Thursday, November 13, 2014

A "Corny" Halloween

We had a very fun Halloween this year, especially because it was Jessica's first experience with the holiday! It's very true, that having children in your life gives you greater appreciation for holidays/traditions and makes things so much more fun! We dressed her up as a little Candy Corn Princess and isn't she just the cutest thing ever? Jessica totally rocked that costume.

We took her trick-or-treating for the first time and she was adorable. People just fawned over her and she soaked it up! I had a few people joke with me about taking her out to trick-or-treat because she wasn't going to eat any of the candy. Needless to say, Michael and I enjoyed all the spoils she received, and she sure made out like a bandit. Having a cute and sweet little girl surely helps to get lots of good candy on Halloween!

 Even though Jessica isn't in focus in this picture, I just love her happy expression while looking at her Daddy.

Yep, I learned how to create a gif, thanks to a free online generator. 
 This is one of Jessica's favorite things to do. Anytime I say "no" she shakes her head back and forth as if to say, "no no, no no" over and over again. It's adorable. Now all I have to do is be really serious when I'm telling her not to do something (which is next to impossible because she is just so darn cute when she does the head-shaking thing), otherwise she's going to think the word "no" is funny.

 I love those bright blue eyes looking up at me everyday.

 And what a sweet little expression. She is such a darling little candy corn.

Life is good.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Petersen Farms Harvest Festival

 A few weekends ago, we went to Petersen Farms in Riverton, UT and celebrated the beautiful fall weather at their annual Harvest Festival. I've been looking for something fun like this to do for quite a few years and I was so happy to find a great place to hopefully start a tradition each fall. The farm had animals, a pumpkin patch, corn maze, pony rides, corn pit, apple slingshot, and many fun booths to peruse. And, we got free lunch all for $10 admission. Pretty awesome, if you ask me!

Our friends, The Chandlers, were visiting from Missouri and they joined us also. We used to know them from living in Logan and it was so nice to catch up with them and see how their family has grown!

We had a wonderful afternoon, even though the weather was a little warmer than expected. We will surely be returning year after year!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

9 Months {Jessica}

 While the weather has been nice and cool, we've been taking walks/runs outside in the mornings and on Sunday afternoons when church is over. One of these Sunday strolls was around the Cottonwood area, on a nice trail in the mountains. Michael has been on bike rides here before, so he wanted to take us there to show how pretty it is. And...he knew there was a gorgeous bridge that would make a perfect spot for us to take some photos of Jessica. What a happy surprise when we got there!

I'm not quite sure what it is about this photo that I love so much. Maybe it's the expression on her face, the way she kinda has her left arm at an angle to her leg, how she's sitting up so straight. But it's cute and full of her personality (drama queen, anyone?).

 I sure love to take pictures of this girl. I was just saying to Michael the other day that I wonder if now, being in the digital and smartphone age, if I'll take as many photos of our future children as I have of Jessica. You know that old saying that you never do take as much of your later children because you're just so busy and don't have time to pull out the camera as often. I'm not sure if that'll be as true today as it was then, because there's no hassle of remembering the camera/film as we always have a way to take pictures and share them through our smartphones. Guess we'll see how it goes someday!!!

 9-month stats:
17.86 lbs (32%ile)
26.3 in (13%ile)

She's our petite baby girl!

 Those eyes...they just kill me.

 And that fuzzy hair. It's out of control most days, but I kinda love it.

 This girl LOVES her "Dada". He is so much fun!

Exciting Updates:

We've been told by so many people how sweet her cry is. It's been described as "muffled", "muted", and "the perfect decibel for a baby to cry". And they are all true, she's not a very loud crier unless she's really scared or hurts herself. She's a bit more of a whiner, which is kinda adorable (at least for now!). Even though she talks a lot, we're predicting she's going to be a soft-spoken little girl.

She's crawling! It all happened within the course of a few days. She started trying to scoot on her belly while pushing her legs, then she got her arms more involved, then it turned into a bit of an army crawl. She can get around pretty quickly this way!

Jessica pushed herself up into a sitting position from her tummy the other day. We almost didn't realize it happened even though we were watching her at the time. It hasn't happened again since that first time, but what a big girl!

She's eating all sorts of solids nowadays. Favorites are bananas, sweet potatoes, beans, and pretty much anything new. She gobbles up new flavors and has never turned her nose up at anything. I'm quite impressed and hope she continues to love food and exploring new flavors as much as her mother does.

The pincer grasp is pretty much mastered and she's quite good at picking up food and getting it in her mouth. That doesn't mean that her meals aren't messy, though! Oh, to be a kid again and to actually have an excuse to play with your food!

Still waiting for some teeth to pop up... :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

8 Months {Jessica}

 A few weeks ago, right around the time Jessica turned 8 months old, our little family took an overnight trip up to Logan to spend some time at our old stomping grounds. Michael had volunteered to do some recruiting for Intermountain Healthcare and so Jessica and I tagged along. We were able to stay one night free at University Inn, which was incredibly nice, especially since Michael upgraded us to the king-size bed in our room. Also, a stay at the University Inn gives you a free scoop of Aggie Ice Cream (Aggie Blue Mint is the best)! 

I was very impressed with how family-friendly the hotel was. The room was designed with an extra sink area outside of the bathroom (in addition to the sink also located in the bathroom). Our pack'n'play fit perfectly inside the bathroom. That made for a prime place for Jessica to sleep. I was able to hang out and watch TV while she napped and also, Michael and I were able to stay up later that night and have some time to ourselves without worrying about waking Jessica up when we eventually got ready for bed. It was meant to be!

 While Michael was doing his recruiting, Jessica and I walked around campus, and visited some old friends. It was beautiful weather, with crisp and cool temperatures. Made me miss the Autumn season there and brought me back to many memories while studying at USU. Michael and I made sure to get some pictures of Jessica on the "A" before we left. Our little girl is already an Aggie at heart!

 These pictures basically count as her 8-month photos. And aren't they just adorable?!?

 I love how she's looking at her daddy. Jessica just loves him.

That cute little baby body. And you can really see her chubby cheeks from the side. Her little nose and mouth kind of disappear in all the chunkiness!

Exciting Updates:
Her hair is growing longer and coming in thicker. And she is definitely a blondie!

Jessica has started "singing" during some of my voice lessons. The other day, she did it loudly and proudly while I was doing warmups with one of my students. We both started laughing and had to compose ourselves quite a few times. So cute...but a little disruptive!

Jessica will also try to imitate me when I sing sequences of high pitches. Her little vocal chords can hit those notes with great ease! My girl is on her way to becoming a great singer :)

She talks and uses the words "dadada" and "bababa" all day long. And these words are in all sorts of pitches, with inflection, and even sometimes in a whisper (which is my favorite). Can't you just hear a cute baby girl saying "dadada" in a quiet little whisper? One of the sweetest things ever.

This girl laughs all day long, and many times just to herself for funny things she does. She is so happy all. the. time. 

I love seeing how Jessica is learning new things. You can actually see the processing and comprehension in her eyes when she is focused on something. 

Still no teeth...!

Jessica is growing up so quickly, and into a beautiful and precious girl. We are so proud of her every single day.

Friday, September 12, 2014

7 months {Jessica}

Well, this post is WAY late! I didn't even do an actual 7-month photo shoot this time, but I did happen to bring out the camera a few weeks ago when we were enjoying beautiful weather on a Sunday afternoon. It totally counts... ;) I guess that just goes to show you how busy our lives have been in the last little while. I've increased to 8 voice students, Michael's been doing lots of fun rides on his road bike, I'm running more, and we're now getting back into the DIY craze. Yeah, we couldn't keep away for long!

But, this is the good stuff. Michael and were just talking about how much we LOVE this phase of life. It's full of lots of demands, but we are so blessed to be comfortable, to have our needs and many of our wants, and we enjoy every single day with our girl. She brings such fulfillment into our lives and I think it's safe to say we are happier for having her here with us! Onto what this post is about...our girl.

 She is loving the swing that Grandma and Grandpa Black gave to her. What cute little feet she has. You can see where she's been moving around a lot on the carpet and gave herself a bit of a rug burn. But, it doesn't phase her. That girl loves to go!

 Her expression is totally saying, "Daddy, this is fun...but a little scary at the same time. Is it okay for me to enjoy this whole swinging thing?"She then giggled profusely a few minutes after this picture.

 The 3 previous pictures are ones that perfectly describe her. Always looking around and assessing the situation. Learning about and exploring her surroundings. She's a very observant little girl and really likes to watch people and things. I wonder if she gets that quality from me?

 And a smile for good measure! Because this girl smiles all. the. time. She's such a happy baby as we are constantly told.

Exciting updates:
Jessica is now a pro-roller! She uses it to get everywhere. If she sees something across the room that she wants, she will roll over and over until she gets to it. I am not allowed to accidentally leave my phone on the floor anymore!

She is also very good at pivoting on her stomach and turning herself around with her arms and legs.

The other day, after I changed her diaper and sat her up, Jessica saw something in front of her that she wanted. So, she started to reach for it, and next thing I new, she was on hands and knees! All these things...she's building her crawling skills. It's only a matter of time!

She does what we like to call her "parlor trick". Anytime her mouth is open and we put our finger to it, then move it up and down, she'll start saying "ahhhh" just to make the fun sound that results. Every time, without fail.

She continues to be a great little talker, but the prompt "dadada" is what will make her start talking anytime I say it. I've tried "mamama" and "bababa"(as she likes to say those consonants too), but she seems to only want to start talking on command when I say "dadada". Cute!

Jessica is still without teeth and for that I am grateful (purely from a nursing perspective). She has given me what the baby/nursing community likes to call "niplash" (TMI?!?) too many times to count. That's enough for me right now!

She's very used to my voice students singing during lessons, and I'm so proud of her. The mother of one of my students says that Jessica's eyes get really big every time her daughter or I start to sing during lessons. 

Jessica has started smiling at me when I sing directly to her and in full voice. It makes me so proud because I can tell she really loves it and is on her way to being a lover of music like her mommy! I'm so glad she doesn't cry at my full-voice singing anymore like she did when she was brand new.

Her stranger danger is basically non-existent from what we can tell! Our trip to Rochester really did her a lot of good, I believe. Yay!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Our Trip to Rochester, NY

The first week of August, our little family packed ourselves up and took a trip to Rochester, NY, for a dear friend's wedding! Armed with a stroller, car seat, baby carrier, one suitcase (yes, we were just as surprised to pull that off...points for us!), a diaper bag, and MANY diapers, we got on a plane and made the long trip out there.

Jessica was a trooper for the entire trip. She actually traveled much better than I anticipated. Course, I kept my expectations very low from the beginning, figuring I'd more likely be pleasantly surprised than sorely disappointed. And it all turned out well. Our sweet girl is a big fan of sleeping in her crib, so the plane rides were a bit rough because she only slept about 30 minutes in total on each of the longer ones, but she was in mostly good spirits through it all, even when overtired. Once we got to our friend Erica's grandmother's home (where she so graciously let us stay), Jessica slept like a champ, probably just happy to be in a crib instead of on a plane!

It was an incredibly fun, albeit short trip filled with catching up time with Erica and her fiance' Brett (whom we met for the first time), Angela and Capo (her cute Australian Shepherd), and Elaine and Gary (the couple who got hitched). I forgot to mention, all these friends are from our time in Tallahassee when Erica, Angela, and I were on our music therapy internships at Big Bend Hospice. Elaine was also fulfilling her internship at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital at the time and was roommates with Erica. We all spent a good bit of time together when we lived down there and this reunion brought back old memories!

 Notice the sweet potato in between her eyebrows. Totally didn't see that until I uploaded the photos from my memory card. Haha.

Erica was the perfect hostess as she drove us around and introduced us to many "Rochester things". We had Abbott's Frozen Custard, Mark's Pizza, and some Buffalo Wings. Buffalo, NY was not too far away! We also spent an afternoon visiting Palmyra (the birthplace of the LDS church), where Erica had never been before. She's not LDS, but has heard of the Hill Cumorah Pageant, from growing up in the area. We were able to tour the Smith Family Farm, climb up the Hill Cumorah, and walk through the Sacred Grove. You will see these pictures below.

 We "climbed" up the Hill Cumorah. Or rather, hiked. It was steep!

 Loved this kitchen in Alvin Smith's home. It was huge and seriously one that I wouldn't mind cooking in, especially if I lived back in the time the home was built!

 Happy Jessica in her stroller!

 Walking through the Sacred Grove fulfilled a lifelong dream of mine, as I've never visited these  particular church sites before. The Spirit there was so calm. I could just imagine Joseph Smith going into that grove for peace and quiet and a nice place to think and ponder. The light cascading through the trees...what a perfect atmosphere to receive revelation from our Heavenly Father.

Following, we have photos from Elaine and Gary's wedding reception at a very nice country club. We had fun just hanging out on the balcony for a while and taking some pictures to celebrate the reunion!

 I love her squinty eye in this photo. She's really laughing hard and it's just so darn cute.

 The soon-to-be-married couple. Next May, Erica and Brett will tie the knot! Another Rochester trip?!?

 The Big Bend Hospice gals. Angela, Erica, and myself...along with Jessica who was just a future thought back when all of us ladies were interns together!

 The best pic we got of our little family. Sadly, I was mostly behind the camera so we didn't get a chance to take very many photos of the three of us.

 Boys will be boys. They were imitating Jessica's random faces and how she always likes to stick her tongue out!

 This expression is so focused and serious. Love it.

 And this picture is the perfect example of how fun Jessica was on the entire trip! She didn't have a bit of stranger danger the entire time. Which is amazing, because she'd really been struggling with it since she hit about 4 months. She and Erica were pals and our little girl just laughed and hammed it up for everyone we came in contact with. The photographer at the wedding kept coming back to Jessica to take pictures. I can totally understand why, she's so stinkin' cute and photogenic!

Sadly, we forgot to get any pictures of the happy couple. And they were the reason we made the trip! But, rest assured, Mr. and Mrs. Kong were super busy that day, and handled the busy-ness with grace and poise! Their wedding ceremony was held at a Chinese Christian Church (they are both Chinese) and it was one of the most unique and entertaining weddings I've ever been to. The pastor was so fun and lighthearted throughout everything, bouncing back and forth between English and Chinese. He made jokes and talked about his personal relationships with the bride and groom. You could really tell he cared about them and was invested in their marriage.

It was a wonderful trip and we loved every crazy busy and exhausting minute of it. We hope we can go back someday. But first...we're trying to convince all our friends from out there to make a visit to Utah! Maybe a possibility?!? We have plenty of room for them :)