Saturday, July 28, 2012

Slowly improving my focus

I've been having fun shooting with my new 50mm 1.4 lens. Last weekend, I took it to our friends' wedding. I brought it along on a visit to see Christopher and Susie. And today, I shot 132 pictures at Christopher's baptism. Out of the 132 shots, I got 22 pics I actually liked. Hopefully my success rate will continue to rise.

I find I am getting much more comfortable with the manual mode on the fly. I've been adjusting white balance as well as aperture and shutter speed settings pretty quickly. At the wedding, I had more time since Steve had to be there early. I was able to pick my seat and play with the settings for at least 15 minutes before the wedding started. Today, at the christening, I had about a minute before everything started, so I was adjusting as I went along.

The focusing is getting a little better. I think part of my problem is my eyesight. I've been wearing my contact lenses, which I think is better than my glasses. But I still second guess what I see in the viewfinder as focused. Or I will think it looks great, take the photo, and then in the preview I can see that it is definitely not in focus. Oh well, I just will have to practice more.

So here are a few of my favorite shots from the last few events. Feel free to critique and/or give me pointers to improve! I love constructive criticism. You can also tell me which ones you like best. These are all unedited, right from the camera.















Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jack's old grandma; my new camera lens

Some kids have imaginary friends, our child has an imaginary grandma.

Steve and I are taking this new development as evidence of the wonderful relationships Jack has with his three grandmothers. It's also quite entertaining. The"old grandma" usually comes up in conversation, not actually in interaction with us. It goes a little something like this.

Jack: My old grandma gave me lots of money. She has a hundred dollars.
Me/Steve: Really? Where did she get her money?
Jack: She had jobs.
Me/Steve: What kind of job?

And so on until he can't come up with any more answers.

Jack's old grandma has an army, a best friend (who she married), and lots of knowledge. The old grandma teaches Jack lots of things. And she used to come to our house, before Steve and I lived here.

I love his active imagination. I'm hoping he keeps it going for a really long time.

In other news, the new camera lens my family bought me for my birthday arrived in the mail yesterday. It's a 50mm prime lens with an F-stop of 1.4-16 . It's awesome. I definitely need some practice with it though. The nice thing about the 1.4 is that I don't need to use a flash until it's pretty dark (and I don't like using a flash). The part I need to practice is focusing. The field of focus when using the 1.4 setting is pretty narrow. I'm having lots of fun learning though!

Here are some of the better shots so far.








This one shows the benefit of the out-of-focus shot - me early in the morning

I took this tonight - no flash, just the light from the computer screen hitting his face

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I'm totally going to jinx this...

Reid fell asleep on his own tonight! We gave him a bath, got him in his jammies, and he nursed for a little bit. But he got really cranky in my arms, so I laid him down in bed while he was still awake, and he fell asleep without crying all on his own!

Let's all keep our fingers crossed that he stays asleep all night long.

Today was a fun day. We celebrated my and Vita's birthday with the immediate family. We had brunch and played all morning.



I broke out my Auntie Kay's recipe for French Toast Casserole, and although it was a little scary for a minute, it turned out awesome. There was a little spillover of butter/brown sugar mixture that caused some smoke. And the casserole seemed to be breathing as we pulled it from the oven since it had puffed up so much. But after a little cooling off, not a crumb was leftover.

My family was also very generous. They bought me the 50mm prime lens I have been eyeing for my camera. I'm so excited to start using it! I'm sure the blog will benefit from the pictures too.

And we took some pictures of all of the grandchildren together. It's becoming quite a brood. Amazingly, we got all six to sit nicely for about 3 minutes while we snapped away.




There are more, but you get the idea.

Alright, it's still before 9 p.m. I just might get a full night's sleep. Keep those fingers crossed!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Reid is 8 months old!


I know he turned 8 months on Thursday, but I finally got the pictures taken today, so hence the post.

The picture above is my favorite. I love the simpleness. He almost looks too serious! Of course, it wouldn't be a monthly photo shoot photo without the monkey, so here you go.




In that last one, he's watching Jack to see what he'll do next. Jack and Steve both helped out making Reid laugh during the 5 minutes we took pictures. That's about how long Reid can sit before he gets tired and starts to wobble over.

In the last month, Reid has perfected his rolling. He really only likes to roll one way, from his front to his back over his right arm then back to his front over his left arm. But he can get pretty much anywhere he wants to be using his technique of rolling and spinning. He has gotten out of his room and the down the hall to our room all by himself. He is also pushing up more, so I think crawling will be coming soon. He just has to figure out how to get his knees underneath him and support his weight on them. Overall, he does not like to be contained.

He loves to stand up if you hold him. I'll hold him under the arms, and he'll raise his arms and smile or laugh. Then we all say "Yeah" and he laughs some more. As you can see in the photos, he can sit by himself a little. He can't get into the sitting position by himself yet though, so I don't sit him up too much. I want him to learn how to get there by himself so he can also get down by himself. Right now, he's fallen over a few times and conked his head. He doesn't like that much even though he loves to sit.

He plays with his toys more actively now too. He'll roll across the room to get to his ball or the rings he likes to chew on. He also likes to get Jack's crocs or the remote, and he'll cry if we take those away. He's developing definite likes and dislikes, and he's not afraid to let us know what they are.

As for food, he is progressing through the baby foods. He seems to have mastered eating from a spoon, and we are in a good routine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He also has had lots of fruits and vegetables now. He seems to really like bananas. But without going into too much detail, we are on a break from bananas and focusing on prunes right now, for which he is developing a taste.

Sleep is the other big thing we are working on now. I finally hit my point of extreme exhaustion, and after re-reading the chapter in "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," we are letting Reid cry it out at night. He was waking up 2 or 3 times at night, and sometimes he would stay awake just to interact with us. Last night was the first night we did the cry-it out system. Overall, Reid did pretty well. He never cried for more than 30 minutes straight, and he only had about 4 or 5 wakings. However, Jack woke up crying several times last night. It was very bizarre since Jack usually sleeps very well through the night. Steve did the brunt of the work, so he was tired this morning. I tried to help with Jack, but we both ended up in there with him several times.

We're hoping tonight goes better, and maybe by the end of this next week, we'll all be sleeping soundly and restfully. Then maybe I can get back to writing more often instead of stealing moments of sleep every chance I get!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A little time away

Sometimes it is a good thing to take breaks. I find it refreshing to return to the routine after a good, long break. This is one reason I love vacation and travel.

Lucky for me, we got to go to Florida this summer for a week. Steve, the boys, Kathy Barrett, and I flew to Fort Walton Beach, which is right next to Destin. And then we planted ourselves on the beach and pretty much didn't move until we had to leave. It was wonderful!

We were very lucky weather-wise. As we boarded our plane to Pensacola that Monday, we weren't sure if we would arrive in the middle of Tropical Storm Debby or sweet Florida sunshine. We found the sunshine, and in fact, the weather was nicer in Florida that week than it was here at home in Chicagoland!

There are lots of fun stories from vacation, but I have so much to write about and so many pictures to include tonight, that I will summarize with our favorites.

Jack's favorite - the hot tub. Luckily, he abided by the the five-minute limit we gave him! He would have stayed there all day if we had let him, but I did not want a Jack-boil!


Steve's favorite - the waves of the Gulf/the beach. My joke with Kathy was that every day when it was time to clean up and head back to the room, Steve would disappear to the water for one last swim. He just didn't want to leave.


Reid's favorite - the pool. This kid loves to sit and splash. We probably didn't spend as much time as he would have liked at the pool, but he loved every second we were there.

Vacation Pool

Karen's favorite - sitting on the beach under the umbrella watching the boys play and holding Reid while he fell asleep. Just watching the waves crash on the shore was mesmerizing and relaxing. There is also something to be said for just sitting.


I also had a close second favorite - getting to see my dear friend Amy. In an amazing coincidence, Amy was on a girls' trip staying at a resort just 30 minutes away. She was so sweet to drive over to spend an afternoon with us, and I loved every second of getting to chat with her in person.


And now for a barrage of vacation photos. Enjoy!

Sand creations




Family photos









We returned from our beach vacation just in time for a heat wave and July 4th. We had some family over to our house for a low-key barbeque to celebrate our Independence. Due to the weather, we went outside only long enough to splash around in the baby pool. We had a lovely picnic indoors in the air conditioning.



Love Grandma's face in this one!

Yep, he's jumping off of the playset into the pool


Notice how they both have the Unger tongue hanging out? They were concentrating on hitting Uncle Awesome

Uncle Awesome's reaction

Boat races

At the end of the night, Jack felt very strongly that we put out the rest of the American flags. He had "planted" one earlier in the day, but he wanted to make sure that they all got out there. Jack loves the American Flag, so of course, I indulged him. We'll talk more about flag code and the dark when he gets older.



So now we our getting back into a regular routine. I'm trying to take advantage of the opportunity to establish new routines. We will see how that goes. I've got some research to do on kids activities, but stay tuned here for more about our new "pizza garden" and some science experiments we are trying out!