All About Seeing…

Well, hello there!  Pardon my early Quick Takes.  Mucho time with family, poco time to blog.  I’m going to wrap it all up in one big blog post gift and tie it up in a bow for you.


Merry Christmas!  I made the conscious decision to use my 50mm lens while the kids were opening presents this morning.  I really hate cluttered photos, and Christmas morning is the woooooooorst for clutter.  Turns out that wasn’t a good idea, at least for Theme Thursday because this week’s theme is “Mess.”  Since the Nifty50 has such a narrow frame, you  can hardly see any of the crazy mess caused by 8 kids and 12 adults opening gifts.  So, no clutter, but also no “mess” photos.

As a peace offering, here’s a collage of my kids on Christmas morning.

Christmas Collage

The first time in foreeeeeever that I’ve used a flash. Better badly lit photos than completely blurry ones, right?


OH!  Here’s a picture of Ezekiel… laying on the floor… a hot mess after eating prrrrreeeeeetttttttyyyy much nothing but candy all morning.


f/2.2, 1/160th, ISO-1600



We’ve suspected that Zeke had a vision problem for a few months now.  After a bunch of rigmarole with the insurance companies, we finally got him in to see an optometrist last Friday.  She was so wonderful and patient with us and took over an hour to assess him carefully.


Turns out his vision is bad.  Like, really bad.  More than twice as bad as mine, and mine are baaaaaaad.  When I asked if his sight would improve, the optometrist said no.  Apparently children generally begin farsighted and gradually move to regular vision, sometimes becoming nearsighted.  Zeke is extremely nearsighted already.  Poor baby.  We ordered glasses for him and I’m really hoping they help him.  I’m also hoping we don’t have to replace them every few weeks and that the ones we ordered are indestructible.  Too much to hope for?

Insurance covered this pair entirely, but I’m planning to get him an additional pair.  I’ve heard good things about Costco for vision products.  Have you ever bought glasses at Costco?  Are they lots cheaper than buying in an optometry office?  Anything special I need to know about kids’ glasses?  Please share!  This is whole new territory for me!


Also at the optometry visit, the OD noted immediately how big his eyes were.  (Scroll up to Take #1.  He has what are called “megalocorneas,” which are not nearly as super-powerish as it would initially seem.  They are quite adorable, though.)  She immediately asked if our family has a history of congenital glaucoma.  WHAT?!?!?!  Apparently the big beautiful eyes the Koreans always remarked on are also a sign of that condition.  We have a referral for a pediatric ophthalmologist to get more testing done.  Say a prayer for us, okay?


I’m hard-pressed to name my very favorite image of the Virgin Mary, but the Black Madonna, or Our Lady of Czestochowa, is among my favorites.  I actually prefer artwork that shows Mary as being more… ethnic than the Madonna of the renaissance, because it strikes me as a visible sign of her role as a mother over all the earth and all its people.

The Black Madonna actually isn’t meant to be as dark-skinned as it appears.  Apparently, years of smoke from candles etc have darkened the original skin tone of  Our Lady.  Linking up with Mary at Better Than Eden for her Images of Mary post.  Thanks, Mary!






I ordered our Christmas photos through Snapfish and picked them up at Walmart.  Not only was I completely depressed by the atmosphere of that place, but the photo quality was a distinctive “meh.’  I know my camera takes clear and beautiful pictures (not me: my camera) and yet the photos I got were blurry and grainy.  There was even a white line across the edge of each photo.

A couple days later, I heard about an online photo service that supposedly does much higher quality printing for just a few pennies more.  I decided to do a review and ordered copies of the exact same photo through MPix.

They came packaged in stiff cardboard boxes, shrink-wrapped and protected by styrofoam.


Who doesn’t love a photo of a cardboard box, right?  No, but really.  The photos were in pristine condition, with none of the bending that happens when you pick up an envelope of pics at your local ManiaMart, er… drugstore.

The images themselves were far higher quality than those I purchased through Snapfish.


MPix version


SNAPFISH version

I know, I know.  A photo of some photos?  It’s hard to tell a difference.  But in real life it’s crystal clear.  I also ordered 2 different types of prints from MPix.  They have a less expensive version for $.19 for a 4 x 6, and a higher end print for $.29 per print.  I had to look hard to tell which one was clearer but the $.29 copies do appear to have richer color.  Both MPix prints were heads and shoulders above the Snapfish version.

So here’s my entirely unsolicited review.
MPix Pros:

Higher quality
Comparably priced
Fast turnaround and shipping
Easy-to-use online upload and ordering form

MPix Cons:

Slightly more expensive.  Makes a difference if you’re ordering a bunch.
You pay shipping.  (With Snapfish if you pick it up at a local retailer, there is no charge above the cost of the prints.)

My opinion: If you’re looking for volume discounts and a quick return time (less than a day) then shop with Snapfish or something like that.  But if you’re ordering prints to frame, do use MPix or something like it.  You won’t regret the measurable boost in quality.


We’re up visiting my parents in Central California for the week.  Here my favorite (unedited) photos of the week thus far.


Every kids dream: to ride in the bucket of a tractor. My kids: livin’ the dream.


Except Zeke. He doesn’t care for the tractor bucket. He prefers Opa’s lap.

My big brother and 3 of his 4 ADORABLE children.  Seriously, how can anyone stand the cuteness?

My big brother and 3 of his 4 ADORABLE children. Seriously, how can anyone stand the cuteness?

All dressed up for "midnight" (9 p.m.) Mass.  Zeke really classes up the photos, don't you think?

All dressed up for “Midnight” (9 p.m.) Mass. Zeke really classes up the photos, don’t you think?


My favorite of the week. This is what we’re wearing during the day, people. Don’t hate us, okay?


 Now it’s time for you to go see all my peoples.  Visit Cari for a very messy Theme Thursday, Mary for more Images of the Blessed Virgin, and Jen at Conversion Diary for Quick Takes (That last one won’t be up until late night Thursday.  Be sure to come back, okay?)


  1. The pics I ordered through Target (yours!) we’re surprisingly good! I think those are Snapfish… Or something similar. I’m sure the quality of the print machines, the paper, etc., is a huge factor as well. If I wasn’t in a rush, I’d have ordered the fancier versions, too, though. It’s all about supporting the companies that do what you really want–voting with your dollar, y’know?

    I also love the darker skinned icons. They’re a more fair representation of our Lord! Also, I love how each culture includes imagery, clothing, decorations familiar to them. It is a rich representation of the true Lord–God who would be father of ALL.

    And do you really take the littles out to mass so late?! How does that effect Christmas Day attitudes? We can’t wait to attend midnight mass one day, but we haven’t been brave enough to try it yet…

    • I’m glad the Target ones turned out well. I’ve printed them there before and been happy with them, but I’m a bit snobbish these days, so who knows if they would still measure up.

      This was our first year at “Midnight” Mass. We did it as a test run. The little kids mostly slept through Mass, the lights and candles were beautiful, and we had a very leisurely Christmas morning. The worst moment was changing them into pajamas in the cold car afterwards. We discussed and I think we’ll do it again next year, but we’ll buy “fancy” pajamas so we avoid that stress.

  2. does “get your first pair free” That might be an idea for replacement glasses. I got myself a cute pair that I am actually wearing right now. I only paid for a few extras on it, I think I paid around $30.00 for everything.

    • Thank you SOOOOO much for the tip, Christy. I will def be looking into Coastal. Between your tip and the others I’m getting, I’m just going to get him a slew of glasses and call it good. 🙂

  3. You know, I used to not really relate to the more ethnic representations of Mary, especially the ones that have a different style than I was raised with, but the older I get and the more I learn about their depth and history, the more I really really appreciate them. It’s so awesome how there are so many “looks” to our Lord and Lady! It makes me wonder what they’ll really look like in heaven! And I never knew that about the smoke…that is really neat!

    I’ve used Walmart mostly for my contact needs and they’ve always been fine! I did order one pair of freebies from that were easy to order and hey, free! I want to look into the coastal because I’d love another pair! I’m so sorry about his vision!

    My boys would LOVE a Christmas bucket ride!! How fun 🙂 Merry Christmas, Micaela, and thanks for linking up!
    Mary recently posted…Merry Christmas!My Profile

    • Thanks for the Firmoo tip. With all these great tips I’m going to shop around and get him like 4 extra pairs! That oughta last… oh, at least a month. 🙂

      Thanks for the link-up, Mary. Did you happen to read more about the Black Madonna? Tradition says that it was painted by St. Luke the apostle and that Mary told him the story of Jesus birth and upbringing while he painted. Who knows if it’s true, but it sure is a nice story, isn’t it?

  4. I really like Zenni Optical for glasses. They have kids glasses and they are super cheap. I mean, you can get glasses as cheap as $12 (frames and all) and even the add-ons (like the scratch resistant coating on the lens isn’t that bad)….way, way cheaper than the doctor’s office. For me, the dr. office wanted to charge 103 for that special scratch-resistant, fringerprint resistant coating and Zenni does it for $14, I think, WIth a child, I would definitely get a couple of spare cheap pairs of glasses, just in case, they get lost or broken.

  5. Merry merry Christmas Darrs! You all are so beautiful. Thanks for the MPix tip, we always order from snapfish and I was really surprised to see the differences in your photos, amazing, even on the computer.

    Prayers for your boy’s pretty eyes!
    Rebekah Es recently posted…Joyous Christmas Mess- Theme ThursdayMy Profile

  6. Just wanted to second that Coastal is fantastic. I ordered from them about a year ago and LOVE my pair. They’re my main frames, but I did pay extra to thin my lenses (my eyes are THAT bad).

    Beautiful pics of the kiddies!

  7. Beautiful pictures! I’m so glad to get the MPix tip because I have had so many uploading issues with Snapfish. I was just wondering today (while sitting through endless upload crashes) if there is a better option!

    I haven’t used Costco Vision products but have heard through the grapevine that they aren’t really cheaper. I will definitely remember your little Zeke’s eyes in my prayers.
    Catherine recently posted…Merry Christmas!My Profile


  1. […] then you get knocked sideways by a health issue, like Ezekiel’s vision problems.  You find out your child desperately needs glasses and possibly has a more serious problem like […]