Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009



This is not Stella's first Christmas, but it feels like it. Last year, we were snowed in, hadn't slept for more than a few hours in a row for a month, and were still figuring out life with an infant. Frankly, it's all a blur. This year has had lots more notable firsts: first trip to Santa, first stocking, first time being interested in opening presents and immediately playing with their contents and our first time really getting to be Santa--having the tree and stockings ready for Stella in the morning.



Getting ready for Christmas morning! You probably can't tell, but there aren't any ornaments on the bottom half of the tree.



Stella and her stocking. More pictures of my craftiness here



Christmas presents!


Dad and 13-month-old Stella. What a difference a year makes!

Happy holidays, S&B readers! More Christmases to come this week as we head to Texas to visit my parents....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!



From our family, to yours: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and may you have a wonderful New Year!


Um... yeah.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The sincerest form of flattery...



If they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then not a day goes by these days that Stella doesn't flatter Sarah or I. In the last couple of weeks, she's taken to trying to imitate our behavior, often with humorous results. For example, as seen in one of the photos in Sarah's previous entry, Stella now joins us for our evening tooth brushing. Sure, she only has six teeth, and sure I'm pretty sure she doesn't actually touch any of them with her toothpaste-free brush, but still she's pretty dedicated to oral hygiene.

Also, recently, while feeding her one of her favorite snacks, Mum Mum, Sarah and I started singing her a modified version of the "Meow Mix" song: Mum mum mum mum, mum mum mum mum, mum-mum... When next thing we know, she's singing along. Again, her timing and rhythm left a little to be desired, but it was still entertaining.

Here's a couple of videos showing some other skills she's picked up by watching us...

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Notice how she goes back a couple of times, until she finds a song she likes. This is something she does with some of her toys too, repeatedly hitting a button until she finds something suitable. What type of music does Stella like? Well, I can't speak for her, but I'm pretty sure she'd say something to the effect of "it's gotta have a nice beat that I can dance too."

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Unfortunately, in this video, what you can't see is that first she pulled herself up on the entry table, and grabbed the keys off of it. Usually, when Sarah comes home, she throws her keys there. And, apparently, Stella's realized that the keys are supposed to be used with the door knob and lock. Unfortunately for her, she hasn't learned the difference between a key and the car lock.

Entertainingly, we've also walked outside a couple times recently to find the trunk open. Apparently, when playing with the keys, she occasionally hits the button to pop the trunk.

Sadly, as I type this, Stella is sleeping off what has been a fairly rough day. Last night, Sarah and I woke up to the sound of Stella throwing up. Over the course of the morning, she got sick a couple more time, and eventually Sarah ran her to the doctor. The Docs have assured us that its just a 24 hour stomach bug, and she does seem to be through the worst of it. Still, not a fun day for the baby. Or for mom, who happened to be holding Stella when she vomited.

Here's hoping tomorrow is better. And, here's hoping Stella starts imitating me folding laundry.

...Actually, she already does, but it mainly involves tossing the clothes around the room.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Morning Reflections



It's Sunday morning. Tyler's day to sleep in, my morning to spend with Stella. While I sometimes wish that Stella had a "snooze" button, these are nice mornings. We pad around the house, she plays, I drink coffee, we have some breakfast. It's quiet, dark, and Stella's in good spirits after a good night's sleep. Peaceful. A nice way to end the weekend.


Me and my one-year-old!

It's been a few weeks since Stella's birthday. She's jabbering a lot, "sharing" things, starting to put toys into things instead of only taking them out. She hasn't started walking yet--I think she thinks she has a good thing going by having a parent to steer around the house. She's still obsessed with cats, dogs and animals. And she's often full of surprises. At the zoo we're always convinced she'll love the leopard--a big cat that tends to hang out right by a big window. But it's different every time. Last time (on her birthday) it was the gorillas that were her favorite.


Stella and the gorillas at Woodland Park Zoo

She's still an inconsistent sleeper--giving us a few good nights before something like teething throws her off again and we're back to at least one wake up in the middle of the night. And she's still pretty reliant on her pacifiers (which we probably need to start easing out of her routines).


Still a bit Soothie-obsessed. She starts the night with 7...usually most of them end up under the crib.

After she turned one we turned her carseat to forward-facing. In Stella's world, this has been a good development. We can look back and see her, and I think she can see more out the window. She rarely falls asleep while driving anymore--there's too much to look at!


Big girl carseat!

Last night someone asked me what Stella's temperment was like. Sometimes I'm surprised at how much she's still like the tiny little baby we were just getting to know a year ago. She's engaged with the world, alert, social, full of laughter, loving, curious, independent, stubborn, and active. She's just more able to express her emotions (both happy and frustrated) and move herself around.


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She often goes through her box of stuffed animals, picks her favorites, and then gives them hugs and gentle pets. It's pretty adorable.

When I reflect on this first year, the main thing I think of is "more." More laughter. More fun. More songs and silliness and heart-filled-to-the-brim happiness. More time spent on the floor--reading, playing, cleaning up food that fell there. And the other side of that, too. More exhaustion, more self-doubt--am I doing the right thing for Stella? Enough? Too much?

Sometimes I get anxious for the next stages--I can't wait until we can talk, draw together, interact in new ways. But I have to remember to enjoy this moment--this just over one-year-old girl who's experiencing so much and learning something new everyday. It's too easy to romanticize the past and idealize the future. And right now--most the time--it's pretty wonderful, too.


Riding high like a big girl!


My two favorites

It's a busy season--Stella's birthday, Thanksgiving, and Tyler had a birthday this weekend, too. A year ago we celebrated by having a few friends over. We wanted to mark the occasion, but going out with a 2-ish week old seemed too daunting. In the past year, Tyler has continued to remind me of what an amazing husband and father he is. He's with Stella a lot, with all the joys and challenges that brings. He's playful and fun and loving--she's such a lucky little girl. I know the next year will continue to be filled with all the same "more" that we had this year, and I can't wait to get to share it with Tyler and Stella.



Teethbrushing time!

Stella seems to be developing her dad's love of haberdashery:






When I saw Stella "helping" Tyler with this little project, I had to snap a picture. It reminded me of this picture from my childhood:


Another set of helping hands....30-odd years ago....

Fortunately for us, Tyler and I have also had some fun baby-free moments. We decorated our Christmas tree.


Merry Christmas in 2009! Since this photo was taken, all the ornaments have been moved to the upper two-thirds of the tree...

And had a fantastic dinner out to celebrate Tyler's 34th. We try to do a monthly date night, but it felt like it'd been too long since we'd been able to sit across a table from each other and just be together--not noticing the things that need to be done around the house, not listening for Stella, just out together. It was so much fun, the food was delicious, the wine almost too drinkable. And I had a moment where I was describing something to Tyler and knew he knew exactly what I meant, how I felt, and I felt so known and loved--amazing. I'm a lucky girl.

And last night we attended our friends' annual themed Christmas party. This year we were tasked with becoming rock stars:


Our version of Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistable" video

Well, early Sunday morning is slowly turning into late Sunday morning. Stella should be up soon, and it's probably time to finish my coffee, finish this post and hop in the shower.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Spoon Girl



I've been meaning to do a blog post since Stella's birthday. But life has been busy. So here's a little glimpse at Stella these days.

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Mmmm. Applesauce!

Monday, November 23, 2009

One Year Later



Wow! In two days Stella will be officially be 1 year old. It's unbelievable to think that just over a year ago, I was painting animal pictures for Stella's room and typing weepy, hyperbolic monologues about imminent Fatherhood. And Sarah? Well, Sarah was having trouble sleeping for more reasons than just pre-parenthood nerves...



It's amazing and a still a little emotional to think back on those last crazy days leading up to Stella's birth. And, to this day, I still struggle to think of a way to properly verbalize the feelings I felt when Stella finally arrived. But, I do remember at one point, in the minutes following Stella's birth, thinking to myself very clearly and rationally: "Tyler, you are having one of the amazing moments on your life right this second." A moment of clarity.

And, at that exact same moment, I think I was saying something to the effect of: "omigod-honey-its-a-girl-we-have-a-girl-a-perfect-little-girl-shes-so-amazing-and-so-are-you-I-am-so-proud-of-you*choke*sob*" ...or something like that.



But, it was an amazing moment. So amazing and so powerful that I can still get myself all choked up about it 362 days later.

And what a wild ride it's been since then! Snowstorms! Texas! Crying! A road trip to Walla Walla! A vacation in Hawaii! Bouncing! Illinois! Camping! Crawling! Weddings! Kitties! Highs and lows! Lack of sleep! And treacherous cardboard boxes to fall into!

And during those adventures, its been such a singular treat to get to meet and become better acquainted with this new little person that has come into mine and Sarah's life. Admittedly, there wasn't much to her at first: a burping, crying, and (occasionally) sleeping ball of clay. But each day has been a revelation with a new personality trait emerging -or a new layer being revealed- of this increasingly complex and unique person. That burping little baby is quickly transforming into an independent, spirited, outgoing, happy, sometimes stubborn but easy to smile, active little girl who loves "gitties," her stuffed monkey, playing with cellphones, being read to, bath time and eating peas and blackberries with her own hands.

...and she loves the outdoors! (Here, hiking with mommy.)

It might sound cliched, but its been an unparalleled joy to watch her turn into such an amazing little person before my eyes. And, I'm so happy to call her my daughter.

Then (Stella at 3 days old)...

...and now. Such poise!

Happy Birthday, Stella! Daddy loves you! You've already made me so happy and proud this first year. I can't wait to continue to get to know you in the years to come!

(That wasn't weep and hyperbolic again, was it?)

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stella's 1st Birthday Party!



Today we got together with some friends and family to celebrate Stella's first birthday. There are still a few days before she's officially one, but who's to quibble!

First, the party in still lifes:


Stella's 1st birthday cake from the nearby Filipino bakery--ube (purple yam) cake with macapuno (coconut) filling and whipped cream frosting. Delicious and not too sweet!


Stella had some initial trepidation, but quickly realized that sugar is fun!


Still enjoying cake with the rest of the guests


Mmm, cake!


The damage is done!

For those who want to feel like they were there (and have 3 1/2 minutes to spare), the video (thanks, Steph!):

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Happy birthday, Stella!

Stella--and we--are so fortunate to have so many friends and family in our life to help us celebrate the end of this first year! Thanks to all who could make it such a great day!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Eat 'em up time!"


"Bananas, cherries,
grapefruit, lime,
kumquat, kiwi
Eat 'em up time!"

- From Fruits, by Sara Anderson. One of Stella's favorite bedtime books.

As Stella enters her last week before her first Birthday, it's constantly amazing the amount and variety of food she eats. Where just a couple months ago, we were impressed if she gummed some steamed or mashed food before ejecting it back onto her bib; now she powers through whole meals like a champ. Sarah and I both know that we won't always be able to count on having such an adventurous eater, but for the time being we are enjoying it.

What are some of her favorites? Apple sauce. Yogurt (though we have to give her non-dairy, since cow's milk still seems to give her gas). Oatmeal. Cheerios. Green beans. Pasta (especially with a touch of red sauce). And peas... lots and lots of peas... as evidenced by her morning diaper change.

(She's going to really appreciate that detail when she gets older.)

Let's watch her eat, shall we?

First off, here's Stella with her Num Num (or is it Mum Mum? Yum Yum? ...I can never get it straight). We originally gave these to her on the flight to and from Dallas to keep her busy. But, they've quickly become favorites. She woke up fussy one afternoon, so I gave her a couple to snack on. Be sure to pay attention to the end of this...

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Did she just stick that whole thing in her mouth? Such a solemn little eater, no?

This video is actually from just a little over an hour ago. Stella learns the advantage of having top and bottom teeth...

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Texas Trip



Last week, Stella, Tyler and I headed down to Texas to visit family and attend my stepbrother Brent's wedding in Dallas. It'd been awhile since Stella had been on a plane (she's so much more grown up than last time we visited), and with her getting older, bigger, more mobile and more opinionated, I wasn't entirely sure how the trip would go. But Stella proved to still be a good traveller, and we even lucked out with an extra seat for her to hang out in.


Another plane trip, with the benefit of some time in her carseat. It worked better when we flipped the seat around so she couldn't kick the back of the seat in front of her. (Sorry random passenger!)

We spent the first few days in Commerce with my dad and stepmom. It was nice to leave the cold, rainy weather in Seattle for a few beautiful fall days back home. We got to take Stella on plenty of walks; for as well as she travelled, we had a hard time getting her to sleep well while away--stroller rides helped, as you can see below....


Post-walk with Grandpa Bob

We also took her to the pond on campus to feed some ducks and geese. You can see in the picture below how I'm spending a lot of time these days--hunched over while Stella walks holding onto my hands.


Taking a stroll and feeding some ducks

Sadly, we forgot our camera and didn't get any photos from the wedding. It was beautiful, and we're so excited to welcome Brent's new wife, Liz, to the family. Stella is lucking out to have another sweet and loving aunt!

We also spent a few days with my mom and stepdad. Unfortunately, a few days of being in lots of new places and around lots of people meant that Stella was a little cranky and clingy, but we found a few ways to help her open up to people:


In the backyard with Grandpapa--she was fascinated by the tree


Eating Mum Mums with Uncle Tim--he was her new best friend after handing off her new favorite baby treat!


Hanging with the women of the household: Aunt Jeanne, me and Stella and Nana

Stella also got her first birthday celebration, complete with singing, cake and a new baby cell phone (hopefully that will make her less obsessed with the real thing.....)


Stella's first 1st birthday celebration

In one week, Stella turns one. I know it's a cliche to reflect on how quickly the time passes, but--wow. On Friday we'll get the new stats at her 12-month check up, then more celebrating begins!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

11 Months




Where's Stella?


There she is!

Stella is 11 months old today. In a month she'll be one. Wow.

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Stella with her first balloon. Unbelievably, she hasn't popped it yet!

Happy Sunday!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Day in the Life of an 11 Month Old



As you can see, it's a pretty rough life being a baby:


Fresh, homemade food put in front of me three times a day, kicking back to eat at my leisure...

Stella's just a little over a month away from her first birthday. It's amazing to think of how much she's changed in that time. We're even starting to have more communication with her. When we say "water" she looks at her sippy cup; she can even make a baby sign to ask for water when she wants it. And she's learned the name of at least one of her many toys and stuffed animals:

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Monkey!

After breakfast, we typically set her down in the living room while we clean up the aftermath of the meal, and Stella typically pulls out and flips through many of her books. This always makes me smile, but it's been hard to get a picture of it. Whenever she sees me with the camera, she comes crawling.


Morning book time!

And we're coming up to our first Halloween. Stella had her very first costume party today. We were thinking at first that she'd be a monkey (one of her first nicknames was "Tummy Monkey", hence the stuffed monkey seen above!), but then our friends who travelled around the world showed up with a panda head hat from China and it was clear what she would be this year.


Baby Panda!

Of course, the downside of basing her costume around a hat is that she's pretty intent on pulling it off as soon as it's on her head. (Same with socks and shoes.) So mostly she looks like a baby in black and white. Maybe a penguin. Maybe a skunk. Maybe just a lame parent without a good costume idea. Until we pull the hat out and put it on her head--briefly--again. Oh well!