Monday, August 30, 2010

First Day of Pre-K

This was a BIG day for Taylor! She's been waiting for this day ALL summer. She spent the summer at the same school she's been at for 2 yrs. But, for those 2 yrs, she's had her best preschool buddy, Z with her. Taylor and Z have a very special friendship. There are few girls who will put strong-willed Taylor in her place but Z is one of them. And, I think this makes Taylor have an immense amount of respect for Z. This respect translates into a bit of an obsession. She talks about Z all. the. time. Well, Z didn't attend the summer session of preschool. Early in the summer, when Taylor asked about her, a teacher told her that Z would be back "in the fall". Well, everyday, EVERY day this summer, Taylor woke up and asked "is it fall yet?" When we told her no, the response was "oohh, I don't waaaaanna go to schoooool!"

Taylor had a week off last week as the teachers prepared for the fall session. So, today, Taylor's first official day of pre-k, also meant "the first day of fall" which more importantly meant Z would be back at school.

So, this morning, Taylor got out of bed happier than she ever has and she got ready for school faster than she ever has. There are days when I drop Taylor off and she clings to me and cries or asks for a bazillion hugs and kisses, or begs me to play on the playground with her. But, today, we had barely walked in the door, when she looked at the first teacher she saw and said "Is Z here?" When the teacher said she was on the playground, Taylor was off and running without a second look back at me. I tried to catch up but she left me in a cloud of dust! I wish I had seen the initial excitement of their reunion. Instead, I caught a glimpse of their second adorable hug. I wish I had taken my camera to get a shot of the two of them.

When we picked up Taylor at the end of the day, we heard all about her day with Z and her trials with her other friends as they're all adjusting to sharing each other's attention. Ahhh, the preschool drama of who hit who, and who would be who's friend and who wouldn't play with who. This is only pre-k, I can only imagine what high school will be like!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Handmade Camera Bag

This is bag is based on a purse that I already had, but I wanted it to be larger and padded to accommodate my camera. It's roomy enough for my camera body w/ 2 lenses, a photography book, my wallet, cell phone and keys. I absolutely love it!
I purchased the fabric in Canada last summer because,'s got all my favorite colors AND flowers! It doesn't get much better than that! I picked up the coordinating fabrics at JoAnns to add some detail to the adjustable strap and the side pockets.

The bag is very versatile. I can see it in different sizes all the way from child size to a full size diaper bag. I'm thinking of making it available as a PDF pattern/tutorial for a nominal fee (less than $10). Let me know if you're interested. I haven't written the tutorial, and I already know a few things I would tweak on the pattern. And, of course, I'd need pattern testers to test it out before I made the PDF available for sale. :>

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Princess in the Park

Just a few of my favorite shots from a shoot I did with my favorite girl yesterday! She was so happy she got to play "dress up" at the park.

Well, she had her moments of pouting and whining, of course. She is a four yr old girl, after all.

I was able to convince her to work her magic a little, and she thought that was fun....

It tuckered her out a little...

But Mommy got some adorable shots!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Playing with my new camera again...

Just a few shots from a short hike we took today at a palm oasis. I hope you enjoy!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

So Glad it's Over!

We took 2 days off of preschool and 2 days off of work for a procedure for Taylor that will hopefully give us some answers and help her feel better.

I haven't blogged much about Taylor's medical issues. I count my blessings everyday that we deal with medical problems that are treatable. I know there are too many families out there who manage medical problems that are more heartbreaking than what we manage everyday. There are families out there who spend days on end (and weeks and months and even years) in hospitals and in and out of doctors offices. My heart goes out to all of those families. While we haven't had to deal with any catastrophic medical issues in Taylor's 4 yrs of life, she has some chronic health issues that cause her discomfort and cause us a lot of co-pays in doctor's visits :). Of course she has food allergies, which I've discussed several times before. But honestly, that's the least of what we deal with at this point. Kids With Food Allergies has been such a huge source of support to me and our family that I feel like we've got a really good handle on how to manage Taylor's food allergies and keep her safe.

Taylor also has asthma which we've been managing for about the last year (although, in hindsight, I really think she's had asthma for longer than that but it went undiagnosed). She also has mild eczema. But the daily issues that we struggle with are related to reflux. I debated about sharing all of this because it's heartbreaking to see kids connected to tubes and I have a weak stomach. Yes, even as a hospice social worker a lot of medical stuff makes me cringe and turn away. So, I certainly won't mind if you skip over this post and don't look at the pics (which really aren't graphic), but I decided to write this post in hopes of maybe helping someone else out who may be on a similar journey.

This is a picture of Taylor before her procedure yesterday. She LOVES doctors and nurses and hospitals. I really have NO idea where she gets that from because hospitals used to cause me to have panic attacks. Literally. And, after a recent trip to our pediatrician, Taylor declared she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. (I guess we better start that college fund).

Taylor was born at 37wks after a very quick and intense labor for Mommy. From the very start, she spit up often. I had been surounded by babies and children for as long as I remember so I know babies spit up. But, by 3wks I was saying "This isn't normal!". She would projectile vomit (like a foot away), 15-20x/day. At the time, I didn't know my breastfed baby was allergic to dairy (which I was consuming daily), but I knew something was wrong. It took 3 months for our pediatrician to take us seriously. She ordered an upper GI, which involved feeding Taylor a bottle of barium, while we watched her gastrointestinal tract on a monitor. It showed her refluxing several times as she squirmed and screamed (exactly like she did when we nursed). I finally had a better understanding of why my baby was so miserable.

To make a very long story short, Taylor was diagnosed with GERD: Gastro-esophageal reflux disease after that test. As an adult, you know it as heartburn. Heartburn becomes a "disease" when it's frequent and chronic, and uncomfortable (I'm sure there's more specific diagnostic criteria, but that's the layman's terms version ;) ). Taylor has daily issues with reflux. One in 3 babies is diagnosed with GERD. And the vast majority of them outgrow it by 12 months, as their GI tract matures. Taylor is now 4 and still complains of a lot of tummy pain and has daily reflux symptoms. Since she was diagnosed with asthma, her reflux symptoms have become a little more confusing. She coughs during and after meals and drinks. She's also had pneumonia twice in the last year. She also gets monthly upper-respiratory infections and has missed a lot of days of preschool because for her, a cold is almost never "just a cold". A cold, for her, means a fever, a trip to the pediatrician, sometimes a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia, antibiotics and several missed days of preschool.

So, all of this brings us to how we've spent Monday and Tuesday. Our GI decided some more tests were necessary at our follow up appt about a month ago. He wants to ensure she gets on appropriate medications, that there isn't more going on with her than we think and he's thinking maybe she actually has "non-acidic" reflux. So, he did an endoscopy and an impedence probe (the tube that you see in the first picture) to measure the acidic and non-acidic reflux that she may be having. The scope involves a tiny tube with a camera attached to it going into her esphogeous and looking into her stomach.

The impedence probe is a tiny probe that goes through her nose (as pictured above), into her esophagus and it sits just above the opening of her stomach. It measure the acid in her reflux, how far it goes up into her esophagous and how often she refluxes. The probe is attached to a recording device. So, our GI gave Taylor a sedative (what they call conscious sedation) to make her sleep during the procedure. He then did the scope and inserted the probe that would remain inside her for the next 24 hrs. The procedure itself is only about 15 minutes.

This is a picture of her shortly after the procedure. When she first came back to us she was awake and delirious, and not very happy. She was also quite chatty. She really needed to sleep so the drugs could wear off. Her face is red and puffy in the picture because she seemed to be having an allergic reaction to the drugs she was given. Fortunately, we were very quick in catching it and it resolved with Benadryl that the doctor ordered. The picture below was taken about 20 minutes after the Benadryl was administered via IV. They wrapped a bandage around her IV port prior to the procedure because she didn't want to have to see it. :)

When I explained to her that she was going to the hospital and what would be done, I told her she could bring a blanket and a stuffed animal or doll. When I asked what blanket she wanted to bring, she said "My sweater blanket". Our wonderful nurse was quite impressed when she commented on how cozy the blanket was and Taylor responded "My mommy made it for me!".

The Benadryl helped Taylor settle back down after the procedure and she slept for another hour and a half. We were sent home with the probe in, the recording device, and a form to write down every time she ate, slept, and had reflux symptoms. They'll then, review the recording on the monitor and compare it to what we had written down to determine the severity of her reflux and what the best treatment is.

While we were at home, Taylor wore her backpack with her monitor inside. We were really worried she would pull the tube out but she did really well with it. She said it was bugging her nose a few times, and when I questioned her about it she said she could feel it in her nose and in her throat. Here's a pic of the monitor/recording device.

We went back to the hospital on Tuesday to have the probe removed (very simple, literally just pulled it out. Painless, except for pulling the tape off), and Taylor was quite excited to see her nurse again, who tended to us yesterday. She colored a picture especially for her and ran and gave her a huge hug when she saw her! I actually almost got teary eyed because I work with so many nurses, I have a very special place in my heart for them. Our nurse thought Taylor was pretty special, too. When she greeted us yesterday, Taylor was her typical energetic self and the nurse said "Wow, this is great I love enthusiastic patients!" My response? "Well, then you're the perfect nurse for us because she's definitely enthusiastic!"

We should get the results of the probe in about a week. The scope looked good on first glance, just mild esophagitis that was there the last time we had this done 2 yrs ago. The GI took biopsies to test the tissue and rule out other conditions for her symptoms. We also need to schedule a swallow study to help determine why she's coughing and gagging when she eats.

Thanks for reading this far. :) If any of you have questions about reflux, please ask me and I'll answer you the best that I can. If you want more information on reflux and are also managing food allergies, there is a wonderful forum/message board to discuss food allergies, reflux, asthma and eczema at You can also visit and

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Featured Today on One Pretty Thing!

Thanks to everyone who stopped by today to check out my Cookie Sheet Magnet Board. I hope you'll come back often :)

And thank you Rachel for featuring me on One Pretty Thing. :)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Playing With My New Camera!

We headed out to the park this morning to play with my new camera. We are very fortunate to live in gorgeous Southern California and we have a local park that has large ponds and lots of ducks. As you can see they're quite friendly.

Here are the specs on the above pic (for my own notes and for anyone else who may care):

Lens: Canon EF75-300m-5.6 IIIm f/4

Focal length: 120mm

Shooting mode: Aperture Priority AE

Aperture Value (AV): 4.5

AF Mode: One Shot

The shot above is our favorite of the day and it's these kind of shots that were a big reason why I bought an SLR. I absolute love how blurred the background is and how sharp Taylor is. I also love that she was looking at me for a split second and yet I got a great shot! I could NOT have created this photo with my point and shoot. Here are the specs on this photo:

Lens: Canon EF75-300m-5.6 IIIm f/4

Focal Length: 155

Shooting Mode: Program AE

Aperture Value: 6.3

Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm IS

Focal length: 25mm

Shooting mode: Aperture Priority AE

Aperture Value (AV): 7.1

AF Mode: One Shot

Friday, August 6, 2010

Because a {Good} Photo is Worth a Thousand Words

This baby is my brand new Digital SLR Canon EOS Rebel XS.

This is another dream come true for me. A goal, I guess, more than a dream, really. I've always had a love of photography. I appreciate great shots and I'm critical of bad ones ;). While I don't (yet) have the technical skills and knowledge of exposure and "noise" (aka, grain in the world of film), I have an eye for photography.

I've always wanted to improve my photography skills and expand my knowledge of the technical aspects of photography. When I was 12 my best friend and I would do photo shoots. And that was a gazillion years ago and we didn't even own a real camera so we used disposables. Pretty sure digital cameras with an LCD screen allowing instant viewing of photos didn't even exist at that time. It certainly wasn't available to amateur photographers. So, during these cheaply and ill-equipped photo shoots, I was always much happier behind the camera than in front of it.

In high-school I took a media course (which was pretty cutting edge at the time, nowadays, many schools offer classes with high-tech equipment, but at the time that certainly wasn't the norm). My favorite section of the class was the photography section, but again, that was such a long time ago, most of what I learned is forgotten.

When I started scrapbooking, my love of photography and my desire to take good quality photos continued to grow. Since we've been married, my husband and I have always had decent, current point and shoot digital cameras. I've always had fun focusing on photo composition and getting great shots. There is a lot you can do with a good point and shoot digital camera, and they've come down in price drastically since they first came onto the market. Currently, we own a Canon Powershot S70. It has served us well over the years and I think I'll always remember we took Taylor's baby photos with that camera.

But, recently, I've realized I've outgrown our point and shoot. I find myself admiring shots on other blogs or in print and when I try to recreate those same effects, I'm consistently left disappointed because there is only so much you can do with a point and shoot and the basic modes it provides you. I'm also constantly disappointed by the lag time of my point and shoot and with an extremely fast moving preschooler, I can't wait for my camera to catch up to snap the perfect shot that I saw when I pushed the button! By the time my camera catches up, the moment has past and the shot is lost.

So, after much research, much discussion and a lot of shopping around, I finally bought my Canon Rebel XS last night! It was part of a package with the kit lens that's 18mm-55mm and a second lens that is a 75mm - 300mm which allows for shooting images at a distance (with a zoom that I'd never be able to achieve with my point and shoot). The package also came with a "manly" camera bag and I'll soon be making my own, more girly, more compact bag for everyday use. It also came with a tutorial DVD which I am loving. It reviews the basic features of the camera and how to take great photos in the creative modes that are offered.

Going with a Canon was an easy choice for me. As I said, we've owned our Canon point and shoot for years and have never had any problems with it (except the times (yes timeS) hubby has dropped it in water but I've teased him enough about that, so I won't elaborate about that here!). I should clarify, though, that the water damage killed the camera and we replaced it with another Canon Powershot S70. We've been happy with the quality of photos our Canon Powershot gives us, and we'll certainly continue to use it (read - the SLR is mostly MY camera and hubby can use the point and shoot and take the risk of breaking it ;) ) The Canon gets great reviews. I've talked to some people "in the know" and all of them recommended Canon and said "I've never heard anything bad about Canons".

So, I'm certainly a happy girl, today! I'm taking the plunge and diving into the world of photography. I've got a lot to learn, but I was recently reminded that everyone was a beginner once. Oh, and I have to add that I went to the bookstore to look at photography books and the guide for my camera shown in the picture above was on clearance. It's regularly $19.99 and I got it for $2.18. Woo Hoo!

Since I have so much to learn, I want to ask you a few questions:

Do you own a DSLR camera?

What do you love the most about it?

Do you have any great sources of inspiration? Photography blogs or books?

OK, gotta go learn how to use this thing!

Monday, August 2, 2010

MMM Past Loves

This is my piece for this week's Mixed Media Monday. This week's prompt was "past loves" meaning a technique or medium that we used to love working with but haven't used inawhile. My past love is scrapbooking. As you know from my recent posts, I spent last weekend scrapbooking with Donna Downey. Before then, it had been ages, I mean ages, since I've scrapbooked. I had forgotten how much I love playing with photos and scrapbooking.

This is another page that is part of my first canvas album that I'm working on. The stamped image was created using acrylic paint and Donna's Baby's Breath Foam Stamp. I added Stickles to the petals once the paint was dry. The background was created with various layers of pink and white acrylic paint and I used gel medium to created the embedded sheet music.

Thanks for stopping by to look and I can't wait to see what the other MMM artists have created this week.