Friday, December 26, 2008

One Christmas Down, One to Go

Our family seems to have gotten in the habit of having Christmases on multiple days, or on days other than the 25th of December. I've lost track of ho many times I've been flying on Christmas (no lines!) and exchanged presents the next day, instead.

Christmas 1 (Dec. 25th) went over wonderfully this year. The kids were just about bouncing out of their skin to put up their stockings, and calling out, "Is it time to get up yet?" scarcely half an hour after we put them to bed. Once it was time to get up, Fiona bounded up the ladder to our bed and so sweetly invited, "come have Christmas with us!" before crawling over to give me a backrub (both Fiona and I are totally backrub people). It was wonderful way to wake up.

Christmas 2 (Dec. 27th) starts in a few hours, with Deborah's parents and May having just arrived from an all-day drive from New Hampshire. I'm glad they made it: Our street is a wet sheet of ice, and a thick fog is covering most of Indiana and Ohio. They told us about following "Rudolph" — an 18-wheeler with glowing red taillights — nearly all the way across Ohio. All they could see were those red hazy dots amidst the gray. I've done nearly the same thing — I followed a truck at a crawl nearly all the way across Ohio in a blizzard after visiting Deborah up at Houghton in upstate New York one weekend.

Now, off to bed with me. As I told the kids, the sooner you go to sleep, the sooner it will be Christmas again!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

May in November

May came to visit for a week around Thanksgiving.

Now, what roles does May play around our house?

Jungle gym...


Hairstyling client...

Fabric artist...

Mario Kart competitor...


... and Muse.

A truly multi-purpose relative!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

That should keep me warm...

"Hey honey, did you do any laundry? I haven't got a thing to wear."

"Did you check the couch? I folded you a cat."

An extra-soft quilted pillowtop, to be exact

There are some evenings when I have absolutely nothing better to that to sit around being a heated mattress for the baby.

Come on, Daddy, you didn't really want to do the dishes, did you?

Good — yawn — night...

Friday, December 19, 2008


We had a full night of freezing rain. It's beautiful stuff — although treacherous, too. Several co-workers are without power, and I've already heard two branches fall on the building. Deborah tells me that at least one branch has fallen at home, as well. All of us are safe and warm for the time being, although in just a few minutes, I'm going to start walking home...

The cherry tree in front of the building where I work.

It's not even officially winter yet!

Quick Query

Do any of you actually use the Odiogo tool on here to listen to posts and/or subscribe to them as podcasts? If not, I'm going to remove it. It's nifty, but it's clutter, too.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I'm Reading These Days

For the past 10 days, a very dear friend of mine has been in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She's not a patient, but you could hardly convince her to leave — her daughter, Lia, is there, and therefore, so is she. Lia started out premature and healthy, but quickly went downhill, with almost no immune system to speak of, and a white blood cell count of zero. She's been struggling, taking 11 steps forward and 10 steps back.

Now, every morning, I log on and wonder, "How's Lia doing?" ...and thanks to the internet and Rhys's heartfelt writing, I know. And it's good to know, even when it hurts. Their journal is

While I'm sitting and cuddling Risanna off to sleep, I pray for Lia and Rhys.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Almost there

This morning, I dropped off a check for the balance of the price on our new back yard — quite a chunk of change to be handing out just a week before Christmas. I suppose I could tell the kids that they're getting a back yard for Christmas, but I doubt they'd understand — what's the difference between a back yard you can play in but don't own, and a back yard you own? So instead, I'm telling them that they're getting a treehouse. :-)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Turn, turn, turn

I always wanted a lathe. Fortunately, at some point, I actually voiced this desire, because my sister-in-law Sara spoke up for me when she saw a lathe that was heading off to be scrapped. A suitcase ride later — Deborah's mother brought it when she came to help with the baby — it was sitting in my living room.

Now, it's a fairly rudimentary thing; all I got was the bit you see on top of the stand there. I get to supply the rest, but I'm delighted anyway. It's fun. I just so happened to have a motor left over from my air compressor motor swap, and I just happened to have not one, but two steel fishtank stands in the shed, one of which turned out to be the perfect dimensions. (It's not the one pictured here.) If there was any progress in convincing me to get rid of my junk pile, this wasn't it. So far, all I've had to buy were some nuts and bolts, a belt, and the electrical connections. The rest I had laying around.

So, once I get this thing running... who wants a candlestick? Or a magic wand? Or a peppermill? Or a miniature baseball bat? Or something else that's equally useless, but very fun to make?

Yes, it really has been a month since my last post

I'll catch up on my blogging. Really. Just as soon as I catch up on my sleep...

Now that Risanna is more-or-less reliably sleeping six hours each night, life is starting to resemble "normal" again. I've just started my Christmas shopping. I've got a big backlog of photos I want to put up here. Bear with me, I'll get there!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Living Room Studios

Before taking pictures of Deborah's belly (and the rest of her) I had to get my mini-studio set up. So, the night before, I hung a sheet, turned on some lights, and brought in a stool to take some shots and see what I'd need to do to make things work.

It was only after I took a bunch of pictures and made notes that I went back and realized that some of the "junk" pictures I'd taken were actually fairly good shots.

I'd barely put the stool down when my first test subject jumped up, found his mark, and looked into the camera.

I swear, I did not pose the cat. I'm not sure how you would, anyway...

Photographer's Notes: 1. Incandescent lighting makes subject look orange.
2. Gotta iron that sheet.

Deborah shooed that cat off, and sat for a few shots to see if this would work for subjects larger than a cat.

I liked this picture of Deborah just as much as some of the ones I'd been planning on taking. The sweater suits her.

Photographer's Notes: 1. Good. The sheet is big enough that we can get the subject full frame.

It was late, and I wanted to shoot in natural light anyway, so we left the rest of the setup until morning. In the morning, I ironed the sheet (Rumor has it some people do this regularly — a claim I find incredible, given the amount of time required) and set things up again. The kids were unusually eager test subjects.

A boy and his car.

Photographer's Notes: Whoops. Natural light in the side window also means natural light in the front window. Add something behind the sheet, to minimize show-through.

Aiden will stand there grinning and saying "Cheese" until you tell him to stop. And sometimes not even then...

Photographer's Notes: Adding a woven blanket helps cut down the light... as long as you don't add a blanket with stripes.

Once I got the lighting issues worked out, it was time to try a few portraits. Fiona hopped up and grinned, and was a great subject, which is totally unusual for her. I normally get one good shot of her out of thirty, but with the studio setup, she shone for the camera.

Fiona? Sitting still? And looking into the camera? And smiling? Who are you, and what have you done with Fiona?

Photographer's Notes: Shadows too harsh. Wait an hour for better light or add reflectors to balance out lighting.


Photographer's Notes: Hire new hairstylist.

Yeah. That'll work.

Photographer's Notes: Yeah. That'll work.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Raking and Related Activities

While we were in the hospital, the leaves fell. So Paul and I went out to rake them. The kids came, too; they said they wanted to help. Children love to help.

Of course, we were perfectly willing to be distracted, too...




Fiona helping enthusiastically.

Fiona not helping, enthusiastically.

I saw the look on Aiden's face, and I thought to myself, "Oh, goodness, he's not really going to say it... he's not going to say it..."

Hey, look, Daddy, a leaf!

Yep. He said it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Sleepschild Radius


A phenomenon is hereby noted in that particular bodies with a small gravitational pull (<= ~3.49 kg.) exhibit a greatly elevated Sleep Field. Those within the reach of this field (that is, within the Sleepschild Radius) will also fall asleep, while small, faster-moving bodies outside the Radius remain largely unaffected. Once a large body within the Sleepschild Radius goes dormant, the radius can be observed to expand almost exponentially, from the normal 0.75–1.5 meters to several tens of meters, sometimes claiming all orbiting bodies within a local system, although some researchers theorize that larger bodies outside the Radius will cause other, smaller, faster-moving bodies to go dormant before they go dormant themselves. Of further interest is the so called Alpaca Blanket Theory, which greatly increases the effects of the Sleep Field within a 3 m2 area.

Figure 1. The Small Gravitational Body shown here has an unusually pervasive Sleep Field, here aided by an alpaca blanket.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Snapshots from the first few days at the hospital

Surgery was set for 7:00, which meant prep was set for 5:30, which meant we had to start driving by 4:30, which meant we had to get up and throw our clothes on by 4:00. Getting up at weird hours to have a baby is good practice for when you actually get one.

This nurse was the hero of the morning when she handled Deborah's notoriously difficult veins and got her IV on the first try.

I don't know whether it's hospitals in general, or Goshen in particular, but we ran into a wide variety of nationalities during our stay. Our Anesthesiologist was Polish; the baby doctor was English, and a whole host of other nationalities drifted in and out of our days there. It was a bit like being back in L.A. — the variety and accents were wonderful. I sometimes forget how plain and white the midwest can be, and wonder what Goshen did to get so many nationalities under one roof.

Me in my moon suit, waiting for the nurse to come and let me know they're ready for me to join everyone else in the operating room. There aren't any pockets on these things, so I tucked my camera up my sleeve.

I wish I could have gone in during the prep. Deborah needed some moral support right about then, and I was doing my best when they came and whisked her away to the operating room. Fortunately, the doctor and the midwife helped comfort her while she was there.

Deborah was deprived of all kinds of things — food, water, hair pins, clothes, jewelry... but they let her keep the fuzzy socks. It was such a funny sight that I just had to capture it.

The anesthesia made her flushed and nauseous, so it was my job to keep her cool with wet cloths while Dr. Kossar added medications to her IV to combat the nausea.

It wasn't hard to peek over the drapes and see what was going on with the surgery. I've always been fascinated. But Deborah was rather scandalized at my peeking at her insides, so I didn't do it again, even though I really wanted to when the baby was being born. Deborah later reported a sensation of the baby being squeezed out of her like a tube of toothpaste, and I wish I could have confirmed or denied that impression.

The clock in the operating room was huge, and mounted about twelve feet up on the wall. Anyone in the room could see it, no matter what side of the drapes you were on. Risanna was actually born at 8:05:59. They wrote down 8:06 on the birth certificate.

Risanna was cleaned up and placed into my arms just moments after birth. They didn't quite get all the vernix off... she was a cutie anyway.

Once the sound of stapling and vacuuming was done, the drapes came down and the masks came off, and everyone was very congratulatory. They transferred Deborah back to her own hospital bed using a small conveyor belt, and we all walked out of the operating room together.

Deborah wasn't up to snuggling right away.

A few hours later, Deborah's mother arrived with Fiona and Aiden.

A great number of people have asked us what Fiona and Aiden think of the new baby. If the first meeting was any indication, Fiona thinks everything about the baby is adorable, and was loudly cooing every time Risanna did anything interesting, like blink. She proclaimed the baby very soft, "like a little chickie!" ...and I concur. Aiden, on the other hand, was just happy to see us, and ran over to show me the little car he'd gotten in his Happy Meal. Baby? Huh, OK. Hey, look at my new car!

Mere minutes after Deborah's mother left to take the kids home, my parents arrived, and spent a large portion of the rest of the day with us.

Grandma Kerr gets some snuggle time.

Grandpa Kerr gets a turn, too.

Hey, how about Mommy having a turn? Ooo, good idea.

Aren't I cute?

No, no, no, we do not want our hair washed!

OK. I'll try this sleeping thing. But just for a little bit.

One of the charming things they do at Goshen Hospital is to toast new parents with a nice, romantic dinner for two — babysitting included! One of the many little reasons we chose a hospital 55 minutes away, rather than 5.

Nighty night!