Archive for October, 2013


Okay. It’s been a little nutty around here the last few days with one disaster after another {after a-goddamn-nother} plus a houseful of sick kids but I really want to get Ezra’s post out there so I can check something off an ever-growing list of shit I have to do. I will try to make it as short and sweet as possible.

So remember last month? When I had the world’s crabbiest, whiniest, most pathetic baby? That baby completely disappeared and we had one of the most fun months ever with this little man. Eleven months will definitely go down as one of my favorite ages for him.

Let’s start with the growth:

Weight: 22 pounds even, 59%

Height: 30 Inches, 55%

Head: 18.2 Inches, 58%

In one year you grew almost 15 pounds and 10 whole inches~ very impressive, Baby! Especially since you were given strict instructions not to grow one damn ounce or millimeter. He really grew a ton this month. He is a full pound heavier than Keaton was at this age and 3 pounds bigger than Rowan. He switched over to mostly table foods. His favorites are spaghetti, meatballs, fishy crackers, grapes, oranges, apples and roast pork. He loves cheese but it makes his facial eczema flare up super bad. A life without cheese is a pretty sad thing, but I’m happy he likes so many other foods.


He tasted his first bit of whole milk this month! He has never had any formula, only breast milk from me or pumped then bottled so I was a little nervous he would take it. He wasn’t super impressed the first few times and mostly took sips which he then just let fall out of his mouth. He thought this was pretty funny, I, on the other hand found it moderately to severely disgusting. We’ve turned a bit of a corner though, the last day or two he has started chugging.

I have no real personal interest in breastfeeding a preschooler but the AAP recommends nursing until 2 so I’m not in a big rush to quit {although buying a few bras that don’t click open is starting to sound appealing}. We still do three sessions a day most days, but if I’m away from him or he doesn’t want/need it we skip with no problem. We do morning {sometimes right away, sometimes after an hour of being awake}, afternoon {to help get through his late-afternoon crabbies when he refuses to nap} and before bed. I think he’s on the verge of letting go of the bedtime feeding. We have a great routine in place so I don’t think cutting that feeding out will bother him at all. I’m going to let him lead the way though as far as weaning unless something changes things drastically. He seems to be on a similar track to Keaton, who weaned himself right at 15 months.


The big news of the month was obviously in the gross motor department, as we are now proud parents of another biped. After showing zero interest last month Ezra started to get more adventurous with cruising the furniture and standing alone. Then he visited his grandmas a few days apart and both had push along toys which he loved so I went out and got him one for an early b-day present and that was it! It gave him the practice and confidence to try it on his own and after a few days of very wiggly, wobbly steps he was practically a professional. It’s been about 2 weeks now and he chooses walking over crawling about 75% of the time. Seeing him just walk into a room like a real live human still totally freaks me out but this stage is one of my very favorites. That drunk baby walk gets me every single time.


It seems though, that all this moving and shaking has maybe caused him to lose a little focus in the language department. I did notice that he lost a few of the phrases that had translated into words over the last couple of weeks such as “drop” “stop” “yay” and “arf arf” for Luna. He would say mama and dada but not really discriminately, and then he quit saying everything all together except “MROOOOOWWWP” which he now uses for cat and every other animal you can thing of. It’s really the only thing he says now that has real meaning, although he does make vrooming noises when he plays cars and light saber noises when he picks up one of Keaton’s swords {or pencils, pens, sticks etc.}.

I didn’t pay it much attention until I filled out his 12 month questionnaire at his check-up and had to circle “no” for all the communication questions. His pediatrician seemed mildly concerned, mostly because we have a history of making extremely verbal children who both talked really early. We aren’t going to do anything about it yet, obviously he has a ton of time for a language explosion and it’s not uncommon for later-borns to take longer to talk because they have so many other family members willing to do it for them. In the mean-time we’re upping our reading time, verbally labeling everything and watching Baby Signing Time. I’m not too worried because he babbles constantly and his receptive language is awesome. He follows commands like “come here” and “go find blankey and nukky” so we know he hears and understands words but this is definitely uncharted territory for us.


Another big shift this month was that Ezra finally fully attached to a lovey. We tried a number of woobies which he shunned, then last month I was sure he was going to go for the small stuffed snoopy we pushed on him which he did snuggle and accept it for a while but just like his brother before him, he ended up with a major case of the snuggles and attached HARDCORE to a hand knit blanket my mom made for him when he was born. On the one hand, it’s really sweet that he picked something so sentimental and meaningful for his chosen lovey, on the other… UGH-CAKES. Rowan chose her woobie on her own at about 8 months old and she has loved that thing with her whole dang heart ever since. So many people bought Keaton a woobie, including us, in the hopes he would follow suit but nope, he chose his blanky which was fine until you realize what a pain in the ass it is to lug around a big blanket everywhere you go. Also: so many more square inches for germs to collect, grossgrossgross. I will admit the snuggling to be all kinds of adorable though, so there’s that.


Other firsts? First haircut {which you rocked}. First visit to the pumpkin patch {you were to brand new last year so you and mama stayed home and ate all the pumpkin seeds instead}. First overnight {which you did great at and was by far the least traumatic for me, of the three of you}. And baby’s first shiner, which occurred 5 days before your birthday but thankfully the swelling and the cut finally faded the day of.

It was such a big month in so many ways, Ezra Boy. Watching you turn into a bonafide, official, honest to goodness toddler has been both heart-breaking and amazing. Your first year brought so much to us. Sure there were frustrations, aggravations, and annoyances. Babies are hard sometimes. Really, really hard. But the love? It was everything to us. And along with Rowan and Keaton, YOU are everything to us.

{Now please, PLEASE go easy on us Toddler Ezra.}

{Now please, PLEASE go easy on us Toddler Ezra.}


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One whole year…

of tiny onesies mysteriously sizing up and up and up.

of needful newborn cries for food and warmth morphing into impatient toddler wails for “uppies” and that bottle of rubbing alcohol you found cabinet diving in the bathroom that I so unjustly took away from you.

of snuggling you close to my chest to feed you every other hour to “woman, where are my damn goldfish crackers… And how ’bout some spaghetti while you’re in the kitchen.”

of slate eyes, tightly sealed under lids, slowly letting the world in until they became wide and bright and curious.

of swaddled arms breaking free to flap, clap and pull mama’s hair out.

of toes, delicious baby toes.

of legs pulled tight to your body and then streeeeeeetched out to standing and then Oh! there you go! as you bear-crawl away from me down the sidewalk.


It goes so fast is such a cliché. And one that was not even remotely true for my first two babies. Sure, now the last eight years of Rowan, and nearly six of Keaton seem to have passed in a half a blink, but boy Baby Jesus Almighty… getting through years 1 through 5 with Rowan and then Keaton’s very long, terrible, no-good first year seemed like swimming in thick sludge at times. There were so many beautiful moments mixed in that I wouldn’t trade for all that crying and/or hard-headedness, but I couldn’t see through to the other side because I hadn’t experienced it yet.

The gift that the two big kids gave me was perspective. Realizing how fast their childhoods are going by comes the realization that the screaming cries and poopy diapers and endless sleep routines and loooooong afternoons of being the sole entertainment are so short-lived relatively to… the rest of it. The weight of one screaming infant in one hand is nothing when the other hand holds a smart, funny, handsome five-year old, or a clever, artistic, beautiful 8-year-old. And there is so much more for them to teach me and so much more I will learn… but for now it comes back to perspective and how terrifyingly fast it all goes.


Speed this up times 1,000 and that has been your first year. Every milestone you hit was greeted with delight, but also with my heart saying, “Gosh, baby! Already?” and maybe a little, “What are you trying to prove ferchristsakes?” It certainly didn’t help that you hit every gross motor skill 1-2 months earlier than your siblings, making time seem to fast forward even more than I was prepared for. At six weeks, then three months, then seven months then 11 months I kept repeating to your dad, “I don’t understand how this happened? How are we already here?” My anthem to you was “Slow down, Baby”. But you didn’t listen. You did all of the things exactly when you wanted, regardless of how your mama felt. And that’s how it should be, but it did break my heart a time or two. Oh, okay all of the times.


I am so incredibly grateful to be sitting here in this moment with my sweet boy sleeping in his crib upstairs. One year later, from a pretty traumatizing pregnancy, I cannot fathom how your arms and eyes and legs and toes grew with such incredible, furious, break-neck speed but here you are… such a huge part of me, of us, of our family, and Ezra? We are so lucky to have you.

Happy One.


Photo credit: These were all taken by the awesome Christine at Christine Welsh Photography. She is just starting her business so I don’t have a link yet, but will add it as soon as her site is up. She did an amazing job capturing our first family photos ever.

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~Munchkin Land, MN Landscape arboretum.

Since the kids are back in school and I have a little more time to play around during naps and such, I have been pretty active with my camera the last month. I got my first DSLR back in 2009 and shot with it mostly on Auto for about a year, which, you know, sort of defeats the purpose of having a fancyish piece of equipment, but I sure looked cool using it! Once I got more comfortable, I started shooting in Aperture Priority {AP} which lets you play a little but most of the heavy lifting is still done automatically. I took some pretty great pictures on this setting and finally decided it was time to jump into full manual mode, where I’m fully responsible for how each and every shot turns out. It is crazy frustrating but super addictive, especially when I get that one perfect shot {out of the 674 that I took}.

When it comes to hobbies, I usually stick to things I’m naturally inclined to or semi-good at. Like reading {I’m like, super literate}, eating cheese and drinking wine {am goddamn cheese eating prodigy} and binge-watching TV shows {now watching Six Feet Under to wash out the ridiculous let-down that was the last 5 episodes of Dexter. (tangent: seriously, if you haven’t watched the last season, just do yourself a favor and skip it. The incredible laziness of the writing really ruined the whole series for me.) K, I’m done.}  Anyway, so yeah, I like easy stuff. This is why of the 17 times I’ve attempted to learn to knit… 17 times I’ve ended up hiding my knitting bag in the back of my closet so I don’t have to walk past it and feel like a failure.

It’s probably not saying anything great about me, but I don’t really like to challenge myself in my free time. I want things to be easy. The thing about photography is that I’m really pretty terrible at it. I don’t have a technically-minded brain or very much patience, both of which are pretty key to being a good photographer. I had no idea the incredibly technical world that lives within each shot you take and how many things need to come together in perfect harmony to get a good picture. Just when I get my focus recomposed after spot metering and adjusting the ISO for too much/not enough light, and get the aperture where I want it to create a nice bokeh, I fire off the shot only to see that I left the shutter speed way too high so my picture, that I painstakingly, lovingly adjusted the hell out of is blown out completely white. Oh and also? There is math involved, People, and we all know how Christy Gunter feels about math.

But. Despite it all, I really love doing it and if giving lectures to my kids has taught me anything {because seriously, who can tell if it’s sinking in for them} it’s that if you want to be better at something you have to keep working hard at it, even when you don’t really feel like you’re getting anywhere. And I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere, in fact, I feel like I’m moving backward since my photos turned out a lot better when I let the camera do the heavy lifting, but I’m at a place now where I’m willing to put the work in to get where I want to be.

Another big downside is that photography is an extremely expensive hobby. Someone could hand me $10,000 and it wouldn’t even buy one fifth of the things I need/want. Every time I comb through my favorite photog sites and forums or take free tutorials I find dozens and dozens of products that are tagged with the title “Things Every Good Photographer Needs”. Some of it is bullshit but a lot of it would be legitimately awesome to have. I sort of want to punch the people who say, “but you don’t NEED that stuff, you just need a camera, any camera, and a creative passion to shoot”. And then I ask, “okay, so what did you use to take these amazing photos and the laundry list of “unnecessary” equipment is daunting. Unfortunately, right now we are deep in the midst of Operation: Get the F*ck Outta Here so the Gunter’s are on a complete budget freeze which means I cannot even spend 10 dollars let alone ten thousand which is really frustrating when you want ALL of the things.

So this leaves me with these things:

1. My used Canon 7D. Bill bought this off a co-worker on the cheap last spring and while it’s definitely not my dream camera it was a big step up from my Rebel and I like it.

2. My Tamron 28-75 2.8

3. My  85 1.8

4. A bunch of cute, wiggly kids to practice action shots on.

5. And certainly the best asset I have, the Great Wide Outside.

I do light editing/color correcting in iPhoto and hope to get over my seriously debilitating fear of Photoshop so I can begin to utilize that as well, but trust me, if I could hide Ps5 in my closet with my knitting needles, I totally would.

All this to say that each month I will be posting my favorite shots from the previous month once I compile them. {Here are September’s!} The full set of favorites can be seen here {114 of the well over 2,000 photos I took over the course of the month}. They are not the best, but right now they are MY best. The hope being that I can look back in a year and laugh at how comically bad they are because I will have progressed in something I truly want to get better at and something I truly enjoy doing. And not just because I am preserving our family memories or compiling my kids’ childhoods for them, but because this is something I just really love. Along with the cheese. And the wine. And who could forget the olives, because I’m really good at olives too.

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This month the outdoor shooting possibilities were endless. The greens were juuust starting to shift into yellows, reds and purples and the September sky was such a vibrant blue. The easiest time of day for me to get out {read: at the mercy of Ezra’s naps} was the worst in terms of “good light” as I had to shoot in high, harsh sunlight. But it turned out to be a good lesson on how to use that light the best I could, and although there were a ton of images I had to trash because the shadows were too harsh, I learned to find the best angle and adjust things accordingly.

As for locations, I shot at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum which I lovelovelove but only make it out to every other year or so because it’s about an hour away. There was not a single cloud in the sky so I struggled a bit but the flowers there are so big and theatrical, so much fun to shoot. Other than that I stuck close to home~ heading to Lake Elmo Park Reserve one day but the rest of the images are taken from right in my neighborhood; the walking path outside our development, Brown’s Creek Trail and Boutwell Cemetery {dubbed The Butterfly Trail by my kids}. My favorite thing this month was playing around with dappled light and sun flares on the trails. I have a long way until these shoots become effortless but for now the work I put it was fun.

One thing I learned about myself is that I can’t sift through the images right after I take them because I’m waaaaay too critical. I normally load them and give them the once over right away but wait a few days to flag the best ones and start the editing process. Once I’ve had a few days to separate from the shoot I can do a more balanced job of  picking the best pics instead of banging my head against the wall every time I see a flaw.

So without further ado, here is a shortlist of my favorite September shots {if you’re so inclined, you can see the full set here}…


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