Sunday, December 27, 2009

First! (Christmas)

This was the first Christmas celebration for Zeke. And yes, if you are building an online profile to try to determine who we are, that means we celebrate Christmas.

I wish we had a picture of Zeke sitting in the giant pile of toys people gave him. So as not to overwhelm the kid, and to make the joy last longer, we hid most of the new toys and plan on giving them to him a few at a time. We pulled out some of the new toys immediately, however, as Z is absolutely bored with our regular toys at home.


Mostly, he enjoyed playing with things that make noise when you shake them. We call these toys, collectively, "Shake-a shake-a".

GingerNut received a pack of binkies that Zeke immediately identified and wanted to eat. Well, he wanted to eat all of the items he saw, but these were especially promising.

Thumbelina received a new bike from Santa, and she really enjoyed it. This bike was the clear winner.

Legoman received this fun car from Santa, and Zeke thought it was a wonderful gift so long as someone was pushing him along and so long as someone pushed the little horn. Zeke will not be receiving a car like this any time soon, and not just because it's super-pink and says "Princess" on the rear license plate (it does).

Thanks to all for a wonderful Christmas! We had a great time visiting and laughing and playing, and the booty was pretty good too. The Christmas booty. As in, the gifts, not the other kind. Knock it off.

Monday, December 21, 2009

And, we're back!

We got back from our trip and hit the ground running with Christmas preparations and wedding festivities. Zeke (pictured above) is very happy to be back in his own home with his own crib and his own stuff. He is doing very well cruising around the house and standing up on his own. I think the next post will be a video of him walking. (Yea! and Oh, no! at the same time.)
We should also get a video of him at night when we take him across the street to see our neighbor's Christmas light display. He gets so excited and makes some of the funniest noises. It is awesome to experience Christmas with a baby!

Friday, December 11, 2009

3 Degrees F

That's how cold it was when we took this picture. We told great-grandma we were going to go for a short walk outside - only 10 minutes - to look at the Christmas lights on her block. After slipping on ice and almost breaking an ankle after stepping on snow that hid a surprisingly deep and wide gutter, we called it quits. It took us about three minutes to see the two closest light displays and to hustle back inside. We need to hurry back to ACityByTheBeach!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Z packs the essentials

We are getting ready to go on our first airplane trip as a family. Hooray! Mike and I are nervous about how to keep Z happy on the plane but I'm a little more nervous about how to keep him warm once we arrive in Utah. There's going to be snow!
We will visit great-grandmas and great-grandpas and cousins and aunts and uncles and friends. There's not time enough to see everyone but we will try. Mike's also going to make a solo trip up to Salt Lake to go to a live temple session there with his sister BettyEdit. It should be a crazy fun trip.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chopped

I am not one for trips to the hair salon. I have traditionally enjoyed growing my hair long even though I do not always make good use of it. (My favorite hairstyle is the Ponytail. My second favorite is the Severe Bun.)
Last Wednesday I went to a savvy beautician and asked for a rather daring cut. It turned out to be slightly too daring for me at first, but after the initial shock wore off I fell in love with the convenience and simplicity of short hair. Here is a picture of what was cut off - the ruler along the side is there to show how long the braids are (approx. 11 - 12 inches).
Thanks Nightengale - now Zeke can't pull my hair. And I got tons of compliments last Sunday. =)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Proof of Teeth

Here is the first picture I've been able to get of Zeke's teeth.
Yea!
Note: Please ignore the messy desk in the background.

Question: Why do my pictures look gorgeous when I open the file directly from my card and then look grainy when I post them on blogger? What up with that?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Day

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today we split time between Grandparents and had a fabulous day filled with fun and family. The morning was spent with the maternal Grandparents at Awesome Beach. A crew, including Mike, rode Segways along the bike path and took a tour of some famous nearby California beach locations. Here's a picture of the Segway Sextet:
Note Mike in the middle, flexing his bicep.
These were very fun toys, although Mike did laugh when someone shouted at him "What, are you too lazy to walk?" I stayed behind and played with Zeke - we played in the perfect Pacific for the very first time. He seemed to like it, but the water was too cold for him. I thought it was delicious and a perfect day for chilling at the beach.
The afternoon and early evening were spent with the paternal Grandparents, enjoying delicious Chinese food for the dinner part of Thanksgiving, and visiting and relaxing at home. Zeke crawled everywhere and got into everything and enjoyed all of Legoman's toys while he was away for the day. Good times were had by all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kooza

Thanksgiving started off with a wild night under the big top - Mike and I went to see one of the Cirque shows with Grandma, Grandpa, Betty Edit and friend Glittergal. Even more amazing - we sat on the very front row. A clown tied a balloon for me in the shape of a hair dryer and then another clown beat Grandpa over the head with it. Crazy times. Here's a picture of the circus tents from above:
It was an amazing show, although I will admit that I closed my eyes while the contortionists performed. There were some outlandish costumes and more than once I found myself thinking, "Kudos to whoever had to sew that."
Of course, Thanksgiving truly began with a 3 hour drive from CitybytheBeach to Hometown, a drive that can take as little at 45 minutes in light traffic. Zeke was not pleased with the drive and was very vocal about his opinion. I have decided that I will no longer travel anywhere, not even the grocery store (especially not the grocery store), on the day before Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Family Portrait

After much debate, planning, calculating, and three re-scheduled appointments, we took our family photo for 2009. Here is the unofficial version (copyright Mike who pressed the button on our camera before hurrying to get in the frame during the 10 second delay):

I'm sorry it came through grainy - it looks great in the original file. You can still see Zeke's cute belly button and just how tired he really is. He was all smiles at 6:30 a.m. today when he woke up, but that energy wore off long before we got to the studio. We'll get the official version in two weeks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Teeth x2

Zeke has two little teeth. On the bottom, in the front, just like the baby development books told me would happen. The first tooth broke the surface on November 3, and the second one became visible just recently.
Check out those devastatingly blue eyes:
Zeke's favorite teething toy would be paper. Or mommy's finger. Or one of the plastic containers for store-bought baby food. He can be right vicious to one of those plastic containers. We added teeth and gum brushing to his bedtime routine using a special toothbrush for babies that slips over a parent's finger. Mike tells me Zeke really just bites down on the thing while Mike tries to move it around to brush. Zeke is very happy the whole time, but he doesn't quite grasp the concept.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Picturesque

Tina brought Zeke out to Chuck E Cheese the other day, and met a collection of folk including Grandma, Nightingale, Thumbelina, Ginger Nut, and The Treat, a real motley crew. The day went well enough, with Zeke enjoying several firsts: first taste of pepperoni pizza, first taste of Sprite, first attempt at Whack-A-Mole.

At some point close to nap time, Grandma and Zeke piled into the little photo-generating ride, slipped in some tokens, and took a great little picture. Sorry, we don't have a copy of that picture to post.

Then, it was Tina's turn to take a picture with Zeke. Here's how it turned out:

Very Sad Zeke

He was more than a little sad, probably because the ride makes you sit for 30 seconds while they do whatever warm-up procedures they have to do.

But the picture is just hilarious.

Everybody survived the trip and had a good time, even Zeke. Tina drove home and he took his well-deserved nap eventually. And now we have a memorialized copy of this most wonderful picture.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

All Hallows Eve

The Great Pumpkin did not visit our house this year. Zeke is too young to understand in the first place, and we didn't take him trick-or-treating in the second. Next year we will have the inaugural visit, I think, and Mike is already excited about the possibilities.
We did go to our ward's trunk-or-treat party and had a good time giving away some candy. We went dressed in a group costume - we were the Pythagorean Theorem.
I was waiting for someone to say, "That's not a scary costume!" so I could retort, "Math is very scary to some people," but it never happened.
This picture was taken by one of the boys in my Sr. Primary who, when I asked if he would do me a favor, immediately replied, "Do I have to sing?"
Credit to Dimples for the costume idea. Imitation is the highest form of flattery.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Red Tie

Last Sunday Zeke did not go to church in his pajamas. Gasp! Nor did he go to church in a playtime onesie. This time he wore a proper white shirt that actually buttons in the front, black pants, and a darling red tie. Check it out:
The shirt was not tucked in but, come on, he's a baby. The shirt even has little collar buttons (not buttoned in the above picture). He's growing up so fast!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ready to Walk

Z has gotten really good at crawling but he is most excited about standing up. He will pull himself into a standing position using anything handy - stable or unstable. He also "walks" along furniture once he is standing up, especially if there is a piece of paper or a shoelace to motivate him. And the falling down part? No problem. We cheer when he falls so he won't be scared, but every now and then a legitimate owie occurs that gets better with a little love and lots of distraction.Yesterday Zeke went to Elders Quorum with Dad. There are so many small children attending our Elders Quorum that they put the chairs in a circle and put the children inside the circle to contain them all. (Sometimes I think they do this for entertainment as well.) Yesterday Zeke crawled around and tried to eat all the shoelaces of the men sitting in the circle (wish I had a picture!), and he used several pant legs as helps to stand up. Mike said that anytime he got a little nervous he would look back at Mike for reassurance and Mike would whisper "Come here..." while wiggling his finger. Zeke would laugh and then try harder to get away from Daddy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Da Beach

Last night we went to the beach near our house for the very first time. It was lovely! Mike made a cool summer salad for dinner (yesterday was hot!) and we ate on the pedestrian path near the pier. Zeke ate applesauce and stars. He's crazy for stars.We walked around the pier and all the crazy, upscale shops close by and wondered how it was we came to live in such a place. Zeke was good in his stroller for a long time but he was most happy when we got him out and Mike carried him around in the front carrier. (Thanks for the loan, Nightingale and Khan!) I wish the picture wasn't blurry, but this was the best smile my camera caught:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cousins

Last Sunday we traveled to Hometown again, this time to visit with the Westside Crew. It was a very noisy gathering. Z had a good time playing with Legoman's duplos - he gleefully pulled blocks out of the storage container and tasted each one. Some were worthy of additional tasting time, others were not. Z almost always has his mouth open nowadays:
(Forgive the red eye.)
Z also thought that Princess Pea was very interesting. He wanted very much to mash her face and I had to keep alert to stop that from happening. Princess Pea is only 2 months younger than Z, but two months is a big difference at this age.
Z has become a bit of a momma's boy lately. I am secretly pleased that he wants me to hold him and love him, but I am also determined to attend more play groups so he can get used to being around other people.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Up and Down

Problem solved.
For a while there Zeke was able to pull himself up on things (e.g. couches, the crib, people, etc.), but he had only one option for getting down: falling. As he is afraid of falling, this made him very determined to stay standing once he got up. But the problem is now solved as he has found a way of bending his knees and putting one hand out to brace himself as he lowers himself to the ground. Yea, Z!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sugar Rush



Last weekend we traveled to Hometown to visit with grandparents and cousins. The Eastside Crew gathered together on Saturday afternoon to sample several bottles of homemade root beer (a project conceived and made possible by Grandma). Micro brews were made by four groups: Khan, Nightingale, Thumbelina and Gingernut (although Nightingale claims she was out of town when the brewing happened); Grandma, Grandpa, and the Treat; Mike, Tina, and Zeke; and
China and Hikerbabe:



We used kits to make our root beer and the kits made a gallon of root beer each, to be bottled in four, roughly-1-liter-bottles. Thus, we had four gallons of root beer in sixteen brown bottles. Okay, well, 14 bottles. Khan's team interpreted the recipe freely and produced two highly concentrated and delicious bottles.




Mike and I thought that we needed to distinguish ourselves from the crowd, so we added some almond extract to our base batch and then added additional, strange ingredients to two of the bottles. Some of the other teams had the same idea, so instead of four types of root beer in mass quantities, there were seven or eight slightly different flavors of root beer.
I tried to persuade people to consume palate cleansers in between each sampling, but they mostly mocked me and then gave the green apple slices to Thumbelina and Gingernut. Zeke got the celery sticks.
My favorite picture is the one of Grandma, knocking back a chilled mug of root beer while holding a liter bottle in the other hand. Awesome.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sleep Training Chronicles, part 2

Previous reports of success at sleep training Zeke should be interpreted very narrowly. It remains true that Zeke generally falls asleep by himself, with no crying, at his scheduled bedtime and after his regular bedtime routine (which must be performed by Mike). Everything else about Zeke and sleeping, however, is not successful.
Picture above: Tina hits the bottle after a lousy day and in preparation for a much-disturbed night.
For those of you wondering what I do with myself now that I'm a stay-at-home-mom, the answer is that I manage Z. Is that all? Doesn't he nap? you ask. Yes, I reply, when I spend fifteen to twenty minutes bouncing and rocking him to sleep and then hold him in the rocking chair and continue with patting and rocking while he takes his nap. Then he will sleep until the FedEx truck rumbles by, or the street cleaner comes, or the grounds crew next door starts working.

Last week I resolved to break this cycle of abuse and began a very serious process of putting Zeke down for each nap in his crib after a brief nap routine but without the 20 minutes of standing and bouncing him to sleep. I would like to report that anyone who claims sleep training takes 3 days is a deluded, likely non-parent . Anyone who claims sleep training takes 5 days is a false prophet. Zeke is so determined to not fall asleep (even though he is exhausted when I put him down) that he crawls to the corner of the crib, pulls himself up, and then cries while standing in the corner and resting his head against the slanted crib board. He tricks me into thinking that he's stuck and can't get down so I go in to lay him down again and then the tears start afresh.
I must give a shout out to Nightingale, who has fielded more than one hysterical call from me this week, and without whose advice and kindness I would have turned into a puddle of mush. Holla.
I sure hope Zeke figures this out soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The 10th Article of Faith

Last Sunday I taught the 10th Article of Faith song to my Primary and I used a poster board with pictures and words to help the kids learn the song. (I actually used two poster boards because this is a long song.) I put hours of work into the posters; Mike did too. I also got help from my parents, China and the Treat. My Primary kids were unimpressed. They acted bored and dutifully sang the song a few times, but failed to see the brilliance before them.
For your consideration:



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Zoom Zoom

He's off! Mr. Zeke is now crawling using just his hands and knees and no longer using his face! He used to scootch around by getting up on his arms and struggling forward until his head was too heavy and he flopped forward in a face plant. This method hindered his crawling progression as it was too painful to practice anywhere except on our bed or in his crib. But his struggle is now successful:

video
Mr. Zeke knows instinctually what items he is not supposed to touch and those are the items he crawls to first. In the video, you can see a hint of the smile that makes him lose the pacifier before he turns to crawl towards the laptop. I think that smile is the glee of a child who thinks he can get there before we can stop him. It's time to baby-proof the house, and we have a lot of work ahead of us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Twins!

We had a visit last weekend with MBA, Mike's brother who has been living and working out of the country the last few years. While he's been across the pond, MBA has developed a striking similarity to Mike. Observe:

That's what MBA looked like when he stepped off the plane. We didn't call ahead and say, "Hey, wear that sports shirt with the blue sleeves" or anything like that. MBA wears contacts but if he had his glasses on, they would be identical twins. Zeke, however, could tell a difference:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Bigger Flash Disk

Mike recently made all my dreams come true by purchasing one of those flash drives that lets you plug in your camera memory card directly to the hard drive. This new drive replaces our antiquated system which involved the camera, a chord, significant battery life, and an automatic download program I despised.
Good news! The new flash drive came with a free camera memory disk with 2 GB of memory. That's double my old capacity! In celebration, I offer this pointless video:

video

Monday, August 31, 2009

We have a winner!

Pears. Zeke Likes pears. He likes them so much that he screams when he realizes we are done with the pears and I'm feeding him rice cereal. He also throws stuff off of his tray, like the spoon and his sippy cup. He's learning that gravity applies to inanimate objects even though he firmly believes he, personally, is exempt. Mike says we should mix the pears with the squash. Then he'll either start liking the squash or start hating pears. I really wanted him to like vegetables. Maybe there's still hope for the carrots.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jug Band

I am the Primary Chorister at church and I have been having lots of fun thinking of ways to entertain my Primary - er, I mean - teach and review songs. For today I organized a Jug Band to come and help us review the song, "Beautiful Savior". I was very nervous about the event because I'd never done a full 20 minute singing time on just one song - we usually sing 12-15 songs during singing time. But the members of the Jug Band were promised that they would only have to play one song, and that they would not have to attend any practices.
It was fabulous! Here is a picture of some of the band...

You can see our pianist, the guitar player in the back, me (in the green shirt), our flutist, the next guy is the one playing the jug (blocked by the music stand) and our trumpeter. Here is the rest of the band:
Here you see the Jug player again (far right, the jug is on his knee), then the trumpeter, then Mike! playing bongos with Mr. Zeke's help, and Awesome Elder on the end. Awesome Elder played auxiliary percussion, which included kazoo, wood sticks, and the triangle. He often played all of these at the same time, which the kids loved. Each time we sang the song I picked two reverent children, or two children who had demonstrated knowledge of the lyrics of the song, to join the band and help Awesome Elder with the auxiliary percussion. He had three of each instrument so it was mostly delicious chaos.
The band members were paid in cookies, so it was even a professional Jug Band.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not a Yam

The sign at Albertsons said, very clearly, "Yams", but the two root vegetables I put into my basket, purchased, baked, pureed and then fed to my finicky baby were not yams, but sweet potatoes under a false pseudonym. I was instructed to feed Zeke sweet potatoes only after all the other vegetables were introduced and enjoyed so as not to spoil his palate with something so sweet. Here is Zeke enjoying a bit of jicama:
I am not the only person who has been duped by the yam/sweet potato distinction. Much of North America is lumbering about in darkness on this point:
"The sweet potato is ... commonly confused with the yam in parts of North America, although they are not even distantly related to the other plant widely known as yams (in the Dioscoreaceae family), which is native to Africa and Asia." Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato, 8/21/09.
I also found a picture of a true yam. That monstrosity would not fit into my oven for baking, probably feeds at least 20, and I'm positive I've never seen one in any grocery store or farmers market this side of the Missisippi.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cloth Nappies

Cloth diapers aren't what they used to be. I was almost 13 when my Mom had my brother, the Treat, and I saw first hand what cloth diapers were. There were pins and plastic cover pants and diaper services. Today I am experimenting with what they call "modern" cloth diapers, as modeled by Z:

This diaper has no pins and is an all-in-one, so putting it on was like using a disposable diaper. There's no diaper service in this experiment - just me and my washing machine. I'm really hoping that today is a non-BM day because I'm probably not physically or mentally prepared for pre-rinsing in the toilet and what to do after. But if the smell from the boy sleeping in my arms is any harbinger...I'm in for trouble.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Squash and Bananas

After talking with a lady at church who is also a pediatric nurse, I decided that it was time to test out the immersion blender and introduce Zeke to more than just Rice and Oatmeal. This is Zeke's first experience with butternut squash:


It really takes video to show the true effect. He uses his whole face (and hands) to show how incredibly surprised and displeased he is with the new flavor. Then he does some fake coughing as if it is truly killing him to eat it and, finally, he spits everything out using his new-and-improved spitting tongue. I even tried cutting it with oatmeal, which he loves, and he gave the same performance.
Next we tried bananas (store bought prepared food) and the reaction is pretty much the same. So I guess his palate is pretty discriminating: he likes plastic, tags on toys, oatmeal, rice, my elbow, and all the flowers and leaves Mike lets him grab and stuff into his mouth.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin'

Zeke has started to flex his independence muscles. He now flips from his back to his belly, can get into and hold a crawl position, and can scootch around in circles or move backwards. (My favorite is when he goes backwards. It usually happens when there's a toy in front of him just out of reach and he struggles and struggles and doesn't understand why he's getting farther away.) But standing up is still his favorite:

At night when he wakes up to eat I usually find him rolled over against the crib bumpers, either feeling things with his hand or trying to get multiple appendages through the crib slats. We had to remove the two stuffed animals we used to keep in the crib because he would find them at night and start a play session. Nighttime is not for playing!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sleep Training Chronicles

We have friends who told us that sleep training would be a spectacular event in our lives as parents. They meant, of course, that the results of sleep training would be spectacular, provided that we were strong enough to handle the training. Sleep training requires titanium will power, which I do not possess.
We had a false start on Monday. Mike was getting ready to do the bedtime routine with Zeke and I panicked at the thought of putting my little baby in a crib, all by himself, in the (mostly) dark room, and letting him cry himself to sleep. Mike was very patient with me and coddled Z to sleep that night and then we had a good discussion and read passages from the books, talked about what we were trying to accomplish, etc., etc.
Tuesday night we really started, and Z cried and cried while I was busy attending to my burgeoning solo law practice. When that was finished and Z was still crying, I spent some time abusing Mike by telling him he was a vicious man and a mean father and that it would be all his fault if Z hated us forever. When the crying stopped after 20 minutes, I pestered Mike to go and check on Z to make sure he wasn't dead or carried off by silverfish (a personal fear). Mike waited a further 20 minutes and then carefully checked, reporting back that all was well.
Wednesday night Z cried for 25 violent, angry minutes.
Thursday night Z didn't cry at all.
Tonight Z cried half-heartedly for approximately 5 minutes in two brief spurts.
This is notable progression, even if it isn't linear. It is enough to support three further training nights. Sorry, no pictures of the sleeping Zeke.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Feet!

Zeke found his feet last week. This means he is developing awesome abdominal muscles and figuring out how to use them. He is very pleased with himself whenever he manages to grab hold of his feet, but he hasn't tried eating them yet.
Zeke also decided that he likes to brush his teeth. Er, his gums because he doesn't have teeth yet. He is getting very good at reaching out and grabbing things and when we play on the bathroom sink he is always reaching for our toothbrushes. I decided to give him his own toothbrush so I wouldn't have to say "no" all the time.

He sits up very well now - not quite on his own, but he is good to go with a prop like the boppy. Expected highlights soon to come: the introduction of sweet potatoes, rolling back to front, and the Sleep Training Chronicles...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mt. Whitney

We have returned from the mountain humbled but with great stories to tell. Mike and I hiked to an altitude of approximately 12, 200 ft., which is higher than I've ever been before. We logged more than 12 miles on the trail, falling short of the expected 22 mile round trip. We started at 11:00 p.m. and hiked mostly in the dark because a low cloud cover spoiled my moonlight ascent plans. Later, the Treat told me it was a good thing we started at night because if he could have seen the route we were about to take he would have volunteered to stay with the car.
(Mt. Whitney is the far back mountain on the right. We had to hike more than 5 miles before we even got a glimpse of it. That's why Whitney is called a "shy mountain".)
We drank fresh water from a mountain stream without filtering it, we experienced altitude sickness, and Mike experimented with trekking poles (I opted for a traditional ascent). We know now that mosquito repellent is essential, the lead hiker should have a headlamp with working batteries, and the sound of a breast pump is substantially covered by the sound of snow melt and mountain streams. Some would say we missed a true Whitney experience because neither of us had to use our W.A.G. bags. (Phew!)

In the above picture, Mike was too sexy for his outer layer and had to remove it.
Below, Mike displays the beautiful Trailside Meadows, watered by melting snow:

During the trek, Zeke had a pleasant stay in Lone Pine with Grandma and Grandpa. He was starting to show some signs of teething (that have fully manifested today) but was a happy camper whenever anyone broke into song: "The wise man built his house upon a rock. The wise man built..."


No, Zeke did not get to eat ice cream. It's just a clever picture. We are still working on that oatmeal cereal.
Yes, I have already started planning my third attempt at the mountain. I was very close this time...12 miles closer than last time...but not close enough. (I might have caught that climbing bug again.) At the present moment Mike says he will not go again, that once was enough for him. We shall see.