Thursday, December 12, 2013


I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Gabby is a sucker baby.  We flew to St. Louis to visit with my family and friends for Thanksgiving, and she was an absolute angel on the planes (all 4 of them).  She was a bit wild in the airport--trying to get down while we were in line and then running away through crowds of people once we let her down--but on the plane she was perfect.  She didn't get too loud, she didn't cry; it was amazing.

She also had a great time in St. Louis.  We went to visit Grandpa Stoehr's gravesite (not very fun, especially in the below freezing temperatures), then Brian got sick and put a damper on many other plans we had for the trip.  We had hoped to leave Gabby with her grandparents and see Catching Fire and go out to dinner, but that sadly didn't happen.

Gabby and I did get to have an outing to an indoor bounce place called Monkey Joe's.  I'd never taken her anywhere like that before, and at first she was really intimidated by all of the things to do.  We sat for a bit and ate a pretzel while she acclimated a bit.  Once she was done with the pretzel, she felt comfortable enough to run around.  She didn't want to get in any of the bouncy structures, mind you, but she had a great time bouncing on the mats outside of the structures.

She also loved sitting in the train and jeep, and it blew her mind when I put money in the jeep (the train was broken).

After I dragged her out of there (really--it was the first time she'd thrown a tantrum because she didn't want to leave a place) and got us some lunch at Chipotle (which make those tears disappear), we were off to Stephanie's house to visit with her and with Lisa and Lia.  Gabby and Lia had a great time!

Lia, Lisa, Gabby, me, and Stephanie

On Thanksgiving day, we went to my Grandma and Grandpa Pechenino's house, where we hung out with them, my parents, Amy and Ryan, and 4 dogs.  Gabby did not like Amy and Ryan's pit bull one bit--she would cry and cling whenever Sigmund came anywhere near her!  But she really liked the chihuahua Jenny, and was friends with my parents' dog Josie already.  She had no idea what to make of Khali, the corgi/chihuahua mix.  We all had a great time eating and visiting together, and Gabby was clearly the star of the show!

Playing with her train from Stephanie, with the coloring books from Lisa and the ladybug from her great grandparents right behind.

With Great Grandma Pechenino

With Grandma Pechenino

Auntie Amy and Great Grandma Pechenino

More jumping!

Great Grandma Pechenino, Grandpa Pechenino and Great Grandpa Pechenino.  She wanted the lens cap.

And with Josie in the mix!
The day after Thanksgiving, we headed to Grandma Stoehr's house.  As expected, the mood was a bit more subdued there, and Grandpa was sorely missed, but we had a great time hanging out with that side of the family and eating fantastic food.  Amy and Ryan left Sigmund at home, so Gabby was a lot more relaxed.  Plus, she had her second cousin Jacob to play with!

With Great Grandma Stoehr

Second cousins with their great grandma

Why am I like this?  To stay out of the picture, of course!  It's just as uncomfortable as you think it is.

Piggyback ride with Grandpa making bunny ears
All in all, it was a very successful Thanksgiving trip.  Despite the fact that it was absolutely freezing the entire time, and we had to buy Gabby warmer pjs and a heavier jacket, we really enjoyed ourselves.  It was one of those trips that made me really wish we all lived closer to each other!  So how about it, family, want to move to CA?

Since I'm posting this later than I intended to, I'll include Gabby's 22 month info too, as well as our visit to Santa at Intel.

Gabby has become quite the talker.  She's moved on to 2 and even 3 word sentences, and her memory has really developed.  She remembers all of the people we saw at Thanksgiving, all the kids at daycare, and she will point to pictures of Audrey and Olivia (her first cousins) when asked.  She loves Phoebe, Charlotte and Ellie, and bounces and grins when they are mentioned.  She has her routines, and gets upset when they are broken.  We can mess with naptime some, but eventually she just crashes no matter what.  Her tantrums are starting to get worse and more frequent, which makes sense, since they are called the terrible twos!  Other than that, she is still so cuddly and loving and just an all-around great little girl!

Anyway, here are some pictures from our visit to Santa.  There are a ton, since I wasn't letting Brian relax like he did over the holidays!  Plus, we're dealing with 4 little girls and Santa--who wouldn't take a ton of pictures?
Gabby loved the reindeer--she kept insisting on going outside to see them.

And she loved her cookie too!

She was super excited to get to see Santa, right up until I tried to put her on his lap.  No dice.

So I stayed.

I made Brian get in there too--Gabby is pointing at me because she wants me to come back.

Brian finally just trapped her hand.

Her favorite part--the candy cane.  She sucked on that thing for as long as she could.

They also had a sleigh for picture taking.

We got a pretty good family shot.

I love this picture because she looks drunk on candy cane.

"No, see; I can quit any time!"

We also got the girls in the sleigh for pictures.

This is definitely the best on of Charlotte, Phoebe and Gabby!

Charlotte got to hold Ellie for pictures too.  Gabby was more interested in her candy cane.

Phoebe was more interested in climbing out of the sleigh.

This is probably the best shot Brian got of the 4 girls!

We tried some mommy/daughter shots too.  Toddlers are not very cooperative.

Ellie was a much better model.  Gabby was fine as long as she had her candy cane.

This is the best shot of the 6 of us!

As you can see, it's been a big month!  We're headed to LA for Christmas this year, and I know we'll have a ton of fun.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Goodbye to you

On November 16, my grandfather died.  That statement in and of itself is a sad one--we hate to know that we will never see people we love on this earth again.  It causes us to remember good times with that person and maybe even some not-so-good times and makes us sigh and lament that life sometimes isn't fair, and nearly always ends before we are ready to say goodbye.

In this case, Grandpa Stoehr's (my mother's father) death holds a first for me.  He's my first grandparent to pass away.  I was very fortunate to grow up with all 4 grandparents living very close by.  We would go over to their houses at least once a month, visit, and just be a family.  I remember tractor rides around the property with Grandpa, scratchy haven't-shaved-in-days kisses on the neck, tickles and laughter, how he always called me "punkin" (sometimes "heifer" if I was being saucy) and how one day he looked at me and said "you sound just like your mother."  One anecdote in particular I don't actually remember, but it's been told so often that I feel like I do.  My parents and I drove across the country from St. Louis to Disneyland in California when I was around 3.  We went in my grandparents' motor home with them and my great aunt.  We had stopped for lunch one day, and my grandfather had a large bowl of strawberries that he was just sitting down to enjoy.  I walked up to him and said in a very small and hopeful voice "Grandpa, are you going to eat ALL those strawberries?"  It turned out the answer was no, and I got to share them with him.  My mother never stopped teasing him about that.

The point is, it was always Grandpa AND Grandma Stoehr, never one without the other.  I grew up thinking it was completely normal for all grandparents to be around--of course everyone has 4!  I got an inkling in grade school that it wasn't, in fact, normal at all, but it wasn't until graduate school that it really hit me how unusual it was.  I actually remember the exact moment when it fully sank in.  We were waiting for class to start, and I mentioned I was looking forward to the holidays because it meant seeing all of my grandparents.  My classmates couldn't believe that I still had all 4 at the age of 24.  That's when I realized how special my time with them was.

Starting in grad school 14 years ago, I haven't lived near my grandparents.  I still see them on holidays, and at other times during the year when I get a week off to travel, but it's not really the same.  Those times growing up, when I was young and free of responsibility, were special.  So for me, selfishly, Grandpa's death marks the end of those times.  The times I can say "I have 4 living grandparents," the times when we would tease him and laugh when he got surly with us, the times we were a family.

So goodbye, Grandpa Stoehr, you will be missed.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

21 month pictures

I know I already covered Gabby's 21 month post in the last update, but I wanted to make sure I posted these pictures from this past weekend.  She had such a good time with her friends!

On Saturday, we went to her friend Kate's house for a Megablocks party.  It was a rather small party--just Gabby and Kate--but the girls had so much fun playing with the blocks and each other. 

Gabby was banging the blocks on her head and saying "ow". Kate was too, but was smart enough to stop before I got the camera.

Kate was a bit reluctant to give hugs.

"Get off of me..."

But Gabby wore her down!

And big smiles afterwards.

Gabby modeled some of Kate's cool glasses

And got to take a pair home!  We finally found sunglasses that Gabby will leave on!
I did miss some of the funniest moments, like when they each had a blanket and would run into the kitchen.  Then Kate would run back out with both blankets, and Gabby would run out a few seconds later laughing.  Or when they were playing with Kate's princess castle and Gabby would pick up a princess only to have Kate immediately snatch it out of her hand and say "mine!".  Gabby would giggle and pick up another princess, and Kate would repeat!  This went on for a good 10 minutes!  Definite playdate success!

Then on Monday, we met up with Phoebe and Ellie (and Mimi and Judy) at Fairytale Town.  Gabby and I had never been, and we had such a good morning!

Blurry shot in Cinderella's carriage.  Have you ever tried to get 2 almost 2 year old to look at the camera at the same time?  This was the best I got.

On the slide on Jack and Jill's hill.  Phoebe got bored of this slide very quickly--she wanted the bigger, faster ones!

In The Little Engine That Could

Phoebe finding treasure on the pirate ship

Gabby's a hugger--fortunately Phoebe doesn't mind.  And this time they managed to hug without Gabby ending up on the ground!

2 silly girls

Steering the ship together.

Eating a snack/lunch at King Arthur's Round Table.  As Judy said, not the pizza place.  Don't worry, my Sacramento friends got the joke.

Photo by Judy:  Walking together.  Phoebe wasn't so interested in hand-holding--she had things to do!
We went home for Gabby's nap, and then she and I walked up to Starbucks for a snack and then went to see the ducks.  I don't have any pictures, but I did take a cute video

I think I mentioned that she definitely knows what two is (one thing in each hand), but the rest are just words that she's parroting back. Still, it was super cute to hear her counting in both English and Spanish (even if the Spanish was a bit off, and she got stuck at 5 in English).

I love this little girl so much!