Thursday, July 31, 2008

Jenn's Shower

Sunday was Jenn's baby shower. It was really fun, and nice to see some of Jenn's friends that I know, as well as meet many I didn't know. I was in charge of the plans, which you may have realized is a bit of stretch for me. But I pushed through, and gave her the pinkest shower I knew how. (In case you need a refresher on the details, my lovely little sister's baby girl Chase Lauren is due on in early September.) We had a great time, and Jenn scored some good loot.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Stephie and Nick's Wedding

My lovely and wonderful sister Stephie Steward married the charming and hilarious Nick Stewart on Saturday, July 19th. It was a fabulous day. Let's run through it.
It started with dropping Stellan off at his grandmas' house, where we bumped into Steph, who was just getting back from her early a.m. hair styling. (It was 7:15 AM.) Then we all hopped into our cars and drove to Santa Monica. Stephie and Nick were sealed in the LDS Los Angeles Temple by David Payne. It was a very nice ceremony with a small crowd. Then we headed out for some photos (oh yeah, a lot of those all day long). After photos, Stephie changed out of her gorgeous wedding dress for the drive back to Santa Barbara.
Back in SB, those who were not at the sealing madly set up the ring ceremony and reception. Apparently many of the assigned members of the brute force (AKA young men who could easily heft many tables and chairs) were not there, leaving my 7-months-along sister Jenny to try to get everything in place. Don't worry, she didn't lift anything.
In the afternoon, Stephie and Nick arrived for the reception. There were lots of people at the reception (probably between 150 and 200, but you'd have to ask them for a more accurate head count). They had a lovely ring ceremony, officiated by Art Burke. I actually recorded the whole thing, which I hope to be able to upload tomorrow. There was also amazing cake - chocolate as well as lemon with passion fruit filling.
OK, so here's the thing I don't like about weddings of immediate family members - there are so many people you want to talk to that there's no way you can possibly spend nearly enough time with any of them! It was really fun to see so many family members and old friends, and I know it meant a lot to Steph and Nick that they all came. It was a big ol' lovefest.
Eventually Stephie and Nick snuck out (and I mean snuck out - I accidentally found them hopping into their car), and we got everything cleaned up with minimal damage. There was the requisite sacrifice to the wedding gods - a lovely crystal punch bowl took a dive off the table when one too many chairs were stacked against it. Also lots of yummy leftovers. In the meantime, Stellan spent some quality time with his cousin Riley. They found a way to make three chairs folded on the ground into the best play equipment ever. They followed each other back and forth across the chairs, giggling and squawking the whole way.
Once we had cleaned everything up, we went to the moms' for a couple more hours with the out-of-town siblings (and Riley of course), some pizza and a chance to decompress.
The happy couple just got back from their honeymoon cruise to Mexico today, and they are very happy indeed. They are just too cute, and we're all so happy for them. Here are a few photos, though I'm sure the real ones that Missy took will be way better. Until we get those, I hope these will suffice.

Catching Up

I have been extremely remiss in posting this week, since we've been house/dogsitting for some good friends. So here's what you may have missed:
The last of Stellan's birthday celebrations. He got a pretty slick NASA flight jacket, but he was much more interested in the ribbons on the package.

Ping Pong. We finally got the ping pong table we've been talking about getting for Museum staff to use during lunch hour, etc. The first lunch tournament was really fun and a portend of even more good times to come. I even played a couple of games with Stellan in one arm and my paddle in the other. I didn't win.

Stellan's official first word. Stellan is fond of dogs, and in fact came close to torturing poor Ursa this last week. He followed her around (yes, like a puppy) all over the house and poked, prodded and squealed her nearly to death. Ursa was rewarded with table scraps and constant company despite the fact that her family was gone. And Stellan spouted his official first word all week long - "Doggie!" It's the first word he's used repeatedly for only one single object or desire, so I'm putting in the books as the first real word in his vocabulary. He's used it ever since then at the sight or sound of a dog. Funny story - Stellan and I were listening to some folky-rock last night that includes the requisite tambourine, and when he heard it, he shouted "Doggie!" and looked around madly for the dog whose tags he thought he heard.
A really awesome field trip. Kevin and I took my Quasar class (the high schoolers I work with at the Museum) on a great field trip that included a tour of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network headquarters, a delicious barbecue and an excursion to a boarding school in Ojai that hosts the Summer Science Program for astro-minded youths. It was great, went really late, and Kev and I have been paying the price for our late-night fun ever since. Totally worth it.
Our first laptop. With Kevin's new graduate career looming, it was definitely time.

Fun with grandparents. First we had dinner with Grandma and Grandpa Steward tonight, and then we went to Grandma and Granny's house for a present opening party (Steph and Nick did pretty well with the wedding gifts) and prep for Jenn's baby shower tomorrow. Think pink - lots of pink! More to come after the event.

Stephie and Nick's wedding. It will get its own post after this one.

Now you're all caught up. There, don't you feel better? I do!

Friday, July 18, 2008

THM Shout Out

In addition to being the day my sister Stephie marries her beloved Nick, tomorrow is also the Texas Houston Mission Reunion. Obviously, we'll be skipping out on the latter. We really would have liked to have been there to see all our THM buddies (or at least the ones who could make it). We love all y'all, and are proud to have served with you. It's nice to still be in touch with so many of you, and we hope to keep that up for a long time to come. And, President and Sister Mayfield, even though we'll miss you seeing you too, we did enjoy catching up with you over Christmas break. I'll be humming the Texas Houston Mission song in my head all day long tomorrow!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

More Birthday Madness

Here is an amazing video of the baby race at the mass birthday party last week. Stellan came in a very close fourth (he lost by seconds to Levi). He started pretty strong, got distracted by all the other babies and then Kevin used a cupcake to spur him to finish the race. (You'll see the still photo of this at the beginning of the video.) Enjoy the video; courtesy of Vivian.

Untitled from Jerry Thomas on Vimeo.

A Year of Friendship: A Tribute

Stellan and Levi have been friends now for really almost 2 years. Yes, Vivian and I forced them to spend quite a bit of time together in utero. It seems to have worked - they still tolerate each other, and even occasionally let us know they really like each other. Now that they've spent over a year face to face, it's time to celebrate life-long friends. Here's to you, Stellan and Levi!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Birthday Time

Yep, in case you missed in last week's lengthly post, Stellan has begun his second revolution around the sun. There are those who are disappointed that the birthday event has not garnered more attention on the blog, so this post is for them.
Stellan celebrated his birthday on his birthday with us in Florida. We let him have some of the ice cream we ate to celebrate the fact that we all made it through the first year alive.
Yesterday we attended a mass first birthday party; there were a dozen or so kids who were all born last summer in our circle of friends, so instead of trying to have a bunch of parties scattered through the summer, we all celebrated all at once. As you can imagine, cuteness overload. A video is in the works and a pro photographer was there to get pics, so I'll post more on this later. Our personal highlight was Stellan's cupcake. Yes, we let him do his best with a frosted cupcake. He did not disappoint.

Tonight we celebrated Stellan's birthday at the moms', and Levi came as well. Levi's mom Vivian and I have birthdays a few days apart so we always celebrate together. It seemed fitting that since our sons are only 9 days apart, they should enjoy a party together too. Although Stellan was a bit of a bully, it was a pretty fun night.
And now that he is a year old, Stellan is enjoying new privileges. Now he rides in his forward-facing car seat, which took him aback at first and now just fascinates him.
Also, we let him feed himself more and more. This is a big sacrifice on our part because it becomes increasingly messy as the meal unfolds (or explodes, as the case may be.)

So there you have it - Stellan is one year old. We've all come a long way in the last year, and if I weren't so darn tired right now, I might take a minute to reflect on all those changes and be pretty amazed. Yawn. Maybe tomorrow. Or next year.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Cookie Jar Exclusive

Subtitle: The Cookie Jar Goes Bi-Coastal

We got back late Tuesday night from a long weekend in South Florida. How was it, you ask? Good; pretty humid and a bit warmer than warm. I spent a lot 0f time flashing back to my sticky-skinned past in Houston, where I served a 20-month mission for the LDS Church in 2000 & 2001. We had a great time, and hopefully Stellan did too.
The trip started off not perfectly, as Stellan had a fever for the first day and a half. On the plus side, it made the plane trip much easier. He also discovered the joy of cuddling; he never cuddles unless he's sick, but in our unfamiliar hotel room in an unfamiliar environment, he spent quite a bit of time just slowly crawling over us on the big hotel bed until he found the right cuddle pose for a nap. Very cute, but a little pathetic. Later in the trip, he got used to having lots of playtime on the bed.
We spent a pretty good part of Saturday, our anniversary (6 years!), driving all over looking for addresses that only sometimes existed. Stellan was a super trooper about just hanging out in his carseat, and even helped us with our navigating. That night we had our first taste of the Atlantic Ocean - very nice! Warmer than Santa Barbara, and the color was pretty amazing (although the nighttime photos won't help you much with that). Stellan liked it a lot, but he wasn't too thrilled about all the gritty sand that stuck on him even after we tried to clean him off. The sand grains are definitely bigger at the beach in Dania.
On Sunday we attended the Hollywood Ward, located in Hollywood, FL. They were very nice to Stellan, and he returned the favor by spending most of Sacrament Meeting cleaning the tile floor in the foyer with his knees, palms and stomach.
On Monday we did some more looking around and then headed for the beach. You'll enjoy the photos of our escapades there. Stellan's favorite thing to do was to crawl in a little deeper than he should, wait for the waves to completely cover him, then come up choking and look at me dumbfounded. He did this maybe 10 times. Eventually Kevin built him a sand wall, which formed a pool behind it that Stellan played in. We were interested to note that we didn't see a single sand crab; any East Coasters care to weigh in on that one?
Since Monday was also Stellan's birthday, we took him out for ice cream. OK, we took us out for ice cream and shared with him. We went to Jaxson's, which is a famous old-fashionedl ice cream parlor with huge portions. We shared with Stellan (unusual for us - I promise we don't let him indulge in dessert regularly), but he got tired of the ice cream pretty quickly and instead decided to show us that he was tired and ready for bed.
On Tuesday we ate a leisurely breakfast, packed up and checked out of the hotel. We then headed over to SeaTech, the campus of Florida Atlantic University that Kevin will be studying at to earn his Master's starting in the fall. That's the "exclusive" part of this post: we're moving to Florida! If you are an employee of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, please keep this to yourself until Saturday evening, when I promise to inform all Museum employees. (Yeah, right; I know you Museum people don't check this blog very regularly. Pretty safe gamble on my part.) If you don't work with me, feel free to tell the world.
How do we feel about Florida? Pretty good. Kevin loved the campus and is very excited about his program. I am looking forward to being a stay-at-home mom and maybe even having some time to work on my much-neglected music. Somehow I just haven't found much time for composing since Stellan was born and I have continued to work full-time. One of the saddest days in recent memory was when we moved to our two bedroom apartment and I realized we didn't have space for my keyboard, but it didn't matter because I knew I wouldn't really have a chance to touch it anyway. Now I'll get it back! If our new home is big enough, that is.
As I mentioned, we spent the bulk of our time cruising the area in search of affordable (meaning ludicrously inexpensive) housing not too far from campus. We have some leads and some applications in, but nothing's final yet. We'll probably be in Hollywood, but if we get really lucky we'll find a place in Dania Beach, which is where the campus is. Hollywood would be OK though; we spent an evening at a really awesome park right in the middle of town that Stellan loved.
We did have some adventures on our search, like the lady who gave us the wrong address, and when we finally found her, she stepped out of her car and had 3 monkeys on leashes hanging off of her. In fact, the whole interaction was kind of funny. While we were waiting for her outside the apartment building, I only needed one look to see that the whole thing would be totally roach-infested, and I told Kevin so. When we stepped into the door, there was a huge industrial-sized pump-handle bottle of roach killer; I whispered to Kevin, "Told ya!" We asked her if there was a roach problem and she said, "No, we just finished a remodel and they said it would be a good time to spray in all the corners to prevent any from coming in." Liar! While we were there, we saw at least half a dozen roaches boldly scaling the walls and ceilings. And there was a matching bottle of insecticide in every room. As we were leaving, she let one of the monkeys crawl on Kevin. (Tragically, no photos; the camera was in the car with sleeping Stellan.) She said that this particular monkey loved men and that she [the monkey] was her little whore. When another monkey (did I mention they had clothes on?) tried to crawl onto Kevin too, she explained that this one, a male, was her gay and that he loved men too. Yes, those were her exact words.
We saw of lot of properties for rent and for sale; the housing market there is one of the worst in the country. In fact, there have been many who have encouraged us to buy because we might find a cheap foreclosed property. However, we don't have much in the way a down payment right now, and since technically neither one of us will be employed (Kevin received a paid research assistantship - meager but hopefully sufficient), we wouldn't be able to get a loan. But if any of you are looking to buy, we'll be happy to rent from you!
How do we feel about leaving Santa Barbara? Sad, of course. Most of my family is here, and I will miss them more than I can express. Also, Stellan is very close to all his extended family here, and they are pretty much the reason Kevin and I have been able to stay sane with our busy schedules and our even busier baby. We'll miss the free babysitting very much. Also, I've been at the Museum for over 13 years now, and I will be heart-broken to leave my Museum family. And then there's all our friends, our connections, the weather, and Bangkok Palace on upper De La Vina. But we're ready for a change and excited about all the new things we'll be doing and experiencing. We'll be looking for some friends, and hopefully adoptive grandparents for Stellan, so if you know anyone in the area, tell them we're on our way. In the meantime, my nearest friend, Leigh Arnold, is only 600 miles away in Evans, GA. Stellan and I might have to go on a road trip!
By the way, we did get back safe and sound. The flight home was much more difficult because it was at the end of the day and Stellan wasn't sick anymore. But luckily we sat next to an incredibly kind woman who fell in love with Stellan instantly and was extremely kind to us the whole flight. She played with him and even walked him up and down the aisles when he got feisty. Thanks, Marisela! We got in at about 10 PM PDT exhausted but glad to be back in our smoky little Santa Barbara. (The Gap Fire is about 50% contained by now, and has moved away from our closer vicinity.) Stellan was especially glad to be back in his own house with his own toys and his own room and has been happily reuniting with his family.
This is probably the longest post I've ever written, and if you made it all the way to the end, you deserve to enjoy these photos!

P.S. Did I mention the lightning? There were thunderstorms every night we were there; awesome!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Some Photos to Tide You Over

Details on our exciting trip to Florida will follow, but here is a slideshow of photos taken by my coworker, Easter, at a recent Museum event. Stellan was waiting for all the people to arrive at Coggeshall Bowl, our amphitheater. Enjoy! Also, for those of you who like to download photos of Stellan for computer desktop use, etc. (and you know who you are, grandparents!), they are available here:

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Quick Update

I usually try to be more on top of the blog, but it's been a busy few days. Since the last post, I handled a near-disaster in the planetarium, kayaked 9 miles (also for work - it has its ups and downs), threw my sister Stephie a bridal shower, and took Stellan to the zoo for the first time. I hope to have more details and photos of these events soon.
Also, in case you hadn't heard yet, the mountains of Goleta are ablaze with a wildfire that is looking more and more ominous. The evacuations continue as the fire has started to creep down the hills with a change in the wind. We're pretty safe here in Isla Vista (knock on wood), but we are concerned for those who live closer to the danger zone. As the night falls, we all go outside to watch the flames jump and dive; it's scary, but awe-inspiring also.
Finally, this is just a quickie post as we're packing for a 4th of July/anniversary/Stellan's birthday trip to Florida. We leave early in the morning and we'll be back on Tuesday evening. I'm sure we'll have some fun stuff to report to you upon our return. Happy 4th of July from the Smoky Jar!