Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

We spent the evening at the church Halloween party, which was pretty much a mob scene. Stellan was in heaven. As you can see, he's wearing an authentic Chinese outfit which his aunts Eileen and KK got for him while they were in China last year. Adorable! Coming in as a close second for cutest kid at the party was Elsa, who came as a kangaroo.

P.S. I dressed up as a pirate and Kev decided to be a birder after I shot down his first choice of costume. This video should help you see why I had to stop him.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Get Out And Vote!

Early voting is well underway in my state and many others. Whether or not you're planning on voting the way I will, do the research and cast your ballot. If the following clip doesn't inspire you to make your voice heard for the good of our great nation, I don't know what will.

(Also available in better resolution at the YouTube source.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Quick Note About Photos

I used our entire memory card on the trip, so all "surplus" photos, and there are a lot, are available here:

And that concludes all posting related to our trip to California.

The Way Home

Kevin and I actually got to fly home together (Kevin joined us in SB later last week, and barely made it due to a series of unfortunate events), which made things easier. In fact, we had only one little "hiccup," which is my euphemistic way of telling you about a little incident at the Charlotte airport's food court.
Stellan had been inconsolably cranky, throwing tantrums and refusing to eat or drink. Kevin took his for a walk to calm him down, and as he returned he said, "We need to take this kid to a doctor." I was in the middle of asking him why, when Stellan ejected a MAD TV-esque solid spout of vomit. I won't go into details, but he only got a little on Kevin's shirt, his shoes were easily wiped clean and I escaped unscathed. Stellan felt much better, and made the last leg home admirably. He's now almost completely over his cold (I think the "hiccup" got a lot of mucus out of his chest), and doing great.

The Grand Finale

OK, you'll probably be disappointed now that I've promised something grand. It's not, except for me. I got my hair cut, which I haven't done since before Stellan was born. Momfa did a great job chopping off a lot of hair. I should have measured, but since I didn't, I'd but estimates around 8 inches. So enjoy these photos of before, during and after. I love the new short hair!

Cousin Fun

Stellan and his cousins had lots of chances to play with Riley, his cousin only a month younger, this weekend. Here are some highlights.

Maggie's Birthday

We took advantage of the proximity of our visit to Maggie's birthday to celebrate a little early. We enjoyed some delicious grilled salmon and other goodies, and chatted up a storm. Also, Stellan enjoyed the opportunity to reacquaint himself with some of his favorite toys at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Happy Birthday, Maggie!

The Pumpkin Patch

Even though the kids were worn out, we thought it would be fun to take them to the Lane Farms pumpkin patch. Also, Stellan has this adorable jacket from his Great Aunt Carol, and we knew he'd never need in Florida before he outgrew it, so we were dying for a chance to try it out. Even cuter than we imagined! The excursion was fun - while it lasted. We played in the hay, we posed around pumpkins, we went on a hay ride, we did the corn maze (OK, only some of us did the corn maze and everyone who tried made it out the entrance, not the exit) and most of all, we took tons of photos. Enjoy!

The After Party

After the shortest wedding on record, we all headed back to the moms' for the after party. Loads of food, loads of family, loads of fun!

The Wedding

The main we reason we came to town was to attend the moms' wedding. They had a commitment ceremony 11 years ago, and decided they would make it legal on their anniversary this year. It was the most casual wedding I've ever been to - it lasted less than 15 minutes, involved some minor outbursts from the audience (yes, my wonderful boy couldn't be quite and still for even 10 minutes) and was really great. Highlights included the minister's donning of a witch's hat and quoting from "Wicked", one of the moms' most favorite musicals of all time, and a lovely blessing from Toni Crotty, a close friend of the family.

Congratulations, Moms! We love you!

Some Things We Did

I'll get to all the big stuff, but here are some fun things we also did:
-We went the Museum and had a lovely lunch with my former department. It was so nice to catch up with everyone and they were very kind to provide such a lovely and Stellan-friendly meal. I still really miss the Museum.
-We went out to sushi with Javier, my friend and former colleague. Stellan enjoyed the sticky rice, both as sustenance and as an accessory.
-We went for a walk with Lee & Meghan and Vivian & Levi. Good to see good friends. Plus the bonus of a good surprise (oh, how I love a good surprise!). When Viv and I arrived at the Flemings' door, she knocked and I hid. Levi was conveniently hiding behind Stellan's stroller, so Stellan just walked right in when Steve opened the door. Lee just stood there looking at Stellan, and asked, "Who's this?" Vivian insisted that it was Levi, but Lee knew better. Guess I hadn't mentioned to her that we were coming to town.
-We did experiments with glow sticks. My mom was going to use glow sticks as her youth group activity on Sunday night, so we had to try out some stuff, of course. We cut one open and soaked a tennis ball with the extracted liquid, which left some super awesome drips and splatters on the kitchen sink. Also, we tried taking photos in the dark while swinging glow sticks around madly. Stellan even took a glow stick bath (with one of the unopened ones - what kind of mother do you think I am?). I love experiments. Especially when they give me an excuse to play in the dark.

How do you like this one? Pretty appropriate, given the intended audience.

Arrival in Santa Barbara

We were really glad to get off the third plane of the day in lovely Santa Barbara, which turned out to actually be even hotter than South Florida for a couple of days. We were met by a small but enthusiastic contingent of the Stellan Fan Club and whisked back to Grandma and Granny's house for some catching up (both on things and sleep). Stellan's first task was to find his way to the toy closet, just to be sure the toys were still there. Later, he reacquainted himself with every stuffed animal in the house, making sure to cuddle and bounce each one individually. What a giver!

On the Way to Cali

Dragging Stellan across the country as a "lap child" is becoming increasingly difficult. He's getting bigger and space is a serious issue. Also, he's pretty active (if you hadn't already noticed) and doesn't like being in one place for 4 hour chunks. So mercifully, he caught a cold on our plane ride home from Atlanta and still had it two days later for our trip to Santa Barbara. I've never been so grateful to see my child wake up slightly listless and a bit clingy. It made the trip easier, but it was a little sad to see that he kept the cold all the way through the trip. So if he looks a bit out of it in the photos, he was.
One quick shout-out to Gate B15 at PHX (that's the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport to those who don't fly as often as we seem to have lately): thanks for the kids' play area!


Due to the muchness of posting content from our trip to Santa Barbara, I will split the trip into smaller bite-sized posts. (That said, I still don't promise how many bites per post.) So don't be scared when you see I've just uploaded a dozen posts or so this afternoon. Read only what you like, skip the rest!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Be Back Soon!

We're in California right now having tons of fun, but we'll be back for new exciting Floridian adventures tomorrow night. So look forward to good stories and of course loads of photos. See you on Tuesday!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Our Trip To Georgia (And a Little Bit of South Carolina)

Stellan and I spent the weekend in Georgia visiting my good friend Leigh Arnold and her family. (If you're one of the truly old school, you'll remember her as Leigh Rogers.) It was super awesome, and I will lay it all out part by part to make my long post seem shorter.

Part 1: The Trip
We flew because a last-second plane ticket was a little less than gas would have been. (We live really far south in Florida, and she lives really far north in Georgia, so it's about 600 miles each way.) Stellan has decided that, contrary to past experience, he is immune to sleeping on airplanes. Too bad I tried to pick flights that were during his nap time, because it just meant he skipped it.

Part 2: The Georgia Aquarium
After Leigh picked us up at the Atlanta airport, we went to the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta before we took the 2-hour drive back to Evans. Her three wonderful kids, Hailey, Brooks and Reagan, were real troopers there. The aquarium is really cool, the largest in the world, but it was really crowded, so the little ones had to spend a lot of time in strollers, and the older ones were not permitted to stray far either. That said, there was lots to touch, and I think the thing we all liked best was "The Tunnel" (as Hailey called it), a ginormous tank with a clear tube along a lengthy walkway so you can see all the fish in the tank. Not just fish, but sharks and turtles and really awesome stuff. They even had some whale sharks in the tank, which blew my mind. Enjoy these photos.

Part 3: On the Way Home
It was a bit of a drive back to Evans, and Leigh and I took advantage of the chance to catch up. (We did that a lot all weekend.) Evans is pretty far west, and near the South Carolina border. At one point, I asked her if we had to go through South Carolina to get to her part of Georgia. She said no, and I got confused, because we had definitely just passed a "Welcome to South Carolina" road sign. It turns out that we were so caught up in the conversation that we missed the exit. Luckily, we were only about 15 minutes past it, so it was a quick retreat back.

Part 4: Sunday
Sunday is of course church day, and for the parents of small children, perhaps one of the most stressful days in any given week. Leigh and Patrick have 3 kids, all age 5 or under, so I figured I'd have some company in the hallway while Stellan ran around wild. I was right. We (Stellan and I) didn't last 10 minutes before we had to leave the chapel (the main area of the church building). Luckily (for me, not Leigh), Reagan was also having a hard time, so they got to play together in the Relief Society room, where we could listen to services over the PA system. I tried to go to Sunday School, but we didn't make it past the opening prayer. However, my ace in the hole (a bottle of milk) and a healthy dose of exhaustion won me the chance to enjoy almost all of Relief Society. They had two comfy armchairs in the back (for moms with small babies, or anyone else willing to hold the small babies), and mostly parents of babies and toddlers manned them. But by the last 3 minutes of the meeting, Stellan was the last toddler standing, so to speak. (An attack of the poopies seemed to have swept the room.) So he took to his throne with gusto as King of Relief Society.

Part 5: The Trampoline
After church, Stellan took a very nice nap. When he woke up, the three Arnold kids were out back and of course he had to join them. I must mention that Stellan was instantly enamored of all three Arnold children and absolutely loved playing with them, watching them and just breathing the same air as them. I think he's in withdrawal this afternoon now that we're home. Anyway, they have a trampoline (the kind with a mesh net around it), and I knew Stellan would love it. So I let him try it. I was right. Here are some photos that aren't particularly great, because he was moving fast and I took them through a screen. However, you may want to watch because this slideshow has photos that actually prove that Stellan and I really do play together.

Part 6: We Talked A Lot
Leigh and I both stayed up later than we should have on Saturday night and Sunday night, but it was worth every second (at least for me). She is a really amazing person and I love her dearly. We've been friends for a long time, probably about 10 years. We're not always good at keeping in touch regularly, but we manage to catch up when we can. (If you are reading this, you're likely in this situation as well; I don't call you as often as I should, and I'm sorry. But I still love you.) It's fun to see how we've both changed over the years, but how much we still appreciate each other. And it's fun to see how relate on new levels now that our lives have evolved. For example, she had some really great casserole tips that I can't wait to try. OK, that may be one tip I won't be taking, but trust me, there were many others. I didn't get a picture of the two of us together, but I'm sure she'll post one on her blog soon and I can link it.

Part 7: Trampoline Encore
Before the long drive back to Atlanta this morning, I let Stellan burn some calories on the trampoline. Just as fun the next day, but the photos were worse because I took them from inside the bouncing trampoline cage. View at your own risk.

Part 8: The Flight Home
Not so good. Stellan was tired but still really ready to move around. He tried to be good, I'm sure, but the temptations were too many. We were in an aisle seat so we have easy access for aisle roaming, but we were pretty close to (completely verboten) first class; we were sitting next to a college student trying to watch a movie on her irresistible laptop; the lady behind us had a Heineken that must hold some very strong toddler appeal (it was starting to look appealing to me too by the end of the flight); did I mention it was only one plane ticket? Yep, he's getting kind of big to be expected to fly on my lap. We were almost there when the flight attendant announced that, due to storm conditions in Fort Lauderdale, we would be in a holding pattern for another half hour. Everyone within 10 rows looked straight at us when she said that. Half looked at me with sympathy, and the other half looked at Stellan in exasperation. But the good news is that we made it. And we had a blast. So thanks, Arnolds - we'll be back!

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Random Request

I've been working from home as a contracted computer gal (working for someone who have a bit of an aversion to computers and likes that I don't), and I'm learning web design so I can update her website on a regular basis. However, I need a practice web page while I'm still in the early learning phases. Does anyone have a URL they're not using and wouldn't mind sharing with me?

2 Parks, 2 Days

This should not come as a shock to anyone acquainted with my wonderful son's busy nature, but we go to a park just about every day. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain yesterday, which was double sad - our regular park would be no fun in the rain, and it would also be out of commission for a couple extra days with extreme mosquito swarms due to aforementioned rain.
So we decided to go to a park with big puddles instead. And to our surprise, we saw that they had even turned to kids' sprinkler fountain on, so it was double water fun. Enjoy my little "fish out of water!"

Today we went to a different park with Olga (my friend) and Elsa (Stellan's friend). Stellan and Elsa are a very funny pair, both very good natured and little spazzy, though Stellan takes the cake with spazziness. I was really hoping to get a cute picture of the two of them together, but they were not cooperative; as soon as they were within a close enough distance for a single photo frame, I would whip out the camera, turn it on and attempt the photo. Too slow - they were already moving on. Oh well. Please enjoy my failed attempts at a good picture together, and many cute photos of them apart.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Follow up

Just in case you were wondering who won the debate... It was me. I am the winner of the drinking game. (That is non-alcoholic, just in case you were wondering.)

Not Friends Anymore

We decided to play a little drinking game during the presidential debate. We created a long list of events that would trigger a "shot" of soda and settled in for a long wet night.

By the end of the debate, we had polished off about 2.5 liters of the 4 liters of soda we started with. Key triggers included cheap digs at each other, the phrase "across the aisle", references to Ronald Reagan (double shot) and McCain referring to the American people as "my friends." It got to a point where he would say it in each of two consecutive sentences, and all I could think as I poured myself another slug of Crush was, "Anyone who makes me drink this much soda is no friend of mine." Wish us luck sleeping tonight!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Triple Threat

Stellan is a boy of many talents. To demonstrate, here is a sampling of his very busy evening presented in three acts: stink face, sweeper's assistant and flasher.

Triple Threat from Krissie Cook on Vimeo.

You may be wondering what Stellan is sweeping with. (Or with what Stellan may be sweeping, if you abhor ending a sentence with a preposition.) Recently he has been pilfering my kite from under our bed and swinging it around until the tail comes loose. Then he runs around watching the ribbons in the tail of the kite follow him. So I put that mothery ingenuity to use and devised a similar sort of instrument from something that wasn't my kite. In fact, it's a wooden spoon with blue and gold wrapping ribbons attached. He really likes it. Good thing he's too little to realize 1) how ghetto that is, and 2) that he got gypped; many lucky children have crafty mothers who would whip up some amazing and beautiful creation that would be the envy of any toddler with Olympic rhythmic dancing aspirations.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Physicists' Answer to Beanie Babies

I am totally in smit with the Particle Zoo plush collectibles! If you're a sucker for the Standard Model, or if you have always wanted to be clear on the difference between a muon and a gluon, these little guys will clear it up. Hand made, each one comes with an explanation of its characteristics and even a little bit on its personality. For example, the muon is a "heavy electron" who lives fast and dies young. They are even weighted proportionally, so heavier particles really weigh more!
Oh, the nerd in me is going wild. I'm starting to save up now for the whole set. Plus, I have to get the quantum chromodynamic dots, so I can keep track of changes in color (and anticolor). My only sadness is that they are not safe for small children (under 5) because of small chokable parts and pellets inside some of the particles. Oh well, at least that means I have just under 4 years to save up for my very own plush particle zoo. Every physics geek's dream!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's Pronounced...

...ˈnü-klē-ər. Nuclear. My head is going to explode if I have to listen to someone say "nucular" one more time. If you study the heart of an atom, try as you might, you will never ever find a nuculus. The word is nuclear. And I think nuclear weapons are like sex; if you're not willing or able to talk about it correctly or appropriately, you're not ready to have it.
Also, Kevin would like to point out that, in case you missed the vice presidential debate tonight, Alaska is in fact an energy-producing state. No more will be said on the matter of the debate, as we try to keep our blog touchy subject-free. Except in cases of gross mispronunciation or extreme redundancy.

Can It Be?

We planted an herb garden (OK, maybe more like a small herb box) last week, and today I noticed that the cilantro is starting to sprout. Unless Kev is right, and we're just prolific weed producers.
This may not be a big deal to most of you, but I've killed even cactus before.

Stellan was also working on some "gardening" today. He prefers our rock garden.

You Know You're With a Toddler When...

1. You stop at the fountain outside the science center and must complete an 8-point inspection the water before proceeding.

2. Your son finds the place with balls within 45 seconds of entry of said science center.

3. When he spies the green screen, he gets really excited because the other kids are excited. And he joins them, screeching and dancing with excitement, even though he has no clue he's on the green screen volleyball game in front of him.

And finally, you know you're at the science center with my son when he insists on taking a closer look at the planets, the only still and silent exhibit that interests him at all.