Nov 30, 2010

15 Months: Let the Holiday-ing Commence

It's my favorite time of year. My fridge is packed with Thanksgiving leftovers. Far too many of my ambitious neighbors have already fully decked out their houses with Christmas cheer and boy do they know how to do Christmas cheer. I have already informed the Mr. that we can only hold out a week on the decorations or else risk neighborhood shame. Kate was greeted at daycare today with a fully decorated Christmas tree and "Have a holly jolly Christmas" filling the air. I have three weeks of work until my Christmas break and I am eagerly awaiting the extended time off.

It has been a busy month and a half since our last post. For my dad and Kate's birthday we got them coordinating outfits and planned a mini photo shoot on the beach. After the shoot was over, we attempted to do a quick change and take a Christmas card shot for my parents. Kate thought it would be much more fun to run down the beach in her diaper.

By the end of the day, we had explored the Birch Aquarium, had lunch at a great Italian restaurant in La Jolla, and had a camera full of pictures. Little Kate didn't even make it halfway to the car before she crashed on Grandpa's shoulder.
Soon after, we got to visit with our dear friend Charlie and his adorable son Nathan. Kate and Nathan were born a month apart, but Charlie and his wife Tina moved to Japan shortly after he was born, so we haven't gotten to spend much time with them. In a surprising turn of events, Kate was not on her best behavior during their visit. She usually really loves company but was hit by a little streak of jealousy. Whenever Nathan picked up any of her toys, she ran over to him, screamed, and ripped the toy out of his hands. She is usually such a good sharer which is why we were a bit flabbergasted by her actions.

Kate has a few budding interests lately. She has really taken to reading. She always enjoyed it, but has been asking to look at her books a lot more recently and even seems to like reading them by herself. It is really nice to see and we hope this is just the beginning of a lifelong love of books. Her favorites seem to be pictures books where she can point at all the pictures and identify the objects. She has a great memory and it usually only takes her a few reminders before she has the names down and can pick them out herself.

Another fascination with Kate lately is taking random objects and wearing them on her head. First, it was a ribbon from a Nordstrom box. Then it was a pair of underwear out of my laundry basket (don't worry, they were clean). She spent a good amount of time wearing them on her head, around her neck, and over her arm like a purse. It was quite amusing and provided for some great photos that I am sure will be brought out the first time a boy comes over to take her on her first date.

J and I got a little "us time" in mid-November when we went to visit my little bro who now lives in Chicago. I have been to Chicago twice now and think it is a really amazing city. The architecture is cool, the streets are clean, the food is amazing (especially the Giordano's pizza), and the view from my brother's apartment is beyond compare. We decided not to take Kate as we felt like we could use a baby-free vacation. Sleeping in and going out past 6:30pm was at the top of the list. We went on the architectural tour along the river and to the zoo at Lincoln Park. J loves photography (I am sure most people know this by now) but both outings gave him an opportunity to take some incredible pictures.
Our holiday celebrations have started out with a bang this year. This will be Kate's second holiday season, but it is already turning out to be so much more fun now that she is 1. Our first stop was Bates Nut Farm (aka Nate's Butt Farm). Kate seemed to have fun checking out the gigantic pumpkins and did a good job picking out one for us to bring home.

Next up was Kate's second Halloween. Last year she donned a ladybug costume. This year she rocked an Elephant suit. We didn't think she would leave the hat on, but she kept it on all night and was the cutest elephant in the herd.

We also took Kate for a little trick-or-treating. She clearly got the take-candy-out-of-the-bowl- and-put-it-in-my-bag concept and spent the rest of the night transferring candy from our bowl to our neighbors' bowl.

The most recent event was Kate's second Thanksgiving. Last year, she had a pretty big meltdown at a friend's house. We thought she would get a kick out of eating with the family, but she didn't seem interested in the meal or the company. We couldn't believe that our big eater wasn't interested in yummy Thanksgiving dinner, but she had a great time running around the table while we finished our delicious meal. We had a wonderful time catching up with the Nor Cal family and got to visit with my brother again who was home from Chicago.

We've started our Christmas shopping and we will be catching up with the neighbors soon in the decorating department. We are so excited to spend this Christmas with Kate. We already know she is going to love a bunch of her gifts. We tested them out at the store before we bought them and they are Kate approved.

If we don't get a chance to say so in person, we hope you all have a merry holiday season and a happy new year.

Kate's Photo Shoot

For Kate's first birthday we decided to get some "official" pictures taken. We met the photographer at a really cool park/historical site called Leo Carrillo Ranch. Initially, Kate wasn't really that excited to be there and wasn't really interested in playing it up for the camera. Nonetheless, we got some cute pictures. Here are the pictures we chose from the many she took that day.

After we spent some time with the professional, we walked around the ranch a little more and took some unofficial pictures. Kate seemed to be in a better mood now that she wasn't being asked to "perform."
Hope you enjoyed our little model in her first "professional" shoot. Let us know if you would like us to send you one of her official shots to print out for your very own. Who knows, they could be worth a lot of money some day!

Oct 23, 2010

14 months: Where has the time gone?

Well, it has been two months since our last blog post which means we have a lot of catching up to do. In the last two months, Kate has grown up before our eyes; she seems more like a little girl every day. The last time we blogged, Kate had just celebrated her first birthday and was starting to think about walking. Two months later, Kate walks like a pro and has started saying a few words.

First things first, J has started a new one year album and has put up some new pictures that cover the last few months.

We'll start back in August. For Kate's birthday, we used a few gift cards to buy Kate some wheels to drive around the block. She loves tooling around the neighborhood in her red convertible. Here she is waving to some adoring fans.

Also for Kate's birthday, with the handy skills of Papou Jerry and a wonderful birthday gift from my step dad, we turned our loft into a sweet playroom for Kate. Daddy was a little miffed that his man cave got turned over to the baby, but considering he had done nothing with it since we moved in, I decided that he had forfeited his right to the room. Plus, our family room is pretty much a man room outfitted with a giant tv and surround sound. I don't know how many tricked out rooms he thinks he gets.

Kate's room comes complete with an adorable table for tea parties, stuffed animals included, the great chair Grandpa Denny made her for Christmas, and a toy box to hold all her stuff.

Papou Jerry also installed a cabinet that gives me room to hold more stuff and provides a fun place to display Kate's nicer books and breakables. She also has what every budding artist needs, an easel, whiteboard, and chalkboard. So maybe it is all a little advanced, but we have already had some fun times in her playroom. Plus, it is a good place to go when Miss wants to make noise while Daddy is on his very important business phone calls.

Kate currently has six teeth (four on top, two on bottom) and is working on her seventh. The top four came in all at the same time, so that wasn't much fun for anyone, especially Kate, but we got through it.

She is working on a few words as well. She has regularly said mama and dada for the last few months, though she seems to prefer Da Da to everything else. J wants to argue that her first real word was Willow (pronounced War-Rah), but I never heard her say it and she hasn't said it for months. So, I don't count that. I picked Kate up at daycare one day and was told that she was saying bubbles (pronounced bub-bub). She even demonstrated her new skills when A. asked Kate to show her the bubbles and she started saying it. I felt that I needed to try it at home with our bubbles. J also didn't believe when when I told him her new word, but he was amazed and impressed when she repeated the word over and over again with our bubbles. Her best word right now is probably up (pronounced up). She doesn't always use it at the right time, but has it down. Less frequent and still works in progress are duck, baby, hat, cup, and Bobby (a character in a book and heard tonight for the first time). She also makes the sound of a horse, car, and sometimes a sheep.

Another major change around the Ryan household is Kate's newfound ability to throw a tantrum. We're not talking full-on throw-herself-on-the-floor-kicking-and-screaming kind of tantrum, but we have definitely seen this face frequently, sometimes multiple times a day. And that is low key. She definitely gets her diaper in a bunch when she doesn't get exactly what she wants.

A few weeks ago, J and I took Kate back to the Wild Animal Park (now lamely called the San Diego Zoo Safari Park- don't get me started). So far, birds seem to be one of her favorite animals, other than dogs of course, so we let her have some fun in the lorikeet exhibit. She had a great time watching the birds fly around.

Kate has also figured out how to open up all our cabinets and drawers. She loves going through them and making a huge mess in her wake. Her new favorite discovery is the empty margarine tubs that we have in our Tupperware cabinet. She loves stacking them, putting things in them, taking things out of them, putting on the lids, taking off the lids. Gotta love cheap "toys."

Another great skill Kate has "mastered" is feeding herself with a spoon and a fork. I say "mastered" because she thinks she has it mastered, thus should be the only one using the utensils, but we think she gets more food on her face than in her mouth. So we have a daily battle over who is going to hold the spoon. We tried giving her one and keeping one for ourselves. That worked for a week or so. She has now decided that she needs both spoons so she can two-fist it.

Perhaps the biggest change that has happened in the Ryan household is a walking baby. She had been flirting with walking for a few weeks, but finally took her first steps at Auntie JJ's Labor Day party on September 5th. With a ton of spectators, she took about six steps and then another five or six steps a little later, and then wouldn't do it again for a week or so no matter how hard we tried to coax her.

Maybe it's because this was the extent of her walking skills in the beginning. I think I would rather crawl than walk around like a drunken sailor.

But with a little time and a lot of falls, she has finally got the hang of it. We are actually quite happy with the new mobile Kate. As we have said before, Kate is a bit on the heavy side, though she has actually lost weight since her 12 month appointment and is proportional to her height. It has been a load off our backs to have her able to walk around instead of needing to be carried everywhere. Willow, on the other hand, is not enjoying the walking as it means that she always has a baby on her heels which isn't really fair for a blind dog.

With the walking has come another fun new game. J has taught Kate to kick balls around the house. I figured she would be a volleyball or basketball player since we are pretty sure she is going to be really tall, but perhaps soccer is going to be her game.

Here she is on the move with her styling new Stride Rite shoes. The girl loves to wear shoes and socks, but would prefer not to wear anything else.

It has been an exciting two months and we think the months ahead are going to be filled with exciting and possibly patience-trying days from our smart, funny, and very stubborn little girl. Fortunately, mommy and daddy are bigger, smarter, and more stubborn than she is and we intend to win the majority of the battles, at least for a few years.

Aug 21, 2010

Catching up on photos

With Kate's first birthday last week, I thought it would be a good idea to close out the pictures from the last three months. I've uploaded the generic ones to the Kate 9 Months album, and I've included a few teasers below.

For most of Kate's life, almost everything we've done and everywhere we've gone has revolved around Kate. When it was time to post pictures, all our pictures were also of Kate, so these albums have really covered the full spectrum of our last year. Now, however, we're starting to go places and do things that don't necessarily involve her, Bora Bora being the first. I'm going to create some new albums that focus on different trips. Trust me, there will still be plenty of Kate pics, but you might see us (and friends, and family, and landscapes) as well. Comic-Con, Mammoth, Santa Cruz Island, etc. I'll also post pictures of Kate's first birthday before we start a "Kate 1 Year" album.

D mentioned that Kate is starting to become a little willful. She definitely has a gleam in her eye, which is mostly cute (like it is here), but sometimes scary....she's a little too smart for her own good.

We went to a fun pool party a couple of weeks ago, and there was a little boat bought just for Kate. She loves the water at bath time and in the shower, and the pool was no exception. She seemed really comfortable, and even laid back and lounged at one point.

We've been trying to get some "iconic" shots of Kate, so we've had a couple of pre-planned photo shoots. Unfortunately, it seems like Kate takes better pictures when she's just naturally happy and excited than she does when we've planned it all out. We went to the fountain near the entrance to our neighborhood to take some Kate-with-a-pretty-background shots. She got grumpy pretty quick, but we still managed to get some good ones. Here's a nice one of the three of us.

This session was a little less planned. Kate was playing on and around her chair, so we took it outside to get some nicely-lit pictures. Several of them turned out great, and I love the attitude in this one.

Hope you enjoyed....take a look at the online album for more.

Aug 17, 2010

Kate is One

One year ago at 5:09pm Kate was born and our lives have not been the same since. 99% of those changes have been nothing but positive. The early mornings? Not so much! Nonetheless, we are so incredibly lucky to have a near-perfect daughter who continues to amaze us daily. We adore her and we cherish every minute we get to spend with her.

I thought we would start off this post with a little recap and reflect on how Kate has changed over the last year.

When she was born, Kate was 9lbs and 21 inches. At her one year check up today she weighed a whopping 26 lbs. 12 ounces and was 32.5 inches long. When her doctor walked in she said, "Well, that is the biggest one year old you are ever going to see." Message received...our baby is ginormous, but in a wonderful, healthy, strong kind of way.

Kate started eating rice cereal at 4 months, pureed fruits and veggies at 6 months, finger foods at 9 months, her first lollipop after her vaccines today, and will switch over to whole milk near the end of the week. Her favorites seem to be blueberries, peas (mainly because she can smush them), scrambled eggs, and chicken.

Kate has always been a girl on the move. She started crawling and pulling up right before her nine month birthday and is almost ready to walk. She loves to hang upside down and go for walks around the block.

We love to travel and so we have tried to take Kate on a few trips during her first year. Her first real vacation was to San Francisco to visit our Nor Cal family. She has also traveled to Phoenix and Mammoth in addition to trips to Orange County and LA to visit her grandparents. We have yet to take her on a plane, mainly because we are chicken, but I am sure we'll have to bite the bullet at some point.

There are a million things that I could tell you about Kate, but hopefully you have read our blog over the last year and have learned a little bit about what a sweet, smart, funny girl she is from our ramblings and pictures.

We had a pretty low key day today as Kate really has no idea what a birthday is, but we celebrated in style last weekend at a co-71st-birthday party for my dad and Kate (they have the same birthday).

I'll end this post and our first year of recording all things Kate with a few pics from her first birthday party.

Mommy and Kate showing off their party dresses.
Every girl needs a pretty dress for her big day.

Kate's party was at Grandma and Grandpa's house and as always Grandma Steph went above and beyond to put together an amazing party. She is the greatest party planner.

Yia Yia Debbie baked Kate a yummy cake to dive into at her party. She is usually a tidy eater but still managed to get a little whip cream on her face. She didn't quite know what to make of an entire cake just for her but managed to eat almost the whole thing.

Kate and Grandpa had a great time at their birthday party.
Here's to their 91st (80 +11) in ten years

Kate woke up from her nap in the middle of the gift opening. She wasn't too sure what was written on the card but appreciated the sentiment. Notice the outfit change. Every birthday girl deserves to have a costume change halfway through her party.

This gift looks very interesting. I imagine that she is sitting there trying to figure out how she is going to put those wood pieces in her mouth.

This gift is incredible. Looks just like one mom had when she was a little girl.

Thank you to everyone who has shared their love with Kate this first year of her life. We are so lucky to have you all on this journey with us. We look forward to having you travel the road with us through another year.

Aug 3, 2010

Kate's (aka Mommy's) new favorite outing

Kate and I have started going to a new place to play the last few weeks. My playgroup introduced us to the Ecke YMCA gymnasium for open gym playtime. Every day for an hour, they open their gym (not the kind with treadmills and ellipticals but with fun things like balance beams, trampolines, bars, rings, and foam pits) for free play on all the fun equipment. They have the items mentioned above as well as lots of squishy things to climb on and parents can let their babies have free run of the place. It is a blast and Kate seems to really enjoy it. I think she is really going to love it when she starts walking.

Today we went to the gym for the second time and were joined by Auntie L and our personal photographer, Daddy. Here are the highlights from our baby workout at the gym.

We usually start out the day on the baby trampoline. Kate really loves crawling back and forth at top speed. I know this because she squeals happily with every "step" she takes. You might notice Auntie L in the background checking her phone
...though she will claim that she was trying to take pictures.

Once Kate gets off the trampoline she takes off across the gym and makes use of the ample floor space to work on her crawling. At least a quarter of her time at the gym is spent cruising around the room on the soft ground.

Today, Kate was fascinated with the rope hanging from the ceiling. I don't know what it was but she loved pulling and throwing the rope and watching it swing past her.

Here she is taking a little breather before she takes off across the room again.

Off again across the room. This time she took off towards the short balance beams. Maybe someday she will be as great as this olympian. Though, I don't know that she will meet the height restrictions to be a competitive gymnast.

The gym sets up obstacles for the kids to climb on and through.
Kate has pretty much got this one mastered.

Auntie L tried to help Kate swing on the rings. She would grab on but then immediately let go.
Perhaps it won't be her apparatus.

Auntie L really loves this picture and it really epitomizes Kate's pouty face. I promise she was having fun. I am sure that we will become very familiar with this face as Kate gets older.

Our final stop of the trip around the gym is in the giant foam pit. Just to give you an idea how big this is, Daddy jumped into it feet first, all 6'4" of him, and didn't hit the ground. Once you are in it is pretty hard to get out, and watch out for your socks.

Kate isn't 100% sure about the pit but for the most part has a pretty good time sitting in the foam, playing with the squares, and having us toss her (very lightly of course) into the pit.

Perhaps my love of the foam pit comes from a movie that I adored as a kid. This clip will bring back some great memories for those of you who watched the TV movie Nadia when you were little girls and dreamt of being an Olympic gymnast someday.