February 28, 2015

Eleven Months

This month has been absolutely amazing for our little Livi!!  We've blazed through trial after trial with Olivia's known food allergies, and have not yet found anything that has caused a reaction.  She's cleared for tomatoes, wheat, eggs, and even soybean oil and soy lecithin.  We've yet to try milk, the most severe of her allergies, but I think we will challenge soon, and hopefully see good results.  And then: cheeeeeeese.  I can't even describe how incredibly ecstatic we are over this!  We've also decreased her reflux meds, dropping one dose completely and halving the remaining two doses, and she should be completely weaned from it before her birthday.

A few other improvements this past month:  sleep!  After nearly ten months of waking several times a night (aside from the odd week or so of reprieve), Livi has consistently slept a good 10+ hours most nights this past month (all but maybe three or four, total), waking to nurse early in the morning (around 4-5am or so) and then going back to sleep for another few hours.  It's been an amazing relief for all of us to finally get some good sleep, and I'm kicking myself that we didn't move her to the nursery months earlier, as that seems to have been the magic key to sorting it all out.  The only "complaint" I have now (you can't even call this a complaint after what we've been through!) is that I usually have trouble getting back to sleep afterwards.  It's not too terrible starting the day early though - I usually get in at least a good hour of peace and quiet all alone before anyone else is up.

Yet another big improvement (I told you this month was amazing!!) is that Livi is finally starting to be a bit happier about independent play.  I would still say she is quite demanding (at least, far more demanding than either of her siblings ever were) but given the right toys, she'll occupy herself for brief periods of time now.  It makes the day flow a lot smoother when I can run to the bathroom, start dinner, fold clothes, etc. without listening to her cry because she doesn't have my undivided attention!  Despite having a yucky cold most of the month (and teething), she gets more and more content all the time.

Growth and development this month:  we have tooth number three!  Her gums are very white right beside that tooth also, so I wouldn't be surprised if a fourth pops through shortly.  She continues to zoom around holding on to the furniture or our fingers, and walks independently holding on to her "walker" elephant toy - but she hasn't taken any steps on her own just yet.  She refuses purees altogether now, and continues to eat whatever we're eating.  She has no clear favorite foods, and will happily eat anything and everything we put in front of her.

Each month our little Olivia gets a little bit bigger, a little bit more cheery, a little bit more independent, a little more laid back, a little bit calmer, a bit happier.  We are so incredibly blessed to call her ours.  I can't believe in just one short month, we'll be celebrating the BIG ONE!

February 27, 2015

8: long exposure

paper flower wedding bouquet (lit by candlelight)

So I wanted to take my new camera outside at night, set up the tripod, and have a bit of fun with long exposure, capturing the sky.  Of course, it's been cloudy and overcast every night for well over a week, as well below freezing.  This would be a great prompt for a warm Summer night though!

Anyway, I decided to take a different approach with this prompt instead.  The photo above was taken long after dark in a room that featured a single candle.  I tuned my shutter speed all the way down to 1/20, maybe not long long exposure, but quite low for a handheld photo (even of a stationary object).  It was a great chance to once again test the low light capabilities of my new camera, and test my new lens as well.  I was incredibly impressed with the lens/camera's capabilities!!  There were 2-3 times that the lens had to seek a bit - which I expected due to the flickering candle causing the subject to be lit/unlit every few milliseconds - but otherwise the focus was quick, quiet, and efficient (in this particular image, I focused on the tiny edge of the center petal of the comic book rose - aperture was set at f/4 to have the entire bouquet visible).  Even in this completely dark room, illuminated by one little candle, I only had to bump my ISO up to 6400 to capture this image (and used no noise-reduction in editing).

I know some who frequent this blog have no idea what any of that means and/or couldn't care less, so I'll just go ahead and apologize now (sorry, not sorry) but I am so, SO impressed with these new toys!!  Low light capabilities were one of the major selling points for me, so I've really been pushing it in ways that I never would have even considered before (there were times when I literally couldn't capture a picture in broad daylight - the thought of taking pictures in the dark:  inconceivable!).

Aside from that all the technical aspects, I am head-over-heels in love with this photo.  The yellowish hue cast by the candle is so romantic (I adjusted the color balance in editing but then when back to the original because I loved it so much), the depth and contrast of the shadows, the highlights from the flame, the subject captured (my wedding bouquet!) - it just sings to me!  I think it would look lovely in our bedroom as a unique (and personalized) piece of art for the walls.

February Recap

February has been another month brilliantly balanced with lots of work, and even more play; ridiculous amounts of productivity, and plenty of rest and relaxation; and a wonderful mix of family time and me time.  After revealing the first stage of our stairwell transformation, we began diligently working on the kitchen makeover, which has included everything from deep-cleaning, to organizing, to brand new paint on nearly every surface.  I'll be saving the big reveal until this room is complete, but all the major work is done.  We'll now be taking a break from the more laborious home improvement projects for awhile to focus on a few smaller (and more fun!) projects.  The productivity of getting all these major projects done has left me with a kick-ass high that makes me feel like I could conquer the whole entire world, and it's left me so inspired - but I'm happy to set it all to the side for awhile!

Riding that I am woman, hear me rooooaaaaar high, I also started exercising again this month.  I'm loosely working through a hybrid of Insanity and P90X, and it's a great balance of these two very different forms of exercise that are equally necessary to get me back in shape.  I'd love to top my former peak fitness level, and this is a great start!  Looking forward to the weather warming up so I can begin running again also.  Maybe...

Equally as fulfilling has been the downtime to balance all that work.  We were treated to some unseasonably warm (near 70 degree) weather early in the month, running around outside in our short-sleeved t-shirts - and just a few short days later, we got our first good snow of the year (and have since had two more snow storms), which made for tons snow days and extra time with the big kids (it was nice, but I was more than ready for them to go back to school!).  David and I also continued our evening routine, spending a bit of quality time alone together each night after the kids are in bed.  I also began to fit a bit more me time into the schedule.  Be it reading a few pages of my latest book/comic (I'm right on track to reach my reading goal of two books each month, and over halfway through my first non-super hero comic series), doing a little shopping by myself (I have really come to enjoy weekly meal planning, and kid-free grocery shopping each week), planning upcoming birthday celebrations (wrapping up details for Faith's party, and ordered a few special little bits for Olivia's first), or even just meditating in silence with my own thoughts for awhile (starting the day early does have its perks!) - I find life is always a bit more fulfilling when I set aside at least a few minutes to be alone each day.

Both girls have big birthday celebrations coming up, and with a lull in major home improvement projects for awhile, the atmosphere will be just perfect for soaking up even more family time and working on some personal goals in the coming month.  I'll continue plugging away at the smaller home improvement projects, make a start on some of those 2015 goals, and I've also got a brand new camera (Canon 6D!) and lens (Tamron 28-75mm f/2,8!) to play around with.  It looks like March will be another busy, productive, and incredibly fulfilling month!

February 26, 2015

February 25, 2015

My Handsome Boy

4 year old boy portrait

How on Earth did my little boy get sooooo big?