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Archive for April, 2012
I love lists. Really I do. But my Pre-Baby To Do list is giving me heart palpitations. How is it we still have this much left to do?! Despite my panic, this was actually a pretty good weekend baby wise.
I scheduled the last of our pregnancy classes and our hospital tour of Labor and Delivery unit for next week. I’ve been holding off organizing my hospital bag until the tour, since I don’t know what they provide, and what they recommend I bring for myself and for zippy. In the gold old days hospitals use to get free samples from baby manufactures that they gave out to new moms. I’ve heard stories of free Halo SleepSack and nasal aspirators a couple years ago. Jealous! I’m not sure what we can expect in this economy, but I think they still have things like pacifiers, since the hospital keeps those on hand for the new babies anyway. After the tour we’ll go to a drug store and pick up a bunch of little things like a hair brush, first aid supplies, etc. I’ve found for this category of gear, local drug stores beat baby stores and online retailers. You have less choices, but how many choices do you need for a baby hair brush anyway?
We will have to skip the birthing class, since it doesn’t fit our schedule. The class is being offered only twice more before I’m due. The first is this Friday/Saturday, with Saturday being a full seven hours! It’s so last minute, that even if I put off all the things we need to do next weekend (and we were hoping to cross of quite a bit from our to-do list), I’m not sure we can be squeezed in. The class will be offered again a few days before Zippy’s due. Even if Zippy comes late, I’m not sure I’ll be up to sitting through 9 hours of pregnancy classes at 9 months pregnant! The good news is, of the classes that we were planning to take, I was most inclined to skip this one. At the hospital we’ll be surrounded by Doctors and nurses who know what they are doing and can tell us what to do. I also don’t feel totally unprepared. There’s also a lot of information online about breathing techniques, and what to expect. Our hospital also has a labor video that I’ve already watched. The other classes, breastfeeding and new born care, will help us learn what to do when we’re on our own. The birth is also one day, where we will be carrying for a nursing a newborn a lot longer!
We purchased a rocker for the nursery. We went with a rocker/recliner from JCPenney because it was so amazingly comfortable. I could spend hours a day in that chair (and I’m sure I will once zippy comes!). It seemed superior to the comparably priced ones at BabiesRUs and BuyBuyBaby, and JCPenney included free shipping. I was also able to get 20% off by opening a new charge card, so it was a great deal. I know – opening a new line of credit isn’t completely without cost, as it comes with a credit hit – but the temporary hit is worth it.
We also got the Motorola Video Baby Monitor from BuyBuyBaby using a 20% off coupon. It wasn’t until after I purchased it that I realized this particular unit doesn’t support a second parent device. (My fault – I didn’t do enough consumer research). We could have done a monitor with several parent devices if I was willing to give up video or willing to spend a lot more, both of which I was unwilling to do, so we would have ended up with the same monitor anyway.
Next we got a Dishwasher Basket for under $4 for Target as a spur of the moment decision. We were looking at the pacifiers and it suddenly occurred to me that we needed a way to clean them. If pacifiers end up not being dishwasher safe, I’m sure I can find a use for the tray (like cleaning my Wilton decorating tips or the corn on the cob grips). I went with blue, since I dislike hot pink and neon green. If I ever work up the courage to spend $50 for a bathtub, I will get the Blooming Bath in blue as well for the same reason.
So now we can clean baby’s (non existent) pacifiers, have a spot to clean her bottom (we still need diapers, wipes, etc), a spot for her to sleep and the technology to watch her as she does. It’s progress!
While we haven’t bought it yet, we did make a decision regarding strollers. We settled on the City Mini Stroller, since it’s easier and more comfortable for me than the other brands. Currently the Infant Car Seat Adaptor is actually more costly than the Single Snap N’ Go Stroller, so we’re planning on getting the Snap-N-Go. I’m just waiting for my registry completion coupon to make the purchase. If we get the Snap-N-Go, I might wait on the City Mini until the end of the year, when the city mini 2013 models come out. We won’t have use for the City Mini until then anyway, and if I wait I can get this year’s model at a discount! Double win!
Lastly – and I’m so proud of myself for this – I sent out thank you cards. A couple close friends and family members surprised us with gifts last weekend at my sister’s wedding, including some very nice handmade blankets. I was so bad with thank you cards after our wedding (they went out almost six months after!) so this time I thought I would send them out right away. It’s much easier to write four than forty.
Now that we’re at thirty one weeks (7 months) along I thought I would try some more interesting DIY maternity photography. My bump is pretty pronounced at this point, and while it will get bigger, I don’t (yet) have stretch marks or a popped belly button, so I thought I would take advantage of it! Don’t worry, there’s nothing risqué.
The most important thing I’ve learned so far is to remember where you’re light source is! Light is your friend! If you think of the camera, light source and you forming a triangle, I found it works best if the angle in the corner represented by you is not obtuse (either acute or right angles are fine). Otherwise I’m usually cast in too much shadow. I then face anywhere between the light source and the camera. My preferred light source is a window, but in a pinch a lamp can do.
I also strongly maintain that this is a time to experiment with your camera. You don’t have to share the photos you don’t like, so why not snap away and get as many as possible! I’m much more of a classic bump kind of gal, but it was fun to experiment.
Nothing but Belly!
This is a pretty standard maternity photo for a reason. It’s also super easy! I did this in front our living room window in early morning when the sun was streaming through, illuminating the curtain. If you have a tripod, set the camera height to be at about your navel. I’ve got a three quarters turn to the window (so the light is on the bump) and the camera is facing me.
One of the things that makes this shot so easy is you can easily lean over and see how the photos are turning out, and adjust the camera settings as need be. The sun kept going behind clouds, so I had to keep readjusting my exposure. I really like the overexposure in this setup.
If you don’t know how to do an over exposure, and easy way is to have your camera on ‘auto’. The camera will then select an appropriate f-stop and shutter speed. Next, switch over to manual and reduce shutter speed to have a longer exposure. You can always do several iterations of trial and error until you get the exposure you want.
I also did the overly cliché hands-in-the-shape-of-a-heart shot. You’re taking these shots for you, so who cares if you indulge in some clichés? Do whatever makes you happy!
* If you’re going to do this with a bare belly, change out of any full or partial panel maternity pants in advance. That way you won’t get any clothing lines in your photos. I’ve found I often have to change for about a half hour first, just to be on the safe side.
* I sometimes forget I’m holding the camera remote and end up with a clenched fist. I find it works much better if I set the remote down, or hide it in my pocket during the 2 second shutter delay.
The layout for this picture. The yellow triangle shows the angle the camera sees.
Not going to lie, this one was much harder than I expected. For this shot I’m lying on the bed and the camera is on a tripod. The problem is I’m not as spry as I was thirty weeks ago. It takes a great deal of effort to get up off of the bed, and change the camera settings. I also don’t particularly love this shot, since my bump is much less pronounced.
In order to reduce the number of “bad shots” and thus trips to the camera I recommend using a piece of masking tape to mark the spot for your head. Domingo also helped me by letting me know where the image was being cropped so I could readjust without needing to get up all.the.time.
* Try not to tilt your head too far back when looking at the camera. At least for me, tilting my head too far back and an ear to ear grin caused my forehead to wrinkle.
The layout for this picture. Again, the yellow triangle shows the angle the camera sees. For the photo where I’m wearing the pink shirt, the camera is about 8 inches to a foot higher than I am, pointing down. It’s about 2 feet higher for the second image. The camera and the window are on the same side of me, so the light from the window will illuminate the bump.
The dream book is now out, and we’re looking at the 2012 collection of ornaments. There are at least two I think we’ll get right away.
The first is the gumdrop ornament, Deer-ly Loved Cookie. I was able to get the 2010 Beary Cool Treat at an after Christmas sale, and it’s still available on ebay for under $10, but the other two (Goody Goody Gumdrops and Sweet Li’l Snowman) go for $20 and $30 respectively. Like the later two, I suspect Deer-ly Loved Cookie will sell out before Christmas, unless Halmark has a large supply of them. Since it’s only $8 retail, and I’d really like to have a collection of different colored gumdrops, I think it’s not worth the potential savings to wait.
We’ll also be getting the Cookie Cutter Christmas. In a lot of ways it reminds me of the first Season’s Treatings. It’s adorable, appeals to my inner baker, and feels very Christmas-y. It also doesn’t have a date printed on the ornament itself, which I really like! I doubt it will be as popular at the 2009 Season’s Treatings, but I would wager a guess it will sell out before the holiday.
Speaking of Season’s Treatings, I am totally disappointed in this year’s ornament. It’s a shame because I so loved the 2009 ornament. The others in the series just haven’t been living up to the series potential. Each year I’ve liked them less and less, and I’m pretty sure this is the year I’ll pass. The internet seems to agree with me. If you search ebay, you’ll see each successive year Season’s Treating is selling for less than the previous year’s. The 2009 is still very popular and will likely cost you at least $80, and the asking price for the 2010 ornament is higher than the original list price, but the 2011 one is at a breakeven point. If you factor in shipping you’ll spend as much for the 2011 ornament on ebay as you would have had you bought it in the store. Domingo does like the 2012 ornament better than the 2011 one (but really doesn’t have much of a preference), and it’s always possible the picture doesn’t do the ornament justice, so maybe I’ll change my mind between now and Christmas. But I doubt it. At this point, I wish I had saved my money and not purchased the 2011 Season Treatings.
There is also a handful of ornaments I’m considering for after-Christmas sales. Some of those include ornaments I would consider paying full price for, but suspect there is a good chance they will still be around post holiday. Others are ornaments I am luke warm on, and would only pay a marked down price. All of the ones I’ll be waiting for are ornaments I wouldn’t be disappointed if they never make it to the tree with the exception on one: Baby’s First Christmas.
Yes, as adorable as the rocking horse is, $20 is a lot for one ornament. Especially for one that doesn’t really match our tree. The porcelain is almost too nice. I feel like a horrible mom for not wanting to spend that much on Zippy’s first Christmas tree ornament. We’ll find her a first Christmas ornament. Our grocery store tends to have American Greeting ornaments, which is where we got out “just married” ornament. The past two years the “Baby’s first Christmas” ornaments have been cute, so I will get one of those most likely.
I was happy to have been able to attend my sister’s wedding, but I realize how lucky I was that everything worked out. We gave ourselves a recovery day after flying out and before wedding activities started, and one for after the wedding and before flying back. Turns out I needed both rest days. I tired myself out at the rehearsal, and needed to go back to the hotel. The day after the wedding I got sick to my stomach. But the day of, I was alright, and lasted until the end of the night. I feel less guilty now about missing my college roommate’s wedding. It’s clear that this trip was right on the cusp of what I was capable of. Had my college roommate lived closer, and we could have made a day trip out of it, I think I could have managed.
The return trip was not as pleasant as the flight out. This time we were switching planes during our layover. The trip started out very positive. Tuesday is a light travel day, so both legs we got a row to ourselves. I could have the window seat, Domingo could have his aisle seat and I didn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone (other than him, of course).
I managed to fall asleep on the first flight during one of the only times the fasten seatbelt sign wasn’t illuminated. Poor timing on my part. When we started landing, we hit a bit of turbulence. Seven months pregnant + turbulence was pretty miserable. The layover ended up almost two hours, and, to be honest, I was glad to have a break. It was our only opportunity to eat real food, but I didn’t recover my appetite in time, so I stuck with fruit juice and a bagel. I just couldn’t stomach the thought of anything else. When we were standing in line to board for the second plane, all of a sudden zippy gave me a good kick and I needed to go RIGHT. NOW. I didn’t want to give up my spot in line, so I had to wait again.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to be home.
We survived our flight to the east coast, at thirty weeks (plus!) pregnant no less. I admit I was nervous about it. Despite my assurances to Domingo to the contrary, I knew there was potential for problems. I still get pregnancy related migraines and nausea on occasion. A three lbs baby dancing on my bladder combined with turbulence cannot be a good combination. My goal was to never let my bladder get too full, which meant using the restroom early and often.
I wanted to sit close to the bathroom in the front of the plane, since turbulence is usually worse at the rear. In order to ensure this, we sprung for priority boarding. Southwest has open seating, so if you want to sit somewhere specific, you need to board early. The priority boarding was a complete waste of money. We checked in with boarding numbers A58 & A59. Once at the airport, the gate agent told us that pregnant woman can board with the family boarding (after A60) so the $20 we spent only moved us up 3 spots in line! We still ended up in the middle of the plane.
I’m not sure we could have depended on the family boarding, though. I tried to find the policy online, but the only mention of pregnant fliers was that southwest recommends flying prior to the 38th week. I think letting pregnant fliers board in family boarding might be the prerogative of the gate agent. I may have had a distressed look on my face (I’m not very good at hiding nerves) and she may have assumed I was more uncomfortable than I was, and taken pity on me.
Normally I would opt for a window seat, but this trip we went with the aisle so I wouldn’t have to disturb anyone with my frequent trips to the rest room. Well, actually Domingo was in the aisle seat, so I disturbed him, but he’s my husband so that’s allowed. We also packed a bit of extra food (especially protein bars) and bought a couple bottles of water at the airport.
The first leg of our trip had little turbulence and Zippy was pretty easy on me. She was bouncing around a lot, but stayed off my bladder for the most part. Much to my delight, most people recognized that I was pregnant too, and made some sort of comment about it. The stewardess referred to me as “momma”, and the person sitting next to me asked when I was due.
I did have one time when the woman in line in front of me, not only noticed, but asked if I “had to go, like, every five minutes?”. I made a joke out of it, and said that baby was being good to me, so it was more like every ten. I admit, I thought she’d let me go first, since she not only noticed I was pregnant, but also acknowledged I had to go badly. Had she offered to let me go first, I would have declined, since I didn’t have to go that badly. But she never offered.
Having the iphone also proved useful. The first leg of the flight I noticed some playing a word search game. That looked like fun! The plane had a layover, but we were continuing on the same plane so there was no time debark. I was able to use the time between flights to download a similar app, and kept myself busy for the second leg.
So the flight out was as good as we could hope for. I’m so glad. Had it been miserable I would would spend the whole trip dreading the return. Here’s hoping the return is equally good to me!
This evening I got out our suitcases to pack for our trip tomorrow and discovered this:
Looks like we have a stowaway hiding in our suitcase!
Tomorrow we’re flying to the east coast to see my sister get married. This will be my third trip flying with zippy. I was 4-5 weeks pregnant on our trip to Hawaii, and 12-13 weeks pregnant flying to Pennsylvania for Christmas. This trip, at 30 weeks, will be the first time I’ll be noticeably pregnant. (At least I think I’m noticeably pregnant.)
We were originally going to have a fourth trip in May. It was going to be a dual trip with two different east coast stops. One stop at my parents for my baby shower, and then another stop further south to see my college roommate get married. We decided pretty early on that the baby shower wasn’t going to happen. It was too much to cram into one weekend, especially given how late we will be in the pregnancy. But we were holding out to see if it would be possible to attend my former roommate’s wedding.
In the ended we decided I would just be too pregnant to make it practical. I’m already getting tired easily, and since I don’t bend too well in the middle anymore, I sometimes need a hand for doing even simple things. This trip for my sister’s wedding I have not only had Domingo to help me, but my parents as well. Having my parents around took a lot of stress off Domingo and I. If the fourth trip had happened, the return flight would have also be right at the cusp of when my doctor will give me the ok to fly.
I still feel guilty about not going to my college roommate’s wedding. We planned (or at least tried to plan) zippy around these events. Since airlines let you fly up to 36-38 weeks, I thought it would be no problem. Now naïve I was about how much pregnancy takes out of you.
I also feel guilty about leaving Lily in the kennel for a week. Now that the suitcases are out, she knows something’s up and isn’t happy about it. I can’t imagine how confusing this time is for her.
At this point I’m almost seven months pregnant! I’ve been taking sporadic photos of myself starting at around 17 weeks (I didn’t really feel up to it prior, and my bump, while existent was not obviously a baby.) I love the idea of a maternity photo shoot, but it is one more expense that I just can’t justify right now. I consider myself a budding photographer, so I thought I would try my hand at some classic maternity bump shots. I figure if I love them, I’ve saved myself some money, and if not, I can always do professional maternity photos later.
One of my favorite maternity photos
Through trial and error – both playing with the camera, tripod and remote, and giving the camera to Domingo and insisting he practice before the baby comes – I think I’ve gotten a few good ones. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned along the way.
First, some general photography tips
You may not love the way you look now, but at some point down the line you’ll be happy to have them. This happens to me all the time. I’m such a perfectionist that I’ll take 50 photos and hate them all because my hair is slightly out of place, or my shirt isn’t straight, or it’s cropped a different way than I want. A few weeks later, when you’re bigger and look even less rested and you’re suddenly glad you have them, messy hair and all. You don’t have to share the ones you don’t like, save them for YOU.
Happy Accident: Unintentionally crop
Tips specifically for maternity
- Face the light source, so the light is on the bump. Whatever is light will be the focus of attention. If you’re like me, you want that to be the front – baby bump, boobs and face. We don’t need people focusing on my derriere! I like to shoot in the middle of the day, when there’s the most natural light possible, and supplement the natural light with an artificial light source if need be.
Another Happy Accident: Unintentionally exposure that emphasizing the light source (and also an unintentional crop)
- Have the camera pointed at your profile rather than your front for a more flattering angle that emphasizes the bump. A 3/4s turn where you’re not quite profile but not facing the camera either also works nicely. It also helps to bend the knees slightly rather than have a straight leg. A bent knee emphasizes curves and can help mask extra lbs.
- Don’t look at the bump, look about six inches in front of it, especially if you’re not sticking out too much yet. Another good strategy when looking down is to give three quarters face rather than look straight at the camera. Looking down while facing the camera makes your nose and forehead prominent.
In this one Domingo is looking at my bump and I’m looking a few inches in front of it. I’m also turned three quarters while Domingo is closer to facing the camera. I think it’s a more flattering angle on my face then his. If you look very closely, you can tell I’m not looking at the bump. I just wish my hips were turned a little more so my butt doesn’t look so big.
- Pick a top that’s at least a little form fitting. The shirt in the above photo wasn’t very form fitting and hangs off my chest, hiding the shape of the bump. In a couple of the photos (like the one to the right), my bump is completely absent from the photo. It’s not so bad in the above photo with the placement of Domingo’s hand on the top of the bump to reveal its shape. But if you compare that photo to the ones with the light pink tank top (or the other photos from other posts) you’ll find the more form fitting ones a bit more flattering.
It helps if you stand in front of a simple surface like a blank wall. If I was more serious about this, I would get a backdrop. I plan on getting one before the baby comes so I can do newborn photography, but these days I’m just a little too busy with other chores. For now it’s not too big of a deal, it’s easy enough to edit out the background.
Left is the original photo, right has the background edited out with a slight filter to look like a vignette. It’s not perfect. You can tell the wall has been digitally removed (the strands of hair are the giveaway.)
I really do own more than 2 maternity tops. I promise.
Back in March I mentioned that one of the day care workers didn’t realize I was still pregnant. I’ve been waiting for a time when strangers and acquaintances feel comfortable saying something. So far I’ve gotten a couple second glances and smiles, but no one has been brave enough to say anything.
Today we went out to Japanese for dinner. We’ve gone there about once a month (the loyalty card prints the dates of the last visit) for a couple of years now. The owner/hostess sat us down at a table without a word. I noticed her twice stealing a glance at my tummy while walking by, as if she wasn’t sure. It wasn’t until the end of the night that she made a comment that we should take care, especially me, with a slight nod towards my belly. She still didn’t come right out and say it, still hedging her bets in case I she was wrong. The last time we were in the Japanese restaurant, one of the waitresses asked if I had lost weight. She wanted to know what diet program I was on.
My total weight gain so far is of 5-8 lbs, depending on what you consider my starting weight. A lot of that has to do with the fact that I wasn’t eating much in the first trimester, or the beginning of the second trimester due to migraines. I already had an adequate supply of fat stores, which baby seems to have taken from, since Zippy is not just on track, but measuring ahead and very active. My face and arms had thinned out a bit. At almost thirty weeks pregnant, I still don’t weigh as much as I did right before my wedding. (Not that I’m complaining about my thinned out physic, mind you!) In a lot of ways, I feel prettier than I have in a long time. I guess for those who don’t see me on a regular basis, I may not look all that different when in a baggy sweater.
There are twelve(ish) weeks left to go with Zippy being an inside baby. I’m sure I will get much bigger in that time!
One of the baby items I was interested in was the Gunapod Sleepsack. It seemed super warm and fuzzy for a winter time visit to the east coast. But my mom convinced me that $35 dollars for an item that will be used for at most one week is overkill.
Recently I was wondering around Amazon Warehouse and noticed the same sleep sack for $10 dollars! In the right size and color I wanted too. Score! For those of you who aren’t familiar with Amazon’s warehouse, it’s a place for gently used items. The sleep sack description said it was ‘like new’ (which according to Amazon means it should appear new) and that the box was damaged so it couldn’t be sold as ‘new’. I have no problem with second hand items, especially for things that can be thrown in the washing machine for a few iterations. So even if it was worn by another baby, it’s not a big deal to me.
So I added the sleep sack to my cart, and decided to look around for something else to get the free shipping. I figured with all of the baby gear we need, I’d find something that was also a decent deal. I was also meeting friends this weekend, so I didn’t have time to spend too much time online shopping. Waiting was a mistake. Two days later and the sleep sack is no longer available. Drat! So if you want something off of Amazon Warehouse, don’t wait to purchase it.
Amazon Warehouse is probably not worth it for some items if you have a registry and will get the 10% discount completion code. Most products seem to be discounted around 12-13%. So you’re only saving an additional 2-3% for a product that’s used instead of something new. I’m cheap, but I don’t know if I’m that cheap for an extra 3% savings. The gunapod was an exception. In addition to being significantly marked down, it wasn’t sold through Amazon but through a third party, it wasn’t eligible for the completion discount. That’s probably why it went so fast.
As for me, I will continue to go back and see if the gunapod is available. But my mom’s right, the winters aren’t cold enough here in California, and it’s silly to pay full price on an item I know will be rarely used.
I have discovered a not cool interaction between my blogging software (wordpress), smart phone (iPhone) and camera (Nikon DSLR).
The Nikon, like most cameras, has an internal leveler, and can tell which way the camera is oriented to take a portrait rather than a landscape image. Along with other bits of metadata, the camera sets an orientation flag for each image. Think of the metadata as additional information about the file. The actual data in the image file, however, is still stored as a landscape, since that is what the image sensor ‘sees’. It’s like if you tilt your head and look at a glass of water. The glass appears like it’s on its side to you, but in your mind you know your head is tilted, not the glass, which is why the water isn’t spilling out.
My computer, as do most computers, renders the image according to the data in the image file. As a result, the image appears as a landscape, regardless of how the camera was oriented. I then use image editing software to rotate the image (effectively re-arranging the pixel data). The orientation flag in the metadata remains unchanged. WordPress also ignores the orientation flag. So the uploaded image appears on my blog the same way it appears on my computer.
The iPhone, however, tries to be smart. Since the orientation flag is still set, it assumes the image needs to be rotated again to display correctly. As a result, the image appears rotated an extra 90 degrees on my iPhone. But only on the iPhone, so I didn’t discover the problem until recently!
The only way to fix it is to strip the metadata so the orientation flag isn’t set, but that means going back over all my past entries and uploading a new photo for all the crooked ones. Not Cool.
To be honest, I’m surprised there isn’t an easier way to strip the image metadata. Aside from the orientation issue, metadata can include GPS location information. It’s handy for figuring out what your photos are of years after the fact, but if you upload an image with geographical information, someone can figure out where you’ve been. You can view the geolocation data in images online for yourself.
Metadata does have it’s uses. Some photographers like to store copyright information in the metadata. Camera manufactures and image processing software also like to add their mark to the metadata, as a form of free advertising for anyone looking to see how an image was created. For me, though, I wish there was an easy way to get ride of it.