Sunday, December 21, 2008

Let it snow, let it snow, let it... good god, it's still snowing?!

As I think I mentioned in the previous entries, Seattle isn't a town that gets much snow. And, when it does, that snow generally only last a day or two, and then we are back to our usual cold and wet weather. So, as you might imagine, it's been a bit of a surprise for those of us living here, that it has effectively been snowing for over a week now.

Compare this picture to the one in our previous entry to see how the snow keeps piling up outside.

And, with a newborn baby, a house on a hill, and only a Honda Accord, we've essentially been snowed in here for that time. Needless to say, while the day to day beauty of the snow isn't lost on us, we are getting a little stir-crazy and cabin fever has started to set in. So, what do you do when you are trapped at your house for a week? Well, here's a short list:

1) Change the babies diapers.
2) Feed the baby.
3) Watch the baby sleep.
4) Construct elaborate charts tracking babies diaper changes, feeding patterns and sleep patterns.
5) Stare at the tree.
6) Stare at the snow.
7) Shovel snow.
6) Watch shoveled sections of sidewalk re-fill with snow.
7) Play games.
8) Design new games from scratch.
9) Drink hot chocolate.
10) Drink egg nog.
11) Drink wine.
12) Fixate on the Cliff Mass Weather Blog.
13) Repeat.

...another occasional snow sotrm activity.

Yup. That's pretty much it. I've actually been a little luckier than Sarah because I've been able to get out of the house once of twice. Generally, it's just to do a quick loop around the neighborhood to scout out the Snopocalypse. But still, the fresh air, being able to say "hi" to the occasional neighbor, and getting to crunch through the snow has been a nice experience.

Braving the snowstorm.

As for Stella, she's probably relieved to be stuck in doors, since she's been attacked by the baby acne fairy. She's definitely improved, but there were a couple of days there where we couldn't help but feel sorry for our little blotchy baby. Also, it bears mentioning that tomorrow marks the end of her 4th week on the planet, and (aside from the acne and some diaper rash) it so far so good!

Sarah and Stella curl up to keep warm inside. Stella is shy because of her acne.

We are starting to get a little stressed about Christmas though. Not only will all this snow make it potentially difficult to get to relatives houses for the holidays. But, since Stella's arrival, we still haven't had a chance to do any major Christmas shopping. As it stands right now, I think we are hoping to have a chance rush around and pick up some stuff on Tuesday... but we are going to need the Seattle snow-gods to cut us some slack for that to happen. So, if you are on our shopping list, don't be surprised if you end up with an IOU.

But, as I mentioned, it's hard to fixate on the stressful things, when the snow makes every day seem new and interesting...

Various animal and bird prints keep appearing in our backyard, here Sarah managed to capture a picture of one visitor.

Snow on a tree in the backyard.

Ice crystal form on a branch outside our window. Last night brough freezing rain in addition snow.

OK... basement is getting cold, and the snow is still falling here on Beacon Hill, at 6pm on Sunday, so I'm going to go hide upstairs with my girls. Happy snow days, everyone!

Here's all our latest photos of life during the snow storm.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008 a Winter Wonderland.

"Oh the weather outside if frightful, but inside its so delightful!"

Sometimes, life makes it easy to sit around and do nothing...

Despite the fact that Sarah and I are still finding our stride as parents, both of us still wrestle with the feeling that we should be "doing something" every day. Its a little odd to wake up each morning with the realization that all we have ahead of us are a few chores, a few dirty diapers, and staring at a sleeping baby. I mean, since we spent the better part of '07 packing our days with visits to Buddhist temples, overlong bus rides and arguing with auto-rickshaw drivers, the idea of staying in is, in a way, daunting.

But, luckily for us mother nature stepped in an dumped a couple of inches of snow on us over the weekend, dropped the temperature into the low 20's and gave us the perfect excuse to snuggle in and do nothing. (As if taking care of Stella isn't excuse enough.)

Now, Washington state tends to be the Mother Bear of the Lower Forty Eight. We aren't too hot like, say California or the South. But, neither are we too cold and prone to deathly cold-snaps like most of the Mid-West. Instead our temperature is just right. Well, if "just right" means 60 degrees, and soaking wet.

But, a rather uncharacteristic cold front rolled through on Saturday night and left our house looking like this...

Our house from the street the morning after the snowfall. Usually, snow like this will melt over the next 24 hours, but this time its mostly still there several days later.

A photo from our front window on the night of the snowfall. I had to use an extended exposure, and it gave some neat colors and tones ot the picture.

And, now it sounds like we are in for a second round of snow tonight or tomorrow... which should hopefully convince us to stay in through the weekend. Fingers crossed.

Still, that's not to say that we haven't done anything except take care of Stella. In fact, with her birth now three weeks behind us, we figured that it was finally time to start thinking about the holidays and buy a Christmas tree. So, bundling Stella up, we headed over to Capital Hill to purchase a tree.

Oops! Apparently, we thought that the ceiling of our living room was higher than it was! In our defense, it was so cold out that we LITERALLY bought the first tree we looked at.

The family poses in front of the newly decorated tree. (Notice the top is now sawed off.) I love the lighting in this photo though.

The whole family poses for a photo together on the couch. Apparently, everyone else decided to look at the camera while I looked at the tree.

Oh, and wonder why the cats look so well behaved? Notice the spray bottle on the coffee table! I kid! Sort of. Ah, Christmas Cheer!

Happy Holidays everyone!

See all of the photos [url=]here![/url]

Friday, December 12, 2008

More Stella Photos

Someday, this blog will go back to being about our various adventures and travels. But, for the time being, it's settling comfortably into the roll of being a baby blog and a place for me to post pictures of Stella.

To that end, here is another collection of photos from Stella's second week. And some highlights...

Someone we know described babies as being like fireplaces, because even when they aren't doing anything exciting, you still just stare at them. And, take pictures of them.

Comic books, and Stella: A typical evening for me. Notice how, even though it's December, I'm laying on top of the covers... the girl is a little furnace.

Sarah and Stella together. Sarah amazes me each day with how wonderfully and naturally she's slipped into the roll of mother. Stella's a lucky girl.

Oh, and as a side note: Happy Birthday to me! I turn 33 today. As the Christmas song says "the weather outside is frightful..." with rain and wind. So, sound like a perfect day to spend indoors with my two girls. Delightful!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stella's birth and first week!

"Omigosh!" A Stella action shot!

The first week of parenthood has been a wonderful and exhausting experience. And one that has seemed to fly by despite the fact that we've mainly been resting and changing diapers. Just yesterday, Sarah and I found ourselves in disbelief of the fact that our little Stella is already one week old!

Anyhow, to cut to the chase, here are all the photos we've taken both in the hospital after the birth and over the last week.

Here's a few highlights...

I love this picture. The look on Sarah's face is the look of a mom who just met her daughter a few minutes earlier, and has already fallen in love with her.

Stella blissed out in her first bath.

As much as I dislike my profile, I love the warmth of this shot. Stella is just crashed out, as you can tell by her little limp arm.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Introducing Stella!

Here's the email I sent out yesterday (sorry if you didn't receive it for whatever reason):

Hello Everyone!

Sarah and I are very, very proud to introduce Stella Rose Hill-Stach who made her world premiere at the Ballard Swedish Hospital at approximately 5:09pm on Tuesday, November 25th, 2008. Stella weighs in at 8lbs, 13 ounces, is approximately 20 inches long. Stella is a very happy, very healthy girl, and it quite possibly the most beautiful and wonderful thing that either of us have ever seen (though, we might be a bit biased in that judgement).

Both baby and mommy are doing well, after roughly 14 hours or labor. And we are all resting back at our house now. We look forward to introducing her to all of you personally in the coming days and weeks! Hope you are all having a wonderful week!, on to the photos!

-Tyler and Sarah

Mom and baby the following evening, a beautiful sunset for two beautiful girls.

Dad and baby just several hours after her birth. Holding your new baby daughter is just an awesome and humbling experience.

Stella getting dressed to go home from the hospital.

The new family together.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lions and Tigers and Hedgehogs... oh my!

Aaaannndddd, here I am! Posting again, sans-baby. I'm a big liar. But, I'm also a big liar with lots of time to burn while waiting for the tummy monkey's arrival; so I'm treating you all to another blog entry!

Anyhow, yesterday, after posting my last entry, I finished up my animal paintings, and today I got them hung up on the wall of the baby's room. So, I thought I'd share them with you now. The basic idea was that I asked each of the soon-to-be grandparents, aunts and uncles what there favorite animals were. And, then did a painting for each one.

Here they are, hanging above the changing table.

A closer picture. It's the first time I've painted in years, but I still think they turned out OK.

And, here's a picture of the whole room, so you can get a sense of the layout. If you want to see some more pictures of the baby's room, you can check them out here.

Finally, as you can probably guess (since I'm posting this), the baby has yet to arrive. But, we did take a picture of Sarah at 40 weeks!

...also featured in this picture is Buttercup, who is fighting a bit of a stomach bug. Gross! But, we are hoping that Buttercups sickness is a good sign because -from my car being stolen right before our trip to Jamaica to Sarah's mom breaking her arm on our wedding day- it seems like each good thing that happens to us seems to be preluded by an unfortunate curve-ball. So, here's hoping the sick kitty is a sign of the baby arriving soon!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Living the Liminal Lifestyle 2.0

I know that, in my last entry, I promised that the next post would be after the babies arrival. But, allow me to prove myself a liar here for a second, since in the last couple of days, I've been thinking more about this point in Sarah and mine's life, and feel it warrants a least one more entry.

Way back at the beginning of this blog, in those heady days before we left on our trip, Sarah wrote an entry called Living the Liminal Lifestyle in which she endeavored to briefly capture the feeling one has when they are about to depart on a new adventure or chapter in their life... or rather, that feeling you get when you are in that brief period of life where you are wedged between two chapters in life. That point where one chapter has closed, or is rapidly closing, but before the next great chapter begins.

And, that entry keeps coming back to me now, because that's where we are again today.

Tomorrow is Sarah's due date. Tomorrow is the day that, if everything goes according to schedule, Sarah and I are going to become parents. We are going to move from being a couple, to a a trio. A family. Now, much like world travel, pregnancy rarely goes "according to schedule." In fact, with only about 4% of babies actually born on their due date, pregnancy schedules seems to be worked out by those same people who set up the timetables for trains in India. Still, that date looms large.

Yesterday, Sarah and I were out running errands, and had several people ask her "oh, when's your due date?" And, when Sarah announced that it was on Sunday, you could see their eyes grow wide, as they made some stammering comment to the effect of "Wow, and you're still out doing things? You look so relaxed!"

The comments like that are compliments of course, and we smile and feel proud of ourselves. Proud and grateful of how easy a pregnancy Sarah's had. And, how even two days before her due date, how much poise she still has. And how relaxed and cheerful we are as a couple. But, it does beg the question: How should we feel?

People have been asking us for weeks now: "Are you excited? Are you nervous?" And, honestly, we are both. And, at this point, I'd also argue we are "eager." Eager to move on to the next step in our lives. Eager to meet the little person that has been growing within Sarah for the last nine months. Like our trip, eager to get started on the adventure.

But, at the same point, its interesting how easily we distract ourselves. That's not to say we are ignoring the babies eminent arrival, but instead we focus on the little details, to keep from being overwhelmed by the big picture. Focus on painting little animal cartoons to hang in the babies room. Focus on starting a new quilt. Focus on the never ending "to do" list. Focus on cleaning the house. You hear a lot about the "nesting instinct" and how it's a sign the baby is coming soon. But, it might also just be a coping strategy. A way to avoid looking at the big picture.

Because the big picture is BIG.

Bolded with capital letters big. Quaking eyes, clenched throat, pounding heart, sweaty palm, tidal wave of emotions big. And while that I'm sure that Sarah and I will be swimming in those emotions during her labor and after the babies birth; and while we like to dip our toes in it even now, to see how it feels, it's scary. Good scary. Amazing, I-can't-believe-how-wonderful-this-world-is-and-now-we-are-bringing-someone-into-it scary. We are bringing someone new into the world.

The little person that is sitting in her belly right now is coming out soon. We anticipate it, and joke about it ("OK, baby, time to come out now! I know you are squished in there, and there's more room out here!"), and its pretty incredible. This little person will feel confusion and fear, but also unconditional love and joy. His or her relationship with us will grown and become that wonderful, complex lattice of love, friendship, respect and, yes, even frustration that Sarah and I share with our own parents. He or she will play games and hear stories that will capture their imagination. See and learn things that challenge and intrigue them. He or she will grow and discover how strong they really are. Make friendships. Have their heart broken but also fall in love with another little boy or girl who may not even born yet themselves. All of this lies ahead of him or her. And, for each thing that I speculate about, each future I imagine for our coming child, I am sure there are a million that I haven't even thought of. A million curve balls and surprises, good and bad, that I can never even imagine.

But, that's life. That's what we are creating and giving to our child.

And, that's the thing. If nothing else, I hope that our child will enjoy and marvel in his or her life. That he or she will embrace this world in all its wonder and complexity. That they will see and do things that move them. And that, ultimately, their life will be happy and fulfilled. If nothing else I want the little baby in Sarah's belly to be happy. Have good life.

I know that my life has been wonderful so far. And, I predict it is only going to get better in the coming days (lack of sleep aside). Life is an amazing thing. A challenging thing but also something to be embraced.

All the baby needs to do now is come out and embrace it. And we will be here for it.


Sorry, maybe I'm dipping my toe in that pool of emotion I mentioned earlier. It's potent stuff, if maybe a bit cliched. And, now that I've sent a message out into the interweb, asking my still-unborn child to embrace life, I think it's probably time to distract myself a little bit. There are animal paintings to finish. But, I will say one final thing:

I love Sarah. And I love my parents. I love my brother and his wife. I love all my family, and Sarah's too. I love my circle of friends, and I'm grateful for you all. I read something recently where the author argued that people don't say "thank you" enough, and I think he had a point. So, I'm going to jump the gun on next weeks holiday (since I might be busy anyhow) and say: Thank you. You've helped make my world a wonderful place, and I look forward to introducing mine and Sarah's child to it.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Maybe baby?

Over the last couple of days, we've begun getting phone calls from friends and family. And, while some people were calling to wish us luck over the next couple of days and weeks, a few of been calling just to make sure we hadn't had the baby yet, and not told them. And, while I'm sure there are a number of reasons people suspect that... I think that the fact that I haven't bothered posting here since October 26th is probably one of the major reasons.

But, even though Sarah and I are both eagerly awaiting its arrival, the tummy monkey is still safe and sound inside Sarah. But, who knows how long that will last? ...though our butcher said he thinks she will have it on the 22nd, and claims "I tend to be pretty good predicting things like that." So, there ya go.

Anyhow, let's check in on Sarah!

Sarah at Week 37!

Sarah at Week 38!

Sarah at Week 39! (With a cameo by me and my dad.)

Now, looking at these photos, you might notice something: Sarah's rapidly running out of clothes that fit her. Now, not to worry, I promise she has more than one outfit left that fits, but not many! One of the many reasons Sarah is excited to have the baby soon.

So, what have we been up to? Well, in the days after the last entry, Sarah and I attended a couple of costume parties for Halloween. First up was a party on Halloween night at our friends Ambika and Ben's apartment. In addition to possibly seeing a lot of our friends for the last time pre-baby, this party was notable because, as Sarah put it, "it was difficult to talk to half the people because their costumes were so creepy." We had the backwoods hick, the skeevy club dude, Dog the Bounty Hunter and a number of subtly disturbing outfits that we horrifying in a non-traditional manner.

Our costumes at the party. Sarah was a Magic 8-Ball, and I was a Costume Cop, with tickets to write up people with offending (or offensive) costumes.

The next evening it was another Halloween party or, more specifically, a Day of the Dead party. Our friends, Austin and Patty, were married on Halloween several years ago, and since then have celebrated with a big Halloween blow-out each year. Each year is a different them and this year it was the Mexican Day of the Dead.

The Hosts with the mosts! (Or should that be ghosts?)

Our friends Jason and Diana dress up as Baron Samedi and a gypsy fortune teller

Halloween Party? Or Richard Simmons and a leprechaun grabbing a drink at an undead canteen south of the border? You make the call!

All our Halloween Party photos.

Speaking of scary: Our basement flooded last week. About a month and a half ago, we had the water line in our front yard replaced. But, when they drilled the new water line into the foundation, they didn't cap off the old one. So, when the November rains (not just a Guns and Roses song) hit, ground water seeped into the old broken pipe, and began draining through it and into our basement. Luckily, the plumbers came out for free and repaired it. And, even more luckily, we convinced them to pay to have a cleaning crew come out and dry our wet carpets.

(As a side note: It's nice that I have a deep voice, and that the manager on duty at the plumber company couldn't tell over the phone that I am a 145 lbs, pacifist, art-major type... or else, it might have been harder to convince them they should send out the clean up crew.)

Anyhow, we ended up spending a week with giant blow dryers and dehumidifiers in our basement... a fact that kept the kitties living in terror of the basement for several days.

Beyond that, for Sarah and I, its mainly been a manner of finishing up at work, and now getting our "ducks in a row" for the baby's arrival. The baby room is coming along nicely, and if the baby can hold out for another day or two, we should be as ready as we'll ever be.

Here's a couple of quick pics of the baby room:

The crib and dresser.

The glider which one of Sarah's coworkers gave us and the bookshelf with some books, stuffed animals and the new lamp on it.

OK folks! This is it! Next time I post here, it will probably be to announce the birth of our baby! It's been a long and crazy ride so far, but I have a suspicion it's only going to get craziner over the next couple of days. We're very excited, but wish us luck!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Love, Music, Wine and Revolution..."

Actually, there is very little music and revolution for us these days. And, Sarah's still steering clear of the wine. But, heck, I like that song* by Magnetic Fields, and that title sounds cooler than what we've been up to, which is more along the lines of Love, Scooters, Wine and an Auction.

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted here. So, I'm a bit behind on the pictures of pregnant Sarah. So, let's get you all caught up on my wonderful wife and the tummy monkey.

Sarah at 34 weeks!

Sarah at 35 weeks, all dressed up to go to the auction (see below).

Sarah at 36 weeks. We are really in the homestretch now. At this point, the tot is basically ready to go, and is just filling out and putting on weight. Egad!

Since moving into our house, we've noticed that just having the one car is occasionally problematic. We also knew that it would become even more difficult to have just one car, once the baby arrived. But, at the same time, we knew that we didn't want to get stuck with all the costs related to buying a second car (payments, insurance, gas, etc). so, we decided to look into getting a scooter.

After several months of browsing Craigslist, we finally settled on this '06 Honda Metropolitan.

I strike a "dashing" pose in our driveway. Me = Awesome Hip.

Last weekend was the start of another year of wine making. The '07 "Ranger Rick Red" has been bottled (and is quite good, I might add), and the crush is the big event starting off another batch off grapes on their way to becoming wine.

The '06 Round the World Red, '07 Ranger Rick Red and some grapes we found growing along the back fence in our yard.

The crush involves bringing a couple of tons of grapes back from Eastern Washington to our friends garage, where we crush them (sadly, not with our feet), de-stem them and begin the fermentation process.

I load grapes out of the back of the truck, and down a chute to where they are crushed. I'm quite fierce.

All the grape crush photos.

...and an Auction
Sadly, on the same day as the grape crush, it was also the Annual U-District Foodbank Auction. This is usually one of our favorite events of the year, which is why it was a bit of a bummer to have to juggle this and the crush (one of our other favs). Still it was a great time, hanging out with a table of friends and making bigs on a number of items.

Before the event, our friends Mike and Lane and us had decided we were going to go all in on the wine collection. But, the wind was taken out of our sails when a woman selected it as her door prize. D'oh! Still we ended up winning a Farmers Market Basket, and almost spent $1600 on a trip to Sri Lanka... until we realized that might not be the more practical thing to have when Sarah's just weeks from giving birth. Maybe next year.

Bonus: Haunted Georgetown Tour
On Friday, we decided to get into the Halloween spirit and a group of us went on the Haunted Georgetown Walking Tour. The tour itself, and our tour guide, were a bit -shall we say- uneven. But, it was still fun to walk through Georgetown at night. And gave us another chance to check out the haunted Georgetown Castle.

The tour group outside a corner store that used to serve as a brothel.

After the tour, we also did the Georgetown Brewery Tour, which was much more amazing. Featuring performances by the Circus Contraption crew (who I've raved about before, and who were even the inspiration for this blogs title), it was alternately creepy, fun and cool. Drunken ghosts, sword swallowers, atmospheric music and glow-in-the-dark gymnastic ghost... who could ask for more?

A creepy zombie woman poses on the beautiful spiral staircase of the brwery. A goth kid would love to have this image on her wall.

The gymnastic skeletons photographed using a 15 second exposure. Pretty cool visually... even more cool in real life.

All the haunted Georgetwon Photos.

As I mentioned earlier, Sarah's getting really close to her due date (less than a month to go). So, who knows if I'll get another chance to post between now and then. Both Sarah and I are set to begin our leave on November 14th, so if we are both sitting home bored, waiting for the contractions to start, who knows... maybe one or both of us will be inspired to post. But if the baby decides to show early, and we don't get a chance to post again, as Sarah says I'm too fond of saying: See you on the other side.

*EDIT: Not sure about that You Tube video... it was just the only place I could find Magnetic Fields "World Love" online.