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June 29, 2008

Photo Shoot: Reservoir Picnic

We had a fun picnic lunch at Lafayette Reservoir this afternoon!

PHOTO SHOOT: Reservoir picnic
PHOTO SHOOT: Reservoir picnic
PHOTO SHOOT: Reservoir picnic
PHOTO SHOOT: Reservoir picnic
PHOTO SHOOT: Reservoir picnic
PHOTO SHOOT: Reservoir picnic
PHOTO SHOOT: Reservoir picnic

June 27, 2008

Week 39 | Busy Baby

Ari - Week 38

Arianna was pretty busy this week, and seemed to really enjoy herself. The big event was going swimming for the first time this Sunday, which she loved! She also had two play dates, and is doing great interacting with other kids.

Allan and Denise brought baby Eliza over for brunch:

Ari hanging with friends

and Ania's friend Ania (also from Poland) brought baby Julia over for a play date:

Ari hanging with friends

There's something really lovely about watching babies learn to relate and socialize...

She ate her first ice cream cone — minus the ice cream — and we had just about as much fun watching her as she did exploring the new textures, sounds ("crunch!"), and tastes.

Ari first ice cream cone

Ania took her to the library to get some new books:

Ari at the library

And she worked on her piano skills:

Ari playing piano

I put on a little puppet show — my first ever — for her and made her laugh. Now I see what people mean about kids bringing out the kid in you, and it really is fun!

Puppet show for Ari

Milestones & Metrics

  • Fourth tooth (top right) started coming in
  • First time swimming in a pool (YMCA, 22 June)
  • We lowered her crib mattress to second-lowest setting; she's really becoming a lot more mobile, and is pretty tall for her age. It was sad, though, because it's another sign that she's not so much of a little baby anymore...
  • First ice cream cone
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 39

June 25, 2008

Fruits of Her Labor

Ania's mom, Wanda has single-handedly transformed the hillside in our backyard from an eyesore of a bleak and barren slope to a lush, terraced garden full of flowers and tomatoes. The colorful flowers have made spring and summer at our home even more pleasant and beautiful!

Here's a look at the yard as it was in April 2007 and below, after all her hard work, how it looks now in June 2008:

BEFORE AND AFTER: Backyard hill

After weeks of care and attention, those tomatoes have finally started to ripen, and the first crop is ready!

Wanda's tomatoes

It's too bad I so strongly dislike tomatoes — I'm sure they'll be juicy and delicious — but I will at least try them!

June 22, 2008

Our Little Minnow

We took Arianna swimming for the first time! She did great and really seemed to enjoy it!

Ari first time swimming

June 20, 2008

Week 38 | Daddy Taxi

Ari - Week 38

Arianna has decided that being carried is the most efficient means of rapid transportation over long distance, and she doesn't hesitate to show where she wants to go once I pick her up. She points her arm, and if we don't start moving, she'll lean and bend to prompt some action. I realize now that in her eyes, I've become the "Daddy Taxi", and my job is to take her where she wants to go.

We enjoyed celebrating my first Father's Day this week.

Arianna entertained us by playing peek-a-boo, but did it in her own way. She was sitting on the floor, and bent forward and down with her head between her feet, almost touching the floor with her forehead. We have no idea what prompted this, but Ania asked, "Where's Ari?" and Ari popped up with a smile! She bent down again, and I asked "Wheeeere's Ari?!?" and she popped up.

Ari plays peek-a-boo for us

She kept on and on, enjoying making us laugh with glee. It was one of the cutest things I've ever seen, and I love that she was having fun with us like that! We were especially touched because this is the first time she so consciously did something to entertain us. This is the kind of thing that just blows my mind about having a child. From the outside, it's hard to see, but it's amazing to experience our sweet baby's development and awakening.

Milestones & Metrics

  • First time on a train - Tilden Park Steam Trains
  • Top left tooth came out
  • Initiated playing peek-a-boo with us
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 38

June 15, 2008

First Father's Day

Father's Day was different this year, because it's my first time celebrating as a father in addition to celebrating my father. Ania and Ari surprised me in the morning with a sweet hand-made card with Ari's handprints and footprints and pictures of Ari and me together.

Then they gave me two frames with photos, one of me holding Ari when she was a little less than three months old:

Father's Day Photo

and another with three photos from the same time:

Father's Day Photo

Ania knows I dearly cherish the time when Ari was a little tiny baby, and this a perfect way to remember my happy introduction to fatherhood.

Thanks to Marlena for the lovely photos!

I've said before how much I've changed after having Arianna, and I spent some time thinking about that today. I'm still shocked at the overpowering emotion I feel for our daughter, and now I truly understand how my parents were always able to say, "We love you no matter what."

I told my dad how much I appreciate all the time, effort, sacrifice, and love he put into being a father; now I'm starting to understand first-hand where all that comes from, and how joyfully it's given. I know I've got a huge responsibility and a big "job" ahead of me, but I've never had any doubt that I'll be a good father, because I've always had a great example in him. I couldn't think of a more important gift for a father to give to his son than that!

Fathers

I was excited to spend the day with Ari, and wanted to show her something new, so we went for a ride on the steam train in Tilden Park and had a great time! Ari's a bit young to really understand what we were doing, but she loved all the people, sights and sounds, and it made me smile to see it all through her eyes.

Ari first train ride

I'm proud to be a father, and so glad I've been able to experience the joy and love Arianna has brought to our lives!

Ari first train ride

June 13, 2008

Week 37 | Starting to Stand Up for Herself

Ari - Week 37

Saturday was a bit warm, so we headed out to the Martinez Marina to enjoy the bay breeze, beautiful sunny day, and see the water.

Photo summary: Martinez marina

Ari spent some time just checking things out, contemplating life, and getting some sun:

Ari weathered bench

On Sunday, Ari did a little hat modeling with grandma Wanda...

Hat modeling

Then we spent a relaxing afternoon on the patio at Chevy's, where Ari perused the menu and we enjoyed a drink together.

Hanging out at Chevys

We were hanging out in bed Tuesday, and Ari was straddling Ania's leg. I suggested that Ania put her arms out to the side so Ari could use them to raise herself up. Apparently, that wasn't necessary; Ari stood up using only the strength of her own legs! She really likes standing — I think because she sees what a different perspective it gives her on the world — and you can see how proud she is when she does it; she'll invariably turn and look at you with a big smile on her face.

We do want to encourage her to crawl before she walks, though, and she's started lifting her bottom when she's on her tummy, which is a good sign that she may do so soon. She continues to enjoy moving around and rolling, and for the first time, she actually rolled over a couple times to get a toy!

We also had a nice visit with the Elmgrens this week. They're the family Ania lived with when she first came to the U.S. When I met Ania, she was helping take care of Zabie, who was about 5, and Ollie and Anna, who were maybe a year old. It's really something to now see these kids holding Ari, who's almost as old as they were when I met them!

Visit with Elmgrens

Sometimes, Ari is so cute I just don't know what to do!

Our beautiful baby girl

I mentioned before that Ari really enjoys bathtime:

Ari Bathtime fun

Milestones & Metrics

  • Started to use her legs to raise her bottom up
  • Stood up unassisted
  • Rolled more than once to go get something
  • Ate chicken for the first time. Ania has been making some of Ari's food, and this week, she made chicken for the first time, boiling it, then pureeing it and mixing with pureed vegetables; Ari loved it!
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 37

June 06, 2008

Week 36 | Moving, moving, moving...

Ari - Week 36

Ari's still not crawling, but she's really moving around a lot this week. It wasn't long ago that she'd get tired out after a 360-degree tummy rotation on the floor, which took a fair amount of time and effort. Now if she sees something she wants, she can rotate 90 degrees in a flash to go investigate or grab it. She practically jumps around in her crib, sometimes seeming to entertain herself by tossing, turning, and rolling around, which is really fun to watch on the video monitor. We're not sure why, but she first became comfortable with a lot of her movements there. Perhaps she perceives the relative safety since it's a confined space, or maybe she's just very familiar with it, so that's where she can try new things. She first began rotating in her crib and first rolled from her tummy to her back there.

When we change her diaper, she invariably wants to reach across with her right arm to scratch the wall (checking out the texture) on her left side. "Lie flat" has become my standard phrase while changing her, though I still ask her to "Work with Daddy" to get her to cooperate in terms of her legs.

Speaking of her legs, she's finding all kinds of ways to use them lately, so it shouldn't be long before she's crawing.

Ari circus baby

She really wants to stand, and definitely knows how to ask for it; she reaches out toward our hands, expecting that will result in us standing her up, which it usually does. She can even stand on her own for brief periods, with something to hold onto!

Ari standing on her own

She's also getting more and more willful and comfortable showing what she wants. I learned that I can't prepare her food with her in one arm, because she leans over (and she's very strong) to try to get it.

Just a couple weeks ago, her first tooth began to appear; now both bottom front teeth are through, and Ari can bite! I made the mistake of putting my finger in to feel for top teeth, and she chomped down hard on it! "Ow!" came out involuntarily loud. But it really hurt! That aforementioned strength is clearly in her jaws too. Unfortunately, my reaction scared Ari, who made the cutest sad face ever and started crying. I held her and reassured her, but I've definitely learned my lesson; my finger still hurt throughout the next day!

Can you see my teeth?

Wednesday evening, she enjoyed her first time having her teeth brushed!

Ari's first time having teeth brushed

Ari had a pretty busy weekend; on Friday, Steffani came to visit. She was one of the major planners of Ania's baby shower and hadn't met Ari since she's been "on the outside".

Steffani visit

On Saturday, Ari had a fun playdate with Ania (also from Poland) and Carl's daughter Julia; the two girls are about 3 weeks apart, and really seemed excited to see each other. It was cute to see them both reaching out to hold hands and touch each other, though we had to keep reminding them to be gentle.

Ari and Julia

Sunday, Ania and Ari spent some time looking at flowers in the backyard, then we went to the annual Polish picnic at Concord Community Park, where Ari tried her best to bite some kielbasa.

Ari at Polish picnic

And Arianna helped brighten Nana Helen's birthday on Monday, having fun here laughing and smiling with Grandpa Jim:

Ari brightens Helen's birthday

Milestones & Metrics

  • First time having her teeth brushed
  • Stood on her own for brief period
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 36

June 01, 2008

Photo Shoot: Flower Child

Ania took Arianna out to the backyard to show her some of the pretty flowers Grandma Wanda has been planting.

PHOTO SHOOT: Flower child
PHOTO SHOOT: Flower child
PHOTO SHOOT: Flower child
PHOTO SHOOT: Flower child
PHOTO SHOOT: Flower child
PHOTO SHOOT: Flower child
PHOTO SHOOT: Flower child
PHOTO SHOOT: Flower child