August has been a busy month, typical for the Northwest. We're all trying to get married while there's nice weather and fit in some last camping trips, hikes and BBQs before fall officially begins. The rain is in sight, and we're bound and determined to enjoy summer before it's over! This year has been no exception, with two weddings, a trip to Illinois, two camping trips and our anniversary so far. Tonight Tyler and I were joking about how many "baby experience points" Stella has. That comment probably has some genesis in role-playing games that I didn't fully appreciate, but it is amazing to think of how much Stella has experienced and changed.
But I get ahead of myself. First, our family trip to Illinois.
We finally got the chance to take Stella to meet her third great-grandmother in Illinois two weeks ago. It was fortunate timing as my mom and stepdad were able to take a trip and visit at the same time. It's been two years since I've been back to see my extended family, and Tyler hasn't been since before we were married when we went for my great-grandmother's funeral. I was a little worried about how Stella would handle everything and everyone. My mom's the oldest of seven children; I'm the oldest of 21 grandchildren; Stella's currently one of 10 great-grandchildren. When we visit, there's no shortage of people to see and talk to. The day of the big family get-together had 36 people, and that's not even everyone!
My grandma and Stella
Four generations: my mom's mom, my mom, me and Stella
Me, my mom and Stella. If you look closely, you'll see the rock commemorates the very first Lincoln-Douglas debate in Illinois.
Stella and three other great-grandkids, Madelyn (9:00), Van (the youngest at 12:00) and Logan (6:00)
Rose has been a popular middle name among the grandkids; it was our great-grandmother's name (my grandma's mom who lived to be about a week shy of her 100th birthday). Here is Stella with the other "Roses": Mia Rose, Mariah Melania Rose, Madelyn Rose and Stella Rose
Stella in the highchair that's been at my grandma's house since I was born. Apparently they had just given away their baby stuff when I came on the scene and they had to get a new crib and highchair.
While we were there, my mom, stepdad and grandma also did a little babysitting to give Tyler and I some time together, including celebrating our fourth anniversary with a lunch out together at the Starved Rock Lodge.
Celebrating four years of marriage! It's passed quickly, yet it's hard to remember my life without Tyler
We also had the chance to do a little hiking in the nearby canyons. I hadn't been hiking there in ages, and the sights and smells kept bringing back memories of hiking around the park and canyons when I was little and we'd come visit family for the weekend.
Tyler in Illinois Canyon land
Tyler standing under Ottawa Canyon. There's not much water now, but in the winter there are really cool frozen waterfalls.
Tall, curving canyon wall
Then it was on to our annual summer camping trip. This past weekend, Tyler, Stella and I went met up with Grandpa Rick, "Uncle" Gary and friends up in the Alpine Lakes Region (also irreverantly known as Lake Phuckalia) for a few nights in the great outdoors. This started as a father-son thing, but a few years ago the wives started joining in, and this summer was the first Baby Edition.
Early evening the first day at camp: Grandpa Rick, Tyler and Stella and "Uncle" Gary
Having a little dinner on dad's lap
Some of Stella's favorite times camping are in the tent, probably because for now it's one of the only places she can roam free. (Once she gets past the pesky phase of putting everything in her mouth, we can have her be a bit more independent.) She looked awfully cute in Tyler's alpaca hat, but she wouldn't keep it on, even though the mornings are a little chilly.
This year we even managed to fit a hike in to Hyas Lake. As we were hiking, Tyler and I were reminiscing about one of our past backpacking trips in the region and thinking that maybe next year Stella can spend a few days with her grandparents while we rough it. A few minutes later, we caught up with a family backpacking: mom carrying the 20-month old baby on her back and a pack on her front, the dad carrying a big pack and holding the four-year-old by the hand. We'll see how ambitious we get next year!
Lake Hyas, beautiful views and a great, easy hike
Me and Stella at Lake Hyas--it's not a very exciting picture, but otherwise all the shots ended up being mommy-free...
Our camp grew by one family on the second night when Gary's son Alex came with his wife Rachel and 16-month-old son, Ryder
Stella at her first (illegal) campfire.
On top of all that, tomorrow Stella turns 9-months-old. At her last check-up, we learned she's 29 inches tall and 19 pounds 11 ounces. That puts her at the 93 percentile in height and only 64th in weight, so she's apparently slightly thin for her size. And her first tooth continues to come in, causing us all more sleepless nights than we might like. I've been trying to get a photo; if you click on this, you can see a whits spot on Stella's lower left gum. That's the tooth!
Stella at 9 months: crawling, pulling up, getting her first tooth, and generally a pretty smiley happy girl
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