Thursday, April 27, 2006

Check out the Newest Pics

In case you haven't been checking, we have added a plethora of pictures to our Gallery. We now have a Friends Gallery, too. I just added pics to Chance's 0-6 months, and an album of our weekend in Marble Falls, under: Family Events-Angie's bday on Lake LBJ. At this point I think it'd take all day to see all the pics we have archived now! Kudos to Chuck for this website idea...it's much easier to share our favorite pics this way with friends and family. Oh, and check out the Cool Pics album...Chuck's been having fun with his new camera!

Tickles and Teeth

Well, like I said before, not much had been happening with Chance for awhile...but now it's a different story. Monday we realized that he's ticklish now... fun times! And he's been drooling and gnawing on things for about a week or two. So I noticed he has two little bumps in his gums coming down in front. It may be some time before the teeth actually cut, but they're a'coming. And of course he's still a total flirt. This weekend, I said "Hi" to him, and he cooed "Hi" back. And I have witnesses!!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Chance's Newest Tricks

Aside from the adorable smiles we've been getting for awhile, it seemed like not much was happening with Chance other than physical growth. He'd started flipping from belly to back around 2 months old, and that was about it. Charlie was completely rolling over by 6 weeks (from the couch to the floor one time, that was not fun!), so it's been nice having one more interested in just being a baby and not trying to grow up so fast. Well, last week we got our first giggle. And he's cooing all the time. He's a little chatterbox, really. And lately he's been a turtle...I put him in his bed to sleep, he'll flip onto his back, and then cry for me to come back and flip him back onto his belly.

Oh, and about the technique I'm trying...Chuck said I need to update, because I'm not following it so closely now. First of all, it was really hard to keep a log of all the times everyday. The principles I am sticking to are: Keeping him up after feedings during the day, letting him calm himself to sleep. Basically what I'd been doing before. He's still not sleeping thru the night though. He was going 6 hours, then he bumped it back up to 2-3 hours. Finally the pediatrician solved the mystery as to the change: he's ready for cereal. So Tuesday was his first time with solid foods. He can't figure out how to eat from a spoon yet, but we're getting there. He's going about 4 hours thru the night now. So I don't know if that technique really works for other folks, but I kinda gave up. I think if I'd started it from the beginning it would've worked better.

More of Charlie's Funny Moments

In the evening, we've made a habit of discussing what happened thru the day once we get the kids to bed. It strikes me that maybe I should share these some of the stories we laugh about here... There's always entertainment when Charlie is around. I recently had 2 experiments in parenting blow up in my face:

1. Charlie has a bad tendency to run off in public places. I'm seriously about to purchase a kid-leash. But the other day in Target he ran off, despite him hearing me say, "No sir, come back or we're leaving." Well, this time I decided to follow from a distance and stay back until he freaked out when he realized he couldn't find Mom. I stood at the end of the toy aisle, spying on him for 15 minutes while he played with toys. He was picking up little animals and making their noises and laughing at himself. At one point he called out for me, but hearing no response, he just went back to playing. Then my cell phone rang, blowing my cover! So he just said, "Hey Mom." Oh well for that experiment...Now he'll probably never get freaked out, thinking I'm always nearby, just spying on him.

2. The second experiment was to take Chance to the nursery at church to see if that would encourage Charlie to go. Before Chance was born, Charlie loved Bible class. But the first time we went to church afterwards, he bawled when I left him, knowing that the baby got to go with Mommy and he didn't. Even when I returned, he was bawling, because he'd seen other mommies come get their kids, and wanted me. And this has been a fight ever since. When I tell him we're going to church, he protests, saying "No Bible Class! No church!" So finally Chance is old enough to go, although truthfully I had no reason to not keep him with me since he's so easy to care for... But I decided maybe if Charlie saw Chance go to nursery, he'd feel better about his Bible Class. Wrong! He cried for the baby when we left him. He did not want Chance to be in Bible class either! But I guess this experiment kinda worked, because he had no problem going to his Bible Class afterwards...

And lately Charlie has been into EVERYTHING. One morning he got up, and instead of waking me like he normally does (whether it's "Morning Mommy" or "Choc-it milk" or "charlie hold you, momma")....he decided to pull everything out of my purse, and ever so quietly rub my chapstick all over his body! Another time he woke up from a nap, didn't wake me, and quietly went thru Chance's diaper bag, found a small tub of vaseline and rubbed that all over his body! And last week I was giving him a bath and accidentally left the conditioner on the tub...so he dumped the whole thing out into his bath water. He's done that with the shampoo before too. Oh, and once we caught him eating his toothpaste...so we called poison control and had to fill him full of diary products! It seems like the list never ends. What fun it is to be a parent of a 2 year old! :)

Monday, April 17, 2006

My New Hobby

Update: A friend of mine with Photoshop made a photoshop version of the images. See below.

I'm in trouble now. A few days ago I saw some pictures that someone had taken of Tokyo. Ordinarily this would not be a big deal, but the pictures were very surreal and full of detail. This was my first introduction to High Dynamic Range (HDR) Imaging.

The basic idea is that you take a series of photos of the same subject at several different exposures. These photos are then magically layered together to create an HDR image. A tone map is then applied to create an image that you can use on the web or print, etc.

After doing all of this, you end up with an image that is very detailed at all levels, plus the process of tone mapping tends to saturate the colors so that you can get a fairly surreal effect.

The easiest way to do this is by using the latest version of PhotoShop, but I do not have $800 to spend, so I looked around a bit and found a program called Photomatix. $100 is a little more bearable, plus there is a free trial to try out before you buy. I also found a set of programs called pfstools. They are free but a little more difficult to use.

So for my first experiment, I took 6 photos of my house a few nights ago. The only light available was the full moon, and the light coming out of the windows. The purpose of this experiment was to try out the different tools, so not a whole lot of thought was put in to image composition, or anything like that.






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This is the image of the house as shot by the camera using all of the default settings, and using its suggested exposure. Note that most of the detail comes from the light coming out of the windows. Othewise, it is difficult to see much detail
anywhere else.

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This is the result of using Photomatix. In this photo you can see a lot more detail including the cars, the texture of the masonry around the house, and the trees are fairly detailed. It also has a bit of a surreal look to it, especially when you look at the clouds in they sky, and the edges of the roof lines.

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These two images were generated with pfstools. The first was created with the drago03 tone mapping technique. It is similar in ways to the Photomatix image, but not quite a surreal and the trees don't seem to be as detailed.

The second image was created with the rein04 tone mapping technique. It is much darker than the others, though it seems to create a more accurate looking image of what I saw when taking the photos. It still shows a lot of detail where the original photo didn't have enough exposure time to show.

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A friend of mine was nice enough to generate a photoshop version of the image. It does a very nice job, and though it seemed to have a similar artifact issue as the others, it chose to use white instead of black and thus is not as noticeable.


If you look close enough you may be able to find some small "artifacts" in the images where the processing didn't work quite right. They seem to show up where the light is the most intense, and thus leads me to believe that I should have began taking photos at a step or two lower exposure as those areas were still overly exposed in all of my photos.

Overall I think my first experiment has been a great success and am excited about what possibilities lay ahead. For my next experiment, I want to try taking a bit easier photo, and doing some more experimentation with the pfstools package. They are a bit more difficult to use, but the idea of not having to pay money for the tools is very appealing.

Now where to find my next photo...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Parenting Techniques Rethought

Chance has been a pleasant baby. At first I thought Charlie was fairly easy...now I'm realizing how hard he really was! I read books on pregnancy and parenting like crazy before he was born. My favorites were (and still are) Bringing Up Boys (the parents' edition of Wild At Heart in my opinion), and Dare to Discipline. I'm about to read Strong Willed Child, also by James Dobson. I read a few others too, and they all said, if your baby cries, there's something wrong and you need to fix it. I read tons of breastfeeding books that basically said offer your kid food all the time, and keep them as physically close to you as you can. So when Charlie was born and I didn't get to see him for hours, I worried that this would affect our bonding and nursing.

And for that first year, I felt like all I ever did was feed him. Even thru the night. He's 26 months now, and he still only sleeps thru the night about 50% of the time. Finally we decided (well, Chuck decided) it was time to get Charlie into his own bed, a process that took almost a year.

So here I am with another one. And I can't feed him all day. I can't keep him close like I did Charlie. Not without becoming completely exhausted. Sometimes I wonder if anyone ever dies of exhaustion with small children.

Anyhow, there was a book called Babywise that Dobson had said could be bad, so I never read it. Until now. It says that there's child centered parenting (what I did with Charlie), and there's parent directed parenting. Basically, I'm guiding Chance into a routine. I never thought I'd like the idea of a routine, but I've started it with both Charlie and Chance and things really go a lot smoother. Charlie doesn't fight nap time so much anymore. Chance goes to sleep so easily for naps and for bed. The other big change is I don't let him fall asleep eating. I have him stay up for at least 5 or 10 minutes, and then he calms himself to sleep in his crib. It really works. Suddenly I'm actually finding time to take a shower, eat, brush my teeth, even write blog entries!

Then, about 2 weeks ago, Chance started going 6 hours between feedings at night. Last night he went 7! Hallelujah! I'm still trying to think this approach thru, and make sure this is healthy for him in every way. But so far it really seems to be working! This makes me think maybe I shouldn't quit at 2 kids, like I originally thought. This kind of parenting is hard, but not nearly as hard as before...

Charlie's Future Occupation

Charlie is becoming quite the kid... I could go on and on about how much more of his personality I see everyday. He's strong-willed. Just accompany us to a public place, and I'm sure you'll see what I mean! He's nurturing. I had no idea how much until his baby brother Chance came into his life. He's smart. It amazes me the things he can figure out, and get into! He's social. Much like his mommy, he gravitates to older kids on the playground, although he likes to watch out for the little kids too. He's not shy and he loves being the center of attention. If there's a stage around, you can bet he'll find it!

All this added up to one revelation a couple of weeks ago: As we came to a park, I asked Charlie which playground he wanted, and he picked the one that was further away because it had more kids. Then it hit me. Strong willed leader, nurturing, smart, social...I might just have a future pastor on my hands.

My next thought was, "Oh no Lord, not my son! Being in ministry can leave you so beat up! I don't want him to endure all the pressures and pains that come from being a Shepherd of a church. The sheep will hurt him deeply, and scrutinize and criticize, the world outside will have constant adversaries, and the pain involved from watching your sheep go astray and leave the flock! I will gladly serve, but don't do that to him please!"

Then I thought, maybe that's why God had me get a seminary degree...so I might raise and train men to serve Him...who happen to be from my own womb! Hummm...

So I got home that day and told Chuck my revelation. And in only the most gentle way that he can say it, he reminds me, "Ang, he's only 2." Oh yeah...