Thursday, August 28, 2008

Passed all my prelim exams!

Not that it really matters to you all, but I was very happy to find out today that I passed all four of my preliminary exams for my PhD program. Really all that means is that they can't kick me out yet and that I'll never have to take that stupid Foundations of CS exam ever again.... ;)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Time on the river

We took the longest driving trip so far as a family of four, down to Appomattox to visit our friends Joan and Hugh and to be outdoors for a while. We stayed at their wonderful lodge and spent some time on the James River. But first, some pictures of Daddy and his girls!

Daddy and Vanessa will have a birthday soon (Vanessa on the 31st, Daddy on Sept 2). Daddy will be exactly 15 times Vanessa's age!

Daddy and the girls around bedtime.

Still working on capturing a smile on camera...

Vanessa is looking so grown up! She can put this dress on with only a tiny bit of help from me, and she can take it off all by herself. That's one of those skills that is a bit of a mixed blessing... Vanessa has also been impressing us with a handful of genuine somersaults (also a mixed blessing) and saying "I love you!"

Here are Daddy and Vanessa down by the river. To quote Vanessa's "Going on a bear hunt" book, "Can't go over it, can't go under it, got to go through it!

Vanessa saw fish and so many frogs in the water down on the river.
Vanessa really enjoyed walking around in the water with her Daddy.

Liz and John and their dog Riley accompanied us. We enjoyed their canoe-carrying skills as well as their companionship!

So, you're right, it's probably not the safest thing to be on a canoe with an infant, as she couldn't wear a life jacket of her own and was just in my wrap and life jacket. But as you can see by Riley walking alongside our canoe, it wasn't a terribly deep or fast-flowing river, and we were out for only just a few minutes. I hope Elizabeth will forgive me for dragging her along, but I enjoyed it immensely! It's been ages since I've been out on the water, and I truly love it.

One of Vanessa's favorite parts of the lodge where we stayed was a bouncing horse she could ride!

One of her other favorite parts was snuggling with Riley! My goodness, she really does love that dog.

Here is a rare picture of all four of us, outside the lodge.

We were also lucky to have several friends visit us. I've noticed that while Elizabeth seems to fuss less in general lately, she seems to know who I am more and she fusses when passed off to others. Rats. Well, hopefully, I'll learn soon how to have other people hold her in such a way that she's more content.

Janet and Ryan and their son Peter were up to visit from North Carolina. We had a wonderful breakfast together.
Our friend Sara visited at the same time.
Peter was such a great kid to have in the house. He is a very funny and very cute little boy!

Our friends Bethany and Ken visited us for dinner. It was so wonderful to see them! All of our lives have been so busy lately!

Angelique paid us a visit! Angelique is sort of an honorary aunt, I'd say.

My friend Pete paid us a visit too, but somehow I didn't manage to get a picture! Vanessa and Elizabeth do keep my hands full some evenings...

So, some sad news of our garden: 120 stalks of corn, 2 squirrels, 2 days.

The squirrels carried the corn stalks into the trees...

They've also discovered how to foil my handy-dandy ziploc bag system that protected our tomatoes for a while.

But, on the bright side, our pumpkins are growing so fast!

And our acorn squash are still promising. I wonder if squirrels like squash.

Monday, August 04, 2008

So many pictures, so little time...

Life is starting to get a little easier here at the Maxteds. Elizabeth has started sleeping from about 9PM to 5:30AM, which means a well-rested mommy! Thanks Elizabeth!

Of course, it's only the calm before the storm -- James is beginning to study for his prelims and we're both planning on taking two classes each this fall. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it...

Elizabeth is such a cozy cuddlebug. Even Vanessa gets a little drowsy sometimes when she cuddles with Elizabeth!

The next episode in Vanessa's lego saga is the construction of realistic items. She made a high chair! Then she had to go put it in her high chair to show how much it matched.

At Elizabeth's two-month check-up, she was 11 pounds 13 ounces, and 23 inches long. Elizabeth is getting very good at lots of things, including supporting herself partly when she's in a sitting position. Today, I think I heard her giggling at her toys for the first time. Here she is doing what she does best -- sleeping!

I got Vanessa a special balance bike as sort of an early birthday present. She liked it at first (and even liked wearing her helmet and knee-pads), but now she's being shy of it. Heck, she just moved to a toddler bed this week. That's probably enough big-kid stuff for a month! I think we'll try again with the bike sometime after her birthday.

The corn is getting so tall, and has ears! Vanessa still enjoys watering the plants, and loves eating the fresh broccoli and blueberries.

Now that Elizabeth travels a little better in the car, we've made a few longer car rides, like to my Aunt Teri and Uncle Bob's house this past weekend (pictures and details to be posted soon, I hope!) and to Heather and Terry's place the weekend before. Let me tell you, Vanessa LOVED visiting with Heather and Terry. What a great aunt and uncle -- they completely wore her out, and that's quite a feat considering Vanessa! Swinging high in the air like in this picture was only the tip of the iceburg. Vanessa also got to pretend to jump rope and to fence, and did so much running, jumping, and throwing that I think she improved her form on all three!

Here's a picture of Grampa with Elizabeth. I think he was gloating just ever so slightly on the phone to Nana. Elizabeth is, after all, a very cozy baby.

Vanessa is starting to try to dress and undress herself more and more. She put these sunglasses on all by herself.

I'm finally getting caught up enough on sleep and my to-do list that I and Elizabeth were actually able to accompany Daddy and Vanessa on one of their Saturday trips. On this particular day, it was to the Natural History Museum. Vanessa was fascinated by the enormous dinosaur skeletons.

She also liked the insect zoo. A girl after my own heart!

James's cousin Patricia was in town all the way from New Mexico. We had a great time chatting and playing with her! I very much enjoyed having someone to help entertain Vanessa around the house and on the playground.

Vanessa reads "Where the Wild Things Are" with Nana and me.

Elizabeth is getting even cuter as she gets bigger, I think!

By getting a hug from Geri, Elizabeth is officially welcomed to Nana's and Grampa's neighborhood.

Nana gets some quality cuddling time with Elizabeth.

Vanessa has been braver about getting wet lately, going in the big pool and the shower at the pool, and even, a moment before this picture was taken, pouring water on her own head!