Friday, December 30, 2011

Misty Sunrise

This was the view from the balcony this morning at about 6:15am.  Made my 5:50 wake-up a little less painful. 

Thinking about 2012

Shauna Niequist linked to an interesting blog post this morning: Mastering the Art of Living Meaningfully Well by Umair Haque
 "What we've got plenty of are wannabe-bankers whose idea of a good life goes about as far as grabbing for the nearest, biggest bonus — what we've got less of are well-rounded people with the courage, wisdom, and capacities to nurture and sustain a society, polity, and economy that blossom."
This made me think of my great-grandfather. He was a successful business man - the vice president of Swift & Co. and the head of the Board of Directors for Libby Canned Food Co.- but he was also an alter boy (altar man?) at his local parish, the vice president of Catholic Charities of Chicago, drove his grand-kids to school every morning, and served as the President of the Chicago Public School System for several years.  He was committed to his local church, his family, and the city he lived in and he gave back immeasurably more than he took.  Our nation would not be in the position it is in today if there were more men like him directing the goings-on of Big Business and Wall Street. 

I am proud of and inspired by my great-grandfather and thinking of him always makes me consider the life I am living. Am I shuffling along, as the blog post says, or am I living courageously? I am not a courageous person, but I am a person of faith, and faith in action is in amazing thing. I want my 2012 to be a year of faith in action.  What are some of your hopes for 2012?  


This is a series of pictures I took before Christmas and I already posted one when I was talking about photoshop but I wanted to post the others as well because they make me smile!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Earthshine is when sunlight reflected off the Earth's surface dimly illuminates the dark side of the moon and we've been experiencing some really good earthshine lately so I tried to take a picture from Mom's balcony tonight. Unfortunately I only had my 50mm lens with me, not ideal.

And here's the picture I took before I figured out I should probably narrow the aperture a bit! I think this was with the shutter open for about 5 seconds.  Almost all of these stars were invisible to the naked eye.

Noisy Visitor

I let Piper out on to the balcony this morning and a couple of minutes later heard a loud (like really loud!) chirping. Afraid that she was terrorizing the birds that like to come and eat the berries off the trees out there I went to check. Nope, Piper was lying on a chair cushion, minding her own business, and this brave little guy was on top of the tree just a few feet away telling her to get lost! He wasn't bothered by me either, even when I pointed my big telephoto lens at him!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Here are some of my favorite pictures from Christmas Eve and Christmas. Our first Christmas in Vegas! Last year I would never have imagined that we would be able to do Christmas in Vegas and still be with family. We are so blessed that Aunt Melody and gang included us in the Christmas Eve and Mom and Dad were with us on Christmas! (The eve of Christmas Eve was pretty great too, but that will have to wait for another post.) And Ross has the week off so the merriment continues!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Photoshop cont.

Ok, here is a more dramatic example of action magic because the photo was taken by me instead of a professional. I took this last night while Rem was in the bath. Thought it was a super cute face but didn't know what to do about the awful white balance and exposure. Applied Whiten Brighten, Cream, Gentle Eye Sparkle (for the bubbles), Studio Pop and a little of The Eyes Have It. Love it!

Photoshop and Nostalgia

I bought some new Pure actions for Photoshop yesterday. It is the first time I've ever paid for actions but they were just so stinking awesome and they are on sale through the 31st so I just kinda had to.  Many of the actions in the pack are designed for studio photography, which I don't do, but I had fun applying them to one of Remy's 1 year birthday pictures taken by the very talented Amy Mildren. She is fabulous and gave me professionally edited pictures but, knowing that photography was becoming a hobby for me, was sweet enough to give me the originals to play around with.

So above are the before and after. Nothing too dramatic but very pretty.  As usual as soon as I was done I wondered what Steph would do differently. Editing is such a subjective art.  Well, I guess most art is subjective, isn't it?  And lets not forget the very talented model. Brilliant cake smashing, little buddy!
Between working on this picture and exploring Facebook's new timeline feature yesterday I am feeling pretty nostalgic for Remy's baby days! Seriously, he is going to be 20 months old in January! How did this happen? It is fun and exciting to watch him growing up, but I hope there will be another baby in our future some day.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My fabulous Aunt Billi painted this!

Wishing my family back in Illinois (and elsewhere) a very Merry Christmas! We love them and miss them.

Monday, December 19, 2011

What's Up

My mom and I attempted to bake today with mixed results. We did manage to get one good batch of fudge for our sweat and tears. Tomorrow we will try again. Here are some cute pics of Remy I took over the weekend. Yesterday was a Sunday but we stayed home from church because, as much as I love our church and wanted to see Ross playing, I couldn't risk Remy picking up another virus when he still hasn't completely gotten over the last one. No sore throat and runny nose this Christmas, if we can help it!

Friday, December 16, 2011


Out of the blue, Remy unleashed his artistic brilliance on us this week. In 19 months he has never shown any interest in crayons or coloring and suddenly, two days ago, when I put paper and crayons in front of him and he picked up a crayon as if he had done in a million times. He has colored five pages like this. I am super proud and am displaying them above my desk in the kitchen.

Reasons Today Has Been Awesome:

  • My OB/GYN called me a youngster.
  • My mom washed all of my dishes.
  • Remy and I had lunch with Mom and Dad at Buffalo Wild Wings (once favorite restaurant of Mr. Malachy Stanger) and it was salty and fatty and delicious. 
  • My mom complemented me on the way my apartment smells. My apartment with a trash can full of dirty diapers and housing four cats and three litter boxes! 
  • I remembered I have a coupon for $15 dollars off a $30 purchase at Walgreens. Now I get to figure out what fun, kitschy drugstore stuff I wan to buy!  
Hope y'all are having an excellent Friday!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Happy to report that I have started journaling again (btw, spell check doesn't recognize the word journaling, nor does it recognize journalizing - which is the way Thoreau, the king of journals, wrote it - so I don't care what spell check thinks). I started keeping a prayer journal in high school because I was new to praying and it was less weird talking to someone I couldn't see if I could do it in the form of  a letter. Then, after I started painting, my prayer journal morphed into a stream-of-conscious diary where the only rule was to try to fill one page back and front each day in order to prevent an artistic block.  It sounds silly but it worked because I think I painted about 70 paintings that year.  And I discovered at the same time that journaling (journalizing) was also helpful for relieving the angst of being a 25 year old college dropout with a recently diagnosed chronic pain condition. So journaling is basically a pathway to God, a magic unblocker of creativity, and mighty cheap therapy.

Here I am at the tail end of 2011, forced to put off having a second child while I work out health issues and going through some rather sobering things with Remy, and I find myself craving that one page, front and back, once more.

If you are feeling angsty - or just creatively blocked - I highly recommend a journal. If you are a blogger you might think that doesn't!  A journal doesn't care about your grammar, it doesn't care if you have said the same thing a hundred times, it doesn't care if you are boring, confessional, opinionated, juvenile, or sad.  And finally, and perhaps most importantly, you can use shimmery, Christmas scented gel pens in your journal.

Don't worry blog, you are still my favorite place to post digital photos of my baby, my cats, and my mountain!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


For a cat who loves boxes, this really could be the most wonderful time of year.

Friday, December 09, 2011

This Poor Kid!

You know my sleepy pictures from Tuesday? Well, I should have known that the sweet, cuddly sleepyness was a prelude to something a bit less fun. The curse of the church nursery has struck again. It seems like AT LEAST half the time we put Remy in the nursery by the next Wednesday he is in the full throes of something nasty. You can't see it in the picture but his shirt is soaked nearly to his belly button with snot and drool.  There has been puking, there has been pooing, there has been violent hacking, and there have been a string of very sleepless nights. Please Santa, bring a big strong immune system for my little buddy! (...and a better haircut?)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Blazing Trees

Beautiful day here in Vegas. I want to savor these glorious colors before they are gone! I think the boys, on the other hand, just want to play a little football before the sun goes down. 

What I am Reading

Raising a Sensory Smart Child by Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske.This is a really useful book with a lot of good information. Sensory integration is a complicated issue with very nuanced implications and so this book has limited usefulness to parents without professional expert input, but it sets the groundwork for a new way of seeing unusual delays and behaviors in your child, and provides an easy to understand reference once therapy begins, along with tried and tested tips and advice for all sorts of challenging scenarios.

Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet. This is a book I'd been meaning to read since long before we found out Remy may have autism. It is the memoir of an autistic savant who grew up in a poor family in England and how he overcame his isolation and anxiety to find love, start a successful language tutoring website, and travel the world to speak on behalf of those with autism. It is a story of hope, but is also a fascinating look into a different kind of mind. It kind of plays a trick on you though, you go into it thinking how different he is, how unusual his way of seeing things, but by the end of the book you feel convinced that he is not so different from anyone else. Considering his remarkable intelligence it is a credit to his humility and his simple, heart-felt prose that this is even possible.

Following Ezra by Tom Fields-Meyer. This is a book of essays by the father of an autistic boy.  It is a quiet book, gentle in its hope, subdued in its lamenting. There are laughs but it is mostly a book of father puzzling out meaning from day-to-day life as the father of a special little boy. He describes the courage he felt when the journey started and how he took umbrage with a well-meaning therapist for suggesting that he and his wife grieve for their son, but whether he realizes it or not, this is a book peppered with grief. I think it may be a cathartic read for parents with a special needs child and it is better written then any of the other books I have encountered on the subject.
The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook by Pamela J. Compart and Dana Laske. I am not sure about this yet but it is on standby if we need it. Our pediatrician seemed completely dismissive of the idea that Remy may have a food intolerance but we are going to be talking to a nutritionist next  month and so I will let you know what he/she thinks. The book itself makes a compelling case for the impact of diet on cognition and behavior in some children

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

New camera 
+ sleepy, slow moving target 
= lots of fun for mama!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Remy Update

It's been one week since Remy failed his autism screening. This looms huge in my mind but I don't know how to talk about it. When I try to talk about it with Ross he cuts me off and says he doesn't want to "get ahead of things." I am talking about something that happened a week ago - how am I "ahead" of anything? ***grumble, grumble.*** To be fair though, I have danced with denial myself ever since I first read that description of autism in toddlers back in October so I understand how he feels. I just wish there was some way we could synchronize our phases of denial and our phases of stark realism so that it wasn't so lonely. 

And denial can be counterproductive. Urgency is sort of the name of the game with autism these days. They are screening earlier and earlier in their attempts to make the best possible progress against the disorder. This means that many of the little ones who are diagnosed will go on to have their diagnosis reversed. I am so glad that someone told me this, it is a beacon of hope. But it doesn't change the fact that we have to respond with the utmost seriousness to what the EI team is telling us.  We can't afford to keep waiting and hoping for some miraculous catch-up that doesn't happen.  
Remy is about the same but he continues to get better at please and pointing. This week I am filling out a packet and faxing it over to Tuoro University where they are going to do neuropsych testing, probably some time in February or March. I am reading more about food intolerances and how they can affect development. Still waiting to hear from the therapist who is going to be doing our home visits. I have to buy a binder soon since all of the reports and forms are starting to overflow Remy's medical folder. It's all a little surreal.   Anyway, that is where I am at today.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Early Christmas

Santa came early for Ross and me.  I let him pick out his present - two bb guns (just one pictured because the second one that arrived may not be what he ordered. It looks like a robot assasin's gun from a bad scifi. I HOPE it's not the one he ordered.)

I love how sane he is trying to look in the third picture. Dude, you ordered bb guns for Christmas, you can't fool us! ;P  

...And he let me pick out my present, a Canon Rebel T3. It came two days ago. I love it. I actually thought about taking it to the grocery store yesterday because I didn't want to put it down. Since I can't take a picture of my camera, here's a picture I took with my camera.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Fall Colors

See, we do have seasons, they just come on a slightly different schedule!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How Do They Do It?

After trying to set up a Christmas shot with Remy for our cards this year I have a whole new respect for portrait photographers. I waited too long and didn't have enough light, Remy wasn't interested in my props, I didn't get far enough away from the subject, he had a tendency to charge the camera whenever I tried to get him to look at me, and I couldn't keep the binky out of his mouth. The fact that these are my best two shots says it all, lol!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Well, I tried...

Everyone has been posting beautiful pictures of their trees so I decided today I would straighten up the ornaments, replace some of the candy cane Remy has broken, hang some ribbon and take some decent pictures. It's trickier than I thought it would be! Right now I only have the telephoto lens and the 50 mm for my DSLR and so I didn't get far enough back to get the entire tree in the picture. Then I switched to my trusty old point and shoot and got photographs that looked like old xerox copies of bad photos. But I did catch a mischievous little elf in one of the pictures, he is loving the Christmas tree!