Thursday, February 24, 2011

Joshua's first year collage and slideshow!

Just barely getting this post done before Joshua turns 13 months old...  I've finally finished Joshua's first year retrospective slideshow!  It's a collection of some of our favorite photos and videos of our dear wee lad -- and believe me, it was hard to winnow it down, because there's no such thing as a bad photo of our cutie.  :)

But before I post the video, I have to post our "Joshua Watch" collage, in celebration of making it all the way through a year of monthly growth comparison photos with Mr. Tiger.  There were definitely some months near the end there where I didn't think we'd be able to get any more usable shots of Joshua at least kind of lying back next to the tiger, but we managed to eke it out!  Any future children will have their growth comparison photos taken propped up in a chair or doing something more interesting than placidly lying back.  ;)  But in continued celebration of Joshua's first birthday, here's a little collage of all twelve of his Joshua Watch photos:

And then the slideshow video.  WARNING: It's long (almost 13 minutes), and super high on the cheese factor... David has been poking fun of my song choices all week.  :)  And he specifically wanted me to point out that his contribution was Randy Newman, not "let them giggle."  But I say, if you can't be sappy and sentimental about your baby turning one, when can you be?

Hope you enjoy this year-in-review of our amazingly cute, sweet, wonderful little boy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Joshua's new BFF

So that one girl from Alabama who came up for our Longwood Gardens get-together?  That was Melissa, who got to stay with us last weekend for her visit.  :)  She's an absolute sweetheart (and an amazing wildlife and nature photographer), and we all had so much fun hosting her!

But especially Joshua, I think.  He discovered within minutes of meeting her that she had a collection of tasty lens caps just like mama's, and was completely won over by her from that moment on.  :)  He was definitely on his best behavior for our house guest -- up to and including a rare dinner out, where he peacefully played in the high chair and ate most of a kid's meal!

I got this sweet series of photos of Joshua playing with his new friend, and just had to create a blog post specially for these shots.  :)

Melissa, we all loved having you visit us.  Joshua misses you!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Longwood Gardens photo get-together!

I've mentioned this here before once or twice, but the single biggest reason for any growth in my photography skills over the last year is my membership on a private photography forum, where I've found so many other women who are as passionate about photography and dedicated to learning more about all of it as I am.  But I've also actually made some really dear friends through this forum -- much, I think, to David's chagrin.  :)  Because yes, on paper, I suppose it does sound weird to have "e-friends."  But what can I say -- I'm just community-oriented no matter where I go!  ;)

So occasionally, there will be a local get-together of women from this forum.  Last fall, a few of us in NJ/NY/PA went to Terhune Orchards for some photography fun.  As a follow-up to that trip, we decided to do a day trip to Longwood Gardens for some experiments in macro photography.  I thought it would just be a small handful of us again, and was looking forward to seeing the local ladies I'd seen at earlier gatherings.  But somehow, this get-together just exploded.  A couple girls from Maryland decided to make the trip up, since it was just a couple hours away from them.  That got a few girls from the DC area interested in joining in.  Then some from central/northern Virginia decided to make the much longer drive up.  Then one girl all the way from Alabama had a free plane ticket to use, and decided to spend it on this trip.  Before I knew it, there were 21 of us signed up to come!

It was such a fun trip -- in part, of course, because of the opportunity to spend several hours just focused on playing around with a type of photography I rarely, if ever, get to mess around with.  And Longwood was full of absolutely stunning flowers to practice on.  But mostly, I loved getting to hang out with these incredibly fun, kind, interesting, and all-around lovely women.  :)

So this was me pushing myself outside of my comfort zone, playing with a friend's extension tubes (which dramatically shorten your lens' minimum focusing distance, enabling you to approach 1:1 macro work with non-macro lenses), and also getting some faux macros with my 85mm lens and some creative cropping...

And here's me jumping right back into what I'm used to doing -- candid shots of people having fun.  :)

And a group shot of all of us, taken on my friend Michele's camera (check out her blog for some truly amazing macro work, and for tons of incredibly useful photography tips):

I may never be a macro photographer (I have SO much more respect for those who consistently pull it out and get beautifully composed macro shots -- it's hard figuring out focal planes and good compositions while working with such small focusing distances and shallow depths of field!), but it was a ton of fun pretending to be one for a day.  :)  And I had such a blast with all of these fun girls!  So glad so many of us could come together for the day!

Joshua Watch: Twelve Months

We did it!  We made it all the way to twelve months of "official" monthly photos of our dear little boy!  And let me tell you, we just barely eked out a proper tiger comparison shot this month... Any future kids we have will have their monthly photos sitting propped up in a chair from the very beginning.  :)  Here's the one and only photo we got this month of Joshua kinda sorta lying down next to Mr. Tiger...

It's hard to believe that Joshua is already a year old.  I've been so emotional about this birthday, especially as I've been going back through old photos (finally getting around to creating a first year slideshow for him, which will hopefully be done sometime in the next few days!).  It's crazy how quickly he's grown and changed from helpless newborn to rambunctious toddler...

And my goodness, how rambunctious he's grown!  This month, of course, he had his first birthday party, and went on his first winter retreat.  But in basic developmental news... He learned how to climb stairs!  We live in a single-story apartment, so he's never really had the opportunity to climb on stairs.  But earlier this month, while we were over at the Kaariainens' for small group, he started playing at the foot of their staircase.  Within an hour, he had figured out how to propel himself at top speed up the stairs, and did so over and over and over again, laughing every time he managed to make it to the top landing.  Going down stairs is still beyond his skillset, but he was happy enough to be carried down so that he could turn right around to start climbing again.  What a fun new game.  :)

He's also learned to point at things.  It all started while I was reading to him.  In an effort to teach him words and pictures, I've been pointing excitedly at his picture books ("Look, Joshua, that's a COW!  A cow says MOO!!") -- so I think I've inadvertently taught him that books are meant to be pointed at.  :)  Now when I sit him on my lap to read him a book, he'll excitedly point at everything -- because that's what you do with books, right?  It's still more him just running his index finger over the pages rather than pointing at specific pictures, but we're working on that!  And he's moved into pointing at things in real life in an effort to communicate his desire to put said objects in his mouth -- the remote control, our phones, our glasses...

His vocabulary has also been growing this month.  He'll somewhat reliably imitate us now, especially on the words "book" and "up."  He learned how to say "uh-oh" on the retreat whenever he dropped something (thanks in large part to the Sallade kiddos and many many students!), and that's now his very favorite word.  I think the glottal stop in the middle is a lot of fun for him to say.  :)  Other fairly reliable words include mama, dada, and night-night (or rather, "nah-nah," but he's said it a couple times when he was tired and wanted to take his nap!).  Oh, and this isn't a word that he says yet, but we've taught him to put both hands on his head when we say "head" -- it's the first body part that he reliably recognizes!

Speaking of body parts (awkward segue, sorry!) -- we've got growth stats this month!  At his 12-month checkup last week, Joshua was 21 lbs., 13.5 oz., and 30" tall, with an 18.5" head circumference.  He's back up to the 50th percentile for weight, and continuing on the 75th percentile for height, and Dr. N. was very pleased with his growth.

OK, before this ridiculously long post gets even longer... A quick storyboard of Joshua's 12-month photos!  Note how he tore off and tried to eat his sticker...

Our little baby isn't really a baby anymore.  He runs everywhere now, so I guess I really do need to start calling him a toddler... We love you, our little toddler, more than words can say.  What an incredible year it's been!

PEF/Manna winter retreat 2011!

[Watch out -- here comes another big blog burst!  Complete with storyboards -- I've been having too much fun creating storyboards lately, and I think this will also help with formatting the blog books we create each year.  Which is good, since I'm still only halfway through formatting our 2010 blog book...]

The last week of January, our whole family went up to New Hampshire for the annual joint PEF/Manna winter retreat!  It's actually been several years since I've been able to go on this retreat -- I haven't wanted to take the week's vacation in the past, since it's one of David's busiest weeks of the year, and therefore not much of a vacation for him.  And of course, last year, neither of us went on the retreat because Joshua was due to be born that Monday, and was actually born early that Wednesday morning.  :)  But now, with our fun little toddler in the picture, we decided that making a family trip of it would be worthwhile.  And oh, boy, was it!

This retreat has always been one of our favorite weeks of the year.  It helps, of course, that David and I met for the first time on this retreat...  :)  Intersession break is the one true break during the school year, since Princeton has its fall semester exams after winter break.  So this week between the semesters is about the only time that students really have time off, which changes the whole tenor of the fellowship.  And it was so much fun bringing Joshua this year -- we were worried that he might have stranger anxiety the whole time, but he rose to the occasion, and then some.  He was so excited to have so many new friends to play with!  It was a wonderful place to celebrate his first birthday.  :)

And it was a wonderful week of refocusing for all of us.  The theme of the retreat this year was the beatitudes, with a mini-message on each individual beatitude.  It was a simple but powerful theme, focusing on the character traits of the Kingdom.  At the very end of the retreat, before we packed up the vans and headed back home, the entire group recited the beatitudes by memory -- and I was moved by how heartfelt the students' response to the message was.  As we're all caught up in the busyness of the semester again, I pray that we will still be clinging to this vision of the Kingdom, and seeking to live it out daily here.

So... pictures or it didn't happen, right?  :)  I took hundreds of photos that week, all of which are archived in our SmugMug galleries (click the "photographs" link in our header above), but here are a few of our favorites!

Joshua's first experience of the winter retreat!  Complete with ridiculously cute bear hat.  :)

Indoor fun and games in the chalet, where Joshua and I spent pretty much all of our non-napping time.

The annual (friendly!) PEF vs. Manna basketball game!

"Snow Bowl" 2011!  That is, snow tackle and ice-throwing -- conditions were too rough for the full tag football game this year, so they just spent time running and tackling each other.  Because, you know, that's much safer...

And the big huge group shot at the end of the trip!  (Minus one car, which had to leave early.)

We're so thankful for the opportunity to spend the week with so many dear friends.  What a wonderful break from our normal lives!  And Joshua is very much looking forward to the next retreat.  :)