Thursday, January 31, 2013

16 Months

Stella is 16 months old. Actually, she has been for over a week now, but that's beside the point. It's been a very busy but fun month for us. She's moving faster, which means I have to move faster. But, it's been really fun to see her pick up on a lot of new things this month.

Now that she's walking around more outside, we've been putting big kid shoes (hard-soled shoes) on her more. She loves it! She loves the noise they make and will walk around on the hard floors with her shoes on to hear it. She's recently moved up a shoe size, so lately we've been trying shoes on her a lot to see which of our plethora of hand-me-down choices will fit. She loves trying them on and often gets upset if I try them on and then take them off again without letting her walk around in them. And, she's also recently discovered that she can put on our shoes (or slippers, as the case may be) and that's even more fun. She loves shoes! What can I say - she's definitely my daughter.

This month, she's also added a couple words to her repertoire. She now says car (ka) and cookie (ke-ka). And her signing is really picking up. We started signing with her months ago. The only sign she seemed to pick up on was "more". So, we sort of gave up and stopped signing with her. Then, all of a sudden, she started signing. Lots. So, we're back on the signing bandwagon and are starting to work on some new ones. Her "more" sign has morphed into a greater meaning. She now uses it whenever she wants anything, whether it's more of what she's been having (or doing) or something completely new. When it's something completely new, it's always fun trying to guess just what it is she wants. Her signing is awfully cute because she can't do a lot of the signs correctly, so she does the best she can and we love it. I suppose maybe I should try to capture that on video. Anyway, she currently signs "more", "milk", "please", and "all done". We're starting to work on "thank you", but she hasn't quite got it yet.

Stella has developed an interest in climbing into and sitting in things. It started with Scout's bed (which Scout didn't appreciate).

Then it moved to her toy box.

Now it's whatever looks like it might be big enough to hold her.

I took her to the park for the first time a few weeks ago when the weather warmed up. She loved being outside and walking around on the concrete. And she looks like she's having a grand time in these pictures. Don't be fooled. She was freaked out by everything from the wood chips on the ground in the playground area to the slide to the swing. Fortunately, by the time we left she had warmed up to the slide, a little. We've gone back and she's done better. But, we're still working on getting her to like the swing.

She remains very curious and is pretty good at opening drawers to discover what's inside. Her current favorites are my pots and pans drawers and the drawer with all her plastic spoons, bowls, bibs, etc.

She recently found my swimming goggles and thought they were hilarious. But, I had a hard time getting a picture of her before she tried to take them off. I had to convince her to take a few moments to check them out in the mirror.

She likes to eat and especially loves fruit. But, she's starting to show a lot more independence now and it's often through food and during her feedings. Things that she used to love she has all of a sudden started rejecting like it's the plague. She refuses cheese. This greatly saddens both Mr. Frisby and I. She used to love it and would eat it up great. Now, she just throws it on the floor. She used to eat almost everything we gave her. Now she's figured out that she can choose what she eats and once she decides she's not going to eat something, her mind has little chance of being changed. She currently loves Blueberries and Raspberries. At least they're healthy. She's also learning to feed herself with a fork. She does pretty well, but sometimes loses patience and just throws the fork overboard and uses her hands. She does okay with a spoon if we help her, but she has a hard time getting the spoon to her mouth right side up if we don't. We're working on it.

She does love desserts, ice cream in particular, and she comes running to get some if she sees us eating any.

It seems like she developed and changed a lot this month. She's figuring out that objects have a purpose. The other day, I looked over and she had my keys and was holding one up to the door knob. Fortunately for us, she isn't physically able to turn door knobs and open doors, but she gets how it works. She picks up on a lot of things just by hearing us talk about things or watching us do things. And, it's surprising sometimes how quickly she learns.

Stella is still working on her upper canines. The teething process with her has been really pretty easy and painless. Until these last two. These two are beasts! She's been working on them for over a month and they've been the cause of a lot of lost sleep for all of us. Every day I think, "maybe today will be the day they finally poke through." And, every day, it's not. But, one of these days they'll finally come in and her teething will be over for awhile. We hope it's very soon. For all our sakes.

She still loves Scout and they have a good time playing together. She tries to chase Scout around, but of course she's not fast enough. She has fun anyway. She likes to tease Scout with her toys, too. She actually likes to tease all of us with whatever she can. It makes me nervous for when she gets older.

And that's Stella. She makes our world go round.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Gymnastics Weekend

Stella just turned 16 months and a post about her is forthcoming. But, I wanted to blog about Gymnastics Weekend first. What is Gymnastics Weekend, you ask? Well, it's the weekend that my sister and my nephew came to town for his gymnastics meet at Stanford. My nephew is ten and lives in Utah. He doesn't often have gymnastics meets out of state, so this was our first opportunity to watch him compete. Obviously, gymnastics was a big part of the weekend. But, we did other fun things with them while they were here, too.

First off was a day trip to Pinnacles National Monument. My sister wanted to do a hike there. I was hesitant to do it with Stella because the trails at Pinnacles are not, shall we say, stroller friendly. We went on a Friday, so Mr. Frisby couldn't join us which meant I would be packing Stella the entire way unless she was of a mind to let someone else hold her. And you can never bank on that with her. In spite of my reservations, I let everyone talk me into doing the hike and it turned out great. Stella was not really of a mind to let anyone else hold her for more than a few moments, but she was of a mind to walk almost the whole hike. And it was actually really good for her because she's always been a little timid about walking around outside and the hike got her really used to walking on different terrain. She loved it, it was a great hike, and we had fun.

The only scary part for Stella was going through the caves. They made her nervous. Which isn't that surprising since it was her first encounter with a cave. I tried to get a picture of her near the entrance to the first cave we went in, but she was freaking out and would have none of it. Once we made it through, though, she had no problem stopping for a photo on the other side.

We hiked up to a reservoir and stopped there for a little break. Stella loved it. She was able to run around and enjoy the outdoors. She also had fun collecting everyone's water bottles and carrying them around.

From the reservoir, you have the option of continuing on the trail which eventually gets you back to the parking lot or you can turn around and go back the way you came. We opted to turn around and go back the way we came since it would be a lot shorter.

I had my sister snap this pic of Stella and I on the way back so I would have proof that I was actually there.

My nephew's gymnastics meet was Sunday morning. Mr. Frisby couldn't go since he had too many responsibilities at church. I decided I would rather chase Stella around a noisy gymnasium while watching my nephew compete than chase her around AND try to keep her quiet and happy at church, so we headed to Stanford to watch the meet.

It was really fun to watch my nephew. They're split into levels based on age and skill level, so I think most of the kids competing were between 10 and 12, with maybe a few that were a little older. When they all came out for their march in, I just thought they all looked so small. And then they started doing their routines and it's amazing what they can do! Here's my nephew in action (I would like to have taken our DSLR to take some good pics, but I knew that would be impossible if I had Stella to keep track of, so all of these pics are from my iPhone):

Pommel Horse


Parallel Bars

High Bar

I took a couple pics of his floor routine, but it was farther away so they were pretty blurry. And the vault was so far away I didn't even attempt it. Stella had a great time climbing up and down the bleachers and collecting water bottles (she has a thing for water bottles, in case you couldn't tell) and it was really fun to watch my nephew. Great weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Holiday Madness

I really should split this post, but I'm not going to, so away we go.

We had a very busy Christmas season this year. There were the normal Christmas activities to keep us busy, of course, but then we decided to throw a kitchen remodel on top of everything (who remodels their kitchen during the last month and a half of the year? No wonder IKEA had that special going on on kitchens). But, in spite of the chaos, we managed to have a lovely and fun Christmas season.

First off was meeting Santa. I was pleasantly surprised at Stella's composure. When we put her on Santa's lap, she just looked at him with great curiosity. She didn't cry. She didn't make a sound. She didn't even look back at us. She just stared at him (I could almost hear her thoughts: "you're not Santa. You smell like beef and cheese."). After a few moments, she was done and she turned and reached for us.

Our neighbor kitty-corner to us goes all out decorating his house for Christmas. He's got lights galore, music playing, inflatable stuff, light and motion lawn decorations, etc, etc, etc. As you might imagine, Stella would go nuts whenever she saw it. So, we decided to take her to see some good Christmas light displays. First off was the Oakland Temple. She loved it. She loved looking around at the lights, she loved wearing her hat and mittens, she loved having Grandma with us. It was a success. But, it was also freezing, so after walking around for several minutes, we were done.

Next we were fortunate enough to be invited by some friends to a private light display at the home of the Bonfantes. That would be the Bonfantes that designed and built Gilroy Gardens. They live here in Morgan Hill. Turns out the Bonfantes love Christmas and go all out decorating their home. 38,000 lights, a 51-foot wooden Christmas Tree with a light show coordinated to music. And they open it up for people to take in the festive awesomeness by invitation only. Thank goodness we were invited. They even had a live band, a marshmallow roasting station, cookies, and wassail. It was awesome and I wish the following pictures could've done it justice, but they really don't. As you can imagine, Stella was in heaven.

We decided to spend Christmas in Rexburg this year with Mr. Frisby's family. I am of the opinion that traveling for Christmas is difficult and it is immensely more difficult the more people you have traveling. And when those people are children who start to question the whole Santa thing because you're not at your house and you have to secretly tote all of the presents to your destination, it gets really complicated. Add to that winter storms and the possibility of bad driving conditions and traveling for Christmas soon loses its appeal. So, since we currently have one child who is not old enough to understand Santa, let alone question his antics, I decided we best get the Christmas traveling done now before it gets too complicated. And we just hoped for good weather. So, it was off to Rexburg. We decided to leave the Friday before Christmas. The trip between here and Rexburg is about 14 hours. That's only a few hours longer than the trip between here and Utah. However, those few hours become an eternity when you have a very curious toddler who doesn't like to be confined, so, while we typically do the Utah drive in a day, we prefer to split the trip to Rexburg. We opted to open all of our presents Friday morning, have lunch, then head out. We figured we could probably make it to Elko, NV or thereabouts and then we would only have a relatively short time in the car on Saturday.

As a huge storm started heading towards the Bay Area, we started to check weather reports. It seemed that while the storm was scheduled to hit Donner Pass on Friday, the worst of it wouldn't be until that night. So, we figured we would still open presents Friday morning, and then we would just hurry and pack up and go so as to beat the storm.

We got everything done that we could Thursday night and then got "Christmas" ready. It's so much more fun when kids are involved.

Stella slept in on Friday morning - Merry Christmas to us! Finally she woke up and I fed her breakfast and then we checked out what Santa brought. My parents came down to hang out with us while we opened presents. We decided to save our stockings to take to Rexburg, so we didn't open those. But Stella loved her new toys and caught on to the whole present opening business really fast. I think she still remembered how it worked from her birthday. And, yes, those are Halloween pajamas Stella is wearing. Her Christmas ones were packed and since I was doing laundry when she went to bed the night before, those were the only clean ones she had available.

Scout even got a new Raccoon puppet and she was thrilled.

After we finished opening presents, we got everything packed up and got ready to go as quickly as we could. Of course, it was right around lunchtime when we were finally ready to go, so we didn't get out as early as we would've liked, but we figured we could still get over Donner Summit before dark. We headed out and everything went smoothly until we got up north of Auburn, about an hour (in normal traffic conditions) from the summit. Then, we hit traffic. Stop and go traffic. We inched along and payed attention to weather/road reports. They were saying chains were required over the summit. We passed several chain installation areas and finally decided to stop and put ours on. The traffic was slowing us down more than the chains ever would. We got the chains on and continued on our way. We finally made it to the chain checkpoint and continued past. The chain checkpoint was what was causing the stop and go traffic and once we got past, the traffic was really light. But, they had imposed a 30 mph speed limit going over the summit and we couldn't go faster than that anyway because of our chains. So much for getting over the summit before dark and beating the storm. What should have taken an hour or so took over three hours. And Stella wasn't happy. She wanted out of the car by that time. I spent most of the drive over Donner sitting in the back feeding her dinner and trying to entertain her. At the suggestion of some friends (thanks Cutlers!) I had purchased a glow stick to keep Stella entertained when it got dark. It worked like a charm. She was fascinated by it. Too bad the one I bought for the trip home was defective and didn't work. When we finally made it to Truckee, we stopped to take our chains off and to get dinner. Stella did laps around the restaurant getting her energy out while we ate. There was no way we were making it to Elko that night. Instead we stopped in Winnemucca. Which is fine because they have a Holiday Inn Express which has a great free breakfast. Saturday's drive proved uneventful, we had much better weather, and Stella did really well in the car. We made it Rexburg Saturday evening safe and sound with our sanity intact.

We had a great time in Rexburg, but took very few pictures. All of Mr. Frisby's family were there for Christmas, so it was great to see everyone and spend time together. On Christmas Eve, we decided to check out an old ghost town where Mr. Frisby's great-grandmother lived. We had great adventures finding it and getting out to it and then getting back, but it was really cool and we decided we should check it out again when it's not so cold and snowy.

First stop was some old farm equipment. We figured there must be more, so we continued on.

Finally we found what was left of Mr. Frisby's great-grandmother's cabin.

Looking out over Herbert, ID from the old homestead.

After checking out Mr. Frisby's great-grandmother's homestead, we headed to this old building to check it out. And that's when my phone battery ran out so I got no more pictures (we had intended to take our awesome camera to take some awesome pictures, but forgot it while getting everyone loaded up to go). Just imagine a very old, falling apart building with rat poop covering the ENTIRE floor. I don't mean just lots of rat poop. I mean, every square inch of the floor was covered. With rat poop. Gross!

We had a great time checking it out and saw some other buildings that would also have been fun to explore. But, it was F-R-E-E-Z-I-N-G! So, we hightailed it out of there and decided to come back in some warmer weather.

Christmas was lovely, but we took no pictures. We opened our stockings and a few other gifts that we had there, but since we had opened most of our presents at home, we had fun sitting and watching everyone else open their gifts.

The next day we planned to head down to Utah to spend a few days with my family there. As luck would have it, another storm was scheduled to hit the Wasatch Front that day, so we, again, hurried up to get things ready and get out quickly so as to beat the storm. I don't really think we beat the storm, but it wasn't as bad as it was predicted to be, so we made it to Utah with no problems and our sanity, yet again, intact. Except for the moment, about an hour into our drive, when we remembered that Mr. Frisby had left his snowboard at his parents' house and he would need it since he planned to go snowboarding with my sister and her family the next day. Fortunately, his sister had not yet left their parents' house and she was also headed to Utah, so she was able to bring it down for him and meet up to hand it off.

We had a great time in Utah as well and it was great to see my family, but we, again, took very few pics in spite of having lots to do. As I mentioned, on Thursday Mr. Frisby went snowboarding with my sister and her family. I stayed home with Stella and my sister's youngest, Leah. We decided to head over to my other sister's and spend the day with her. After the skiers/snowboarders returned that night, we headed down to Provo for a BYU basketball game. Stella was totally entertained with everything going on and she loved it when we sang the Couger Fight Song.

With all of the snow that Utah had gotten, we decided we better do a little bit of sledding on Friday, especially since Stella had never been. My sister (who we were staying with) has a very small hill at the end of her street, so we figured that would be perfect to take little Stella sledding and we headed over. Mr. Frisby was tired and sore from his snowboarding adventure, so he played photographer while I went down the hill with Stella and my sister's kids attempted to build a small jump.

We hadn't brought snow clothes except our jackets, but fortunately my sister had extras for us to use. I thought Stella made a very cute little snow bunny.

Stella's first sledding run! I think she liked it.

I made sure Scout got in on the fun, too.

 I'm pretty sure she didn't like it, but she did love running around in the snow and chasing us all around.

Sledding fun:

Leah joined Stella and I for one run down and then I got Scout on with Stella and I for a repeat. She hated it about as much as the first time.

I showed Stella how to make a snow angel and then I helped her make one. It was about the cutest little snow angel I've ever seen. Mine is on the left and hers is on the right.

We had lots of fun sledding, but after awhile we were ready to head back and thaw out.

The next day, Saturday, we headed home. Once again, bad weather and poor driving conditions threatened to make our trip home difficult, but we were lucky and seemed to be hitting the difficult spots in between storms. Stella was a champ on the drive home and we made it back, safe and sound.

New Year's was a pretty quiet affair. We went to my sister's house for a dinner of hors d'oeuvres and played games until it was time to ring in the New Year. We put Stella down to sleep, but she didn't sleep too well and woke up just in time to ring in the New Year with us. After the countdown and "Happy New Years" all around, we headed home and Stella couldn't have been more thrilled to lay down in her own bed and go to sleep. That was pretty much how I felt, too.

And that was our holiday madness. Until next year!