Archive for March, 2012

  • Spring Bride

    Date: 2012.03.27 | Category: Family, Friends, Photography | Response: 12

    Spring has sprung in Louisiana. I went to Norton Art Gallery this past weekend and when I rounded the corner to their gardens I saw this:

    A sea of flowers. It was gorgeous. And the weather was perfect.

    Good thing the bride-to-be I was photographing that day chose that weekend to do her photo shoot. Especially since she had to drive in from Florida to have her photos made.

    And because her wedding will be in Florida (my first destination wedding to photograph, and on the beach no less!) and one of her bridesmaids is very pregnant and won’t be able to make it, her bridesmaids gathered with her for photos.

    The azaleas made a gorgeous background, don’t you think? (That’s my sister, the MOH, on the far right).

    My nephew is the ring bearer, how cute is he? (I just hope he doesn’t lose the rings in the sand or make a break for the ocean during the ceremony).

    I’m pretty sure this photo was my favorite though. Bride Kari felt Leah’s baby kick right as I took the photo. Is there anything sweeter?

    How’s Spring where you are?

  • Recognize

    Date: 2012.03.26 | Category: Baby, Dogs, Family, Food, Kitties, Life, Pets, Sarah, Work | Response: 14

    Last Monday I was at the vet’s office with my sick cat. After a thorough inspection of Angie Cat (she’s ok), my vet was leaving and then turned around and said, “Do you work for a local magazine?” I answered, “Yes.” She said,  “I saw your name in the magazine and thought that was you.”

    ***

    The next night we were leaving a restaurant when a girl in scrubs walked past me and said “Hey!” It took me a couple of seconds to realize she was Sarah’s pediatric nurse. She asked how Sarah was doing and said she hoped she didn’t have to see her in the office again any time soon.

    ***

    Friday I went to TCBY and the lady working there asked me how the baby was doing and was disappointed that she hadn’t seen her in a while.

    ***

    All of these people recognized and remembered me despite the number of people they see every day, every week. We obviously frequent the vet’s office, the pediatrician’s office and TCBY with amazing regularity, though I’m not sure which is worse. I think we need some sort of V.I.P. or gold card for each of these locations: buy 5, get 1 free. Especially at the vet’s office.

  • A Mastiff, a Lab and a Chihuahua

    Date: 2012.03.21 | Category: Dogs, Pets, Photography | Response: 13

    I don’t photograph near as much as I used to (outside of my day job and my daughter). I don’t do websites much either. I’ve had to scale back all my freelancing drastically since having a child, so I picked the things that I love to do most freelance wise and stuck to those (primarily layout and graphic design).

    But, I won’t turn down photo projects I love. Weddings of people I really care about for one, and for another pets.

    Photographing pets has got to be one of the craziest, most fun jobs ever. I love capturing animal personalities.

    This past weekend I had the chance to photograph three very different dogs.

    First was droopy, happy Mastiff Nigel. (I’m pretty sure his voice would sound just like Eeyore if he could talk).

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    He was super easy to photograph. He just laid down and started posing like he had been to Tyra’s school of smeyesing his whole life.

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    Then came excited, happy Lab Molly. Molly ran to everyone and chased her tail and then did a flip all in less than 10 seconds. She was like a dog on speed. She was just so HAPPY. And her joy came through in her photos.

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    I mean, how can you not be happy when you look at that?

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    Last was Lilly (Lil Lil) Chihuahua who would have been much happier if we would have just left her alone.

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    Such a diva.

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    Don’t you just love how her dogs ranged from 5 to 55 to 145 pounds? Something about owning a mastiff and a chihuahua makes me chuckle.

  • Dog Day Afternoon

    Date: 2012.03.19 | Category: Baby, Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Home, Leela Fish, Life, Mark, Pets, Sarah | Response: 14

    Today could have been a terrible day. Bonnie had horrible stomach problems last night that resulted in me getting almost no sleep last night. And then there was the extensive clean up of said stomach problems on top of being cranky and exhausted.

    But then Sarah went down for a nap and I went down for a nap. Next thing I knew it was two hours later and Mark was up playing with the baby so I could get some rest.

    Things turned around dramatically from there. Mark and I spent a lot of time cleaning today, but while Mark was sweeping and mopping I took Sarah outside to the gorgeous weather and let her run wild.

    She hesitated at first and clung to me, but within five minutes she was literally off running.

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    The dogs weren’t sure what to do with her.

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    So they defaulted to what border collies do best and started herding her around the yard.

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    And Sarah defaulted to what she does best, turning anything into a toy… in this case the dog toy.

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    Much to the discomfort of the two OCD border collies.

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    Oh and let’s not forget the discovery of the doggy pool. Running and playing quickly turned into splashing and mud.

    She had a blast today out there and thoroughly wore herself out.

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    Score one for mom and dad.

  • Food Update: A Victory

    Date: 2012.03.16 | Category: Baby, Food, Health, Sarah | Response: 13

    You may have seen my recent posts about the daycare food drama here and here.

    Well I’m happy to report that I have an update and it’s a good one.

    After my last post I reached out to a couple other parents. After a few lengthy conversations with them, here is what I gathered: they are also appalled at the food offerings, however the general attitude is that it is too tough to fight. It’s just easier and more cost efficient to let these kids eat what they serve them and then stuff them full of healthy food when they’re at home. They agreed that they would like to see it change, but wouldn’t I just talk to the director for them and let them know what she said?

    I can’t tell you how disheartened I felt. So I sat on it and stewed for a while, still sending baby food with Sarah, trying to figure out my next move.

    I read guideline after guideline, frustrated that there are really no definitions of “lean meat and poultry” for these daycares to follow. I’ve been mocked for being so fixated on this, but I still refuse to give in.

    Finally Sarah started coming home really hungry so I knew I had to do something. So this morning I took her in and met with the director. I handed her my doctor’s note and she was extremely nice about it. Maybe the time that had passed allowed the defensiveness to go away, but she was extremely nice and helpful this morning. Sarah is now listed as an “organic diet” (hey, whatever works!). Additionally the director agreed to email me the menus so I can make comparable food for Sarah to send (turkey burgers, veggie nuggets, organic mac & cheese, etc). And I was assured that Sarah will not be isolated from the other children. She will be in her own high chair either next to other kids in high chairs, or her high chair will be rolled up to the table with the other kids. Victory!

    I thought about it a lot this morning and I decided not to speak for the other parents. I appreciate that they are concerned, but it’s hard for me to hear that I should just do all the work for them without any backup. If it bothers them, I’ve done the homework on the solution and told them what it is and they can go speak to the director themselves. Plus, I don’t want to make it sound like I’ve gone and stirred up all the other parents and failed and I don’t want to put words in their mouths.

    For now I’m happy for our own victory and hope we can inspire others to do the same. I’m willing to help anyone who asks me (including my sister who is on board with all this with her son). I continue to hope that these standards and regulations will change, but for now I’m just going to try to enjoy my small victory, feed my girl healthy food and relax this weekend.

  • Hard Work and Psycho Cats

    Date: 2012.03.13 | Category: Angie Cat, Baby, Bonnie Barrell, Dogs, Family, Food, Health, Home, Kitties, Pets, Sam Cat, Sarah | Response: 18

    Prior to the beginning of Lent three weeks ago, my exercise was intermittent at best. I walked a few miles on the weekends and counted the hour and a half of baby wrangling at church towards my workout time (and let me tell you, trying to contain and hold a very active 20 pound baby while sitting, standing and kneeling at Mass requires all kinds of muscles I didn’t know I had).  But my weight loss had (unsurprisingly) stalled out.

    I knew that my eating habits had set me back too. Mardi Gras is wonderful, but it’s called Fat Tuesday for a reason  (so. Much. King cake.)

    So with Lent on the horizon, I started thinking about worthy sacrifices, sacrifices that would be hard, but productive. I decided on a chocolate sacrifice (which I’m sort of regretting now as I stare at the two boxes of samoas on the kitchen counter every day) and a time sacrifice to exercise.

    When I told Cassie about this, she was all over it. She has been sending me workouts every single day and following up with me about what I like and didn’t like, gauging my strength level and making sure I do them.

    And three weeks in, the lack of chocolate and the increase in exercise is working. I feel stronger, happier and lighter. Seven pounds lighter to be exact. My body went into major shock when I started making it work more. I hope this trend continues and I don’t destroy it when I annihilate those somoas on Easter Sunday.

    Ironically, I’ve helped start a cooking blog during this weight loss work, but it’s inspired me to share my low-fat and healthy recipes and focus on cooking at home more often. (Though I’m already trying to figure out what kind of cupcakes to make for Sarah’s first birthday party).

    All of this has been going really well. I get up in the mornings, exercise while the baby sleeps and then go on about my day, not missing any time with my girl. Or should I say it was going well until Day Light Savings Time hit and my cat went psychotic.

    I already struggle with Angie cat attempting to sit on my face every time I do floor exercises (to stop me or increase the resistance, I’m not sure which) but now Sam Cat has decided to start sabotaging my sleep, and with the getting up an hour earlier, I’m a zombie in the mornings.

    Angie Cat, the face sitter.

    Last night I was sleeping when out of nowhere the mean little fuzz ball lept from the window seal above my bed and landed on me, claws extended. I jumped up screaming and cursing, which managed to upset the baby, even though her door was closed (Mark slept right through this however). Sarah finally quieted and it took me a good hour to fall back asleep. I had been asleep maybe 30 minutes when the damn cat did it AGAIN. Oh the anger and the sleep deprivation. He at least had the good sense to haul ass down the hallway and get out of my reach.

    Not to be outdone, Sarah woke up crying again around 5 a.m. I have to assume she’s getting more teeth or the cat is attempting to sabotage her as well.

    All of these things have been sabotaging my workouts and it’s frustrating. I should at least feel well rested if I’m going to accidentally sleep late!

    And now that it’s beautiful outside, it’s time to take advantage of that as well. All my workouts have been inside and the long period of inactivity also meant Bonnie dog grew fat. She’s gained nearly 10 pounds due to our lack of walks. Whoops.

    So here we go, back to inside AND outside workouts. Let’s hope the next time I report in, Bonnie and I both will be down 10 pounds.

  • 11 Months

    Date: 2012.03.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Sarah | Response: 20

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    Wow this past month has been full of changes and developments. As of this past week, Sarah has decided that she would prefer to move around on her feet instead of her hands and knees. This means lots of walking 5-15 steps then tumbling over. But she doesn’t give up, she just pushes herself right back up and tries again. She’s been wearing herself out at record pace, which has meant longer naps.

    At school now she just takes one nap for about 2.5-3 hours, though at home she still takes two at about 1.5 hours a piece.

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    She also got two more teeth this past month, giving us a grand total of six teeth. She’s also figured out how to chew everything up, so we’ve been able to expand her table food options. Spaghetti is still her favorite with potato soup and Peas of Mind broccoli wedges landing in at a close seconds.

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    She will sing with us now, especially when we sing “la la la.” She eagerly intimidates us with her “la la la’s” though not in tune. She’s learned that when mommy leaves in the morning, she waves goodbye. So when Mark stands by the backdoor as I leave, we don’t even have to say anything, she just starts waving. She’s also starting to get the “roll ‘em up” of patty cake down.

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    Sarah has become so “shy” this past month. If I enter a strange room or strange people come around her she clings to me like crazy and refuses to get out of my lap. The pediatrician says it’s all part of stranger anxiety and it is common. I can’t say I mind her holding tight to me.

    One of my favorite developments over the past month is the hugs. When I get her out of bed in the mornings, or before I leave for work, I hold her in my arms and  she in turn wraps her arms around me, lays her head on my shoulder and pats me on the back. It is the best feeling in the whole world.

    Another funny thing she does now is use our iPhones. She’s figured out how to swipe the photos with her pointer finger so that she can flip through them all. It makes her laugh, especially when she comes to a photo of a kitty.

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    After months of illness Sarah finally gained some weight! She jumped up a whole pound in two weeks landing her at 19 pounds, 6 ounces. I was starting to worry that we would have to do something more about her calorie intake, but with the sickness gone she’s got a ferocious appetite. We’re down to four bottles/feedings a day now, occasionally adding formula to make sure her bottles stay full, but she doesn’t seem to mind. She loves her sippy cup and straws and we’re just about ready to fully transition over to them.

    Our girl is so big now. It’s hard to believe they go from a helpless little bundle to walking and tumbling in less than a year!

  • Spring Pictures

    Date: 2012.03.09 | Category: Baby, Family, Home, Photography, Sarah | Response: 14

    Things are still brewing on the food front, but I think it’s time to take a short break on a Friday to post something that makes me really really happy. Somethings rather. Some pictures. Spring is starting to shove it’s way into the South. And while this means an insane amount of pollen has descended on us, it also means the weather has been gorgeous. So last weekend I dressed my girl up in her smocked bubble suit (courtesy of my cousin’s clothes making business) and went outside with a borrowed fancy schmancy telephoto 1.4 lense with image stabilization (which, wouldn’t you know, is perfect for photographing a mobile almost-toddler). I was thrilled with how the photos came out and ordered some prints for us and all my family. Because who wouldn’t want this face on their desk staring back at them all day?

    We even managed to get her to smile and clap for about 5 whole minutes before she ripped the bow out. I call it a success.

  • Food: A Follow Up

    Date: 2012.03.07 | Category: Baby, Family, Food, Health, Sarah | Response: 17

    First I want to thank everyone for their comments on my last post, especially those who visited from Lynn’s blog. Your support in this means more than you can know.

    Since my post two days ago, a few small things have happened. An Associate Superintendent of Schools has contacted me and provided me with information on the new regulations for school lunches (and eventually day cares) that will be phased in beginning July 1 of this year. And while it is a welcomed change, it will take a full three years before it is fully in effect, slowly limiting the cholesterol, saturated fats, sodium and calories allowed in school meals and specifying how often fresh fruits and veggies should be served, as well as whole grains and milk (Oh yes, I read through all 280 pages of it).

    I’ve also started doing some research on the standards that Class A day cares are held to, at least in Louisiana (turns out these haven’t been updated since 2003). As a main menu item, day care centers have to provide “either a lean meat, poultry or fish; or cheese; or an egg; or cooked dry beans or peas; or peanut butter; or an equivalent quantity of any of these foods.”

    Now, I don’t know about you, but I do not consider a hot dog or a cheeseburger a lean meat and chicken nuggets and bean burritos are also pushing the provided definition. However, there is nothing that defines what a lean meat is. So technically the school is operating within these boundaries, as loose as they are.

    The regulations also firmly state that children cannot bring any food in unless they meet one of the six exceptions that include: bottles, baby food, special diet, food allergies, religious reasons or birthday parties/ holidays. I’m still trying to wrap my head around birthday cupcakes being allowed to be brought in and healthy meals not. Fortunately, my daughter is going to fall into loosely defined “special diet” category.

    A lot of people have asked me to keep them updated on this, and so I will be posting here on my progress. I’m not sure what can be done without overthrowing government regulations. And while the director’s attitude about what constitutes as “healthy food” is misguided and some of the things she said should not have been said, I don’t think she should be fired. She does a great job of running the program and has no say over the regulations enforced. I’m hoping to have a continued dialogue with her about improving what comes into the school and perhaps getting turkey or other true “lean meats” in as part of the diet.

    I’m also going to talk to her again about Sarah being isolated during meals once I start sending her food and will continue to work on contacting other parents.

    Thank you for your continued kind words. They are keeping me fired up about this issue!

  • The Healthy Conundrum

    Date: 2012.03.05 | Category: Baby, Food, Health, Sarah | Response: 43

    Sarah is at the age where she eats table foods, at least at home. And up to this point I have been sending her baby food and bottles to school. But she’s really at the age where we need to start transitioning away from baby food. Once that happens, her school provides the food. Or should I say, by law, we have to let her school feed her from their own supplies.

    Knowing that this transition is on the horizon, I asked for printouts of their menus. As soon as I looked over the menus for the next five weeks, my stomach dropped. The director must have seen it all over my face. She asked, “What’s wrong?”

    “All the food is unhealthy,” I said. She took great offense to this and quickly told me how she had changed the menu since she started there three years ago, taking out corn and potatoes and adding green veggies. That is really good I happily admitted, but the main meal item was the problem. She asked what I meant, so I read them aloud to her: “hotdog, cheeseburger, pizza sticks, cheese burrito, chicken fingers, fish sticks…” There were only two items over a five-week span that I was comfortable with Sarah eating. And to top it off, morning snack alternates between waffles with syrup and sugar cereal with juice.

    This is when tensions raised a little bit. The director (who really has been wonderful about all of my concerns over the past seven months), went on the defensive. She explained that by law they have to provide a meat, a veggie and a fruit every day and that it had to be something they could fix easily and in bulk for every child. I told her I understood that. She then said that she had to provide meat that kids would actually eat. I’m sorry, but of course they will eat that crap if you give it to them. They will also eat turkey, grilled chicken, spaghetti and oatmeal if you give that to them too.

    I then (nicely) explained to her our food background. Up to this point, Sarah eats about 90% organic, 100% healthy and still gets breast milk. So when I look at that menu, it sends me into shock. Plus I have so many problems with red dye in food (hello hotdogs!) And I know they can’t provide organic food at school, but they can at least attempt to provide healthier options.

    The director then told me that by the time Sarah was two I wouldn’t care what she ate anymore (wrong) and that I basically needed to get with the real world because in kindergarten we’ll go through this again. I informed her that I would happily send her lunch to kindergarten, as I would happily send it to school now.

    I then told her that I’ve done a lot of reading on switching to organic and eating healthy and why it’s important and she actually looked at me and told me that maybe I should stop reading so much. I stared at her and firmly said, “That’s not going to happen.”

    At this point she reluctantly admitted that if I had a doctor’s note, then I could send Sarah’s food with her to school every day, but that she would basically be set apart from the other students so “they can’t get her food and she can’t get theirs.” So basically my daughter will be ostracized for eating healthy food.

    I have so many issues with this. When did fatty, frozen, processed, fried food become “the real world?” And why would you ostracize a child for eating healthy? Is it to stop other parents from wanting to do the same thing?

    One other parent has contacted me about the food and she has twin boys. My sister is also a little concerned. My plan is to try to talk to them and other moms and see if we can’t get them all on board with the healthy eating. That way all the kids could sit together and eat and there wouldn’t be special food preparations for just one child.

    I spoke to my pediatrician about all this morning and she was absolutely horrified and said, “I applaud you for standing up on this.”  She eagerly wrote me the requested note and encouraged me to get other parents on board telling me that there is power in numbers. She also told me that the folks in the world of pediatrics  are trying to change their child charts because “kids are just heavier now.” And we wonder why this is?’’

    Finally, to make sure that I’m not a complete nut job, I ran all of this by my husband, Cassie and Dr. Susan to get their opinions on this. Mark is completely with me on this and eagerly agreed that healthy living and eating starts early.

    So although I have my note in hand, I’m going to hold off and talk to some other moms this week.

    Perhaps I’m too progressive for the South, but change has to start somewhere and if I have to be the one who initiates it, then so be it.