Dec 23, 2011

Ramping up to Christmas

We got a really late start to decorating this year. Two weekends away from home at the beginning of December- the first to Vegas and the second to Vancouver for J's holiday party- left us with very little time to get our Christmas decorations up.

By the time we finally got to the Christmas tree lot, the trees were a little sad, but Kate helped us pick out a great tree.

We all got in the holiday spirit and made the tree look beautiful. The corner of the room hid the brown spots and the big ornaments fit perfectly in a few of the bigger holes. Kate really loved helping us hang ornaments.

Couldn't resist a pic of the girls once the tree was decorated.
Lily didn't really get to hang any ornaments.....

... But she sure tried to grab them off the tree.
We also caught her trying to eat pine needles.

On my first day of vacation, J, my mom, Kate, Lily, and I spent the day at Legoland.

Kate had her first go at sledding at Legoland Snow Days. She didn't like the slippery ice and didn't last very long, but she seemed to enjoy the sledding.

Kate rode on the boats with Daddy...

... and the helicopters with Mommy.

Lily got to ride in her stroller, but she looked really cute as usual.

Dec 10, 2011

Let the Holiday Season Begin

We have had an amazing holiday season filled with the love of our entire family, amazing food, and some much needed rest. Since we have been such bad bloggers, we are going to go all the way back to October and catch you up on all things holiday.

We had a great Halloween. Kate really got into this year. She picked out her own costume and rocked it at trick or treating. Mommy and daddy were very grateful for her excellent candy collecting. Daddy and I switched off taking her to visit our neighbors. By the time I got to her, she had already learned to ask everyone for two pieces of candy and say "next house" after we left a doorway.

Kate wanted to be an octopus for Halloween.
didn't really want to leave the hat on, but we did get a few pics.

Our little Tiger Lily. She didn't trick or treat but she looked awfully cute.

Thanksgiving followed quickly after Halloween. I enjoyed a week off of school in addition to our amazing feast. We didn't have a huge crowd, but we had enough to make it a wonderful weekend.

Kate and Lily preparing themselves for dinner.
Kate was much more interested this year.

On a sad note, our dog, Willow, got sick shortly after Thanksgiving. We decided that she had been through enough costly medical treatments in her life and we didn't want her to suffer through invasive and lifelong procedures. Needless to say, we miss her greatly. Though it is a little lonely around the house, especially when J is gone, we are on an animal hiatus for awhile. I want our girls to grow up with dogs, but the idea of potty training a dog and a toddler in addition to dealing with an infant is more than I can handle right now. So we will reassess in a year or so.

Oct 8, 2011

September/October Update

The last few months have been very busy for the Ryan family. I started back to school part time at the end of August and have been busy ever since. My classes, thus far, are wonderful and we have already put out our first newspaper of the year as well as made some significant improvements to the online news website.

Working with two babies at home has been a bit of an adjustment. It seems nearly impossible to get all my grading done at home and do the dishes and the laundry in addition to watching two busy girls. Even though Kate is doing a much better job entertaining herself lately, Lily requires a significant amount of attention and either J or I spend a good amount of the evening holding her. The girls are back at our normal daycare and Lily seems to be settling into the baby fold nicely.

J's travel for work has increased over the last few months. He has been to Vegas a few times as well as Washington DC. I am very lucky to have family members who are willing to come over and help me when he is gone which has made a huge difference because I don't know that I have figured out the trick to watching two kids alone for any extended period of time without wanting to pull out my hair.

On to the highlights from the last few months:
We normally spend Memorial Day at the LA Greek festival, but since Lily was born over Memorial Day weekend last year, we did not get our yearly Greek fix. Fortunately, our local Greek church has a decent (but inferior) festival of its own. We stopped by and Kate surprised us by asking to go on the gigantic slide. I joined her to make sure that she made it down safely. She is usually pretty fearless but this request really surprised us.

Kate has been a bit feisty lately. A lot of our picture sessions go something like this.

She either runs away, pretends she can't hear us, or makes it impossible to see her face. Every time the flash pops up on the camera, she says "bright" and covers her eyes. She is also becoming quite familiar with time out. Kate definitely is our stubborn girl unlike Lily who seems to be setting herself up to be our drama queen. Though A at daycare has described her as one of the happiest babies she has ever watched, we get to see the yang to that happy yin and get the waterworks on a daily basis. Some of her biggest meltdowns have been over a sneeze or dog bark. I fully expect Lily to be our little emotional hurricane.

Despite her stubborn ways, most of the time we are thoroughly amused by Miss Kate's 2-year-old antics. Some of the things that come out of her mouth are so adorable that we can't help but laugh, even when we shouldn't. Some of our favorites lately are "why?" (with a shoulder shrug and two hands up), "silly (pronounced silsi) banana/MawMaw/Willow," and "right here" (as she directs us where to sit/stand/set things down).

Every so often she shocks us and puts something together that is totally unexpected. Last week I tried to explain as simply as possible that Willow, our medically-challenged dachshund, is blind. She didn't really seem to get it or to even be paying attention, but a few days later J saw her running after Willow with eyes from her Mrs. Potato Head yelling "new eyes, new eyes" as she tried to put the eyes on the dog.

The girls are getting along famously. Kate rarely seems jealous of Lily and showers her with hugs and kisses. She loves to help take care of Lily; she decided tonight that she needed to help me feed Lily dinner (more on Lily's meals later). I think we are on the right track to helping the girls become lifelong friends.

On to our little drama queen, Miss Lily. She is four months old and just had her four month doctor's appointment. She weighed in at 15 pounds 12 ounces and was 26.5 inches long. Kate had almost 4 pounds on Lily at her four month appointment but only half an inch: both girls are in the 90th plus percentile for height. I am working on accepting the fact that I am going to be the runt of the family. I have nightmares that this is going to be my fate.

(10 brownie points for the first person to identify the source of this pic)

Lily is a smiling machine. As I said before, she is an undeniably happy baby... when she wants to be. Looking back at our old blogs we only had one good pic of Kate smiling at this age. We have probably 75 or 100 of Lily's toothless grin. Most look something like this:

Lily is also a very noisy baby. We have jokingly referred to her as our pterodactyl. She coos, screams and squeals all day long. Don't know what she is saying, but she clearly wants us to know what's up. Kate was a pretty quiet little thing; it was one of my few many concerns. Since Kate is now a talking machine, I assume Lily will be even more chatty when the time comes.

We got the all-clear at her appointment to give Lily solids so we have been feeding her a little bit of rice cereal every night. My main hope is that it will help her sleep a little better. Though she has a good 8 hour span from about 6:30pm to 2:30am, she is still waking up one to two times a night- at least one of those times is to eat. Mommy is very tired; 4 hours sleep doesn't really cut it when you have to work with teenagers all day long. Lily seems to be enjoying the rice cereal and has a handle on the whole swallowing concept. I'll let you know when I get through an entire night without Lily's company.

We think she likes the new eating digs and Kate even tried to get in on the feeding session today.

Finally, we made our annual trek to Nate's Butt Farm Bates Nut Farm to pick out some pumpkins. Despite J's groaning at the thought of getting up early and heading out to the middle of nowhere, we had a great time and picked out a few perfect pumpkins for our porch. Kate enjoyed feeding the barnyard animals and bouncing in the bounce house.

Lily hasn't quite gotten the hang of taking pictures yet

We forced Kate to sit in this pile-o-pumpkins.
She was not amused but played along with a little bribery.

We are looking forward to the holiday season. As far as I'm concerned, it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Check back soon for Halloween pics and notes on our holiday festivities. Hope you have a great October and Halloween. Trick-or-treat!

Aug 20, 2011

Lily: 2(ish) months

Lily turned two months old on the 29th of July. With all the party prep for Kate's birthday and the having two kids and all, I got a little behind on the posts. Since I head back to school next week I thought I would take the last few free moments I have to update everyone on the littlest Ryan.

Lily had her two month appointment at the beginning of August and passed with flying colors. She weighed 12.5 pounds and was 23.5 inches long, 86% in both areas. She cried a bit during her shots but did well overall until about 6 hours later when she woke up screaming with a slight fever. We made it through the evening and she was on the mend the next day.

We are slowly coming to realize that Kate was a baby saint. Lily, though she probably is very good compared to a lot of other babies, is what J and I have deemed fussy based solely and unscientifically on our experiences with Kate. I asked J what score he would give her on the non-existent fussiness scale with 10 being highest. He replied with a 6 but changed his mind the next day to 9 after she screamed in his face for 20 minutes and then cried the rest of the day. She is getting better as she gets closer to 3 months old, but we have had some pretty stressful days where nothing seems to make her happy.

The other challenging issue has been that, up until a week or so ago, Lily didn't really like anyone other than me. Babies love J, but not Lily. She didn't want anything to do with anyone or anything. Unless I was holding her, she was unhappy. This makes for an unhappy mommy, unfortunately, as I have things to do, places to go, etc. As she gets a little older, though, she and Daddy are getting along a lot better and she has been flashing him some smiles lately.

Kate is pretty much in love with Lily. Every so often Kate tells me to put Lily down and come and play, but overall Kate is very sweet with her. We have to watch carefully because Kate loves to hug and kiss Lily every chance she can get. We are very happy with Kate's interest level, but she can be a bit rough and we are constantly reminding her to be gentle. Kate is a great helper and likes to cover up Lily with her blanket and give her a pacifier when she is crying. Overall, I think they are going to get along just fine.

At Kate's party, Lily got to hang out with Aunt L and Uncle C. She spent most of the day being passed around since I was in full hostess mode. I knew we were turning the corner with her because she didn't need me all day long. Uncle C doesn't really love babies, but he did a good job when it was his turn to watch the little one.

The last few sessions of tummy time have been very productive- at least the first minute or so. Lily is getting very good at holding up her big head and has even flashed us some pretty cute smiles (which is another great thing that has happened in the last few weeks- little missy is all smiles). Here are some of my favorites from our recent tummy time sessions.

To end the post, I figured I would finally get around to the picture comparison I have been meaning to do since Lily was born. Though Lily has a lot of catching up to do, we see a lot of similarities between the two girls. Though Kate seems to be winning in the size competition (at two months old Kate was 15.5 pounds compared to Lily's 12.5 and 25 inches compared to Lily's 23.5) we think they are going to look a lot alike. We'll let you (and some time) be the judge.

Aug 17, 2011

Kate is Two

Two years ago today our first baby girl was born. After trying to get pregnant for almost a year, after having a doctor tell us our chances of getting pregnant without medical intervention were way way less than one in a million only to find out one day later that I was already pregnant with Kate, and after surviving the ever-present worry (mainly on my part) that this baby would be born healthy, Kate joined our family as healthy as can be and full of personality from day one.

With Daddy's curly hair, long lashes, and Mediterranean stubbornness and Mommy's button nose, doe eyes, and fair skin, she's the perfect combination of both J and me. Life with Kate is an adventure and every day she fascinates us with her inquisitiveness, intelligence, goofiness, and horrible dance moves.

To celebrate Kate's big day, Yia-Yia graciously allowed Kate to borrow her birthday so we could throw her a party. It was probably the biggest gathering we have had at our house, and, fortunately, we had a lot of help to put the final touches together (THANK YOU Maw-Maw, Ti-Ti, Yia-Yia, Papou, and Jen as well as all my neighbors who I borrowed things from!).

One of the highlights for Kate was the new slide Papa and Gi-Gi bought her.

Maw-Maw bought bubble guns and the entire party loved them, though Kate had just as much fun dumping the bubbles out as she did shooting the gun.

I made a fun fishing game that kept everyone busy for an hour or so.

Kate did a pretty good job blowing out the candles and we didn't even practice beforehand.

She even got a small piece of cake... thank you Daddy for okaying the cake.

Since she loves Elmo, I got her an Elmo balloon...

... and Maw-Maw bought her some great shoes...

... adorned with her favorite monster.

Kate has made some incredible advances over the last few months. She has started saying two and three word phrases, she has learned to count to ten, and she has started to sing along to some of her favorite songs. She picks up words at an incredible rate and we have realized that we really have to watch our mouths so as not to have a potty-mouthed two year old running around.

Most recently, Kate surprised us by deciding to switch over to her twin bed on her own. We tried to move her over about four months ago to get the crib ready for Lily, but Kate utterly refused the new nighttime arrangements. We spent a good two weeks cajoling, bribing, forcing, and begging her to give up her crib. No dice for four months.

The last trick we tried was to move her crib into her new room about a month ago so she could get comfortable with her new digs from the safety of her crib. Over the last few weeks I read Kate her nighttime books in her twin bed. At the end of the reading, I asked her where she wanted to sleep and she would always say crib, pack up her animals, climb out of her new bed, and make a beeline for the comforts of her crib. Surprisingly, three nights ago she said she wanted to sleep in her bed. And though I have had to spend some extra time helping her go to sleep and she has made some very early appearances in our room the last two mornings, every time has been easier and she hasn't mentioned the crib once. I'm not sure what made her change her mind. Maybe it was all the hype about being a big two year old.

So, to end this post I thought we would look back over the last two years. Though it is cliche, picking out old pictures reminds me how quickly time flies and how much my baby girl has grown up over the last two years. Before we know it, she is going to be headed off to college (hopefully on scholarship). Cue sappy sentimental music...

Kate was born on August 17, 2009.
She weighed 9 pounds and was 21 inches long.

One day old

Six months old

1 year old

At one year old, Kate weighed 26 pounds 12 ounces
and was 32.5 inches long

15 months old

18 months old

At 2 years old, Kate weighs 34 pounds and is 37.5 inches tall.
She is almost ready to wear 4t clothes and, if she continues to grow at her current rate, will be knocking on 6 foot's door at 18 (sorry baby girl- you can thank/curse your daddy for that one)
I guess we better get her interested in a "tall girl" sport like volleyball or basketball.

Jul 26, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama (and Atlanta)

For the past three summers, J's Alabama family, Grandpa T and Grandma L, along with J's Grandma B have come to visit. Two of those three summers they have come to meet their new granddaughters. Lily's arrival this May meant that we had some introducing to do since they couldn't be here when she was born. We had a wonderful week enjoying their company and traveling to some of our favorite SD destinations since J was able to rearrange his work schedule a little in order to have his days free.

For the past two years, Grandpa and Grandma have come to visit during our favorite sporting event of the year, the Tour de France. J and his dad spent many a summer on bike tours in addition to watching the Tour. J has taught me all about the race and now we watch it together every summer. Having his dad here to watch and discuss makes our summer viewing even more enjoyable and special. Having to plow through four hours of tv coverage a day gave Grandpa some time to really get to know baby Lily.

Lily getting in some quality cuddle time with Grandpa

Grandpa and Grandma really like Stickley furniture and they have some to adorn their beautiful Alabama craftsman style home. They found out that the SD Museum of Art had a Stickley exhibit so we headed down to Balboa Park for a gorgeous afternoon at the museum and around the park. Though Kate was pretty well behaved in the museum, she didn't understand why she couldn't run around and sit in all the Stickley chairs. We didn't stay for long and instead went outside to check out the pond and botanical garden.

In front of the entrance we found a bush full of tons of beautiful monarch caterpillars.

Grandpa gave Kate a closeup view of the caterpillars

We spent our second day at the SD Wild Animal Park (aka the SD Zoo Safari Park blach!) It was a bit warm but we had a great day checking out the animals.

The lorikeets really loved Grandpa T's green shirt.
Maybe they thought he was a giant lorikeet

Grandpa T really wanted to get in some beach time while they were in SD. In addition to some body surfing and trying to get Kate to take a dip in the water, he is a great sand castle builder and made Kate an entire village.

Kate had just as much fun building the castles as she did knocking them down.

Lily slept through most of her first beach outing which was a-ok with me.

Grandma L got in on the beach action and showed Kate all the shells she found.

In between the trips around town, Kate got to spend some quality time hanging out with the family at home. She had a great time showing everyone her stuff and learning a few things in the process.

Kate and Grandpa sitting down to enjoy the Three Little Bears

Relaxing with both granddaughters

While they were here, the fam taught Kate some nifty yoga moves that she has been perfecting since they left.
She is especially good at downward dog

During Grandpa and Grandma's visit, Great-Grandpa M and Great-Grandma R came to meet Lily, too. We had a great time visiting with the whole family together.

Three generations of Ryans. Missing daddy for the four generation shot.

After Grandpa and Grandma left, one of my best friends from high school came to visit us from Atlanta. We love having her and we miss her tons. Kate really took to her on this trip and has been asking about her for days.

Kate is finally learning to smile for the camera.

One last pic before Auntie K headed back to Hot-Lanta.
"Goodbye, Auntie K, don't stay away too long.
(10 bonus points for anyone who can identify the source for that quote)

Overall, it was a great July filled with loving family and friends. We are already looking forward to the next time that everyone can come out to visit and can't wait until the girls are ready to visit the South.

Our August should be just as fun. With Kate's second birthday on the horizon and Lily starting to seem more like a person, we are excited for my last three weeks of vacation.