Thursday, December 13, 2012

17 Months

Josie has had a good time exploring the new house the last few weeks.  It may be coincidence or she may just like the new house, but she has been spending an inordinate amount of time running around happily screeching or getting into everything.  I think we had a bit of a honeymoon period after she started walking since she really didn't get into everything that she could have, but now she's opening - and climbing into - all of the cabinets (which have since been locked up), climbing up on the couch herself, getting into and out of our shower by herself (and pretending to suds up her belly while she's in there), climbing onto the coffee table, etc.
[Blurry troublemaker]
[Shortly before we removed her from the coffee table... again]

As seen in the background of the above picture, we did actually put up a tree this year!  And no, I didn't run out of ornaments - the bottom third is purposely undecorated because I didn't want to have to tell Josie "no" a bunch of times over whether or not she could eat the ornaments.  Although she has been very helpful in pointing out which ones were still too low, as she pulled off the ones she could reach and then gave them to me :)

She has been participating in games and songs more now too.  It seemed before that Josie liked to watch other people play games and sing songs, but she wasn't inclined to join in.  But now she loves to play "Ring Around the Rosey", and will "sing" along with the ABC song in that she'll gleefully say gibberish while we sing to her, and she'll also do the hand motions to "The Itsy Bitsy Spider".  We took also her to storytime at our library again, and she actually participated in one of the activities. There were several felt "Christmas cookies" on the wall, and each kid was supposed to take one, say their name for inclusion in the next verse, and then give back the cookie at the end.  Josie adorably stood up there while the other kids each took a cookie, then marched up and took one herself.  It went downhill after that though, since she can't really say her name, and she also grabbed the other cookies rather than giving hers up at the end ;)

Josie can now open and close doors now (as long as they're not latched), which mainly comes in handy in the mornings when we're getting her ready to go.  So when we tell her to get her shoes on, she'll go to the coat closet, open the door, pick out her shoes (lately she's been going for her pink boots with pompoms), and then will go and sit on the bottom stair for us to put her shoes and coat on - screeching in delight and flailing her arms around all the while.  She is picking up more things to mimic us on, and is obsessed lately with pushing... things.  Brooms, windshield scrapers, whatever can be fairly easily pushed along.
As far as language this month, she has added a couple of real words, but still continues to say a lot gibberish, most of it with very interesting inflection.  It seems she knows what she's saying and how to say it, it's just that we can't make sense of it quite yet ;)  And she also has her own way of communicating, since she likes to greet the other babies at daycare by saying "no!" and pointing to each one, and then will go through that routine again when she's up from her nap.  But she apparently said "hold on" at daycare, and then has made an attempt at saying her name, and has also said "Nana", "deer", and several body parts.
In fact, the body parts may be the biggest area she developed in this month.  We started with eyes and ears, but I think she really figured out what was going on when we worked on bellies.  So she loves to show off her belly now, specifically her belly button.  She also can identify her feet, hands, eyes, and ears (and supposedly eyebrows) when asked, and very clearly said "ear!" the other day as she grabbed my ear.

Her sleep is still all over the place, but seems to be going in a positive direction overall at least.  Her crib went into her own room when we moved, so we weren't sure quite what to expect as she adjusted to sleeping on her own for the first time in her life.  The first week she did quite well, going to sleep fairly easily (on her own a few times too), and sleeping through the night a few times.  But then she got sick, had molars coming through, etc., and she started waking up several times overnight again.  That seems to have settled down again though, and she's actually sleeping through the night (usually waking for the day between 5:45-6:30am) most of the time now, and maybe just waking up once during the night once or twice a week.

The problem is now that she's taking foreeeever to go to sleep in the first place - crying it out only worked for a brief period of time it seems, so we're back to sitting with her until she falls asleep. While at least she doesn't need us actually touching her at all times now, she still won't fall asleep unless we're sitting right next to her crib, sometimes for an hour or more.  Argh.  And yet, she also has a new winner for "oddest place Josie has fallen asleep", as Ryan came back from the playground with her sound asleep on his shoulders:
[Don't mind Ryan's questionable hairs - the mustache was for Movember, and the mohawk has also since been trimmed down]
Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Taking a call from her 80s-era cell phone.... er, power strip]
[Under her neck is a favorite storage place]
[Listening to music, although in general, this kid knows how to do things on my computer that I don't even know how to do]
[Misc silliness]

Sunday, December 2, 2012


So we hosted Thanksgiving this year - a week and a half after moving, and with Ryan being gone on work travel for a week of that time. But luckily my mom stayed with me for the week, ostensibly to help out with Josie but really she helped immensely with moving and unpacking stuff every day after work.  So we were in pretty good shape by time Ryan got back, with at least the main level of the new house being fairly well unpacked and organized.  And we probably should have been more stressed about Thanksgiving, but I'm thinking we were just numb to the stress by that point, given all the house stuff we've been going through.  Everyone brought food and drinks, and everything was delicious with no major calamities, so all in all it went very well.

The only real issues were that the turkey breast didn't get all the way cooked, since we had roasted it breast side down to maximize juiciness, but then struggled to get it to the right temperature without overcooking the dark meat.  We attempted to flip it over, but this 21-pound bird wasn't interested in cooperating and promptly split in half.  We ended up cutting off all the dark meat and just putting the breast back in for a while longer.  So here is the (still upside-down) turkey just before it was divided up:
Note in the above picture the skillet of spinach - that was one of the other bits that didn't go quite right, since we sauteed a whole bunch of spinach, to be accompanied by some whole roasted cloves of garlic... and then forgot all about it until we came across it while cleaning up after the meal. We still had plenty of food though, so it worked out fine - and I still ate all of it over the next week, so at least it wasn't wasted :)
[The spread]
We were fortunate enough to get to spend Thanksgiving with Ryan's parents, one of his sisters and her kids, my mom and aunt, my brother and sister-in-law, and even my dad and stepmom all the way from Michigan.
[About half of our guests, in our still pretty bare living room]
[My brother and sister-in-law]
[Josie, taking care of her offending barrette]
Josie was pretty much in her element: she was in her own space, surrounded by people who were willing to give her plenty of attention :)  So she had so much fun, alternating between being shy and yelling at people, and getting to play with her cousins.  She had started the day in a relatively well-coordinated outfit, but due to a leaky diaper and the discovery of a Halloween costume in the tubs of clothes Ryan's sister brought over for her, she ended up in rainbow-striped pants and butterfly wings.  Naturally :)
[Being shy with my aunt]
[Attempting to dribble/steal the ball from cousin Riley]

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

Well, I got a little behind with posting, between the (still ongoing) move, preparing for and hosting Thanksgiving at the new house, and temporarily misplacing all means to pull pictures off my camera.  But we found one of the cables, so here are pictures from Josie's first visit to a pumpkin patch a few weeks ago.
[Farmer Josie]

Josie almost didn't know what to do with herself when we first got there, since we had gone to an animal farm with a pumpkin patch.  She was super, super excited about the animals, and suddenly started pulling out all the animal sounds I didn't even know she knew how to make, since she hardly ever says them at home.  But apparently when confronted with chickens, cows, and dogs, she knows exactly how to speak their language ;)  The chickens seemed to be her favorite though, probably in no small part due to the fact that they were running around loose and were therefore much easier for her to chase around.

Josie's little pointy fingers are quite cute when she's lecturing us at home, but were not too helpful on an animal farm.  I tried to explain to her that the animals were going to eat her little fingers, but that didn't deter her one bit.  And although I've had it drilled into my head never to stick out fingers to animals, I apparently only absorbed that lesson relating to four-legged animals, so I wasn't quite as diligent about keeping her hands away from the two-legged variety... which is how Josie got bit by a peahen :(  She was ok though and her skin wasn't even broken, but I think both of us were freaked out to look down at a peahen attached to her finger.
[Troublesome little pointy fingers]

Josie eventually got her routine down pat with the animals.  First, locate a likely target.  Second, yell at said target, even better if there is pointing involved.  Third, squat down to further express delight while yelling at the target.  Fourth, get distracted and find a new target to yell at. 
 P1090558 P1090560 

The pumpkin patch was really geared towards slightly older kids, but I think Josie had a lot of fun anyway.  How could she not, with so many animals to yell at? ;)  So we didn't do some of the activities (bigger playground equipment, moonbounce, hay ride), but we did go down the giant slide several times, which she loved.  I do find it funny, though, that despite being fairly rough-and-tumble, she's remarkably finicky about stuff on her hands.  So we spent a fair amount of time trying to wipe her hands of whatever she got into before she started fussing and crying.
[Ooh, dirt!]
[Eww, dirt!]

We finished off our trip to the pumpkin patch by having some apple cider and finally picking up some pumpkins.  Josie loooved the apple cider - as expressed by her delighted squealing and foot stamping - and is probably still mad at me because I only let her have a few sips of my (tiny) cup.  Then we picked out our pie pumpkins (no need for a bigger one since this was already after Halloween), which Josie helpfully held onto for me while planning how best to eat it ;)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

16 Months

Josie has been quite funny this month.... and sick and cranky and even just a little bit annoying too ;)
[Yelling about... something]
When she's not expressing her displeasure about life in general, she has been doing lots of crinkly-faced smiles lately, and rather adorably put aside her discomfort to help me with the vacuuming last week.  She decided a few months back that she's scared of the vacuum, but this time bravely held onto the handle with me with one hand, although the index finger on her other hand never once left her mouth ;)

Josie newly rediscovered her sunglasses, which she initially would have nothing to do with but now likes to wear around the house.  We also got her a hat so she could be like Ryan, since she's always taking his hat off and putting it back on him (or her).  I also have had the bizarre experience several times now where I had to tell her to stop eating the rug.  I know kids put all sorts of things in their mouth, but for some reason, it just blows my mind that I have to thwart her attempts to eat our kitchen rug.
[With her baby hat and spatula - she has the best toys ;)]

Josie had her 15-month well baby appointment a couple of weeks ago, and she's now 33 1/8" tall (longer than a skateboard now, as Ryan immediately noted), 26.6 lbs (which may not be too accurate since she wasn't standing very still on the scale), and her head circumference is 19 1/4".  Perhaps unsurprisingly, she's back to being off the charts for head and height, and is 95-98th percentile for weight.  She also got the DTaP, Hib, and flu vaccines, so she only has another set or two to go and then no vaccines (except for the annual flu shot) until she's four!  I'm not only excited about her getting a break from the shots and after-effects, but I was thinking that it would be good for her to learn that it's ok to go to the doctor and that bad, painful things don't always happen there.... and then I remembered: she doesn't care as it is.  She happily walked around yelling at everything, lectured the doctor on something (complete with finger-pointing), and generally was completely thrilled to be at the doctor's - at least until the shots started.

She seemed to handle her vaccines well enough this time, although she was running a low-grade fever the couple days before her shots and a day or two afterwards, but that was probably from the mouthful of teeth that she has coming in.  Her first molar is still working its way out, and it looks like the other three shouldn't be that far behind, and then she has a couple teeth coming in the front too.  But then the day after the doctor's appointment, I noticed her wheezing a bit in the morning, and then by time Ryan picked her up early from daycare, Josie was coughing, wheezing, and seeming to have a bit of a problem breathing.  So off to Urgent Care they went, where she was diagnosed with... something.  A virus, likely, possibly croup.  She was put on prednisolone to help with the coughing, and after acting - and looking - frankly very worrying that night (barely consolable crying, eyes sunken in, throwing up her entire dinner), she luckily bounced back pretty quickly the next day.

Josie's appetite has been a little inconsistent lately, since while she seems to be eating more overall, she is also being a little more picky about her foods, and actually turned down grapes a few times now(!!).  However, a couple of fairly sure-fire ways to get her to eat is to 1) give her something off our plates, and/or 2) give her something whole.... which is how she came to eat her first drumstick all on her own :)

Josie's sleep also continues to be all over the place - she is sleeping through the night at least a few times a week now, which is sort of great except for the fact that it also means she's usually awake for the day at 5:30am, which is an hour earlier than we'd normally get up.  For the other nights, she is sometimes waking up at 10 or 11pm but at least going back to sleep fairly quickly; however, there have also been a few times that she's woken up around 2am.... and then just won't go back to sleep for hours.  Like, it took over two hours a couple of nights in a row to get her back to sleep after one of her 2am wakeups, and the second time we ended up giving up and just letting her cry it out in the other room.  

She has only fallen asleep twice now after crying it out - and both times were after she had been awake for a while and was already worn down and tired - so this is still not really a good solution for her, and not one we're that comfortable with anyway.  But it does seem quite promising that she's starting to sleep through the night more on her own anyway, and I am doing more research to try to figure out a better way to handle the hours-long wakeups now.

We went to our development's Halloween get-together this year, and Josie actually got dressed up for Halloween, courtesy of Ryan's mom :) Josie's favorite part seemed to be holding court - the kid likes to make an entrance (complete with swinging her arms and yelling gibberish), and seemed quite delighted that so many people had gathered to listen to her orate. She also loved walking back and forth through the streamers hanging in the doorway, and had to be forcibly removed as the event was winding down :)
I also took Josie to storytime at the library for the first time the other week.  She's at a funny in-between stage though, since she doesn't want to sit contentedly on my lap like the non-mobile babies, but doesn't understand enough to be participate in the activities.  She loved it regardless though, and will hopefully have even more fun with it once the house stuff settles down and we can go more, and once she can understand the routine a bit better.  At one point she did start walking up to the front of the room with the other kids, though, and looked back at me with a delighted expression on her face and arms out-stretched in glee, like, "Can you believe this?!  This is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me EVER!"  Which was great and absolutely adorable :)

So although she didn't follow too much of the happenings at storytime, she definitely is starting to understand more words and other requests.  We've been trying to give her little tasks to do, so now she can turn on and off lights (obviously with a boost up to them), grab books if we say the title or key words from it, she'll go over to sit on the bottom stair when we tell her we need to put on/take off her shoes, she'll turn off the fan in our room when asked, she can snap together the chest clip on her car seat, and will sometimes put her clothes and washcloths in the hamper when asked (although she really prefers to transfer all of her dirty clothes to a box right by the hamper instead).  I'm currently trying to show her how to get her washcloth and bring it to Ryan for a shower, but she hasn't quite taken to collecting her washcloth and towel yet, preferring to leave that to me while she makes a beeline to the bathroom on her own :)

Josie also seems to have figured out who "daddy" and "mommy" are, as she had fun last weekend running back and forth between us as we kept telling her "go to daddy!" and "go to mommy!"  She has now correctly picked out a cow, cat, and baby from her puzzle pieces and books, and possibly woofed at a picture of a dog.  For a very brief while, she was pointing to - and saying! - "ear", "eye", and "nose" with me, but she has since gotten over that and won't play along any more.  However, she does like to say "hi dad/dada/dadat" to Ryan, and she will wave and say "bye-bye" to me, and she is able to hold a conversation (of sorts) with us now.

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[Pick me up, pick me up, pick me up, pick me up!!]
[Our little helper]
[Mimicking Ryan in trying to fix the floor with the mallet]
[My two kids, running around at the new house]

Friday, October 26, 2012

Latest House Update

Two months after our house was delivered, it's nearly ready for us to move in.  Our builder is just about done with his work on the house, while Ryan or I have continued to go out in the evenings to put in a few hours of work every night.  Most of the main floor is painted now, and Ryan has been busy working on putting in the quarter round.  We're learning about the seemingly odd things that are required for an occupancy permit, such as shoe molding and shower curtains.  So Ryan is almost done with the shoe molding, the shower curtains should be arriving tomorrow.... and then we're just waiting on the last box of flooring to come in next week so Ryan can finish the last few rows.

Ryan and I had decided to do the flooring and painting ourselves to save the money -- since we couldn't justify spending (well, rolling into our mortgage) thousands of dollars on something we could do ourselves when that money would be better spent going towards a paved driveway instead -- but it has definitely come up a few times over the last couple of months how much nicer it would have been to have at least the painting done for us.  It has been more painful than expected to paint the house, and that's even after we've put the upstairs painting on the back-burner for now, and we won't even be touching the basement for a while until we get around to finishing it.

We're also doing a geothermal heat pump, so that's been part of what added time onto the original 4-week estimate we'd been given for when the house would be ready to move into after delivery.  The two wells were done being drilled last week, and the loop was just hooked up so that heat and cooling should be working in the house now.  

So hopefully we'll be ready for the occupancy permit next week!  Although then we'll still need to go through the actual awful process of moving, which neither of us are looking forward to except for it being done and over with.  We're definitely excited about our house itself (even more so now, with the added blood, sweat, and a few tears we've put into it), but it's been about a year and half since we first started talking about moving, so we'll be very glad to finally be settled for what we intend to be a good long while.

[Our builder has done all sorts of fun little extras we weren't expecting, including the stone retaining walls we're in love with] 
[The front yard with the initial landscaping done - we'll find out soon enough if these plants are in fact not something the resident herds of deer are interested in eating]
[The kitchen is pretty much done - appliances in, painted, flooring, counters and backsplash done] 
 [From the dining room looking into the living room - I was interested in seeing how the two colors looked against each other, but really, most of the colors ended up being very similar in tint and/or tone anyway so I guess there's not as much concern about clashing ;)]
[The hall bath with the solar tube in full effect - it's amazing how bright it gets in there without the lights even being on!]
[From our bedroom looking through the closet to the bathroom]
[Our bathroom, pretty much done except without the ever-so-important shower curtain and before I finally took the painters tape down]
[The bonus room, i.e., the room that seems to invite the most running around in a circle yelling, so far... video to follow in my next Josie-related post ;)]

Monday, October 15, 2012

15 Months

As mentioned in the last post, Josie is now officially a walker!  Although she went right back to crawling when she first woke up the day after she had started walking on her own, so it almost felt like a dream that she had started walking.  But then she remembered again, and I don't think she's crawled since except for once, when she was crawling around to be funny :)

I think it really helped that she walked for months with help before striking out on her own, since she seems to have skipped the stage where she can walk but falls often.  She's definitely fallen a few times, but her balance is really quite good already.  She hasn't quite worked up to running yet, but has been delighted by jumping lately.

Josie can also multi-task (somewhat) now, and has started carrying things more as she walks around. After a shaky start where she tried to carry a full bottle of water but kept toppling over, she now totes around water bottles, and can already talk on the phone and carry my keys around too... is this a preview to her teenage years? ;)

Josie now has eight teeth through - four on the top, and four on the bottom (including one that just cut through in the last couple of days).  Her first molar is just starting to work its way through too, which she is very unhappy about.  She was very clingy yesterday (as in, she attached herself to my leg at the playground, which is very unusual for her), and then cried the entire time I was getting both of us ready this morning.... and then I saw the little bit of tooth poking through her gums, and all the whining made sense.  Poor thing.

Josie has also added a few words to her vocabulary this month, and seems to understand what they are more now rather than just mimicking us.  So now she says "bye-bye" (with waving!), "hiya", "mama", "dada/dadat", "no", "uh-oh", "whoa", "hat", and a rough attempt at "banana".  I'm still on the fence on if she is actually saying "doggie", "bacon", and "baby".  But even if she isn't actually saying "baby" yet, she does at least recognize the word now!  The other day I asked her where the baby was, and she grabbed her book with babies on it.  I also asked her where "Polar Pals" was, and she went right over and grabbed that book too!  Which I'm kind of surprised she recognized, since we normally refer to it as "that awful book" rather than its real name.  For whatever reason, it's Josie's favorite book, but Ryan and I both despise it.  It's only four pages long, and it just seems highly unlikely that a polar bear would be frolicking and enjoying a cold beverage in an icy lake with a seal.
[Waving and saying bye-bye]

Josie is really making big strides in trying to do things on her own now.  It's really been amazing to see how observant she's being and how quickly she goes to mimic us now.  We went over to the new house yesterday, and Ryan was trying to get some of the floor to lie down better.  Once he was done, Josie went over to grab the rubber mallet, then dragged it throughout the house, occasionally tapping it on the floor just like daddy did :)  Then she followed that up by putting her bottle on a coaster just like a big girl and putting on Ryan's headphones too.

She loves to put on her shoes, and will grab her socks when asked and then holds up her feet to have her socks and shoes put on.  She also attempts to comb her hair, dry herself off, and snap herself into her car seat.  We have a little routine now where Josie carries my keys for me from the car to the front door, surrenders them to me to unlock the door, and then demands them back so that she can then attempt to unlock the door herself.  She has gotten the key in the keyhole maybe a couple of times, but her determination and patience is really quite admirable.

Josie has started to get more adept with using a spoon and fork now.  Her spoon usage is a bit spotty, since she normally holds it upside-down, which limits just how much she can scoop up - which is probably for the best, since she seems to usually flip the spoon over someplace between her tray and her mouth :)  With enough time and intent, she was able to spear some banana and broccoli with her fork the first time she used it.

[She has discovered that feeding Ryan her dinner is fun too]

Given all of her developmental advances and teeth cutting through, it probably shouldn't be that surprising that Josie's sleep pattern is all over the place again.  Some nights it takes 10 minutes for her to fall asleep, sometimes up to a couple of hours.  Sometimes she falls asleep all on her own, sometimes she needs to hold my hand for half an hour first.  Sometimes she's up for the day at 5:30am, sometimes she sleeps in until 10am (although we (sadly) had to put a stop to that since it would mess up her schedule for the rest of the day).  Sometimes she sleeps through the night, sometimes she cries out (and occasionally wakes up) roughly every hour from 10pm until she's up for a bottle around 3am.  And yet almost the worst part of it is the pinching.  She likes to pinch us as she falls asleep, and it is driving us crazy.  We've introduced a lovey now, and are trying to redirect her to pinch on that if she feels the need, but she really has had pinching on the brain lately.  Even as she walks around, she looks like a crab with her fingers going like little pincers.  

Miscellaneous cuteness:

[The cabinet where we keep our storage containers is a current favorite of Josie's]
[Little imp :) ]
[Dinner is not a quiet affair with Miss Josie. My favorite part starts around 23 seconds left, when she starts pausing for emphasis while yelling, and then a carrot suddenly reemerges from her hand]

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

London and Beyond

A couple of weeks ago we all went across the pond for a week in London and then a weekend in Bishop's Stortford (about an hour northeast of London) for our friends' wedding.  I had been wanting to travel for a while, and figured we should probably go sooner rather than later, since I imagine Josie is easier to travel with now than when she'll be when she's 2 or 3.  She actually did quite well on the flights, especially seeing as how we were essentially asking her to stay in a 4 sq ft area for about 8 hours each way.  So she slept some, read, watched some tv/movies, and did fuss (and ok, scream) a little bit, but for the most part, she did just fine.  The flights were what I had been worried about for this trip, although it turns out there were plenty of other things to worry about instead (e.g., how the time difference would affect her, finding restaurants with high chairs to help contain a suddenly much more squirmy child, how to navigate many sets of stairs with a stroller, etc.). Traveling with a toddler is such a different experience than any traveling I've done before, and so although it was a good week, I don't think I would say it was much of a relaxing vacation.  We still had fun though, so read on for the recap and all the neat stuff Josie was up to for the week... :)

Our hotel was about a block away from Trafalgar Square, so that was naturally one of our first stops (after the grocery store, though).  Since Ryan was working all week, Josie and I were on our own to entertain ourselves, so we did a lot of walking and spending time outside.  The weather was really nice - I think it only rained once, and the temperatures were in the 60s or low 70s the whole week.
[Trafalgar Square]
[Horse Guards Parade (although we didn't see a single horse, so sad), and also the closest we got to the London Eye (off in the right background) - I was trying to avoid any attractions that cost money and had a set time attached to them, since our schedule was a bit unpredictable with Josie ;)]

Josie and I had a picnic in St. James Park, and we happened to go during recess time so there were lots of schoolkids running around playing tag.  I had thought Josie would join in the yelling, but instead she sat completely silently, sucking her thumb and watching them for quite a while.  As soon as they left, she did in fact start to yell... at the pigeons.  Turns out she loooves pigeons, as I discovered when she dragged me all around the park so she could chase them and yell at them.
[Watching the other kids playing]
[Calling to her little pigeon friends]

We went to a couple of indoor play areas, which Josie really liked.  Unfortunately, they weren't too convenient to get to, and I found out pretty quickly that it's very difficult to travel using public transportation with a baby and stroller when escalators and elevators are few and far between (although I did use the carrier for shorter excursions, but at close to 30 pounds, she's too heavy to carry for long).  Luckily, except for a couple of sets of stairs I struggled with on my own, people stopped to help me carry the stroller every other time, carrying it up and down the stairs with me (and a few times with a sleeping baby in it!).  
[Josie was a Tube veteran by this point - and although I didn't get a picture of when we were standing and she mimicked me and held onto the pole the entire trip, trust that it was ridiculously cute ;)]

I was trying to pick most of our destinations and restaurants during the week with Josie in mind since it turns out high chairs aren't necessarily ubiquitous in London, and I discovered it's not too easy for me to eat with Josie on my lap, although it did make it easier for her to steal my food - it turns out she's partial to egg and watercress sandwiches too :)  However, there was just one place on the "Stacey" list: the British Museum.  I love Greek mythology, and so I really wanted to go back to see the Elgin Marbles again... which Josie did very well for, although I pushed my luck by trying to go through a special exhibit on horses, which I ended up doing at a near run since she started screaming midway into it.
[Partial reconstruction of the Nereid Monument at Xanthos]
[Statuary from the east pediment of the Parthenon]

When we weren't out sight-seeing, Josie proved to be very entertaining back at the hotel room.  She was into everything, and was helpfully rearranging things, taking things out of their homes and putting them back in different homes, etc.  All the while, she kept up nearly a steady stream of babble, which was comprised largely of "mama" (yay!)... and "no" (boo).
[Josie decided that her diapers didn't really need to stay in the bag.  Also note her "throne", which was just a rolled up towel we were using to try to contain her for diaper changing - she hated it for its intended purpose, but loved to sit on it other times]

Along with pretty consistently using "no", "mama", and "dada / dadat" correctly, she also added "uh-oh" to her vocabulary that week.  She sometimes got the syllables mixed up, but whether it was "oh-ah" or "uh-oh", it was adorable all the same :)

Probably the toughest part of the trip was that poor Josie did not adjust well to the time difference. We struggled to get her to sleep even a couple of hours earlier than normal, and I started waking her up at 4am our time each day since otherwise we weren't leaving the hotel until afternoon, which made it more complicated to spend any time outside and get food (since eating dinner at 11pm London time for the first couple of days we were there didn't really work well).  Along with all of that, her naps weren't very good either, so she was a sleep-deprived, cranky mess by the end of the week.  She also started waking up screaming several times a night, so we ended up keeping her in bed with us more and more as the week went on, which really helped (and now things are mostly back to normal, so at least there doesn't appear to be lasting damage!).
[Josie co-opted my pillow one morning]

The week before we left, I noted that I thought Josie would be walking on her own within the week, since she was starting to stand and take a couple of steps unassisted.  But by Wednesday, I was thinking it just wasn't going to happen.  She was happily walking to various pieces of furniture, turning herself around, and walking back to me, but she wasn't trying to strike out on her own at all.

However, within a couple of hours of having that thought, Ryan came back to the hotel while I was in the bathroom washing her bottles and Josie was attempting (yet again) to climb into the bathtub on her own (fully dressed).  I told her to go to daddy, and she did.... she walked right out of the bathroom, turned the corner, and went into his arms.  Our jaws dropped, and I could practically see the light bulb go on in her head as she realized she could walk wherever she wanted, not just between Ryan or me and a piece of furniture.  So she finally really walked on her own, and then just kept walking - doing laps around the hotel room and generally being delighted with her new discovery.
[Right after she realized she could walk on her own]

[I took this picture because it struck me how much she looked like a toddler - little did I know she would actually live up to that a couple hours after this picture]

After our week in London, we took the train up to Bishop's Stortford on Friday.  We unfortunately didn't have much time to explore, and we basically only managed one meal, some grocery/diaper shopping, and coffee/tea in the downtown area and breakfast at our B&B during the short time we were there.  We had rented a car from Stansted Airport to drive to the B&B and to/from the wedding, and then to Heathrow to catch our flight on Sunday.  The drive to Heathrow actually went the best, with only a couple of missed turns near the end and not much traffic to contend with.  The first trip and subsequent time spent driving in the countryside was a different story, though!

It took us probably an hour to figure out how to install the car seat that we had rented with the car, so it was already dark when we finally set out from the airport.  We belatedly discovered (directly after we entered our first roundabout!) that the headlights didn't turn on automatically on our rental car, so absent any other good options, we ended up recreating the "Hey, look, kids!  There's Big Ben, and there's Parliament!" scene from European Vacation - just minus Big Ben and Parliament, since our particular roundabout was bordered by trees.  After maybe five times around, Ryan found the headlights (answer: on the dashboard) and we were on our way.  Ryan has driven on the other side of the road before in Aruba, but this was the first time he was driving from the right side of the car too - it turns out that actually made it more difficult instead of easier!  So he did very well, but it was still stressful since his spatial awareness and perspective weren't really calibrated for that vantage point.

On Saturday, we headed out to a village in the English countryside for our friends' wedding (actually, blessing / vow renewal, since they had gotten married in the States last year).  We actually got to the wedding on time (very unusual for us), except Josie got sick in the car on the way there, poor thing :(  I'm not sure who was most traumatized by this: Ryan for having to scrape the vomit off the car seat, Josie since she wasn't feeling well, or me because I just felt so bad for her.  So instead of heading into the church on time, we ended up scrambling to clean up the car and her, with Josie sitting in the car trunk at one point, crying and wearing nothing more than her diaper :(  I hadn't brought a second "nice" outfit for her - I really should know better by now, but I had reasoned that she couldn't possibly mess her nice outfit up for the few hours she needed to wear it.  Ha.  So instead she went to the wedding in jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt.  Ah well.

Besides that bit of drama, the wedding was really fun!  The reception was in a tent in the field behind the church, and we had fun chatting with old friends and new, I indulged in some Pimm's, and Josie played with some of the games they had (giant Connect Four, croquet) and was delighted with a dog that was there.  We headed out just after dinner since we had to get up pretty early for our flight the next day.  I'm so glad we went and it was great to spend so much time with Josie, explore England a bit more, and see our friends again - although I also hope to avoid traveling that far again, at least for a few more years ;)

Miscellaneous cuteness:
[She was so proud of herself for having walked on her own to this post, which she then hugged like it was a long-lost friend :)]
[Taking care of her bib when it got in her way - her chin is a useful holding area]
[One of her games where she puts stuff on her feet and then violently kicks it off]
[Having fun sticking her bath letters to herself]