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!

The Name, Explained

Risanna: You won't find this one in the baby name books. So we made it up. And, since we made it up, we get to say what it means. Risanna is a combination of the Spanish risa (laughter) and Anna/'ana, (grace, gracious/[he] answers) so any way you parse it (gracious laughter, He answers with laughter, etc.) fine with us.

Pepper: We needed something fun to balance the seriousness and elegance of Risanna. It sounded right, fits with our tastes, and makes a good nickname. My mother asked if I wasn't asking for trouble with such a hot, fiery name. I say no. Naming your daughter "Constance" or "Chastity" is asking for it.

Lyn: Lyn is Deborah's middle name. It means "waterfall," but even Deborah didn't know that, so it wasn't really a factor. Maybe the waterfall will balance out the peppers...

There are worse ways to choose a name

When I dropped by work yesterday to show off Risanna, Marti asked about our choice in middle names.

Marti: Why Pepper?

Me: We like peppers. If you've ever eaten at our house, you figure that out pretty quickly.

Marti: I figured it was something like that. So... what if you had really liked bananas?

Me: Well... Risanna 'Nanna has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Small Announcement

Risanna Pepper Lyn Kerr
Born 8:06 a.m. November 3, 2008
7 lbs, 7 oz., 19" long

Mother and baby are doing fine, and should be able to come home on Wednesday.

I'll post more pictures as soon as I'm home on a regular basis. :-)

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Putting a Bright Face on Things

We've developed a bit of a reputation around here for our annual pumpkin carving. Some of it may even be deserved!

Fiona's was the most straightforward pumpkin of the evening. The cat even posed for me as I inked the design, and Deborah and Fiona cut it out.

Aiden wanted a dragon. I just about gave myself carpal tunnel trying to cut that thing out. It was cool, though. I'm especially proud of the fire; this year, I tried doing some of the carving outside with the candle already lit, and it makes a HUGE difference to be able to see how the lighting turns out as you're working on it. I'll have to do more of that.

Every year, I try something harder than I can handle. It's practically a tradition in itself. This year, I went for a self-portrait...

I might have done better if I had, say, printed the picture out ahead of time, or marked it up in Photoshop to see where best to keep things connected, and where to work on the shading... but I winged it. I had to keep on turning on the camera every few minutes (a challenge with goopy fingers!) and then the batteries died, and then I broke the mouth off... oh, well. There's always next year. I'll let you decide if there's any resemblance or not.

Paul explored recursion with his pumpkin. This is something I've come to expect from programmers. Several years ago, we decorated stockings for Christmas, and Paul's design was a QBASIC program that, when run, would blink "Merry Christmas" in the middle of the screen in red and green.

Far and away the best this year was Deborah's. She went outside and got some maple leaves from our trees, traced them onto her pumpkin, and cut them out.

The Princess and the Plumber

You know you play a lot of video games when... your kids dress up as characters out of Super Mario Bros. for Halloween. In our case, Princess Peach and Mario.

Yay! We're video game characters!

Wait, WHAT happens in this game? The princess gets kidnapped, and the plumber has to go rescue her in the sewers while being attacked by flaming flowers, bouncing turtle shells, and horrible monsters? This is SO not what we signed up for!

Mommy makes it all good.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Belly

Deborah has been saying for some time now that she wanted to get some pictures taken of her with her pregnant belly, partly for the beauty of it, partly to celebrate the last (?) time she'd be pregnant. With less than a week to go, we figured it was time. Since it was cold and rainy outside, and Deborah wanted to pose in her impressive shawl collection, I set up a photo studio in the living room. (Living Room Studios. Wouldn't that make a nice name for something?)

I took well over a hundred shots... but these are our favorites.

Isn't she beautiful?