Our December went like this.

We went to Hobby Lobby and in the checkout line, Stella got excited when we approached the cashier. He had long hair and a bushy beard. She looked at him and said, “Jesus!” loud enough for the whole store to hear. His name was Devin. The other customers in line said, “Aww!” and told Devin that he’d just been given a nice compliment. I said I was sorry and we left as soon as possible.

Stella went to her preschool to sit in with her class that she’ll join in January. Two months ago, we started reading the Splat the Cat books. In the first book, Splat goes to school. His teacher, Mrs. Wimpydimple tells the class to welcome their new student and all the little kitties say, “HI SPLAT!” Stella’s teacher, Miss Nancy, told the class, “We have a new friend, say hi to Stella!” When all the kids said, “HI STELLA!” Stella smiled and said, “Wimpydimple!” Nobody knew what she was talking about, of course.

We went to Rancho Cucamonga for Christmas. Sophie had a blowout at an inopportune moment so baby Jesus was played by a teddy bear wrapped in a blankie, and Stella was supposed to be Mary in our Christmas Eve live nativity but instead walked around insisting that she was a wise man. Later she changed her mind and said, “I’m a wise woman,” after Daddy said so.

We wish you a merry Christmas, and a happy new year!

“Now where’s that middle C?”
Wise Woman costume by Kelsey and Skylie


Scary Stuff

Scary Stuff

Me: “Trick or treat, smell my…”

Stella: “undies!”

We did not teach her that.



We went to “Treat Street” on October 28th in downtown Lafayette. Businesses on Mt. Diablo Blvd welcomed trick-or-treaters so we stopped by a few of our favorite places, including Bel and Bunna’s Books, where Stella found Harry, Robot, and Sister.

We thought Stella would be all over the candy but she’s actually more interested in “scary stuff.” She discovered scary stuff when we went to Ross in August and found Halloween decorations on display (in AUGUST). When we couldn’t think of anything to do at the end of summer, we could always go to the store and push the shopping cart up and down the aisles of Halloween decor and that would entertain Stella for 10 whole minutes. Now we’ll know what to when we’re bored next September; we’ll go look at all  Christmas stuff at Target.


And then there was Sophie

And then there was Sophie

I knew something was up one January afternoon in 2016 when I was convinced I would shrivel up into a little ball if I didn’t drive to the nearest Dunkin Donuts RIGHT NOW to see if they had half a dozen Boston cremes. They didn’t, but I bought half a dozen anyway, and even chose one with sprinkles and I hate sprinkles. I ate all my donuts in one sitting.

I also thought a lot about meat in January. Especially steak and burgers. When I went grocery shopping and passed a  McDonald’s or Wendy’s drive thru, I’d seriously consider making an illegal u-turn to spend whatever cash I had on hand. What was happening?!

One week after Jesse’s birthday, we realized if all went well, Stella would have a brother or sister (or both?) in the fall. My meat and doughnut cravings felt totally validated! We were thrilled, excited, overwhelmed, and hesitant because Stella has proven to be more of a handful than we anticipated. But mostly excited. Graduation ONCE AND FOR ALL was on the horizon, which meant post grad school job prospects, and settling in a lovely west coast suburb and maybe buying a house with enough bedrooms to store all of Stella’s stuffed animals. It was a good time to be expecting a baby!

Besides, I had the dream pregnancy with Stella. I ate kale! I ran 10 miles a week! I did yoga and meditation and kegels! Stella’s labor started (as far as I know) with my water breaking and she was born just shy of four hours later. And I was fully dilated upon arrival at the hospital.

Yes, I could be pregnant again because it was so easy the first time!

But then lots of other things happened:

  1. Morning sickness. Fourteen weeks of it. All I could eat without throwing up was toast and fruit. And burgers and fries from the drive thru. And anything I didn’t have to cook myself.
  2. Work. During the months when I was most sick, I was rushing to meet a publisher’s deadline for full interior sketches on a new book. I was very irritable and sluggish from January to March. Exercise was NOT on my to-do list.
  3. Syphilis. My OB called in February and said I tested positive for syphilis. How does someone just “get” syphilis?! I had no symptoms, no questionable sexual encounters, nothing remotely indicative of infection. But I still had to be treated with three weeks of penicillin shots in the back. The shots are horrid. Not just the needles, but the recovery. It’s most painful the day after, and for several days afterward it hurts to bend over, to sleep, and to move in general. Chasing Stella around and carrying her up and down flights of stairs to get in and out of our house for three weeks was super fun. Eventually, the OB did several rounds of confirmatory tests and determined that the results were false positives. I didn’t have syphilis. Yay.
  4. Summer. Graduation came and went and we were still waiting for jobs. It was time to move in with parents. June happened. Then July, then August…
  5. More Syphilis. I unknowingly picked a terrible doctor ASAP after moving to Rancho Cucamonga. I showed up for appointments and waited 1-2 hours in the exam rooms only to find out that the doctor wasn’t even in the clinic and nobody knew where she was; I only found out because I left my exam room to ask the secretary. Said doctor also ordered me to take the 3 hr glucose tolerance test instead of the 1 hour test like any normal doctor on the planet. Said doctor’s staff forgot to tell me I had to schedule my own ultrasounds on Wednesdays because that’s when the traveling radiologist visits. And finally, at the end of July, said doctor said she couldn’t see me anymore because my new patient blood work indicated that I had syphilis (the same exact results I received from the OB in CT). And therefore, I had to go to the Loma Linda clinic (35 minutes away) because I had a high risk pregnancy. I forgot that you could look up reviews of doctors on Yelp. I might not have chosen a doctor who, according to one viewer, “got her degree from a Cracker Jack box in India!” But you have limited options with state insurance.
  6. More Syphilis. My first visit at the Loma Linda clinic took SIX HOURS. The visit ended with the doctor ordering more confirmatory blood tests for syphilis. I had to drive to the lab a few miles away and it turned out the nurse gave me the address for the San Bernardino Public Works Department instead, but oh well. The confirmatory tests came back negative. So far, my syphilis test record was 2 positives and 2 negatives. So, again, as far as I was concerned, I did not have syphilis.
  7. GBS. I tested positive this time and was told I would need penicillin via IV during active labor. I knew then, that labor would be so different. In a bad way. But I felt like there was nothing I could do, except hope that I would be lucky again and have a quick labor and delivery. Because subsequent births are supposed to get faster, right?
  8. More Syphilis. At my 38 week appointment, an appointment that should have taken five minutes took 2+ hours because doctors determined that I still might have syphilis. This time, they brought in flow charts to show me how complicated syphilis is. Apparently, there are several confirmatory tests (with varying degrees of reliability) and this whole time, I had only been given one kind of test, and not the test to end all tests. I went home wondering if I had been wrong this whole time. Maybe I DID have syphilis!!!!!!!! But the results were negative. If a doctor ever tries to talk to me about “syphilis” again, I will punch her in the face.
  9. Castor oil. At 39 weeks I was dilated 3 cm and 60% effaced. We still didn’t have a place to live (although we knew Jesse would be working for Kaiser in Oakland starting on October 3rd), and I wanted to be done waddling and living out of a suitcase. For all we knew, the baby wouldn’t arrive until October! So I drank castor oil on September 17, something might happen, but not expecting much. I drank 2 Tbsp at noon and at 3pm painful contractions woke me up from a delicious nap. We arrived at the hospital at 5:30pm, because the baby would be here any second! So I thought. I was only dilated 4 cm at 6pm when I was examined at the hospital! WHAT???!! There was talk of sending me home. But an hour later I measured 5.5 cm. Finally, we were getting somewhere! Just kidding. Ten hours later, after unplugging the IV wires 5,000 times to expel IV fluids, and vomiting half my body weight into the toilet, and only making about 1 cm of progress, I was kind of tired. Around 5:30 am on September 18, the epidural kicked in, I think. I don’t remember the time sequence very well, but shortly after I started feeling light and feathery enough to fall asleep, the doctor checked in for another exam and said, “Ahhh! You’re at station 3! Your baby’s here! Push!” And then there was Sophie.

This summer of horrible doctor visits and lots of fake syphilis (1st World Problems, I tell you) ended with this sweet, squishy fuzzy head who learned how to sleep through the night at 4 weeks.


6:16 am, 7 lbs, 13 oz, 21 inches

The best of Stella

The best of Stella

Speaking of “Stella,” who isn’t named Stella these days?! I swear, the only Stellas we knew were in picture books and on TV, but the second our Stella was born, it seemed like everyone else suddenly loved the name too…

Fortunately, our Stella is probably the only one who:

-says “dinosaurs eat rutabagas”

-will sit for 20 minutes in front of Google Images scrolling through pictures of cake

-laughs when we ask “Who is Splat the Cat’s teacher?” (Mrs. Wimpydimple)

-loves garbage trucks, playing in the dirt, Elsa and Sofia the 1st

-stops what she’s doing to stare at you when you sing the words to a song she’s never heard before (and then repeats the words to you a week later after you’ve never mentioned them again, thinking she forgot that she ever heard them)

-correctly identifies all 12 LDS apostles and First Presidency before age 2 (but could care less about counting 1-10 or correctly identifying colors)


Stella 2 mos [5].jpg
2 months
Stella 3mos 4.jpg
3 months
6 months




And these might be my two favorite videos of Stella

Raiding the cookie factory

“Maniacal” Laugh

Old news

Old news

Dear Stella,

You’re getting a sister. Everybody else knows, but you don’t get it. You know what a baby is, and that I’m a lot fatter than I was 8 months ago, and you point to my tummy and say “sister,” and give her hugs and kisses. But then you also kick me in the tummy when you’re in the mood, so there’s still some disconnect there…

Fortunately, you like to watch TV now (your favorites are “Frozen Fever,” Jesus, a 10 minute clip of garbage trucks making their rounds around town, and Olivia) and you’re getting better at playing by yourself (just in time!).

Unfortunately, you’re not potty trained yet. Mom was potty trained at 16 months, so the story goes, but when we tried with you at 16 months, you would NOT sit still. At 18-19 months, you would say “poop” and point to your diaper. That’s when we should have taken potty training seriously. But Mom felt too gross from growing another human to bother with potty training, and Dad was in Japan, or trying to graduate from Yale, or something…

These days, you can be lured to the bathroom with the promise of chocolate chips and a chance to sit on the “princesses” (the $6 potty seat we found at Ross). Sometimes you’ll let us know when you have to pee. Most of the time you’ll actually pee in the toilet, but other times, you cry “pee!” and just want an excuse to run away sans pants. The second we move into our own house and unpack your little potty, we’ll get serious about undies.

Fortunately, you learned how to sleep in your “new bed” on the floor. The pack n play as bed lasted about a month in California before you started climbing in and out by yourself. During naptime you threw out all the sheets and unfolded the velcro that attaches the mattress to the bottom, and then folded the mattress up so you were sitting on the metal frame. You were happy to sit there and play with the bedding for an hour instead of sleeping. It was very bad. So now you sleep on a mattress on the floor, and will probably not have a problem transitioning to a real bed when we move out of Granny and Poppa’s house.

When we found out you were getting a sister, we took pictures at East Rock Park in New Haven. We thought you would cooperate and be pleasant, but we decided to visit some friends one last time before the park. At our friends’ house, you ate a whole plate of cookies and got really cranky and unphotogenic. Fortunately, we had balloons and that helped a little bit.

announcement 1announcement 2announcement 3announcement 4announcement 5

You have about 30 more days to have your parents and Granny and Poppa all to yourself. I hope you enjoy it.



Stella + lexicon = stexicon.

As far as we know, the following words/phrases or some variation thereof, are all part of Stella’s vocabulary at 20-21 months. This is only what I remember. She pretty much repeats everything you say, so the list goes on…

Food & eating: apple, pear, peach, peas, meat, rice, corn, milk, juice, juicy water, “Popocle” = Popsicle, plum, “nonut” = donut, pop corn, “sammo/sammish” = sandwich, yogurt, “sawbry” = strawberry, “boobry” = blueberry, “terry” = cherry, take/tuptake = cupcake, takake = pancake, toas = toast, bagel, takee = chocolate, and more recently “tokit tips!” = chocolate chips!, spoon, fork, bowl, cup, bib, wipe, bokki = broccoli, pizza, monano/mato = tomato, straw, smoothie, ice cream, treat, bite, eat, cereal, cheese, egg plant, bread, “hapeam” = ice cream (even though she can clearly say “ice,” it’s still “hapeam”), fagetti = spaghetti (apparently this is the funniest word ever because Stella laughs every time she says it), tarrot = carrot, onion, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, treat, yuck!, table, high chair, own chair, egg, egg plant

Animals: duck, moose, goose, “dumpy tat” (Grumpy Cat), kitty, “rabeep” = rabbit, monkey, “fock” = fox (we cringed every time she said “fox” in public because it sounded like a very inappropriate word, until she recently learned to say it properly, along with “rabbit”), seal,”hapapus” = ocopus, dog, puppy, panda, Chu, merpanda, owl/whoo, pig, horse, bird, uga= beluga, Deedo = Dino puppet, yama = llama, lidda = lizard, fish, turtle, frog, raff = giraffe, snail, sake = snake, teetah = cheetah, rhino, hippo, peacock, tiger, zebra, koala, mane (of a horse), roo = kangaroo, bear, purple stingray, seahorse, BEEG SHARK, whale, mouse, sheep/baa, beetle, bird, bug, spider, barnacles (on one of her whale toys), monkey

Body & functions: pee, poop, fart, booger, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, teeth, chin, ankle, elbow, back, neck, head, shoulders, knees, toes, eyebrow, eyelash, freckle, cheek, forehead, armpit, yucky poop, sleep, potty, nakek = naked, butt, hands, arm, feet, yeg = leg, face, left foot, right foot, heel

Bathtime: tubby, showa= shower, baff = bath, soap, shamoo = shampoo,  bubbles, comb, brush

Clothing/accessories: shoes, hat, shirt, pants, diaper, purse, bow, dress, diaper, banki = blanket, piyyo= pillow, turler = curler, suit, dassees = glasses, sunglasses, swim suit

Nature & outside: “pimo” = pinecone, tee = tree, water, fimmi = swimming, osha = ocean, pool, rock, hose, sweep, broom, swing, runni = running, wok = walk, sun screen, sandbox

Transportation: hedada = helicopter, pane = plane, white tar = white car, boat, runni = running, troya = stroller, tain = train, bike, cycle = motorcycle

Places: libee = library, dina = diner, beach, home, park, temple, circus, turch = church

People: self, you, me, momma, daddy, “poppa” = grandpa, “gigi” = granny (she’s transitioned to “Nanny”), Bert, Delia, “Rella” = Merella, Willaby, Uncle Dario, Pip, uncle, aunt, Paul, Rich, Katy, Carly, Audra, Bella, “Eba” = Evan, “Jeebop” = Jacob, “Megak” = Megan, “Lekee” = Lexi, Joey, “Jakon” = Jackson, “Danl” = Daniel, Taka, Shiho, Freya, Dave (the refrigerator repair man), Sheila (from grandpa’s work), Michelle (from Central School District Office), Donna (superintendent of CSD), baby, baby sister, brother, people, stinky uncle, “tildren” = children, teacher, Sophie, Ned, Lissa (Melissa Resch), Penny, Doogas (Lucas Resch), Auntie Sue, Diana, Auntie Jenni (Mouritsen), Debby (Van Renselaar)

Celebrities: Elsa, Anna, Ofaf = Olaf, Tushash = Kristoff, Sen = Sven, Madadah = Merida, “Momart” = Mozart, “Defifi” = Debussy; Pabo = Robin and Pablo (the monkey from Chu’s First Day at School) Rora = Aurora, Belle, Tiana, Rella = Cinderella, Mickey Mouse,  Jesus, Anel Monini = Angel Moroni, Amos Mcgee, Oleebia = Olivia the pig, Ian = Olivia’s brother, Perry = Olivia’s Dog, Edwin = Olivia’s cat, Reuchert (Veronica Reuchert, her nursery teacher), Big Bear (the 54″ stuffed bear from Costco), Wintergaten, Beethoven; Harry (Hypnosis Harry); Harry Robot

Songs & Books: Currently, her favorite songs to listen to us “sing” to her so she can fill in the blanks at the end of each verse, are: “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Baby Beluga,” “I Love to See the Temple,” “I’m Trying to be Like Jesus,” “A Child’s Prayer,” “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes,” “I am a Child of God,” “Popcorn Popping”

Her favorite books are the Chu series by Neil Gaiman. The books are poorly edited, but fortunately Adam Rex’s incredible illustrations save the day. She also just discovered Olivia, one of my favorites. That’s how she learned about “TIME OUT,” and that “painting the wall” is “very bad” and gets you “in tubble” so you have to sit on the “stairs.”

Miscellaneous: yes, NO, EIYO (Ei-Ei-O from Old MacDonald), “mazing dump” = amazing jump, under arrest, rakal = rascal, oh beebee = from Baby Beluga, please + deedoo = thank you, buckek = bucket, dood dob = good job, yite = light, dark, day, away, happy, old, new, empty, few, many, something, anything, achoo!, BEEG seeze = big sneeze, Oh noooo!, all done, more, book, pikka = picture, phone, pooter = computer, pincess = princess, tiny, up, down, BOING!, tair = chair, tock = clock, boo, “tumfy” = comfy, buckle, “snappo!,” PERFECT!, tiny, little, AH HA!, BUSTED!, LISTEN!, baptize, anyway, garbage day, time out, very bad, painting the wall, ballerinas, tutu, town = clown, crown, WHAAAT?, HIYAAH!; pray

Phrases: Lizards eat cereal; I’m fine! (she says this when you try to take away the laptop); Do you like it?; Way up there; Jesus baptized; Mommy/Daddy/Poppa/Nanny baptized; I love you; sorry Daddy/Mommy/Nanny/Poppa; baby tying = baby crying; baby sleeping; be reverent; up and down!; dead beetle (because there are lots of those in the yard); bye bye dapes (every time we back out of the driveway and pass the grape vines), Yes I do!; make the bed; naked ______ (insert name of whoever isn’t wearing a shirt); dropped it!; pick it up; pretty music; try it on; shirt off; I’m tired; That was easy!; Oh maaaan!; What’s that?; oh SHOOT! (Daddy said this once while he was driving and someone almost merged into him. He forgot Stella was riding in the back and she burst out laughing when she heard him say it)

Colors and numbers: not interested. She can say all the colors and numbers, but doesn’t care about counting in order or correctly identifying most colors. Everything is “two” or “three.” And every color is pink. Thank you Pinkalicious.

I think kids are supposed to be able to say 20 words (AT LEAST) by age 2. I think we’re good here.

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Here’s Stella and Big Bear, who most of the time looks like an inebriated stranger camping out in the living room.  In the morning when she’s getting changed, she tries to put her diaper on him because she doesn’t want him to feel left out.

Reading Chu (sort of)


When in California

When in California

Here we are in California.

Family 2Family July 2016 [1]Family July 2016 [3]Stella July 2016We moved from Connecticut almost a month ago, and are eagerly awaiting news about a job offer. Any news at all. It’s taking a loooonnng time…

Stella loves California. The day we arrived she ran around Granny and Grandpa’s yard naked. The feel of spongy, lush grass was a revelation (nobody has nice grass in New Haven). Being sprayed with the garden hose was like Christmas morning. The garden could occupy her all day, as she likes to eat strawberries, boysenberries, and grapes from the vine/bush, and point out the tomatoes, corn, and squash. She retrieved a pet squash from the garden and we named it, wrapped it a blanket, and drew a face on it, a la Pat Zietlow Miller. Stella named her squash Sophie.

She likes to dig in the sandbox and carry buckets of sand on her arm (like a purse) all over the yard. She also really loves rocks, for some reason. She’ll fill a bucket with rocks and carry it from one end of the yard to another. Her love of rocks might have been inspired when Granny taught her how to throw pebbles into the wading pool. But now that she can throw things on purpose, she sneaks lots of things into the pool: our shoes, Popsicle sticks, toys, dishes, items retrieved from the recycling box…the other day, she found a pair of Granny’s glasses on the picnic table and threw them in the pool when nobody was looking. Apparently, everyone in this house is allowed to wear glasses, except Granny. Every time Granny puts on her glasses to play Scrabble or work on crossword puzzles, Stella revolts and won’t rest until the glasses have been removed.

Red Hill Park is down the street and we visit often. The first week we were here, Stella discovered pine cones. Since then we’ve carried buckets of pine cones home in the stroller. I don’t think there are any left at the park…there are also lots of ducks at the park, which Stella finds amusing. She really likes when the ducks wake up from their naps in the shade and waddle over to the edge of the water and jump in.

Other recent discoveries include: Popsicles; the moon; group hugs; hair curlers; monkeys and peacocks; the ocean; Elsa and Ana from Frozen; lizards that hang out near the bamboo and the trashcans in the back yard; BEEG sharks at the Aquarium of the Pacific; how to get in and out of the pack n’ play by herself (and lift up the mattress and sheets instead of taking her nap); Mozart and Debussy; and relatives. Aunt Carly, Bella, and Audra might be her favorites, although she knows all the Fifes. She repeatedly asks for Rich, but hides when he acknowledges her. Maybe she’s overwhelmed by his height. Although she let him hold her for two minutes at church on Father’s Day. She also knows Abby and Kevin, “Jeebop” (Jacob) and Lexi and “Megak” (Megan), and Paul and Katy Ellsworth. She can  identify Jackson and Daniel in pictures, but we need to work on Jake and Joey and Katie. And it will take a while to figure out all the Ellsworth cousins.

Her secret favorite might be Grandpa. She asks for him every morning when she wakes up and runs to hug and kiss him when he comes home from work. She calls him “Poppa” and has no problem calling to him (loud enough so the whole congregation can hear) from the pews when he’s conducting at church or stake conference. Her other secret favorite might be Granny, who makes her chocolate chip pancakes and gives her juice and pedicures and warm foot baths to stimulate the urge to pee on the potty.


BEEG sharks at the aquarium

Uncle Dario

No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

Ocean 1

Ocean 2