Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What's in a Name?

One of Michael's co-workers saw a picture of little Annabelle and briefly wondered whose baby it was until it dawned on her that it looked as if someone had taken Michael's face and pasted it on a baby. This little one certainly does look like her daddy!

Bella with fuzzy after-bath baby-powder hair

Gabi coloring

Gabi most enjoys whatever activity we will do with her,
so we colored together (on the same page at the same time).

We went outside to check the mail and found a praying mantis!

Bella smiling at her mobile

We appreciate everyone calling our little one "Bella" after we had already introduced her as "Anna." It took us a long time to sort out what we wanted to call her, I know. I must say that I am especially impressed by all the grandparents, who started calling her Bella as soon as we announced the new nickname.

Apparently Michael initially wanted to use the nickname Bella, but the only time he mentioned that (before her birth) was in the same conversation that he proposed the name "Nabella" -- which was obviously NOT the name we were going to use, and hence I thought the entire discussion was just being silly. I guess I was too focused on deciding between "Annabelle" and "Annabella" to even pay attention to possible nicknames.

We do still like the name Anna, so no worries if you call her Anna (or if you spent your summer cross-stitching elaborate ANNA letters on some cute bibs for her). But she is such a pretty baby that "Bella" just seems to fit her perfectly. And, besides, she already has two cousins named Anna, so it's nice for her to have a distinct name. Plus, using Annabelle and Bella is a good compromise on the ending of her name.

Annabelle's laugh

Michael's Playstation
We had playgroup at a new place called Michael's Playstation, which has inflatable bouncy things. Gabi was a bit wary at first and would only jump if I went with her. Eventually, she got a little braver. Since most of us moms had a baby in addition to a toddler, we got to take turns holding the little ones and assisting the bigger ones.

Me holding Noah (Ben's brother) and Bella

Annabelle at playgroup

Me helping Gabi climb a ladder

Whee! A slide!

Gabi putting puzzles together with Martin and Jonah
(an activity much more in line with Gabi's interests)

Goodbye, bouncy inflatable!

Blogger Login
FYI, loyal blog readers:

Michael and I are considering asking you to sign in before you view our blog, probably starting next week. When we do secure the site, simply email me for a password/invitation.

(And sorry to those of you who ended up in the BCC field of my email to Michael -- I was just trying to send him the list of contacts from my email that I would add to the list, but I pasted the emails in the wrong box. Oops! I need to get some sleep.)

Monday, November 19, 2007


It can be difficult to get a good picture of both girls, but that doesn't mean I don't try.

Gabi loves her little sister.

"Annabelle, stop crying."

"Mommy! She's crying! Come get her!"

Bella not being lovingly strangled by her sister

Bella joining Gabi in her big-girl bed

Gabi hugging Annabelle

Bella in her crib

Gabi in Mom and Dad's bed


Bella's best smile

Two sisters

Holding hands

Happy baby

Bella gives us lots of smiles

Annabelle's profile

Happy sailor girls

I like to dress the girls is similar/matching (but not exactly the same) outfits

Bella waking Gabi up in the morning

Gabi likes to be greeted by her little sister first thing in the morning

Bella is ready to start the day

Gabi girl and Bella baby

Those are my girls!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Georgia Aquarium

Gabriella in front of the Tropical Diver fish tank

Gabi running back and forth

Gabi was tired...

Too tired to sit still, but not too tired to run
(No, it's not logical, but it's true)

Gabi watching baby zebra sharks

Bella enjoyed watching the fish in the large Ocean Voyager tank

You can just barely see two adult zebra sharks in the tank behind Bella
(the adults have spots instead of stripes)

Gabi likes the jellies

Mommy likes the seahorses

Daddy feeding Bella her first bottle

I know we waited a bit late to introduce the bottle (10 weeks, instead of 6-7 weeks), but the first bottle Daddy fed Bella was super-easy. Since, we've had to work on it more, though. Bella takes her bottle best if you wake her up from a nap when it's time for her to be hungry but the hunger hasn't yet awakened her. The milk comes out fast, even with a slow-flow nipple, so sometimes she chokes on it. If she's really upset/hungry, the bottle won't immediately calm her down like the breast does, but she settles down once she realizes that's all she's gonna get. We haven't had a major issue, and I'm confident that it will get easier.

Mom and Bella

Mommy feeding Bella a bottle

Supposedly babies often won't take a bottle from Mom, but with Michael's work schedule, we can't avoid it. This week has been especially difficult, with Michael arriving home between 9 and 11 at night and then needing to do some research, finish up a few notes for work, and read his textbook (not to mention eat dinner and shower). Adding a bottle into his evening routine on those nights would be ridiculous, considering he has to be up to leave for work again at 6 or 7 the next morning. We figure Bella only needs a bottle twice a week (just enough to keep her used to it, so she'll take it for a babysitter), so if Michael can give her one then I'll do the other. We make a good team.

Gabi is very interested in Bella's bottle
Bella appears to be more interested in smiling at Daddy

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween 2007

For Halloween, Gabriella wanted to be princess Cinderella. Gabi certainly makes a beautiful princess! I couldn't decide which picture was the best, so you get to see them all.

Cinderella Gabi kisses little pumpkin Bella.

Mama and the girls

The day before Halloween, we went to the zoo with some friends. It was an interesting trip... parts were great fun, and parts were decidedly NOT fun. Gabi loved running around with her friends, and we saw the leopard and tigers pacing about. After a snack, on the way to the kangaroos, Gabi fell (just walking by herself) and she was so upset she wanted to go straight home.

She was walking as slow as only two-year-olds can ("I don't want to 'come on!'"), so by the time we reached the front gate, she was more interested in looking at the corn on the stalks than in going home, and she decided to stay. On our way to see some animals, we stopped to watch a couple tractors push dirt around in the old playground area, and then Gabi requested a detour by the carousel. I purchased a ride ticket, but when we returned to the carousel with ticket in hand, she freaked out and ran away, too scared even for a picture with the carousel.

So instead we headed towards the turtles, by way of the animal hospital (Gabi wanted to take every right-branch in the path, even if it led nowhere), but she fell down again when we were almost there, and that was the end of our zoo trip. Sometimes parenting a toddler is not so pleasant. But we did get some good pictures during the happy moments of this bipolar zoo outing.

Martin, Joseph, and Gabi with the pumpkins and corn stalks at the zoo

Martin, Gabi, and Joseph running down the ramp

Gabi found a circle of streamers

Gabi with the pumpkin display by the zoo entrance

Just sitting.
A highlight of the zoo trip was sitting in the "animal chairs" (aka foot massage chairs).

At our playgroup Halloween party, we discovered that Ava was also Cinderella!

Gabi and Ava in matching Cinderella costumes

Gabi, Kira, and Jonah playing in the tents at playgroup

Bella, with her watery-eyes, at playgroup

On the 31st, Gabi's preschool held a short Halloween party. We attempted to get a class picture, but the kids didn't really cooperate. Jaiden isn't even in any of these pictures, but you can at least see the rest of the class. Technically, Joseph is in a different class, but we let him pose for our pictures. :) We know Joseph better than Jaiden, anyway.

I continue to be unimpressed with the new preschool director. When the kids were asked to bring a bag of candy for Halloween, the "candy" that moms contributed included raisins, playdoh, stickers, bubbles, pretzels, Rice Krispy treats, and Smarties. (Gabi selected the playdoh and raisins over glow sticks or mini-coloring pads.) Yet, each child still came home with *three* bags of candy! But the sheer amount of candy was not the worst part. The director and teachers gave out lollipops, chewing gum, a compressed popcorn ball, and tiny plastic skull rings probably intended for children over 3. I should not have to go through Gabi's handouts from school to determine what is safe for her to eat... but with this preschool, that is necessary. Hard candy, small toys, and popcorn are not appropriate at a school with one- and two-year-olds. I admit, we have given Gabi individual popcorn kernels under strict supervision, and I do appreciate the fact that there was something healthy included in all that sugar. However, popcorn is not adviseable for very young children. Even if individual parents choose not to follow certain guidelines while watching their own children, a preschool ought to both be aware of AND follow all safety precautions at the school.

This is not the first time we have encountered problems with the new director's practices. Gabi's class is advertized as a "Young Threes" class in which the youngest child was supposed to be at least 30 months, or two-and-a-half, by the first of September, but we discovered that Gabi (who barely meets the age cut-off) is the oldest child rather than the youngest in her classroom. Two one-year-olds were in the classroom until we parents complained. Although the age range isn't a safety concern, it isn't what I signed up for, and it leaves Gabi reviewing colors and shapes instead of learning age-appropriate material. The new director is generally unqualified for her job, apparently not aware of state laws regarding student-teacher ratios for the various preschool ages and unable to relate to preschool children. Parents are having to inform her of basic rules about caring for toddlers. For instance, Lisa (Kira's mom) gave her a list of acceptable snack items and talked to the teachers about appropriate serving size. (And still, we get three bags full of hard candy for Halloween. Next month, when we all get Lisa's snack handout, perhaps raisins and pretzels will be outlawed, but that's fine with me as long as they don't allow hard candy.) The director is loud, overly-dramatic, and (at least used to be) in the kids' faces so much that they are frightened of her, and she wasn't even aware of their reaction until I asked her to calm down around the younger children. (To her credit, she does respond to our comments and change how she does things, but certains things such as safety and legal issues should not be included in her "learning curve," as she calls it.) After a month of school, we learned that the kids aren't even allowed on the playground for recess; they just play in the little courtyard during outdoor time. No wonder Gabi doesn't come home exhausted like most moms claim their kids do after preschool. And, for an educator in general, her grammar in the monthly newsletters and various handouts is worse than my sleep-deprived midnight blogging.

Martin and Joseph chat while Gabi rocks little Bella

Gabi's class (well, part of it) (plus Joseph) at the preschool party

Gabi, Kira and Miss Jaumekia (in back), Kate (in front), William, Mr. Ryan, and Martin

On Halloween, we went up to the hospital to visit Michael so he could show off his girls in costume. Gabi's favorite part of visiting Daddy at work was counting the pumpkins in the courtyard.

Gabi lifted up her dress to walk into the garden to touch the giant pumpkins

Gabi counting more giant pumpkins

A family Halloween portrait

Daddy took Gabi trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. When he first asked her if she wanted to go trick-or-treat, she said "no" because she didn't know what that meant. Michael invited her on a walk instead, which she readily agreed to. Once she figured out that she got candy, she had a blast, and she was very excited to tell me all about it when they returned home.

Gabi and Daddy trick-or-treating

Gabi getting candy from Sue and James

Gabi trick-or-treating at our house last

While Daddy and Gabi were out, Bella and I stayed here to give out candy (and to let little Annabelle nap).

Our little Squeaker was a pumpkin

Annabelle "sitting" in a chair

Yawn! Bella was so very tired.

Where did Annabelle go?

Gabi wasn't sure what to think when trick-or-treaters knocked on our door. She was especially frightened by a warewolf and the Scream costume (the one that's all black with the curvy white face). But when she wasn't running from intimidating visitors at the door, Gabi helped us hand out candy to the little kids with tame costumes.

Parker from across the street with her moms, Amy (left) and Jen (right), and a family friend (middle)

Annabelle was smiling at me before Daddy got the camera

Daddy made Bella into a pumpkin angel