Army of Women

It is safe to say that everyone either knows someone close or knows of someone who has fought or is currently fighting the battle against breast cancer.  Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. San Diego is one of the locations for the Susan Komen Walk for the Cure and it always brings tears to my eyes when I see these women all decked out in their pink costumes having the time of their life.  My girlfriends and I have talked about participating so many times and it always seems to creep up on us and by the time we find out when it is it is too late to sign up.  Obviously this year, I was not physically able to do it but I am determined to participate soon.  And I love seeing all the big NFL football players sporting their pink accessories every Sunday during the month of October.  When it comes to making donations, this is a cause that I never hesitate to support (hmmm I wonder how many donation requests I’ll get now…).  Awareness is a huge factor in finding a cure, not only awareness of the general public in terms of getting mammograms, the importance of early detection, lifestyle habits, etc…, but also providing facts and information to researchers to help them with their task to find a way to beat this cancer.  One of the doctors I work for forwarded me an email from Army of Women.  It is an foundation that was made possible by a grant from Avon.  Its goal is to recruit 1 million women (as of today they are at 370,212) no matter their age, race, health status, to provide their health history and partner with researchers to find out what causes breast cancer, which will lead to prevention and ultimately a cure.

Think about it…if the researchers are armed with information from 1 million women they should be able to make a huge step forward in this fight.  In honor of all the women who have fought and survived, those who are currently in battle and those we’ve lost, I signed up.  There was an online questionnaire that took about 20 minutes to complete and then every few months they will send you another questionnaire to complete.  Easy peasy.   With my recent fertility medical history, this is something that has been in the back of my mind.  I did ask my doctor and did my own research on this before we did IVF and learned that a woman is at higher risk to get cancer if she does not have children at all than if she go through fertility treatments, it is all about those lovely hormones.  When completing the initial questionnaire it opened up a whole ‘nother door when I answered the questions about fertility treatments…they like me.  So no matter what your health status is, age or race, I encourage you to check it out and sign up.  There is no cost or obligation on your part, just a little time every few months.  Join the army!

Flying Colors

On Tuesday I had my glucose screening test.  It is a standard test that every woman has to do at the start of their 3rd trimester to test for gestational diabetes.  I was not supposed to eat or drink anything really sweet for 2 hours before the test, so I figured I would do it first thing in the AM to ensure that nothing I ate or drank would throw off the results.  Upon arriving in the lab they gave me a 10 oz bottle of Limeondex, it is a clear sugary drink, and told me I had 5 minutes to drink it.  So with one eye on the clock, I got started, it actually did not taste that bad.  Apparently the lab tech thought I was taking too long and started asking me every 30 seconds after 2 minutes if I was done.  Tired of her questions, I ended up finishing it in a hurry (at 3 minutes and 15 seconds to be exact) sheesh, what happened to 5 minutes?? Then I was told not to eat or drink anything and I had to stay in the lab for 1 hour.  So I go in the back corner of the waiting room and get comfortable.  I had a bag of magazines, a book and my laptop.  The hour flew by pretty quickly and when it was up they called me back to draw my blood and I was on my way.  The Limeondex really was not that hard to get down, but it did leave a nasty aftertaste and I felt kind of gross for the rest of the morning, once I had lunch I felt better.  The next day I called my doctors office for the results and the nurses words were “Congratulations you passed with flying colors!” Whew, glad that part is over.
Next up was an ultrasound!  Yesterday I had to repeat the drink 32 oz of water an hour before and hold it (at least this time I didn’t have a lab tech hounding me every 30 seconds).  At first it is not too bad, but then as I am sitting in the waiting room waiting to be called back it hits me and it is so uncomfortable.  Then when they do call you back they start pushing the ultrasound probe thingy down on your full bladder, who makes up these rules?  Anyway, it is all worth it.  We got to see our little boy!  He  was laying on his side and moving his lips and sticking his tongue in and out.  It was so crazy to see how big he has gotten since our last ultrasound.  I have been able to physically feel how much he is growing since his movements, kicks and punches are getting more and more powerful, and my belly will randomly shift and bulge out, but to see him was a different story. I have to wait until my next doctors appointment in 2 weeks to find out the status of my placenta, so I’ll get back to you on that.

So without further adieu, here’s his profile.  Who do you think he looks like, mom or dad?
On a side note…this ultrasound is making me think about a fundraiser Justin and I went to last night for Turning Point.  Turning Point is a pregnancy resource center that is located here in San Diego.  Their goal is to prevent abortions and provide information, free pregnancy tests, counseling, support and resources to those women who are planning to have an abortion due to an unintended pregnancy.  There are many reasons why women decide to have an abortion, some of them being the fear of parenting alone, not being able to afford it, unsure of how they will finish school or work with a child, no insurance or simply being too young.  Turning point will offer information on how they can make life work and get around these fears with a child and provide them with information about adoption if they feel that they simply can not raise their child.  They also provide counseling to women who are living with the regret of having an abortion.  This is a wonderful organization and it was so amazing to listen to the speakers sharing stories of what Turning Point has accomplished, there were real clients there with their babies and a video of moms talking about how grateful they were to Turning Point for helping them to make a real educated decision to keep their child and you could see the love and joy in their eyes as they held their squirming baby in their arms.  One amazing accomplishment that Turning Point has done is their mobile ultrasound vehicle.  They have a large RV that has been outfitted with an ultrasound machine and a place to meet and counsel with women.  88% of women decide to keep their baby after seeing them on the ultrasound screen.  That is huge!  Just that fact alone, seeing your child on the screen creates an immediate bond and there is no way anyone can deny that is a real life growing inside you.  This ultrasound vehicle is such a huge step forward in preventing abortions.

We were at this fundraiser just a few hours after my ultrasound appointment so these emotions were very close to my heart.  I have never been in a situation where I was considering an abortion, but the exact opposite.  I remember thinking over the past few years, how can all these women be having abortions when there are so many other women who are struggling to get pregnant.  There’s always two sides to a story or two extremes in opposite directions.  Through this process I’ve learned that you can’t really say what you would do in a certain situation until you are in the middle of that situation.  There was a time when I thought there was no way I would do IVF, but I did.  There are so many women out there who plan to have an abortion but once they get a little love, support and see their baby with an ultrasound, make the decision to choose life. I am so thankful for this organization, they have a beautiful thing going on here.

Projects

My dad is a pretty handy guy to have around, he is the kind of guy that can fix, build or make anything related a house, restoring/maintaining a car, boat, houseboat, RV and pretty much anything else.  Growing up our garage was like a mini Home Depot and my parents are the kind of people who will take on these projects themselves rather than hiring someone to do it for them.   I remember spending hours in the garage with my dad while he taught me how to change the oil in my car and we spent countless hours washing our cars, RV, boats and if I didn’t do something right or good enough he would make me do it again, and again until it was done correctly.  Of course I hated him for that at the time, but now I get it…  When I went off to college my dad sent along with me a tool bag complete with a power drill.  So those habits rubbed off on me.  Justin worked construction for a few summers and is pretty handy himself and likes to do things with his hands.  He also was hired by his parents friends as a kid to wash & detail their cars and he spent many hours working at his parents salon.  So we both were raised to be do it “yourselfers” and are always looking for the next project to do.

I have been wanting new carpet for a long time, pretty much since we bought our place.  We’ve done so many other projects around our house but the carpet never got replaced.  We decided that we would get new carpet when I got pregnant before the baby came…little did we know that would take 3 years…but the time is here and we started carpet shopping/research.  These house projects are dangerous because one thing always leads to another and we end up doing 7 projects when we intended to do one.  When we had the carpet guy over to give us a quote and measure out the square footage we mentioned that we didn’t necessarily need carpet in our vanity area of our bathroom because we were planning to put tile there.  Of course he suggested getting that done before the carpet was installed so we wouldn’t get the new carpet dirty, which lead to other things we wanted to get done before the carpet was installed, like moving electrical into the hallway, cleaning out the guest bedroom & closets, painting the nursery, etc…So the new carpet set off the domino effect of projects to get done.  Anyone who has done these kind of things knows that these projects ALWAYS take longer than expected.

First up was electrical…Our 2nd bedroom served as a guest room, storage place and office.  Since we got rid of pretty much everything in that room and closets so it could serve as a nursery, we needed to create some sort of office area for our computer, printer, etc… So we ripped out a built in cabinet that was in our hallway and put in a counter and added a smaller cabinet for office supplies and to house our printer/scanner, voila instant office!  the only problem was there was no electrical to plug everything in.  So we had an electrician come out and move some electrical into the office area and install the fixings in the ceiling of the nursery so we could hang a fan.  Done!

Next up was tile…as I mentioned the vanity area of our bathroom was carpeted, ewww, I know.  And the tile that was in the shower/toilet part of the bathroom was this really annoying rock tile that was impossible to keep clean.  Funny, because I remember the flier when we were buying our house and that was a selling point, “New Rock Tile in Bathrooms!!” I couldn’t wait to rip it up.  At first we planned to rip out the shower and replace that as well, but since there was some tricky plumbing involved we didn’t feel comfortable doing it all without the help of a professional.  We got some quotes from 3 different contractors and it was going to end up being a $5,000-6,000 project.  So we decided to leave the shower alone and just redo the floors.  We (Justin) ripped up the rock tile and carpet and thanks to my dad for letting us borrow his tile saw (from his mini Home Depot garage) we installed nice clean 12×24 subway tiles.  It made a world of difference!  Justin did most of the work on this project, I was his assistant handing him what he needed (including a beer here and there, we were having a heat wave!) and holding tile during some tricky cuts in the saw. Halfway through the project I told him I was feeling kind of guilty that I couldn’t help him with a lot of the heavy labor stuff, he smiled and said “That’s okay, you can repay me in a few months when you go into labor.”  Yep, that’s the kind of man I married 🙂  Done!

Then there was paint…Justin and I have pretty much painted our entire house literally from top to bottom.  Now being pregnant, I wasn’t too comfortable with being exposed to paint fumes for a long period of time, so Justin’s parents offered to come help and the three of them painted the nursery walls and hung a new fan while I cleaned out more stuff around the house. Done!

Finally, carpet…This was the one thing that didn’t require any work on our part, except it did.  We removed all the baseboards in our bedroom.  We had to pack up and move all the small things and everything that was at the bottom of our closets downstairs.  By now the nursery was empty so after carpeting that room, all the furniture in our bedroom was moved in there.  After the carpet was all in, we had to move everything back.  But it was SO worth it!  Done!

Start the nursery…After many trips to Babies R Us, Buy Buy Baby, online research and reading Baby Bargains we finally made a choice on a crib and dressers.  The main reason why we choose the one we did was because of the height of the dressers, all the ones we looked at were so short, since one dresser will also serve as a changing table I kept picturing us tall people bending over changing thousands of diapers and it made my back ache just thinking about it.  We came across a set that was much “taller” than the rest and I was excited to find a tall person’s dresser.  If you didn’t already know most baby furniture takes 8-13 weeks to be delivered, of course that was the case with the set we decided on.  With the crib, I didn’t mind waiting that long since the baby would be in our room for the first few months anyway, but I needed the dressers so I would have a place to put all the clothes and everything else we will be getting in the months to come.  So after some phone calls to Buy Buy Baby we were told that they had all 3 pieces in stock (yay!) so we didn’t have to wait 8-13 weeks, but we also needed to buy it right away before someone else did.  There was a hold on one dresser, so we waited a few days and they called and said that the other people didn’t want the dresser so all 3 pieces were ours and they would put our name on them and hold them for us for a week.  So we go to Buy Buy Baby the next day to confirm that they had everything and purchase it.  Like everything else, it was not an easy ordeal.  To make a long story short, they told us that they only had 1 dresser in stock, not the other dresser and they didn’t have the crib.  Of course we were frustrated since we were told on the phone that they had all 3 in stock and were on hold for us.  So after much back and forth looking in the back stock room and checking the inventory at another store a few hours away, we ended up with 3 people helping us including the manager.  After an hour and a half they “found” our crib in the back with our name on it so now we had a crib and one dresser.  So we negotiated buying the other dresser off the floor display since it was in good shape.  Justin was able to work out a deal and we had 20% off coupons for each item plus 10% off the dresser from the floor, we made arrangements to pick it up a few days later.  When we went to get the furniture, the dresser from the floor display was all packaged up in a box and at first we thought oh, how nice they packaged it up for us.  Then the manager came and told us that a new one came in sometime in the last few days and they gave us the new one (and we still had the 10% discount)!  So with a little help from some friends we now have furniture in the nursery. Done!

Making room for baby…I know the baby itself is just another person and will not take up that much space.  It’s everything that comes with the baby that I need to make room for!  We had an old bookshelf in the corner of our living room that I cleaned out and we got rid of, so now we have a good sized empty space.  We put up some shelves for the books and the space below is going to be for the swing and other baby toys, blankets, etc…I just need to get some baskets or some kind of dresser to house those things.

Other than some finishing touches to the nursery, the only other thing we need to get done is install new baseboards in our bedroom and bath. It has been a pretty fast-paced, hard-working few months, with countless trips to Goodwill, ACE Hardware, Home Depot and the dump, but now we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. From now until the end of the year we have lots of fun things planned like baby showers, birthday parties, holiday parties, so I am glad we got all this done when we did. And everything looks great!

Here’s Apollo supervising Justin working on the tile.

Bye Bye 2nd Trimester

I had my follow up appointment yesterday and everything looks good, my blood pressure is normal (pretty surprising after the last few weeks we’ve had!), weight gain is normal (this is the most I’ve ever weighed in my life, let’s hope it all goes away quickly after the baby is born!), she measured my belly and we listened to his heartbeat.  Every time she moved the Doppler to find his heartbeat he would start kicking and punching as if he were saying “get that thing away from me!”  All is well…The end of next week I officially start my third trimester (!) how did that happen?  So that means I am due for my glucose screening test to check for gestational diabetes.  I’ve heard two different opinions about the sugary drink that is required for this test, most people absolutely despise it, others say it’s really not that bad.  I’ll let you know what I think.  I also have an ultrasound scheduled (Yay!  More pictures of baby!) to check to see where my placenta is (please pray that I don’t have full placenta previa).  And finally my blood type is O- (the good stuff!) which means I am Rh- which means I get a RhoGam shot in 2 weeks.  So these next few weeks will be busy with all those appointments.  I’ll keep you posted…

Now that my 2nd trimester is coming to an end, I want to make note of a few things before I begin my 3rd trimester.

  • Overall I do feel really good!
  • Sleeping is hard, it’s not so much getting up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night that bothers me, but it is the achiness of my back, hips and shoulders from sleeping on my side. And every time I roll over to change positions it is like wrestling with an alligator to reposition the 50 pillows around me and try not to kick the dog and wake up Justin in the process.  But it has helped me with getting up in the morning (I am typically not excited to get up in the AM) because it feels so much better to get up and move around.
  • I get tired a lot quicker now and we have lots of stairs in our house (30 steps from the garage to the top of the 2nd floor), and I am walking slower.
  • Bending over is not as easy as it used to be, I know that part is only going to get worse.  I went to Bed Bath and Beyond to get a step for the shower so I can put my leg up to shave.
  • I never had any crazy cravings, but am obsessed with fresh fruit and always have pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, apples, etc… handy to snack on.
  • Jamba Juice has been another craving of mine, very similar to the fresh fruit.  It is the one thing that saved me in my first trimester when I was battling the queasiness, and it is so refreshing during the hot summer days.
  • The one routine thing is I always have tangerines in bed before I go to sleep.  The dog sits at my side and very intensely stares at me while I am peeling and eating slice by slice of tangerines.
  • I giggle every time I need to get up off the couch because Justin has to pull me up.  I mean, I could do the side roll and push myself off (which is how I get out of bed) but it’s easier and more fun to let him pull me up. You should have seen us when we were shopping for recliner/rocking chairs, let’s just say Justin is getting his upper body workout pulling me up all the time.
  • I do have general aches and pains in my belly and back which is expected since everything is shifting, expanding and growing.
  • I have leg cramps all night long which also contributes to not sleeping well. I have pretty much resolved that I am not going to get a good nights sleep during the next 20 years or so, I am embracing it.
  • I miss my coffee.  And yes…I know coffee is fine to drink in moderation, my OB has told me that on more than one occasion.  But I had given up caffeine before we did IVF and I made the decision to keep that up until my 3rd trimester, I am waiting until the cooler fall weather to start drinking my coffee again. I admit I do have some of the first time pregnancy paranoia since we went though so much to get to this point, I don’t want to do anything that could potentially harm baby.

I know all this is going to intensify in the next few months, that is why I am running around like a madwoman right now to do as much as I can before that happens. I have had a pretty easy pregnancy so far and I am hoping that it stays that way. There are a lot of exciting things happening over the next few months with baby showers, holidays and getting the nursery ready!  It’s going to be fun!

Here’s my 26 week 5 day belly! XOXO

Sweet little girl

A friend of mine emailed me a few months ago and told me that a colleague of his was about to have her first baby and was looking for a reasonable photographer to do some newborn pictures and asked me if I would be interested.  I was excited but at the same time nervous since this is kind of a big deal, I am still in the learning process and I didn’t want to mess up their precious newborn photos.  It is one thing to take casual family photos of your friends that can be redone at anytime, but the importance of something like wedding pictures, or the small window for those newborn photos is not something that can be redone. But practice makes perfect and the only way I am going to get practice outside the comfort zone of my friends and family is if I put myself out there.  So I decided to do it, but I was honest with her and told her that I am not skilled in editing that makes the baby’s skin perfectly smooth and creamy like porcelain, but I would be happy to do what I know for a reasonable price.  She agreed and we waited for her baby girl to arrive.  In the meantime I had to make a trip to Home Goods (poor me, I know) to get some props (among other things I really didn’t need, or maybe I did).  Shortly after I got an email that her little girl had arrived and we set a date.  They are such a nice couple and their little girl was so sweet and cuddly, I really enjoyed my time with them. Mom is a physician and dad is an engineer, so we did a tribute to all their hard work in school. Wonder what she will grow up to be?
I remember doing the same thing while studying all night during college
Whenever she would get a little fussy, dad came to the rescue and knew exactly how to calm her down. You can bet she has worked her magic on him and will enjoy being daddy’s little girl.

I love capturing the little details, like the ears, nose and especially the toes

Mom emailed me and told me that they love the pictures and will be wanting more on her 1st birthday.  It made me so happy (and relived) that they were pleased.  So I guess I can say I have my first official client!

Down the drain

So it has been a pretty crazy week for us.  Scratch that, our lives are always pretty crazy and I know it’s only going to intensify in the years to come, let’s say it’s been unusual and expensive.  For the last few weeks we have been working on projects around the house and I will talk about all of that in another post, this post is specifically about the last 7 days.  My neighbor (who just bought the place about a month ago with his pregnant wife who is due the first part of November) knocked on my door and asked me if we were having any problems with water leaking (we share a wall).  I said no…all while racing through my brain to see if any of the projects we’ve been doing over the last few weeks could have affected the water pipes, still the answer was no.  He said there was water seeping into his garage where the wall and the floor meet which is also the wall we share.  So after looking around in his garage and checking out our garage which was completely dry, he called the HOA.  The HOA being the wonderfully helpful people they are (insert sarcasm) said that since it is within the walls it is the homeowners responsibility.  So our neighbor calls a plumber to come check it out.  The next day he tells me the plumber said he has a leak in his water main and shut off his water and will come back to fix it.  This brings us to last Monday…our neighbor calls and asks us if his plumber can look around in our garage on Tuesday morning to check things out.  Justin was having some problems with his car so we had already planned to drop his car off at the auto shop that morning, he was going to drive me in my car to work and then use my car for the day.  So we told him yes, the plumber could come in the morning before we left, he was scheduled to be here at 8:30 am.  We go to bed, around midnight a loud crash wakes Justin up, scares the dog so he jumps into our bed and I wake up.  Justin gets up to see what the crash was, turns out the shelving unit that was over the washer and dryer decided it had too much weight on it and choose that moment to collapse.  So half asleep we unload everything off the shelves and go back to bed.  I fall asleep pretty quickly but then wake up around 3:30 am since the TV is on, I look over and Justin is awake and starts talking about an earthquake that happened a few hours ago and “did I feel it?” Ummmm no, I was sleeping.  I guess it happened right as he was starting to fall back asleep and it jarred him awake again and that was it, he was up, watching TV. A few hours later we get ready for work and we’re sitting on the couch waiting for the plumber to come.  We started going though the mail we had on the table and saw a recall notice for our dishwasher, great another thing to fix.  8:30am rolls around…8:45…9:00…no plumber, and we need to get going. So we leave our garage clicker with our neighbor and drop Justin’s car off at the auto shop, he takes me to work then drives home to check on the status of the plumber before heading into the office.  When he gets home, the plumber had arrived, checked things out, blew air through the water main to see if he could detect the leak and determined that it is nothing on our side so he no longer needs access to our garage. Great! Justin walks back through our garage to leave for work and happens to glance over at our water heater (that was perfectly dry) on the opposite side of the garage and sees water leaking out.  He grabs the plumber next door and asks him about it.  The plumber says well it looks like the bottom of it is corroded and is leaking.  Is this a bizarre coincidence or is it a result of him blowing air through the water main?  We’ll never know… So Justin calls around to get some quotes and ends up having Bill Howe (…because we know HOWE...) come out to replace our water heater.  Which ends up costing us $1010 and Apollo decided to go into attack mode and bite the guy’s ankle, luckily he was wearing some heavy duty boots so no damage was done, but he was not too happy about it and almost left.  In the middle of all this the auto shop calls and says Justin’s radiator needs to be replaced (which was another $500) and the plumber digs up a hole outside of our neighbors garage that was filled with water.  Justin told him to stop since the leak was outside the walls it should be the HOA’s responsibility.   Being the awesome neighbor Justin is, he calls the HOA on our neighbors behalf and tells them they need to come out and look at this.  They tried to give him the “it’s within the walls, so it’s the homeowners responsibility” runaround and he (I’m sure very calmly) said “I am standing here looking at a hole filled with water OUTSIDE of the home”, they quickly sent someone out right away and agreed that it is their responsibility and would have their plumber out to fix it the next day.  So Justin basically saved our neighbor thousands of dollars he would have had to pay the other plumber.  After the new water heater was installed (which we now call Darth Vader since it is all black and shiny) Justin picked me up from work and we went to Dixieline to get some heavy duty anchors to rehang the shelving unit that collapsed, picked up his car and went home.  He never made it into his office.  So in 24 hours we had a shelving unit collapse, sleepless night complete with an earthquake, dishwasher recall, crazy dog, radiator & water heater replaced, dealing with plumbers, HOA, water leaks and $1500 down the drain.  It was a rough day…

The next day the HOA plumber comes out shuts off all the water on our street and finds the leak which ends up being underneath the foundation of our neighbors garage.  Poor people, they just bought the place!  Over the next few days the concrete is pulled up, the leak is fixed and concrete is re-poured.  Problem solved.

Over the weekend, Justin had a guys trip planned to Lake Mead and I was able to get some things done around the house and relax a bit.  Come Monday morning, we were feeling refreshed and ready to start a new week.  I had a good, productive day at work and came home to take Apollo on a nice long walk since I was feeling good.  I had the leash in one hand and my iPhone in the other.  I quickly learned that money is not the only thing that can go down the drain in a moments notice, as I was walking on the sidewalk, I dropped my phone and it bounced off the curb and into the storm drain. gone. In a matter of seconds.  I stopped and thought did that really just happen?  I couldn’t believe that of all the places along the sidewalk I could have dropped my phone and it would have landed in the street, it had to happen right by the storm drain.  After I realizing that it really did happen, at 25 weeks preggo, I am laying on the side of the curb looking down the storm drain (Apollo was helping me look too) to see if I could see my phone.  Nothing.  Then I thought to myself, even if I did see it, what are you going to do, it’s not like I am going to reach in there and fish it out along with all the other disgusting things that are down there and no matter how many sanitary wipes I would use to clean it I couldn’t bring myself to use it.  So I got up and stood there for a minute, thinking, hoping it would materialize somewhere.  My phone is gone.  The thing is it is so much more to me than just a phone, it is my life organizer, gone.  So we walk the rest of he way home and I am in shock, I don’t know if I should cry from frustration or laugh.  I ended up laughing.  When Justin got home we drove back to the storm drain and used his phone to call mine to see if we could hear it.  He even took the heavy metal manhole cover off and stuck his head down looking & listening for my phone, all the while I am telling him that even if he finds it there is no way I am going to use it after where it has been.  With no luck we took a trip to the Verizon store and they ordered me a new phone, luckily it was insured, but it still cost me $170. It should be here by the time I get home from work tomorrow.  If we can survive the last 7 days we’ve had I think I can survive 24 hours without a phone.

Yes, I know these things happen in life, but do they ALL have to happen in one week??? Thanks for listening to me vent, I hope you got a chuckle or two from my story, I know there will come a day when we can look back on this and laugh, but tonight somebody please have a glass of wine for me, I really need it!

And to all the whales and other sea life, I am really sorry I didn’t mean to dump my phone down the drain.

What did it teach me

I have been meaning to do a post on photography for a while now and the perfect opportunity for me to do so has come up.  Before I get into it, here’s a little background.

If you know me well you know that I have always loved taking pictures.  It is my favorite way of documenting memories. I have boxes and albums full of photos that are probably among my most treasured possessions. If we ever had to evacuate our house (which we did have to a few years ago) the photos are at the top of my list of things to take.  Thankfully now that we are in the digital age, it is not such a space consuming hobby anymore, but I do have to make sure the digital files are all backed up!

A few years ago in Apollo’s dog training class I met a woman (and her adorable yellow lab), her husband was in the Navy and was deployed at that time.  She was taking pictures during the class so she could send them to him overseas so he could see the progress their dog was making.  She had a Canon Rebel and I was ohhing and ahhing over her camera and we started talking photography.  She told me about a online class she was taking called Snapshots of a Good Life and how amazing the instructor, Karen Russell, was.  So when I got home I googled Karen Russell and found out all about the class.  Not only does she teach a fantastic class she also has a blog where she shares her family memories, tells funny stories and teaches us a few things here and there.  I started following her blog and even though I’ve never met her or anyone in her family, I feel like I know them (at least what she shares online).  Karen’s teaching style is all about how to achieve a great photo straight out of the camera, which is exactly what I want to do since I am not that skilled in the editing department. I love her pictures and immediately decided I wanted to take her class but was waiting and saving up to get a professional camera.

My husband being the attentive person that he is got me a Canon Rebel for our anniversary 2 years ago (or maybe he was tired of hearing me talk about this class!) I  signed up right away and it has changed my view of photography.  I highly recommend  this class for anyone at any level of skill to take.  Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  • I learned how to get out of the auto mode and take pictures in manual mode.
  • I learned what all the icons mean and what all the buttons do on my camera.
  • I learned how to use the exposure triangle (aperture, shutter speed & ISO) to create a properly exposed photo.
  • I learned how to take pictures in low light settings.
  • I learned the importance of lighting and how to create catchlights that make the eyes sparkle.
  • I learned that photography is not just about a perfectly posed photo, but a way to capture the story as it unfolds.
  • I learned about depth of field.
  • I learned how to use my focus points.
  • I learned how to create pretty bokeh.
  • I learned how to achieve that blurred background so your main subject pops in the photo.
  • And I learned so, so much more…

The last week of class Karen turns it over to Erin Cobb, who is another great photographer with a blog of her own.  Erin designed a tutorial called Clean Color that teaches all about the editing process.  I love her editing style and was so excited to learn that as well.  Unfortunately for me, the timing of that part of class was when I had my surgery, so I never finished the last week.  Someday I have promised myself that I will take the time to download her tutorial and learn (yes, I realize I am saying this as my life is only going to get busier with a newborn on his way…that is why I said someday…)

This now brings me to the point of this post.  Karen sent out an email to all her past students asking them to share a photo and something important they learned in class then post it on their blogs, facebook, pinterest, etc… and then link it to her blog.  I tried really, really hard to narrow it down to just one, I have so many favorite photos I’ve taken and so many things I’ve learned that I couldn’t do it, so I have two.

As with anything else, practice makes perfect.  My dog and my husband are pretty tired of being my subjects, so it’s a good thing I am growing a new subject at the moment and starting January you will see LOTS of photos of him 🙂