Thursday, December 31, 2009

Standing!

I didn't even get the chance to post that Ella is now crawling before she reached another milestone. Our little girl is pulling herself to a standing position!

About two weeks before Christmas, a few days before she started eating solids, Ella crawled across the living room floor for the first time. Since then, she hasn't stopped cruising. I was sitting on the floor with the computer nearby, and apparently, she wanted to know what I was doing. I soon realized she was sitting next to me...not where she had started! I plopped her back on the other side of the living room and she continued to show off her new skill. We quickly baby-proofed the living room and kitchen area, so now she's fairly free to roam. And roam she does. She loves to touch everything - feeling textures, pushing buttons, pulling anything that will move. She often crawls under the dining room table and gets stuck between the chair legs. We swoop in to the rescue, but she soon finds herself under the table again. What an explorer!

Yesterday she pulled herself up completely on her own for the first time. I went in to get her after her nap and took the picture below. She wasn't very happy, but I was extremely proud of her. She did it a few more times after that on the sides of baskets and boxes. My favorite was when she stood up next to her toy basket and looked in amazement at all the treasures inside.

Things are moving quickly in the Olsen house. We're just trying to keep up with our big girl! She is six months old, after all. So much fun!




Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Solids

Just before Christmas, we decided it was time to introduce Ella to solid food. We started out with infant rice cereal. Probably pretty bland, but what a change after milk for nearly six months! Ella seems to really like to eat off a spoon, although it took some practice. She's figured out how to open really wide as we put the food in, but she's still working on closing her mouth afterwards. Today we added brown rice to the menu, which she seems to love even more. I can't wait till next week when we bring in the fruits & veggies!
getting ready...
...and go!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hello, Santa!

Last Sunday we made a trip downtown to Macy's to see their amazing 8th floor holiday display. We walked through the elve's workshop at the North Pole while Ella slept in her stroller. Maybe next year she'll be excited about it. (Mom & Dad thoroughly enjoyed it, though!) At the end of the workshop, waiting for us in a big, cozy chair, was the big guy himself - Santa! We plopped Ella on his lap and waited to see what she would do. She was great! She didn't seem to mind but wasn't quite sure what to do. We snapped a quick photo and continued on our way.

decorating the tree
yummm!
Ang's favorite part
Santa!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cousins!

On a recent trip to Duluth, Ella got to spend the afternoon with her cousin Malena. Malena is just five weeks younger than Ella. Ella seems fascinated by Malena's hair and went after a fist full of it the last time they were together. The girls are just too cute together!


with Becky (Ang's sis/Malena's mom) & Grandma Scott

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Many Uses of Quaker Oats

This week Ella's favorite toy is an empty canister of oatmeal. She was playing in the kitchen the other day while I was baking, so I plopped the canister on the floor in front of her. Who would have known there were so many hours of enjoyment to be had from Quaker Oats? I mean, think of all the possibilities. If it's upright, it can be knocked over with a pretty cool sound. Then it rolls across the floor. Once it's grabbed (which isn't that easy for little hands and arms) the top can pop off, which opens a whole world of options. What if something is inside the canister? What if it's empty? And what do you do with the lid? See, endless hours of fun.

Another new-found favorite: the kitchen floor. Ella has discovered that if she slaps the linoleum and slides her hand toward herself, it squeaks. Such fun! It's pretty cute to see her little hand slap the floor over and over. Again, who would have guessed?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Shore

I'm reaching back in our stash of photos that have not yet been posted and found these pictures from a trip we took up the shore of Lake Superior when we were in Duluth at the end of October. It wasn't Ella's first time to the shore, but it was the first time she got to touch the water. We had a great time exploring with her and showing her what it is about the lake that we enjoy so much. She may not quite understand yet, but it's definitely not too early to introduce her to such adventures. We hope the shore will bring many more memories and greater explorations in the future.





Friday, December 4, 2009

Scooting

Past are the days that I could put Ella on the floor and expect her to stay in one spot. Over the last two weeks, she has mastered the art of scooting around to reach objects anywhere on her level. She seems to be the most curious about spots or fuzz she sees on the the carpet. She lifts her little body up into a plank or push-up position, analyzes what it will take to get to her destination, and then pushes herself with her feet and hands, sliding on her belly. It's pretty cute when she really wants to go after something. There's no stopping her. We know that before long she'll be crawling around the apartment, which has caused us to jump into baby-proofing. Is it really that time already?

On Thanksgiving Day while we were at Grandpa & Grandma Olsen's, Ella had her first few real crawling movements. We - Grandpa & Grandma, Pete's sisters Kathryn & Kristin, and Pete & I - watched in amazement for at least 30 minutes while she got up on her hands and knees and sort of swayed forward without any actual movement. Then, she did it. I haven't seen too many more since then, but she's definitely getting around on her belly a whole lot faster than she was before. I think she experienced what it's like to be mobile and is going after more. Yikes. Crawling, which leads to walking, which leads to running. Get ready, Mom & Dad, things are going to get busy.

An example of her recent busyness: Yesterday morning, all in about 5 minutes time, Ella knocked over my glass of RED juice on the carpet, which I quickly tried to wipe up. While I was doing that, she went after a fresh bottle that didn't yet have a lid (in my haste, I left it on the floor by the couch) and tried to pull apart the milk pump. At that time I put her on her blanket with some toys in order to finish cleaning up. She quickly spit up on the blanket and some toys and immediately put her hands in it to play. This mom is learning what not leave in her little girl's reach.

She's also learning that it's best just to laugh.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Apple Fest

For the past three years, Pete and I have been making the trek to Bayfield, Wisconsin the first weekend in October for Apple Fest. This year we made it number four. We were so excited to take Ella to the parade and out to Erickson's Orchard. She was happy in the apple bucket and loved playing with the apples, as you can see in the pictures. Apple Fest number one with Ella. They'll be many more to come.


always our first stop
and this is usually the second





Monday, November 23, 2009

Growing & Growing

We recently took Ella to the doctor for her latest check-up. She passed! :) As we all suspected, she's grown by leaps and bounds since her last visit. In fact, she needed to be measured twice to determine if she really could have grown as long as she had. Ella is now 27 inches long, which is the 97th percentile, if you're curious. She weighs nearly 15 pounds, putting her in the 75th percentile for weight. Everything else at the appointment went very well. She had a couple more shots and did an excellent job. That could have something to do with Mom's reaction. I did much better and knew exactly what I should do to prepare her before them and how to comfort her afterward. We're all learning!

This week we're excited to visit Grandma & Grandpa Olsen for Thanksgiving. Ella can't wait to meet her Auntie Kathryn for the first time! Before the trip, we'll be doing some sewing and baking. What better time to try out new pie recipes? Ella's a big help in the kitchen. Eventually she'll be able to be a part of the stirring and pouring, but for now she sits in a little seat on the floor and keeps Mommy company.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oh, I Get It!

The past few days have been a bit challenging in the Olsen house. Until yesterday, I couldn't figure out why our usually content little girl suddenly grew quite cranky. She only seems to be happy when I'm actively playing with her. She doesn't easily fall asleep during naps. She's woken up a couple times in the night, but only wanted her pacifier. That's unusual, since she doesn't typically wake up at all. She's already a drooler, but seriously, you should see the front of her shirt the last few days. And then, two days ago, I noticed that she's been sticking out her tongue a lot.

Moms and dads, I'm sure you're catching on to this. If you put these symptoms together and add in the fact that next week she'll be five months old, you'll most likely come to the conclusion that I did after talking to a few mom friends.

Our baby girl is teething.

It make so much sense now that we've figured that out. As I held her last night to try to calm her, I just wanted to be able to be the one with the sore mouth so she could feel better. We've been giving her baby Tylenol, which she loves. It seems to be helping. I also have a little freezable toy for her to chew on, although she hasn't really figured out what to do with it yet. I'm not sure what else to do. I know this is the beginning and some things just have to happen, but if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Laughter

I have to say that one of my favorite things to do right now is simply sit and watch Ella. She's learning so many things and has so many expressions! She laughs all the time. One story: A week and a half ago we were in Duluth and went with Pete to his residency interview. She did really well for most of the time (yup, she attended with us) but got a little antsy in the afternoon, so I took her out of the room for a stroll down the hall. We looked out the window, which usually satisfies her, but she was still a bit fussy. I sat down in a chair and saw a three-ring binder on a nearby table with pictures of doctors who had gone through the Duluth program. I flipped it open, and Ella laughed and laughed! I don't know what it was, but something about the pictures must have struck her as being pretty humorous. Her laughter was adorable. The people in the offices within earshot came out to see why she was laughing. Isn't it amazing the way a baby's laugh can affect people?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cartoons!

Last week, Ella saw cartoons for the first time and LOVED them! We don't typically let her see the TV, but she was feeling under the weather and we wanted something to distract her for a few minutes. Her reaction was adorable. I caught a moment on video.


video

Water Bug

Today is the last day of our three-week hotel stay in Duluth. Pete had a great time during his family medicine rotation. He met lots of people and made many connections that we hope will be beneficial in our effort to get back to Duluth for residency. We won't find out where we'll be moving until March, so we're doing all we can to up our chances.
It's been an adventure living in a hotel with a four-month-old for three weeks! We were really fortunate and were able to stay in a room with a sleeping area on one end and a sitting area on the other. Ella definitely knew that we weren't at home and had a hard time sleeping many nights. I think she's used to it now and has been doing much better. I feel a little bad that now that she's getting used to it, we're moving to a different hotel. We'll be down in Canal Park for two nights. Sunday we head home.
The hotel we've been staying in has a huge water park, so we knew this would be a perfect time to take Ella for her first swim. We ended up going four times. I think her favorite part was the lazy river. We put her on top of an intertube while we floated. With all her time in the water, she never fussed once. We've got a little water bug!

video


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Trick or Treat!

Ella's first Halloween! We dressed her in an adorable giraffe costume, complete with a little pink flower on her ear. That way everyone could tell that our little giraffe was a girl. Her pumpkin was just her size from a farmers' market in Minneapolis, and she carried her little pink giraffe blankie. The three of us first visited Pete's parents and sister, Kristin, who were in town for Ella's dedication on Sunday. Then we took Ella to Hillside Church for Fall Fest, where we got to see lots of our Duluth friends. Afterward, Ella's godfather, Anton, arrived so we showed off her cute costume again. We didn't collect any candy this year, but I'm sure they'll be plenty next year!





Thursday, October 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandpa!

During the first week of October, Ella & I got to visit Grandma & Grandpa Olsen to celebrate Grandpa's birthday. During our visit, Ella got to try out a Jumperoo. Pete's godparents, the Parkers, let us borrow one to take back to Minneapolis. She absolutely loves it!

helping Grandpa celebrate
Grandpa & Grandma Olsen
Ella & Auntie Kristin
she loves the jumperoo!

First Hair Cut

Last week, before leaving Minneapolis to head up to Duluth, we decided that it was time for our little Ella to have her first hair cut. You may be wondering why on earth we would even consider it, since it appears that she has very little hair. However, if you take a look at the back of her head, you'll soon realize that she has a little patch that is growing much better than the rest. It's actually pretty cute. We called it her little rat tail. Pete held her still while sitting on the bed so I could very carefully trim the fine hair. It only took a couple snips, and we were finished. She did a great job!



Monday, October 5, 2009

Busy Busy Busy

So I haven't had a chance to post an update lately or get any new pictures on. Pete has been studying like a mad man for his upcoming boards (October 16... prayers please!) so I haven't had much computer time. Instead, Ella and I have been out and about, trying to make the house a nice, quiet study spot for Pete. Last week we visited Grandma & Grandpa Scott in Pequot, Great-Grandma & Grandpa Scott in St. Cloud, Great-Grandpa & Grandma Johnson in Wadena, and spent some time with Jenny & Hailey and Becky & Malena (my sisters with their little girls). We also went to Bayfield, Wisconsin for Apple Fest on Sunday and got some fabulous pics of Ella at the orchard. Today, we headed west to visit Megan & Micah (a friend from elementary school and her little boy) in Waconia after a morning of exploring and leaf-gazing. The line-up for Tuesday is coffee with Shauna and the Science Museum in St. Paul with Jessica & Westin before packing up and driving to Marshield, Wisconsin for a couple days at Grandma & Grandpa Olsen's house. As I write this, I realize how busy we've been the last week! Lots of adventures. We'll post pics as soon as I have enough time on the computer, but I'm not committing to anything before Pete takes his test. At that time we'll be heading to Duluth for a three-week rotation, so I'll have more time to post.

Enjoy the fall colors! We certainly are!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Surprise Birthday!

Last Sunday my amazing husband surprised me with a party to celebrate my upcoming golden birthday! I really can't say that it was just a party that he planned. He actually planned the entire day. What a man!
The day began with a spa pedicure with Jess. Apparently, she had been in on the planning. When she dropped me off at home, I walked into an apartment filled with friends. We ate Famous Dave's and had two beautiful cakes. Following the gathering at our apartment, Pete, Ella & I went with Beth & Brian on a riverboat cruise down the Mississippi in St. Paul. It was a gorgeous afternoon. The surprises continued when Beth & Brian stayed at our place to watch Ella while Pete took me to one of our favorite little towns, Stillwater. I soon discovered that there is a gentleman in Stillwater who owns an old, Italian gondola and takes people down the river. We enjoyed a picnic of cheese, crackers, and fruit during our hour-long boat ride. It was such a treat to have a date alone with my handsome husband.
I was completely surprised and had an amazing golden birthday party!

Famous Dave's (my favorite!)

3 candles. 25 short but so pretty

Ella had a good time on the riverboat
the gondola in Stillwater

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Water for My Birthday

I would not usually ask this of anyone, but will you buy me a birthday present this year? It's my golden birthday, and I'd really love to get one specific gift.

Water.

Yeah, you're probably wondering why on earth I would want water for my birthday. Turn on the faucet, Ang. It's right there. I could have all the water I want. I could fill up buckets of it to water the grass or wash a bowl, brush my teeth, cook pasta, bathe, clean Ella's clothes. Heck, I could leave the faucet running all day just to hear the sound of it if I wanted. Whatever I want, really. It's there. Clean. Refreshing. Water.

But that's not the case for millions and millions of people on this earth. I've lived in places where water didn't come out of faucets like it does in my cozy Minneapolis apartment. It came from a single faucet down the road. My friends and neighbors would carry the water in jugs to their homes to use for all the simple things I mentioned above. It wasn't easy work for them, but that was life. Clean. Refreshing. Water.

Imagine, though, if the water coming out of that faucet was filled with parasites, feces, and dirt. Would you still bathe in it? Wash clothes in it? Cook? Give a glass to a thirsty child? You would if that's all you had, if there was no choice other than to drink out of a stream that your animals and neighbors all shared, and not just for drinking.

Pete, my amazing husband, surprised me with an awesome gift this year. He knows how I feel about helping people get clean water. He feels the same way. So he set up a website with charity:water so that together we can work toward raising $500 to get water to people who need it so desperately. Five hundred dollars will buy clean water systems for 25 people. Imagine the lives that will change. The lives it will save.

Simply visit this site to make a donation. 100% of your donation goes straight to building wells. So far people have been giving $28 since it's my golden birthday on September 28, but you can choose to give any amount, big or little. One $20 gift will provide one person in Africa with clean drinking water for 20 years. Take a look at the video on my page and then explore the rest of the site. There are tons of statics, stories, and pictures. It'll break your heart.

Helping is so easy.

So...will you buy me a birthday present?

Love,
ang


Feel free to pass the website on to anyone else you know who might be interested in learning more about the water situation around the world.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Visiting Daddy

A few days ago, Ella and I had a chance to visit Pete at the VA Hospital for lunch. Ella was happy to see Daddy and got a little play check up with his stethoscope. I love the second and third pictures. It looks like she's a little patient explaining what's up.





Sunday, September 13, 2009

J&G's Wedding

Last Sunday we drove to Duluth for Ella's first wedding. John & Gillian were married on a beautiful evening not far from the North Shore of Lake Superior. Ang worked with Gillian at the Duluth Vineyard Church for a couple years. They also went through VLI together, a two-year church leadership training program. A real treat of the evening for us was during dinner. One, Famous Dave's catered, and two, there were plenty of willing people to hold Ella. It was a little bit like we were on a date!

Congratulations, John & Gillian!!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

State Fair: Take 2

Wednesday night Pete, Ella, and I went to the fair, and Thursday morning Ella and I got to go again! This time we went with my parents and grandma (or, as they are now known, Grandma & Grandpa Scott and Great-Grandma Scott). The weather was gorgeous. Since Pete wasn't with us, we were able to venture into the animal buildings. It was a day of more fried food and all-you-can-drink milk!


Ella met a pig!
and a cow
Great-Grandma & Ang with a giant pronto pup
hanging out with Grandma



Great-Grandma bought a shirt for Ella & had it signed by Tony Oliva!

State Fair: Take 1

Ella is one lucky girl! She got to go to the Minnesota State Fair twice this summer! Pete, Ella, and I ventured out to the fair one day after Pete finished at work (he's currently at the VA hospital). We jumped on a shuttle bus just a few blocks from our apartment and spent a cool, relaxing evening strolling the streets of the Great Minnesota Get-Together. Although we offered her plenty of options, Ella didn't share any of the amazing fair food this year. Better luck next year, I think. My new favorite deep-fried fair delecacy was a basket of corn fritters and fried green tomatoes. (I love the movie and had to try to actual food.) Pete, as always, went straight for the cheese curds...after a visit to the Cheese-on-a-Stick stand. Oh, cheese. He's a true Wisconsin boy.
While at the fair, Ella attended her very first concert. We wandered up to the Heritage Stage to hear Storyhill. The group consists of two guys, Chris & Johnny, who play guitar and sing. Pete's proud to say that they are St. Olaf grads. They also worked at camps out in Montana, something we both appreciate. In fact, I was working at Flathead Camp the first time I heard them. Ella seemed to enjoy the show. If I can figure out how to post just a clip of the video we took at the show, I'll definitely do it. It seems as though she's singing along. Adorable.
All around, it was a great night at the fair. The weather couldn't have been better and the food never disappoints. We're already planning ahead to next summer's trip!

cheese-on-a-stick
Ella along for the ride
fried green tomatoes
Ella's first concert: Storyhill

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