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!


Jacob said...

Thank you so much for coming to visit us. As an added bonus I think I have a photojournalist as a sister-- it's pretty fun to see your visit chronicled with pictures and stories.

Zak said...

this should provide the evidence as to who will win every dance off, Heather....