Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Great Escape and another four generation picture

Two more quick things from our Williamsburg/Chesapeake trip. We put Vanessa down for a nap on a bed in the guest bedroom on the second floor. 90 minutes later, we find Vanessa wandering around upstairs on the 2nd floor by herself. Apparently she woke up, got down off the bed, opened the door, and went for a stroll. Pretty good for someone just shy of her 1 year birthday.

Also, we posted the whole family picture earlier, but we forgot to post a second four generation picture, this time from the other side of the family tree.

Williamsburg and Chesapeake

This past weekend, we visited Williamsburg and Chesapeake. James and I loved visiting William and Mary campus, where we went as undergrads. Some students were already arriving for the fall. Some things had changed, but the atmosphere was still the same. Somehow toting a toddler made us feel old as well as nostalgic!

We spent the evening at James's parents' townhouse. They had brought their dog Lily along. Vanessa's previous encounters with Lily have been a little uncertain. No more! Vanessa was so excited about Lily that she hardly left the poor dog alone! Vanessa now adds a little "arf" to her sign for dog. Between Lily and Vanessa, we had quite a cheerful racket in the house.

Here I am trying to protect Lily from Vanessa! (Actually, Vanessa was quite gentle.)

Vanessa loves to play peek-a-boo with her Daddy's hat. It's the best game to keep her happy during car rides. My favorite part is when she signs "where?" when she's hiding behind the hat.
On Saturday, we visited Vanessa's Aunt Kalena and Uncle John in Chesapeake. Her great-grandmother and great-grandfather were visiting too. Vanessa spent most of her time there going up and down the stairs of her aunt and uncle's new beautiful home.

Vanessa really liked Kalena's and John's dog Callie. It's hard to say which one was more excited about meeting the other. Vanessa's great-grandma helps give them a little space from each other.

I asked Kalena to give Vanessa a little demonstration of flute-playing. Vanessa just stared open-mouthed. I think she had a hard time believing that such a pretty sound could come from such an excitingly shiny instrument!

When she wasn't going up and down the stairs or chasing after the dog, Vanessa was playing the keyboard. She had a whole-body method of playing -- she used her hands, elbows, knees, and feet to push the keys and all the special feature buttons.

Thank goodness that it wasn't always me who had to chase Vanessa up and down the stairs! Here, Vanessa's Grampa helps out. Uncle John peeks at her from behind the wall.

Later, when the power went out in the neighborhood, we escaped the suddenly air-conditioning-less house by heading to the mall. Vanessa's great-grampa helped Vanessa shop for jewelry. Hmmm.... she might like jewelry when she's a little older. She does like shiny things!

I was a little leary of letting Vanessa go on this automated "boat" ride at the mall. She surprised me by doing an excellent job of holding on (although, of course she stood up during most of the ride).

James's brother Brian and his girlfriend Joanna came down to visit too. It's remarkable that Vanessa has been able to see ALL of her aunts and uncles in the past two weeks. Vanessa just thrives in all of that attention!
Here's the whole group in Chesapeake -- the fellows in the back row are James's grandfather Phil, James's dad, Brian, and John. In the front, James is standing next to his grandmother Lou, and then there's me and Vanessa, James's mom, Joanna, and Kalena. In the front of this picture was Brian's dog Kyra's furry head in an extreme close-up, but I cropped her out of the picture. I hope Kyra doesn't mind! I think Vanessa's watching Kyra in this picture. She saw so many dogs, and so many people who love her! What a terrific weekend for Vanessa!

Monday, August 20, 2007


This past weekend, we went to see my brother Jake and his family in Texas. It was Vanessa's first time seeing her uncle Jake, aunt Jessica, and cousins Katelyn, Jadyn, and Bryn. My Dad was there with Donna and Hannah, too, so it was practically a family reunion!

But first, last week Vanessa got to see a few old friends -- our friend Sara came over to see Vanessa while she still has time before the fall semester starts at the school where she teaches. Vanessa showed off some of her toys and her new tricks. She's started handing us toys, but not actually letting go -- she'll take it back at the last second!

Aunt Heather and Uncle Terry came up to visit on Friday. Zak has been here all summer, but because everyone's been so busy, they hadn't gotten to hang out together until just now. I can't remember the last time I was with Heather and Zak at the same time! We had a great time listening to music, chasing Vanessa, and catching up.

The rather shocked expression on Vanessa's face while she dances with Terry is because she's watching this:
Her Aunt Heather and Uncle Zak can be um, well, just a tad goofy!

OK, on to Texas. Vanessa had a blast meeting her cousins! James and I absolutely loved our visit too.

I have mentioned to just about anyone who would listen that I have no idea how parents manage with more than one child! I feel like Vanessa demands so much of my attention, which I enjoy giving of course, but I don't seem to have much attention left to keep track of important things like where I put my car keys, etc. So going to Texas was a new experiment for me. I was able to watch lots of young girls of different ages playing together -- and it was amazing! I didn't have to do much work at all. It took me a while to get used to stepping back and letting the gaggle of girls do all the entertaining for Vanessa! But they did a fantastic job helping her have a great time, and a remarkable job keeping her from eating small things off the floor (unfortunately one of Vanessa's favorite activities). I also enjoyed hanging out with my nieces SO much. And it was great talking with my brother and Jessica too -- it makes it hard to live so far away from them!

Jadyn, Bryn, and Hannah test Vanessa's tolerance of tower-building in her midst. Sure enough, Vanessa knocked that tower down!
Hannah balances a block on Vanessa's head for a moment.
Aunt Jessica shows Vanessa a music player with lights. If Vanessa didn't already adore her Aunt Jessica, she was pretty smitten after that!

Aunt Jessica took charge of Vanessa, Jadyn, and Bryn at the children's area of the Science Museum while everyone else toured the Star Wars exhibit there. I briefly had doubts about whether it was a very nice thing for me to leave Vanessa AND two other young girls when it always seems to keep me quite busy just chasing after Vanessa. But Aunt Jessica, Jadyn, Bryn, and Vanessa apparently had a fantastic time playing with the water station, puppets, and lots and lots of other toys in the exhibit. Again, I am awed at how well Vanessa's young cousins entertained her!

And what a gift from Aunt Jessica to have time to explore a museum unencumbered by my dear little munchkin! I really enjoyed building a floating magnetic car and programming a robot in the Star Wars exhibit with Katelyn! There were some amazing costumes and model spaceships on display as well. Very cool all around.

My three fantastic nieces -- Katelyn, Jadyn, and Bryn.
What's missing from this picture? You guessed it -- Vanessa! I can't remember the last time James and I posed without her!

Bryn and Jadyn decorated and launched balloon rockets outside the museum (Bryn is pictured here). They were both so adventurous and explorative!
Jadyn LOVED giving Vanessa hugs. That was just fine with Vanessa and me. Jadyn also gave Vanessa the silky blue ribbon you see in this picture.
Vanessa sure did like her blue ribbon.
Vanessa says, you want me to blow out ALL those candles? Actually, we were celebrating Vanessa's and her Grampa Kaylor's birthdays. It was Grampa K's cake first!

After the smoke cleared from the veritable bonfire on Grampa's cake, it was onto Vanessa's! Vanessa still wasn't too sure about blowing out candles, and I had to help out just a little.

Here is a view of the cake from the top!
Jadyn and Bryn congratulate Vanessa for turning one year old!
Jadyn and Bryn helped Vanessa open her presents.
Vanessa got some fabulous new books. This book is called Tails. Vanessa spent so much time on the first two pages of this book that later, on the airplane ride home, James and I were both begging for Vanessa to just turn another page! Sometimes babies' attention spans outlast adults'!
Vanessa actually unwrapped some of her presents on her own. She got some new 12-18 month clothes for the fall. She has started noticing and enjoying the designs on her clothing -- it won't be too long before she starts noticing the label, I imagine!

Here's the whole big family! Jake, James, and Grampa K in the back (and Vanessa of course). Jadyn, Jessica and Bryn, me, Hannah, Grandma K, and Katelyn in the front.

On Sunday, we went to the mall. We played in the children's play area there, went to Build-a-
Bear where Vanessa's cousins build a bunny rabbit for her, and rode on the carousel. It was Vanessa's first time riding a carousel. Maybe it was because her cousin Katelyn was holding her, or because Jadyn and Bryn were racing her, but Vanessa absolutely loved the carousel.
Vanessa says, "Is that Daddy over there taking my picture?"
Jadyn, Bryn, and Vanessa riding the carousel. Jake, Katelyn, and I are spotting.
Vanessa was a good girl on the way back on the plane, despite teething (two teeth are coming in on top) and being pretty tired from a very busy weekend. Today all I can think about is how much fun we had visiting my family! I hope we can visit again sometime soon.
Someone mentioned that Vanessa was signing ceiling fan -- I knew I was leaving something out! Vanessa still does sign ceiling fan regularly. Since my last post, Vanessa has been more consistent with signing "bear," and has started signing "hat" and "more." One neat thing that I've noticed is that if Vanessa overhears someone saying "baby" or "ball" in conversation, she'll make the sign for it. She's also started trying to guess what kind of animal she sees in books -- she usually thinks animals are dogs or bears. To give her credit, in some of these illustrations, they really could be either!

Friday, August 17, 2007

More signs

This blog is doubling as my scrapbook (it's so much easier than waiting for glue to dry!), so I end up using for a few things that are scrapbook material -- like vocabulary and developmental stuff. I thought it might be fun to try to keep a running list of Vanessa's signs as she learns them. Well at least until I get tired of keeping track.

So far, she signs consistently: all done, baby, ball, bird, bye-bye, cheese, dog, helicopter, milk, music, sleepy, and where.

And she has signed once or twice: alligator, bear, rhinoceros, and yogurt.

She really likes to dance to music, and she's getting pretty good at running around the living room and going up and down stairs.

My favorite new trick of Vanessa's is giving her stuffed animals a hug! And she's just been more snuggly in general, which is just wonderful. I especially love how much Vanessa needs hugs from Daddy!