Jul 31, 2010

Finally, Bora Bora

Ia Orana (the Polynesian version of Aloha),

Okay, the snide remarks can stop. I've finally posted pictures from our trip to Bora Bora, and it's only been about a month since we got back. I'm going to keep this post short so I don't delay the process any more than I already have...to make up for it, I've put most of "the story" in the photo captions themselves. If you follow this link and put the album in slideshow mode, you can click through at your own pace (or just sit and watch the pictures advance automatically). Here's the link:

As D said in a previous post, we were quite lucky to get to return to Bora Bora....it was a stop on our honeymoon cruise through French Polynesia five years ago. This is one of those times that all the travel I do for work seems worth it, since AA miles and Hilton points covered most of the cost.

Aside from being the inspiration for the song Bali Hai from the musical South Pacific, Bora Bora has also gotten a few pop culture references recently.  The movie Couples Retreat was filmed there, and The Bachelorette filmed their last two shows of the season there....this Monday is the finale, filmed on location.

Though it's gotten a bit touristy and over-built with resorts in the last couple of decades, it's still quite pristine and never feels crowded or polluted.  There are no waves, due to the reef surrounding the island, and the weather and water temperature are close to perfect all year round.  We actually managed to catch a day of inclement weather, which mostly involved heavy winds and tiny wind-blown waves (about 6 inches high).  What drew us back were the beautiful shades of blue in the water, the amazing sea life, and the laid-back, friendly attitude of the residents.

Follow the link above to take a look at all of the pictures I've posted....about 10% of the pictures I actually took.  Here's a quick preview of the kind of shots you'll see.....

Here's a shot of the beautiful blues I mentioned, and the complete lack of waves...many of the beaches are shallow for quite a distance, allowing you to walk and/or snorkel to your heart's content.

We went on a couple of excursions while we were there, including one that allowed us to swim with sharks and stingrays.  That was one of my favorite memories from our honeymoon, and this time was even better.

We also did a 4x4 tour around the main island, which provided beautiful views of all the resorts and natural beauties.

We were able to stay in an overwater bungalow and snorkel off our balcony almost every day.  Though this picture happens to be from our stingray interaction, it gives you an idea of how bountiful the sea life can be.  It felt like stepping into a huge tropical aquarium every time we got in the water.

We hope you enjoy our pictures, and now we will be free to return to our regularly scheduled program...All Kate, All the Time.  With her first birthday approaching rapidly, her personality (and capabilities) change a little every day, and it's an amazing journey to be experiencing along with her.

Maururu (Polynesian for Thank you)

Jul 29, 2010

Photo shoots

I have been having fun with the camera the last few days and have taken Kate on a few "photo shoots." Here are some of the better shots but you can check out more on our nine month picture page.

I really loved this outfit so I thought we should do an impromptu session in the back yard. Kate loves trying to grab the camera and I shot this right before she got a hold of the lens.

Kate really loves making raspberry noises and this funny face. Somehow I managed to catch her at just the right moment. I love the goofy face.

Today I joined my playgroup at a local park called Jack's Pond Park. It is mainly park as the pond is difficult to get to and a bit far but is adorable nonetheless. The last few weeks have been very cloudy and this picture captures how I felt as the sun finally came out today.

You can't really see her face very well here but I love how concentrated she is on what she has in her hands. She just looks so sweet and ladylike. The sweetness didn't last too long as she threw a fit when I took away the rock she was trying to shove in her mouth, but it was lovely while it lasted.

The park has two red barns around the grounds which make for great backgrounds. I love the pensive look on her face and those gorgeous long eyelashes she got from her daddy.

Jul 27, 2010

Almost there

Kate has been pulling up on all our furniture fairly regularly for a few months. A month or so ago we tried to get her to use her walker to practice. She wasn't great at it in the beginning...

Clearly, she wasn't quite ready yet. So, we put away the walker for awhile as Kate seemed to have no interest in using it and wasn't solid enough on her feet yet.

Fast forward to yesterday. I was trying to come up with something new to do while J was on the phone so I revisited the walker not expecting much. I stood Kate up, put her in front of the walker and this is what happened.

She was off to the races the very first time. Kate is loving the ability to walk around the house and is becoming a quick pro at using the walker.

I am pretty sure that she will be walking on her own in no time. I'll be honest and confess that, although I was very happy to see the progression, Kate crawling was a big change for us and has made things a bit more challenging. Unlike crawling, I am very excited for Kate to take those first steps. For starters, my back has about had it with carrying around a 25 pound baby. Also, I do love to shop, and baby shoes are just about as cute as baby dresses. More importantly, I think walking will give Kate new freedom and independence that I know she will really love.

Jul 25, 2010

Just Because.....

..... she is so cute.

Have a great week!

Jul 23, 2010

Mammoth Family Vacation

My family and I have been vacationing in Mammoth, both during the summer and winter, for as long as I can remember and I love going back there as often as I can. My dad loves to remind me that I spent an entire night crying when my parents took me there as a baby. From the warm Schat's bread to my brother's geeky poses on the top of the cornice to hunting for bears, I have some incredible memories in the gorgeous Sierra Nevadas. I was so excited to be able to spend a mini-vacation there with my baby girl, my wonderful husband, my parents, and Kate's favorite uncle who flew out from Chicago to join us.

Here are some pictures that capture our first family trip to Mammoth.

We took Kate on her first hike.
Next time I hope I can figure out a way to travel Kate-style.

I am not a huge fan of hiking, but the trail was nice, the weather was beautiful,
and the end point was the gorgeous Minaret Falls.

Family picture at Lake Mamie.

Grandpa and Grandma were so excited to introduce Kate to the resident ducks at our rental.

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is take the gondola up to the top of the mountain. In the winter, this gondola takes skiers up to the hardest runs on the hill. Kate really enjoyed the trip up the hill.

Even though I go to Mammoth in both the summer and the winter, this picture only occurs in the summer as you couldn't pay me to ski off the top of the mountain, aka the Cornice, where the double black diamond runs are called Climax, Hangman's Hollow, Huevos Grande, and Wipeout Chutes.

Mammoth had an amazing snowfall this year and people were skiing until the 4th of July. There was still snow on the top of the mountain when we got there a week later. We put a blanket down for Kate and tried to have her check out snow for the first time. She wasn't too interested in the white stuff. Hopefully, the dislike of the powder is just a baby thing and she will speed down the cornice with her Uncle Cary when she gets older.

Loving hanging out with grandma in the gondola.

AND FINALLY DRUM ROLL PLEASE............................

Uncle Cary and his geeky pose on the top of the cornice.

Eleven Months

Well, once again, it has been a bit long since our last update. Perhaps we should just be honest with ourselves and admit that, unless something special happens, monthly updates are about as good as it is going to get. We do have some great excuses for the delay and I think you will agree that we have had very little blogging time available over the last month.

In our last post, we promised a post with Bora Bora pics. J is a little behind on getting those up, but here is a little teaser. We took this picture on the balcony of our overwater bungalow. It was an incredible vacation and we can't wait to share the pics with you. (Hint, Hint J!) And yes, that water color is real. No photoshopping here.

We arrived home and passed out the lovely gifts we picked up in the Papeete marketplace. Unfortunately, we don't think Kate was very happy with her gift.

We think she is saying, "My parents went to Bora Bora and all I got was this lousy t-shirt!"
"Hey, Kate. It was pretty expensive so you better like it!"

A few days after getting settled back into home and life with a 10 month old, we had a few visitors. My high school friend Kelly came to stay for a few days with her husband Chris and their adorable baby/Kate's boyfriend Cole. We had a great time visiting with our favorite Arizona couple and letting the kids get reacquainted. Cole has gotten so big since we saw him last and is a super-hunky-muscle-man baby.

J's parents and cousin G came to visit for Fourth of July. J and I aren't really big Fourth of July celebrators, but we spent a nice evening visiting with some family friends at their ocean- front rental condo. Yet again, we didn't really see any fireworks, except for a few blasts on our drive home.

Once our first batch of summer visitors left, we joined my parents and my brother and his lovely girlfriend for extended weekend in Mammoth. Check out our separate post with some pictures of our Mammoth trip.

When we got back, we picked up J's Alabama parents and Chico grandparents at the airport for a week of Kate bonding. Later in the week J's LA parents and Victorville grandparents came to visit as well. It was so nice to be able to spend some quality time with J's family and was wonderful to watch Grandpa T get to hang out with his first granddaughter. The Alabama and Chico relatives haven't seen Kate since she was about a month old. We think they had a great time getting to know our little girl.

Grandpa T and Grandma L gave Kate a great book that had a lion finger puppet sticking up through the middle of the book as well as the two cute stuffed animals sitting next to her on the couch. She thought they were really funny.

Kate continues to grow and change at an incredible rate. It may be our imagination, but she really seems to understand what we say to her and what is going on around her. It all seemed to click around the time we went to Mammoth. Out of the blue, she started identifying objects. She picks out rabbits in her books and points out the window to birds. It doesn't matter if the object is a picture or the actual item, she consistently identifies dogs, birds, rabbits, fish, ducks, and her toes. Overall, she seems less frustrated as she is able to communicate a little better with us and understands us a little better. This makes for a happier Kate as well as mommy and daddy.

Kate has also learned how to climb stairs. She has climbed up Willow's stairs a few times and has tackled the entire set of stairs in our house twice. Don't worry about her safety. I followed closely behind her and we have the stairs blocked off with a gate so there won't be any non-supervised stair-climbing.

One of Kate's favorite pastimes is standing at the baby gate and shaking it. It is like she is in little baby jail.
As Kate approaches her first birthday, she is starting to work on some very important milestones. She is getting better at standing unassisted and stands alone for a few seconds at a time. She doesn't seem to be quite ready to walk alone, but she is making good progress towards greater mobility. We also think that that she is starting to work on her communication skills a bit more. We think she is signing a few things like eat and maybe a sign we made up for Willow. J also thinks she said ba-ba this morning. Now she says this a lot but he was sure she said it to tell us she wanted her bottle which she was pointing at while she said ba-ba. We'll be paying close attention to those cute little baby words coming out of her mouth. Kate has also become a finger-food-eating fool. She can pretty much pick up anything at this point and shove it in her mouth.

Though we haven't weighed Kate lately, we are pretty sure she is still up there in the 100th percentile. She is comfortably wearing her 18 month summer clothes and we are now focusing on buying her 24 month fall/winter wardrobe. Yes, our 11 month old wears 18 month clothes. She's a big girl. We figure we have a volleyball player in the making.

On a final note, Willow gave me a little scare this week and took another nice chunk out of our bank account. This time it was totally my fault. Willow is a bit of a food thief and she took advantage of my absentmindedness and stole an undetermined amount of trail mix. Well, silly me was worried about the chocolate when I should have been worried about the raisins which are apparently very toxic to dogs. I figured this out the next morning after Willow vomited for about 45 minutes. I rushed her to the vet sure that she was in kidney failure (the effects of raisins). She looked pretty bad, but after $500.00 worth of tests and medications, she came home fine with no signs of raisin poisoning. So lesson learned: keep raisins away from your dog!

As we head into the final month of Kate's first year we still have an incredibly busy summer. J has made me a Comic-Con widow this weekend but has some awesome pics and great stories to show for it. My step mom and I are planning a wonderful 71st birthday party for my dad and Kate (they have the same birthday) and we still have some family coming to visit. I only have a few weeks left before school starts up again, but I am looking forward to spending my last few weeks watching Kate learn and grow.

Oh...and we will get those Bora Bora pics up soon... ahem ahem J!