Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Moon

video
We have a stuffed globe that Stellan found the other day but it turned out to be a little to big for him. Luckily, stuffed inside of the globe is a stuffed moon. Turns out that Stellan really loves the moon.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Top Three Reasons My Life Is Over

It's been a big week for Stellan. He's been tentatively crawling for a while, and definitely liking the standing position when we place him in it. But in the last few days, and I mean that literally, everything has changed. Here are the top three reasons I will never have a moment's peace again.

Exhibit A.
He can get himself standing, and then even slide around. Here is an actual photo of the very first time he got himself from his bouncer (which he never sits in anymore, but loves to stand against) to the couch, which is adjacent.


Exhibit B. He is now so fast at crawling that he's across the house in seconds, not minutes. He has developed a love affair with the blinds in our kitchen and finds them endlessly entertaining. Also he likes minuscule pieces of debris on the floor, cords and cables, the heater, stray papers, the list goes on and on.


Exhibit C. The aforementioned speed of the crawl means that Stellan has become an intrepid explorer. No longer content with his long-established play area in the living room, he darts about the entire downstairs area. The plus side: he entertains himself much more and concerns himself with us much less, resulting in Mommy and Daddy eating meals together and actually getting stuff done. The bad side: we occasionally get so caught up in the stuff we're getting done, we look away from the baby for a few too many seconds and the following happens...


Yes, it's true; today he climbed the stairs for the first time. This is the first time he's even touched the stairs of his own volition, so I thought we had a little more time to prepare (i.e. get a gate). Nope. My academic interest in purchasing the right baby gate became instantaneously urgent this afternoon as I was working on some Girls Camp stuff at the computer and heard a clomping sort of sound. Sure enough, he had gotten himself up one stair and was working for the next. And, as you can see, very proud of himself.


P.S. No need to concern yourselves, we are now in possession of a baby gate. Some wonderful neighbors acted quickly, and I'm sure we have them to thank for the narrow escape of either brain damage (Stellan's) or a massive coronary infarction (mine).

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Granny!

Yesterday we celebrated Martha's birthday. She holds a special place in Stellan's heart, so he asked me to post this for him:
Granny, you are the best at reading me books.
I feel so safe and happy with you I can fall asleep just about anywhere.
I love all of our special talks, just the two of us.
I listen very closely to all the advice you give me and try to be good for Mommy and Daddy just because you asked me to.
I wish every day was a Granny day.
I love you,
Stellan

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Total Lunar Eclipse on Wednesday

I have had several requests to post something about the total lunar eclipse on Wednesday night. So I contacted my insider at the local natural history museum, who gave me permission to post the email she sent out regarding the eclipse. Here you go!


I'm excited to inform you that the total lunar eclipse on February 20th will be visible from Santa Barbara (and the rest of the United States). The moon rises at 5:39 PM that afternoon in Santa Barbara, and the eclipse begins at 5:43 PM. Totality starts at 7:01 PM and lasts until 7:51 PM. Although totality concludes then, the eclipse continues until 9:09 PM. In case you have any questions, or you get questions from friends or family, here are some answers:

Where should I look for the eclipse?
The eclipse will be visible in the east at sunset. The eclipse continues as the moon rises that evening. If you want to see the eclipse from the beginning, make sure you have a clear view of the eastern horizon.

Is the Museum offering a public viewing?
Yes! We'll be at Shoreline Park for the duration of the eclipse with the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit. This is a free viewing, and appropriate for people of all ages. You'll find the event listed on the Museum's calendar at
http://www.sbnature.org/eventcal/index.php?calview=event&event_id=704&prevview=month&year=2008&month=02&day=20 .

Why aren't you doing the viewing at the Museum?
Because we're located in a canyon, the Museum is not a good viewing spot for this eclipse; the moon will be too low in the sky to be visible from our Mission Creek campus.

Do you need a telescope to see the eclipse?
No. Anyone can view this eclipse without a telescope or binoculars. And unlike a solar eclipse, you don't need protect your eyes with filters. We will have telescopes at Shoreline Park, but those will be pointed at Mars, Saturn and other celestial targets.

What causes a lunar eclipse?
Lunar eclipses occur when the moon passes through the shadow of the earth. You might think that this process would make the moon completely dark, as the earth is completely blocking direct sunlight. Not so! Some sunlight passes through the earth's atmosphere, which filters out most of the blue light; a small fraction of the remaining red light is refracted and then hits the moon. That is why the moon looks reddish during totality.

How often do lunar eclipses occur?
Lunar eclipses can occur anywhere from 0 to 3 times in a single calendar year. However, not all eclipses are total eclipses, and any eclipse will only be visible from the side of the earth facing the moon. The next few lunar eclipses visible from the US include this year's eclipse, a partial and a total eclipse in 2010, a partial eclipse in 2012 and two total eclipses in 2014.

I've seen this eclipse listed as occurring on February 20th and February 21st. Which is it?

Both. The eclipse begins at 01:43 Universal Time (1:43 AM Greenwich Mean Time) on February 21st. However, that's 5:43 Pacific Standard Time on the preceding day, February 20th. So if you're in Morocco, the eclipse happens on the 21st; if you're in the US, it starts on the 20th.

Krissie, this is the most fascinating thing I've ever read. How can I find out more about lunar eclipses?

I'm so glad you asked. For more information about lunar eclipses, the best website I've found is the NASA Eclipse Homepage - http://sunearth.gsfc.nasa.gov/eclipse/eclipse.html - and has a special feature section about this upcoming eclipse. You'll find diagrams, descriptions, photos and more.

I hope to see you all at Shoreline Park, but if you can't make it, be sure to go outside between 7 and 8 PM and enjoy this cosmic phenomenon. Don't forget to drag anyone you can along with you! Please feel free to contact me with any further questions you might have.

Happy eclipsing,

Krissie

Krissie Cook, Astronomy Programs Manager
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Monday, February 18, 2008

Yeah For Friends!

So my former mission companion Janae came to visit on Saturday. She is awesome, definitely one of my favorite people in the world. We didn't get to spend nearly enough time together, but I'll take what I can get. We had lots of fun - two beaches and a barbecue all in one afternoon.The breakwater at the harbor was awesome, Stellan was definitely into it. In fact, he really did want to actually be literally into it. Luckily, Kev had a firm grip on him.
We invited the moms, Stephie and the Thomases to a barbecue in Janae's honor.
And it was good.

On the way back to our apartment, somehow the lighter fluid opened and leaked all over everything in the plastic bag we were using for transport. Mostly that included drinks, cups, paper plates, a few dishes, and most importantly, the lighter. Hmm. If only Matt (AKA Elder Steward) were here...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth

Yes, it's true - we did it. We took Stellan to Disneyland. We didn't really mean to, it was pretty spur-of-the-moment. My sister KK called and said she and Alex were going to be in LA, and would we all like to go to Disneyland in two days? I figured it was better not to think about it and just do it. So we said we were in.
But despite my best efforts to not think about it too much, we were naturally very apprehensive about just about every aspect of the trip: the drive there, the lines, the sun, the rides, naps, feeding, overstimulation, potentially explosive diapers, the stroller; the list could go on and on. Luckily, with all the other stuff going on in our lives, we couldn't really dwell on it too long.
Before you know it, Saturday came. We popped over to the moms' house to hitch a ride with them, and Stellan promptly fell asleep. It helps that we left right around naptime.
We arrived in the heat of the day and with tons of people waiting to get tickets. A word to the wise - Vons sells Disneyland tickets in their stores; if you're going, get them at Vons and save yourself 45 minutes in line before you're even in the park.
Once we got in the gates and found KK and Alex, the good times definitely got rolling. We went on Buzz Lightyear, where you get to shoot at targets and compete with your carmate. Stellan rode with the grandmas and did pretty well.
Some of the funny parts of the day included having to walk off of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride when it stopped and apparently broke. KK and Alex seem to have cursed Disneyland, in fact. They managed to just be getting off Space Mountain as it broke down, and we got stuck in the Haunted Mansion too. Also, some of our favorites were closed - the Jungle Boat Cruise and It's a Small World. Well, actually, Kevin was probably pretty glad Small World was down.
The main challenges of the day were keeping Stellan hydrated and keeping his hat on. We tried. And that's about all I can say about that.
What about the other rides, you ask? Stellan loved the Tiki Room. And when I say love, I mean he was jumping up and down and squealing with delight. He's definitely my baby. (The rest of the Steward clan was singing along - in harmony - and swaying to the beat. It's tradition. Little wonder Stellan caught the fever.) He waited in line for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride but ended up taking his afternoon nap with Granny instead. No one was too disappointed about that. He waited in line for the Haunted Mansion, but again had to evacuate for nutritional purposes before we went on the ride. By the way, it's tough to find a quiet and non-distracting semi-private place to nurse at Disneyland. In case you were wondering.
He did manage to make it on Pirates of the Carribbean. He didn't love it, but he didn't hate it either. He was very intrigued but was also a little sketched out, as you can see in this photo Momfa snapped mere moments after the magic voice reminded us that flash photography is prohibited...

We also all enjoyed the Winnie the Pooh ride. In this lovely photo, you can see Grandma and Granny with Stellan, as well as KK and Alex behind them.Also, while the "kids" went on Space Mountain, Stellan saw the parade with the grandmas. Apparently it was quite a hit - our little guy really likes a show.
In the end, I'd say the part I was worried about most was the part that ended up going the most smoothly. Waiting in line turns out to be pretty decent with an infant, especially if you have a group of devotees willing to help entertain the child. Below are some photos of Stellan being entertained (and course entertaining) while waiting.

Leave it to my child to find the only real plants at Disneyland...and to use the scientific method to investigate their nutritional value.
We also tried to get a family photo at a variety of locations throughout the day. Stellan was less than cooperative. However, he did really well with his Winnie the Pooh and Friends photo ops - if you think that larger-than-life stuffed animals must be tasted to be believed.



In the end, I'd say it was the best trip to Disneyland we'll ever take with Stellan. He was a champ! In fact, by the end of the day it was apparent that Disneyland is just about the right amount of stimulation for him. (A little disconcerting for Mommy.) My advice to anyone taking an infant includes the following:
1. Bring grandmas.
2. Bring your own stroller, especially with a younger/smaller child.
3. Bring grandmas.
4. Don't strategize your trip like you did when you were younger/hipper/less parent-y; you're not anymore! It's OK to plan around nap time, take a break to eat, step out of line and even (gasp) not stay until the park closes. Because, believe me, that 4 AM feeding will still be waiting for you at home.
5. Bring grandmas.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

What's a Pirate's Favorite Vegetable?


Carrrrrrrrrots!

(A special thanks to Grandma Karen for this one.)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Stellan the Sea Turtle

So now that Stellan is mobile (crawling when he's feeling up to it, just commando-crawl-flopping when he's lazy), he's realized the world is his oversized oyster. The other night I was cooking dinner and had left him playing happily in the living room. To my surprise, a couple of minutes into dinner prep, I saw his little body peeking into the kitchen - he had made his way to the break between carpet and linoleum, living room and kitchen.
As soon as he saw me, his target was confirmed; he started charging toward me. (I'm being generous with the usage of "charging" for the sake of storytelling.) However, he wasn't counting on the linoleum being so much more slippery than the carpet. He struggled for about 20 minutes to make his way toward me. By the time he got there, dinner was ready and I callously walked right over him and headed for the table, several feet back and near his starting point. He shot me quite the look, but to my surprise didn't balk much at all. He just turned around and headed my way. In a few more minutes he was happily in my lap, exhausted but proud.