Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mini Michael?

For the first few weeks of life, Grace had brown skin and dark brown hair. Everyone said she looked like Michael. Then, her coloring lightened up and now people either say she looks like both of us or like neither of us.

Then, I spent some time at my in-laws home, took a look at Michael's baby pictures in the hallway, and was shocked by how much she looks like Michael.

But, I want to know what you think. Is Grace a mini Michael? (Michael is on the left, Grace on the right).

Or does she look like me?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Do you ever have those books on your shelf that you eye longingly for weeks, months, or even years before the time is ripe and you finally dig in? A few weeks ago, after months of eyeing, the time was finally ripe. I picked up Eugene Peterson's classic, "A Long Obedience in the Same Direction," opened to the most intriguing looking chapter entitled "Providence," and sweet truth arrested me. I couldn't move on. I have since read Peterson's take on Psalm 121 and the providence of God almost half a dozen times. This is the nugget of truth that has been rattling around my heart and soul:

As I progress through the trials and joys of this life, I sit enveloped in the enormous lap of my powerful God. Nothing happens outside of his watchful, wakeful eye. I am safe as I progress through life and onto death.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Grace - Six Months Old

My baby girl is already halfway to her first birthday! If I had to describe her personality thus far in two words they would be 'calm' and 'observant.' Grace spends most of her days soaking up every little detail of the world around her - the sight of a ceiling fan whirring, the intricacy of the folksy elephant pattern on her nursery curtains, the sound of sausage sizzling on the grill, the motion of the fridge being opened and closed, Daddy's path across the room. You name it, she observes it.

Since Grace is so busy watching and listening, she stays quite calm and still. Though, she'll occasionally burst into one of her babbling spells. A typical Grace sentence goes something like this, "Waawaawaa. Guhgaa. Aaaaaa. Yaamaamaawaabaabaa. *razz* Maawaa."

A normal day involves two or three naps, two meals & six nursing sessions (Her size shows for it!), lots of reading books and playing with toys, and an outing or two to the grocery store, the library, church, a friend's house, the park, or Yogurtland. She sleeps about eleven hours a night, including an early morning feeding.

Here's my week by week breakdown...

18 weeks - Grace started playing with her feet. Including sticking them in her mouth and sucking on them.

19 weeks - Babies normally begin rolling from front to back. Grace began rolling the opposite way. She would get herself stuck on her stomach, get frustrated, start screaming, and we'd have to roll her back over. Over and over. Before going to sleep and after her early morning feeding, we would check on Grace to make sure she wasn't sleeping on her stomach since that position increases the risk of suffocation and SIDS. She often was, so we would flip her over, praying that she wouldn't wake up. She sometimes did and would cry until she fell back asleep. Ugh.

20 weeks - This girl has lived with her tongue sticking out since birth, so it only makes sense that she became obsessed with razzing. It was her primary means of social interaction for a couple of weeks.

21 weeks - Grace has been teething for a long time, but it has never been too difficult. Except for this week, we had five days of teething nightmare that reminded us of her acid reflux days. Cranky, fussy, inconsolable baby. Horrible. But, then there was this:

22 weeks - She learned to roll from front to back. Yay! We also started her on rice cereal. She really enjoys eating, though being on a rice and milk diet made her constipated. She'd grunt, strain until her face turned bright red, and even let out some primal screams. I laughed a lot those days.

25 weeks - My sister, Andrea, was on a break from PT school and flew out to visit for a few days. My dad was also in town for business, so we saw him here and there. Unfortunately, Grace's acid reflux decided to flare up around the same time, so she wasn't quite her usual happy baby self. The doctor upped her baby Zantac dosage and now she's back to normal. She also had veggies (green beans) for the first time and cried from the experience. Since we eat like rabbits over here, I really hope she learns to like green food.

Happy Half Birthday to You, Grace!

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Makeover and a Quote

My blog looks prettier! This weekend, I was venting all of my frustrations with blogger to Michael. I had ideas of what I wanted my blog to look like but felt like my hands were tied by the limited editing options within the finite set of templates. He opened the code (or HTML? or CSS? or something like that), listened to me voice my complaints (i.e. "I don't like the shadow thingy behind the pictures."), and fixed them. And boy does it look snazzy now! It's clean, simple, the font is more legible, and the pictures really fill the space.

Allow me to take advantage of this pretty space by leaving you with a photo I took a few weeks ago while on a walk and a beautiful quote on the art of writing that I stumbled upon this weekend.

"To keep an idea living, intact, tinged with all its original feeling, its original mood, preserving in it all the ecstasy which attended its birth, to keep it so all the way from the brain to the hand and transfer it on paper a living thing with color, odor, sound, life all in it, that is what art means..."      ~Willa Cather

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

DSLR Baby Picture

It seems like everyone is buying DSLR cameras and having babies these days.

When you first take the plunge into parenting or photography, you feel utterly incompetent. After some time passes, you still feel incompetent, but have some pointers to dish out. Since I've had my baby for less than six months, I will be offering no baby advice here. However, I've had my camera for 2.5 years and feel ready to dish out a few tips. Specifically, I will explain how to take the above picture. Ready? Here we go!

Get... your camera, a bright spot in your home where the sun is streaming onto the ground, a bright white blanket, and a baby that can hold his head up when placed on his tummy.

First... Set up your space.

Lay your white blanket on the ground right where the sun is streaming through your window. Why? Photography is all about capturing light. (After all "photo" means light and "graph" means to record/write/draw.) Good lighting makes or breaks a picture, and the ambient light in the room combined with the light coming down from the sky and the light being reflected up from the white blanket will make a well lit picture.

In the photo below, you see my blanket's positioning. The Kindle on the left represents where I laid down. The teddy bear lying face down represents where my baby, Grace, was doing tummy time when I took the picture.

Don't do this with a newborn who can't lift their head yet! Your picture will turn out like this. Sad.

Second... Set up your camera. This is a lot, but it's super important. Grab your camera and bear with me.

If you have a prime lens, use that. If not, use the lens that came with your camera.

Set your camera to aperture priority mode. On a Canon (that's what I own), there's a wheel on top. Set it to "Av." This is the best mode for shooting stationary subjects in good lighting.

Set your aperture/f-stop as low as it goes. On a Canon, it's the F1.8 (or F3.5 or F5.6). Crank it down to the lowest number. It'll probably be 1.8 or 3.5. This gets you that awesome blurry background that instantly makes your photo look like you paid for it.

Set your ISO to auto. On a Canon, that button is on top and is easy to spot. It says "ISO."

Set your white balance to auto. On a Canon, it's the "WB" button that you press to scroll up, right above the "set" button.

Put the camera in portrait mode. On a Canon, press the button opposite the white balance button and set it to "P."

Turn the exposure up one notch. On a Canon, hold down the "Av" button on the back and go up one notch.

Third... Shoot!

Set your baby down, get down on your stomach with her, focus the camera on her eyes, and shoot a couple shots. Check out what you have, think of how you could make it even better, and try again!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Family Visit

My parents were in town for a long weekend. (4.5 days!) We spend two of those days in Oceanside with Michael's parents. When I looked through the pictures that I took that weekend, I realized that Grace was in every single one!

My mom. They had a couple really good cuddle sessions where Grace just wanted to be held cheek to cheek. So sweet!

Michael's dad. And Grace eating my camera strap.

Michael's mom. She's 100% responsible for the adorable almond shape Grace's eyes have. Love it!

My dad. We started Grace on solids a week ago. She loves eating so much, she tries to get her hands involved, so here's my dad restraining her while Michael feeds her. On the beach. Lucky kid.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Grace's Baby Dedication

On Sunday, our pastor, Donn, invited Michael, Grace, and me to the front of our church. Donn asked Michael and me, "Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior?"

We responded, "He is."

"Is it your intent to raise Grace to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior?"

"It is."

Our pastor then walked her up and down the aisle to show Grace her church family. Everyone oooo'ed and aaaah'ed over her cuteness while she stared intently at the whirring ceiling fans.

Michael and I had huge smiles plastered across our faces and our hearts felt like they were going to burst with pride. He then handed her back to me, the church surrounded us, and they prayed for Grace and for us as her parents. What simple, yet incredibly meaningful moments those were.

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