Thursday, December 31, 2009

Malachi & Tirzah

Really good lighting + pretty cooperative kids = really cute photos!! 

1/200, f1.8, 50mm, wb set to "sunny"
1/500, f1.8, 50mm

1/125, f1.8, 50mm

1/160, f1.8, 50mm

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Uploading Photos

If you have a feed reader, you may have gotten my last post a couple of times. Yeah, I changed it a little. Sorry about that!  Something has been bothering me, though.  I have this GREAT camera (the Nikon D80), which takes incredible pictures, yet when I upload them on my blog, the pictures always look pixelized to me, no matter how I try doing the jpeg compression.  It's been a *little* frustrating.  So I'm going to see if I can explain what I mean.  Typically I upload my pictures using blogger (which most people say I definitely should not do).  I love that you can click on the photos to see a higher resolution version.  But maybe I don't love it anymore.  I have noticed a few other...ahem..."professional" photographers...use flickr to upload their photos.  So I'm giving it a whirl. 

I don't you see a difference?  I don't think I'm bothered as much with flickr!  I think the pictures uploaded to flickr look smoother.  Can you tell which ones (besides by clicking on them)?



Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cleaning my Card


I feel so guilty doing this, but so many people write to tell me how much they enjoy the pictures.  Well, I certainly enjoy taking them!!  My memory card is 8 Gb, so when it's full it takes a REALLY long time to clean off.  I did go through and delete a few of the blurry ones and that took even longer.  :)  But here are a few I had to share.

{Malachi working hard on a drawing}

{Zeke loves looking at the albums I have made}

{Chi will not be deterred from playing outside!}

{Micah is going through a rebellious "you must not take my picture" stage}

{Christmas cookies}


{A dehydrator has been on Mitch's wish list for a looooong was a gift this year from Paul & Marilyn!}

{At least our mailman didn't leave us a note...yet...telling us to clear it a little's frozen, packed ice now, so moving it would be difficult.  Maybe easier to put up a new mailbox?  LOL}

Monday, December 28, 2009

How Long Til Christmas?

On Saturday, Josh came in the room where I was to ask me a VERY important question:

"Mom, how many days is it until Christmas?"

Oh boy.

LOL, I just had to share these fun pictures with you.  Yes, Josh really did ask me that and all I could do was laugh.  I couldn't even give him a straight answer beyond, "a very long time."  I don't think he even really waited around to hear the answer.  :)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

We had a blessed Christmas Day! Here are a bunch of pictures to share.

To start, we learned early in the week that a major snowstorm was headed our way. If it produced the amount of snow predicted, travel would be snarled and records for snowfall over Christmas for central Minnesota would be set.

{snowfall before the storm really began, on Wednesday}

{Snowfall by midday on Thursday...not as much as predicted (only about 4 inches), and easily plowed off the roads}

{Snowfall Christmas morning...somewhere around 9 to 10 inches...not as much as predicted, but certainly a respectable is wet and heavy, doesn't blow well, and melts off the roads easily, so travel is not bad}

{Our Christmas tree is so beautiful this year}

{Finding baby Jesus in the "manger" on Christmas morning was a special treat for Malachi}

{We were so thankful to be able to share our tradition with Patrick...everyone took a turn holding the baby...and we finished Bartholomew's Passage}

{Yeah, that's kind of how Tirzah treats everything and everyone!}

{Dad brought Josh a treat after he was done shoveling}

{Merry Christmas!!!}

We had a fantastic afternoon and evening.  Our day was light and fun.  We had a wonderful meal with Holly & Kyle and Paul & Marilyn.  I felt better today...enough to help make the meal, and that's saying a lot since on Monday it was difficult for me to even make a baby's bottle, much less a meal.  We are so thankful for our family and for our extended families far away!  I look forward to resting the rest of the weekend.  :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bad Children Won't Get Any Christmas Presents

Tonight I was tired.  I admonished my children to clean up the living room floor, which was scattered with duplo legos, various baby toys, and broken crayons.  They weren't cleaning fast enough.  A thought popped into my head, programmed there years ago by popular children's songs and television, and the words almost left my lips.  A manipulative thought, words that just might work.  {We don't play the "Santa game" at our home...pretending it is Santa who leaves presents on Christmas Eve for "good" little girls and boys or lumps of coal for "bad" children.}  But I almost declared that there would be no presents as naughty children don't deserve presents.

Boy, do I learn my lessons hard.

This year I have been learning the lesson of grace over and over again, and in an instant my thoughts betrayed me and proved that I have much more to learn.

What have we tried for weeks to prepare our children for?  What is Advent?  What is Christmas really about?

Emmanuel, God with us. 

Why did he come?  It is painful, but it is SO true.  He came to die.  In a few months we will mourn the road to the cross and celebrate the resurrection.  He came because we are in a desperate situation.  In our sin.  Undeserving.

The ultimate Christmas gift.

And I have been so very badAnd so have you.

Lord, help us to remember and to share Your light, Your grace, Your love with the world.  I am saddened by how easily and quickly my heart was turned away from the true meaning of why we mark the remembrance of this holy day, even with the reminders constantly around me.  Thank You for the one real gift that matters.

Doing Okay

I saw the hematologist today and didn't get any big answers.  He says that definitely the hereditary spherocytosis is presenting, but feels that the symptoms/infection was brought on by some type of virus.  I still have the low fever.  All my other tests came back normal.  He checked my blood levels today and wants to check them again in a week.  He feels confident that I will be improving by then.  He said he would have been very concerned if he had not already known about hs, but it's pretty obvious already knowing.  He looked at my previous health history and said that given the fact I have had 7 pregnancies, my body's iron stores would be completely depleted, so I have been doing a good job of maintaining my hemoglobin levels even if they are "low."  Then he said something very strange.  He looked at one pregnancy (mind you, most of these results in his computer would be from when I have gone in the hospital to deliver, therefore my iron is naturally low in the 3rd trimester) where my hgb level was 8.8.  He says, yes, you're a little lower now (8.4), but since you're feeling fine...   Um, WHAT?  I kind of choked a little bit there and just didn't know what to say.  I don't think that's what he meant, and probably I heard him wrong, but it sure was an awkward moment.  So on my way home I called Mitch to let him know that I'm obviously feeling fine and need to start pulling my weight around here again.  ;)

The good news is that yesterday I was feeling a little better.  He took my blood again today, so hopefully we'll see that ALL my counts are improving.  I didn't sleep well last night, and I'm still fighting with caffeine withdrawal, so I didn't feel very well today at all.  I plan on resting as much as possible (and I already drank a can of Pepsi...bad, I know).  We have a major snow storm headed our way, plus dealing with my illness/weakness, our plans for spending Christmas Eve at the waterpark are up in the air right now.  :(  The most important thing is to enjoy our time together as a family!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sick is no fun

Well, do you want the long story or the short story?  Ah, it's my blog, so I guess it will be the long story.  ;)

I have been feeling exhausted for the past couple weeks.  Very rundown.  On Wednesday last week I felt miserable, but tried to grin and bear it.  I actually ran a 100.4 fever, but it was low enough that I just ignored it and prayed it was nothing.  I made sure to get lots of sleep that night.  On Thursday a.m. I felt better, but still tired.  Thursday afternoon I remember feeling overwhelmingly dizzy...not vertigo like I have when I need my neck adjusted, but dizzy like exhausted dizzy.  I was achy and had a headache.  I didn't get to bed until late, but acetaminophen does wonders.  Friday a.m. was similar, and by the end of daycare Friday afternoon I headed to bed with a 100.8 fever.  I very sadly called my friend Kristin to cancel our planned Saturday trip to see Courtney.  I went to bed for real around 9:30 p.m. Friday night, and besides getting up to nurse the baby I slept until 9:30 a.m.  It was a record for both of us, I think. I felt horrible, so I called and scheduled a doctor appointment.  I thought with the fever and aches that I had influenza.  I tested negative for that, though, and also negative for mono and strep.  Whew!  A blood count, and then a complete blood count, then revealed that not only was I anemic (my hemoglobin count was 9.1), but my white blood count and platelets were also low (pancytopenia).  Certainly the concern became "why?"  I have a history of hereditary spherocytosis.  It is a trait that I inherited from my mom's side of the family and had some complications from as a young girl.  As a child, I was subjected to frequent tests, liquid iron, fried liver (obviously I was anemic), and I had an enlarged spleen.  At some point in my childhood I remember hearing the blessed news, "Your spleen is normal!"  So it didn't have to be removed.  Now, the spherocytosis may or may not have anything to do with my current condition, but it is something the doctors are willing to investigate.  The doc on Saturday sent me home with iron and an appointment with my regular doctor on Monday.  On Sunday I was called back with more results--my liver enzymes are elevated and my potassium levels are dangerously low.  So add potassium to the iron.  On Monday I succumbed to more blood tests.  The doctor wants to make sure there is not an underlying virus that is causing the results...viruses similar to mono do that.  I had another blood count (this time my hemoglobin continued to fall to 8.4), an ultrasound of my spleen and liver, a chest x-ray, a urinalysis, and a very large blood draw to check for a blood infection.  In the meantime there is also the risk of hepatitis, so no more acetaminophen for me (ouch) until test results are in.  I was given an antibiotic as a precaution.  The ultrasound revealed some gallstones (probably the byproduct of an elevated bilirubin), and a very large spleen.  The doctor called some gastric specialists who told her to call hematology, who said they want to see me asap.  So I see them Wednesday morning.  In the meantime I am just sitting here waiting for an answer.  I continue to run a constant low-grade fever (the highest it has gotten is 101.4).

It is physically impossible for me to do any more than sit and wait anyways.  I am so exhausted.  I'm usually a little better in the mornings, but by evening it is difficult to walk from the couch to the bedroom.  Mitch has been wonderful.  Yesterday he did 8 loads of laundry, in addition to all the daycare and homeschool work.  Holly came over to help him while I went to my appointment, but since I was called back in 2 additional times, that pretty much meant Holly stayed here all day, too!  In addition to the lack of energy, the worst part is the headaches.  To compound the problem, I have cut my caffeine intake (I normally drink 2 cans of Pepsi a day).  Goodness knows my kidneys don't need anymore stress (especially judging by don't want to know).  Today, however, I couldn't handle it anymore and just had to have one.  :)  It didn't take the headache away, but it did take the edge off.  If it's the difference between a migraine level and a regular headache, I'll take it!

Can I say again how wonderful Mitch has been?  He's been incredibly helpful and caring, and hasn't complained a bit.  He said to me last night, "I hope you get better soon; your job is hard!"  :)

Ok, I think that's about all...I'm probably forgetting something, but who would know?  My head hurts too much to think clearly. 

Friday, December 18, 2009

A New Smile

Since Tirzah's teeth are coming in really good now, they show up well when she smiles. She actually has two more through on top, but they are just barely through so you can't quite see them yet.

{This one makes the other look even sweeter.}

Monday, December 14, 2009


I personally do not like to play in the snow. It's just not my thing. Last week? Well, let's just say that when I came home on Sunday (the 6th) after grocery shopping I didn't leave again until the following Saturday. In fact, I didn't step a foot outside my front door. Good thing I like being at home. :) It is nice to look at, however, and to take pictures of.

{Our home today}

Expect that small little mound of snow to grow significantly...that's where Mitch likes to pile the snow when he shovels the driveway.  It's most likely there to stay/grow until spring.  Makes a good place to play!  Not that I'd know personally...  Every time we go out, Patrick expresses his amazement at the piles of snow in the parking lots.  Yeah, it's something you sort of get used to.  They'll all get bigger.  In April it will be 50 degrees F out and those piles will still be trying to melt off.  It takes a long time for them to go away.  Sometimes the city will send trucks to remove the snow.  They load it into dump trucks and semis and haul it off to dump in a big hole somewhere.  I can't wait for Patrick to see the Mississippi River frozen over.  That will be fun. 

My kids love to play in the snow.  Patrick does too.  Good thing he's made some friends at school that also like to go skiing, snow boarding, sledding etc.  Don't think I'd be much fun in that area!  Where I grew up in Virginia we got snow occasionally.  It was always fun.  School was always let out.  It always melted within a few days.  It was always pretty warm out to play in...well, compared to MN it was warm.  In MN snow storms are usually followed by cold fronts that drop the temperatures and create a lot of wind--meaning that wind chills are even lower.  Brrrrrr.  Not that I'm complaining or anything.  It's a balmy 70 degrees F inside my house.  Where I happily spend most of my time.  Mitch thinks we should move south to warmer weather.  Especially now that winter is here.  :)

I know I'm not doing a very good job of writing tonight.  I'm pretty random.  Here is some more random but good news:  a friend of my sister-in-law, Holly, was reading my blog about my new camera and my desire to add to my collection of lenses.  She emailed me to say that she happens to have a 18-55 mm lens she doesn't use and would like to get rid of.  Well, now, I say, that would be perfect...but I'm short on cash at the moment.  BUT...we bought a different lens on ebay before we bought the camera (long story).  A beautiful 50 mm f/1.4 AI Nikon lens.  This lens is fairly old, will work as a manual lens only, but really is beautiful.  It came in the mail and I had SOOO much fun playing with it.  Fun, but not a necessary lens since my camera came with a 50 mm lens.  I can resale the lens and then have some cash.  So she says to me, really?  She happens to be wanting that lens!  NO way!  So we met and did a straight up trade.  I am thrilled to have a little more variety and options.  The picture above was shot with my "new" lens...I don't know if it's technically a "wide-angle" lens, but it did allow me to get the whole house in so I didn't have to stand across the street on my neighbor's porch to get it.  I hope she is enjoying the 50 mm.  It was beautiful.  I took some fun pictures with it as I explored the possibilities of being able to stop down to f 1.4 aperture.  Niiiiiiccce.

Charlie Brown Christmas

This short clip sums up my feelings for the season!!  :)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Some pictures

Well, in a little over a week I've managed to take over 1,000 pictures with my new camera. Don't let that number shock you though. Most of them are either duplicates or pictures of no "real" subjects (like crayons, candle sticks, booger suckers, anything laying around that I can focus on). Many times I take a picture, adjust my settings, take it again, and repeat. Basically I'm learning as quickly as I can. :)

And that's the best advice I can give anyone who has a camera and wants to learn how to take better pictures: read some tips online, then shoot and shoot and shoot. :) I have a great book here with pointers on how to take great pictures with ANY camera (even a disposable camera), but I can't remember the name of it right now. If I come across it again, I'll let you know. For now, just do a google search. Something like "photography tips for point and shoot camera" should suffice. :)

I'm learning!

Oh, and if you think of it, say a prayer that Tirzah would stop biting me. It really hurts and I want to stop nursing. :(