Category Archives: Stella

Three Years: Stella 


Stella turned three years old right in the middle of our move so, of course, we celebrated multiple times. Once in Hawaii, at the same restaurant where we’ve celebrated all of her birthdays.



Then a big party, surrounded by her entire family when we got to Vancouver. We had the cake we always get for the kids’ birthday and the weather was nice enough that she could wear her favorite dress. No beach this year, but I think have grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins more than made up for that.


On her actual birthday, we woke up early and went to a restaurant where you can make pancakes at your table. Stella loves pancakes and would probably eat them for every meal if I let her, so this was the perfect way to start her third year. We bought her a bike and she got enough toys to keep her occupied until our things arrived.

The other day as we were getting ready for school, Stella ran into my bathroom. “Mooooom,” she called as she ran. “I want to sleep with my sleeping bag tonight,” she said as seriously as possible before adding, “because I’m suffering and I’m cold.” She used her sad and cold faces to emphasize how much she was suffering and how cold she was. No matter that she sleeps in the warmest room in the house and regularly wakes up covered in sweat. As soon as the word “suffering” popped out of her mouth I started to laugh, a strange mixture of sadness that my baby knows this word and can use it in context (however untruthful it might have been) and pride that she knows this word and can use it context.

I use Google photos to back up my pictures and videos and every day it shows what I was documenting on that day one year ago, two years ago, etc. A few days after Christmas, there were some videos of Stella, snippets of longer conversations I didn’t manage to record. Just Stella, dressed in the fairy costume we had given her for Christmas. Her voice is so little. I sent the video to Wes and he said that was her voice, and yes, of course it’s her voice. But it’s the voice of a 2-year old who is still learning how to say a complete sentence and what things are called and how to describe something new.

I see the changes daily, which is to say: I don’t see them at all. They are subtle and slow when you’re around her all the time, but comparing the Stella of one year ago to the Stella of today and I’m stopped in my tracks. She still seems so small to me. How is it possible that she was even smaller? She still has so much to learn that it’s hard to recall how much she’s already discovered.

She regularly has to pee as soon as she sits down at the dining room table for any meal and as she’s running to the bathroom she always looks back and says, “Make sure James doesn’t get any of my food.” I would scoff at the idea that James wanted what Stella had when his plate was exactly the same but a few months ago we switched him to a booster seat so now he can climb out. Without fail, once she’s in the bathroom, he’ll climb down from his chair, walk to her seat, and try to steal her food. I try to tell her that it’s because he loves her so much, but I know how annoying it is to have to share with someone just because they love you.

We’ve stopped nap time after a month or so of terrible sleep all around. The first week or so was a little rough, but we’re in the swing of things now. She’s sleeping better and going to bed easier (yeah, sure, Dad had to step in and play Tough Parent for a while because I just couldn’t stand the tears and screaming) but every third or fourth day she hits her wall and needs a good nap.

She’s in preschool near our house and loves it. The first day, she ran in without a glance back. It’s hard to get her to tell us what she learned, but when she sits down to play teacher with her dolls, or points out letters and numbers that she’s learned, I’m glad we enrolled her. James misses her while she’s gone but the school also has an area for kids to play, whether they go to school or not, and he loves that.

She’s starting to play by herself and use her imagination to create scenes for her ponies, or dolls, or cars and I’m tempted to hop in and play, but don’t because learning how to play alone is just as important as learning how to play with friends.

This morning she snuggled up in my arms and told me, “I love my mama.” She does this often and it’s the best part of my day. It reminds to take a step back, slow down, and work on being a better person.



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A few weeks ago, Santa came through the neighborhood in a fire truck. The kids were excited until they had a chance to get close and then they wanted nothing to do with him. Wes and I were prepared to skip the visit this year, but then they suddenly couldn’t stop talking about Santa. There was a Santa-looking man at Costco wearing the red and white hat, never-ending Christmas movies on Netflix, and James just kept saying, “Santa” in a sad little voice so we decided to brave the holiday shopping and find one for them to visit. 

We settled on Bass Pro Shop because they have a million stuffed animals and a huge fish tank that would entertain them while we waited. We got there around 2pm and the line looked pretty short but then we were told we needed a Bass Pass and the next time slot was 5pm. So we got our pass, walked around for a bit and then headed to the nearby mall to make a return and kill some more time. 

Back at Bass, we wandered the aisles looking for a present for Tsunami. We walked through every department and finally headed to Santa’s wonderland where there was coloring, toys, games, and a train to entertain them until it was our time. 

We anticipated them freaking out about sitting on a stranger’s lap, Santa or not, but he was incredibly nice and asked both of their names before telling them they were going to get a picture and then a candy cane. Luckily, candy canes have been my kids ‘ love language lately and as soon as they heard that they sat patiently for the picture.   

When asked what they would like for Christmas, they both stared blankly. Strange considering Stella spent a good portion of our afternoon grabbing things and proclaiming “oh, I love this!” Wes got them to agree that they’d like the very things Santa was actually bringing them, and then they grabbed their candy canes but very nicely waited until they were out of Santa’s lap to demand we open them. 

All in all, a success. We are spending Christmas with Wes’ family this year, our first family Christmas in 6 years! 

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We Goed to Smesame Street Live

Sesame Street live came to Honolulu and some friends and I decided it would be a fun thing to take the kids to. And it was, for the kids who actually watch Sesame Street and like the characters. So, not Stella. For her first Christmas, Grandma Candee and Grandpa Jim bought Stella an Elmo doll (the sleep one, I think) that talks and hugs. She was playing with another gift when she fell over onto Elmo, who started talking about hugs and sleeping. She completely freaked out and Elmo spent the next year in a box because she was so terrified of him.

Still, I thought it would be more fun in person, and something to do just me and Stella, and after a year of sharing her parents with James I figured she could use some one-on-one time. As soon as we stepped into the darkened room, though, I could tell she was having some second thoughts about the whole thing. I tried to get her excited but mostly she just stared at all the other kids and looked like she wanted to fall asleep. 

At least Adara and Jack and all the moms were excited about the show. I even tried getting a photo of the two of us to get her enthused about it but she quickly jumped out of my arms and left me looking pretty silly. I bet if she could read she would have been dancing.

Once the show started she asked to have her jacket on, with hood, and after she got all wrapped up I was able to get her up and watching for a little bit. It helped that Jack was super into the show and she loves Jack.

She ended up getting a little scared when all the characters made their way out and asked to leave. Not wanting to cause a scene, we worked our way through all the other kids who were excited about seeing Sesame Street and headed for the lobby. I decided to try one more time after she said that it was too dark in there. We bought a light-up Elmo, which seemed to do the trick, and headed back in. Armed with the light, she was a little more into the show and managed to smile and interact with Adara, who was apparently just waiting for the Count to come out before really getting into it. Jack, meanwhile, was hooked.

Stella looks ready for a nap, and Jack is entranced by the whole thing. 

Shortly after intermission, Stella decided she’d had enough of the show and asked to leave again. We spent the remainder of the show in the lobby, waiting for our friends to join us for lunch. The whole thing reminded me of that time I bought new movies for Stella to watch on our 6-hour plane ride and she looked at me like, What the hell is this? Where is Brave?The moral of the story being this: don’t spend a lot of money on things your kids don’t care about. At least we got to spend the morning with good friends. Two months later, though, and she still excited that we went to it, even if she didn’t like it. Every time anything Sesame Street-related comes up she looks at me with a big smile and says, “We goed to Smesame Street Live!” like it was the best day of her life. So I guess it might have been worth it after all.

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A Day At The Children’s Museum

Even though Wendy’s house is huge and full of toys, we decided that we needed to get out and explore. So Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we decided to check out the Children’s Museum.  Sierra had school, so it was just Stella and Aspen. 

Pretty much every photo has at least one of them (usually Stella) as just a blur. Getting toddlers to hold still for a photo is incredibly difficult.


There was a crocodile at the front where you could practice brushing teeth. Grama sat in the chair and Stella got a little scared. “No, Grama, no,” she kept saying. It wasn’t until we were on our way out of the museum that she wanted to try actually brushing the teeth. DSCN3309 DSCN3313

Next up, the vet. Aspen was trusting enough to let Uncle Wes put her in the cone of shame and let us take pictures of her. Stella, not so much. She preferred climbing into the kennels and washing the animals. DSCN3321 DSCN3324 DSCN3325 DSCN3330

There was an entire area filled with these plastic scraps where you could sweep, dig, and pour through pipes. Wes was kind enough to help the girls pick up the scraps and put them in the bag.

This is the only shot we got where they were both looking at the camera and not blinking.DSCN3340 DSCN3346

Posing on the train. Aspen is only 8 months older than Stella, but those 8 months mean that she can be placed on the train and trusted not to jump or fall off while you take a quick picture. Meanwhile, Stella’s already over the train and ready for something else.
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So we headed into the water room, where she was promptly splashed by one of the displays. It took a lot of coaxing from Dad to get her interested in the water features again. DSCN3358

Into the theater!


This kid in the striped shirt was cracking me up. I almost cropped him out but then I remembered that he kept photo bombing us and asking to take his picture. Aspen was a horse and Stella a giraffe.



When it was time to leave, Stella did not want to take off her costume. I don’t blame her.


Not quite how benches work, but, again, I can’t blame her. IMG_9426DSCN3365

Face painting! We drew a few shapes on our cheeks and then mustaches for Movember. And yes, we rocked those things all day. At lunch I actually got a compliment on my mustache as I was walking to the bathroom. DSCN3369


DSCN3381A little clay making. Stella and Aspen were more interested in the brushes that you use to join pieces together, but we still had to a good time. Wes made a man. I made this sweet love seat. Doesn’t it look comfy?

James is finally happy after eating. While I was painting  faces, he was trying to latch on to Grandma Candee’s face! 

IMG_9418 IMG_9417 IMG_9419 IMG_9422 IMG_9423Our last stop inside was the Wizard of Oz room. Aspen and Stella took a look at all the displays and then proceeded to jump off of this one for about 15 minutes. “Last one,” and “One more time,” Stella kept saying. We clearly need to keep working on what those phrases actually mean.


Outside there was a maze and some shrub art. The girls ran through the maze for a while, looking at each other through various doors between aisles. And then we all agreed it was time for lunch. IMG_9431 Grama Tina was fighting a cold, which we picked up (or possibly gave to her from Wes?) and are still fighting it. She looked like she needed a nap after our full day at the museum.IMG_9429 IMG_9440

I let Stella use my red lipgloss and then we took about a million slefies to keep her entertained while we waited for food. The rest of the trip she kept saying, “Stella needs red lips.” IMG_9446And then nap time on the way home. We tried everything to keep her awake on the drive back to Wendy’s, but it was no use. She was too tired. Luckily, Wes managed to make a transfer to bed and she was able to take a long nap and let us rest too!

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Portland So Far

Our flight was pretty uneventful, which is the best outcome when traveling alone with a toddler and an infant.IMG_9252.JPGI surprised Stella with a mermaid to help entertain her on the flight and gave it to her at the airport. It was a huge hit and she made sure to show her “little mermaid” everything.IMG_9248.JPGWe went to Starbucks twice to make sure we had enough snacks for the trip. I promised her she could have pumpkin bread and even though she had forgotten about it and picked popcorn I wasn’t about to test my luck on a six-hour flight.IMG_9251.JPGDon’t worry, she’s making sure the mermaid also gets something to eat before the flight
IMG_9250.JPGI tried to keep her busy with movies, coloring, and stickers but at a certain point we were all over the scrunched seating and tired from lack of sleep. Selfies to the rescue!IMG_9265.JPGWe finally touched down in Portland and made it to my brother’s house for a late dinner and then to bed. Unfortunately, we had a rough night of sleep caused by a lack of sleep all day. James woke up at 2am and 4am and when I tried to sneak out of our shared room at 5am, Stella woke up crying. By 6am she declared, “Stella’s all done sleeping.” I asked my parents to come over early to help entertain all of us.IMG_9266.JPGStella goes exploring with uncle Porter. She didn’t see the door the night before because it was so dark, so he took her on a total tour of house, including the basement which she decided wasn’t worth it after spying a stuffed (fake) ferret.IMG_9268.JPGJames got in some snuggle time with grandpa while Stella and I showered and got ready for the day. IMG_9271.JPGWe had to make a stop to get my rings sized and then checked out my parents new home on wheels. Tiny, but has all the necessities, including squirrels for Stella to our way to lunch it was finally sunny enough got sunglasses.IMG_9274.JPGAt this point I realized I needed an actual infant car seat for James so that he could sleep comfortably in the car and we could carry him around without waking him up. Luckily our friends had an extra one just a few minutes from where we were so we picked up and James slept through lunch and everyone was happy. IMG_9278.JPGWe had to stop at Target for night diapers and I went a little crazy in that cheap front section, which Hawaii does not have. Stella loved her new glasses and art supplies so it was with the six bucks I spent.IMG_9279.JPGLast night we had a much better night of sleep. Granted, I did have at least one kid in my bed from 4am on. But we didn’t actually wake up until 8am and today I feel fantastic. We managed to get some art time in before leaving the house.IMG_9282.JPGWe made it back home in time for Stella to have an actual nap and so far she’s nearly three hours into that nap and we’ve gotten to relax before dinner. And, of course, snuggle this kid.IMG_9290.JPGIMG_9286.JPGHopefully tonight we sleep just as well. Tomorrow Wes will fly in and Monday we move over to his sister’s house. We’re cold but happy to spend some time with family.

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In The Kitchen With Stella: Pumpkin Scones

Last year I made my first batch of pumpkin scones to help us get through our quarantine, which set off a pumpkin flavored obsession with Stella. She loved those things and when I introduced her to the pumpkin bread from Starbucks, they quickly became a favorite. She requested pumpkin bread a few days ago but I decided to make scones with her instead as our afternoon activity. Some days I have to come up with fun afternoon activities as a way for her to actually nap. As a bribe, scones aren’t the worst thing. She started out in her elephant apron, but then got distracted by other things. I got her attention when I brought out the pumpkin. I let her taste it and instead of spitting it out like I thought she would, she kept dipping the teaspoon in for more and saying, “That’s really yummy, Mama!” She kept busy for a little while spooning the remaining bit of pumpkin into a container, her mouth, and a little for Tsunami. We baked them up and then made an even bigger mess with the crumbs, which Tsunami was pretty happy about. I’m loving this new phase where she can mostly help me with things in the kitchen. I had to stop her a few times from eating all the spices because I guess she thought flour would taste better with a little baking powder and cinnamon.

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Halloween 2014

When it comes to Halloween, I’m not creative. I maybe could be if I put more thought into it but it seems like every year it creeps up on me until it’s too late to make any fancy costume. This year was no exception because having a two-year old and a 4-month old obviously doesn’t leave a lot of room for crafting. We picked out a Merida (from Brave, though this costume I’m almost positive is something Merida would never have worn but whatever) costume at Costco a few weeks before Halloween. I had intentions of making the rest of the family her bear brothers, but I got lazy and driving to a dozen different stores to find bear outfits for us was never going to happen. I also had plans to make a bow & arrow for Stella to carry around but, again, that didn’t happen. I’m actually okay with that, though, because Halloween morning I asked if she wanted to wear her costume to swim lessons. I thought it might get her more in the spirit of Halloween and a little excited about trick-or-treating. She seemed excited at first but when she realized that I she had to take off her Brave nightgown she refused. Instead she spent the day in her pajamas.


We decided to not carve pumpkins this year because they rot so quickly here. Instead I took out a few colors of paint and let Stella paint them. It turned into painting herself as well. I just let her have at it and got her bathed before we left for trick-or-treating.


Water delivery was Friday and these were still out while Stella was painting. She kept trying to ride on them. It took her a few times to get herself seated on them but then thought it was hilarious to be riding water. “Stella’s riding,” she’d say with a laugh. DSC_7534

Once she realized I was taking pictures,of her, she climbed off and ran over to look at them. “Again,” she would say as she ran back for another ride. This went on for quite a while, until I had been bitten by all the mosquitoes and decided to go inside.



After Wes got home, we headed to our friends’ neighborhood so the kids could trick-or-treat together. Stella was more interested in all of Jack’s toys and once again refused to wear her costume. Luckily, Jack found her gloves and handed them to her and once she put them on it was fairly easy to put the rest of the costume on. James wore a skeleton outfit that I found at the last minute in his 6-month clothing box. I think it was passed down from our friends in Puerto Rico and am grateful that James was able to dress up for his first Halloween even though I had nothing planned for him!


People have lately been saying that James looks like Wes but even though he doesn’t favor my side of the family as obviously as Stella does, I haven’t seen it. Until I looked back at this photo. DSCN3032

We had been working on saying “Trick or treat!” all day, and it worked. Stella and Jack were both able to knock on the doors and request their candy. After the first house, though, Stella just wanted to sit down and eat the candy. It was an uphill battle getting her to keep going when she already had candy in her bucket.

We managed a few more houses before both kids hit their bedtime wall. Fortunately, Wes had packed up the car before we left so we were able to make a quick getaway. James cried the entire way home and at one point Stella cried for me to “fix your baby” and after refusing a few times because I had no idea what could be wrong with her doll, I finally took it from her to find that she had turned the baby’s head around on her body and it was scaring her. A perfect way to end Halloween! DSCN3039

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