sack till around 9pm.  Spent an hour on the computer trying to take care of a few things, though somehow most of my to-do list still remains.  Ate dinner (forgot to earlier), unloaded & reloaded dishwasher.  Now it's suddenly 10:30 and I'm once again asking myself if I will bother to take a shower, as I promised myself I would tonight, or skip it for that extra bit of precious, precious sleep.

I don't know how often or when Q will wake tonight, though I can guess they'll both be up sometime between 5-6am tomorrow.  And then the day will begin anew.

It's frightening how much it feels like I'm kinda just treading water, and that's with immense support and help like our nanny and amazing friends.  I shudder to think of what all this would be like without them.

This too shall pass.  This too shall pass. This too shall pass.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Babywearing Collection: Update

A few months ago I wrote about my babywearing collection, aka the many contraptions that made it possible for me to survive the first several months of Q's babyhood.  Well, soon after that I bought two more carriers: a Sakura Bloom Hana ring sling and a Boba soft-structured carrier.

As it turns out, these two are my hands-down favorite carriers now. ; )

I bought the Sakura Bloom sling specifically for a friend's wedding.  I wanted a more elegant way to wear Q, and so justified the splurge.  As expected, the sling is gorgeous, and the fabric is really amazing.  I love the linen, it's really comfortable and easy to adjust, while still having enough "grip" to feel really secure on.  It took me a while to really get the hang of ring slings, but they are now my first recommendation for any new mom as I feel they're one of the most versatile baby carriers-- easy on/off, small and compact for storage, and can easily accomodate newborns up to toddlers.  I switch back and forth between my SB sling and my BabyEtte superwide sling for running errands with Q (going to the post office, school drop-off/pick-up for D, or just a way to hold Q on our way to and from the car).
Quinn asleep in the sling during a friend's party.
Waiting to board a flight this past summer.
I did use my SB sling at that wedding, and wore Q in it for a good hour or two... and then he just got too heavy to keep using it.  So that's when I switched to my back-up, the Boba.  The Boba has almost the same shape as the more popular Ergo, but with a few small differences (the waist strap is slightly different, and the body of the Boba is an inch or 2 taller).  I worried that I wouldn't like the straps as much bc they don't cross in the back. As it turns out, once you have everything adjusted right it's actually really comfortable.  The Boba quickly became my go-to carrier, even being preferred over my beloved mei tai.
Now that Q's 22lbs front carries are getting tougher (or maybe I need to re-adjust something again?) but I can still wear him on my back for long periods of time.  I've even worn D (33lbs) in the Boba a few times when necessary and it's been surprisingly comfortable.
Walking back to the car. @Boba #bobafamily #happybwing
Walking back to the car from a beach in Tahoe.  I think he liked getting a ride like his brother. ; )
Zach also uses the Boba often, usually when he's having trouble getting Quinn to fall asleep so he'll put him on his back.  I don't care what anyone says, dads "wearing" babies are awesome. =P

Sunday, October 09, 2011

On the 13th day the strike ended. And there was much rejoicing.

***KNOCK ON WOOD***  The nursing strike is over!! (read here and here for the backstory)

Friday night at bedtime (after having the 2nd chiro adjustment that morning, this time a bit more aggressive of one using the activator) Q nursed, but only once he was already mostly asleep.  This was the same as he'd done twice before, so while I was happy I did not expect it to mean anything.  Again, twice before he'd nursed like this one isolated time, and then not again for 4-5 days.

Then Saturday morning he nursed again (still only in his sleep).  And again during his nap at 11am.  And a third time during another nap, at 3pm.  That third time he even opened his eyes and seemed semi-awake through part of it.  Could this be?  I didn't want to get my hopes up, as so many times over the past 2 weeks I've become hopeful and then had those hopes coem crashing back down when the little progress we'd made completely reversed itself.

And then that night, last night, I got him ready for bed and went to our rocking chair.  And he latched on. Happily, easily, willingly.  And nursed to sleep.  And he did that again this morning, and has been happily breastfeeding all day today, as if nothing ever happened.

Part of me is anxiously waiting for him to start refusing again.  part of me is so very happy and relieved that this is finally over.  And part of me wants to shake him and yell, "What the hell was all that about?!" Which, clearly, I won't do.  I'll just be happy that he's come around, and I can say good-bye to that infernal pump.

(As an aside, I've always admired moms who pump, either at work or who exclusively pump for their babies at home.  Then after 2 weeks of this, my admiration for those moms is about 1,000x greater.  You truly deserve a medal.)

What makes me laugh is that he broke the strike on the 13th day...  which is a number I've always kinda had a soft spot for, being born on a 13th.  Is this his little trick on me? Who knows.  I'm just glad I did keep trying.  I don't think I could've done it without the support and encouragement of the lactation consultant I've been working with.  Seriously, if anyone in the Sacramento area ever needs breastfeeding help, call Jaye Simpson.  She's an IBCLC, and is completely amazing and really knows her stuff.  

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

tongue tied no more

You know how sometimes you look back on something and all of a sudden it seems so obvious?

I just happened upon a picture of D as a baby sticking his tongue out:
Holly Lake/day148

That's when I realized that I've never seen Q able to stick his out anywhere close to that.  This is about his limit:

Quinn had his frenectomy today.  I didn't expect to get scheduled in that fast, but was nice to just get it done.  The dentist and office staff were great, though they did look a bit, um, taken aback by Q being such a big baby.  I guess the vast majority of their clients for this procedure are newborns just days or maybe weeks old.  I swear I saw fear in one woman's eyes as she realized she'd have to help hold this wiggly, STRONG 22lb baby still while the doctor clipped the frenulum.

As predicted, Q was NOT a fan of the procedure.  I had a moment of regret at doing this right when he's not nursing, as usually moms breastfeed their baby right afterwards to help them calm down and stop the bleeding.  As it was, he bled a little, and after spending about 5 minutes in a darkened room in their office he calmed down and was happy again.

When we got home I gave him a dose of Motrin (wish I'd remembered to do that beforehand), and then sat him down to eat as I figured he was hungry.  He'd been fussy up to then, but I think a lot of it was the hunger as he cheered right up.  I'm supposed to massage him under the tongue a few times a day for a few days to help prevent reattachment.  The first time I tried it he actually let me, which was a shock, and it didn't seem to bother him in the slightest.  Unfortunately, the second time he was a bit less happy about it and jerked his head, which caused my finger to jam right into the base of the underside of his tongue, and he was upset about THAT for a good 10 minutes.

I've been trying to watch his tongue all day to notice any differences, and finally in the evening I saw him play with it and seem to have a much wider range of motion than he had before.

Tomorrow we have another adventure.  I made an appointment for the massage therapist that Jaye recommended, but it's not for two weeks.  So, after hearing two separate stories of babies who went on long nursing strikes that then ended after getting a chiropractic adjustment, I figured it's worth a shot and found a nearby practice that'll see us tomorrow.  Don't quite know what to expect, I've always had mixed feelings about chiropractic (not ever knowing much about it at all, to be honest).  I did get to witness a friend get adjusted a few months ago, she swears it's changed her life.  I'm not sure what to expect, guess we'll just see what happens.

Monday, October 03, 2011

On Strike: Day 8

That's right, we have completed day EIGHT of our nursing strike.  "Two to four days" my ass.  By now I've heard enough stories of extended nursing strikes (with about equal amounts of happy endings, and weaned-forever endings) to know that maybe a lot of nursing strikes do end after just a couple of days, but an awful lot of them can last for weeks.

That said, today was the first day that I've felt truly hopeful in a while.

Last week as a whole was pretty rough.  It's surprising how upsetting this whole thing has been, and how physically exhausting worrying is.  My main concern is hydration.  Up until the past day or two, Quinn was hardly drinking ANY fluids at all.  He was still having about 5 "wet" (cloth) diapers over 24 hours, but they were definitely NOT "sopping wet" as they should be, and I think on Saturday he gave me a big scare by going 5 hours in the day without peeing (six continuous dry hours is a sign of dehydration).  So basically, all last week I was waiting to have to make the call to take Quinn in to the hospital for an IV, and all the horrors and annoyances involved.  Not a very happy place to be, emotionally.

Also, pumping sucks ass.  It's hard to find the time when I can sit down for 15 continuous minutes and not have Quinn need me for something.  Not to mention the pain of washing pump parts and bottles, and the various drinking containers I kept trying to get him to use.  Oh, and the mess of cleaning up after eating solids every few hours, to make up for the nutrition and liquids he wasn't taking in via breastmilk.

And, while it's not as big a priority (especially compared to keeping him hydrated, my #1 concern) I also missed just the act of breastfeeding.  Not just for the ease of it (nothing to wash, easy way to soothe him, even get him to sleep some of the time....) but also the act in and of itself.  I miss breastfeeding him.

So, anxious and worried, we kept trying different things, kept offering him solids to eat every couple hours, kept track of his diapers in a notebook, etc.  On Thursday he nursed once, in his sleep, as I held and rocked him for a nap around noon... then went back to refusing as usual.  Over the weekend he thankfully started drinking a little bit more-- would accept up to 2oz of water or breastmilk at a time from one particular cup.  This was maybe getting 2-4oz over the whole day.  But, it was something, more than he'd been taking before.

Yesterday he had his first honest-to-god wet diaper.  Last night I took a bath with him and while he was too distracted to really focus on my boobs much, he did latch on twice for about a second each time.  Today, he even had one that was soaked, along with several others that were more wet than they'd been all last week.  Today he even nursed during his nap at noon, and then during dinner and bedtime drank 6.5 whole ounces of breastmilk from the cup.  This is all very, very encouraging.  Throughout the afternoon and evening he still refused to nurse again, but seemed more tolerant of being offered-- like he was actually almost entertaining the idea rather than being immediately offended by the very notion, as he has been up to today.  Just the fact that he's drinking more and his diapers are wetter, and thus I don't have to be as worried about him getting dehydrated, is a huge relief off my shoulders.  HUGE.

I'm trying to prepare for all this progress to be gone tomorrow.  It feels like there's been a lot of "one step forward, two steps back."  But the random nursings on Thursday and today are encouraging, signs that hope is not all lost.  That he may still decide to come back to breastfeeding.  That might just be a tiny light at the end of the tunnel up ahead.  (I also don't want to get my hopes up...)

This morning I also met with Jaye Simpson, a local IBCLC.  She had a few encouraging things to say and tips to try out.  She also noticed immediately that Quinn actually has a tongue tie-- something that we were obviously able to work around, but knowing it makes sense of some things we went through in his early weeks, and also may have been a partial reason for why he nursed so often his first 6ish months.  She also noticed that he seems really tight and tense-- muscles in the back on his head feel unusually tight, and as she was checking the range of motion of his arms she noticed that he really resists letting you push his arm up near his head, etc.  He's always been this way, just super tight and strong-- and she thinks it may have contributed to his general crankiness.  Also, he may have a slight misalignment (his shoulder blades don't quite match up, his shoulders seem raised a bit high, etc).  Who knows if these things have anything to do with the strike at all, but she recommended having the tongue tie clipped and referred me to an infant massage therapist (who does Bowen therapy, if that makes sense to anyone reading) to help relax him a bit.

Interestingly, right after this I went to a playgroup meetup at a park, and one of the other moms there has also worked with Jaye and gone to this same massage therapist and raved about what a difference it made for her daughter.

So I'm now working on making appointments for those referrals, and continuing to work with Quinn to try to get him back to the breast.  I don't really know what to expect, really.  I don't know when or if he'll ever go back to nursing.  We'll just keep on trying what we're doing and see where that gets us.


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