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December 29, 2008

We were very happy that Jene, Carter, and Lily came to visit for Christmas this year. It brought us all joy to see Ari and Lily get to know each other more, especially now that they're both old enough to be more aware of and truly interact with one another. They got a long well and seemed to have fun playing together!

Cousins at Christmas 2008

December 28, 2008

It's hard to believe that Arianna is 15 months old today. We went to play at Larkey Park this afternoon and we all had a great time!

Fun at Larkey Park

December 18, 2008

When Ania was young, she and her sisters would decorate the Christmas tree with their mother. Ari and Ania continued that tradition this year and Arianna delighted in helping her mommy. Looking at cards and pictures from years gone by inspired warm thoughts of friends and family and memories of "Christmas Past".

Chrismas Present and Past 2008

December 07, 2008

We went to get our 8th and Ari's 2nd Christmas tree today. She wasn't too happy about the chainsaw in the background, but she had fun smelling the trees, and we love to see her scrunch up her nose as she consciously uses her new-found sense to experience a different aspect of the world around her.

Reservoir Walk

Ari was just 12 weeks old when we took her the first time. She probably won't remember going this time either, but we always go to the same place and we'll take her there many more times in the years to come. This is another tradition that Arianna enriches as part of our family.

December 05, 2008

I just wanted to share a bit of the sweetness we get to enjoy every morning with our baby girl. :)

Sweet Morning Baby

November 29, 2008

We want Arianna to enjoy being out in nature as much as we do, and today, we took her on a trail walk in Redwood Regional Park.

We did a more rigorous hike there once before and loved it. The great thing about the place is that you can do an easy walk like we did today, or a challenging hike with lots of elevation changes, but either way, it's a gorgeous place and you really feel surrounded by nature. There are people, but not enough to make it feel crowded.

Arianna was excited to see all the people, dogs, birds, trees, and even a cat. The first thing she did when we put her down to walk around and explore was to bend down and pick up a stick. There were lots of them and she would have inspected each one if we'd let her, so maybe she'll be a nature girl after all!

She's just started to get comfortable with walking and had a bit of trouble negotiating the slight incline of the trail. We couldn't help but chuckle as she tumbled forward a few times. Unfortunately, she got a bump on the head, but she shook it off and kept going like the tough girl she is.

Reservoir Walk

November 22, 2008

We went for a walk around Lafayette Reservoir to enjoy the beautiful day outside.

I carried Arianna half way around the reservoir on my back, then she decided to make us proud by walking for a while on her own.

Reservoir Walk

Ari had fun playing in the leaves; I think she likes the Fall as much as her parents!

Reservoir Walk

October 31, 2008

We didn't think Ari could get any cuter, but we just loved seeing her in her ladybug costume!

Happy Halloween 2008

September 28, 2008

Everyone who was a part of it made Arianna's first birthday party a very special and fun day for her, and she seemed to have a great time. Thanks to everyone for being a part of her happy day and sharing our joy in celebrating her!

Ari - Week 44

August 08, 2008

Ari - Week 45

Saturday night, Ania and I went out for a date for the first time in a while. We had a reservation for our anniversary dinner last year at Bistro Aix &mdash the place we had our first date & got engaged — but Arianna was born that night, so we decided to go there, and had a great evening out. We needed to get out by ourselves, and we knew she was in good hands with Grandma Wanda. Of course, we had to say goodbye to Arianna before we left:

Saying bye-bye before date night

We've all been enjoying the gorgeous Summer weather lately, and Sunday, the four of us went for a walk at Lafayette Reservoir and enjoyed being outside in the sun.

Reservoir walk

For the first time, Arianna stood up on her own from seated position in her crib, so we lowered her mattress all the way. It seems so low! It's amazing to consider that she's grown so much that we have to do this, but sad that it means she's one step further away from being a little baby. At the same time, this is a wonderful sight first thing in the morning:

Happy standing baby

We took Ari swimming again and she still likes being in the pool.


Arianna has discovered the joy of laughter, and she's started to laugh spontaneously to make us laugh, and it always works. It's adorable and wonderful to have her communicate with us in yet another new and joyful way.

Milestones & Metrics

  • Stood up on her own from seated position in her crib (8 Aug)
  • We lowered crib mattress to lowest setting
  • Started to laugh to make us laugh
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 45

August 03, 2008

Where's Arianna?

Theeeerree's Arianna!

Ari really likes peek-a-boo.

Ari peeking between crib slats

August 01, 2008

Ari - Week 44

I thought the crying when I left was something emotional, but my goodness, now Ari can give hugs! Words just aren't relevant when it comes to describing that feeling. It's the cutest thing ever; she tilts her head toward me, trying to rest it on my shoulder while I'm holding her. I could hold her like that forever — this is truly one of the rewards of parenthood!

She's started pointing distinctly and directly at what she wants. Before, she was putting her arm out and leaning in the direction she wanted to go, but this is different. She's very specific and precise, and she uses a single finger. She engages you, then locks her eyes on her target, so you'll follow her gaze. It's like she's got a laser pointer! As with the Daddy Taxi, Ari is simply not hesitant to involve others in helping her achieve what she wants. I like that she's so inclined to pursue her desires.

Sometimes she puts pointing together with the "surprise noise", when she wants to direct or catch your attention to show you something. I am dying to know what she would say when she shows me stuff! As it is, we talk about it with her, both to help her know we acknowledge what she's doing, and to start helping her identify, explain, and put what she's showing us in context.

The pointing is especially apparent when we're feeding her; she'll point to the cup of water until we give her some. She doesn't seem to have learned the signs for "drink" or "water" yet, but if we make them, she'll turn and look right at the cup, and she already knows exactly where it is. "Does Arianna want some water?"

She's really getting physically strong and dextrous now. Ania had a good idea to hand her individual pieces of fruit, vegetables, cereal, etc., in addition to her normal scooping and picking off the tray or plate. The idea is to give her more practice specifically with the pincer motion, which it seems she only just developed, but now has all but mastered. She can move, rotate, twist, and roll her body at will, and proto-crawls when she sees that as the most efficient transportation.

The notable thing is the facility she has with all these movements; she's building up a repertoire of them and has some down pat. She can push buttons and operate switches on toys that used to frustrate me because I thought they required too much physical strength. (She got the concept and had the dexterity, just not the strength.) There are still some she can't push, but the list is getting smaller fast.

Grandma Wanda is leaving soon, so we went to the Build a Bear Workshop and she made a special teddy bear for Arianna, with a recording of her voice, so Ari can hear her any time she wants.

PHOTO SUMMARY Wanda builds a bear for Ari

Arianna adds so much beauty to our lives!

Springtime baby
Pensive in her highchair

Milestones & Metrics

  • Giving us hugs
  • Sat up on her own from lying on her back
  • Pointing distinctly at what she wants
  • Showing us things
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 42

July 25, 2008

Ari - Week 43

Grandma Wanda brought Ari to the door to say goodbye when I left for work Wednesday morning, and Ari started to cry as I walked away! I don't think I've ever experienced something so heart-wrenching, especially knowing that it was because of me. It was so hard to go!

Ania and I have talked about this kind of thing, and agreed long ago that we wouldn't prolong goodbyes, nor go back and forth as we leave. We want Arianna to get used to the idea of either of us leaving, and learn that it's not permanent. We think distraction is a good tactic for now, and Grandma Wanda's got plenty of those up her sleeve. It was still really hard to walk away from my sad little baby!

Arianna has started making a "surprise" noise; she sharply draws in breath when she wants to direct our attention or demonstrate that she recognizes something. She must have heard one of us doing it as we tried to direct her attention to something, and now she does it for the same reason. It's really cute! It's also surprisingly gratifying to see her excitement about the fact of recognizing a ball, or any number of other objects. It might appear that she's excited about the ball itself, but I suspect she's more excited about her new-found ability to recognize and identify things.

Ari got to meet "aunt" Dee Dee (my cousin) for the first time. We had some very nice visits, and we're all glad to have her get to know some of our extended family more.

Visiting with aunt Dee Deed

And we all had fun at Cordi's 1st birthday party Saturday. She's generally very social and does really well with lots of people around.

Balloons and balls seem to be Ari's favorite toys. I think she sees balloons as some kind of ball, which makes sense, if you think about it from the perspective of how much context she has for objects. For either one, she says "Bah!" We'd just gotten a new (helium-filled) balloon for her, and when she was lying on her back, I held it above her so she could catch the string. I let go, and she pulled the balloon down toward her, hand over hand. Where did she learn to do that?

Ari balloon hand over hand

Ari started playing the "fall back game" this week. On weekend mornings, we bring her into bed with us, and she loves to sit up in bed, then give us a knowing look, fall backward, and laugh with glee! I was immediately paranoid this would become some bad habit she'd want to do everywhere, but my hope was that she'd recognize that the bed is soft and safe, and only do it there. It seems she's a smart baby; she only ever does it in bed, so we say "faaaall back" and laugh with her (it's hard not to!) and I stopped stressing. It's so cool to think that our daughter is inventing games to play with us!

Milestones & Metrics

  • Cried when I left for work
  • Surprise noise
  • Started "the fall back game"
  • Stats: 21lbs 11oz (85%), 31" tall (98%), 45.75cm (90%)
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 43

July 18, 2008

Ari - Week 42

Arianna spontaneously started to share things with us. In my case, she started by offering me her teething ring. It's very sweet to see, and a pleasant habit for her to get into; I hope it continues! I wonder if she's just mirroring the fact that we give stuff to her...

Now that Ari can eat more "real" food, Ania made some meatballs for her out of ground turkey, vegetables, and breadcrumbs. She got the idea from the food Cordi — the daughter of our neighbors with whom we're going to share a nanny — had one day when her nanny Daysi brought her over for a play date. Aside from good protein, these make excellent, safe finger food when broken up into pieces. Ari loves them! We've been taking her to restaurants more, and she does really well sitting in a high chair.

We held memorial and burial services for my dad this week, and Ari was a model baby in both cases. She was incredibly well-behaved, and her smiling face and happy disposition brought a bit of sunshine to a sad occasion.

Ari says final goodbye to Grandpa Jim

Arianna earned her Certificate of Completion for the Contra Costa Library's Summer Reading Program for Babies that Ania signed her up for, and got a new book as a prize! We chose a "board book" (cardboard pages, which Ari loves to turn — and bite) of favorite nursery rhymes.

Certificate of Completion - Summer Reading Program

She's been making some fun developmental steps this week. She now dances any time there's music, and it's really fun to see. We've always danced her around and danced with her (especially Grandma Wanda), but now she's doing it herself! She's got a whole repertoire of moves too; she'll shake her head, bend her knees, and if she's sitting, she'll twist from side to side with her arms open. It almost seems like different music elicits different moves too...

She's also doing great at identifying objects; she can point to a ball in two separate books, as well as a balloon and a fish. Just a couple weeks ago, she started being able to choose a fish from among several toys.

Milestones & Metrics

  • Starting to share things with us
  • Starting to dance on her own
  • Can identify a ball, a balloon, and a fish in books
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 42

July 11, 2008

One of Dad's favorite and most valuable lessons was to persevere. "If at first you don't succeed", he'd quote (so often it became part of my subconsious), "try, try again." We're already passing this philosophy on to Arianna.

If at first you don't suceed

Ari's Grandpa Jim passed away this week. They had a very special bond, and Ari never smiled so quickly or fully for anyone as for her Grandpa Jim. When we brought her over to their house after he'd gone, the first thing she did when she got into the room was look over to where he'd been resting in bed, smiling in anticipation.

It's very rewarding to experience now with Arianna how he felt about me as a baby. I always felt very loved, but now I have a first-hand understanding of where that love comes from. Now I can empathize with it.

Ari & Grandpa Jim

I'm sad that Dad won't get to enjoy loving and being loved by Arianna, but she still remembers and loves him. This is evident even two months later, as I finish writing this entry. When we walk into her room, you can ask, "Where's Grandpa?" and she'll turn and look up at his picture, and the biggest grin will spread across her face. Sometimes, she even starts to laugh. Dad had an uncanny ability to communicate his love, and Arianna basked in it. I'm so glad she's had an infusion of the love that Jene and I got all our lives from him, and that even for the short time they had together, she was able to brighten his spirits and remind him of the love, beauty, and joy he so appreciated in the world.

Dad used to always take Jene and me to Nancy Boyd Park, down the hill from the Montessori school we went to when we were very young. He would tell Ari how he looked forward to taking her there, so we took Lily and Ari there one morning not long after he passed away, in memory of those good times with him.

Nancy Boyd Park

Milestones & Metrics

  • Can pick out fish and ball among toys
  • Had her first pancakes
  • Shows "I'm so tall" by reaching up high with her hands when you ask her "How tall is Arianna?" (This is incredibly adorable!)

July 04, 2008

Ari - Week 40

It's amazing to think Arianna has been "on the outside" as long as she was gestating. Where did nine months go? I'm trying hard to savor this wonderful time when Arianna is a baby, yet it seems to slip past, almost in defiance of my efforts. One reason I'm spending so much time and effort writing and choosing pictures is to try to connect us as clearly as possible to what it was like and how we felt when look back on the times we've had. Neither words nor pictures can convey the profound sense of joy we feel, but I don't think that's going to do anything but take different forms as we continue to experience the magic of Arianna...

Our sweet baby girl

She continues to be engaged, intrigued, and entertained by her Leap Frog Learn and Groove music table, which encourages her to sit up and kneel, as well as reach and use her hands while maintaining her upright position. Ania was always looking forward to the time when Arianna could play with it, and I see why! We gave one to cousin Lily when she was ready, and she too, really got a lot out of it.

Playing on music table

She's been especially smiley this week, which you can see from the photos we took during our family picnic at Lafayette Reservoir. It's clear that Ari really likes to smile, and more than that, to make us smile. When she flashes a grin at you, you can't help but feel a ray of joy going right to your heart!

Smiley Baby

Ari has started to "dance", and it's adorable! It's mostly bobbing her head at this point, but it's clearly associated with music -- I play reggae on the XM radio that comes with our DirecTV service, and I think the music table is part of it too -- and she seems to get a kick out of it. For her, dancing is yet another reason to smile.

She's also begun to laugh spontaneously, then really start cracking up at herself, which is of course, quite infectious. It's awesome to see her developing a sense of humor!

Arianna always enjoys the swing when we go to the park.

Fun on the swing

And she gets a kick out of her Kindercise class, where she sometimes encounters unexpected challenges.

How do I get out of this?

She had another play date with our neighbor's daughter, baby Cordi and her nanny, Daysi, who will also be taking care of Arianna when grandma Wanda goes home to Poland. Ari and Cordi always seem to have fun together, and the nanny is great with the two of them. We've been having several play dates with both Daysi and Wanda, so Ari has a chance to get used to her new nanny with the comfort and security of her loving grandmother.

play date

This year was Ari's first 4th of July. She's too young to stay up for fireworks, but showed her spirit nonetheless!

Happy 4th of July

Milestones & Metrics

  • Fourth tooth (top right) all the way in
  • Can consistently pick up individual Cheerios and eat them
  • Had pasta for the first time
    Name in pasta
  • Had Chinese food for the first time; Shen Hua, of course!
  • Starting to be comfortable standing, with support
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 40

June 29, 2008

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

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 22, 2008

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

Ari first time swimming

June 20, 2008

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

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!


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

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

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

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

May 30, 2008

Ari - Week 35

Arianna turned eight months old this week (check out the photo shoot Ania did), and it's clear she's beginning to grow up a bit. We just went to baby Christian's first birthday party the other weekend, and last Saturday, we celebrated cousin Lily's first birthday with a small family gathering at Mom & Dad's. Ari was very interested in Lily's gifts, and they started a bit of tug-of-war over one, but Lily did a great job of sharing and they worked it out. It was really sweet to see them play together!

Cousins sharing I think Ari is feeling the influence these "older" babies. This week, she moved into the "big girl" car seat, sat in a restaurant high chair for the first time, and started using a training potty! Plus her second (bottom, front) tooth popped through. It's really strange to hear and feel teeth scratching on the ice cubes we give her for teething! (And yes, we're careful and hold the ice for her.)

She's even going to start eating "big girl" food! She had her 8-month checkup today, and the doctor said she's doing great, and cleared her to start eating table food! She can have cheese, meat, vegetables, etc., they just have to be mashed up enough for her. She had her first yogurt today, and loved it! She had her first Cheerios too, but wasn't so sure about that.

Ari first Cheerios Exercising your ability to make choices is a part of growing up. Ari's been choosing which toys she wants from her toy box for a while now, but lately she's been showing us what she wants and where she wants to go. It's the cutest thing ever to see her stick her arm out and start leaning in the direction of whatever it is that's caught her fancy. If you don't respond, she'll start making noises to let you know she means business! Somehow, I doubt this will remain cute forever...

As much as all these developments and new things are great, I still want to keep her as a baby! :(

Milestones & Metrics

  • Turned eight months old!
  • Stats: Length: 29.25", Weight: 20lbs 4oz, Head circumference: 45cm
  • Starting to recognize (and love) herself in the mirror:
    Kiss the baby
  • Second tooth popped through
  • Moved into the "big girl" car seat
  • Got a training potty! (29 May) Did her first #1 (29 May), and first (and second) #2 (30 May) in the training potty.
  • Sat in a restaurant high chair for the first time
  • Went from sitting to prone in pursuit of a toy
  • Comfortable and happy to sleep on her tummy
  • Can roll both ways in bed
  • Ate her first yogurt and first Cheerios
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 35

May 28, 2008

Ari turned eight months old today (28 May)!
Ari at 8 months

Grandma Wanda made a beautiful bouquet for Arianna from the flowers she's been growing in our yard, and Ania took some adorable pictures of Ari over at Mom & Dad's house.

Ari at 8 months
Ari at 8 months
Ari at 8 months
Ari at 8 months
Ari at 8 months
Ari at 8 months
Ari at 8 months

May 23, 2008

Ari - Week 34

I've noticed that you can see Arianna's smile in her eyes just as much as on her lips. I jotted that down the other day in my notes, and looking at it as I began to write this entry, it made me think about the fact that all of her communication now is unspoken. (I had originally written non-verbal, but Ania pointed out that making noises is "verbal", in a sense.) At almost eight months old, she can make noises, but she can't talk, so she has to find other ways to tell us how she feels and what she wants — and she does!

Ari smiling eyes

Sometimes it's quite clear, like when she jerks and thrashes — a new way she's found to say "Feed me now!" Other times, it's not so obvious, like her tendency to emit loud, long, high-pitched squeals. We don't know what these mean, but they don't appear to be either happy or unhappy sounds (well, they often seem to be more happy than not, but sometimes they seem downright neutral); maybe she's just seeing what it's like to make noise and hear herself.

We're teaching her unspoken forms communication too, like waving (which she seems to really enjoy) clapping (her newest skill), and some basic baby sign language (milk, water, eat, more, mommy, daddy, all gone) that we've been trying. I've always been in favor of explicit communication, and generally discourage relying on non-verbal cues whenever possible. Being a new parent has caused me to revisit this approach, at least with Arianna.

Before our daughters were born, Jene and I were talking about the Dunstan baby language, featured on Oprah. I watched the show and thought it was incredible, and was sure Ania and I would buy the DVD. Jene pointed out that while she agreed with the general idea that babies cry differently for different reasons, it's something parents can learn on their own, and don't necessarily need a book or DVD to learn.

I've come to agree — it's really true that a baby will give you signs for what she needs, even if she does so unconsciously. Becoming attuned to these signs is part of learning to be a parent. For example, Ari was getting pretty cranky this morning, which is rare unless she's tired. So, I put her down about half an hour early for her nap and she was out almost instantly. This wasn't a case of decoding her cry so much as her behavior, but it was a good reminder of the importance of being aware of and responsive to my daughter's communication, long before she can talk. And no, I didn't buy the DVD.

Ari went to her first birthday party this week! Taylor & Rossy's son, Christian, turned 1 year old, and we went to Golden Gate Park in San Francisco to celebrate. Ari had a great time, and really enjoyed her first ride on a carousel.

Ari - Week 34

Ari spent the rest of the week having a good time looking at books, playing with toys, checking out bubbles, working on waving and clapping, and playing with Grandma Wanda.

Ari - Week 34

Milestones & Metrics

  • Really able to wave now
  • Learning to clap her hands
  • First night without 10pm feeding (22 May)
  • Slept on her tummy most of the night (22 May)
  • Rolled to the right for the first time this morning! (18 May)
  • First eye doctor appointment (22 May)
  • Seems to be responding to the camera! Clearly did so when I began to take "Friday pictures" this morning (23 May)
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 34

May 16, 2008

Ari - Week 33

We saw the beginning of Arianna's first tooth while bathing her tonight! (16 May) It's just a little tiny dark spot that's pretty hard to see, but it's there!

Ari first tooth Ari chasing hairbrush

I'm amazed by how Arianna can be so fun, smiley, and interactive, yet quickly flip into serious mode and studiously focus on something that captures her attention. Sometimes this happens with a snap of her head; she'll turn and zero in on something — almost like a hunting animal that thinks it's caught the scent of prey — until she's satisfied, then she moves on. A really fun example of this is when I brush her hair at the end of her bath; it used to seem to calm her down, but now, I think the sensation of the brush touching her head piques her curiosity, and she arches her back and tilts her head back trying to look at the brush. She's fanatical about seeing the brush, and it cracks me up!

This focusing happens in a different, but also very evident way when she meets someone new; she'll just spend a few minutes calmly gazing at and studying them. So far, everyone seems to have passed muster; Ari's generally very sociable and happy to meet new people, and is always friendly after this initial phase. Here she is with Uncle Kenny (with whom she's hung out a fair amount, but not enough that she instantly remembers), studying, then smiling:

Ari study/smile

Speaking of socialization, Arianna is starting to learn how to wave! She doesn't quite know the difference between "hi" and "bye-bye" yet, but she's been copying us by moving one arm when we say either one and wave to her. It's adorable!

She's been having fun drumming this week, and is starting to follow her toy drum, banging on it after it prompts her. After an intense jam session, she often likes to kick back and down a sippy cup or two of water.

Ari drumming water break

Milestones & Metrics

  • We celebrated our first Mother's Day this week!
  • Can rotate 360 degrees on her tummy (15 May)
  • She's back on track with sleeping through the night; for a few days she started to wake around 3-3:30, but seems to have settled back into her all-night sleep routine.
  • Started jerking whole body when angry/hungry; becoming rather willful!
  • Starting to wave
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 33

May 11, 2008

This is Ania's first Mother's Day, and we're both overjoyed to have this holiday apply to us. :) Neither of us could imagine a more perfect Mother's Day gift than this!

Happy Mother's Day from Arianna

Ania is a natural mom, and that's never so clear as when you see her with Arianna. Of course she's great at all the practical stuff, but it's when she's showing Ari how loved and cherished she is that Ania really shines. You can see from how happy Arianna is that Ania's doing an excellent job in every aspect of motherhood, and it's wonderful to see how happy and fulfilled she is in this new role!

Here are some of my favorite mommy/daughter moments from Ania's first eight months of being a mom:

PHOTO SUMMARY Mother and Daughter First 8 Months

May 09, 2008

Ari - Week 32

I'm still really backlogged in publishing entries about Arianna, but I have been taking notes every week. I think it's important to write it down, even if it's not edited and the pics aren't chosen yet. There's no reason I can't catch up from both directions!

Ari's been moving up toward the top of her crib during the night, sometimes getting wedged into the corner. We've been fortunate that she's doing really well with sleeping through the night, but this new moving around thing has been waking her up.

Ari sleeping

Sometimes she wakes up pretty unhappy about the fact that she's in the corner or against the side of the crib, and I'm a bit paranoid about her wrenching her neck in frustration, so I'm yet again glad we got the video monitor about which I've sung praises before. Ania inclined the mattress to try to keep her from moving up, but Ari countered that by going perpendicular! The problem is, she's just about as tall as the crib is wide, so that's gonna be a very tight squeeze soon. She was so adorable when I went to get her this morning (07 May) and saw her all turned around, looking up at me as if to say, "Look what I did!"

Ari getting perpendicular

Arianna has a very distinct personality now, and is clearly enjoying learning how to interact and communicate. She loves to smile and seems to purposely do things that make us smile at her, looking for our reaction; what a joy it is to indulge her! Sometimes I wonder if we're starting to see Ari developing a sense of humor...

We've been enjoying visiting with Jene, Carter, and Lily, and the two babies are great together, sharing toys, and even collaborating on a little music. It was especially nice to be able to celebrate Jene's birthday with her this year; it's been a while since we've been together on her birthday.

Ari and Lily enjoying each other's company

We usually keep Arianna's face pretty clean while feeding her, but Ania was having fun one day and made a moustache on her face. It was so cute, she couldn't help continuing to play. I love this picture where Ari looks like a forlorn clown!

Ari getting perpendicular

Arianna has long been holding her own bottle, which is great, but it's also a double-edged sword. I liked holding it for her, because it very directly involved me with feeding her. Bottle feeding is already one layer of abstraction away from breast feeding, which I can imagine must be a wonderful bond to experience. But now, having fostered her independence by teaching her to hold the bottle, I've move yet another layer away from the process. *sniff* On the other hand, it's really fun to say "Hold the bottle!" and see her hands shoot out & take it, and watch her negotiate getting the nipple into her mouth, holding that big glass bottle. :)

Ari holding her own bottle

Some of my favorite times are when we just sit quietly together, and Ari absorbs the world in the comfort of my arms. Times like this, I feel like Ari and I really "get" each other — perhaps this "Daddy/baby time" is my equivalent to breast feeding, but instead of food, I'm nourishing her sense of security and love...

Daddy holding his baby

Milestones & Metrics

  • Grandma Wanda has been teaching her, and now Ari can open the door and mailbox in her toy house by herself.
  • Started eating prunes and avocado.
  • Getting much stronger on her tummy, staying up higher and longer on her arms. Wanda said that today (09 May) she was even turning pages in the books she reads (Mommy taught her that a long time ago) while on her tummy!
  • Rolling over "for the fun of it" now, but still not always happy to end up on her tummy, and can't yet roll back. She also never rolls to the right, always to her left.
  • Started a bit of tantrum like crying; this is generally a sign of hunger, but I think it's evidence of the Dark Side too, and believe me, the Force is strong with this one!
  • Loves high-pitched squealing. Yes, we hear you, Arianna! :)
  • Twisting her tongue in her mouth; prep for talking?
  • Started rocking back and forthon her tummy, probably a sign of pre-crawling!
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 32

April 09, 2008

Straight Down the Line

March 23, 2008

Happy Easter from Arianna

March 14, 2008

(Yes, I'm really back-logged in posting about Arianna, and I will catch up, but this is just too cute to wait!)

Ania's friend and co-worker, Leah, who was pregnant during the same time as Ania, gave Arianna this doll (thanks, Leah!). It works wonders at soothing her and lulling her to sleep, so I started calling it her "sleepytime buddy".

Ari kissing sleepytime buddy

We've always been happy with how well Ari responds to the doll — she can be screaming and fighting against going to sleep, but as soon as the doll's face lights up, it's like we flipped a switch, and she's immediately entranced. But it wasn't until we saw this on the video monitor last night that we realized just how much she adores her sleepytime buddy.

She's been rotating clock-wise in her crib lately, and we thought it was random, but maybe she just wants to be close to her buddy!

The doll's face lights up with a very calming orange/peach glow, and it can play a series of lullabies. It has three settings that can be changed with a switch on the back, and it's activated with a press of its tummy; lullaby, glowing face + lullaby, glowing face.

Writing this prompted me to find it online; it's the Playskool Gloworm. The website says "Ease baby's transition from busy time to bedtime", and we can attest that it works!

February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day from Arianna

February 01, 2008

Ari - Week 18

Ari just turned four months old, and has been smiling and laughing even more this week. She's also getting into the habit of trying to bite everything she can.

Ari biting rolling toy

As much as I still would love to keep Arianna as an infant indefinitely, she's growing up fast. It's becoming really fun to play with her as she becomes more aware of and interested in what's around her. She can hold a ball now if you give it to her. It's probably by reflex, but it's pretty cool in any case!

Ari holding a ball

Arianna really likes to see herself in the mirror. For whatever reason, this causes her to "talk"; she's never as vocal as when she sees herself in the mirror.

Ari smiling at herself in the mirror

We've seen discussions on forums about mothers having trouble with babies' hands flailing around while nursing. When Ari does this, Ania kisses her hand; I couldn't think of a more loving solution!

Mommy kissing Ari's hand

Milestones & Metrics

  • Turned four months old
  • Stats: Length: 27", Weight: 16lbs 10oz, Head circumference: 42cm
  • Sitting pretty well in her PeaPod seat
  • Started holding her feet when she's on her back
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 18

January 25, 2008

Ari - Week 17

Ari has always seemed to love bath time, intrigued by the sensations and smells, and especially enjoying the loving massage Ania gives her as she puts on lotion afterward. She finds water pretty interesting too, and this week, she kicked it up a notch and started splashing! That prompted us to move the tub from the bathroom counter top between our sinks to inside the bathtub, so now she can splash with abandon. Either way, she always ends up clean and happy!

Ari after bath

Ari really enjoys reading with Mommy! She genuinely seems interested, and pays attention very well.

Ari and Mommy reading

She had a fun playdate with Cordelia, our neighbors' daughter, who is about 2 months older. Cordi gave Ari a warm welcome and showed her some love:

Ari and Cordi

Milestones & Metrics

  • Smiling more again; she hadn't been smiling so much for a while.
  • Weighs 16.4lbs on 2008.01.22 (differential method)
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 17

January 18, 2008

Ari - Week 16

This week was the first time both of us were away from Arianna at the same time! Grandma Helen had the honor of being the first person with whom we've ever left Arianna, staying with her while she slept and we went to a baptism preparation class.

Although we had no worries about my mom's ability to care for her, we couldn't help worrying in general. Would she sense we were gone? How would she react? I guess that's just how it is to be a parent.

It was a relatively brief class, Ari slept the whole time, and she had no complaints when we saw her later. It was really strange to be away from her, after almost 4 months of one of us always being with her, but we knew we'd have to start getting ready for this at some point, and this was a good first time; thanks, Mom!

We had a couple of fun visits & outings this week. First, we went to Lafayette Reservoir with Colin, Sarah, Maggie, and Sam:

Reservoir with Barnards

Then Jon and Elena came to visit with Zachary & baby Vincent. Dave came over too, and we all went to Hidden Lakes park and had a good time playing on the slide, throwing the frisbee and football, and walking around the field.
Hangout with Vasells

My parents got Arianna a really cool activity table, and Ari was immediately interested in it, exploring and investigating all the new shapes, colors, sounds, and textures.
Ari activity table

Watching our baby sleep

I remember always thinking it was odd when I saw parents on TV or in movies going and looking at their children as they slept, but now I get it. It's a time to step back and experience the sense of wonder and joy at this beautiful being you've brought into the world.

Ania and I found ourselves wanting to go in and look at Arianna while she sleeps. There's just one slight problem; we both get so overwhelmed by our joy that we start to laugh! I can't explain why it comes out in the form of laughter, but that's what happens. Then we start laughing at the fact that we're laughing, looking at each other and knowing exactly how the other feels -- just about to burst with happiness -- and we try to rush out of the room before we can't hold it in anymore. Whew! Each time we go in, we try to be sober and serious, but it's just about impossible to see how adorable Arianna is when she's sleeping and not be overcome by emotion...

Ari sleeping

Milestones & Metrics

  • Our first time both away from Arianna at the same time.
  • She has pretty good control with her arms and legs:
    Ari with ball
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 16

January 11, 2008

Ari - Week 15

Ania and I were talking about some of the things we find particularly adorable about Arianna, so I started to write them down:

  • The way she yawns, tilting her head back and shaking it contentedly side-to-side as she finishes; this has been one of my favorite cute things about her since she was a newborn.
  • When she puts her hands together over her nose, rubbing her eyes and curls up & nuzzles into our chest.
  • How she "kicks up"; she kicks her legs into the air when she's waking up or on the verge of it, and sometimes when she gets excited. Sometimes she will do a full crunch too.
  • The way she stares at me when Ania burps her after feeding. It feels like she's studying me and I can really see the presence of consciousness in her gaze. It's very clear there's a human in there, observing and absorbing the world. I feel like I'm starting to see some of her personality as she looks at me...

Ari was full of smiles this week and had lots of fun playing with Grandma Helen and with Mommy.

Ari having fun

Milestones & Metrics

  • She really likes to stand. We're having trouble working on her ability to sit up because she never wants to stop at sitting; she always tries to stand up.
  • Ania thought it would be fun for her and Ari to take a bath together, so Ari experienced a full-sized bathtub for the first time and had her first "swimming" lesson. Both she and Ania had a great time!
    Ari first full-sized bathtub
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 15

January 04, 2008

Ari - Week 14

We went for a walk down memory lane this week, visiting the Markham Nature Park & Arboretum, where I went once a week to a Science Center as part of my gifted/talented curriculum in 6th grade biology. We learned about all kinds of stuff related to biology there, but the things that I most recall are going for bird-watching walks in the arboretum, and learning about and observing simple organisms like paramecia, hydrae, and amoebae under a microscope after collecting them from a small pond in front of the science center. I still remember how cool it was to see the cilia moving on the outside of a paramecium... I've been wanting to go back there for a long time, and it was a beautiful place for a walk, but a very cold and windy day, so unfortunately, we didn't stay very long. I hope Arianna will have such a cool experience learning about biology as I did when I was 12.

Ari - Week 14

I typically feed Arianna around 11PM and she usually goes down less than half an hour later. On New Year's Eve, though, I thought it would be fun for us to celebrate as a family, so we delayed her feeding and Ania stayed up. Midnight was indeed a pleasant family moment, but we'd made the mistake of not listening to Ari's cues, and had encouraged her to finish the bottle even though she'd given signs she was done. Well, we had hugs and kisses for the New Year, then Ari surprised us with a large spit up to remind us that her body knows what's best, and we should really heed its signals. That didn't spoil our fun though; we were really happy to welcome 2008 with our lovely baby girl!

Ari greeted the new year with her typical happiness and sunny demeanor, and watching her wake up (still somewhat perplexed at the world) and seeing her smile was a really pleasant start to the year!

Ari Happy New Year 2008

Dave joined us for our traditional New Year's Day walk around the Lafayette Reservoir, then later we went for dinner with the family at Mom & Dad's — the food was delicious, and Ari enjoyed being held and getting lots of love from everyone!

New Years Day reservoir walk 2008
Ari with family New Years Day

Milestones & Metrics

  • Ari celebrates her first New Year, and is awake with us for the change
  • Begins working on sitting upright (she prefers to stand)
  • She's enjoying her hands more and more
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 14

December 28, 2007

Ari - Week 13

Arianna's presence made our annual Wigilia — the authentic Polish Christmas Eve dinner Ania cooks every year — an even happier tradition.

Ari adds warmth to Christmas Eve

She was cranky that day since she'd had trouble sleeping, and ended up getting over-tired. I took her for a ride to try to lull her to sleep while Ania finished cooking. She slept for a while, but eventually started screaming, so I stopped at Kennedy Grove to check on her.

Nothing seemed to calm her for very long, and I was worried that people wouldn't understand — she was really screaming — that this is just how it is with babies sometimes. Just as I was thinking that, an understanding mom stopped on her way out to commiserate and offer moral support, recalling how her daughter, now older, and sitting next to her, used to do the same thing. A cool thing about being in the "parent club" is that the other "members" know how it is.

She was still a bit fussy at dinner, but nothing could dampen our delight at her being with us.

PHOTO SUMMARY - Ari's First Wigilia

Ari got lots of great gifts this Christmas -- we can already see that Uncle Dave is going to be spoiling her, and Aunt Vanessa put her in her very own book -- but two were "historically" important: Grandma Wanda (Ania's mom) sent a doll from Poland that is just like ones that Ania grew up playing with. It's a great way to pass along some of her Polish heritage. My parents found a copy of "Young Years", the storybook full of nursery rhymes and fables they read to Jene and me when we were children. I have fond memories of those stories and the times spent reading them, and look forward to creating similar memories for Arianna.

PHOTO SUMMARY - Ari Christmas gifts

We made our traditional Christmas Day visit to the Elmgrens, followed by dinner at Vanessa & Terry's, where the family always enjoys Christmas dinner with lots of holiday cheer.

Christmas at Elmgrens Ari with Daddy

Ari enjoyed some time with Uncle Kenny, who used to hold me when I was a baby.

Ari with Uncle Kenny

Milestones & Metrics

  • Enjoyed her first Wigilia, our annual Polish Christmas Eve dinner.
  • Celebrated her first Christmas.
  • Started looking at her hands, seeming to recognize that they're part of her.
  • Can hold the rattle if you put it in her hand.
  • Seems to really enjoy -- and participate in -- sitting up exercises.
  • Had her first shower with Mommy and really enjoyed it!
  • Ania discovered something that makes Ari laugh; she thinks it's hilarious when Ania puts her toes up to her mouth. It's amazing to see our baby laugh!
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 13

December 21, 2007

Ari - Week 12

We were happy to include Ari in our tradition of getting a Christmas tree at the Alhambra Valley Tree Farm on Reliez Valley Road. Ania and I have been going there since our first Christmas together, seven years ago, and we look forward to it each year. We got the tree a bit late this year so there weren't as many trees as we'd hoped to show her. Ania introduced Arianna to our Christmas tree and we had fun showing her how to put it up and decorate it, which she seemed to enjoy.

Ari's first Christmas Tree - Week 12

It was a fairly social week; we had a nice brunch with Zach, Liz, and Taylor, and went to see Bee Movie, Ari's first movie, with Ollie, Anna, and Zabie. Despite our expectations we all actually enjoyed the movie, and Ari did really well in the theater. Ania took Ari to meet her friends at work, whom she hadn't seen since going out on maternity leave. She said she was very proud of Ari, who was very happy and pleasant as she was being fawned over by everyone. Colin, Sarah, Maggie, & Sam came over for a visit, too, but unfortunately, Ari missed them since she was asleep the whole time.

Ari's first movie - Week 12

Ari and Ania had fun at Gymboree this week, making and decorating a commemorative footprint stamp of Ari's feet.

Ari's footprints  - Week 12

Milestones & Metrics

  • Got her first Christmas tree
  • Went to her first movie, Bee Movie
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 12

December 14, 2007

Ari - Week 11

Ari is two and a half months old now, and she's is definitely more "awake" than during her newborn weeks, both literally and in terms of awareness and perception.

Ari looking out from crib - Week 11

She's been learning to play more this week, as well as to socialize. Ania took her to Gymboree for the first time, and she had a ball. It was her first time around so many other kids at once, and she did great.

Ari at Gymboree Week 11

I took Ania and Ari to Pleasant Hill park, where I used to like to play (and swim) when I was a kid. I went to a great day camp during the summers, and one day a week was the day we went to the "park pool"; the public pool at the park.

View Larger Map

Pleasant Hill park was pretty much the holy grail of parks when I was young. My favorite place to play was a really cool semi-underground grotto area in the back of the giant main sandpit. You could go a little ways underneath the deck of the play structure above, and it was always the perfect spot for building sand castles. When I got older, it was my baseball team's home field.

Ania at Pleasant Hill Park

Although it's changed, it's a nice, big park, and I hope Arianna enjoys it over the years. It's the first time I've taken Ania there too, which is unfortunate. I think a great benefit of having a child is that we'll have a great reason to go to more parks — something Ania and I have always really enjoyed — more often. The park tends to bring out the kid in both of us.

Milestones & Metrics

  • Ari's really smiling a lot now, and "talking" to us a lot.
  • She's much more conscious of our presence, often holding our gaze, which is mesmerizing.
  • She's holding her head up very well now. And doing pretty well with sitting up.
    Ania teaching Ari to sit - Week 11
  • She continues to enjoy and be engaged in looking at pictures while Ania reads to her (she's been reading Polish story books).
  • She scared us for a while by refusing to take the bottle for a few attempts, but we were persistent, and she eventually cooperated (after I went on and on about the virtues of cooperating with us, and how that's good for all of us, etc.). Ania introduced me to the value of distracting Ari and revisiting a topic or activity, which worked brilliantly.
  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 11

December 07, 2007

Ari - Week 10

Ari is starting to smile and coo a bit more this week, to everyone's delight. She's also taking a very visible interest in books.

Mommy reading to Ari

She and I hung out and had some extended "Daddy/baby time" on Saturday, while Ania went and had lunch with some friends from work in San Francisco. I think it was our longest stretch alone together so far, and we had a great time! Ari was happy and cooperative, and Ania was able to relax and have some baby downtime for a while (very important, no matter how much one enjoys being a parent), knowing she was in good hands.

We were at Mom & Dad's, and knew Carter's parents, Teresa & Curtis were coming to visit, so we stuck around a while so Ari could meet her "grandparents-in-law".

Grandparents-in-law visit Ari

Milestones & Metrics

  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 10
  • She had her first full night's sleep! (~8:30pm - 6am) This happened after she was fussy all day, but hasn't happened since. It wasn't log ago that she started sleeping in her crib in her own room.
  • She's really using her vision now, taking everything into account, but sometimes almost seeming to study things.
  • She's definitely quite aware of us, and stares at each of us. It feels great to have her recognize us!
  • Ania's been teaching her to sit up, and strengthen her tummy muscles.

November 30, 2007

Ari - Week 9

Arianna's ninth week was full of smiles:

PHOTO SUMMARY - Week 9; Ari smiling

Ari got her 2-month vaccinations at her doctor appointment this week, and she did great! As expected, she did scream, but Ania did a really good job of comforting her and calming her down. We especially want to thank Jené for two recommendations she made:

  • Look into giving her Children's Tylenol beforehand. - That may have made her more comfortable. We called our doctor in advance to ask about this, and they said they recommended a dosage based on measuring her current weight, so we gave it to her at the doctor's office, after doing that. (She's 13 pounds!)
  • Get the lot numbers of the vaccines. - We did this, although our doctor's office reassured us that they keep them on file too. It really was nice to have, though, when a story came out two weeks later about a recall on some childrens' vaccines. It turns out ours were from a different manufacturer, but it was great to be able to see that as soon as we heard about the recall, and not have to wait to talk to the doctor's office in the morning.

Milestones & Metrics

  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari Closeups - Week 9
  • Turned two months old! (28 Nov)
  • Weight: 13 pounds @ 9 weeks old.
  • Ari wasn't as strong lately at raising her head, but we increased her "tummy time", and she's back to her old strong self.
  • Ari discovered she can put her hands in her mouth, which has opened up a whole new world of entertainment.
  • It really seems like she's more aware of us now, which is a great feeling. She is definitely more aware of her surroundings too.
  • She's starting to coo; wow, talk about cute!

November 23, 2007

Ari - Week 8

Ari seems to be mellowing out a lot this week! That's either related to having a slight cold/congestion, or perhaps she did have a stomach bug before (my dad and Lily both did as well), and now she's gotten over it. Either way, we're really happy! We had a little scare this Saturday; Ari appeared to be choking on her own saliva. The doctor said it's normal, but probably exacerbated by the cold. It ended up only lasting a day, which was reassuring.

Tracy & Dave were in town, and came by to meet Arianna. Deborah also came over, as well as Dave B., and we all went out for Friday night pizza, which was fun. We're all still in shock that we're hanging out with my baby, but we all really enjoyed the hang out.

PHOTO SUMMARY - Tracy, Dave, Deborah, & Dave visit Ari

When Ania was a child, her mother would put her under an apple tree at her grandmother's house, in her bassinet. Ania wanted Ari to know what that's like, so one brisk day, she bundled her up and put her under our apple tree (which is part of why Ania liked our house when we first saw it). It was a perfect Fall day, with warm sunshine, and a crisp coolness in the air. Ari seemed to love it, and had a very nice nap!

Ari sleeping under the apple tree

This week, we had our first Thanksgiving with Arianna. We had a delicious dinner at Kenny & Shirley's, with the rest of the local extended family. I love this picture of Mom, showing Arianna pictures of my grandmother, and lots of other members of our family, as well as us, over the years. I've been thinking about how those pictures — which I probably haven't looked at since showing them to Ania early on, and who knows when before that — convey and connect the past to the present. Perhaps for Arianna's great grandchild will be shown these entries on some holographic digital wall, many years from now.

Showing Ari family history

We are of course, both thankful to have Ari, and that she's such a healthy baby. I have to take a moment, though, and give thanks to Ania, for giving me the joy of this experience.

One of the things I worried about before we had Arianna was that this experience might not affect me like I heard everyone say it did them. I had a hard time believing it could be such a big deal; I figured people were just exaggerating how wonderful and amazing this experience is. What if it didn't such a deep, emotional impact on me? Dad always said "it really exemplifies the word 'awesome'!" and I'd think, yeah, yeah, he's just saying that to make sure I know I wasn't a burden; it couldn't possibly have been that big a deal. But no, Dad, you were right; I am in awe. We have created another human being, she's wonderful and beautiful, and I'm deeply moved!

Thankful for Ari

Of course, I knew that this too would be fine with Ania at my side. In this case, though, it's more than my aforementioned feeling that Ania's a great partner; she's a remarkably capable, conscientious, and loving mom. This is no surprise, though; if you ever saw her with the kids she took care of when she was au pair, it was clear she's a natural. To see how in her element Ania is right now adds a lot to how rewarding this experience is. I'm sure every father feels a certain increase of respect in seeing the mother of his child in her new role, but to see Ania's level of energy, commitment, and focus is humbling.

Milestones & Metrics

  • How Arianna looks this week:
    Ari closeups - Week 8
  • Arianna seems to have discovered her arms this week, often pushing the bottle away, then getting mad because she doesn't have the bottle. I can't help but start laughing out loud at this, which doesn't add to my attempts to keep midnight feeding time mellow.
  • Ania showed Ari her first flowers.
    Ania introduces Ari to flowers

November 16, 2007

Ari had a little less activity this week, than last, and that's probably a good thing. It's been great to see and introduce her to everyone, but we don't want her to get overwhelmed; babies do need a lot of downtime and rest!

Ari - Week 7

She's still been very social this week, visiting the Elmgrens, meeting Kerry for her and Ania's weekly lunch, visiting with Marlena. She also went to San Francisco for the first time, for brunch with Taylor, Rossy, and Christian.


Milestones & Metrics

  • First visit to San Francisco.
  • How Arianna looks this week: Ari closeups - Week 7
  • The big news this week is that Ari spent her first night (16 Nov 2007) in her crib!
    • It's been very pleasant and reassuring to have her in her bassinet, right beside our bed, but she's on the cusp of outgrowing it, and we want to get her accustomed to her crib early on. For one thing, we don't want her to be terribly conscious of the transition, so she doesn't interpret it as something negative. We want her to have a strong sense of independence, with a foundation in the reassurance of our presence and love.

      I'm sure that just as finessing the transition of a baby on the verge of sleep from being held to being put down, this transition isn't an exact science, where the same thing applies to each baby. It's great to have lots of books and advice, but this is what felt right for us. I remember being almost shocked — perhaps even judgmental; that's so easy to do, before you've been a parent — when a neighbor recently mentioned when they made the transition at some time before ten weeks. I thought that was so early. That was, of course, before I had my own baby. And now here we are doing it at seven weeks!

      To prepare for this transition, we began early on to include the crib — where she enjoys observing her mobile and wiggling — in the rotation of locations to which we've exposed her to being without one of us holding her. The bouncy seat, swing, floor entertainment center, and blanket, are others, and she's happy to enjoy each for varying amounts of time.

      Ari sleeping in her crib

      We also got a video baby monitor. We initially put off getting a monitor, because I knew I wanted to research video monitors, and hadn't yet done so. In the interim, we used a cool hack I found on Parent Hacks: use your mobile phone as a baby monitor, which worked really well. The video monitor was worth the wait, though, and I highly recommend one. It really lets you relax — after you learn to not simply sit and watch it — since you can visually get a sense of the situation, and evaluate whether or not you need to physically go to the baby. Many noises are deceptive, and often don't convey as much as information as video. I'd give the one we got, the Bebe Sounds Portable Color Video and Sound Monitor, a B+. The only negative is it has a bit more static than I'd like. It's not constant, nor enough to return it, but that's its one minor weakness. That's far outweighed by its benefits, though, and its night vision feature is excellent!

      What we didn't think to prepare for was how it would be for us to not have her right there next to us. Wow, it's surprising how quickly we've gotten used to enjoying having her right there with us, and how much it tugs at us to have her further away. This transition was probably a much bigger deal for us than for Arianna. Despite the video monitor, Ania ended up taking a blanket and pillow and spending the first night in the nursery with Ari. She wanted to be sure herself that Ari would be ok, and to make sure her baby knew she was there for her. I couldn't think of a sweeter way to reassure Ari that we'll never be far.

      Update: Ari's doing great, and seems quite happy sleeping in her crib! We're doing well with it too, and happy to have passed this milestone so smoothly.

November 09, 2007

Ari's sixth week was full of visiting with family and meeting new friends. We continued to enjoy hanging out with Jené, Carter, and Lily, who came from Kentucky to meet Ari, but both they and we had busy social calendars, introducing people to our new daughters.

Arianna was born on a Friday, so the first photo in each week's entry is always one taken on the Friday of that week, though the others are from throughout the week. This way, we'll have a photographic record of how she looked at weekly intervals as time progresses. Someone gave Lily a really cute dress but it's too small for her now, so Jené brought it with her for Ari to try. She's about 5 minutes away from outgrowing it too, but we think it makes for an adorable picture of how she looks this week!

Ari - Week 6 Fall walk

We enjoyed the beautiful day Saturday (the "beginning" of the week) by going for a fall walk with Jené, Carter, and Lily. Then Carter and I built a crib — that Leona's son, Ricky, lent us along with some other great baby gear; thanks! — at Mom & Dad's house for Lily to sleep in during her visit. Carter and I seem to be developing a tradition of building and fixing things together, which we both enjoy. We also got a changing table and put that together, so now we have a pretty good nursery setup at Mom & Dad's house.

That afternoon, Kenny & family came over to Mom & Dad's house with his unforgettably delicious hot links, BBQ chicken, and ribs, and we had a nice extended family dinner. Lori, a long-time family friend who used to teach Jené and me when we were kids at Montessori school, came to meet Ari and Lily. It had been a long time since we'd seen her, and was a really nice treat! Jené and I both have nice memories of riding in the back of her red VW bug (old-school, 25+ years ago) listening to and all singing Funky Town at the top of our lungs. Ari also got to meet Uncle Terry (technically my cousin-in-law), who was out of town when Vanessa met her.

PHOTO SUMMARY - Family BBQ Ari and Eliza

Sunday, we got to meet Allan and Denise's new daughter, Eliza, at Denise's baby shower. Eliza arrived a bit earlier than expected, so it was great to be able to celebrate her arrival with her there! The girls both slept through most of it, but I look forward to them getting to know each other.


I'm really glad Jené, Carter, and Lily came to visit. Aside from the general enjoyment of hanging out with them, it was great to see Lily again, and ooh and aah about how much she's change in such a short time (she was still just a newborn when we went to meet her in June), and I know it means a lot to Jené to experience Ari as an infant. I'm glad we're able to start building a connection between Ari and Lily; I really do hope they'll become friends and have an active relationship. Modern communication technologies really do shorten the distance between here Kentucky pretty well, so there's some hope for that.

I've noticed that having a child really does deepen my sense of family. It was really satisfying to have so much of our growing family all together, celebrating these adorable new members. The wonder, joy, and delight we're all sharing is a welcome happy note on which to bring us all together.

Growing Family

Ari also met Leah & Ted's new daughter, Isabella this week. Leah came over for a visit, and the four girls spent a fun afternoon together.

Ari and Isabella

Milestones & Metrics

  • Ari gave us our first real, social smile this week, and Ania and I were both there to see it together! We were at the changing table, and she just flashed it out of nowhere, but we were both looking at her (and probably smiling at her without realizing it) and saw it at the same time. Even though we didn't have the camera to catch it, that sweet moment is a memory we'll always cherish. Here are some of the moments we did capture in photos.
  • How Arianna looks this week: PHOTO SUMMARY - Ari Week 6

Did I mention that we adore our daughter?

November 02, 2007

I am totally in love with our baby girl, and a large part of me wishes she could stay like this; such an adorable, soft, warm, and delightful ball of life we get to hold, feed, and enjoy.

Ari - Five Weeks

I know there are great things about each phase of childrens' growth, but I really get it now how people can be so crazy about babies! I know she can't stay this way, and I look forward to all the joys to come, but there's really something special about this time!


Ari's fifth week began with a beautiful fall walk we took with Dave. Fall walk

When we were young, Jené and I spent many summers in North Carolina, visiting and playing with our cousins (who apparently are actually cousins once removed). We both have fond memories of those easy days of swimming, barbeques, catching fireflies, and helping to make homemade ice cream.

This week, Jené & Carter brought Lily, my 5 1/2 month old neice, (whom we met back in June) from Kentucky to meet Arianna. The two seemed to hit it off, and we're looking forward to them developing a strong relationship, despite the distance; they've already seen each other when we videoconference with Skype. I hope they will one day reflect with such a pleasant nostalgia on the memories of our families' visits.

PHOTO SUMMARY - Ari and Lily


  • Ari is now more than one month old! Counting in weeks still allows for good precision, but before I was a parent, it never seemed relevant, and was too specific for me. We'll probably still think in weeks for a while, but very soon we'll be counting in months!
  • She's starting to follow our faces & voices, and definitely seems more aware of us.
  • At her doctor appointment this week, she weighed 10 lbs, 10oz!
  • This week was Ari's first Halloween!
Ari's first halloween

Could she smell the candy...?

October 26, 2007

How did almost a month go by already? It feels like just yesterday that we were half-sleeping in the recovery room the night she was born, in awe of having brought this human being into the world, and now she's four weeks old!

Ari - Four Weeks

It's been an exciting week for Ari!

  • We went on our first extended outing; a family lunch, then a walk to the Nurture Center in Lafayette, to check out different carrying devices. We liked the Rockin Baby sling, but also picked up a Baby Bjorn at a near-by second-hand store, They Grow So Fast.
  • We took her to the pumpkin patch with my mom.
  • We had our first dinner guests since she was born; Colin, Sarah, Maggie, & Sam came over and we had a nice BBQ in the backyard. Ari slept through most of it, but woke up a little at the end to say goodbye.
    • It's a Girl banner Mystery solved — We also solved the "Mystery of the It's a Girl Banner" this week! When we brought Ari home from the hospital after she was born, there was a banner in our front yard, proclaiming "It's a Girl!" We figured one of our neighbors put it up, but after asking around, no one knew who did it. At dinner, Sarah fessed up that she, Colin, Maggie, and Sam put it up. Thanks, guys; we were really touched!
  • I got to feed her for the first time! She took the bottle with no hesitation, and drank 2oz from it, then Ania fed her immediately afterward, with no problem! There is something beautiful and special about seeing Ania feed Arianna, and bottle feeding will never be anything close to that, but I'm really happy to be able to feed her too, even indirectly.
  • She got her first rides in the Baby Bjorn, with both Ania and me, and saw her first full moon on one of our walks.
  • Ania took her for her first trip to the library.
  • We took her out for her first Friday night dinner! We have a long-standing tradition of doing dinner and a movie on Friday nights with Dave — dinner worked out great, but we'll have to think about the movie in context of keeping her on a sleep schedule.

We continue to enjoy her many cute, sweet, and entertaining faces, and have taken to keeping the camera handy so we can catch them as often as possible.

Ari's Faces - Week 4 Ari's Faces - Week 4

October 21, 2007

We enjoyed the gorgeous weather today by taking Ari to Mangini's Pumpkin Patch, a tradition of ours that we're so happy to be able to share with her now. She even met Mr. Mangini!

PHOTO SUMMARY - Ari's First Pumpkin Patch

There are more pics of the outing in Ari's album.

October 19, 2007

Ari - Three Weeks

I came down with a cold this week, and we decided to be cautious, so I didn't hold her for the first day or so. That really made me realize how much I've gotten addicted to holding and being close to Arianna; it was very hard not to! In celebration of Ari's third week, Ania and I watched the video of her birth, and looked at the pictures from her first few days. We're really enjoying having Arianna as part of our life!

Ari doesn't seem to have caught my cold, but she has definitely been giving her lungs a workout! To say she's found her voice is putting it mildly. I'm glad our neighbors all have kids, so they know we're not hurting her or anything; I don't think torture victims could hold a candle to some of her screams! Fortunately, it's pretty clear that it's digestion-related; her system is still developing. I know it's still relatively new for us, but I have to say, she's even cute when she cries!

Ari got her first piece of U.S. mail this week; her Social Security card arrived! Next week, I'll pick up her birth certificate.

Ari really enjoys stretching, something I think she picked up from her dad. She has a whole routine to how she does it, and I really get a kick out of it. I think part of why I like it is because it's something unique about her developing "personality". I know babies stretch, but her routine is almost certainly different from that of other 3-week-old babies.

I can really start to see a special bond forming between her and Ania, and it's a beautiful thing to watch happen!

Mom Loves You, Ari

She continues to enjoy her time on the floor, almost seeming to start taking an interest in the animals, mirror, and shapes on her "baby entertainment center" and the mobile hanging over her crib. We've also been exposing her to different seating arrangements, in addition to being held in our arms & laps. We hope this will make her less likely to be extremely partial to any one, though it's actually we who have the problem of wanting to hold her too much! :) She seems pretty happy spending time in different places, like the bouncy seat, the swing (goes forward and sideways), her crib (even when she's awake, just to get comfortable with it), and the Boppy pillow on the sofa (it's a good way for her to hang out close by but not being held, with her head and upper body inclined).


We went for a nice autumn walk in our neighborhood this week, to share the beautiful weather with her while it lasts. She napped most of the time, but got a little sun and a lot of fresh air, both of which were good for Ania and me as well! We also enjoyed some family time laying down on blankets on the grass in our backyard. Fall is Ania's and my favorite season, so it's fitting and makes us happy that Ari is a Fall baby. We're glad to be able to share some of this Fall's beauty with Ari, even if she can't really appreciate it yet.

October 12, 2007

Today marks Ari's second week of life, and we're shocked at how quickly the time passes. It's been wonderful to have this time when we can all be together, but we can't figure out where two weeks went already! Ari still can't really see yet, but it does seem she's becoming a bit more aware of her surroundings. She often tends to look in the direction of bright light.

Relaxing in my Crib - Two Weeks Old

When I married Ania, I didn't have any guarantees about how the future would be. The only certainty I had was that holding her hand, I knew I could jump into anything and be ok — for all my typical over-thinking, it really came down to just that. The six years since we jumped into marriage have been incredible. Now, having taken this second leap into parenthood, I want to report back:

As much as I used to wonder and worry about how having a child would change our life, I'm happy to say that Ari has become part of us so naturally we almost don't notice! Obviously, things are different, but in delightful and positive ways; the biggest change is that she adds a lot of love! As Taylor said, it's like when you get married and don't miss being single anymore. Everyone knows how tentative I used to be about all this, and everyone who reassured me was right: The experience is sublime. When his son was born, Taylor told me, "This is a feeling you want to have!" I wholeheartedly agree.

Daddy/Baby Time

I'm always excited when I wake up and remember that I have this beautiful daughter to hold and love. I've been especially enjoying "Daddy/Baby Time", when Ari and I give Ania a break and hang out just the two of us. Ania never gets tired of holding her, though, so it's even harder than usual to get her to take a break. A co-worker who recently had twins was telling me he loves it because he doesn't have to share; I totally understand that now!

We introduced Ari to more firsts this week, including an impromptu off-road trek at Hidden Lakes Park (ironically, because the asphalt trail around the field was too bumpy), her first trip to Target (today, after confirming with the doctor that it's ok), and her first rounds of "tummy time" — she's already able to lift her head and turn it from side to side! And I suspect she'd be moving if she could get a bit more traction with her feet.

She's generally been a very happy baby, eating well, sleeping a lot, and growing fast! As of today, she's 9lbs, 1oz (at birth: 8lbs, 5oz) and 22 inches (at birth: 20.87). Her cord stump fell off Monday, and the doctor says we're cleared to bathe her in water now.

Here's an example of her smile that I mentioned last week:

Ari's Smile

And here are a few pics from her second week; we've posted these and more in her album: Arianna's Second Week

Tip for viewing new pictures: Picasa Web Albums, the service we use to share pics, automatically puts the newest ones at the end. This is great for people who haven't seen them yet, but not so great if you want to just see the newest ones. The best way to see new pics is to have them come to you automatically, by subscribing to the web feed (What's a web feed?, What are the benefits of using feeds?), but you can also see them by either:

  • going to the album and scrolling until you recognize the last one you saw, or
  • go to the slideshow, press pause when it starts, and click the left arrow.

October 05, 2007

This first week with our lovely baby girl has been magical, and we're savoring it! We can't get enough of her sounds, smells (well, not all of them! ;) ) movements, and faces. There's nothing like holding her close, soaking in the love she gives and making sure she knows ours will never go away. We could not be happier!

PHOTO SUMMARY - Arianna's First Week

Ari's been happy and healthy, and not very fussy at all. We know this is likely to change, but it won't change how much we adore her. We just recorded a private video message for her, like we did just before Ania went into labor. It will be nice to one day share with her our current first-hand thoughts and precious memories of her early life.

We're going to continue to put pictures in the album we shared in her birth announcement post, so if you want to get automatic updates of new photos, you might want to subscribe to the album's feed.

I never used to understand why some people seem to go crazy over new babies, but I do now. And though I have a new appreciation of the phenomenon in general, I also see now that, as many have told me, it is indeed different when it's your own.

Among so many other firsts this week, Ari had her first night in our house, doctor visit, (sponge)bath, feeding in the nursery, walk in our backyard, and she gave us her first smile. Whether involuntary muscle movement or sign of happiness and love, I can't put into words how good that felt!

Lots of people have called, visited, given gifts, brought food, written, and done other things to help and show their love and support. We really appreciate everything, and we're happy to see how warmly everyone is welcoming her to the world and to our circle of family and friends.

September 30, 2007

Ania and I got a very special gift for our 6th wedding anniversary — Our daughter, Arianna Magdalena Lee, was born at 9:34pm on 28 September 2007. Ari joins cousin Lily Grace Schoenfeld, who was born in May, as my parents' second grandchild.

Arianna at Rest

She and Ania are both doing great, and I'm a very happy father! We are full of joy, love, and wonder!

Birth Stats:

Here are some pictures of her birth and homecoming (Click on the link if you don't see the slideshow below.):