Monday, March 30, 2009

giggles in the grass


giggle 2

smile in the grass

Little Miss was all smiles and giggles when I got home from work this evening. Smiles + Sunshine outside = camera time!

If you're more than a novice photographer... stop reading here so I don't embarrass myself in front of you. If you're a newbie like me... read on. I'm learning about aperture today, using my camera on the Av (aperture priority) setting for the first time. Lower f values create a more narrow depth of field where the background blurs to isolate your subject from the background. I'm also getting handy at moving the auto focus selector around in my frame so that I can get the focus on Hannah's face and not an arm, the top of her head, her chest, etc. I can't wait until it warms up and I don't have to worry about little hands and and feet starting to get cold after 5 minutes outside!

If you are wanting to get a DSLR for the first time and are frowning at the prices... I've found a good deal. You can get a refurbished Nikon D40 with a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor Lens for $374.95 here at Adorama. I found the link to this refurbed Nikon D40 from Ken Rockwell's site. You can drop a hint to your husband about what you want for Mother's Day by e-mailing him a link do this post. :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

{birthdays, ice cream, and my dog} Hannah's thoughts if she could talk.

me touch - scrapped smaller

Hannah's thoughts if she could talk:
My mama turned a year older today. I like ice cream on a spoon or on a stick. Mama looks in the mirror a lot with a frown on her face pointing at the gray hairs. She says that waiting for me was hard on her hair. I like to wave at myself in the mirror. It's almost as fun as waving at my dog. We had a little party for my mama last night and my grandpa fed me ice cream and it was good. My dog got to come to the party. She likes ice cream, too. I want to eat ice cream or cottage cheese for every meal from now on. It's much better than the stuff my mama and baba try to feed me on a spoon. Bye bye.

3 months

3 months with Hannah Claire

Thursday, March 26, 2009

sunshine day

Today was beautiful... and I was stuck at work. The sun was out. The birds were chirping. People had their car windows down. And... we weren't busy at work. As much as I complain about my work stress, I hate it when there isn't enough for me to do. About 2:15pm I looked at my partner and said, "Uh... we're not busy. Is it okay with you if I check out early and stay late tomorrow?" I got the nod of approval... and I was outta there!

A song pops into my head as I put down the car windows and head home to my baby girl who should be napping and waking up soon.

I think i'll go for a walk outside now
the summer sun's callin my name
(i hear ya now)
i just can't stay inside all day
i gotta get out get me some of those rays
everybody's smilin
sunshine day
everybody's laughin
sunshine day
everybody seems so happy today
it's a sunshine day

Here's the tune if you don't know it already... but I'll bet half of you know what song I'm talkin' about.

Forgive me, I'm ill with SPRING FEVER. It's spring break here. Half the town is in Orlando, Daytona Beach, Tampa, on Sanibel Island... or worse, on a cruise ship sunning their buns. And I'm not. I'm at home dressing up my baby in swimsuits and eating Popsicles while pretending it's 85F.

For this mamarazzi... a sunshine day in March means... camera time! She was babbling in her crib when I got home. I dressed her in one of my eBay finds, a white Gymboree sundress with lemons, we chatted with the neighbor kids, and then got out the camera. Daddy helped hoist Hannah up into the sky for this shot.

Hannah in the Sky
Hannah in the Sky

Hannah in the Sky - Lens Blur
Hannah in the Sky - with lens blur

Hannah in the Sky - 70s
Hannah in the Sky - 70s version

slow tears
Slow Tears - The waterworks turn on and off quickly. I forget why she cried... most likely we told her "no." I kept on taking photos and she forgot about what she was upset about.

Shades with Bling
Shades with Bling

Shades with Bling - Edge Burn
Shades with Bling - added burn edge

Shades with Bling - Black and White
Shades with Bling - black and white

winkled nose winkled nose

winkled nose - edge burn
winkled nose - added burn edge

chocolate pop in the bucket
After we were done outside, Daddy sat her in a bucket, laughed and laughed, and gave her another Jello pudding pop. Mmmmm.

What are your thoughts on the edge burns? They are kinda trendy right now. Do you like the shots better with our without the darkened edges?

backyard ballerina

A little box with photography supplies arrived at our doorstep yesterday. I've been wanting a VALUE priced portrait lens with a more narrow depth of field that could produce some bokeh. Kevin and I experimented with the new lens, a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, for a little while today with a little ballerina as our subject. I was in portrait mode, and was having problems with the new lens getting the auto focus to focus on Hannah's face. It seemed like the camera wanted to pick out everything BUT her face to focus on. After looking at my photos, Kevin showed me how to change the manual AF point selection to a specific point, so I'll have to use that next time I use this lens again. It was barely 60F when we went outside for this photo below, so I only had a few minutes to shoot before I needed to bring the beach baby back inside. I'm looking forward to warm sunny days this summer when I have lots of time to work on good shots outside without worrying about Hannah getting cold.

backyard ballerina

backyard ballerina 2

Kevin bought some Jello Pudding Pops for us to try with Hannah at home. I stripped the beach baby down nekked and let her go to town on a vanilla pop. She her mouth was like a little bird reaching for more. It was a big mess... but lots of fun... and she ate the whole thing!

first popsickle

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

The queen has spoken.

Long day... long drive to see the "hemangioma queen," a dermatologist that specializes in hemangiomas. Our international adoption physician referred Hannah to this specialist she called the "hemangioma queen." Hannah charmed the queen's med students with smiles, giggles, and waves until it was time to be laid down on an exam table and have four women in white coats look at her spots, measure them, and squish them. There was some screaming and big crocodile tears until they were done and she was back in Mama's arms. Hannah was back to her delightful self in less than a minute. The queen says that Hannah's hemangiomas are so small that there is no need to worry about doing an MRI to look for internal growths as she would have no more risk of having them than anyone else. They should fade and continue to get smaller, but the larger one could take several years to fade. We only need to return if they would grow or if one would rip open and start bleeding. Good deal. The queen has spoken, and now we can stop worrying about the possibility of internal hemangiomas we can't see on the outside.

Oh... and can you believe this? One of the hemangioma queen's attendants gave Miss Hannah a Ni Hao, Kai-Lan sticker! I haven't seen Ni Hao, Kai-Lan stuff in stores yet. Hopefully this program is getting popular with the little kiddos and will continue. I'd love to have a whole generation American kiddos that are welcoming to those of Chinese ancestry and place value on the FEELINGS of others and working together as a TEAM... as emphasized in the show. Good night... sending "sun fuzzies" out to you all!

Friday, March 20, 2009

the referral of his dreams...

Over dinner tonight Kevin told me that he had a DREAM that he got a phone call offering us an adoption referral of twin baby boys in Taiwan. The caller told him that this referral was part of God's plan for our family. Kevin said that in his dream... HE HUNG UP ON THE CALLER!

Uh... guess that you think you have your hands full... right, Mr. Mom? The night time bottle puke session was fun last night, wasn't it? Love you. :)

This story still makes me snicker... heeheehee.

Okay, so the photo below contains the real referral of his dreams... mine too.

baby in a bucket

What Mama does for fun: Buy baby her first swimsuit, dress her up, takes pictures of her, and giggle and give and receive lots of kisses.

What Dada does for fun: Put Mama's beach baby in a bucket. Carry bucket around. Laugh at baby in the bucket.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

looking for spring

"Do you see any bunnies out there, Sedona?"

spring eyes 2

spring eyes 1

We didn't get to go outside for photos today because it was too windy. Very sunny, but the March wind would create major bad hair day photos and Hannah doesn't like the wind in her eyes. So... I settled for taking some shots in front of the storm door that let in some light. I'm diggin' the photo above. I used an action from Pioneer Woman set 2 called Seventies that gives it a warm faded look.

We go to a speciality dermatologist that our international adoption physican called "the hemangioma queen." We'll see what she has to say about Hannah's hemangiomas. Some are looking looking good and have faded, and I doubt they'll need treated and will continue to shrink and fade on their own. I'm concerned about one because it's large and looks and feels like it has some internal involvement. Lasers and/or steroid injections are sometimes used to treat hemangiomas. Because Hannah has a few, she's at greater risk for interal ones on places like the brain and liver. I'm not really worried about that, but if the "hemangioma queen" thinks an MRI is necessary, we'll do it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

little green shots that didn't make the cut

I have to take a lot of photos to get one or two that I REALLY like. There's always problems including: boogers, face in the shadows, no smile, dog in the way, face out of focus, blurry because she moved quickly all of a sudden, etc etc etc. These photos (click here for a larger version) are the ones that didn't make the cut for my I ♥ Faces entry, but they make me smile. I especially like the shots of her little "pumpkin booty" (that reference if for you, Andrea the Happy Hippy) with some little white diaper stickin' out. Yes, she's not much bigger than the dog, but the dog sure is faster.

green collage

Speaking of the dog, Sedona is enjoying some of the benefits of having a baby in the house. She says it's nice when they drop their rice crackers or biter biscuits. If it's on the floor, it's fair game for a dog. Just in case the mama doesn't agree... grab the snack and run like the wind with snack in mouth out of the dog door. If Mama's busy with the baby, she won't hunt you down to get the treat back.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I ♥ Faces Entry - Green

I heart faces entry - green

“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~ Charles Dickens

This photo is my kids entry into this week's I ♥ Faces contest where the theme is "green." I clicked through my recent photos and couldn't find anything that said green to me (except for photos ruined by big green boogers), so I dressed Miss Hannah up in her greenest outfit, grabbed the camera, headed outside, and started clickin' away. Hannah touched grass for the first time since coming home to us January 2nd, and wasn't at all happy with the prickly sensation of our wintry March grass. Don't worry, baby. It will feel much softer on your piggies in the June sunshine after a month of rain in April. She's got a little smile in this photo because she's back on the concrete and not in the prickly grass. Here's a link to a larger view of this photo.

As a side note, the grass in southern Taiwan felt much different than the Kentucky Bluegrass that we have around these parts. Two days before we picked up Hannah in Taiwan, I got down on my hands and knees in a park in Tainan to feel the grass. It was spongy to the touch, and reminded me a lot of the grass my in-laws have in Florida.

Click here to view the I ♥ Faces kids category entries and click here to view the adult category entries.

Psalm 118:1

We're not lucky.  We've been blessed.

We're not lucky. We've been blessed.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever. ~ Psalm 118:1

Somebody pinch me. This is fun... most days! I left work early yesterday and invited the little neighbor girl over this afternoon to play with Hannah. She might be in the third or fourth grade. Hannah was a little scared of this short blonde person that wanted to love on her, but she settled down after a little cry and a rice cracker. Fifteen minutes later, the neighbor girl was getting open mouth baby Hannah kisses. "Uh... Hannah. I know that you like to kiss... but REALLY, we can't go around kissing EVERYONE, sweetheart."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

sweet baby kisses

sweet baby kisses

Journaling reads: You learned how to give kisses this week. We pull you towards us and you respond by opening your mouth up wide. When we leave Nana and Grandpa's house, they laugh and laugh and can't get enough of your sweet baby kisses.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

today's thoughts and some photos


Many hands shaped the clay that made my daughter who she is. I am grateful that I got to meet so many of those hands. Her nannies eyes cried happy tears as they smiled and sent her home to us.

We had a quiet Saturday morning at home, except for a fight with Mama when she refused her bottle during several feeding attempts and wanted to get down and play. Daddy won the bottle battle a little later on. There's something about the look in Daddy's eye that means business that Mama doesn't have.

This is the color version of the photo above.

My smiley girl.

Oooh! Move that tongue and we can see those two bottom teeth!

Friday, March 13, 2009

snaps vs. zippers

I asked, and 100 of you answered. 71% of you agree with us that you prefer zippers to snaps on children's jammies. I don't understand... then why is that clothing manufacturers put snaps on most every pair of pajammas instead of zippers. Zippers... no thinking. It's 4:30am, you're exhausted, but you suspect a diaper blow out. You can quickly zip... check... and unzip and don't have to fumble with trying to put together stupid snaps in the dark. THEN... what's with these clothing manufacturers? Most everything is snaps, and it's hard to find zippers. We like Carter's (real Carter's... not the Carter's Child of Mine) soft fleece best, but it's hard to find zippers. One of my favorite presents for Hannah included two pairs of zippered jammies from the Flecks. One pair is pink and brown (how'd Carmen KNOW that I like PINK AND BROWN) and the other pair is creamy with pink piggies. So cute. We recently got two pairs of stretchies from the Children's Place (can't resist $3 jammies cute zippered jammies on close out) and I like them because they have grippered feet on the 6-9 month size, but they aren't so warm and soft like the Carter's. Just wish Carter's would put grippers on the bottom of the feet on the 6 months size... as Miss Hannah is standing with one handed assistance and could really use some grippers.

While I write this at 10:39pm... Kevin is 20 minutes away driving around with Hannah in the car trying to get her to fall asleep. We tried everything. Tylenol. Rocking. Bottle. Ora-Jel. Pacifier. Our usual tricks aren't working. Her hand is in her mouth with her new teeth, she's grunting, and she screams when we lay her down in bed. She pooped today, so she can't be constipated. Maybe it's something Friday the 13th Freaky. Dunno. I'm not sure what we'll try next when they get home. Plllllease, baby. Sleeeeeep.

So... while I'm waiting for them... let's talk a few of my favorite baby supply things that Kevin and I both love.

Kevin picked up some Nuby Non-Drip Bottles with Vari-Flow valves. You can get them with or without handles. We're loving this as a bottle that Hannah can give herself as the vari-flow nipple allows her to speed up or slow down the flow rate on her own. She can throw it around or leave it sideways on the floor, and it won't leak. Our Born Free vented bottles are our working bottles that we use most of the time when we hold her during a feeding, but the Nuby is a winner when she's in charge of her bottle.

For high chair use, I don't want to use any other bib than a Bumkins bib. Why wash cloth bibs that are going to get all nasty and stained from baby food when you can use a bib that just washes off in the sink and drip dries when left out on top of the high chair???

Handmade clippies with no slip grips on Etsy. Only clippies with no slip grips will stay in Hannah's very fine baby hair. I've ordered twice now from this Etsy seller.
Nylon handbands on Etsy. You can buy plain ones and clip on your own bling, or buy them with the bling (flowers, ribbons, etc.) already sewn on.

Kevin is a big fan of Carter's East-Fit Velour Crib sheets. They are so soft, and they are staying so soft after several washings. The soft crib sheet that came with our crib set felt nice at first, but didn't hold up. These feel so soft to the touch. I'd like a fitted sheet like this on my bed!

Do you have a favorite baby product that you'd like to share? Let us know about it in the comments are of this post, or send me a link to where you've blogged about your favorite baby products, and I'll include the link in the bottom of this post.

P.S. at 11:11pm. Return trip on the car ride worked. Night night.

I ♥ Faces Fix-It Friday "Cutie-Pie"

I'm enjoying editing photos these days. I don't have any new ones of Miss Hannah to play around with, but here's my submission into this week's I ♥ Faces Fix-It Friday Challenge.

Here's the original photo:
iheartfaces cutie-pie ORIGINAL

And here's my fix:
iheartfacescutie-pie MY FIX

I edited the photo in Adobe Photoshop CS4. Here's the actions I used, all freebies. This mama likes free.
Phaunt Fun Pak S-Curve and Original Sunshine In.
Poineer Woman's Bring out the Eyes (one of my new favorites!), Sharpen This, Warmer, Quick Edge Burn, Lovely and Ethereal, and Boost.
I moved around the opacity on several layers and just played with it until I found the effect that I wanted.

It's amazing what a little photo editing will do to a washed out photo. Here's the link to the rest of the fix-its.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Redirect: the day that lives in M family infamy

Read this post, if you haven't already. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll scream. THIS IS mama comedy... and I can't believe it all happened on one day.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I ♥ Faces Entry - Creative Crop

These are my two entries for I ♥ Faces. This week's theme is Creative Crop. These are few of my favorite photography crops.

Kids Entry:

This crop is near and dear to my heart. This is Hannah Claire's singular dimple, the target of most of this mama's kisses. You can even see the little bumps where her two teeth are getting ready to surface.


Here is the before photo:

2009-02-01_15-24-44_Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XSi

You can view all of the kids creative crop entries here.

Adults Entry:

self portrait - recolored black and white

I was in a hotel room Chicago trying to learn how to use the timer. Because I was laying the camera on the on the bed, the linens got in most of the shot. I thought that the look in my eyes and crooked glasses were kind of funny, so the crop saved this photo. Converting to black and white and recoloring the eyes made it even more fun.

Here is what it looked like before the crop.

self portrait - before the crop

You can view all of the adults creative crop entries here.

And all of this cropping inspired a little digiscrapping.

self portrait

Black and White Action from the Poineer Woman
Papers and bow from Shabby Miss Jen's Desert Dandelions
Swirls from Weeds and Wildflowers Happy Garden
Font is CK Alis Hand

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Climbing for Books

Hannah likes to climb into to her basket of books in the living room and look briefly at each one and then discard them around her. I had to put away each one that wasn't a board book because she can be a little rough bending her books this way and that. Pat the Bunny is a favorite with all of the textures inside and is taking a good beating.

Pat the Bunny

5 little piggies

Hi-5, Sedona!

One of Sedona's tricks is to respond to the request "Go get Daddy," or "Go get Mommy," by running through the house, finding the named person... and then running back to the person making the request (aka the person with a treat in their hand). Today we discovered that Sedona knows Hannah's name. Kevin told Sedona to "Go get Hannah." After a few tries and some pointing on our part, she ran over to Hannah and raced back, ready for her chicken biscuit.

I Can Climb

Hannah has a new trick of her own. She's been a climber all week, climbing all over us when we hold her, wanting us to hang and swing her upside down. Yesterday we got a call from Nana to tell us that Hannah was climbing stairs with Grandpa. Today, she climbed up onto the fireplace, and then back down after a few stern no-nos from Mama.

We had KFC for dinner, and Hannah started climbing on her daddy while he sat on the floor eating his mashed potatoes. She put her hand toward his plate, so Daddy let her taste a little spoonful. She wanted some more, so this time Daddy put some gravy on her mashed potatoes. Her eyes lit up and her mouth opened wide. The girl likes gravy! She doesn't like dessert baby food or whipped cream, but she likes gravy. (Jokingly) I think she gets that from Kevin's people.

Okay, so you might be able to tell I didn't work this weekend, played with Hannah, and didn't get much anything else done except to have fun taking photos. Well, we did get the living room cleaned and mopped during her nap today. She's just growing so fast. She'll be walking soon and there's less and less baby left every day. I looked at some photos today from the day we got her, and she looks so different and learned so many new skills over two and a half months. Yep... tears are forming. We're so blessed to be her parents. It's so fun, rewarding, trying, frustrating, demanding, and grounding... to have been given such a gift.

“All children come from God, for some the journey home just takes a little longer.” ~ unknown

wave your hands in the air like you just don't care

So Many Tears

Contrary to popular belief, not every photo I take of Hannah Claire involves a headband with a big flower and a smile. We have plenty of meltdown moments as well. Little Miss wasn't so happy tonight because of those two toofers in her mouth. It seemed like nothing would comfort her. She cried in the high chair. She cried in the jumper. She cried in her crib when the pacifier fell out of her mouth and she decided to cry about it rather than stick it back in her mouth. Ack! The drama!

The photo below was during her dinner when she decided that she was finished and that she wasn't going to eat any more prunes. This is my first successful photo of her first two teeth. She'll let me feel them with a finger, but fights it when I try to peek at them.

Prunes and Two Teeth

So Many Tears

Here's a newspaper clipping from last week about the Little Sweetheart contest. :)

newspaper clipping - 5th place in Little Sweetheart Contest

Interesting tidbit: Here's a link where you can see what are the most popular cameras used by Flickr users.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Were you wanting some of my attention?

Apparently Sedona has noticed that she's not getting so many photos taken of her these days. With Hannah Claire out of the way at Nana and Grandpa's house, she found a way to get my attention. It's not like my babydog to decide to go digging in the mud.

Muddy Sedona

FotoFusion notes

Miss Hannah woke me up early this morning for a bottle, and I couldn't get back to sleep. I started poking around a Yahoo Group for FotoFusion users and discovered some things about the program I hadn't seen before. I know that I have a few friends using it now, so I thought I'd share my discoveries.

I had no idea that FotoFusion offered layout templates. When you go to start a new project, click on marketplace with the shopping bag symbol. There's all sorts of options, but click on "basic templates." The templates are 1 credit each... but you can work on your layout and then use the credit at the end if you decide to use it. The more complicated layouts (the ones I would consider using) are all at the bottom of the option list. You can also get all of the 264 basic templates by purchasing them for 35 credits... or by upgrading to the Enhanced or Extreme version.

Frame Split: Select your image. The toolbox pops up. Underneath the image/frame/shadow section there are six little function icons. The middle one on the left side is "frame split" that will split your image into tiny mosaic tiles... as many tiles as you want.

A few interesting tutorial links:

Little Miss was just delivered to Nana and Grandpa's house. It's a WARM 57 degrees to us Hoosiers, and Nana asked for the stroller. I have a feeling I know what they'll be doing this afternoon.

Looking for Spring 1

Looking for Spring 2