My Favorite Things

I got a lot of wonderful things for Christmas this year, but two things I have absolutely loved and have been using on a regular basis - a new lens for our camera, and a tablet PC thing (the Android version of an iPad.)

No one could understand why I wanted a super expensive camera lens so badly.  In fact, I even had a hard time justifying it, because I've never had an expensive lens, and didn't know for sure whether or not the cost would actually be worth it.  But my parents agreed to get it for me if it was what I really wanted, and I decided that after thinking about it for the past two years, it WAS what I really wanted.

And I am SO glad I decided that, because I love it.

The lens is a Nikor 50mm f1.8.  I am too new to photography to really know what that means, but just using the first time, I noticed some drastic differences.  First, the 50mm lens is considered to be a "prime lens," which means that there is no zoom in/out feature.  It also means that when you put the camera to your eye, the subject seem sooooo much closer than it really is. Since there's no zoom in/out, this means that you need to move your body to get the shot framed like you want it.  This can be annoying at first - especially when you're trying to take a picture of a toddler that is always moving - but once you get used to it, you find that the quality of picture is totally worth the efforts.

The second main difference is that a lens with a f1.8 aperture, when set at the right settings, can give your pictures that really awesome central focus point and background blur that you probably see and admire in professional photos without really understanding what's going on (I know that was the case for me.)

Here is a great example of what I mean:

That is EH's fire truck.  See how sharply in focus the front of the truck is?  And did you notice how the background is blurred a little, even something as close as the rear wheels of the truck?  If I had taken this picture with my Olympus point and shoot camera (which I absolutely love for it's small size and great picture quality - it's my go-to if I want to be able to carry a camera around in my purse or pocket) the entire picture would have been in focus, foreground and background.  There's nothing fundamentally wrong with that, but in the picture above there's a strong focal point and yours are drawn to that point because of the crispness - something that doesn't happen as naturally with a photo that is totally in focus.

As I like to say, "It's subtle, but awesome."  And I also like to say that I love my camera lens.  Love it. Totally worth every penny (that my parents spent.)

The other "favorite gift" from this past holiday season was my Asus tablet.  For those of you who aren't familiar, it's the Android version of the iPad.  As someone who finds Mac products to be way overpriced and not as user-friendly, I think the Asus tablets are way better.  It syncs with all of my apps on my phone, and with the detachable keyboard it's basically a mini-laptop that is half the weight, less cost, and let's me do everything I want to do in a small, functional machine.

DH gave me this as a gift.  We had decided on a $20 limit for a gift (so that we can save our money for a summer vacation or something like that), so I bought him a sweater from Old Navy, which was 5% wool and thus deemed "too scratchy" and promptly returned.  DH, unable to come up with a gift idea for $20 decided to spend 20 times out limit (and that's just a guess, I don't even want to know exactly how much he spent) and get me this tablet.  So unfair, DH, so unfair.

But, it makes the "favorite things" and considering that he didn't feel he could share any of the 3 laptops that we have access to (2 that we own and 1 that he was given from his school) it was a fair trade.  I get a tablet and he gets the unlimited use of 3 laptops.

Instead of posting a picture of the tablet itself, I'm going to embed a video that I made with EH and sent to his nana and papa. We like to sit at the dining room table and talk about things.  EH answers my questions, and it is the most adorable thing ever to play back these videos to him, because he answers in exactly the same way, and he gets so excited about it.

This was taken about a month ago, so he's definitely quicker at responding to these sorts of questions at this point, but it's still too cute to not share!


At the moment, EH is not currently teething. Thank god. It means that we're not changing his bib 6 times a day and it means that we don't have to medicate him with tylenol just to get to sleep at night.

Molars are tough. I don't remember what it felt like to have my teeth come in, but I'm pretty sure that EH is a trooper about the whole thing, even though he's not totally immune to tooth pain. 

Look at the size of those molars back there.

He's mad because I wouldn't give him a "bite" - his new favorite word

If you can't see them well in the picture, just trust me, they're huge.  He has four of them right now, and I don't even remember how many molars a person has, but I know it's more than four, so I know we have quite a few more that we're going to have to get through.

The upside of molars though? Evan just having 4, he can pretty much eat anything now!  He chomps on apple slices, can grind through chicken (FINALLY our vegetarian baby is starting to embrace protein, especially if it's the roasted chicken dish from Houlihan's, perhaps his favorite chicken ever), and we even give him small pieces of tortilla chips when we're at a Mexican restaurant.

That doesn't mean that his overall diet has changed - he still primarily eats fruits, vegetables and dairy (cottage cheese, yogurt, or cubed cheese) during a normal day, but being able to order him a taco, or give him an apple that doesn't need to be steamed first has made going out to eat with him much more manageable.

So, molars and I - we have a love/hate relationship. 

Making Him Work It Out

EH turned 18 months old today, and it's almost hard to believe how far we've come.  He's talkative, into everything, a voracious eater and overall a great sleeper.  But he was still waking up one or two times a night and making enough of a fussing noise that the monitor would pick it up and we'd go in and usually just help him find his pacifier, at which time he would promptly fall back asleep.

DH has long been advocating for just letting EH go and make him work it out on his own.  I was fine with that except that even with the monitor off, I hear him when he makes noise in his room, especially at night when it's so quiet.  I'm a light sleeper, and thus no monitor next to DH's head means that I would be the only one waking up to EH's cries each and every night.

But that conversation coincided nicely with the weeks leading up to my birthday, when - trying to come up with birthday suggestions for family members who asked - I mentioned on a whim that I might like a white noise machine for myself (EH has one that he uses every  night.)

So I got the white noise machine - one of the amazing Marpac machines that makes real white noise, not just an mp3 of a white noise sound - and a week later DH pushed once again to go the no-monitor route.  Now I was more willing to try.

We're going on night 4 of turnig the monitor off and our white noise machine on, and so far, it's been going great.  I know that if EH started wailing we would hear him, but so far his peeps and wimpers haven't been enough to wake us up, and we've learned that even when we're not there to help him find his pacifier, he's able to work it out.  I imagine that sometimes he finds it on his own, and sometimes he falls back asleep without it, but it any case, it doesn't require intervention on our part.

So far we've had 3 nights of sleep that didn't require us to get up for EH.  Now if I could just stop drinking so much water before bedtime I might be manage an entire night without one or two wake-ups.....