Baby Anderson: The Journey

On October 5, 2006, God gave us the biggest blessing we could imagine: our daughter Liliana. So here is a place for our friends and family to keep up with her as she grows.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Looking Around

"Life goes by pretty quickly; if you don't stop and look around, you might miss it."

The about quote from the great Ferris Bueller pretty much sums up how I feel most of the time. I clicked on our blog today and actually said out loud, "Surely I've updated since 2008?" Nope, champ, you haven't. So what exactly have we been doing?

Liliana is attending Trinity Presbyterian Mother's Day Out Program. She loves it there and has a nice little group of friends. She continues to grow and learn everyday, as well as testing my patience quite regularly. In the fall she will begin the Trinity Pres pre-school program, which will last two years before we move her to a private kindergarten. Luckily we have several private school options here in town, so we can explore those as time goes by. She loves music and dance, so we are going to enroll her in little ballet at my old dance studio next fall. The family is learning Chinese at a rapid rate to keep up with her as her favorite show, "Ni-hao, Ki-lan" is teaching her Chinese phrases. She is very patient as she translates for us adults who don't know how to say, "You make my heart feel super happy" in Mandorin.

Personality-wise, Liliana is very strong willed. I don't bother buying her clothes without her because she won't wear them. One of our friends has been the recepient of several lovely outfits that were never worn because Lili didn't chose them herself. She is also extremely helpful. I have been cleaning the house the past few weeks and she is always there to help with a small task or ask to try whatever I'm doing. Thank goodness for organic, non-toxic cleaning products. One thing that is interesting about her is that you can't predict her choices. Food, clothing, interests--she tries so many things and is so sure of herself. I mean, she likes wasabi, for crying out loud. One steady in her life is her relationship with Larry, my stepfather. Liliana just adores her Papa; he is her buddy and best friend. Sort of reminds me of my relationship with my grandfather.

Staley is taking a biology course this semester and doing extremely well. His instructors are impressed by his work and I can vouch that he takes his studying very seriously. An option he is considering at this point is getting a bio degree with a chem minor. The field is interesting for him and he could still work with Baker Hughes, if he wanted to. Of course, there are so many fields he could explore--I think right now he is just getting a feel for the subject.

Baker Hughes is lucky to have my husband. He is an excellent worker and puts in more hours every week than some people work in two. Sixteen hour days are not unusual, due to his desire to do a good job and help out wherever he is needed. I have thankfully persuaded him to at least take a week off in May to enjoy Disneyland with the family. Actually, I think it was Lili telling me "I rescue Daddy and take him to Disneyland" that sold him.

As for me, school is going well. I am teaching a Creative Writing class this semester which is a nice break from my normal Freshman comp I and II. Next fall I'm adding an online Tech writing course which should also be an interesting change. Every semester is a learning experience, probably more for me than my students.

The last bit of news most of you probably already know--our family will be welcoming another member in June/July. We are acclimating Liliana to the idea of a baby brother, who, at this time, has not been named. We've actually taken to calling him "He Who Has Not Been Named" or Voldemort, which makes sense for those who read/watch Harry Potter.

My camera has died, but I will try to post some photos soon. For those wanting more pictures and frequent updates, you can Friend me on Facebook under Amber Kelly Anderson.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Changing Seasons

Greetings friends and family!

One of the problems with keeping our blog up to date is that I always tell myself I'll wait until after ________ (fill blank with some special occasion). And then the occasion comes and I find another one lurking around the corner. The upside of this is that it shows how many special occasions fill our lives.

Liliana . . . is Two! It is incredible to me that she has grown so much. Our family just welcomed a new little blessing, our cousin Michael, and looking at pictures of him it is almost impossible to comprehend that just two years ago that was our little Lilibug.

I always joke that Staylee has this way of dragging his birthday out for several weeks. Despite forgoing a party this year due to our trip to Orlando, Lili and I still managed to do it. The whole birthday celebration actually started on Friday, October 3 when my friends Jenn and T.J. took me out to a birthday lunch. Saturday night we celebrated the big day a bit early with Lili's Aunt Jenn and her husband. On her actual birthday Lili received a birthday blessing at church and enjoyed opening her presents from Mommy and Daddy later that evening. We had gotten her a toddler version of her Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (her favorite show) and ended up dragging her to bed because didn't want to stop playing. Grandma and Grandpa threw in some cake and more presents a few days later, and Mimi Carole finished things off with a special birthday dinner about two weeks later. All in all, we received so many wonderful gifts and cards--I still haven't finished all the thank you notes! We really are so loved.

Our trip to Florida was brief and not without bumps, but we had such a wonderful time spending with friends and experiencing so many unique things--it really was a once in a lifetime trip. We were able go Trick or Treating in the Magic Kingdom; Lili's first real experience with it. Disney Fairytale Weddings help sponsor a wonderful event at the Adventurers Club where we got to have yummy appetizers and desserts while enjoying the show and performers. We had brunch in Neverland and Dinner with Pirates of the Caribbean and somewhere in the middle of all of that managed some park time as well as getting our family pictures taken. The pictures were done by Randy Chapman, our wedding photographer, and he was just amazing. Taking pictures of a two year old is in no way easy and he worked so hard to get good shots. He even met us on a separate day to pick up some new shots, just to make sure. As with our wedding pictures, he was worth every penny.

Lilibug has become such a fascinating little person. Playing outside is a daily routine that she looks forward to. Coloring is also something we're started doing. She received a giant coloring book for her birthday and her day often consists of working on some of her pictures, adding to things she has already started. Apparently it is her Sistine Chapel. She loves anything having to do with Mickey Mouse, especially Minnie Mouse. We got to see Minnie three times in Orlando and all three times left the meeting with a sobbing toddler because she didn't want to leave. She is also interested in Handy Manny and Little Einsteins.

Anything with music holds a strong appeal for her--although she doesn't really sing the songs, she does have elaborate dances that go with them. We attended her school's open house this week where part of the program was all of the various classes singing songs. What Lili lacked in singing, she made up for in enthusiastic dancing. She has taken to singing parts of her songs around the house. We just didn't realize it until we heard the actual songs. It doesn't even have to be children's songs. Our friend Geneva got us hooked on Dancing with the Stars and Lili just loves it. She dances along to the music and claps when the songs are over. It is now a staple in our Monday night ritual.

Swimming remains a big part of our lives. Lili has been allowed to join the advanced toddler class where we are working on her strokes and kicks. This session there aren't any other children in the class, so we are basically getting private lessons. Lili loves her swimming coach, Stephanie, and tries to imitate her. Stephanie is very patient, but actually makes Lili work on her swimming, rather than just letting her splash and play. We are currently working on our Australian Crawl. Lili's strokes are getting better, although we are still working on our stomach kicks.

It is amazing to me how fearless Lili can be. Last session, when we had a larger class, the instructors took the little kids to the diving pool to let them practice standing on the diving board. Lili was the only child who didn't cry as we got on the board (some wouldn't even step on it). I walked out behind her, but when she saw her coach in the water below, she jumped right in. The water was really cold, so she cried a bit out of shock, but then she was ready to go again. Back in her training pool, she has been jumping into the water, going all the way to the bottom of the pool (I think it's four and a half feet deep), and pushing off to swim to the surface. She is also apparently considering life as a swimming instructor, as she has been teaching her Handy Manny doll her swimming kicks and strokes.

Interestingly enough, many of the words Lili says have to do with swimming. We are still having speech therapy three times a month with Mindy and it has helped Lili pick up some words. But most of the things she says have to do with swimming--swim, kick, splash, shake, stroke, swish, let go. Mindy finds it funny because the words Lili is picking to say are some of the hardest. It's like she's working backward. I told Stephanie about her swimming vocabulary advancement, so she has started working with Lili as well. With Mindy, Stephanie, my mom and dad, Staylee and me, and Lili's teachers working with her we now have additionally: 'ickey (Mickey), 'anda (Panda--every time she sees the Kung Fu Panda commercial), one two three, EFG, up and down, quack quack, Bunny (thanks to our wedding/family photographer Randy Chapman), Uh-oh, and a few others I'm not thinking of at the moment. We are hopeful that things will continue to improve.

Liliana continues to love school. We really love Trinity Presbyterian because they offer a Christian based education. And I do mean education. Lili has science, art, library, chapel--all sorts of educational things, rather than just running around. Her teachers are just that--teachers instead of people who just watch our child. We have so many of her art works, we are running out of room! Anyone wanting a Liliana original, just let us know. They are also teaching her bible verses and prayer--she actually does prayer hands and bows her head when we say our prayers now. It is very sweet.

I frequently tell people that there is such a strange conflict with Lili at this age. On one hand, she is so much more demonstratively loving--she hugs us all the times, hugs and kisses the dogs, and looks after her babies. On the flip side, her lack of speech and the age in general lead to some serious tantrums. She is such a passionate little girl; sometimes she just doesn't know how to express her anger.

Staylee . . . Has finally been taken off of restricted duty at work as his back has improved. He is taking Trig and History this semester and somehow managing to make good grades while working like crazy.

This past summer I had noticed that Staylee was snoring an incredible amount at night. Needless to say, it made me a grouchy because it definitely kept me up. However, we are now so glad it did. One night I noticed that he would stop breathing for long stretches at a time. We were both concerned and so he met with our family doctor. After two sleep studies, we discovered Staylee has serious sleep apnea. During one session he actually stopped breathing 27 times in one hour. He now has a machine to help him keep breathing at night. I am just so thankful for the snoring; otherwise we might not have been able to intervene before the issue got worse.

Amber . . . Teaching is frustrating, rewarding, overwhelming, fascinating, glorious, devastating, and inspiring all at the same time. The amount of preparation and work that go into each class is insane--just when I figure something out, it's on to the next topic. That being said, I really love Howard. The school is just a fit for me. I have been very blessed to have been taken under the wing of Linda Conway, another English teacher. She is the one who I think really got me my job to begin with (she is friends with one of my Sul Ross professors) and has proven irreplaceable in terms of her guidance, kind ear, and general spirit. It also helps that we just mesh personality-wise. It might be because she reminds me a bit of Staylee's stepmother--and we hit it off in the same way. I hope to post a more detailed analysis of my experiences on my other blog, but alas it won't be for a few more weeks. Things are just way too busy.

That pretty much brings us up to date. In the coming weeks we will be moving toward the end of the semester (!) and the holidays. As a special treat this year, we will spending Thanksgiving in Oklahoma with Staylee's parents and then Christmas at home. Lili really got excited about Halloween (we're still playing Trick or Treat), so I'm hoping Christmas will be the same way.

On the thoughts and prayers front--we ask that you continue to pray for my aunt Lynn as she moves through the next stage of her cancer treatments. We also ask that you pray for our family, especially Staylee's father Ronnie and his side, due to the passing last week of Staylee's Grandfather, Ray Anderson.

Pictures are on their way! I'll post them next week and email the alert.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lazy Days of Summer

The days mentioned in the title are drawing to an end and I decided it was time for an update. The title, however, is misleading because our summer was so busy.

Staylee . . . has been working hard, as you might expect. However, sometime during the past year he hurt his back. The pain was only getting worse as time went on and because it was work related we had to deal with the frustration of health care bureaucracy. It has been very frustrating, but after several doctor and ER visits, he has begun physical therapy. It seems to be helping and he is hoping to be placed back on regular duty soon. This week he is starting a new semester at Midland College--taking History and Trig.

Amber . . . June was a pretty big month for me. I finished and successfully defended my thesis. It was a good thing because I had already gotten a job offer to start teaching English at Howard College. The commute is about 45-minutes, but I figure it would be the same as if I lived in a larger city. My office is actually pretty big and everyone is very nice. I may even be doing some consulting with the drama department. My first few classes were a bit nerve wracking, but I think I'll get the hang of it pretty soon. Leaving Midland College was definitely bittersweet--on one hand I was glad to be moving on to something more challenging, on the other I was leaving behind some good friends and one amazing friend. But we have already spent time together, so I think the friendships are going to last.

The only real yuck for me was a car accident my first day at Howard--I was yielding and the woman behind me didn't agree, so she tore the back of my car off. (There's a picture in the summer album.) My parents were kind enough to give me their old car since the insurance money would barely cover a down payment. I was in a neck brace for a few days and it looks like I will need some physical therapy, but I'm just so thankful Lili wasn't with me.

Liliana . . . After the first few teary days, Lili loved baby school. It came to the point that she would drag her rolling bag to the door because she wanted to go. On the last day we almost had to drag her away. In an interesting development, all the boys in her class were crazy about Lili. I dropped her off one day and watched as a little boy came running over to kiss her. By the time I left she was dancing, surrounded by a group of about 6 of them. When I picked her up later, one of the boys actually burst into tears when she left. She just blew him a kiss. I swear, she's such a little flirt--she just flits from boy to boy, like Miss Scarlet at the picnic. We're thinking an All Girl's School might be worth looking in to.

Swimming continues to go well. Lili has good days and bad days, but her teacher is very patient and Lili just loves her. Her swimming has also helped another area we've been working on this summer--her speech.

As some of you know, Lili doesn't really talk. In fact, she has only really said one word consistently (hi). Her teachers expressed concern and referred us to an Early Intervention program, Project Tyke. They came and accessed Lili and decided she needed further testing for speech. At that point they weren't ruling out autism, so we had a few tense days. They tested her for everything, not just speech and were relieved when they told us that it wasn't autism. In fact, Lili scored above average (28 to 30 months) on developmental, cognitive, motor, and other areas. So the speech is the only thing we are working on. We have therapy three times a month. We have added two new words--Kick and Swish. They are both words we sing in Wheels on the Bus at swimming.

Lili loves anything to do with music--drumming, piano, dancing, and singing songs. She also loves dogs. She often goes to Charleigh's kennel and bangs on it because she wants her favorite playmate out. Cora, my mom's dog, is another of her buddies, although Cora gets a lot more baby pats (Lili petting) because she doesn't run away. And, like her mother, she is totally obsessed with shoes--she loves to put on her own shoes, as well as other peoples' shoes. She really is a happy and loving little girl.

Coming Up:
It's a big time for school for us all: Howard started Monday, as did Midland College, and Baby school starts again next week. Lili will be moving up to the next class. We hope she likes her new teachers as much as her old ones.

It's hard to believe Liliana will be two in October!

And our much anticipated family trip to Orlando for our Disneymooner meet.

So that brings us pretty much up-to-date. You can see our summer chronicled in pictures in our Web Album. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

May Days

So here we are, the middle of June, and of course I am way behind in my blogging. I find it’s easier to read this if I break it down into sections, so you can read about what you are interested in.

Staylee-This summer is very busy for him so far. His work schedule is still crazy, but he is taking a little more time for family and friends. His friend Michael Midkiff (his best man and Lili’s godfather) has moved back to Midland and we are enjoying spending time with him. Lili is already flirty with him and now lights up when she sees Uncle Michael. Michael has also gotten us watching ROME, so we are enjoying his company and learning a little history.

Amber-Work is busy in spurts. I have applied for several jobs and am waiting to hear back on interviews. I recently interviewed at Howard College and it went very well. I think I would really be a good addition to their department. However, they are interviewing a dozen people and I bet I have the least experience. One of my Sul Ross professors is good friends with someone on the hiring committee and gave me an excellent recommendation. Hopefully that will help too. My thesis is almost done—I am finishing up with picky formatting stuff and defending sometime the week of June 23.

Liliana-Right now is a time of change for our little Lilibug. She is still not talking much and one of the things that was suggested was letting her spend more time with other children. At the beginning of June she started what I call Baby School (Mother’s Day Out) Tuesdays and Thursdays at Trinity Presbyterian. The first day was rough, but it seems to get a little better each day. She gets a little report card and we are having less teary and more happy and curious. She painted her first picture which is now displayed in our dining room. The program seems really good and encourages learning and creativity. Although, reading their schedule for the month, her teachers are so brave. They do all sorts of crafts and science experiments. You couldn’t pay me to conduct experiments with sixteen one year olds.

We have also gone back to swimming lessons. As showcased in our Walt Disney World pictures, Lili loves water. She wasn’t too happy about being back in the pool the first night, but her teacher remembered her and she is doing really well now. She’s the youngest in her class and the best about going under the water. We’re hoping in the next couple of weeks she’ll be ready to swim on her own to the wall. It’s a big step, so we’re trying not to rush it. Staylee has been able to join us on occasion and it is always so much fun.

Her appetite is enormous. She loves eating pancakes (that’s our special Mommy-Lili treat. We have them on weekends and sometimes as a special treat at night.). But her hands-down favorite food is spaghetti. Grandpa Larry got her started and she eats almost a whole serving by herself. We have some pictures in our family album. Grandpa Larry remains one of her very favorite people. She is very affectionate to him, my mom, Staylee, and me—giving us hugs and messy baby kisses. She’s also sleeping much better at night. Monday night was the first time in weeks she woke up during the night.

Last weekend we went to see Kung Fu Panda and she really loved it, although she stood up the whole time. Daddy had been teaching her to growl and now when you say Panda she wanders around doing panda growls and Kung Fu walk-squats. It’s so funny. She still loves Mickey and Minnie, Handy Manny, and some of her Disney movies.

I can’t believe it’s already time to start boxing up her baby toys. She has just outgrown them. I have also had to put aside a bunch of her stuffed animals because she just doesn’t like them and they end up being too much temptation for Perdi. She still only likes Baby Jack, Romeo, and Baby Pooh Bear. It’s weird. I’m hoping she’ll grow into the stuffed animals. Staylee just bought her a set of baby Legos (I think they are another brand, but it’s the same idea) and she loves them. She likes to make little towers. It amazes me to watch her design and problem solve. She has also taken to playing my mom’s Bongo drums.

I guess that’s about it for us. Sunday is my mom’s birthday so we’re doing a joint birthday-Father’s Day dinner at Olive Garden. We may have to hose Lili down afterwards.

I think that’s pretty much all the news for us. Please feel free to look through all the new pictures. I have just done one WDW section and then pictures from this spring.

Best Wishes,

Monday, April 28, 2008

Moving On...

I had the best intentions of posting long before this, but have put it off because I wasn’t sure what exactly to post. I will start by sharing a few thoughts on my grandfather, and then provide some updates on the Anderson Clan.


On April 5, we buried my Grandfather, Clyde Chynoweth, in a flood of tears and sadness. The funeral was very nice and I was happy that our family at Saint Nicholas was so eager and kind as to help us through a very difficult time.

I wish I could say that the rest of the weekend, with the gathering of family was a special time, but it wasn’t. It was a time filled with high emotions, stress, and lots of grief. Everyone grieves in their own way and sometimes that’s not exactly sensitive to the way other people might grieve. What I experienced that weekend was a family unsure of how to move forward without the thread that had held us all together. I don’t really have much more to say about that.

Staylee and I are both people who grieve quietly. I think because of the stress of that weekend and the days leading up to it, neither of us got to truly work through our feelings. We thought we had worked through it, but then we have days when something sneaks up to us. We were leaving a restaurant after dinner the other night and Staylee abruptly went back inside. He came out looking shaken. He told me later he had gone back to wait for Grandpa, something he always did to help him to the car. I was cleaning our house the other day and found a Valentine Grandpa sent me last year—he sent me one from him and another one addressed “to Mommy, love Liliana.” I was cleaning out the freezer yesterday and came across some turkey cutlets he had picked out for me to cook for him.

It’s weird, I guess, in that his loss was not sudden. It was expected and, as I tell everyone who checks on me, a blessing that he did not suffer any longer. He had a great life. I suppose I am just surprised with how much he was a part of our everyday lives. The best part of his funeral weekend was spending an afternoon with my cousins in his house. It was amazing because we all had different memories. It was also interesting because my experience of the house was so different. Staylee and I walked in after my cousins had been there a bit and heard them discussing how organized he was—with everything labeled on his label-maker. I can’t say it was something I had forgotten; rather it was something I just took for granted, as much a part of him as his tin mug and its place in the drain rack. I needed that afternoon because it reminded me of how extraordinary all the little things that I just accepted as part of him really were.

I miss him. Staylee and I both do. We haven’t been back to his house; it’s too hard right now. We have discussed the possibility of trying to buy the house from my uncles later on, but both feel we need a few months to work through our grief before we can make that decision, one way or another.

I thankful for so many things about him: I am thankful that he got to spend as much time with Lili as he did. I’m thankful that I got to experience China with him, a trip that he so wanted to make. I thankful for all the quiet moments we shared. And most of all, I am very thankful to have been a part of his life and to been given the gift of being raised by such an incredible man. He was the only father I have ever known.

The night before his stroke, Grandpa, Lili, and I went to dinner at a new place here in Midland. We had a pretty long wait for food, but he didn’t complain, just enjoyed playing with Lili. We both had the Hawaiian, me the burger, him the chicken sandwich. When we dropped him off, he thanked me for driving, as he always did. And then he said, “Love you, babies.” We love you, too, Grandpa.


Liliana is 18 (now almost 19) months old. She went for her check up and she weighs 22 pounds and is 31 inches tall, so she is rather on the small size. Dr. Reese says she’s advanced in her motor skills, although her speech is a little late. She’s not worried about it and thinks it will improve when she goes to Mother’s Day Out this summer. She still loves everything to do with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Cinderella, and 101 Dalmatians. Her new love is being outside. I’ll post some pictures of that when I get up the April pictures in the next few days. We actually have to drag her back inside, usually screaming. She’s very affectionate and loves to give hugs and pats. We’re working on eating with a spoon and drinking out of straw, but she’s still a bit shaky. She’s really into shapes and things she can pull apart. We’re working on her patience by reading a story every night before prayers. Although sometimes I have to physically contain her; it’s going better than I had anticipated.

Staylee just got back from a weekend trip of visiting his grandfather, dad, and stepmother. He is finishing up his semester with strait As. His best friend Michael has been discharged from the Army and moved back to Midland. We’re looking forward to spending more time with him and he’s looking forward to getting to know his goddaughter, Lili, better. Staylee has been working long hours, but his company at least recognizes his hard work and has given him a really nice raise in the past few weeks.

And myself? I’m sort of in stasis right. My job search continues and I do have some promising prospects. My thesis appears to be on the verge of being finished—my introduction has been approved and they are talking about formatting, which I take as indication that we’re nearing the end. I’m still waiting for requested revisions on the creative portion of it, but the initial reaction that they really liked it.

Coming Up:
In two weeks Mom and I are going to Orlando with Lili to unwind for a few days. In June Lili starts Mother’s Day Out two days a week. We are hoping it will improve her verbal and social skills. Staylee is going to continue taking classes and I’m going to continue my job search and hopefully defend my thesis in June. We are also hoping to spend more time together in the coming months.

We have been discussing our plans for the next five years, whether they will take us to another city, whether they will keep us here, whether they will include another child, how school and work and Lili's education fits into all of it. No major decisions have been made, but we are staring to plan, trying to figure out where God's plan might lead us next.

Please take a moment to browse through our pictures. Lili is growing up so fast!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Strange Days

I had planned on posting a March update, but I will have to do that sometime next week. I have pictures to share, but those too must wait. There are several things going on for us right now and I would love any prayers that people can spare.

  • My grandfather, Clyde Chynoweth, passed away last Sunday following complications from a stroke. Our family is taking it very hard, despite knowing that he has rejoined my grandmother in a better place. He was an incredible man and we are all deeply blessed to have been a part of his life. Please pray for us over the next few days as our family comes together to mourn and to celebrate our patriarch.
  • Around the same time as my grandfather's stroke, my Aunt Lynn was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent her first chemo treatment yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and the rest of the family as well.
  • On a better note, I sent off the creative part of my thesis (which is the bulk of it at 186 pages) to my advisor. All that is left is the introduction and the inevitable revisions. I will try to update my thesis site next week with information on the various challenges I have dealt with getting to this point, for anyone who is interested.
  • Thursday I have an interview for the Human Resources position I had previously mentioned. I come from a family of teachers and boy scouts so I always try to do two things: Be Prepared and Do Your Homework. I am doing both for the interview. I don't know that there is a strong chance I will get the position, but it doesn't hurt to hope. This new job would be a big boost for me both professionally and financially. Fingers crossed.

I suppose that is all for now. I have started writing about some of my favorite memories of my grandfather that I would like to share at later date. Best wishes to everyone.


Monday, March 03, 2008

January/ February Updates

It was my intention to post at least a monthly update, however, January brought an onslaught of thesis rewrites that have left me with little free writing time. So, I shall have to combine the two months. You can also find pictures from both months in our family photo album.

Liliana was baptised on the January 13 by Reverend Liggitt. It was a lovely service and we were lucky to have many family and friends present.

There has been a massive flu outbreak in Midland, but we have been blessed in that she had remained healthy. She still doesn't talk much, although she does communicate. She also calls Staylee "Dada" much of the time. She has started calling my mom "Nana," but Mom keeps trying to get her to say "Grandma." We're hoping the Nana will become Grandma before too long. Lili loves our dogs, especially Charleigh, Perdi, and Cora (my mom's dog). By loving them, she tries to let Perdi out of her kennel, laughs at Charleigh, and feeds Cora half of her snacks.

Lili's made a few attempts at feeding herself with a spoon, but her heart isn't in it, yet. We have also started dealing with tantrums, but they've gotten better since we just ignore them. Lili is very spirited and you can't make her do anything she doesn't want to do. She doesn't really like to be held by anyone but Mommy and Daddy because she'd rather walk and explore. Lili is an affectionate child, but only to a small group. She really only hugs Mommy and Daddy, sometimes Grandpa Larry. She is very interested in books, but she doesn't like to be read to. She just likes to look through them on her own. She will also find books with the same pictures on the cover and match them.

Lili loves to dance, especially to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Happy Monster Band, and Handy Manny songs. She isn't that interested in the actual plot of the shows, just the music at the beginning and the end. One of her very favorite things is taking a bath. She just loves to splash in the water. She isn't really that interested in most of her toys: she prefers to explore the world around her. And she loves her babies, which are the five stuffed toys she has chosen to sleep with her. They all have very specific places in her crib that cannot be disturbed. Other stuffed animals she's not really into.

Staylee has been working very long hours at Baker Hughes. He is also attending classes at the college two nights a week--History and Business Math--and doing very well in both. He has received many written and verbal commendations at work for all his time and effort.

Amber--I am working away at major rewrites on my thesis with plans to defend in June. Work continues to be unchallenging and boring. After talking with my supervisor and praying on it, I am starting the search for a new job. Today, I am applying for a new position on campus, and although I don't meet all the requirements, I figure it can't hurt. My dean and VP are both very supportive and wrote me terrific letters. If I don't get this, I'm just going to keep applying for anything that might be a step up until something pans out. So everyone keep your fingers crossed that something works out.

All the Rest...The first weekend in February we celebrated Grandpa's 91st birthday. Lili and I have been making him dinner two nights a week. I think the oldest and youngest generation enjoy their interactions. Of course, Grandpa's dog, Mia, is not so thrilled, but she had learned the perks of having a messy baby eat at her house.

Lili, Charleigh and I have started walking around our neighborhood on nice days. Lili loves to watch Charleigh run ahead, although we did have a sticky day when a Yorkie attacked Charleigh. So I ended up pushing the stroller while holding a 40 pound border collie as a 10 pound Yorkie jumped up at her. Charleigh still gets scared when we walk by the house.

Yesterday we took our girls to see the Easter Bunny at the Midland College Vet Tech. Lili went crazy for the bunny. While we were picking the pictures, she actually toddled over and pulled herself into the bunny's lap to snuggle. It was so cute.

Coming Up in March...Lili starts swimming lessons again tomorrow. Next weekend is the Celtic festival in Midland so we are taking Lili and Charleigh. The next weekend we are spending a few days with Staylee's parents in Oklahoma. And we will be spending our first Easter at St. Nicholas. Thanks for reading!