Fearfully and wonderfully made

Last month, just before Christmas, a dear friend of mine got promoted to Nana. I’ve watched for more than 20 years as her daughters have grown into beautiful young women with lives of their own. The birth of their first grand girl was cause for celebration and, since the family is so dear to me, I simply couldn’t help myself.

The words just sort of tumbled out of my mouth when I offered to take newborn photos. I quickly cautioned her I was not one of those awesome, professional newborn photographers, but I’d do my best to try and capture her new baby daughter’s first days of life. I later found out she was deeply touched by my offer since the hospital photographer didn’t do a very good job. This was my gift to the family and it warms my heart to be able to give them these moments. Moments that are gone in, seemingly, a split second.

I’m sharing them with you for Thankful Thursday to highlight how awesome and precious life is when we stop and think about what it took for each of us to get here. I swoon every time I see newborn photos and bow in awe to those who do this for a living.

I know just enough to be dangerous. It’s a goal of mine this year to become better at reading light, selecting poses and paying attention to small details in my photography. It’s more trial and error at this point. Will it grow into anything other than a hobby and a favor to those closest to me? Who knows.

For now, hope you enjoy pics of a precious baby girl, born a bit before schedule, but a miracle none-the-less.

The heartbeat of a human fetus begins around three weeks after fertilization. Doctors are able to detect it around 6 weeks.

At 9-10 weeks, the baby sucks his thumb and unique fingerprints form.

At 12 weeks, the end of the first trimester, a baby is completely formed and many body functions are already developed and working.

A baby can hear her mother’s voice while in the womb around 24 weeks.

Around 24 weeks, the lungs are forming substances that will allow him to breathe outside of the womb.

Eyes open and close, and produce tears around 27 weeks.

At eight months, taste preferences develop and she will physically react to loud noises from the “outside.”

In the last nine weeks of pregnancy, a baby’s brain doubles in weight.

A firm hand grasp is seen around 8-9 months.

Women are amazing. When a female fetus is born, she has all the eggs in her ovaries that she’ll have in her lifetime. That means, if you are a woman, when your grandmother carried your mother, you were a tiny egg inside both of them!

The development of a human baby, from embryo to fetus to birth is an amazing process. And, the ability for a baby to successfully live outside the womb as early as 25-30 weeks is changing perceptions on viable fetal development and survival.

There is a reason why the birth of a child is called a “blessed event.” The journey this child took to get here is as fascinating as it is complex.

Sweet dreams baby girl. When you wake up, you’ll move mountains.

For You formed my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. ~Psalm 139:13-14

Linking up with Brian’s Home and Thankful Thursday.

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Photo Challenge: Feliz Navidad!

I missed PJ’s photo challenge last month so I wasn’t about to miss this one. After all, the theme is Feliz Navidad! And, there’s no shortage of photos for this time of year. Shortage of time. Yes. Shortage of photos. No.

December is always a mixed bag of activities. This year, along with gift shopping, we also were getting ready for a much-needed family vacay to Mexico. Add to that, the usual Christmas season activities, and you get a very. busy. month.

So, here’s my Feliz Navidad five.

Feliz Navidad One
We hadn’t had a family vacay since 2016 due to Entrepreneur’s brain surgery and chemo regimen. His 90-day chemo holiday was coming to a close and he was very much looking forward to enjoying himself before the next set of scans. I’m conflicted about vacationing during the holidays. It seems to add that much more to an already busy schedule. But, it was now or nothing so we rolled the dice, booked it  and, by the grace of God, were able to all be together for a week of sunshine and fun. We contacted the same photographer who took our family pics in 2015 for an updated one.

Feliz Navidad Two
For the past few years, I’ve taken a photo of Peanut and Twix in Santa hats under our tree. The days drag but the years seem to fly.

Feliz Navidad Three
After returning from the warmth of Mexico, we jumped into Twix’s Christmas program at preschool. Sporting Mexican braids, she fully embraced the performance, singing the loudest and overall enjoying herself, sort of oblivious to what was going on with the other children. I think her eyes were on Papa the entire time.

Feliz Navidad Four
Peanut’s 4th and 5th grade Honor Choir performances hit a week later with caroling visits to two businesses and a veterans home.

Feliz Navidad Five
It was nip and tuck, but we finally visited the jolly elf before he took off for the North Pole for his Christmas Eve ride. Peanut figured out Santa this year, but went along with everything so Josie could enjoy the magic. The look on Twix’s face is a precious reminder of the magic and wonder of the season.

There’s my five for PJ’s December photo challenge. This monthly photo challenge is very easy; PJ selects a theme, we take five pics during the month and post. That’s it! Won’t you join us in 2019?

I hope everyone’s holidays were merry and bright. Don’t forget to visit the others over at A ‘lil HooHaa for more of the month’s festivities.

Autumn memories

Just before the death of flowers and before they are buried in snow, there comes a festival season when nature is aglow.
~Author Unknown

Well, I may have missed my opportunity for this post since it SNOWED a few days ago! Middle Missouri broke her previous record of .3 inches of snow on November 8th. We clocked in at a little more than an inch of the white stuff. It was magical….and gone from most of the trees by afternoon as the temps warmed to the upper 30sF.

I have shared some of our autumn color in weeks past, but haven’t shared my most fun day of the season. Every autumn I try and take the grandgirls to one of our city parks during the cooler weather. Of course, the camera comes along with us. This year we went to a nature area before going to the traditional park setting. While I love autumn color in the trees and flowers, it just can’t compete with these two!

At ten and four and a half, these two are growing up so fast. And, I believe their personalities are growing faster! Can’t you just see the sass in both of them? Peanut is now in fourth grade and Twix is having a blast in Pre-K.

I fully realize I tend to get a bit carried away when sharing pics of our grandgirls. I would apologize, but I’m really not that sorry!

Unfortunately the trees had not yet given up their leaves for a colorful carpet, so we had to rely on some different color for these last two shots.

Now, we’re hunkering down for winter, which evidently is coming early this year since our temps are now falling into the teens at night. I’m thankful we had the opportunity to take these when we did. They warm my heart.

I hope you’re having a wonderful autumn and sharing the warmth of the holiday season with everyone around you.

August Photo Challenge: Photographer’s Choice

August is over? Really? Wow.

And with that thought, it must be time for PJ’s monthly photo challenge. August was Photographer’s Choice. Which is a synonym for Anything Goes. This usually results in an eclectic collection of photos and interesting commentary.

August was (thankfully) easy for me. Seems like I was always on the back end of the viewfinder for some reason. Not that I’m complaining at all! My August photo folder is awfully large, and I did have a bit of a struggle paring down the options. So, of course, I adapted and pushed a few boundaries. Whaaaaattttt?????

Photographer’s Choice #1
Love is the greatest gift that one generation can give another. ~Richard Garnett

The month began with a neighbor’s request to come to their home and capture a few moments with three generations of fathers and sons. The youngest son is 5 months old and the oldest father is in his 70s.

Photographer’s Choice #2
Family is what happens when two people fall in love.

Next on the list took me to the botanical garden in town to recreate some wedding portraits of our daughter, her husband and their blended family. See my two previous posts for more on this event.

Photographer’s Choice #3
Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

We took the grand girls on a whirlwind tour of SE Missouri for a late summer vacay trip before school began. We stopped at a park called Elephant Rocks State Park in the St. Francois Mountains of the Ozark Plateau. These granite boulders are millions of years old. I was going to crop this top photo, but changed my mind as it gives some perspective to how large these boulders are in comparison to a human. And, these were the smallest ones.

Photographer’s Choice #4
Sometimes it feels so good to just sit by yourself, relax and not to talk to anyone. ~Kristen Butler

Peanut got in some last-minute relaxation time before beginning her 4th grade adventure.

Photographer’s Choice #5
Meanwhile, on the other side of the pool……
Children are happy because they don’t have a file in their minds called “All Things That Could Go Wrong.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Bonus choice
Learning is a treasure that follows its owner everywhere. ~Chinese Proverb

Yes, there is a bonus photo because I could not keep to just five this month (obviously). School officially began a couple weeks ago for Peanut. We take these shots for the first day of school and it’s amazing to see how she changes from year to year. Twix will begin Pre-K after Labor Day so we’ll start documenting her school years next month.

Those were my choices for this month. Please blog hop over to PJ’s to see what other participants chose. Better yet, join us and link up!

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it’s our garden that is really nurturing us.
~Jenny Uglow

Thought is was about time I got re-aquainted with the manual settings on my digital camera. I used to have an all-manual SLR. College photography class taught me all the nuances of how film speed, shutter and aperture settings work together Digital cameras have really spoiled me nowadays.

While it’s easy to just put the camera on Auto and go, better shots are only a setting away. So, I’ve been trying to use Aperture-priority and (horrors) Manual whenever I have time to shoot and adjust the settings.

Blog hopping today with Sandee over at Comedy Plus for Wordless Wednesday.

Almost

July Photo Challenge: Staying Cool

I completely missed June’s photo challenge last month. Lately, life has this bad habit of derailing my plans; regardless of what they are. Peanut and Twix were gone to their dad’s house in Alabama all month, so Entrepreneur and I tended to vegetate whenever possible. Is vegetating even possible anymore? Doesn’t seem like it.

This month PJ’s theme is Staying Cool. Appropriate for the hot, summer month of July. Even though we didn’t do anything spectacular, I think I captured some contenders for this month’s photo challenge. So here goes……

Staying Cool #1
The Golfers from Jax Beach came to town the first of the month for a week and brought their Florida temps and humidity with them. During that time, we hosted an engagement party for them for the family and friends here in the Heartland. Thankfully, we have quite a bit of shade on our property, so no one suffered from heat stroke during the party. Here are my two very “cool” daughters!

Staying Cool #2
Who are these “cool kids”? These youngsters at heart would be four of the five grandparents who stayed to the bitter end of the engagement party! Hanging out in the shade with a cooler full of beverages made for a relaxing afternoon in the heat.

Staying Cool #3
Floridians know how to stay cool in the summer heat. Even though she was born and bred in Missouri, she’s a coastal soul…and will never be landlocked again.

Staying Cool #4
This is what you get when you combine the goofiness of a water-loving Golden Retriever and the playfulness of a Standard Poodle. A 50 pound, goofy, water dog. The hose and sprinklers are always a good way to cool off when you wear a fur coat 24/7.

Staying Cool #5
Ahhhhhh….everyone’s gone and Entrepreneur is napping. Time to float with Captain Morgan and a Pepsi 0. And shut off my brain for a while.

Staying Cool Bonus Shot
The end of July brought some relief from the oppressive, middle Missouri summer heat. Here’s a bonus shot on staying cool during the summer taken with my phone. Okay….it’s a screenshot….but I think it should still count! 🙂

Posting early this month because, come Monday morning, Peanut and Twix will return to our care during the day until school begins….and I’ll get even LESS done than I have these past six weeks! Blog hop over to PJ’s on July 31st to see how others stayed cool this month.