Friday, November 18, 2011

Bledstein Family: In Between Raindrops

bledstein family: in between raindrops

this weather has been crazy but i love it.  the cool fall weather and rain actually make southern california feel like we are experiencing some seasons. yay!!  
my friend and her family took a chance with me and we danced in between raindrops one afternoon.  i am so glad we did.  we had a blast and captured some great shots.  

the morning we were supposed to meet, it was pouring rain.  we kept in contact all afternoon and had our fingers crossed that the clouds would part - even if just for a little while.   about an hour before we were scheduled to meet i called my friend: "do you want to meet?  i asked her.  "i'll leave it up to you." 
by then it was lightly sprinkling.  she lived close to where we were going to shoot pictures. 
"it is clear here. let's go for it!"  she said.
she was right.  the sprinkling stopped just as i pulled up and parked to meet her.  i could not believe it.  the clouds gave us some great cover and we set off for a walk with her family.
everything about our surroundings screamed: FALL!  the colors, the crisp smell of rain and wet leaves on the trees.  
it was perfect.   

the whole family
i love this shot of the girls playing in the tunnel

emily and family: thank you. i loved everything about our time together that afternoon.  i loved your girls' spirits. 
i loved your willingness to dance between raindrops with me.  i loved the opportunity to capture some fun memories for your family and i look forward to our time together again.
xoxo amanda jane

Monday, November 7, 2011

chapter 9: you might be a leper if....

the weekend came and i felt confident.  i was feeling pretty good, physically - better than a couple months ago- i was just tired.  exhausted, actually but i had to push through.  i had things to do. places to go and people to see.  most importantly, my family.  my son had turned 5 and we had family coming over for dinner to celebrate.  i also had a couple of photo shoots scheduled that i was excited about.  lots to look forward to and no time to feel "ick."

the rash progressed.  it became a fiery hot mess. every time i stepped outside i could literally feel myself burning.  it felt like i was burning from the inside out.  i would have to step into the shade if i was out in the sunlight.  it didn't matter if the temperature was up or not; my internal thermometer was on a constant BOIL.  this made outdoor activities very uncomfortable.  the weather was still quite warm but i came to the conclusion that i would have to cover up: jeans, long sleeve (light weight/ breath-able cotton) shirts,with socks and closed-toe shoes. 

the rash began on my hands and feet - specifically my knuckles and between my toes.  it also covered my torso, back and face. it showed up in red welts -almost like someone had laid a piece of red lace over my white skin and you could see through it.  i felt like a leper.  it was spreading and by monday of that week was beginning to itch.
again, i called my lupus doctor in los angeles who recommended increasing my prednisone and using a benadryl cream on the itchy sections of the rash.  what they didn't understand, or maybe i didn't convey well enough was that my ENTIRE body itched.  from the inside-out.

by mid-week my pulse raced sporadically and my heart  pounded in my chest.  occasionally i had to stop what i was  doing,  close my eyes and take a deep breath - in through the nose and out through the mouth.  just like in yoga.  while breathing slowly, i counted to ten and brought my heart rate back down. 
this cannot be right.  what is going on? i wondered. only 2 more days until i returned to see my lupus doctor.  i had also begun a diary of-sorts.  i had printed up a calendar to make notes on each day as i experienced different symptoms.  this would make it easier for me to give my doctor specifics about my condition.

my skin had began to peel - in the places where it had been red and welty before.  [gross alert!] i could feel the rash on the inside of my mouth.  along the inside of my top lip, the skin was raw as it scraped against my teeth. my neck looked like a fiery, red lizard.  it was scaly. boy, did it itch. i restrained from digging my fingernails into that fresh skin and grading it up.

october 14th - the day of my follow up appointment with the lupus doctor in los angeles.  once again, grandma was gracious enough to take care of our kiddos.  my hubby and i made the trek in to los angeles. 
we arrived early for my appointment and were immediately called into the doctor's office.
"have a seat and the doctor will be right in." said his assistant, motioning to the 2 chairs facing a large desk.
my husband and i each took a seat.  we exchanged glances.  i raised my eyebrows to him as if to ask: "i wonder what's going on?"  and he shrugged his shoulders as if to answer:"i don't know."
a few minutes later the doctor walked in.
"hello, amanda." he said walking over to sit down but before i could answer he continued "i am perplexed."
"perplexed?" i asked.
"i am perplexed by you."  once again my husband and i exchanged glances (him:huh?/ me:i dunno)
"okay.....?" i questioned.
"all of your tests have returned negative.  your EKG looks great.  your chest x-ray was clear and your blood work is negative."  he explained. "i do not want to diagnose you as having lupus because it could create problems for you down the road.  problems with life insurance, mortgage insurance etc."
oh gosh...  i became worried. i hadn't even thought about that! i panicked slightly but kept listening to what he was saying.  the whole time he talked, i scribbled notes on a piece of paper and he stared at me.  well kind of... he was staring at my chest.  any other time, i would've stopped him and told him to look me in the eyes while talking to me. this time was different.
"let me see you hands."  he said. i stretched my arms across his desk."if i were to diagnose you simply by looking at you, i would tell you that you have lupus.  clearly there is an autoimmune problem going on here."  and he motioned at my hands, neck and chest.  he sat quietly for a moment looking at me.  not really looking at me, but thinking about what to do with me.
"i want a dermatologist to biopsy that rash you have." i shuttered at those words. it sounded like it would be painful and i have always associated the word "biopsy" with cancer.
" if i can get you an appointment with a dermatologist today, are you able to go see him?"
"yes." both my husband and i nodded our heads.
the doctor got up and left the office.  ten minutes later he returned with the name, address and driving directions to his dermatologist.
he handed me the paperwork.  "here's the information. he said he can see you in 20 minutes."
just like that, we were off to beverly hills. the office was barely 4 miles away but it took us all 20 minutes to get over there with the crazy traffic.  there was some good people watching along the way.  los angeles - especially beverly hills - is awesome reality tv.  i tried not to be self conscious about not wearing make up.  normally i put my face on when i go out,but i had wanted the doctor to be able to see the rash clearly for my appointment.  now looking at all these beautiful, plastic people around me i wished i had at least put on some mascara.  i reached into my purse for some lip gloss.  that would make me feel better. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pick Your Own Pumpkin Patch

pick your own pumpkin patch.  i was hoping to find one this year and a friend turned me onto a great local farm.  i have vivid memories of picking my own pumpkin as a kid.  wandering through a huge, open patch and finding just the right pumpkin to carve for halloween.  i wanted to give my kiddos that same experience and make some memories with them.  

i loaded up my kiddos and some of their buddies joined us.  we headed over to corona pumpkin farm and had an adventure.  if you take a drive over the hill off cajalco parkway to gavilan road, the farm is up on the hill.  it is family-owned and i was thrilled to find it. this is exactly what i had envisioned.  along the way we discovered another small farm off of el sobrante road with not only pumpkins, but all kinds of fresh vegetables.  the kids loved it.   my friend and i enjoyed vine ripened tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados and squash.  i can't wait to go back.  the farm is open year round.   if the farmer is not at the location, he works on an "honor system."  this made me love the farm even more.  you can take whatever yummy goodies you'd like and leave your money in the mailbox.  

we took this opportunity to dress up for the occasion - ok, well the girls loved that we wanted to dress them up and use this outing as an opportunity for more thematic photos.  who doesn't need sparkle shoes and a tutu for the pumpkin patch???  i wish i had one to wear.  my friend from tutulew's tutu's made gianna's halloween themed tutu and she wore that thing everywhere.  gianna also had black fairy wings that her bff, emma wore.  too cute!  love these girls.  (note: you will see my girl in many different tutus, she loves to wear them every day of the week.  it's a good thing i've got a friend in the business.)

it was a warm - no, let me be honest - it was a HOT october afternoon with temperatures so high that it felt like we were picking pumpkins in the middle of summer.  the kids didn't mind.  they were content to run around the farm and explore.  the farmer was so helpful.  he talked with them about when the pumpkins are planted, how they grow and the different varieties of pumpkins.  he also told us green pumpkins make the best tasting pies!

the corona pumpkin farm offers a variety of small animals for the kids to pet.  this was a great educational experience for them.  my little girl couldn't get enough of the baby chicks.  she kept picking them up - usually by their head.  i must have said: "be gentle. don't squeeze the chicks"  500 times.  it's all part of the adventure, right? (no baby chicks were harmed during our adventure.)  and this how my little people are going to learn. 

don't you love her glasses?
my littles at corona pumpkin patch

i was really excited about our pumpkin adventure.  we had fun with our friends.  we picked our own  pumpkins right out of the patch.  and we supported a local business right here in the community where we live.  yep, that's pretty awesome.  we look forward to our return to the farm.  i hear they'll be growing blackberries soon... YUM!