Saturday, February 28, 2009

updated pictures of jonah in NICU

i was able to go back and see jonah before i headed home this afternoon. i've got 3 hours to drive back to greenville and the weather is nasty, so it might take longer. finally being able to see him feels like a wonderful conclusion to my time here, though we've still got a long ways to go.

patrice just updated her blog before we went back that gives us the latest information about jonah. the quick version--he definitely has epidermolysis bullosa, but now it's just a matter of what type it is. we won't find that out until the 2nd biopsy comes back in a week or so, and even then, it will take observation to determine the severity of the type.

we have made some fabulous connections with other blogs and the facebook group. we just ask that everyone continue praying for this precious boy and share love with the family. PRAY WITHOUT CEASING. there are so many amazing things God can do, and we just ask that His hands work throughout this whole situation.

so now...just a few pictures to show how our little "mummy man" is doing back in NICU. the burn unit recommended the gauze, which is helpful in keeping the raw areas moist and safe from infection.

we opened the door to see if he'd respond to her voice and wake up. i wish we could have gotten some open-eye photos, but that'll have to come another day.
patrice peering in at him.
a shot from the back of the incubator. a full shot from the side of the incubator. he's receiving antibiotics, a sugar water drip and pain meds through an umbilical tube in his belly button.

alright, i'm getting on the road. thank you so much for the support you've shown this family so far and please continue to pray for jonah as we await the results of the biopsy and continue to monitor his progress in the NICU.

update on jonah

matt and patrice updated their blog last night after getting to brenner's and speaking with one of the doctors there. though it is a relief that we may finally have a diagnosis, there are so many prayers we want to lift up as they determine the severity of jonah's case and the best way to proceed from here.

i'm heading back to the hospital in a little bit and am not quite sure what the plans are for today or whether or not i'm heading back to greenville yet. patrice will be discharged from forsyth soon and then our focus will turn to the NICU at brenner's. we just ask for prayers and support for everyone involved with this family. there is a facebook group that has been created to show what a huge team of support we have behind matt, patrice and jonah. i've also tried to contact other "big name" blogs to see if we can get the word out to them and encourage all of their readers to pray as well. we've seen so many miracles worked and i just hope so much that jonah can be one of them.

not sure if there will be pictures today, but i'll post as i can.

Friday, February 27, 2009

surprise visit from jonah

patrice got moved down to a recovery room on a different floor, and we were under the impression that jonah had already went on to brenner's. as we were hanging out in the room with a visiting minister from matt and patrice's church, sarah came running up and said, "y'all need to clear the room, they're coming with the baby!" before the transport team headed out to the other hospital, they brought jonah up for a visit with patrice.

though it was a brief exchange, the transport nurse was incredibly helpful with answering questions and giving us a clearer idea of jonah's immediate treatment. so here's his close-up shot. we think it's patrice's hair and facial features, but definitely matt's nose.
patrice is getting a 6 hour pass to visit him tonight, and those of us who are still running on four hours of sleep are going to crash pretty soon.

(that includes me.)

keep praying! the specialized areas of this hospital are going to be incredibly helpful and we hope that their smart doctor brains can figure out what's going on with jonah.

meet jonah

wow, folks. it's been a long day.

and truthfully, it's only been 12 hours since we checked in to the hospital, but i feel like we've been on quite the emotional roller coaster.

first, let me say that patrice is an amazing woman and she did FABULOUSLY during labor and delivery. i am not scarred for life and i'm so glad that i was able to be there to capture the first few moments with jonah and his parents.

he has a set of lungs! screaming and hollering, he let the world know he was here.

there was immediate concern about his skin, though. he had several spots where the skin was raw and red, where the first layer of skin was not intact. most of his body was normal skin, but especially on his arms and legs, it was obvious that the top layer of skin was not in place. the NICU people were called in and after spending several moments with patrice and matt, jonah was taken down to the third floor and is now in the process of transferring to brenner's children's hospital here in winston-salem. he should be there in just a few moments.
he is a GORGEOUS baby, though, and has a healthy heart and healthy set of lungs. we praise God for that and we ask that you continue to pray as the doctors rule out causes for the skin issues and (hopefully) soon come up with a diagnosis and treatment. there are several possible diagnoses that have been mentioned, but until confirmed, we will just ask for prayers of wisdom for all of the people working with patrice and jonah, and to give matt support as he works to be with his newborn son and wife.
welcome to the world, jonah. we're all praying for ya, bud.


patrice's water has broken! she is 4 cm dialated and is progressing nicely.

he's already showing signs of a full head of hair :)

sometimes you gotta find the funny stuff

like a "pain management" chart. seriously, that's what the faces look like?

a few shots from the room

she's still in good spirits, but is in a bit more pain and is getting an epidural right now.
matt is staying by her side :)
and has lots of family here for support.
we have over a dozen people here in the waiting room. pictures of them coming soon :)

she's doing well...

she actually started contractions this morning on the way to the hospital. we're viewing that as God's way of saying, "this is okay. he's supposed to come today anyways."
pitocin has started and she's about an hour into her four hours of antibiotics. please keep praying!

it is way too late for me to be up..

but i am. and the williams household is still up, anticipating their departure to the hospital in just a few hours.

many of you know patrice, or at least have seen pictures, and have heard what a wonderful young woman she is. i feel blessed and honored to be a part of this weekend, and i am continuously reminded how photography has taken me places i would have never imagined.

like this spot at tanglewood park, last march. i was simply happy to have the opportunity to get some beautiful pregnancy pictures for a dear friend.
and then the pictures--sadly, despairingly--became a visual representation of their little boy gabe. his story and the way that matt and patrice continuously praised God thoughout this tumultuous storm they've been through has only brought glory to His name.

then, one august morning, i watched patrice take a prenatal vitamin during our quick stop-over visit with them :)

and we came back in december to take these pictures, turning their dining room into a make-shift studio and freezing our tales off on the wake forest campus.

and now... here i am. again. and this time it's different. it's 1 am and in a few short hours, gabe's little brother will enter this world. i sit in his nursery, on my super comfy aerobed, listening to the gentle "swoosh swoosh" of the heart monitor downstairs, as patrice checks the belly one more time before trying to get some sleep.

and i'm surrounded by my photographs and portraits inspired by my photographs...and i'm just imagining what i get to capture later on today.

i will soon lay down and also attempt to get some sleep, but i know that in a matter of hours, it will be time to go to the hospital and today will become a little boy's birthday.

please say a prayer for my dear friends matt and patrice, their amazing families who are here to support them, and for that little boy and his brother who will be watching down from heaven.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

girls retreat and new camera

so this arrived yesterday morning...

my new camera! with VR (shake reduction) and 10.2 megapixels... oh yeah :)

unfortunately, i couldn't enjoy it right away because i was a little under the weather... i had a quick bout with food poisoning or a stomach bug friday morning and spent the better part of the morning dealing with it. i made it into a couple of meetings at work and was able to get to my client in the afternoon, but it was a rough day. i was afraid it would keep me from the young women's retreat, but i managed to pull it all together in time to leave.

we had arranged to stay at one of the church families' river house, but had a tough time finding it at first. turns out there's a huge difference between "road" and "drive" in some cases, and unfortunately, we had mapquested "road" instead of "drive." at any rate, we got there around 7:30 and started with our program. emelie and i had met several times before to plan to the event, and i'm so happy with how everything went! we were able to incorporate videos, music and discussion topics to address balancing things in life and self-esteem.
i loved talking by candlelight, and we spent a good portion of the evening going through some of my "ungame" questions (other therapists and co-workers know what i'm talking about--these were fabulous to get the girls talking!)
then there was the obligatory baking cookies and piling on the couch together :)
once we got everyone settled in for the night, we actually got a good amount of sleep. and when we woke up, we were greeted to this view...just gorgeous.

after breakfast, our morning session had the girls journaling on their own, and they all found a spot to write and think.

what a peaceful, relaxing place for them to collect their thoughts.
we concluded by decorating mirror frames to remind them of positive things whenever they look in the mirror. we had paint pens, paint and stickers on hand to help them with this.

and had them sign a mirror for us to keep up in the loft, to commemorate the weekend.
what an amazing group of girls! i hope everyone had as much fun as i did. more photos are up on flickr to share and enjoy :)*edit*
okay, one more that actually includes me and emelie :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

as promised...

and an experiment i like to call "fun with photoshop actions."

so i had all good intentions of taking tons of pretty landscape photos this week--and it didn't happen. it really truly has been one of those weeks where all of my best intentions just got pushed out of the way by the craziness that has been my life. tuesday was particularly bad, with spilled coffee on myself and my car seat, multiple incidents of cleaning up animal feces in the house, clients who canceled on me, clients who stood me up, and just plain not having enough hours in the day. there are some days where my schedule works well and i can transition easily from clients to dinner to other activities, and sometimes i'm running around like a nut. tuesday was one of those days, and it ended with me getting out a good cry (ever feel like that? you just need a good cry?) and finally catching up on some DVRed shows that have been sitting there for two weeks.

which is a long way of saying that today was the first day i could actually stop and snap pictures as i went from client to client. i'll get my other favorite spots tomorrow or next week :)

i also got some time to explore photoshop actions, a post-processing technique that i wanted to research. i found some great websites with free actions and downloaded them last night. i figured this project would be a great way to experiment with some of them. i also tried a few of them out on some of my past portrait shoots, and i'll go through and post those another time.

so, some of my favorite "country" spots that i pass on a weekly, if not daily, basis...

(this is an action called "vintage." i love it for this type of shot.)
same house, just a little closer in and with the "soft and faded" action.
this is the one where i saw a girl pulled over photographing last week. at just the right time, you can get some awesome shadows through the door in the middle. ("seventies" action)
and this one is actually just up the road from our neighborhood, but i love it. i've thought about knocking on the door of the house next to it and asking if i could use it for a photo shoot background sometime. is that crazy? ("heartland" action)

all of the actions i used are free from, one of the great blogs that i follow for photography tips. i also love mckmama's photography lessons
and this post by american mum (who also convinced me to buy the 50 mm lens with this post). i think in general, it's comforting to know that there are others women out there who are learning and happy to teach what they've learned and simply enjoy photography!

i'm also thrilled to share that we've got a buyer for my d40, so we've purchased a nikon d60 and it should be here tomorrow! woo hoo :) i'm hoping to use it some this weekend as i accompany our youth group girls on a young women's retreat. i'll also be shooting the girl scout's special guy dance on saturday night, one of my favorite shoots from last year. so it'll be another busy weekend, though i'll hopefully be able to relax some on sunday.

and... it's one week away until i get to see this fabulous couple again and meet their son. i can't even explain how excited i am :)

alright, that's all for now. need to fix dinner before it's time to meet emelie and get our supplies for the retreat! later, y'all.

Monday, February 16, 2009

we're so proud...

our valentine's evening was perfect. a delicious meal with stuffed chicken from fresh market, skillet potatoes, sauteed green beans and salad. not to mention our bread and olive oil dipping spices (thanks, mom!) and tasty slices of chocolate cheesecake and cappucino cheesecake.

so much better than fighting the crowds out in town, wouldn't you say?

now, for the moment we've all been waiting for... pepper's a graduate! class of 2009 top dog academy :)

you can see how thrilled i am...
seriously, i was excited. it had not been an easy night, with a different teacher than the previous weeks (our teacher had a death in her family) and a much more...chaotic environment? the dogs were all over the place, and they were distracting each other and it was just kinda crazy.

but we passed!
not to be left out, justin poses with the happy graduate.
and then we got some time to socialize and enjoy treats from everyone. i even went to the extent of making little goody bags for each of the dogs, signed "from pepper" with a little paw print.
though many people are going straight through to an intermediate class, i think we're going to take a break for a little while and look at some classes during the summer. i just can't handle another evening activity right now, and we'd rather get the basic skills down before taking her into intermediate. but we did have a great time and are incredibly happy with the results. now if we could only get her to stop chasing grace...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

love is in the air...

so i had the pleasure of attending a middle school dance last night... my first in a while, actually. my younger brother is the band director at a middle school about 45 minutes away, and his band boosters club decided to host a dance as a fundraiser. he got the DJ set up (a janitor at the school that does it on the side) and called me to see if i'd be willing to take cute "posed pictures" like they do for proms and stuff. i told him that i did that kind of thing at almost all the dances while i was working at my last school and that would be fine. so after work yesterday, i headed out and got to see what it was like to do a (public) middle school dance--a little different from the ones i hosted :)

we were set up in the gym and i had my own corner that was blocked off by rows of metal folding chairs. it actually worked pretty well and they kept the lights on the whole time, so i didn't have to worry about shooting in complete darkness, only relying on my flash. i'm also a fan of keeping lights on a dances. less to worry about.

alan showed me around his bandroom first, and i just thought this was the cutest thing. they had the practice area, the instrument storage room and... the arts and crafts room. "the girls just went crazy over the whole decorating thing," he explained. and i had to take a picture.

note the "count down" calendar and the envelopes created for various sized and colored hearts. there were also signs for "phrases for conversation hearts" and the all-consuming "idea wall."

now this one has a story. the wall in the back was built in to seperate various areas in his office. he actually has three small rooms in there, and this is the one furthest to the back. the large desk flipped upside down on the file cabinets is stuck. they built the wall without removing the desk from this area, and the desk cannot fit through the doorway or over the wall. alan plans on sawing it in half the first "teacher workday" he gets.

and then... the dance. i'm a fan of people-watching. this was the perfect job for me.
and i think middle school dances are even better. because it's not about looking cool or everyone out on the dance floor. middle schools dances are about the talking with your friends and running around and playing basketball with the balloons and being goofy awkward middle schoolers. it's very little about actually "dancing."

i did have a picture i snapped that i wanted to post, but chose not to (cause you can tell who the kids are in it.) it's of one couple dancing to a slow song, surrounded by six or seven friends taking pictures or trying to talk to the girl who's actually doing the dancing. ahh, middle school. the joys of living vicariously through your friends.

finally--i'm sure you're thinking, "lauren, those photos that you posted of pepper yesterday were so cute! there's no way you could find a more adorable picture or outfit for her on valentine's day."

oh, what a trip to petsmart will case you need to see the message a little clearer....
justin was slightly offended, but acknowledged the truthfulness of the statement. and it was on clearance. i couldn't resist :)

that's all for now. we're heading to the fresh market to choose our valentine's day dinner and will spend the rest of the day relaxing and just enjoying a saturday to ourselves. i love my husband!