Wednesday, January 22, 2014

ellie's 10 month pictures

That little baby of mine somehow manages to get cuter every month, I swear.  Oh the things she does to my heart.

This month she:

+ Takes 1-2 steps by herself before tumbling to the ground.

+ Carries a book with her wherever she goes.

+ Giggles at everything.  Sometimes I swear she thinks she's telling jokes.

+ Says "mama" and "dad" and really understands what they mean.

+ Says "up" when she wants to be held.

+ Says "uh-oh" (which sounds more like "uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-oh") when she drops something on the floor.  Which is all the time.

+ Attempts to say "duck" ("dah") and "fish" ("ssh") whilst playing in the bathtub.

+ Signs "more" when she wants more food.  And sometimes whenever she feels like it.

+ La-la-loves tangerines.  And pretty much all fruits.

+ Hates all vegetables, except for very occasionally sweet potatoes and green beans.

+ Still dances about 90% of the day.

+ Claps enthusiastically the other 10%.

+ Blows kisses (which is more like smacking herself in the face repeatedly).

+ Drinks out of a straw.

+ Still nurses every 2-4 hours.  It just depends.

+ Sleeps better, only waking up somewhere between 0-3 times per night, depending on the night.  Huge improvement.

+ Loves to mimic everything we do.

+ Gives the best hugs, kisses, and endless cuddles.

+ Becomes totally entranced by the Barney Sing-A-Long on Netflix.

+ Has six teeth.

Ellie's oh-so-sweet side has really emerged this month, and I just can't get enough of her.  She's the best entertainment and the best little buddy.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

the reluctant utahn

"Your news stations in Utah are really weird," my sister-in-law commented during our long drive back from a family dinner.

I was stunned.

My news stations?  I thought.  But my news stations are down in Arizona.

And that was when it hit me.  We've lived in Utah for an entire year.  A year and a week, to be exact.  Maybe they really are my news stations now.

I'm still kind of in denial about the whole thing.  I still feel like an Arizonan through and through.

But what a year it has been!

We moved to Utah, had a baby about a month later, and bought our first house.  And that's just the cliff notes version.

And, if pressed, I might even say that Utah isn't such a bad place to live.

Ok, ok.  It's pretty great most of the time.  And I'm even getting used to this whole freezing-my-butt-off-for-months-on-end thing.  I don't always like it.  But I'm getting used to it.

And truth be told?  My life is beautiful.  And it has very little to do with where I live.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

failed campout turned las vegas trip

Since the dawn of time, it has been a Sparks family tradition to go camping for New Years.  Or something like that, anyway.  I've never been very good at history.

This year we wanted to keep up that tradition, so we planned to go straight from my grandma's house out into the Southern California desert.  I think it is safe to say that if something could have gone wrong with planning and executing this trip, it did.

First it was finding a place where Ellie wouldn't freeze.  Then it was finding a campground with potable water.  And then it was finding a place that wasn't totally out of the way for everyone involved.

Finally, we thought we'd found a place that fit all the criteria: Hole in the Wall Campground, near Barstow, CA.  We've been there before and it's gorgeous, and we'd checked the weather and were just sure it was going to be perfect.

We got to the campground when it was already dark and cold.  It was a little windy, but nothing to be concerned about as we set up our tents.  Surely the wind will die down, we thought.  It won't last all night.


Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It lasted all night.  And not only did it go on for hours, but it got worse as the hours wore on.  My heart is still singing grateful praises that Ellie slept as well as she ever does - aka waking up a few times but generally going right back to sleep.  The wind was literally so loud that we had to shout to hear each other one foot away from each other.  The tent was flat as a pancake on top of us.  Tim spent the entire night holding the tent up from Ellie's face.  Our tent ripped.  My parents' tent was in shambles.

The next morning, the wind showed no signs of stopping.  We made the very reluctant decision to call it quits on the camping.  We didn't want to say goodbye and we'd so been looking forward to the camping, but we didn't think we could handle any more of that ferocious wind.

I think I spent the first hour of the drive back totally depressed that it hadn't worked out.  And I just missed my family.  Aaand we all very closely resembled Zombies from the lack of sleep.  But the more Tim and I talked about our alternate plan, the better I felt.

We decided that we weren't ready to go home, so instead we planned that we'd spent a night and a day in Las Vegas.  I'd never spent any time in Vegas before, so I was excited.  It took forever to get checked into our hotel and get showered, but once we had, we went out immediately in search of dinner and some entertainment.

It was a bit comical because we were so out of place.  We don't drink, we don't gamble, and we had a baby with us, for heaven's sake.  But we had so much fun.  That night we found ourselves in the middle of a bunch of masquerade-themed street performers.  One of them had a particular fascination with staring at Ellie, which was a bit disconcerting for Tim and me because you couldn't see her face at all through the mask.  Ellie, however, was totally not phased by the mask and stared right back.  Hilarious.

The next day we started off by eating at Señor Frogs in Treasure Island.

Ellie spent the first twenty minutes or so snoozing away.

We loved the view of the pirate ship, and the atmosphere was so fun.

We felt pretty sure that people probably took one look at us, shook their heads, and grumbled, "Mormons."
I mean, could we be any more obvious with our baby carrier and backpack?

Later we stopped by the health-food store for some snacks.  Or we got cream frappucinos and pastries.  I
can't remember for sure.

Our Macaron and Kouing Amann.  Yumm.

I'm not sure I'd want to spend an extended amount of time there, but we had a really good time.

We got home just in time to drink a glass of the bubbly - er, sparkling cider - and ring in the New Year!

christmas in california

Warning: Picture Overload Ahead

For Christmas, we went down to my grandma's house in Southern California, and my family drove over from Arizona to meet us there.  We spent a few glorious days just going on walks, making soda runs, and eating.  In fact, I ate so much that I would probably have a heart attack even trying to figure out how many calories I ate.  It was glorious.

Two days before Christmas, per our traditions, we went out to eat at Acapulco's.  Mmm, Mexican food.

 My aunt Ginny, my brother Eric, my mom, and my dad

My Grandma, my uncle Paul, and Tim 

Mom and Dad 

Ginny [Claus] and Eric 

My brothers and me being goofy 

And a [relatively] normal picture.

Ellie got bored in her high chair towards the end. 


Luckily we had the back room to ourselves, so Uncle Paul followed her around. 

We have pictures of him holding me when I was that size.  Melts my heart.

On Christmas morning, we woke up at about 8:00.  Since Ellie, Tim, and I were sleeping in the front room, Santa didn't set out the gifts like [s]he normally does.  Instead, those gifts were left in one big gift bag.

She didn't really get what was going on, but to say she loved it would be an understatement. 

Heck, she got a million toys at once.  Who wouldn't love that? 

This is probably still her favorite toy. 

Her adorable Minnie Mouse snowsuit.  I think Santa really knew Ellie would like pink Minnie Mouse this year. 


Trying to open my presents and Ellie's presents at the same time. 

 And then Eric started helping.

Best Christmas ever.  I was way more excited for her than I was for myself.  She is one very loved little girl.

He's single, ladies.

The rest of the trip was just relaxing and fun and glorious.  I really miss being closer to my family, and so I just tried to soak up every second.  And I think they tried to soak up every second with Ellie.  Move aside, Tim and Katie!  Ellie enjoyed the spotlight this time and spent most of her time dancing and throwing things on the floor.

And even though I look high in this next picture, I thought the look on Ellie's face made this worth posting.  Plus it's only fair to Tim since I post pictures like that of him all the time.

Tim and I loved our cuddle time with our little girl:

And since my grandma's house is only a couple of miles from Disneyland, Tim and I decided to spend some time in the shopping section outside of the park: Downtown Disney.  I was surprised how much Ellie loved it.  She was totally mesmerized by everything the entire time.  It gave me hope that in the near future she might actually enjoy Disneyland itself.

We had an amazing time in California.  Wish we were still there.  Even the weather was better!

Coming up:  Our failed camp-out turned a walk down the Las Vegas Strip!