Monday, May 26, 2008

Look How Our Garden Grows!

Well, today, I have pictures of my babies...not my children but my babies. We have lots of yummy vegetables growing in our back yard. We thought we would lose some after getting golf ball sized hail a few weeks ago, but everything seems to have survived with the exception of our green beans. They may not make it. We have had so much squash this week that we have had to dump it on our neighbors already! One of our neighbors actually ate it before we did. Hopefully, we will soon have tomatoes and peppers, too (and maybe the green beans will bounce back). Here are some pictures I took of our squash!

We actually have had about 4x this amount of squash. This is what we haven't given away, eaten, or frozen. Next time, there will be pictures of my actual children!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Not a Baby Anymore--A Little Boy

Well, words can't really do justice to how much my baby has turned into a little boy. He walks, says some words, drinks whole milk, and knows how to hold a cell phone up to his ear. In fact, tonight, he even tried to eat his risotto with a spoon. Did I mention that every time we sit down to dinner, he reminds us to pray--he puts his hands together and says "God," and he won't stop until we pray or sing "God our father, God our father, we thank you, we thank you, for our many blessings, for our many blessings, Amen, Amen" (to the tune of Frere Jacques).

Here are some highlights of my final attempts of doing his one year old portraits myself. I now have over 100 Ty is One images to sort through and edit in Photoshop! I chose these as my top 4 (from tonight).

Christy, you will appreciate that I shot in RAW, and the only adjustment I have made thus far is the WB. It wasn't so bad after all!

FWIW, I had 2 goals. First, I wanted to experiment with backlighting, and secondly, I wanted to capture his big, beautiful, brown eyes. And Jennifer, I really had a blast SHOOTING Ty :-)

P.S. In the 2nd pose, I can't decide if I should leave the dirt on the mouth or clone it out--it is an honest representation of his personality! :-)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Soap Box

I don’t usually do this, but it’s been on my mind lately. I definitely respect other peoples’ parenting decisions unless they are being abusive. So please don’t take the following as a judgment against you if you have chosen something else for your child. I am just writing to educate because I feel that many parents don’t know about this topic.

Most people quote the guidelines for car seats as “less than one year and 20 pounds” for rear facing. At that point, they turn their child around to face forward. I wish that doctors and parenting literature would look at the data that exists and advise parents otherwise. A child (and anyone else in the car, for that matter) is much better protected in a side-impact or head-on collision if they are rear facing. Side-impact and head-on collisions are the deadliest type of crashes. Why aren’t more people told about this?

In my personal experience, most parents look forward to the day that they get to turn their one-year old around to forward facing. It’s almost treated like a milestone such as crawling or walking. If they only watched this video, they would probably change their minds. Did you watch it? Can you imagine your one-year old's head being thrown forward like that? Compare that one to this video of a RF child. The Extended Rear Facing article that I link to in my favorite links list says “…car seat milestones seem exciting. The truth is, they should be looked at with a certain sense of dread, not longing. Every step in car seat ‘advancement’ is actually a step down in your child's protection.”

I hope to keep Ty rear facing until he is 33 lbs (the RF limit of his seat). It is not the easiest thing to do because there are many times that I feel it would be so much easier or convenient to have him facing forward. What I mean is that it would be easier to give him snacks, drinks, and entertain him if he were FF. But HIS safety has to take priority over MY convenience.

With Emily, she didn’t reach 33 lbs until she was almost 3, but I turned her around at 18 months (27 lbs). The reason I did this is that she was wriggling out of her straps, and when we would arrive at our destination, I would find her upper body totally unsecured. I knew that RF was better, but not if the child is out of the harness! With her FF, I was able to reach back and pull the tighten-up strap thingie any time she tried to escape.

I also plan to keep my kiddos in their 5-point harnesses as long as possible. We will definitely not rush to be in a booster, even if that means she is riding to kindergarten in a 5-point harness convertible car seat. I read a sad story last week about a 4 year old who was killed in a 30 mph crash. They say she would have survived had she been in a convertible car seat rather than a booster. LEGALLY, she was okay in a booster, but unfortunately, the law only provides for the bare minimum of safety.

Texas has inadequate child restraint laws, IMO. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for children under age 14, but our law doesn’t do anything to reduce those statistics. Here it is, folks:
(a) A person commits an offense if the person operates a passenger vehicle, transports a child who is younger than five years of age and less than 36 inches in height, and does not keep the child secured during the operation of the vehicle in a child passenger safety seat system according to the instructions of the manufacturer of the safety seat system.
(b) An offense under this section is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $200.

That’s it! There are no laws about age/weight requirements for the type of safety seat, and the punishment is a mere $200. I guess the reason this is on my mind is that this past weekend, I saw a woman in Rising Star, TX put her infant (in an infant seat) in the front middle of her car (the car DID have a back seat) and take off without even buckling the seat in. Through the window, I could see that the seat was wobbling and not even straight. How can you put your little baby in such danger? Then, today at Sonic, I witnessed a child, probably age 2, in the back seat with NO child restraint!!! When I see negligent parents, I wonder what I should do, and I am often tempted to call the police. Maybe I should--what do you do in that situation?

I realize that when I was a baby, there were no such laws and no such things as car seats. Fortunately, we are here anyway. I do not fault my parents and any parents of my peers; they were doing the best they knew with the information they had at the time (not much). But now we do know more and have more safety resources. So I definitely think that we should use them!

I am now stepping off of my soap box. If you want more information about extended rear facing, the experts have written many informative articles, and they are linked on this website. If you haven't already, I encourage you to watch the crash test video footage of RF vs FF. It is linked earlier in my post, and it is also linked on the Extended RF website.

Again, my goal is to educate those who may not know that the typical guidelines are not the safest. I am not trying to slam anyone who turns their child FF at one year/20 lbs.

I will close with a picture of Ty, a 26 pound one-year old who will proudly remain RF. He doesn't mind being behind his peers on this milestone! BTW, I had not correctly positioned him until after I took the picture. I just don't want to be a bad example, so that is my disclaimer!

"I want YOU to be safe in the car!"

Friday, May 2, 2008

My New Toy

My sweet hubby bought me a new lens for my camera. As soon as he brought the mail in, I left my dinner unfinished, grabbed Emily, and we went to practice. I plan on shooting Ty this evening, and of course, I'll be practicing all weekend. Then, I will play around with my faves in Photoshop. So you may see some of these again after I get a chance to edit.

I am going to share the first one that I took because it's funny. I've never used a lens w/ a wide-open aperture before, so the shutter speed that I normally use at this time of day was NOT correct. Additionally, it was only my 2nd time to try to shoot with manual exposure. I will embarrass myself and show you the picture!

Yes, there actually is a bench in the midst of all of this light...

Now this is what I was attempting to photograph... least I learned something from the experience! I promise the rest are better and more interesting.

Warning: I am a camera-happy Mommy who is horrible at self-editing. Basically, there are a ton of pictures in this post, so get a drink and snack, sit back, relax, and enjoy!

I got her to agree to be photographed by promising to let her play on the playground nearby!

Here is Emily telling me about the movie Enchanted.

Below is Emily pretending to be Pocahontas--she came up with this all on her own. What you don't see photographed is me singing Can You Paint With All the Colors of the Wind--she insisted.

The next set are from our front yard. It was after 8:00 p.m., and I really got to see the greatness of my new lens. It worked beautifully in the low light--from now on I want to try to take all my kids pics at this time.

Grammy, this one is for you! Emily lay down in the grass and said, "Mommy, please take a picture of me sleeping in the grass because it will make Grammy feel better." So there ya go! I hope it worked :-)

I caught her playing with my froggies in the flower bed...

I just snapped this one real quick because she was looking at the camera for once. I think it turned out really cool!

Thanks for looking! Come back soon--maybe I'll post more this weekend.