Monday, June 30, 2014

Ella {38 Weeks}

We just got back from a whirlwind weekend in Minnesota, but I'll post more on that later. Today we're trying to get back on track. Travel and time change really throw things out of whack! 

I'm looking through pictures to see what I have to share with you from Ella's week, but there isn't much new going on. She's doing the same things, just trying to get better at them each day. The biggest thing in the past week has been her teething pain. She doesn't have any new teeth poking through yet, but she's acting like they really hurt. We've been doing lots of cold teethers and occasional Tylenol and Orajel, but it's just not such a fun time for her. Poor thing! But she does love extra snuggles right now :)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ella {37 Weeks}

As another weekend comes to a close and I look back at our week, I realize just how much fun we have! We're very blessed to have a healthy, happy little girl, and we're thankful for her every day!

Ella is motoring around more each day. She's still crawling and walking along furniture or walls. Now when she stands, she can bend over and pick things up without falling... most of the time. 

This week eating, she tried cherries [mixed with apples--thanks for doing the work, gerber!], which she really likes. She tried a combination of bananas, plums & grapes, took two bites and decided she didn't like it. Like, spit-it-all-over-the-table dislike. So we'll have to try plums and grapes separately at some point to see if she likes them. It was better the next day mixed with apples--she'll eat just about anything mixed with apples or pears.

While we're on the topic of food... Any veggie ideas? All of her vegetables seem to be orange:  sweet potatoes, carrots, squash. I'm sure she doesn't care that everything is orange, but I get a little bored of it. I guess she's getting plenty of beta carotene, right? She doesn't like green beans or peas, although I keep trying to sneak them in. She isn't supposed to have broccoli or cauliflower yet, because they can be too gas-producing for a baby tummy. I'm thinking we'll try zucchini with summer squash soon. 

In the past few days, Ella decided she really likes the lawnmower and vacuum. When Mike was mowing the lawn, Ella watched from the deck and followed him all around [on the deck] every time she could see him. She jumped up and down, so excited. The following day, she followed the vacuum everywhere. Have you ever tried vacuuming the floors when you have a moving obstacle? When you move chairs, they stay where you put them. Not Ella. I just know that if there was a seat on the vacuum, she would ride it.

I'm sure you saw pictures from our trip to the wildlife park on Saturday. We had a great time; Ella was such a trooper and she loved the animals!

On Sunday, the Penn State All Sports Museum held a viewing party for the US vs Portugal World Cup game. Even though it was a semi-bummer of an ending, we had a great time!

And of course our pool and park days continue. 

Happy Summer!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Saturday's Adventure: Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

When Mike asked earlier in the week if he could go golfing with some buddies on Sunday, I decided we needed to make Saturday a fun family day. Our free weekends are numbered, so I really want to take advantage. And now that Ella is on a schedule and she can interact more, outings are much more fun. 

I asked a local mom-group what their recommendations were for a day trip with an 8-month-old, and I got a few ideas. Ultimately, we decided on Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. It's about 90 minutes away, and their website was intriguing. They have a safari, a zoo, and a petting zoo. We didn't do the safari because another hour of sitting still in a car would probably be too much for Ella [and thus slightly dreadful for everyone else], but walking around in her stroller was just our style.

So we loaded up and hit the road right at nap time. She slept the entire way there, and woke refreshed and ready for our adventure.  

There were picnic tables, shelters, and playgrounds all around, so we sat and had a little snack lunch as the light rain passed.

One of the first animals we saw was Dominic the Dunkey and his Sicilian donkey friends.

Next, a few of mini horses that we got to feed for a quarter. 

We made it to the Reptile Pavilion just as a show was starting. It was educational and fun! 
[who knew toads soak up your hand lotion through their skin and secret deadly, milky poison from behind their eyes?!]

The keeper even fed a sloth some cheese!

Ella loved looking at the colorful macaws

And the baby deer 
No, Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike, it wasn't HumpDayyyyyy
So the camel was relaxing

We even got to play with the baby goats in the petting zoo!

They also had monkeys, zebras, bears, lions, and tigers. We had such a fun day. Everyone was worn out, and Ella slept the entire drive home.

Mike was skeptical of taking a day trip so far away, but in the end he gave it an A. 
He said next time he'll give it an A+ if I pack sandwiches :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ella {36 Weeks}

Ready for the World Cup! 

The biggest development this week is this:  

Ella is trying to walk! She began standing by herself for a few seconds at a time on Friday, and even more on Saturday. So we got out the walker that Grandpa & Grandma gave her for Christmas, and she took off! She's still pretty clumsy of course, but she did a lot better than I thought she might. We're taking bets on when she'll take her first steps... thoughts?

She tried a few new foods this week, including pineapple, strawberries and apricots. She seems to like them best when mixed with apples or pears. She's figuring out how to drink out of a sippy cup - and she loves it! She hasn't figured out how to hold it correctly, but if you help her she just can't get enough.

Still no sign of her next teeth, but they're definitely uncomfortable. She really likes an ice cube put into her mesh food nibbler, even though everything within a two-foot radius ends up wet by the end. 

We've been enjoying the pool this week, since it's been pretty warm. Ella loves splashing around and playing with the fountains in the tot pool. And an extra bonus:  trips to the pool wear her out even more, so she sleeps great at night!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hiking Mount Nittany

Mount Nittany is the big mountain that's the cornerstone of the area: of Penn State University, of State College, and of Happy Valley. The elevation isn't really all that high, but it is part of the Allegheny region of the Appalachian mountains. [or something like that.] It's the mountain for which the Penn State Nittany Lion is named -- the mountain lion that once roamed Mt. Nittany.

Anyway, enough of that. The hike.

You may or may not remember when I posted back in the fall about our attempt at hiking Mt. Nittany. And you also may or may not remember that we failed. Pretty much big time. Turns out, it's not so easy to hike rocky terrain when you're wearing an extra fifty pounds, most of which makes you completely front-heavy, infringes upon your lung space, and makes your ankles swell. 

So recently, we gave it another shot. Mike asked me if I was going to carry Ella. Um, no. I was privileged enough to carry her around for nine-plus months, so it was his turn. 

We drove to the base of the mountain, slathered on the sunscreen, and began our hike. 

Just in case you're ever in the area and you decide to hike this mountain, take our advice:  don't take the short route. It's shorter, yes. But what they don't tell you is that it's rocky, steep, and killer. The map is very deceiving. [i thought we were in the appalachians, not the rockies!] After a few quick breaks and over an hour, we finally made it to the top. I can't lie -- the summit was kind of anti-climactic. We looked around a little, then headed down the other way. It was about a half-mile longer, but so much easier. It's the kind of trail you want to walk; the kind you enjoy walking. Much more enjoyable; much quicker. 

It was a fantastic two-hour hike; a great way to spend our afternoon. Ella enjoyed it at least as much as we did, and she even fell asleep on the walk back down. [but next time you're in town, you get to backpack-hike with her.]

taking a break at one of the flatter areas on our way up

obligatory selfie at one of the look-out points

a view of State College from the look-out

the summit

summit selfie

we made it to the top!

Ella loved jumping on the cool rocks

exhausted, she fell asleep on the way down

Another successful weekend adventure. Another first for Ella.
What's next??

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Ella {35 Weeks}

Another week has quickly come and gone, and Ella is now 8 months old! We'll be planning her first birthday before we know it. 

I tried to capture an 8-month picture, but Ella didn't want to sit still so I gave her a 'toy' to play with to keep her content for a few seconds. If you come to our house and your coaster is a little slobbery, don't be surprised.

The lease on our house is nearly up, so our landlord has been showing the house a few times a week. One day this week it was during lunchtime, so we enjoyed Ella's first picnic in the park that day. She ate one of those little baby food pouches that they have now - how convenient! It was a combination that had spinach in it, which was her first time eating spinach. She wasn't sure at first, but she ate the whole pouch!

We've been soaking up some sun and fresh air at the pool. School is still in session, so summer hours don't start for another week or so. I'm sure we'll be going more often once that time comes! And yes, of course slathering on the SPF 60+ baby sunscreen.

It took longer than I thought it might, but she has begun eating her toes! She tends to do it mostly in her car seat and also once in her stroller. I guess if your toy selection is limited, you have to make due with what you have!

Nap time is still going great. She takes at least two good naps a day, and she goes down easier than a couple weeks ago. We're both much happier during the day! She's teething again, so she has been waking up once during the night, but otherwise she's still sleeping through the night. And this is her new favorite position--butt up!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ella {34 Weeks}

You thought I forgot this week, didn't you?  Alas, I didn't. 

There isn't really a whole lot new going on this week. We took a fun weekend hike up Mt. Nittany, so I'll share pictures of that once I get them from Mike. 

Ella has tried a few new foods, and she's still liking most things although she's a little hesitant of new flavors at first. Green peas are still the only thing she won't eat, but green beans were a close second. I hid them in some apples, so she unknowingly ate a few bites. I'll have to try the same with peas.

She's still on the move and getting into everything. Her newest favorite things are the springy doorstops that keep the door from hitting the wall, and the electronics of our entertainment center. She knows when she's going to get in trouble, so she crawls to them as fast as she can. Sometimes she gets going so fast that she nosedives because her hands can't keep up.

The last week has been dedicated to conquering nap time. I'm sure I've told you a hundred times, but Ella doesn't go down for naps easily. But she does great at bedtime ever since we established a routing. So this week I put my foot down and we established a routine, and now nap times are great! 

That's about it for now. I'll share some pictures once I get them. Check back soon!