Six Months Later

Today marks since months since we received Li; that’s pretty hard to believe.

Li sits at the top of the slide on the playground on a sunny summer morning, considering what lies ahead of her.
Li sits at the top of the slide on the playground on a sunny summer morning, considering what lies ahead of her.

Today marks six full months since we received Li. That it has been six months already is hard to believe in many ways. The changes in our little girl over those six months have been extraordinary, exciting to watch, and exciting to be part of. She has changed and grown in so many ways. Her life and ours have taken on a new rhythm, particularly over the past couple of months.

We continue to be amazed at — and grateful for — the blessings we have been given in this little girl.

A Long-overdue Li Update

Li and Ian
Li and Ian

Yeah, I know: this is way overdue. It has been more than a month since posting much about Li and life and how we are all doing. This last part of the summer has been more than just a skosh on the busy side — both at home and at work — and I’ve struggled to find any sort of time/energy combination that might lead to writing an update here. (I’m also in the process of rebuilding a couple of my Linux boxes under a new distribution, which takes a long time — I’m more than two weeks into that project as of today — when you try to do it in 15 minute chunks; more on that in a separate post, perhaps. And as much as I’d like to be able to blame a lack of updates here on that, it’s a really only a minor part of it.)

Li is doing great, in short. The biggest change — at least for us — is that she is developing some more effective habits regarding sleep. Deb has been working with her to help her learn to fall asleep, so nap time is becoming both a little more regular and a little more productive. It is also helping with sleeping at night, as she learns that she can in fact relax in her bed and gradually fall asleep (some nights “gradually” ends up being 7 seconds after she puts her head down, while other nights, it tends toward 15-ish minutes). As a result, she’s sleeping better, she’s more rested, and she’s generally happier. Ditto for us. The only real kink there has been that Li is working through her second major cold in the past 4 weeks, and is only in the past couple of days starting to bounce back from this second iteration. We’ll be glad to say goodbye to whatever little bugs have been wreaking havoc with her nose and respiratory system…

Li and her almost-constant companion, Monkey
Li and her almost-constant companion, Monkey

She’s continuing to expand her vocabulary, and she’s definitely talking more. The biggest change there is that she’s becoming much more consistent in hanging closing sounds on words. While we’ve become pretty good at using context to figure out what “baah” might mean, having that turn into “bath” makes a difference.

We took her huckleberry picking for the first time a couple weeks ago (and suffered through the angst of just the first of many — I’m sure — realizations that we although we remembered the lunch and the sunscreen, we forgot the camera!). Once she decided that she liked the berries themselves, the next step was convincing her that if she wanted to eat them, she had to pick them (and that the pail we were picking into was not yet for general consumption). The next challenge was centered around the decision that she had probably had enough of them to eat. As we found when Ian was little, it’s tough to get many huckleberries when picking with a little one, but we did end up with a couple of quarts by the time we were done. Probably more importantly, though, we had a great day out in the mountains about town and Li found one more thing she really enjoyed. (And next time, I’m positive we’ll remember the camera, but Deb is snickering as I write that!)

Li and cousin Lauren on Li's first trip into a swimming pool
Li and cousin Lauren on Li's first trip into a swimming pool

Li is growing and developing physically, too. She definitely enjoys being outside, and is now both able to and excited about going up and down the small slide on the school playground near our house. Rides in the stroller or the wagon as we go on walks are always highlights, as are trips to the zoo. Deb bought a family pass to the zoo that works with quite a number of zoos, and between trips to our local zoo and the zoo in Salt Lake, it has more than paid for itself; it’s great to just zip over for an hour and let her explore and watch the animals on an afternoon.

Some other random Li observations:

  • She loves cuddling with Monkey, a stuffed monkey from our friend Karie, that has turned into a constant companion. (So constant, in fact, that we’ve had to find MonkeyB, who occasionally makes an appearance so that Monkey can be washed.)
  • There is no such thing as “too many books” or “too much reading”, as far as Li is concerned. Current favorites include “The Napping House”, “Is Your Mama a Llama?”, “Where’s My Teddy?”, and the “The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear”.
  • Her favorite pajamas are her “pink-alicious” PJs, an early gift from cousin Jordy, but with the weather cooling off as the summer winds into fall, it won’t be long before we’ll need to put them away.
  • Li is definitely a morning person at this early stage of her life, even on mornings when Mom and Dad don’t necessarily want to be.
  • Li and Aunt Ida's quilt
    Li and Aunt Ida's quilt

    The quilt from great-great Aunt Ida is a blast; there are hundreds (thousands?) of picures on it from lots of different fabrics that provide a never ending source of things to point at, ask questions about, and discuss (including a University of Kansas Jayhawk and the KSU wildcat!).

  • Cherry tomatoes fresh from the garden are wonderful, and you don’t need to take the little green top-things off to eat them.
  • Pad thai from the Thai House restaurant downtown in definitely worth skipping a nap for.
  • Bugs are fun to squish when you’re wearing your too-cute purple crocs, and those same crocs are great for splashing in the water running through the gutter on a hot summer day.
  • Big brothers don’t seem to be good for much other than an occasional tickling or helping you learn to fly, but Li definitely loves hers.
  • Swimming pools and cousins — once you get used to them (both) — are a great way to spend a hot Saturday afternoon.

A couple more firsts

A few more firsts and a vocabulary update

A couple more firsts — not necessarily momentous like steps or words — but firsts, nonetheless. We went to Salt Lake City over the weekend to see Real Salt Lake play the Columbus Crew, so Li saw her first MLS match. While there, Li had her first experience with Indian food when we had dinner at Star of India in downtown SLC. She actually didn’t like as much of it as I might have thought, given her preference for flavorful and spicy food, but there were a couple of things she really enjoyed (mango kulfi, for one, but that wasn’t a surprise!). We spent a couple hours at the Tracy Aviary there, too, and she was fascinated with some of the birds.

Li is talking a bit more, too, which is a bit more momentous. Her vocabulary includes “up” with a sort of soft “p” on the end that is really cute, along with “duck”, “doggie”, “kitty” (hmmm, a theme here?). She loves to make animal sounds and does a hilarious “meh” for a goat complete with the appropriate little waver in there, and she’s working “moo”, “woof”, “oink”, “quack”, and we even heard a soft “cock-a-doodle-doo” once. She’s also got “ba-ba”, “this”, and an occasional “ma-ma”. We haven’t heard “een” (for Ian) for awhile, but it is there, too. We’ve also taught her a few signs to help (she has “juice”, “hungry”, “change”, “bath”, “book”, “more”) and she definitely has “yes” and “no”, although we see the “no” much more frequently.

And, last for this post but not least, Ian finished Driver’s Ed last night. Consider yourself warned.

Li’s First Camping Trip

Li’s mosquito bites are fading, but our memories of her first camping trip certainly aren’t! We spent three days over the long July 4th weekend in the Sawtooths in central Idaho and she thoroughly enjoyed it…

Deb and Li walking near campLi’s mosquito bites are fading, but our memories of her first camping trip certainly aren’t! We spent three days over the long July 4th weekend in the Sawtooths in central Idaho and she thoroughly enjoyed it…

She saw her first deer, snakes (all garter snakes or something similar thankfully, given that the largest one was a couple of feet long and about as big around as my thumb), hummingbirds, squirrels, ground squirrels, and chipmunks; experienced the warmth of a campfire on a cool morning; learned a little about Dutch ovens and the delights that come forth from them; had her first cheeseburger, fries, and malt from the Wrangler in Fairfield on the way in to camp; had acres of dirt, sticks, and pine needles to play in; and experienced the feeling of dropping your feet into a cold river on a hot day in the mountains…

We had three great days of warm (OK, closer to hot, I’ll concede) weather. The bugs weren’t bad except in the early morning and late evening, when the mosquitoes came out. We decided these mosquitoes had never had Chinese food before, because they made more than a meal out of Li, despite bug repellent. Usually they go for Deb, but that didn’t seem to be the case this time. We also had a bit of a fireworks show on the first evening as a big thunderstorm came over the ridge around 10pm and treated us to a couple hours of thunder, lightning, an occasional big gust of wind to shake the tent, and just a sprinkle or two of rain.

Dutch oven fajita chicken with vegetablesWe did pizza in the Dutch oven the first night, and fajita chicken and potatoes the second; both turned out pretty well. The fajita chicken was one of those things where we didn’t have a recipe but just sort of started down the “What if we…” path an this where we ended up.

Sleeping in our tent with a toddler was definitely a mixed bag, but we knew that we had no idea what to expect (having been down this same road with Ian years ago). The first night went well, as Li slept very soundly (exhaustion, perhaps?) and woke up happy the next morning. Let’s just say the second night and next morning didn’t go nearly as well and by the time the night was over, both Deb and I decided that 2 adults, a toddler, and a stuffed monkey are just too many for a pair of zipped-together mummy-style sleeping bags. It’s safe to assume that we’ll probably try something different next time out.

Li and Grandma Stewart cooling their feet in the riverMy parents came up on Friday morning, and Li was delighted to get to spend a good part of the next couple days with Grandma and Grandpa. We spent some time that afternoon down on the rocks at the edge of the river playing in and around the water, watching bugs and snakes and splashing water on each other.

All in all, a great outing, and very encouraging in terms of getting Li out camping. In Deb’s words, it was less grueling than she expected (truth be told, I think I was more excited about going than Deb was ahead of the trip).

(Non-)Traditional Gifts

The traditional gift for denoting a twentieth wedding anniversary is china, and we’ve been given a very non-traditional gift that still fits that tradition…

Ian and LiThe traditional gift for marking a twentieth wedding anniversary is china, and I find it very fitting as Deb and I celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary today that we have been given a gift that fits that tradition in a very non-traditional way in our daughter Li. What better gift of China could one possibly hope for?

Happy twentieth anniversary, Deb! I believe we have in fact been given three incredible gifts: our son Ian, our daughter Li, and each other. How richly  we are blessed. I love you more than I will ever be able to convey in words here…