Some Photos and Randoms

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Having the month of December off for professional photo shoots has been MARVELOUS for my own personal photo taking. I swear, my December photo folder is CHOCK-FULL. So, before the Christmas-ness of this month gets too far away, I have a few seasonal photos to share.... And these are just the pre-Christmas ones. If I get on the ball, I might even have a post of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day sometime in the next couple of days!

For now, bring on the photos and randoms!

First up-- making Bakerella's Cake Pops with my sister-in-law Mary!

(Note: these are a dang lotta work for a kinda-average tasting treat. More fun to look at, in my opinion!!)


Next: Anthropologie packaging was SUPER cute this year... And I added a MOO card of my own to make it extra special... I may have to finagle some button-festooned ribbons of my own next Christmas. I love it!!

Next: A garland I made for my friend Dawn for our Christmas Swap...

(it says "Love + Joy" and is made from wooden circles painted, then layered with cut soda cans and cut tin cans eyelet'ed on and joined with rick-rack.... In Dawn's favorite color combo...)


Next: A lil' note for my UPS man so I wouldn't miss Dawn's swap package back to me! (Oh, and let me tell you... Dawn's swap package?? A post of it's own. It is a masterpiece.)


On to our Santa Visit: Noah was a gem... darling and cooperative and everything!! (Love the throne!!)


And Christmas Cocoa: I've begun making it with 1/2 evaporated milk and 1/2 water, microwaved for two minutes in my Pyrex measuring cup, then poured over one packet of Swiss Miss cocoa and one heaping tablespoon of Ghiridelli's Hot Chocolate... Add whipped cream and red sprinkles and YUM oh YUM YUM!!

(Joe's a fan, too...In fact, he is more of a cocoa drinker than I am, if you can believe it. Love that man!)


And lastly, a series of shots taken mid-December with my other favorite boy, Mr. Noah himself....
Taken by Mr. Joe, who really is a reliable photo-man when I hand the camera over to him. I love that! I don't get IN the photos nearly as much as I should, so when they are good, I gotta show them off!

1. I never straighten my hair. NO time anymore... So the above shots are a rarity. And it turns out, my haircut is not conducive to straight style. There is a huge chunk of random layering there that is kinda weird-looking. I need to get that fixed. Ha!

2. I got Noah to finally smile and look near the camera by running us towards the camera, then running back into position, making "zoooooom" noises. He loved that! I'm impressed Joe managed to get the dang photos focused, we were moving so much!!

3. My "fast-edit" for photos, when they are already pretty nicely exposed? I just--
a. do a "curves" bump to lighten it
b. do an "unsharp mask" to sharpen it (numbers: Amount: 250%, Radius: 0.5 pixels, Threshold: 0)
c. do another "unsharp mask" to "defog it" (numbers: Amount: 20%, Radius: 60 pixels, Threshold: 0)
d. (I usually do the "defog" on a duplicate layer so I can play with the opacity a bit)
e. Ta-Da!

4. #3 was just a random tip for any photoshoppers out there. Feel free to ignore it!

5. It is 12:23 a.m. right now and I should be in bed.

6. Today was a GORGEOUS day-- 66 degrees!!!

7. I miss my Utah girls.... Kate? Sarah? Katie? Melody? Rochelle? You out there?

8. Tomorrow we are going to go get Noah's hair cut. Really.

9. I am so blessed... Joe is amazing, Noah is heart-melting, my home is warm and cozy, my family is so remarkable... I have NOTHING to complain about.

10. I need to stop "random'ing" and get my little self to bed.


The Things That Matter Most:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's getting to the end of the year.... And I have been drifting into the realm of reflection a bit.... sort of "warming up" for the traditional New Year's Resolution time. Lat year, I didn't make resolutions. I just had too much to think about every moment of every day, with a new baby and an uncertain life... So I gave myself a break from the pressure of PLANNING/EXPECTING at that time.
This year, I find myself thinking more about what I AM rather than what I WANT... And I know that when the end of the year arrives next week, it is more likely that I will want to craft a written statement that explains my worldview at this time in my life.... rather than write a list of things I want/should be working on. I guess I just feel like I KNOW what I should be working on, and every day I try to get a little closer. Already. Without needing to declare it in a brash, year-end promise.
Um.... I don't really know where I'm going with this. I know that I want to talk about credos, but that is a beloved, cherished soapbox o' mine, and one I don't feel quite up to the task of tackling tonight... So that will come soon.... just not yet.

And I know I came on here to show off the two people that mean the most to me, in the above photos....

And I guess..... I am just in that looking-inward mode at the moment. So. If you'll be patient with me, I think most of my thoughts are currently half-baked, and need to cook a bit longer. So I'll get that all in order and come back to add some sense to this beginning of a conversation.

For now, let me just say--- As I sit here alone on a Saturday night, Joe at work and Noah asleep, that I am feeling anything but alone as I look at photos of my boys and realize how rich my life truly is.... With a husband I can't get enough of, and a baby who might just be the most brilliant, charming, hilarious child ever to live. (No mom-bias at all, here... no way!)

And I'll come back soon with either A.) Some defined thought processes.... or B.) More photos to distract you from the fact that I'm rambling and senseless in my writing.

We'll see! :)

{Until then, feel free to agree with me about the perfect charmingness of my son/hubs.}

Merry Christmas Eve, All!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

So, many of you are (hopefully) stepping AWAY from the computer and stepping TOWARDS your loved ones and an evening of traditions, music, joy, and peace. This is Christmas Eve, after all!

I am actually a bit alone at the moment-- Joe is at work, doing a 3-11pm shift at the hospital that he couldn't get out of, and Noah is working on taking a nap. So as the sun slants into my bedroom, the first sun we've seen in a few days, I get to sit and listen to Christmas music on LOW while I finish up a few loose ends online.

Our little family will be having a quiet Christmas Eve and morning, just the three of us. When Joe gets off work, I'll have some nibbles and hot cocoa waiting for him and I plan to snuggle on the couch with him and read the Christmas story out of the Bible... then snuggle down for a long winter's night... And in the morning, we'll have a small, delightful present session, some German pancakes (Joe's family tradition), and then after Noah's morning nap, we'll head out to Columbia for a few days.

So far, it is shaping up to be a completely marvelous Christmas.

Tonight, while I am still alone, I get to try something I've wanted to do since first reading about it in "Simple Abundance" over seven years ago.... a little token, a small action that has always called to me, but I have managed to excuse myself out of every single year. Until tonight. Being alone, being on the edge of a hard area of the city, working to find the TRUTH in Christmas, I am going to prepare and set out a "Nativity Tray".

""Legend has it that on the night of the Nativity, whosoever ventures out into great snows bearing a succulent bone for a lost and lamenting hound, a wisp of hay for a shivering horse, a warm cloak for a stranded wayfarer, a garland of bright berries for one who has worn chains, a dish of crumbs for all huddled birds who thought their song was dead, and sweetmeats for little children who peer from lonely windows --whosoever prepares this simple abundance tray --shall be proffered and returned gifts with such astonishment as will rival the hues of the peacock and harmonies of heaven..."
-Sarah Ban Breathnach

I'll make my own modifications...."modernize" it a bit... But I will do it. And I won't be doing it for the "astonishing gifts". I need to take time tonight to "find" Christmas. And I am deeply excited for this little action. I hope it is found and well-received.

So. That is MY holiday.

Here is hoping YOURS is filled to the brim with joy.

Our Tiny Social Life:

Monday, December 22, 2008

So, I have to admit it: We do not have a rockin', thriving social life. We just don't. Life gets filled up with Noah, with Mason tasks, with Joe working nights and sleeping days, with me editing photos and taking photos....With church. With errands.

and put together, that takes up 99% of our life. And that's okay. Truly. I adore the time I get with my hubby, so I tend to be very selfish with it. And he adores the time he gets with both Noah and I, so he tends to be selfish with that. So the three of us spend most of our free time with, well, each other. As we should.

Still, there are those moments Joe and I yearn for the past days of going to two movies a week... of going to friends' houses to play games or have potluck dinners... of going to the City Museum or Six Flags or other all-day jaunts. And though I know we'll get to do all those things again someday, it's sometimes easy to feel sorry for oneself when reflecting on what used to be a semi-thriving social life.

But. To prove to myself, (and all of you), that we are not dead yet... I give you--- Game Night @ the Mason Lodge. This is a new idea and fun compromise we have recently concocted, so that we can have a social evening without having 1.) a babysitter or 2.) a house full of loud, fun guests that might wake the kiddo.

We have friends come over, we take over the conference room on the first floor of the Mason Lodge (our apt. is on the third floor), we set up the baby monitor, and we bring our own food and use supplies from the Mason kitchen to keep the party hoppin'.... and we play games. For hours. And we are loud, we pig out, we laugh a TON, and in the end, we've had a pretty great evening in the easiest possibly way. It is awesome.

The photos-- Proof we really DO have interaction with other adults sometimes:

{this evening's games: Lord of the Rings Monopoly and Settlers of Cattan}

{the grub: spicy wing dip, chips, candy, soda}
{....AND mini caramel apple bites, made by Joe and myself. I first saw this idea HERE...THANKS, Em!! And then was reminded of the idea by my bessie Gen. THANKS, Gen!!}

{too much candy. Yay!}

{my setup-- food, cash, and a few too many caramel apple sticks showing how many I've eaten. Ha!}

{the gang-- with me behind the camera}

{Two different BOREDS-- the game board, and Sarah's bored.}

{My dear Joe, who ended up solidly winning BOTH games, looking as intent as possible}

And there ya have it. Our elusive, but fun-when-it-happens, Game Night at the Lodge.

And actually, I am crossing my fingers we get to do this again tonight. My family is coming into town, and I think we are in negotiations to occupy this very same room to play more games. I'll let ya know!

A Christmas Tag

Thursday, December 18, 2008

{circa 1979: I'm on the left}
{circa 1983ish: I'm in the back, on the left}

From my friend Stacy, who's blog Christmas playlist is playing happily in my headphones this very minute. Thanks, Stacy!!

1. Do you like Eggnog or Hot Chocolate? I have TRIED to love eggnog.... It sounds so charming and seasonal... but nope. Can't do it. I am a hot chocolate girl, all the way. Joe is a hot chocolate junkie even more than I am, if possible!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just put them under the tree? Growing up, we'd come to the living room to an array of unwrapped Santa gifts... but Santa also wrapped a few. Oh, how I LOVED getting my first glimpse of that dimly-magically lit living room that seemed overflowing with new gifts that appeared overnight. When in actuality, I KNOW that "Santa" usually had very little to work with.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I am a traditionalist and want white lights on the tree. They are meant to represent the candles of old, and I like it that way. Outside, I am fine with a mix of color and white. I would probably just do white to keep it easy, but I LOVE seeing what other households come up with.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, but I love the tradition. I just don't make the effort to go find some.

5. When do you put up your decorations? Growing up, we had a decorating binge the weekend of Thanksgiving. I love that, and will likely move toward that as my own family grows... For now, though, we get started the first or second week of December.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish?
Ooh... good one! I really don't have a FAVORITE... I just love holiday food!! Our family always does a buffet-style Christmas luncheon, with turkey, ham, various side dishes, and lots of Christmas goodies. I love that. Does that count?

7. What is your favorite Holiday memory as a child? Oh, where do I begin? My heart just swelled WIDE open with that question. I deeply cherish my Christmas memories with my family. All of my crazy siblings, always in a too-small house with pets and noise and laughter and the Spirit and joy.... The countless hours my mother put into making so many of our gifts.... I think, perhaps, (and not to take yours, Stacy), my true favorite might have to be our Cabbage Patch year, as well. It was the mid-eighties. I was eight or nine, and Cabbage Patch Kids were IT. The IT toy. But in a home of six kids (five of which were daughters), with a grad-student dad, how could Santa possibly make all those little girls' Cabbage Patch dreams come true? Add to that the Care Bears fad, and, well... Santa had his hands full with our lists.
Yet, come Christmas morning, lined up on the couch, right next to our full stockings, were five Cabbage Patch Kids. ....AND five Care Bears. Each totally unique, each tailored to us as individuals. Each with a completed birth certificate and a sweet little outfit.

But HOW?

My mom MADE every last one of them. MADE them. Clothes. Dolls. Bears. Birth Certificates. She named them, prepared them, set them out... and we, all of us, got the Christmas of our young dreams. I still remember my doll's name: Bethany Lynn.

And yet-- this is but ONE of a million similar memories-- of countless nights of work after we were all tucked in bed... countless hours of care and love crafted into our presents.

I am so humbled by all of it.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Growing up, we didn't. But Joe's family opens pajama pants on Christmas eve, and I LOVE that tradition, so we are totally doing the same.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? We have a hodge-podge of homemade and storebought ornaments, so our tree looks homey, cozy, loved, and timeless. I love it and wouldn't have it any other way. No theme trees for me here... no way. Not for our main tree.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I LOVE the first few times. I yearn for true White Christmases, yet have only had a couple. I love sledding. I love snow angels. I love it all. I just get tired of it after a while....especially if it is a small covering of dingy, old stuff.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? I think that one of the best things about my Christmases is that it ISN'T about the presents. So I actually don't have a FAVORITE that stands out above the rest. Growing up, my parents set a very limited budget for each of us-- never more than $40 a child... And so we never had massive piles of fun things... Or even one BIG gift worth a lot of money. So a lot of my gifts over the years have blended into other years' memories. And frankly, I love the idea of a small Christmas, present-wise. This year, Joe and I each got each other two things. Totalling $30 apiece. And I am happy as a clam.

14. What is the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Finding that wellspring of JOY that floods my heart at the most unexpected times throughout the season. Joy that comes from grasping, even for a second, the truth and real reason for Christmas. Catching hold of that feeling and praying so hard that I can keep it. Which of course, I never can. So I relish it while it lasts, then begin seeking it out again. And again. All through the season. And I hope that I can bring some good into the universe as a result of feeling those deep and true feelings. This video, today, brought this elusive feeling I am trying to explain to you.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Fudge. Cream cheese mints. Sugar Cookies. Truffles. Okay, all of them. YUMMMM!!!!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? My family's Christmas Eve: first, a dinner of KFC. (Don't ask. It's weird.) Then piling in the car and driving to our favorite neighborhoods to look at lights, taking turns choosing the next Christmas song we'll all sing. All of us, singing in harmony, old hymns, family favorites, cheesy kid ones, etc. Then coming back home, piling into the family room in our pj's and watching Scrooge while eating cookies and drinking hot cocoa... Then all of us sleeping in the same room so no one can sneak out to go peek at the presents any earlier than the rest of us. (I was one of the guilty ones!)

And look--- We still do this!! {photo circa 2006:}

17. What tops your tree? A tin angel with maribou feathers rimming her skirt hem. She's cute!

18. Which do you prefer, giving gifts or receiving them?
Oh, I have come to ADORE finding/preparing/pondering the perfect gift for the people I love . I LOVE giving gifts. I wish I had all the money or time it would take to give everyone I know a hand-picked or handmade gift. I love that feeling!

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? I'd say "O Holy Night".... but.... lately... the Latin song "O Magnum Mysterium" has come back into my life, and it is deeply moving to me. I got to sing this incredibly beautiful song in college, and the whole choir always ended up so emotional towards the end of it, as the chords crescendo'ed, that we all secretly hoped the person next to us was going to be strong enough to keep singing while we all quietly choked up.
The song is about the animals in the stable... and what a great and powerful mystery that the god of all should be born among animals. It is such a pure song. And last year, in particular, after finding the song on iTunes after years without it, I would not listen to it without bawling, as I held my newborn baby boy and truly GOT it, for the first time. UNDERSTOOD this baby wrapped in swaddling clothes... So... there. That is my favorite.
(here, an unexpected school choir does it justice.)
(or if the school auditorium annoys you, the formal recording.)
(Personally, I was moved, once again, by watching this teeny Filipino choir make GORGEOUS music out of nothing. Made me miss it all over again.)

20. Candy Canes? Sure! Best when added into peppermint bark.

21. Do you feel Christmas is too commercialized? Yes, I do. But if even the commercialized version bring people to a period of giving, kindness and thoughtfulness, then I say, it is still worth having. I just hope that we can all, individually, try to nudge the worldliness away a bit and try to simplify and dignify the true holiday. And keep trying more and more each year.

22. Favorite Christmas movie? Mr. Krueger's Christmas, with Jimmy Stewart. Oh, I love so MANY of the classics! It's a Wonderful Life, White Christmas, Scrooge, Meet Me in St. Louis (hey, it has Christmas IN it!)... But that little 25 minute film Mr. Krueger's Christmas gets me EVERY time. I love Jimmy Stewart.

And there you have it! Oh, this whole things has been good for my heart tonight. Thanks for reading the whole, sappy thing. And if you actually took time with those links, thank you even more. (If you didn't, well, I completely understand! I have been guilty of the same!)

Anyway.... I won't tag specific people.... it's too busy a week for that kind of pressure... but if you want a little burst of Christmas cheer, I dare you to fill out your own Christmas Tag!

Oh, Polyvore...

Thursday, December 11, 2008 I've heard about it before, gone there once before, but never REALLY explored its possibilities... until yesterday. And now I CANNOT GET OFF!!!

This is a site where you can build you own display of...of...ITEMS. Uh. How do I explain? You can "grab" things from websites like Target, Etsy, Anthropologie, etc... and then Polyvore has an editing program where you arrange them artfully to share with others. Um. I don't think this will make ANY more sense until I SHOW you.

Remember my outfit the other day? This one?

Well... using it as inspiration, here is my Polyvore collection:

Home Body: emily style by zayneegirl

See how you can arrange all sorts of items, text, etc... into a "board" of items to show? The above one is basically all things you could go get if you wanted to be the work-from-home gypsy I tend to be. Complete with computer, cookies, and measuring tape for when I shirk my work and sew instead....and the apron. Oh, what a gorgeous apron I "found" on Polyvore for this board. *sigh* And the slippers.... ACK!

Anyway, I digress.... Here are two others I made in the last 24 hours.

Red/Turquoise Casual by zayneegirl

Noah's Wishlist by zayneegirl

Oh, this little website is addicting. Fun. And DANGEROUS. ... My only complaint? Really, I am sad that when the site gives you HTML code to embed your board onto your blog, it is a small, not-as-sharp-as-I'd like, version of the thing. On the website itself, these look much cooler. (Click the links to see...)

Polyvore: I think I love you. But please consider giving us a 600x600 or bigger sample... sharpened. Thank you.

The rest of you? GO PLAY!!

(or, maybe... hmm...go SHOP? I know of a few little things shown above I'd not say no to. Ha!)

Seasons in the Sun: A Clever Tag

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fun little taggie.... though I must say, my sister Sarah's answers were a lot funnier/crazy/weirdly perfect... Sad for me. Oh well. Maybe I'll try it again and see if my iFate is better.

iTunes Tag
1. Put your iTunes on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

"don't raise your hopes"

"i will"

"where in the world"

"all to myself"

"look what you've done"

"i want you (she's so heavy)"... *sigh*


"back to you"

9.WHAT IS 2+2?
"Letter Song"

"Broken, Beat & Scarred" (um, WOW.)

"wayfaring stranger"

"hark i hear the harps eternal"

"cowboys from hell"

"la cabane du pecheur" (translated: "The Fishing Hut". Seriously, of ALL the cool French songs Joe has on iTunes, THIS is the title I get?? Seriously?? Where's the ROMANCE??)


"caring is creepy" (awesome.)

"you too & stuff"

"we built this city"

"fake believe (Type B)" (hahaha!)

"pom na tu ri (springtime outing)"

"take me for longing"

"dance around"

"fire and rain"


"bored & extremely dangerous"

"yesterday once more"

"under pressure"

"lullabye (goodnight my angel)"

"stupid in school"

"everybody get dangerous"

"the north wind"


"the 9th, pt.2"

"get here"

"seasons in the sun"

...okay, that's it, folks. Your turn. Here's to good iFate and clever randomness!

Winner, Winner! Introducing Nacho Humphrey the 1st!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Even with passions running high and last minute-vote changes and additions, we have a winner-- Nacho Humphrey, welcome to the family! I, for one, adore it. LOVE it!!

Tamara, you get the prize, and I will do my best to get it to you BEFORE Christmas day!!

For fun, though, here are the Ton Ten Names, again, along with credit to the Namers... and then the FULL list, alphabetized. Did you know you can Google "alphabetize" and it gives you the link to at least a few "alphabetizer" sites? I LOVE the internet. Thesaurus, Dictionary, GoFugYourself, Yearbook Yourself, and now an ALPHABETIZER? Awesome.

Here are the top ten, one more time:
Bernard (Megan and Will)
Duncan (Misty)
Eli (The Wittes)
Humphrey (Kristina and Terra)
Nacho (Tamara)
Poe (Stacy)
Toby (Misty)
Trombone (Andrea and Zachary)
Trumpet (Jennifer)
Tusker (The Owens)

And if you have the hankering for a full, amazing list of name options, good for any elephant out there, here it is... (ALPHABETIZED!!)
  1. Alexander
  2. Ally The Elephant
  3. Babar
  4. Badeef
  5. Bala = child
  6. Bernard*
  7. Billy
  8. Bobo
  9. Bootsy
  10. Cacajuate (spanish for peanut)
  11. Calvin
  12. Charlie
  13. Chava (pronounced Hava - it is Hebrew for "Friend")
  14. Cornelius
  15. Duncan*
  16. Ecee
  17. Echo
  18. Efrom
  19. Elias The Elephant
  20. Elliot or Eli*
  21. Elly
  22. Elmer
  23. Elph
  24. Ephie
  25. Ernest
  26. Fante
  27. Franklin
  28. Fred
  29. Harold
  30. Henry
  31. Horton
  32. Huebert
  33. Humphrey*
  34. Jose
  35. Leve'
  36. Lovey
  37. Lucky
  38. Moe
  39. Murry
  40. Nacho*
  41. Nellie
  42. Niaz (meaning gift)
  43. Oscar
  44. Paco
  45. Patsy
  46. Patti
  47. Peanut
  48. Philo
  49. Phineas
  50. Poe*
  51. Portalello
  52. Ralphie
  53. Ronnie
  54. Safi = friend
  55. Sampson The Elephant
  56. Snuffles
  57. Snuffy
  58. Stampy
  59. Sven
  60. Tembo (Swahilli for elephant)
  61. Tiny The Elephant
  62. Toby*
  63. Trombone*
  64. Trompeta (Spanish for tompet)
  65. Trumpet*
  66. Tusker*
  67. WALLY
  68. Wentworth Montigue Cornelius the Fifteenth
  69. Whiskers
  70. Zilonus (Latvian for elephant)
  71. Zo (Japanese for elephant)

And to conclude, I want to share with the world what a TRUE weird girl I am... and reveal a photo of myself from yesterday that probably should have never seen the light of day. But I am weirdly in love with it, so whatever. Here, in all my glory, is me, on a day when I did not have to leave the house.... So my outfit just got weirder and weirder as necessity dictated:

What you are seeing:
1.Blue snowman PJ pants... This is how I started the day.
2. Orange shirt... To be a bit more modest
3. Added the orange and red apron when I cooked lunch
4. Added ther black fleece vest when our apt. got chilly
5. Added the green and pink argyle slippers... also beecause it was chilly
6. Added the headband when my short hair kept getting in my eyes...

And TA-DA! I am a fool. A dork.... But a fun fool, and a silly dork, and those are the best kinds.

here's hoping YOUR weekend was full of silly moments, quiet hours at home, productive to-do-list checking off, and lots of music and fun, as mine was.

I'm off now, to go play with my boys!

Quick Elephanty Update: ETA: POLL IS UP!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Look to the right and add your vote before Saturday night at 8:00 Central Time.

SO many options, guys--- 71 TOTAL!!!! It was tough narrowing it down, but here are your final ten. Thank you so much for all the clever ideas!

May the cutest name win. (Which won't be hard-- they are ALL cute!)

I LOVE all the suggestions!! The more the merrier! I will continue to accept suggestions until noon today, Thursday the 4th of December. Then Joe and I will pick our top ten and put them in a poll. Come back in the next couple of days and place your vote on the poll I'll post. I'll close the poll on Saturday at 8:00 p.m., and the winner of the poll can email me to get their Christmas goodies!!

So fun!!

Meet My Little Friend:

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

This little fella is going under the Christmas tree for Noah this year. He is made from the traditional Red Heel socks that sock monkeys are made of. And I'll be quite honest-- I didn't even know there WERE such things as Sock Elephants. But when my Red Heel socks came in the mail with a how-to worksheet for monkeys and elephants, I knew right then that an Elephant was going to emerge. See, Noah's favorite animal right now is the elephant. You should hear the noises he makes when he imitates their trumpet. Trust me, it is ridiculously cute.

So he gets to have his very own Sock Elephant, made with love by his own mama.

The only problem is, my little friend doesn't have a name. And he really looks like he needs a name, don't you think?

So let's make it a contest. Leave a suggestion or two in the comments. Joe and I will pick our top ten or so, then put it in a poll. Then you come back and vote in the poll, and whoever's name wins will get a goodie-- I'm thinking maybe a Christmas music mix CD and personalized retro ornament?

So help my poor little pachyderm find an appropriate appellation, so I can put it on a tag around his neck come Christmas morn.

Thanks, everybody!

Still Deciding...

Monday, December 1, 2008

But I think I'm liking it....

It is a bit longer, for a short cut, than I wanted... so it just means I'll be going back in for a re-trim a bit sooner than I expected. but for now, it works.

How was your holidays? I loved all the winter fun comments on the last post. They helped me get into the mood for the cold months a little bit more, and I am ready. Right now, I am in my husband's fleece bathrobe, I have mulling spices simmering on the stove (yummy yum yum!) and all is calm, all is bright.

Our Thanksgiving was marvelous. We stayed at home, lounged around, I got a GREAT nap, and we did our own small, half-fake Thanksgiving dinner. (by fake, I mean-- Boxed stuffing, jar o' gravy, boxed potatoes, turkey breast instead of the whole bird)... And both halves, fake and un-fake, were DELICIOUS. I was super proud of my sweet potato casserole and my apple crisp. And we all three loved the pace of a gentle, small, just-us gathering. It could not have been any better.

Now, December hits. And with it, the ever-present frenzy to get things done, no matter how good my intentions are to be more prepared ahead of time. I have about nine more photo sessions to finish editing, and then I can work on MY stuff-- the things for my family, my son, my friends... Things that involve cooking, baking, sewing, gluing, assembling, etc. etc... the fun stuff.

In fact, tomorrow, I'll introduce you to a new friend of mine. He is small, and not very fancy, but I already love him. And I am hoping Noah will love him too...But that will be tomorrow.

Today, I have work to do, and a baby that is finally napping. So I am off... in my newly-short hair-still-looking-scary-from-sleep... in my husband's bathrobe... Ready to clean a bit, edit a bit, decorate a bit.... GET DOWN TO WORK.

Happy Monday!

Autumn is Ending...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And winter is near.....

And this is one of the redeeming qualities of the colder weather.

I'll work on finding more than that to be grateful for when it is freeeeeezing and gloomy. For now, though, I'll just sip my chocolate and wistfully bid farewell to my favorite season.

Anyone want to share the winter delights they look forward to?

No One Likes a Frowny Face....

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"No one likes a frowny face,
Change it to a smile....
Make the world a better place by smiling all the while..."

It's no good to leave to bummer post on the top of the pile... So though I am still very busy, the least I can do is give you some fun new photos to look at!

I took Noah out to get some fall photos in his birthday outfit and the party hat I made him. If you don't regularly read Noah's blog, you might have missed THIS classic:
But it wasn't ALL tears... Here are the two I managed to catch before he tried to escape... Resulting in being grabbed and placed back in position, resulting in an angry kiddo, resulting in the first photograph. Ah, this toddler-in-training..... :)

Enjoy the happy version of Noah, and here's to a wonderful holiday week for all of you!

Keepin' It Real: November is Runnin' Me RAGGED

Thursday, November 20, 2008

On Jodie's suggestion (it's cathartic! Put it out into the universe and let the universe give a little back to you), I am sharing from a venting email i tossed off tonight to very patient friends of mine:

"As for me? I.................I'm just TIRED. and OVERWHELMED. Nothing bigger or more malignant going on. I am: sick of the clutter that only I see and therefore only I tackle... and I do not have time to deeply address the clutter because my spare moments are spent cleaning up the daily messes or keeping up on business emails or (let's admit it) with my online girls. And then evening hits and i need to be WORKING, or I feel like a pile of useless procrastination... so evenings are out for any personal catch-up. Add to that my back has been really hurting for over a week-- a sore, tight, muscle-y ache that only deepens as I sit in this chair longer...

Add to that I have this absolute NEED in me to be creative, but the pro photography isn't filling that need, and yet it consumes my every moment, so there IS no time for ME. Real "Me Time".

The more I type, the more I just want to cry.

I am just beaten down. And it is just today. Tomorrow, I'll put on my superhero cape again and manage with a smile on my face, and truly not even feel beaten down. Until I trip over another pile of crap or Noah fights another nap or I realize we're on our last roll of TP or some other trigger. Most days, most of the time, I am FINE. It's just when one thing trips me on my path, the rest of it comes ZOOOOMING back into focus and I remember how MUCH WORK I ALWAYS HAVE TO DO. And I feel alone. and I feel like NO ONE CAN SAVE ME, or provide relief.... and I have to just grit my teeth and push through.

and I am scared that this is what my entire mothering career will feel like. Not 100% of the time, but in consistent waves. Consistent enough to wear me out and kill my spirit a little more each time I freak out.

And what might possibly help here? Oh, let's just conjure up a no-holds-barred dream list:

1. cleaning lady

2. nanny 1 or two days a week

3. a project room of my own

4. Joe knowing how to eliminate clutter, instead of just reshuffling it, or worse, not even noticing it.

5. three or four photography sessions a month. No more than that.

6. regular exercise.

7. drinking more water.

8. Praying more consistently.

9. Feeding my spirit more consistently.

10. Close friends nearby, so we could make the boys watch the boys and I could go to a dang movie or dinner with some girlfriends.

11. More space

12. less stuff

13. personal chef

14. jacuzzi

15. massage and pedicure and haircut and highlights

....So. Obviously, as I was typing all that, some possibles flowed out. Some of those are do-able. but when i feel so MIRED, starting any healthy activity seems impossible and insurmountable. And that's what i gotta fight.

Anyhoo... more than you bargained for, but I just hit a breaking point this evening, and your asking me about it made me force myself to sort it out.

Anyway, I'm out...



And there is me. Genuine, real, and OVERWHELMED. I wrote that email at about 6:30 p.m. and it is now 11:30 p.m., and already I am feeling more okay with life again. I took two hours tonight away from my computer and the photo editing and I watched the Thursday shows (LOVED poor Toby's facial expressions the whole time! Loved Steve Martin on 30Rock. Didja know he plays a MEAN banjo?! Not on the episode. Just in real life.)... and while I sat and watched, I worked on a little crafty and then cleaned up a Craig's List toy for Noah that turned out to be pretty cool, bot that I'm not looking at it in the corner and only thinking of Stranger House Filth.

And after my two hours "off", I was able to get back to my ever-present task of editing photos and I have been working hard.... and so. And so I feel a bit better.

and tomorrow is another day. And we'll see if it ebbs or flows. I can handle either one.


{photo is not actually from today, but from another classic "life is overwhelming me" post back in January 2007. But it is a pretty accurate representation of how my life is flowing, and how I'm feeling!}

On November 18, 2007:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

********************Noah's birth story****************

There is So Much to Say. Where Do I Begin?

How about at the beginning? My water broke at about 5 p.m. on Saturday night, the 17th. It was funny, because I really wasn't SURE that's what had happened. It felt mostly like I had peed a little, but without any control over it. Kinda awkward. So I let it go for a moment, deciding to wait to see if it happened again. Well did it ever!! For the next twenty minutes or so I kept feeling these little trickles (never a gush), and finally (after consulting my nurse hotline AND Katie) woke Joe from a pre-work nap to tell him we should probably go to the hospital. Thrilled to call in to work, he got up and we calmly tied up a few loose ends around the apartment, adding a few things to our pile already packed and ready to go. We called our families to tell them we were headed in to check if it was REAL labor, and then headed out.

We got to the hospital around 6:15, checked in, and got to our delivery room. The nurses determined pretty quick that this was indeed "real labor" and got me hooked up to monitors and IV. The room was comfy (for a hospital delivery room), and we settled in for a long night. I had begun feeling mild contractions in the car, and they stayed pretty mind for a few hours. I had also already been dilated to a 3 at 80% effaced all week, so the early labor work had been done. We decided to hold off on Pitocin and the epidural for the time being, just to see what my body had in mind for the evening. The pain wasn't really unbearable. Joe's sister Mary arrived to lend some support and she hung out with us through the early waiting phase.

After nearly three hours of waiting, however, I was still a three. We reluctantly agreed to the Pitocin and she started it REALLY lightly at about 9:00 p.m. At about 9:30 p.m., some REAL contractions began, and I managed them by sitting on the birthing ball and clutching my belly while Joe rubbed my back. We hung out that way for 30-45 minutes, and when the nurse checked again, I was at a 4. She said we needed the contractions to be closer than 4-5 minutes apart, so she upped the Pitocin a bit more. Within minutes, the contractions got harder and more frequent.

At this point, my coping mechanism involved a weird focus activity-- I found that if I said the 50 states alphabetically, rhythmically, sometimes picturing them on a map, sometimes picturing unique features of each one, I was able to NOT go crazy with the pain. I mean, even at a 4-5 dilation, these babies were HARD! Yikes!! When the nurse popped in at about 10:30, she checked me, said I had made it to 5, and asked if this was the time for the epidural. YES YES YES YES, please. I was done. I'm a bit embarrassed to cave at only a 5, and am AMAZED at all you non-epidural women, but WOW. It was time. She said he was just down the hall and it shouldn't be more than 15 minutes or so, and you better believe I watched that clock between "Alabama...Wyoming!!!" and the next chant. And it was more than 15 minutes, let me tell you.
Joe was AMAZING. He was calm, responsive, not annoying, soooo sympathetic, and very willing to push that massager into the small of my back-- HARDER, JOE!-- when I barked at him to do so. He was right there for me until the epi guy showed up a bit after 11:00 p.m. After one failed attempt (blood in the catheter means he nicked a vein), he smoothly got the epidural in while I sat on the edge of the bed, hugging a pillow, humming, and rolling my feet in circles to keep from crying out from the contraction pain. The epi pain was NADA. No biggie. By 11:30, the epidural was working, a Foley catheter was in place, and the blessed numbness was letting me take a much needed rest.

My parents and sister Beckie showed up at 12:30 a.m. from Columbia, MO and they and Mary took turns coming in to chat while we watched the baby heartbeat tape and contraction tape record their findings. We were fascinated by the contractions especially, since they would rise and fall steadily without me feeling an ounce of pain. My family would sometimes tell me when a big one came along, 'cause I didn't know. The nurse came in around this time and took my blood pressure. It was REALLY low, due to the epidural medication, and she immediately upped my fluid IV and put me in an oxygen mask. I never felt any different, but this low blood pressure became the issue of the night. At one point, it got down to an 86/46 and she had the epidural guy come in and give me a shot of something to help my pressure go up. This happened twice between 12:30 and 3:00 a.m. My two other sisters, Sarah and Kirsti, arrived during this time and I still felt fine so we all chatted for a while. Throughout, the nurse would keep coming in when my pressure dropped and check the machines and my fluid. I stayed on oxygen for most of the time. She said it was because she didn't like how my baby's heart was responding to each contraction. She told me it wasn't cause for alarm, but we needed to perk him up. Reassured, I was able to stay so relaxed and peaceful throughout all of this late-night stuff. I even got a good little nap between 3:30 and 5:00, when I was woken by a new doctor, a heart specialist, telling the nurse that she wanted the fetal heart monitor inserted for a more accurate read.

At this point, nearly 12 hours after arriving, I was dilated to an 8. The heart doc told me that they had been monitoring my baby's heartbeat all night and were concerned by the distress it was showing. She told me that the little monitor that was being inserted into my baby's scalp was to determine more accurately if we needed to do something more immediate to relieve the baby's distress. She said it was very possible we were heading into C-section territory. Still a bit groggy from my nap, my heart froze. I had never considered this to be a possibility. While the room was clear of personnel, I asked Joe to get my dad so I could have a blessing. I still felt that Noah could come on his own. The blessing was sweet, and brought me peace, but immediately afterward, my on-call OB came in to say that they had decided the surgery was best and explained the procedure and got the preparations started. There was no sense of EMERGENCY, just an efficient process that would help my baby have a smoother entry into the world.

I cried a little with Joe. This wasn't how I had pictured things. I was sad that after all that time and work, we would have to "give up" and let them do it their way. I was sad that the whole "movie scene" wouldn't play out the way it should. Still, we wanted what was best for our baby, and so we took a deep breath and readjusted our ideals.

The epidural was cranked up to high, the bed was wheeled to an operating room, Joe was put into disposable scrubs and a blue sterile curtain was hung in front of me to block the surgery from germs and my horrified eyes. Everything moved so fast at this point, and before I knew it, the cutting had begun and Joe was holding my hand, helping me through it. He got the camera ready and within minutes Joe was saying "there's his head!" and the surgeons were saying "Oh he's a BIG one!" and the sound of suctioning and crying filled the room. Joe took photos (including the REMARKABLE one at the top of this post) and then watched in awe as they carried our screaming son to the warming table to my right. I looked and all I saw, honestly, was this FAT, PURPLE, CONE-HEADED UGLY thing. I thought, "Darn it... I guess I'll have to get used to him." (Isn't that AWFUL??) But within minutes he had pinked up, a hat was hiding the cone, and his angry cries were too irresistible. I loved him. Joe just stood and watched, took some photos and video, and I finally asked him if he had even touched him yet. Joe looked surprised, said no, and I told him to get over there! It was comforting to know that even if I couldn't hold him just yet, Joe could be there instead.

Finally, FINALLY, after what seemed like hours, but what was really probably only ten minutes, they let Joe bring him over to me. For the first time, Noah stopped crying and I reached out to touch his face. I couldn't speak and the emotions flooded in powerfully. (one of the most meaningful photos Joe took was this one:)

I spent more time with my new son in the recovery room, where we got a little skin-to skin time as I practiced nursing. He then got taken away for his bath and other things, and I got settled in my room for a nice. long, post-C-section four-day stay.

So. Wow, that was lengthy. But it's a story I want to remember, and it is a relief to have it down now so I know I won't forget the little things.

Yes, it was unexpected and sad for me to have the surgery... but ultimately, I don't regret a single moment of my time in the hospital. It was the most peaceful, affirming experience i could have had, and we left, nearly a week later, rested, informed, practiced and ready to try real life.

Now, what y'all were REALLY looking for, this whole time... More photos!!!!

{right after delivery}


{getting weighed}

{Dad's moment}

{Family moment}

{bonding in the recovery room}

{a quiet evening moment with Dad}

{they're so irresistible when they sleep!}

{look at that face!!}

{a favorite one... taken by Joe!}

P.S. That cone head thing went away within hours, and I honestly think he might be the best looking baby ever. Am I biased? Never.

(and aren't you impressed to learn that Joe took most of these?? I love it!)
{reprinted from my November 23, 2007 entry}

And to finish, a video:

And that's my memory. My most important journey so far in this life. Thank you for letting me relive it here. I'm off now-- to go enjoy my sweet son on his birthday! There are toys to be played with, people!!

Joseph Noah Southerland
Born: November 18, 2007
Time: 7:22 a.m.
Weight: 8 pounds 5 ounces
Height: 20.5 inches
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