Sunday, January 31, 2010

14 Months (and 7 days, if you want to be technical about it)

As Stella gets older, each month's passing isn't necessarily quite as momentous as during the first year, but she's still changing an awful lot. And, as this is her virtual baby book, I thought it a good time to take stock on where she's at these days.

Stella at 14 months!

It's pretty exciting!

Stella's generally a voracious eater. Most mornings, Tyler makes her 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal with blueberries--and she eats the entire thing! She also seems to have largely inherited Tyler's taste buds. Bring on the pickles, vinegar, things that are zesty and flavorful--curry, soy sauce, butter chicken, roasted pepper and tomato soup. I'm often surprised by what she likes. And sometimes by what she doesn't. She doesn't seem to be so much of a comfort food, mashed potatoes, mac 'n cheese kind of gal. She's also a bit of a fickle foodie. One week, she could eat peas and only peas. Next week, all she's into is trying to squish them between her fingers. Lately, broccoli, mango and beef tenderloin have topped the list, but it could all be different in a few days.

Stella still is largely happy to interact with the world while holding onto our fingers. She loves when we take her outside to walk around the block. When we went to the aquarium last week, she practically walked through the whole place holding my hand--clearly she's got some balance, leg strength and stamina. She could walk (and will take some steps or walk when she's sufficiently distracted), she just hasn't decided that she wants to yet. For now, when she wants to get somewhere, she'll reach for one of our fingers insistently. When we try to encourage to get around with her own steam (I mean, she could still crawl), she gets pretty frustrated. She doesn't want to crawl, but she doesn't want to walk alone. Sometimes, under duress, she'll do this funny thing where she'll walk while kneeling. I was so convinced she would be an early walker--just another way she's teaching me that I'm not really in charge. While sometimes I get a little impatient for her to start walking independently, I also am a little happy to not have to chase after her quite yet.

Stella's own special mode of transport, not crawling, not quite walking....

She's also at that fun age when she wants to mimic us and "help." If we give her trash, we'll walk (together) to the kitchen, then she'll open the cabinet, put it in the can, and close the door. Now, I know this will ultimately lead to her throwing all kinds of things away that don't really belong in the trash, but for now it's pretty darned cute. And she wants to help sweep, put her dish in the sink, and comb her hair (though she no longer wants to brush her teeth). Probably related to the trash thing, she's really into putting things into other things--toys into an old diaper wipes box, balls into an empty Kleenex box, and sometimes with toys that are actually meant to encourage such behavior. (I'm still waiting to see this manifest itself with putting clothes back in the dresser, or my shoes back in the closet after she's pulled them all out....)

Probably less fun but equally developmentally important is that she's increasingly stubborn and getting frustrated. There's lots of head shaking (even when she really means yes), frustrated noises, and the throwing herself down onto the ground--when we're lucky, this means stretching out on her belly and kicking her legs. When we're not, she throws all caution to the wind and throws her head back, which then gives her a legitimate reason to cry.

This does not illustrate the previous statement at all--it's just a cute picture of Stella and Tyler together. We tend not to take pictures during the mini-tantrums (though we do sometimes have to try hard not to laugh at her melodramatics).

What else? More hair--if still a bit short and straight on top and fluffy and curly in the back. More sounds--da and ma and a dog barking noise that sounds like a cross between bow-wow and woof ("bwu, bwu"). More teeth coming in on her bottom gum. And better sleeping--she's been consistently sleeping through the night, 12+ hours, to our relief, with the side effect of seeming to move to only one nap a day.

Becoming a better sleeper. I think she still likes that newborn feeling of being all cozy and confined--we often find her looking cramped in the corner end of her bed, with her head nestled into a corner.

She can (fairly reliably) get down off of the couch or the futon downstairs. Stella's also pretty obsessed with bellybuttons (or "oodle" in Bahasa Indonesia). She can find hers and is very amused to see other's. She still loves monkeys and kitties and the recycling/yard waste truck and guys. She's also probably inherited some of her parent's shyness--in large crowds, she'll definitely hang back and wait to get her bearings. Sometimes she'll do this thing in a new situation where she'll just freeze in place, standing stock still or once or twice even in mid-crawl. Other current activities and faves:

I don't know if when my sister-in-law Jeanne got Stella these sunglasses she realized how much Stella would like them!

Hipster Stella (and dad)

Always interested in the world outside--and tall enough to see out this window now.

Playing with the farm

Besides all the recent sickness, this is a pretty fun age. Stella's starting to seem more like a little girl than a baby, which is pretty amazing, considering what she was like a year ago. I'm still looking forward to being able to have conversations, but it's pretty cool to realize that she really is understanding what we say and to see her be a little scientist all the time, experimenting with how the world works and how she can have an impact on things. And she keeps our lives filled with lots of laughter:

Stella, we love you!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Solo Stella

OK, so its true that I can't type. And, it's also true that my English skills are pretty much limited to the all inclusive "ghee" and the occasional "mama" and "dada." But, I still thought this would be a good time to make my first appearance as a contributor at Strange and Benevolent.

Because, while most of my adventures also involve my Mommy and Daddy (who can report them here), occasionally I have adventures that they aren't involved in. Most of the time, if I'm not hanging out with the Parental Units, I'm hanging out with my good friends Tirza and Natalie.

That's Natalie on the left, and her mommy, Tirza, holding me.

A couple of times a week, Tirza and Natalie come to visit while my mom is away at work, so that my dad can go sit in the basement. Rumour has it he's working too... but I often hear bad punk rock music coming from downstairs, so I'm suspect of this theory. Regardless, three or four times a week, I get to hang out with Tirza and Natalie. Sometimes, they come right after my morning nap, and other times they come right before my afternoon nap. Either way, it's always a good time!

Tirza is Natalie's mommy, and they are both fun! We are always listening to music about cows, chasing each other around the couch or playing games like "I see you!" Natalie calls me "Adi," which is Indonesian for "sister." And, its been fun having someone to look up to and learn Baby Skills™ from.

Usually, we just hang out around the house. But, sometimes I go with Tirza, Natalie and Tirza's husband, Allen, to run errands around town. When that happens, they usually take me out to breakfast too (pancakes!), and maybe to someplace fun like the pet store, a play area or the Rain Forest Cafe (to see the robot animals). The day these photos were taken, we went to the Aquarium.

By the way, scuba divers = scary!

I love Tirza and Natalie! I'm always excited to see their blue car pull up in front of their house. And, I'm always sad when it's time for them to leave. In fact, I might be giving daddy a complex by crying and clinging to Tirza whenever it comes time to leave.

Friday, January 29, 2010

New Year Do Over?

Like most people, Tyler and I started the new year with goals and good intentions. But nature has conspired against us. First Tyler was sick, then Stella, then me. Then Stella got more sick (high fever, urgent care and ER visit), got better, then I came down with some kind of tonsilitis. One of us has been out of sorts for about three weeks of this month. Spending more time with friends in '10? Uncheck. Family time? Not unless that includes one of us gamely trying to help out while feeling terrible. But things are looking up. Stella seems to be back to herself, to our vast pleasure and relief:

Enjoying some post-dinner applesauce in the kitchen. Some of those "mmms" are all Stella. What can I say? She comes by them honestly.

We have high hopes for February. Never a better time to start those new year's resolutions then the start of a new--healthier, we hope--month!

And the whole experience gave us an extra chance to be grateful to ordinarily be blessed with an sweet and healthy girl. When her fever was so bad and Stella was so miserable, it was like having a newborn all over again. All she wanted to do was sleep on my chest. No smiles, no laughter, no movement, not much eating to speak of. And it wasn't much fun putting her through the paces at all those doctor visits, even when we knew it was ultimately in her best interest. I'm much happier having our little busy-body back. It might mean putting the clothes back in her drawer, over, and over, and over again, but it also means getting to see her smile and hear her laughter a lot more, too.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Photographs for the Future

Sometimes I can be a neglectful photographer of Stella's day-to-day life. (Christmas could serve as a case in point.) I often remember to bring a camera to outings and get togethers, but then it's easy to get caught up in catching up, keeping up with Stella, and--before you know it--we're on our way home and I'm saying, "Shoot! I never even pulled out the camera!"

But yesterday Stella and I had a playdate at the aquarium with Lucy and Christine, Porter and Piper, and Roman and Charity, and I actually managed to take a few photos.

Playdate moms and babes: Christine & Lucy, me & Stella, Piper & Porter, and Charity & Roman

Having some lunch in the cafe

Stella checking out Lucy--so cute to finally see them interacting a bit!

Lunch continues with pureed food for Porter, and Roman relaxes in post-milk bliss

It's not so much this was a particularly momentous playdate (though it was a lot of fun) or that these are fantastic photographs. Rather, I love the idea that someday, when the age differences between these guys is negligable, and we parents have gotten older, that we will all be able to look back at these and remember this time of our life, that the kids (who, of course, will still be friends) can bemuse themselves with the images of their younger selves, and be amazed that they've known each other for their whole lives. Sort of like this photo of Tyler from his boyhood, on a hike with his dad and brother, and his dad's college friend, and his sons who are still friends to this day.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Action Stella

Stella's keeping herself (and us!) busy these days....

Emptying drawers....

Rearranging the dining room chairs...

Emptying out our closet.... (her drawers aren't enough, apparently)

Emptying her bookcase....

And, for good measure, pulling the books off of our bookcase, too.

Here you can see the whirlwind in action....

Stella's also getting closer to walking, standing on her own more and taking some independent steps. So far, she still seems to prefer leading us around by the hand rather than venturing off independently. I imagine that will seem like a blessing in retrospect!

We also had our friend Breanne take one-year photos of Stella. She got some fantastic shots. Here are a few favorites, but you can see them all here.

It's amazing how grown up Stella's starting to seem. It's clear she's starting to understand more words. Yesterday, I said, "Let's go get daddy!" and she grabbed my hand and went straight to where Tyler was. And tonight, she was playing with a pasta wrapper, was done playing, took it to the cabinet, opened the door, put it in the trash and closed the door. When she started to take it back out and I said not to, let's close the cabinet, she actually did! Of course, this also means she's getting a little more willful and frustrated when she doesn't get her way. She's not so easy to distract anymore, and she could give non-violent protesters some lessons on how to make your body go limp and try to make moving you a difficult proposition!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time

(The title is, of course, a reference to what is still probably the most awesome Christmas video ever.)

I'm not exactly sure what happened to this blog entry.

As 2009 wrapped up, both Sarah and I had fully intended to do entries talking about the various family Christmas festivities we attended and talk about our end-of-the-year trip down to the Dallas area to see Sarah's family. But, maybe, once we were actually home, we just needed a little mental break from the Holidays. Or, maybe it was the fact that January doesn't seem to be providing us the downtime we naively presumed it would. Or, possibly, it's because recently we've been planning Pass-the-Cold again.

But, most likely, it was because everything went so smoothly and presently that none of it makes good blog-fodder. It was, in the word of Paul, a simply wonderful Christmas time.

After opening presents at our place on Christmas morning, we made our way over to my parents house in Sammamish. Where we discovered that they had turned their enclosed deck into a quintessential Christmas scene, complete with (as my Aunt purportedly described it) a Martha Stewart worthy Christmas tree. Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures ourselves. But, my dad was happy to forward along a couple...

Enjoying Christmas on the Holideck (I just made that up). Note my stylin' red socks.

Stella shows my brother and I how to climb the stairs.

A very tired Stella falls asleep with her mom and Grandma after a long Christmas day.

All in all, it was great to relax and visit with my parents, Grandma (Stella's great-Grandma), Aunt, cousin Nolan (more about him at the end of the entry), as well as my brother and sis-in-law who had flown up from LA to visit.

A couple days later, we boarded a plane to Dallas, on what would be Stella's fifth trip out of Washington. (Stella, in her first 13-months, has now flown more than I had by the time I reached college.)

Our first stop was to visit with Sarah's mom and step-dad in Rockwall, about 45 minutes northeast of Dallas. There we celebrated a second Christmas, relaxed around their house a bit and did a little post-Christmas clothes shopping at one of Dallas' Texas-sized shopping malls.

Stella seems pleased to take a ride on Grandpapa Don's shoulder.

Is there a saying about "the family that surfs the internet together stays together"? Sarah, Stella, Nana and Grandpapa gather around to see Cindy's Farmville farm.

Stella wears her Christmas dress while playing with her new animal blocks. Sarah is dressed a little more casual.

After that, it was another 45 minutes down the road to Commerce, TX to see Sarah's dad and step-mom, as well as her Grandparents and uncle. Even though we arrived at their place the day before New Years, that didn't stop us from celebrating Christmas one last time!

Stella opens presents with her great-grandpa Frank and great-grandma Jean.

Stella pets Skipper!

One last walk in the park with Grandpa Bob before we climb on the plane for our flight home.

As with all holiday seasons, things seemed to go too fast. With the addition of Stella's Birthday that holiday season now starts on the 25th, so its become a bit of a marathon too. It was great that this year everything went so well, and we look forward to seeing what 2010 will bring us!