70 posts categorized "Maddy"

November 09, 2010

Bye Bye Ear Tube!

After more than two years, Maddy's one remaining ear tube finally came out.  They're only supposed to last for 4 to 12 months but this one held on with annoying perseverence.  She's had lots of trouble with it because it makes her ear itch and her skinny little finger can easily fit much too deeply into her ear and she hurts herself when she tries to scratch the itch. 

Over the years, I've kept an eye on this ear and I could see that the tube was still in her ear drum.  But when I checked last week, I saw that it was in a different position so I suspected that it was out.  A quick Dr appointment confirmed that it wasn't in her ear drum any longer and they easily removed it from her ear.

Ear tube on needle cropped
I took it from the Dr and showed it to Maddy and she seemed confused.  All this time, I think she was imagining that it was more "tube" like.  She said she thought it would be long and thin - like a long skinny straw.  I think she was disappointed that it was only this teensy little white thing because it's been such a BIG annoyance for the last year or more.  I slipped it onto a sewing needle so you could see the size comparision.

Maddy happy hollow 10 8 bw copy

Maddy had a cleft palate and some recurring ear infections so we had the tubes put in when they did the cleft palate repair.  While they were in, they worked like a charm - no ear infections at all.    It's amazing to me that the ear drum repairs itself when the tube falls out and we're hopeful that we'll never have to get tubes again!     


For more Black & White Wednesday fun, check out The Long Road to China.
More of our Black & White Wednesday posts here:  Black & White Wednesday

September 14, 2010

Black & White Wednesday: Pearls

A few weeks ago, I bought a black shower curtain with the thought in mind that I'd use it as a backdrop for portraits.  I used thumb tacks to hang it on the wall in our guestroom. I also bought some inexpensive photography props - costume jewelry, colorful scarves, hair accessories, etc.  

20100913 IMG_1948maddy black background combined mink

Maddy didn't have to ponder her choices for very long.  She absolutely wanted to wear these pearls.  When I fastened them around her neck, her entire demeanor changed.  She must have felt like a real princess!

20100913 IMG_1948maddy black background combined

The black and white has a timeless, Kate Hepburn-esque, quality about it but I really I loved these in color.     

There's no story to tell here.  We took these photos specifically because I wanted to test out that black backdrop.  The lighting in the room left much to be desired so I dragged in one of my cheapo umbrella lights and flipped it around backwards so the light was diffused through the white umbrella.  I had to get it pretty close to her face and I still had trouble finding the right balance between aperture, shutter speed and exposure.  But, if your photo is well composed and in focus, you can fix just about everything else in Photoshop!

20100913 IMG_1934maddy black background musette and mink

Post processing makes such an amazing difference! After I 'fixed' the photos, I converted them to black and white using my favorite Florabella action "mink".  I always tweak it slightly and dial down the opacity.  You really need to do all of your edits before you convert to black and white.

20100913 IMG_1934maddy black background copy 3

One of the best tips anyone ever gave me about editing my photos was to slightly lighten the face.  I use curves and a mask and a very soft brush - opacity set to about 25.  I lightly sweep it over the face and hair of my subject then I invert the mask and remove the lightness from the eyes and lips. 

20100913 IMG_1933maddy black background mink

Another really valuable tip I got was to remember to wash my child's face before taking portraits.  It's so much faster and easier than trying to photoshop the mess off of their face later!  A little dab of lip gloss is essential too.  They hate it but it looks so pretty in the photos.  Especially since Gwen's lips are always chapped.

20100913 IMG_1933maddy black background fix

My biggest challenge is getting natural smiles.  I think it's one of the hardest things about photographing people.  I'm always trying to get my kids into a silly mood so their expressions are more spontaneous and honest but I have to admit that I'm really not very good at doing this because I'm usually preoccupied with camera settings.  I tried telling Maddy some goofy kid jokes but she's six and still doesn't quite understand how jokes work or why they're funny.    I'd love to hear some of your tips and tricks.  How do other people get their kids to look natural in front of the camera? 



For more Black & White Wednesday fun, check out The Long Road to China.
More of our Black & White Wednesday posts here:  Black & White Wednesday

August 31, 2010

Black & White Wednesday: Reunion

20100828IMG_1371pismo beach pw bw and mink
When I took this photo of Maddy, the colors were so delicious that I almost didn't notice how fun and interesting the patterns were.  This is exactly the type of photo I love best in black and white!  Just look at those circles and stripes and that milky white complexion and jet black hair! 

I used Pioneer Woman's free B&W action but it was a bit too cold so I tried Shana's Florabella/Luxe Mink action but it was too brown (warm) for this photo -- so I blended both of them together to get this perfect result.  I love it.

But you have to see the color version too.  I processed this with the Luxe action, Musette.

20100828IMG_1371pismo beach maddy orange sofa musette
I took this photo in the lobby of our hotel in Pismo Beach this weekend.  We were there for our 5th reunion of our China adoption travel group.  In early September of 2005, 38 families from our agency flew to China to bring home their babies.  39 Children in all:

35 girls (including twins)
4 boys

We came from all over the USA and many different walks of life but we had this one thing in common and we've come together each year since then to celebrate it:  Our adopted child(ren).

This is the first year that the kids have been old enough to remember that they know one another.  They played together for hours which finally gave their parents some time to relax and chat.  These reunions are certain to only get better and better every year! Here's a pic of a bunch of the kids right after the Pinata burst.

Pismo beach-1429 raining candy
Several of the families visited Avila Farm and took the hay ride into the orchards to pick gala apples.  This is our third year doing this and the kids love it! 

20100828IMG_1184pismo beach apples Maddy gets some help from Daddy to reach the apples at the top of the trees.

20100828IMG_1180pismo beach maddy daddy copy

The weather was crisp and cool.  It seems like Fall is in the air.   I even found a pretty leaf on the ground at Avila Farm.   

20100828IMG_1163pismo beach leaf
I picked a special new outfit for the girls to wear this weekend.  Gwen was really excited about dressing up - surprising since she's never cared about that sort of thing before.   It's possible that she's going to be a girly-girl after all!  :)

20100828IMG_1125pismo beach ambrosia 


For more Black & White Wednesday fun, check out The Long Road to China.
More of our Black & White Wednesday posts here:  Black & White Wednesday

August 23, 2010

4th Gotcha Anniversary!

Mink 4 year gotchaversary

Four years ago, our daughter - Madeline - was placed in our arms.  It was a beautiful day in our life and a little bit more special because Aug 23rd was my mother's birthday.    What a blessing Maddy is to us! 

Today, she posed for some photos and we spent time together all snuggled up on the sofa looking at our photo album of her adoption.  It was a sweet and special time and I think we'll make this a tradition on this special day each year.     


For more Black & White Wednesday fun, check out The Long Road to China.
More of our Black & White Wednesday posts here:  Black & White Wednesday

July 31, 2010

Someone turned six!

Thirty six days after Gwen did it, Maddy finally turned six years old too.  It was a happy day but it was a very long time coming.  In fact, Maddy couldn't have been more annoyed about the dreadfully slow passage of time even if a ticking cuckoo clock was duct-taped to her head.  One that announced the arrival of each new hour by opening a trap door and producing a remarkably authentic looking miniature replica of Gwen (dressed as a bird, of course) that struts around shaking her tail feathers while singing a little taunting tune about how cool it is to be six years old. 

Yeah, 864 long hours of that.

So the day arrived and Maddy was pretty excited!  The first thing she did was run into the bathroom and look at her teeth in the mirror because (even though I've clarified this many times) she was still under the impression that her baby teeth would suddenly pop right out of her mouth when she turned six.  After verifying that they were all still present, she looked a bit disappointed but just as quickly seemed relieved.   

We never celebrated Gwen's birthday because she turned six the day we boarded our cruise ship in Italy.  We were jet lagged and there were no presents or cake on the ship so we promised her that we'd celebrate after we got home.  We meant to do it before Maddy's birthday but our schedules have been so busy (with the sailing weekend in San Diego and my weekend in Bethlehem) that time sneaked up on us and we ended up combining their birthday celebrations.  Even though Maddy would have LOVED to have a day all to herself, it would have really pained her to have Gwen get one first.  So this really worked out for the best.  Maybe next year it can be different.

Here are the pretty birthday girls!

IMG_1528 maddy gwen frame

Something funny:  While I'm writing this post, the girls are splashing and playing in the pool and a few minutes ago I heard them spitting water at one another.  I hollered over the top of my laptop that they shouldn't put the pool water in their mouth "because it has butts in it!"  And now they're cracking up and chanting about there being butts in the pool.  

I think age 6 is going to be a delightful age!

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