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!):

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...

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...

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!