Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bath time

A while ago we documented her first bath. Kendra does love a good bath. She is the most contented little bather ever. But our favorite part of bath time is drying off. We have a couple of little towels that have pockets for putting her head in and, well

It's dust da cutest widdo' fing ever!

Actually both mother and daughter were a bit sick this week, and in Kendra's case it seems to be going on and on. Luckily it was a really wimpy cold and not the flu or something, but it has still made for some rough nights in the Farnsworth household.

On a more positive note, Kendra has been holding her head up very well all by herself lately. I mean, if you balance her body, she straightens her legs and holds up her head and looks around really well. She can do it for a pretty long time, and it's a joy for both her and us to see.

It's so amazing to see how quickly she progresses. One of these days she will be potty trained and we are going to breathe a sigh of everlasting relief. Actually we'll settle for sleeping all the way through the night.

But in the mean time, we have to capture moments like these before she goes away to college and leaves us as empty nesters!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A New Level

I got a new and, to me, really cool toy that I've been playing with and I wanted to share it. Even if you can't fully appreciate it, you can appreciate that I do. :)

Look at this picture

First of all, isn't it just the cutest? These two are just the most wonderful little girls in the world. But actually the photo is noteworthy for more reasons than that.

We've lived here for some time and have had persistent difficulty getting good photos in certain parts of the house. Like our room. It's just not light enough in there. We have these little bedside lamps but they only put out a few watts of light (like 10 each or something) and their diffusers are really dark orange-brown, and we have blackout curtains. You can light up the room with a flash, but the light from the flash is blue by comparison with the lamps, and of course causes harsh reflections and shadows that make people look terrible. Recent pictures have not been as bad as my pictures used to be when I used a normal point and shoot camera (back then people actually got redeye), but it is still pretty bad. The solution?

Bam. My new toy. An external flash that you attach to the top of the camera. The little red panel at the bottom sends out a low red beam that allows the camera to focus in the dark, and then the flash part you point wherever you want (it rotates and tilts up and down). For this shot I pointed it at the ceiling, which lit up the whole room without creating any harsh shadows. In fact it kind of looks like the light in the room came from the lamps. The flash can put out a variable amount of light from just a little to a blinding amount. When it goes off it looks to us like one flash, but actually it sends out two really quick flashes: one to determine how much light will be needed to light up the room optimally, and the second one after the shutter opens to do the actual lighting using the amount calculated by the first flash. This allows us to point the flash head up, to the side, down, behind us, or anywhere we want and still get a properly exposed picture---it just puts out way more total light when it's pointed at the ceiling instead of the people. Neat huh?

Of course, the light from the flash is pure white, which is blue compared with the orange light from the lamps. Having two different types of lights (unintendedly) in a scene is the bane of photography. With digital photography it's really easy to redefine white in the post processing, but if one light is bluish, like sunshine, and another is orange, like a lamp, you have to choose which one you let be white. For example in this post we have some pictures lighted by a lamp in front and a window behind. To get the skin tones right, you have to let the window become blue. There are a few of those here on our blog.

The solution is to change the color of your flash so it matches the ambient light. The result in this case would be a completely orange picture, but in post processing you redefine orange as white and it looks like a nice white photo. You do this using my latest latest toys, some color correction gels. A gel is a transparent piece of plastic that you put over a light source to change its color. They use them in theater for spotlights and stuff. I have a bunch of "color correction gels," which are for making the light from the flash match the ambient light. I have various shades of orange for taking pictures in rooms with incandescent lighting, green ones for taking pictures under flourescent, and blue ones for sunlight that is not mid-day light (at noon the color of the sun is almost exactly the same as a flash).

Anyway, an orange gel on an external flash (let's call it a strobe to stick with the language of the growing movement of flash lighting enthusiasts) pointed at the ceiling are what's wanted. Here's the picture as it came out of the camera

Then you take a picture in raw format instead of jpeg. Our sweet, sweet camera will do this. A jpeg file is an image...an array of pixels of defined colors. You can kind of edit it but you are actually changing the image as you do so and after a lot of changes it looks really unnatural. A raw file is a record of how much light each pixel in the sensor got, there are no colors per se. It's like the digital equivalent of a negative. With a film negative, you can get a different print of it by shining a different intensity or color of light behind it, without changing the negative. That's what I did with the raw file that created this picture. I developed it with a different definition of white and now it looks like the scene did to my eyes when I took the picture (the human eye is annoyingly good at compensating for differences in colors of white. To us a white paper looks the same under flourescent lights, sunlight, or tungsten lights. Not so with film or digital sensors).

The one remaining variable is the colors of our computer monitors. This picture was "developed" and optimized on my screen. Well, some screens are bluer than others, so the picture may look bluer or yellower (or lighter or darker) on your screen than it does on mine. What I've tried to do is calibrate my monitor so it conforms to some absolutes of color temperatures, but it's hard to do without calibration equipment.

Anyway there's a lot of detail I've skipped over, but the bottom line is that I'm really enjoying the capabilities of my new strobe. It's given me a lot of creative flexibility to make pictures I want to take look like I want them, and then I take the raw files and there is a lot of fun hacking behind the scenes to finish the job (I had to nab a color profile file from the inner workings of some of canon's software that has information about how my particular camera percieves light and then plug it into a linux program that manipulates raw files, etc.). It's been a lot of fun, and I now have all the goodies to do a lot of really fun things. The first order of business is to make sure all the photos I put up on the blog are color balanced, well lit, and lacking harsh shadows (unless desired for effect). I'm eventually going to get a cable that connects my strobe to my camera so I can hold the strobe off to the side and take a picture from the front...but I have to become a pro with what I have first. For now even my raw file editing skills are not what they will be when I'm done optimizing and honing my skills. The resulting images are of correspondingly lower quality. It kind of makes me want to save the raw files so I can re-develop them later to more exacting specifications.

Anyway, I've been wanting to get a shot like the one at the top of this post for a long time and my efforts have not been real productive until now.

Everyone has to have a hobby, and this one has been more rewarding than most.

Friday, March 27, 2009

We're so glad when Daddy comes home!

Those of you who have been following the blog know that we have our own unique language of Love and Affection here in the Farnsworth Family.

It went to a whole new level when Kendra was born. It's too cute not to share!

Especially for Daddy

Since Grant has gone back to work, he's gone into a sort of withdrawal from his beloved little girls. In fact, he almost daily asks me at some point in the late afternoon to start a video chat with him at work because he misses looking at us. Mind you, he can't hear me. He can't talk to me. He can just look at me in a little window and chat as he normally would with his keyboard. But he likes just to see us, even if I'm busy feeding Kendra or if he has a project going on that he needs to pay attention to--he can still glance over at his other screen (he has two at work) and see his little girls in the bottom corner and it makes him feel better.

In his withdrawal, he puts no small amount of pressure on me to capture the moments he might miss.

So this one's for you, Daddy (turn up the volume for full effect).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pics Update

Some of these were second-best type pictures, but they are still so adorable to us, so we thought we would share them.

I hope they are cute on your monitors as well.

We couldn't decide which in the following series to post.

I love this one

Ashley loves this one

Funny how different pictures appeal to different people. But Kendra appeals to both of us equally.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Photoshoot FAIL

Kendra was being so cute tonight we just couldn't resist having a little photo shoot. Little did we know how it would end

More Cuteness...

And laying her on her changing table for some more pictures...

This one drives me nuts it's so cute (and notice that she has one little dimple just like mommy)...

And our slideshow ending...(watch the whole thing)


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday Lovin'

We love Saturdays so much. Daddy can be home and take pictures of and be with his girls.

As you may have noticed before on this blog, we love the yawns. Just wuv dem so berry much!

And we spend a lot of the day just looking and Kendra. The nice thing is that these days she looks back at us too.

Trauma for the new Momma

Grant mentioned one of Kendra's tricks at the end of his last post. It's actually something I have chronicled in a post that I never finished and posted here, so I'll take a moment to tell the story now.

One of Grant's first days back at work several very traumatic things happened.

Kendra got really upset about something as I was changing her diaper. So I hurried and took her over to her crib to get her swaddled and calmed down. That's when I noticed something that broke my heart--there were actual tears forming in her eyes and swelling up and streaming down the sides of her faces.

Soooo sad to Mommy. Move faster!

Then, her crying took on a whole new wail that I'd never heard before. It sounded less like a baby and more like an animal. A tortured, dying animal.

Terrifying to Mommy. Why won't this blanket stay in place?!

And then, the worst of all. Just when her wailing went to that tortured, dying animal pitch she spit up. A lot. But that's not the terrible part. It was all shooting out of her nose.

Forget the stupid blanket!!

I picked her up and held her close, shushing like crazy and comforting her the best I can. I believe I actual said out loud to her in my fright, "Oh honey! Just barf all over me, I don't even care!! Just let Mommy make you feel better!"

Eventually I did get her clean, calm and sleeping. But I was so traumatized I immediately sent Daddy an email at work telling him about our rough, rough morning, ate a bite of chocolate and went back to bed with her (well, beside her, more like--I never put her in bed with me but I keep the bassinet by my side of the bed).

I took a moment and researched it on the internet before calling the doctor in a panic. Turns out, babies spitting up through the nose isn't that uncommon.

That kept me from worrying too terribly much, but it was still very disconcerting at the time.

No one told me about this!

A little more Kendra

These days, this is more of a picture blog. We are pretty sure that Kendra is beginning to take shape, though, and look more like her own idiosyncratic self instead of just a generic baby.

Lots of burping and sleeping lately. Though the burping seems to happen in the middle of the night and the sleeping in the middle of the day.

On the downside, she's been throwing up through her nose lately. I don't have a picture of that yet, but I'll see about getting one soon.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Couple of News Items

Kendra news

We are walking around on air today because last night Kendra went to sleep at 11pm, then got up at 3am, and then again at 7am. Do you realize what that means? She only got us up once last night! We don't know what to do with all the newfound feelings of health and well-being associated with sleeping for four hours at a stretch...twice!

The secret to our success last night? A swaddling change. We have been spotty about swaddling Kendra as she goes to sleep, doing it only when we felt like it. And the receiving blankets we were using were not stretchy, which means she was able to wiggle out of them. Last night we decided to dedicate ourselves a bit more to the idea of swaddling and we used a large sized, stretchy blanket, with which we did a hardcore swaddle job. Oh...my...goodness. Such a difference. Mommy and Daddy are having a good, good day.

Non-Kendra News

Ashley alluded to the computer problems I had. Specifically, my computer suddenly became loud. I took it apart and figured out that the problem was a fan inside the power supply. Who needs that? So I took it out. Suddenly the computer was very quiet. On the downside, the next day the computer started smelling really bad, and then it blinked off and wouldn't turn on again. For future reference, power supplies need those little fans they come with. And my power supply was completely fried.

So I ordered a new power supply on the internet. Unfortunately this means at least a week of trying to share a computer with Ashley, and I went through withdrawal. It was a horrible week. The distress was compounded by the fact that power supplies often take the rest of the computer with them when they go to the grave. I have been very distressed.

Today the new power supply came. I plugged all the necessary plugs where they looked like they went. Then I turned on the computer. It was very quiet...the hard drive did not spin up. Then a lot of really stinky smoke came out. The most distressing thing was that the smoke was coming from THE NEW POWER SUPPLY! I turned it off and realized I had plugged the wrong kind of thing into the hard drive, so that fixed that problem. I turned the computer on again...smoke. I quickly turned it off and examined the location from which the smoke came. It was a wire going from the power supply into the motherboard. It had melted the plastic coating and was beginning to melt the plastic of wires near it. Bad. But then I realized that there were two cables coming out of the power supply that would both fit where that wire was going. I swapped them out, and amazingly everything started working on the computer. Success!

I find it very annoying that power supplies come with two cables that fit in the same place, one of which melts down if you plug it in. And there's no warning about that.

The lesson: be careful when modifying your computer. You can start fires. I did. Twice.

But anyway, I am back online now. I have downloaded all the pictures since the last time I posted and after some sorting and culling, I'll post a whole bunch. Sorry I've been out of commission, but I'm back and the blog will be better than ever soon!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happiest Baby on our Block

Grant would like to note that he would rather be typing up this post, but his computer is out of commission while we wait for a part that needed replacing. It's driving him mad that he can't upload all the cute pictures he's taken this week onto his computer so he can edit them until they're just right and post them in practical perfection. I love that I married a guy who will open up a tower and replace a part as neccessary and obsessively research photo editing sites until he perfects the art of adjusting white balance in pictures of our baby!

Starting our family at this point in our lives as been quite ideal for both Grant and me. We both came into our marriage debt free and money saved up, we had both had a number of years of significant life experience and had surmised that the single life was for the birds and just not where it's at. And in the realm of pregnancy and parenting, we've had it a lot easier than our parents did because of the wealth of knowledge and technology available. From epidurals to ultrasounds to the beautiful piece of wisdom that has been come to known as the 5 S's.

Meet Dr. Harvey Karp, a pediatrician who developed these 5 S's to soothe crying babies.
The 5 S's are the recommendations Dr. Karp makes to ease a newborn's transition from a fetus and how recreating the environment of the womb can help with their shock of the environment of the world. We first heard about him from our brother-in-law, James. I'd never seen a man so enthusiastic about something related to babies, so I paid attention even though we weren't even out of the first trimester when he very enthusiastically preached his wisdom to us. The video version of his book, The Happiest Baby on the Block, was available at the library so we checked it out and were amazed when we watched it. Viola! Crying baby after crying baby totally pacified, calmed and quieted. We've used this from day one with Kendra and it's been a life-saver. Kendra doesn't cry very often, but when she does, it only lasts for about a minute. Literally.

Turns out, James was just the first source we heard about it.

As I flipped through one of the pregnancy magazines I was given at the doctor's office, there was a short article about Dr. Karp and how and why he developed the 5 S's. Before we were released from the hospital, we were given a whole folder of information and included was a hand-out briefly describing them for new mothers taking their babies home. I've read books both on breast-feeding and helping babies sleep and both of these published sources used him and his 5 S's as a resource. It's a phenomenon.

And just in case you needed more proof, we decided to show you for ourselves how well it works.

Bam! Yes, it's that simple. After we stopped recording, we put her down in her bassinet and she konked right out. Naaaice.

Grant even employed his mad skillz and mixed a 35-minute audio track of white noise/heartbeat/ocean sounds so that we can take a little break from the shushing. I might be known to play the disc on repeat while we nap during the day...

So for anyone out there who hasn't had the benefit yet, here's the proof of how to get your baby to be the happiest baby on the block too!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Oh no you didn't!

Well, we were so elated about the last post, but parenthood is full of ups and downs. And it appears that big steps come in twos.

Just a few minutes after she started playing with her toys, she very suddenly became upset. We picked her up and realized what she had done...

I have posted this picture because it is very censored. She was sitting upright in her carseat, in a onsie, wrapped in quite a thick blanket (that we JUST WASHED). And somehow she pood enough to fill her diaper, leak out all around the legs, and all around the top of the diaper enough to saturate the blanket and taint the carseat. In case you can't tell from the stains it came out all the way around the top of the diaper. 360 degrees! And we had just moved to a larger size of diapers, with greater poo holding capacity. Under this blanked she was up to her armpits in poo.

Kendra is neat in that she doesn't poo very often, but when she does, she really does. We put her directly into the bathtub and all of her clothes into some soapy water.

I think she can poo more than either of her parents in one sitting.

Another Milestone

Does it seem a little silly that every little milestone has been such a red letter day for us?

Today we put Kendra in her carseat with the little hangy downy stuffed animal thingies And for the first time, she looked at them. And she batted them around. They jingled. She could see and was amused by a toy. She played!

My guess is that she will never be as excited about any of her life developments as we will.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

Hygiene for New Mothers

I've read and heard many times stories about new mothers who don't manage to shower very often.

It seemed to bizarre to me at the time. Not find ten minutes to shower? Seriously?

I found out that yes, seriously, showering gets shuffled out of the priority list. I found out quickly. They let me take a shower in the hospital on Monday morning before they started me on the pitocin drip--remember she was born the following late morning. I didn't shower until the following (Wednesday) afternoon just before we were released from the hospital. Gross? Yes. But I just didn't care. A nurse took me into the bathroom and cleaned me up well enough that I made it with brushing my teeth and hair and keeping on top of having deodorant on.

Instead of boring you with the long, drawn-out story of the drama of lactation for my first-born I'll suffice it to say that I'm taking an herbal supplement called Fenugreek to stimulate my milk production.

Interestingly enough, one of the side effects of fenugreek is a changed odor in your sweat and urine.

But it's not a foul smell at all. Believe it or not, it's the smell of maple.

So now, when I skip a shower I don't even have to worry about body odor. I just have to worry about not driving myself to I-hop for some buttermilk pancakes drenched in syrup.

Though I am curious about what's going to happen when I start working out again and really work up a sweat...good thing we have plenty of pancake mix and syrup on hand.

Faces Only a Mother Could Love...

Or anyone else who appreciates pictures of amazing beautiful babies. I tell you, it's hard to be grumpy even when you're sleep deprived in the middle of the night when this is what you're staying up for.

Grant's mad photo-shopping skillz make these pictures seem to be taken at something like 10am. But it's really 3am and dark.

I always like to save the best for last, and this one is my favorite in this little group of shots. It might be one of my favorites period. She makes the greatest faces!

Even when she crosses her eyes, it's stinkin' cute...

I've been so grateful to have Grant home with me the past 3 weeks while we get settled in with our little girl. He goes back to work tomorrow and unfortunately that means that the opportunity for more shots like this will be much more sparse...he's such a good Daddy!

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy the fact that Grant is such a shutterbug? Seriously. So. Much. Fun.

We have this picture of a sleeping little angel because this is how she was when we showed her to someone from church who came by to drop off dinner for us and he just took a look at Kendra and said, "She's so cute..." and just got the camera to record it.

Can you tell we're having some fun being parents? Such a blast. We still bust a gut laughing out loud every time she poos while we're paying attention--and we've both dealt with blow-out, up-the-back diapers that involved more urine or poo while we changed the diaper. But it's still the most fun either of us have ever had. The hardest work, for sure...but the most fun.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A few more moments

Am I the only one who thinks this is just the most precious scene in the world?

They are sleeping like this as I type. I can't bring myself to wake either of them from this precious moment. I guess they will wake up when they are ready.

Actually every moment with Kendra seems to be just precious and picturesque. She was having a hard time burping and laying down was making it worse, but she wanted to sleep so we put her in the car seat for a little bit.

That's Daddy's little girl.

There was some popuplar demand to see the Farns wearing the moby wrap.

It's a very masculine and yet fatherly way to carry a baby. I give it a thumbs up, as you can see. And Kendra gives it a hand up.

On the downside of this post, by way of news, Ashley is sick. Apparently it's common after long deliveries for the uterus to get infected. We rushed her to the emergency room because people do die from it (they used to die from it a lot, in fact, before antibiotics). It was early in the infection's progression apparently so with some IV antibiotics and some amoxicillin (thank goodness for amoxicillin) Ashley should be right as rain really soon.

We passed an emotional little bit of time when we first found out. I have told Ashley that under no circumstances is she allowed to die until all our kids are grown up and we are old. Preferrably we can both die on the same day when we are really old and senile and don't even realize we are old any more. Until then, she is not allowed to do or even think anything dangerous and anyone who wants to come in contact with either Ashley or Kendra needs to sanitize their hands first. After all our kids are grown up we may relax that rule a little.