Saturday, November 29, 2008


Tuesday, Bella turned 15 months old! Her third tooth finally broke through the gums, after a week of troubled sleep. Wednesday at her well check-up, Bella weighed exactly 20 pounds (10th percentile, with a diaper), measured 28 ¾ inches (20%), and her head circumference was 19 inches (95%, although her head doesn't appear abnormally large, so they measured it twice). Bella is a tiny baby, but she is growing and healthy. When she entered the room, the doctor heard Annabelle's laryngomalacia (breathing noises from an immature airway) and was concerned that it had not disappeared yet, so she is referring Bella to an ENT. She wants Bella to continue the Prevacid, so I need to call the insurance company because they refused to pay for it last time. (Since we switched insurance companies when we moved and Michael changed jobs, our current health insurance doesn't recognize the fact that we already tried whatever other, cheaper medicine that didn't work.) The doctor also started Bella on allergy eye drops to see if that will clear up the drainage from her left eye.

Thanksgiving Feast at School
The parents were invited for a potluck Thanksgiving feast after school on Tuesday. The kids were all dressed as Native Americans!

Gabi dressed as a Native American

Gabi, Ava, Grant, Nathan, Grey, and Isaac

Ms. Laura's class

Annabelle exploring Gabi's classroom

Reading like a big kid

Grey and Ava on the courtyard playground (left);

Nathan begging to have his picture taken (right)

Grant and his mom

Bella found the marbles in the Proud Jar

Gabi's Indian drum

We checked out two Thanksgiving books from the library to read this holiday weekend.

The Thanksgiving Door by Debby Atwell: An elderly couple who is alone for Thanksgiving is frustrated when their dinner is burnt, so they decide to try out the new restaurant down the street. The door is open, so they enter; however, the immigrant family who is busily preparing their first Thanksgiving celebration did not expect visitors, as the restaurant was not open yet. Grandmother insists that they have plenty of food and should share, so the family welcomes the unexpected guests. This is a wonderful story about the essence of Thanksgiving even in a non-traditional setting.

Thanksgiving is... by Gail Gibbons: Explores various aspects of Thanksgiving with illustrations of historical harvest celebrations in other cultures, the story of the pilgrims and the Native Americans who helped them, modern Thanksgiving traditions, and the thankful spirit of this holiday.

Thanksgiving preparation

Sisters playing in the stuffed animal corner

Gabi mixing sweet potatoes

Crushing corn flakes

Reading Mirror Me
"Look at Frog stick out his long, pink tongue!"

Finding our tongues


Gabi and Mama

Thanksgiving dinner
We went to Ninong Edward, Ninang Sylvia, and Cousin Steven's house for Thanksgiving dinner with many family and friends.

I think this group shot includes everyone except Lolo and Lola,
who had to leave early to go back to work.

Gabi, Bella, and Abby

Bella and Mama

Caitlin and Bella

Gabi playing upstairs

Gabi, Julienne, and Jaymie played together all evening


Bella and Daddy

Bella on the stairs


Reaching the top

I have the most wonderful husband. I haven't been feeling well for a few days, and Thanksgiving night, I was up all night being sick. Yuck! Michael got up with the girls the next morning, got them ready for the day, and played with them for a few hours. Then he took them to Lola's house so she could watch them while he returned home to take care of me. He also washed the laundry and cleaned the house. Thank you, my love!

Friday, November 28, 2008


Look at the turkeys we drew on Thanksgiving morning! Hand size is roughly to scale (standard 8.5 x 11 paper), although the tracings vary based on Daddy's accuracy and the wiggliness of the little girl.

Thanksgiving Contest: Each picture has a prize associated with it, just in time for Christmas! Limit one prize per person. -- Just select one question to answer, so other people can play, too.

In the order they were crafted:

It's been so cold lately, that all the turkeys have turned blue! (Obscure movie reference! First one to correctly identify the movie in the comment section gets a handwritten letter from Gabi! Like, in the mail and everything!) Actually, Gabi has recently decided that blue is her new favorite color. As such, she decided that Gabi Turkey should be all blue.

You'll notice that of all the family turkeys, Daddy Turkey is the only one that looks right. (Why don't the other turkeys look right? First one to post the correct answer in the comment section gets to hear Daddy's favorite turkey joke -- it's partially auf Deutsch, though.)

Look at the cute little turkey! (What is a baby turkey called? First one to answer correctly in the comment section gets a video of Bella personally congratulating them on being proficient at using Google... or at least a video of Bella being cute.) The Bella Turkey should actually be pictured running off the edge of the page. You may notice the lopsided tracing that results from having to hold the 15 month-old's hand still with one hand while tracing it with the other. Gabi decided that Bella's favorite colors are pink and purple.

As the only turkey not drawn by Daddy, the Mommy Turkey is much fancier, from its feet to its snood. (That's weird... it doesn't look like this turkey is playing an addictive computer game. What does snood have to do with turkeys? First one to post the right answer in the comments gets a beautifully photoshopped picture of their choice from Mommy.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

October Videos

These videos are from early and mid-October, but I thought you'd enjoy them anyway.

First, we have 13-month-old Bella walking (you can tell when she's tired because she becomes very unsteady), babbling ("nana" means food or drink), reading, fighting with sister ("raptor-baby" screech when Gabi takes away her book), and working on a puzzle (with a short attention span).

Then we have 3 ½-year-old Gabi reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the months of the year (which I call the "Preschool Macarena"), the days of the week, the seasons, and letter sounds (with sign language). The second week of October was "D Week" at school, so at that point she only knew the first four letters in sign language. She now knows the letters through J (with only two days of school this week, they didn't introduce a new letter).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Msgr. Hebert's Investiture

Last Thursday, we went to church for Monsignor Hebert's Investiture Mass conferring upon him the title of Protonotary Apostolic (whatever that is -- a priestly promotion and high honor). Msgr. Hebert (pronounced "A-bear") was the beloved pastor of CTK as Michael grew up in that parish, and he baptized Gabi back in April 2005. The girls were very good, especially considering Mass was at bedtime and the reception was even later.

Girls sitting on the altar steps after Mass

Bella running in the vestibule

Annabelle peering in the baptismal fount

Gabi learning the sign of the cross with holy water

Our family with Msgr. Gaston Hebert

Gabi with some friends (Colleen and her parents)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cypress Valley in Austin

Last weekend, Michael and I took a mini-vacation to visit my brother Scott in Austin, and we invited some friends along to check out the Cypress Valley zipline where his girlfriend, Amy, works. We had a fabulous trip and enjoyed a break from the routine at home.

Friday night, we went dancing at Midnight Rodeo. As Michael and George didn't arrive until much later and Brian refused to dance, we three girls actually did more watching than dancing, but it was still a great time. Scott saved a dance for me and one for Brandy. The Eli Young Band gave a concert during the later hours.

Brian, Melissa, Scott, and Amy at Midnight Rodeo

Cypress Valley
Amy works at a zipline tour company called Cypress Valley in the hill country outside Austin. Saturday morning, Amy gave us an eco-tour through the canopy, which included such survival skills as how to find fresh spring water and which plants serve as good toilet paper. The zipline cables are attached to the trees in a very environmentally friendly way and serve as another educational point. The existence of such ziplines allows people to make a profit without commercially developing the land, or in the tropical regions, without burning the rainforest to gain a few years of farmland.

Up in the trees

Flying through the treetops

Say, "Cheese!"

Amy unclipping George

Amy ready to catch Brian

George, Brian, and Michael

Melissa zipping

Michael zipping

Michael meets Amy on the platform

Michael, George, and Melissa at lunch break

Michael didn't have enough of the trees during our zipline tour

Watching the ducks swim

The one litle duck with a feather in his back

Challenge Course
The best part of the zipline tour came after lunch when we flew through the Canopy Challenge, which included a ropes course followed by a superman-style zip. The challenge area consisted of three paths of varying difficulty (each path comprised of multiple elements). We split up to begin with so that we wouldn't all be waiting on each other to do the same things, but we were still able to watch everyone else (at least when we weren't concentrating on our own element). I started off with the medium-difficulty path, but Michael, Brandy, George, and Brian all began with the hardest path. While I was waiting for them, I had time to complete both of the other two paths. At the end, I was able to do the last part of the hardest path (the hourglass), but there was no time for me to attempt the most difficult element of that track (the ship's pass). I don't have regrets, though, because the people who crossed the ship's pass were too worn out to try the other tracks.

Michael walking across the wobbly bridge

Brian on the ship's pass

The ship's pass is essentially a tightrope with slack, plus at intervals there are long ropes to help you balance. After this picture was taken, George swung on the Tarzan jump and landed at the tree to which the ship's pass cable is connected. His landing shook the tree, which caused Brian to fall off and, worse, loose the ropes. Poor Brian had to climb back onto the ship's pass and continue with only the help of a single rope he was able to reach.

Michael jumping for Tarzan's rope

Brian on the hourglass

The hourglass has two ropes strung from below the first platform angling upward to high above the second platform, plus a single rope angled in the opposite direction, from high above the first platform to below the second platform. Therefore, when you begin the hourglass, you have two ropes to walk on and one to hold onto. (Some of us chose to place both feet on the same lower rope rather than employ all three ropes.) Halfway across, you have to transfer your feet to the single rope and your hands to the set of ropes, as they change places.

Brian resting in the middle of the hourglass

However, don't ever tell Brian you have to do it that way, because he will find another option.

Brian completing the second half of the hourglass upside down

Brian's approach was certainly more complex and took way too long, but it was definitely the most entertaining to watch.

In our gear after the challenge

Melissa, George, Michael, Amy, Brian, and Brandy

Scott and Amy were fantastic hosts. Saturday evening we wandered 6th Street and saw a comedy show at the Alamo Drafthouse.

My cousin Darren came by to visit on Sunday

Brandy and me

Thanks to Gramma Jane for driving to Little Rock to watch the girls for us! The evening after Mom left, as I was tucking Gabi in bed, she told me, "Gramma Jane is my favorite!" I've also heard about Gabi's tricycle adventures at the park where Lolo and Lola took the girls. I'm glad the girls had a good time at home while we parents were gone.