Saturday, February 28, 2009

On Our Worst Behavior

My sister KK and her fiance Alex came to stay with us for a few days, and while they were here, we were on our worst behavior. Some lowlights include:
-letting our child run amok at the Ann Kolb Nature Center while we looked for spotted pufferfish and fiddler crabs
-Forcing KK and Alex to eat at a greasy spoon on the Hollywood Broadwalk; our waitress called us all "honey" but in the annoying way, not the sweet way
-Leaving our guests to roam the beach alone while Kev worked and I stayed with Stellan the Napster
-Taking a group field trip to Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor
-Making KK and Alex sit in the back of the car with Stellan for about 2.5 hours on Friday
-Allowing KK to be pooped on by an anonymous bird at Shark Valley
-Going to Shark Valley on the warmest day of the week, when the gators would be busiest; (grandmas don't like it when we do that to Stellan)
-Taking our toddler to a smoky Indian casino so we could have $6.95 steak and lobster
-Teaching Stellan how to throw really big rocks in the water on Key Biscayne
-Buying a half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream and polishing it off between the five of us in about 20 minutes
-Introducing KK and Alex to jai-alai (which was good) but making them eat the food at Jai-Alai (which wasn't)
-Staying up even later than we had with previous guests (and if you're one of them, you know that's something)
-After keeping them up so late, we made them sleep on the ground in our living room

They insist they had fun despite these many indescretions. We hope they come again. Maybe we'll behave better; or maybe not.

Like Grandpa, Like Grandson

I know people always say Stellan looks a lot like Kevin, and I see a lot of my "kid" brother Matt in him, but I can also tell he's got a strong Steward streak. My dad showed me some photos of himself as a young boy and the resemblance was striking.

Exhibit A: this photo of my dad and his older brother Kirk

Exhibit B: Stellan at the same age

Thursday, February 26, 2009

So What DO You do?

We have had a lot of family visits lately, so in case you were wondering what we do when we are not entertaining company, here's a pretty good idea of the Cookie Jar daily goings-on.

We are really this boring: we just sit around the house watching Stellan grow into a funny and sweet little boy. In the last couple of weeks Kevin and I have both noticed that he is in a very nice mood most of the time. He loves to play, he can't stay still and he wants our constant company while he explores the world. But instead of being impatient, he is very sweet about demanding our attention; when he wants us to follow him, he'll grab our hand and then sign and say "please" (or "peesh" if we use the Stellanphonic spelling). Who can argue with such politeness? He is also getting very good at "thank you" ("daynkgoo"), even though it's clear that he doesn't always understand the appropriate context for that sentiment. I think I'm starting to get why they call them the terrible twos - I'll be sad when he grows out of this phase and starts getting cranky again.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Long Time No Post

Subtitled "Ants in the Pants, Lost & Found and Other Tales of the Unexpected"

You know when you were anticipating something big and exciting happening, but then it didn't? I was ready to post Part II of the Grandparent Visit when they returned from their cruise last Friday. But upon hearing that my great-grandfather Bob was in the hospital, my dad and step-mom immediately changed their plans and ended up leaving about 14 hours after we picked them up. We made the most of our time by visiting the Ann Kolb Nature Center, enjoying a dinner on the ocean (I mean that literally - the restaurant extends over the ocean on a pier), making one more run to Jaxson's and staying up way too late playing the Farming Game. Before they left, I stole all the pictures from their cameras, so here is a slideshow of our greatest hits.

Other tales of our generally mundane lives have been broken down in the vignettes that follow.

Ants in the Pants
Stellan and I went adventuring the other day. We started off at Tree Tops Park in Davie, where we spent some time on the nature trail. We got to see ducks, raccoons, birds and workers with machetes clearing brush. We left as they were firing up the chainsaws. Then we spent some time at the playground, but had to head back to the car when Stellan decided that he simply couldn't go on without more food (which we hadn't brought in our pack). Once we were happily fed in the car, we left for a smaller city park we had passed on the way. Stellan spent some time in the sand, some time on the slide, but more time wandering the parking lot and sidewalk outside the park. At one point, he discovered an anthill. I tried to get him to just observe from a safe distance, but you already know what happened. A few minutes after leaving the ant area, I noticed that Stellan had developed a strange walk; every few steps, he would reach down and grab the back of his right knee, then pull the waist of his pants around a little. Upon closer inspection, I removed the offending red ants and we continued on our way. I wish I had a video of his "ants in the pants" walk - priceless.

Lost and Found
During a cleaning rampage, Kevin further cemented his title as Hero when he found two items we had been missing for quite some time - some pajamas we got Stellan for Christmas that featured Dance Bots and our all time favorite video game, Dr. Mario. Being the sweet man he is, he didn't feel the need to draw my attention to these finds right away. Instead, he placed them on Stellan's changing pad and waited for the inevitable. When he felt enough time had passed, he called out, "Aren't you ever going to change that diaper? Because I will if you won't." When Stellan and I arrived at Diaper Central, there were our two missing items, waiting there for me. What a man.

And that is about it. I don't feel the need to go into details regarding our visit to Elsa's house, our afternoon jaunt along the Broadwalk, or Stellan's incredible amounts of energy. I've bored you enough.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's Up to the Members of the Academy Now

I was very impressed by Super Radchel, so much so that I was inspired to post my own nominee for action film of the year. We'll just have to wait to see which way the Academy goes on this one.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

One Too Many Political Thrillers

We don't negociate with terrorists.

That is the thought that popped into my head at 1:18 AM this morning. Stellan has had some issues getting to sleep lately, and we've made our neighbors suffer by letting him cry it out. Last night that took about an hour. He resorted to banging his head against the side of the crib in an effort to induce enough pity on our part to release him from his tormented prison. It didn't work. We are generally unfeeling parents.
So when he started crying in the wee hours of the morning, I wasn't feeling very sorry for him. As I debated getting up to help him settle down again, images of all the personal comforts I've given up for him without an acknowledgement of gratitude from him flashed through my head. He has manipulated me into a life of submission and, at more times that I admit, fear.
But then I thought again of my weeping son crying out in his sleep. Does that negociation stand-off still hold when the subject is both the terrorist and the prisoner?

I got up and held him and told him I loved him.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Being Sick Never Felt Better

On Saturday night, Stellan came down with a case of the blahs that turned into a fever by the morning. The poor guy just was laying there looking sad and wanting to cuddle with us.
Kevin and I were stoked. As most parents already appreciate, when your kid is just a little under the weather like this, they are so cute and cuddly and mellow. We stayed in bed dozing lightly until 10:30 AM. We haven't done that in years. Literally. It was completely awesome.
By Sunday night, Kevin and I were feeling really rested and happy. Stellan was starting to pick up (and was sporting the last of his canine teeth, which explains the fever, etc.), so we realized it was time for the sick Stellan ritual we have honored recently; it was time for a haircut. Stellan doesn't like the clippers much, but it is so much easier and faster to clip his hair than to get out the scissors. So we took advantage of his waning torpor to cut his hair shorter than we ever have. Before and after photos below.

Poor guy. His long hair gets very matted when he sweats. And that will only be happening more often as we bid Florida winter a fond farewell.

So much better! And now he looks like such a big boy. And now that he's feeling better, he smiles too. I promise.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Pancakes Del Amor

(That is pronounced "pankaykays" by the way. It's Spanish; can't you tell?)

Stellan and I made Daddy some special Valentine's Day pancakes on Saturday while he was off being an awesome guy and doing the laundry. He seemed happy to come home to the pancakes, but less happy to come home to the mess. Don't worry, we've cleaned up since.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Outreach - Yeah!

In case you didn't already know this about me (but I don't know how you could have missed it), I love to talk to people about astronomy. So I was super excited to stretch my outreach skills after a long break.
Last night I went outreaching with my astronomy club homies during the Full Moon Concert on the Broadwalk. It was loud and windy, so I thrashed my voice by having to talk so loudly (OK, I admit I was yelling), but it was totally worth it. I had a blast and am so excited to be out and outreaching once more. I even splurged and bought myself a plastic box to hold my outreach supplies. I feel so official!
For full details, click on over to Momstronomer.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Grandparent Visit 2 Part 1

No, this isn't a two-part post, it's a two-part visit. My dad and step-mom came to visit, and we had a great time. They're off cruising to Central and South America now, but they'll be back for more fun. In the meantime, enjoy some highlights of their trip here!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Family That Reads Together...

...makes for an adorable photo op.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Don't Read This If...

Don't read any further if you are the kind of person who is very concerned for Stellan's well-being. If you're the grandparent type, who worries when you see a photo of him jumping on the bed, just stop right now.

I'm serious. This will just make you want to fire me as a mother if you are the kind who stays up at night wondering if I should allow him to stand up in the bathtub so often.

OK, hopefully we have weeded out the killjoys who might report me to the authorities. We went to Everglades National Park again today, this time with Grandpa and Grandma Steward (my dad and step-mom). More details on this to follow. But central to this post is an observation I made. We saw many gators strewn around the canals, draped over the walkways and festooned about in sunny spots. We had a more difficult time keeping Stellan away from them this trip than we did last trip. We were 100% successful in keeping him from being eaten, so don't be concerned about that. What does worry me is that every time he would get near one, he would excitedly shout, "Doggie! Doggie!" Despite an in-depth discussion of the taxonomic differences between mammals and reptiles, and even more specifically, the canidae family and the order crocodylia, he still insists that they must be very lazy, very scaly dogs.
Knowing Stellan's love for doggies of all shapes and sizes (his first word was "doggie"), one grandma has already forbidden us to return to the Everglades.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why Do I Bother?

Occasionally Stellan gets caught up in what I call a fit of cuteness. If it's handy, I'll get out the camera and try to capture the cuteness ditigally. And as hard as I might try, most of my attempts fail miserably. Usually the best I can hope for is one decent photo. I get a single great shot about one out of every twenty series.
Since I get to filter what you see on my blog, most of these failed attempts never see the light of the Cookie Jar. But I thought I would post just one such occassion, so that you can be glad I don't torture you with terrible photos all the time. And if you're like me and your quality to quantity ratio is weighted far more towards the latter, maybe this will make you feel better.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Best. Day. Ever.

Last night as we were driving, we saw a billboard and we could not believe our eyes. Could it be true? We rushed home and got online to find this press release. Blessed day!
(If you already know why we were so excited, skip to the next paragraph. For those who don't realize the magnitude of this announcement, let me explain. Bluebell Ice Cream is the yummiest ice cream in the world. It is made in Brenham, Texas, one of the regions where Kevin and I served as missionaries. So we are well acquainted with Bluebell and its many incarnations of deliciousness. You may know of it, especially if you live in the South. But if you are in the North, or west of Arizona, or in South Florida, you have probably not heard of it. It's so good that if you travel to any of the regions where Bluebell is available, get your hands on some. A distribution map follows.)

So Tuesday, first we went to Denny's for our free Grand Slam breakfasts. Talk about icing on the cake - our yummiest food now in stores and Denny's inviting us for a free breakfast! Also pictured are Alessia and Dante, our friends.

Later that day, we went to the store to find the coveted treasure of last's night's billboard. It was there! It was there in force. It was like a dream, the kind of dream that reminds you of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
When we got home, we did our best to eat a decent dinner, but once Stellan went to bed, we could no longer resist. It was heavenly! Please take special note of the special "Sunshine State Flavor" Tropical Paradise. Amazing. Worth the move to Florida just for this.