Sunday, December 30, 2007

Electrocution Baby

Elynor's hair can be quite crazy after baths. Sometimes we call her electrocution baby.

All Thawed Out

We've returned safely from the Tundra (above pic is the view from our bedroom @ Rye's parents' place) and I think we're all thawed out. Praise God for safe travels (and Ryan's steady hand on the slick roads and in the white-out conditions)! We enjoyed the extended time with Rye's family, filled with many Christmas celebrations and a never ending line to cuddle with Elynor. Here are a few photo highlights. Our complete photo album is available on Picasa. Thanks to everyone who welcomed our growing family and made this first Christmas together extra special!
Celebrating her Scandinavian roots

Cuddling with her 2 great grandmas


Enjoying the sleeping touch of her grandpa & grandma

And maximizing playtime with her awesome uncle & aunties

Oh yea, Mommy & Daddy were there too!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Off to the Tundra

I mean, northwestern Minnesota...

That's right, in a matter of minutes we're off to celebrate Christmas with Ryan's family in the land of 10,000 lakes (actually, Rye says there are more, but I don't recall how many, I'm sure he'll let me know in the comments). As most of you know, I'm not a fan of cold weather... so needless to say, Minnesota in the winter is not on my list of recommended travels. I'm praying there are no blizzards during our 12 hour drives. That's right, I did say 12 hours... yes, yes, and we are taking Elynor, so 12 hours will surely turn into 14 or so. Ah, can you feel my excitement? But it will all be worth it... getting to see ALL of Ryan's family, and introducing Elynor to her Aunt Tracy & Uncle Robby, along will her 2 great grandmas. I really just wish we could magically jet ourselves there and possibly celebrate Christmas in July, when Minnesota is one of the most beautiful places.

Since I won't be posting while away (leaving the computer at home) and I've been fairly quiet lately with all our Christmas prep, here are a few post topics I've got brewing in my mind to whet your appetites:

- Elynor celebrated 3 months last week!
- Elynor & her friends decked out for Christmas
- Christmas highlights (with lots of pics, promise)
- Where was Ally in the Christmas card?

Merry Christmas to all!

Love you,
Sarah :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dear Citizens of Chicago,

Though there's snow on the ground, both last week and this week mommy & I decided to go for walks on some sunny days. Mommy said we needed to support our local businesses and do some Christmas shopping. I think she also wanted to get some exercise. So she bundled me up in my warm bear suit and packed me into the stroller. And off we went...

The ride was smooth and I was drifting off to sleep until, BUMP, SLIDE... It felt like the wheels of my stroller were caught on something. I hoped we weren't dragging my pretty princess blanket or mommy hadn't wheeled over a cat, or even worse, a rat. When I looked up, I saw mommy straining to push my stroller and keep her own footing.

In a few seconds we were back to the smooth ride I'd been enjoying before. Several more smooth minutes passed until again, I was so rudely interrupted by that dragging, bumpy feeling and the unhappy face of mommy. This time I heard her grumble a few words about our lazy neighbors. Something to the effect of, "Really, living in a city requires being a good neighbor!". But again, the dragging sensation soon ended.

Though I soon drifted off to sleep, for the remainder of our walk I could feel mommy crossing the street almost every other block and seemingly randomly making little detours in our route. Maybe she'd discovered a new way to burn a few more calories, I thought.

For the remainder of our walk I enjoyed my cozy slumber. That is, until I was rudely awakened yet again. This time, to the sound of a horn beeping - right at us! Apparently mommy had decided just to stroll right down the middle of our road. Mommy, mommy... what has come over you, I'd really like to live to see my 4th month, I thought! But there we stood, now scooted to the left, but still standing in the tire treads in the middle of the street. As the honking car drove past, I heard mommy say something about this not being necessary if people would have a little consideration for pedestrians and strollers. And before I could jump in with a lecture about that only being true if we'd been in a crosswalk, she continued to rant about our rude neighbors who still, now 3 days after the snowstorm, have not shoveled their sidewalks.

Then it all made sense.

So I plead with you, dear citizens of Chicago (especially in the vicinity of the intersection of Irving Park & Damen), to get off your lazy booties and shovel your sidewalks... or pay someone else to. If you want to live somewhere where this is unnecessary, move to a farm or to a suburb where nobody uses the sidewalks. But until then, it is part of your unwritten code of neighborhood ethics.

On behalf of all strolling babies and their mommies,
Elynor Aline Westrom

Friday, December 14, 2007

Laughing?

While changing into her pajamas last night, we think Elynor shared her first laughter. I say *we think* because at this stage she's making so many interesting sounds that it's difficult to discern. But it was definitely different than her typical gaaas and cooos, was accompanied by smiling, and when Ryan laughed at her, was returned. We'll be on high alert for more laughter sightings over the next few days and keep you posted! Oh, how I can't wait for her to join in on the laughter in this house and the infamous, uncontrollable Cochrane girl laugh-so-hard-you-cry sessions!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Wintry Walk to the Grocery Store

Strapped on in the Baby Bjorn...

Elynor Bear keeps Mama toasty

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Discovering Christmas Gifts!

Today Elynor enjoyed unwrapping her first Christmas gifts, courtesy of Grandma & Grandpa Cochrane! Enjoy the highlights of this fun first!

Before...

During...

After... (those socks are for Baby Legs, not for her Mommy)

Whoohoo! I love Christmas gifts!

Kicking the paper is my favorite part!

A gift card to Panera so Elynor can "treat" mommy!

Baby Bear

For all you Bears fans feeling the pain of this year's season... hopefully our baby bear will bring you a smile! While visiting her Bears-fan Grandpa, Elynor borrowed a sweater from a 1985 Super Bowl stuffed bear and cheered the Bears on to a Thanksgiving weekend victory!

Who's the Big Winner?

RYAN!

On Saturday night Rye was selected from a crowd of nearly 500 at his company's holiday party to be a contestant in their version of Who Wants to Be Millionaire. This was pretty ironic, since, en route to this, our 5th Patrick holiday party, we both lamented the fact that we'd never once been selected to participate in a competition, much less win a prize (and we're talking good prizes... last year's grand prize was a trip to Bermuda). From inside our icy car we only hoped that this would be our year...

Then about 2 hours later, there he was, facing a crowd wishing they were in his place, vying for this year's great prizes. In order to win his grand, mystery prize, he had to answer about 5 multiple choice questions correctly. All questions related to his company's business... so not only was a prize on the line, but to some degree, so was his face. After getting through question 1 using a lifeline (phew!), he breezed through the remaining four, and to the cheers of the crowd (me being the loudest), selected his prize from under box #3. I'm not sure who was more delighted when the emcee announced his selection of a $400 gift card to Best Buy - Rye or me!

So a holiday party that we weren't even sure we'd be attending will now go down in history as one of our best ever. Special thanks to Patrick Engineering for the generous gift, the crowd for helping Rye out of question #1 and possibly most importantly, my parents for insisting we go and babysitting Elynor to make it possible! Now on to dreaming about what treat(s) our $400 gift will buy...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Accosted @ Kohl's

Until this afternoon, I don't know that I'd ever been sworn at. Not that I'd ever heard, anyway. But I guess there's a first time for everything.

Doing some Christmas shopping at Kohl's, Elynor & I approached the women's underwear section. Though I could not yet see any other customers, I heard a child's voice say what sounded like, "F*** you!". As you can imagine, I was startled, but figured this was simply a case of the child struggling with pronunciation and pitied the parent who was surely mortified.

But when we rounded the corner, and said child came into view, I quickly became the mortified one. That's right, this was no case of poor pronunciation. Nope. This 4-ish aged boy, showing no signs of mental handicap, now pointed at me and again yelled, "F*** you!". Shocked, I kept walking, doing my best to avoid eye contact with him or his somewhat scary adult male companion, and giving thanks that Elynor is too young to understand him. As we walked by, he shared these sentiments a few more times (not directly to me, but apparently to the entire store) while said adult companion simply stood by. It was at this point that I hear a female voice yell from behind a rack of underwear, "Slap his mouth! He thinks that's funny.". Said male companion does as he's told, but this only prompts swearing little boy to shout out a few more F.Y's! I now have to hide behind some racks because I'm torn between laughing at this crazy situation and not wanting to make eye contact with the scary male companion. I was also so disappointed that I did not have my phone to call someone else to hear this scene (or possibly the police). After several more random F.Y. shouts and a few more commands to "Slap his mouth!", said group finally leaves this section of the store to the sound of one final, more dangerous threat, "I'm going to pound your face!".

Wow! Just reliving that scene gets me all riled up again. It's hard to even begin to dissect the appalling/sad aspects. Let's begin with the obvious - Hmmm, I wonder where this child learned that phrase, including the tone with which to deliver? And then the threats! Do you think they ever accompany that phrase in his home? I didn't get close enough to see any bruises, but I did observe at least one forceful slap in the face. And finally, the fact that these 2 adult supervisors (I don't know if they were both the parents) felt it acceptable to both keep the child in this public space while he continued to share his favorite phrase, especially during the day when many other children were present AND felt comfortable repeatedly threatening and using physical force. Honestly, it was as if this 3-some thought they were living in their own bubble!

I know situations like this exist in our world, but I guess it's rare that I see and experience one first hand. It breaks my heart that this would be reality for anyone, much less a child. It also breaks my heart just how helpless I felt to influence the situation. All I could do was hide behind a rack of underwear and observe. Could I or should I have done anything? And even if I had, what difference would it have really made?

When facing situations where I feel helpless to influence or fight evil or injustice, I find comfort in the promise that our Heavenly Father loves each of us more than any human could ever imagine and, though we don't always understand His ways, His word promises that He rules in and over all earthly matters, big & small. Tonight, I lift this little boy and his 2 companions up to our Heavenly Father in prayer. May he bring peace to their home & hearts.

Monday, December 3, 2007

PaPa in Pocahontas

Elynor comes from a long line of Indians. Well, not really. But her Grandma Velma's family hails from a tiny town in southern IL called Pocahontas. Her grandma grew up in this town, her mama lived there until she was 2.5, and her PaPa (Great Grandpa) still calls Pocahontas home. So over the holiday, Elynor not only met her PaPa, but made her first of what is sure to be many visits to Pocahontas (one of which included a stop at the Powhatan Restaurant - I'm not kidding, this town even has a giant teepee)!

For you country music buffs, Gretchen Wilson also claims Pocahontas as her hometown and even dedicated a song called Pocahontas Proud, in which she claims, "I'm the biggest thing to ever come from my hometown!".

PaPa's 5th great grandchild, and the 12th female of 14 total great/grandchildren!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Whose Kid Is this Anyway?


Elynor's Aunt Becca & Uncle George introduce her to her first buck.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Giving Thanks...

...for a family of admirers!

As the newest addition to the Keeton clan (my mom's family), Elynor enjoyed the spotlight for the past several days. In almost no time, her suitors mastered her beloved comfort 'bounce' technique and before long she could barely utter a peep before someone was holding her. She showed off her many new expressions and sounds to the crowds of cheerleaders and will surely be bored when we soon return to the days of her, Rye & me!

Here are a few pictoral highlights of Elynor's first Thanksgiving. The complete photo album is available on Picasa.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The First Great Grandchild

What fun Elynor had with her Great Grandma, 'GG' (Grandpa Kev's mom), who traveled to IL from FL for the special introduction. GG has already spoiled Elynor long-distance, but this weekend Elynor got some in-person lovin'! Elynor especially enjoyed GG's special songs - the same ones she used to sing to Grandpa Kev.

Teacher's Pet

Major stops on Elynor's Greenville (my hometown) coming out party included my grade school, where my mom still teaches, and my high school, where my dad is now the principal. Grandma Velma paraded her around the school announcing, "Come see my grand baby!" and kids passing in the halls stared in awe, announcing, "That's a cute baby!". At the high school, we helped Grandpa Kev supervise lunch hour and hung out in his office (hopefully the only way she ever spends time in the principal's office).

When spending time in schools, there are always many quotables. Here are a few highlights:
Seeing my mom walking through the hall holding Elynor, boy runs up and yells, "Mrs. Cochrane, you had a baby!?"

Same boy, now lined up in my mom's classroom, sees our white & pink flowered burp cloth laying on a desk and exclaims, "Ewwww... are those underwear!? Why is there underwear?!" I looked at him, confused. Then my mom explained he has a little sister, who must have underwear in a pattern like our burp cloth.

Stepping into his high school classroom, a boy jumps up from the back row and rushes up to us, exclaiming, "Is THIS the ELEVEN POUND baby!?". (This is much funnier when you picture a pipsqueak, awkward teenage boy. How did he know 11 pounds was a big deal?)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Emergency Evacuation

On our way out the door to pick up my cousin at the airport last Tuesday, Elynor had a major blow out. When I say major, I really mean extreme, monumental, record-setting... covering her ENTIRE back... you get the picture. And here's a picture of how I got her out of her outfit. Since we didn't have time for a full bath, I didn't want to get the, um, shall we say, "evidence" in her hair. So I saw this as the only option. Thank goodness she was wearing her "Baby's First Halloween" shirt, which I doubt she would have worn (other than at home when her other clothes were in the laundry) again.

Sorry Rick & Kara for shredding your gift. I promise it did get it's full wear the week of Halloween. Thank you Ed Campins for giving me this emergency evacuation idea several weeks ago!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Baby Email

This photo doesn't do the moment justice... but last week, as I checked email during Elynor's tummy time, she strained to view the screen. I imagine the light & color attract her much like the TV. It sure seems we have a future techie on our hands! For now, it seems like a great way to encourage her to stretch those little muscles.

Sleeping In

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Happy 2-month Birthday

Today we marked Elynor's 2 months in this world with an exciting visit to the pediatrician (okay, exciting may not be the best descriptor - we did celebrate with a fun brunch on Saturday). Her 2-month stats are as follow:
LENGTH (why don't they call this height?): 24 3/4 inches (off the chart, the average for a baby at 4.5 months)*
WEIGHT: 12 lbs. 12 oz. (90-95 percentile)

*The influence of genetics on height doesn't really kick-in until 4-6 months, so it's too early to get excited about our future basketball star.
She checked out great in her physical exam and survived the 2 month vaccines (4 shots! OUCH!) with much screaming (the poor nurse's ears!).

In other 2-month developments, as you can tell from recent posts, she's really found her smile and shares it often. When not smiling, she's also finding her voice, and has recently introduced some new coo-like sounds, as well as some unique new squeals & screams. She's staying awake for longer stretches during which she most enjoys just taking in her surroundings. She's particularly attracted to lights and likes to chill to music. She'll grasp most anything you place in her hand with a super-tight grip. Her sleeping during naps, though still not perfect, has improved greatly, and praise God, she still goes down and back to sleep well at night!

How amazing is the opportunity to take part in this little human's development! We continue to marvel at even the small things, giving thanks to God our Father for this precious child.

Spit up

It's the latest accessory gracing shoulders of mamas everywhere (and sometimes couches, pillows, and hair). I like to think of it as modern art.... kind of like those pieces that look like the artist just threw paint everywhere. You never know exactly where or how it will land. Nevermind the boring color - its beauty is brought out by the color and/or texture of the canvas it lands on. And for the stylish wearer, it is always an original, 1 of a kind work of art. Best are the days when this style maven is graced with two originals - one on each shoulder. Priceless, I say. Priceless.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Duct Tape Diaper

When changing Elynor's diaper today I accidentally pulled off one of the velcro pieces that holds it on. This happening immediately following an impromptu bath necessitated by a major blow-out in her previous diaper, I had no interest in messing around (no pun intended) with any defections. But her tightwad daddy would have nothing to do with tossing the defective diaper. Instead, he insisted I close the perfectly good (and expensive) diaper with a piece of duct tape. Phew! I'm so glad we didn't waste that $$, even if we do have to cut her out of this one.
Sorry for sharing this photo, darlin'! But we had to document your daddy's tightwaddedness.

Dancin' Queen

Dancing is one of our new fave activities. Basically, this involves playing music with a strong beat and Mama sliding around on the wood floor. Supposedly this helps introduce kids to rhythm. We often set up a mirror so Elynor can see how ridiculous her Mama looks. So far, Justin Timberlake is Elynor's favorite. She looks forward to shakin' her booty with Dancin' Queen Aunt Katie at Thanksgiving!

A Future Beach Volleyball Player?


Note that Elynor's eyes are glued to the TV. Since it was the Illini game we thought it okay. But we'll have to watch out!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesday Afternoon

Chillin' to Louis Armstrong while Mama bakes a cake.



Sunday, November 4, 2007

Tights

One of the many girly *thrills* I'll get to enjoy in this life...
Really, Mommy... I'm too young for a girdle!