On Where Eggs Come From

Stella, Elise ans Maia love our backyard chickens. They love taking them treats, they love watching them and most of all they love collecting the eggs.

One afternoon this week I sent the crazy girls out to the backyard to burn off some energy. The chickens were ranging around and of course the girls wanted to check for eggs. Turns out, one of the chickens was in the process of laying, and the girls watched the whole thing. Far from squeeking them out, the girls were fascinated. I asked Stella about it this morning, not quite believing they had actually seen the process. But her answer cleared all that up for me.

“Stella”, I said while putting away the mornings eggs, “Did you see Peep lay an egg yesterday?”

“Oh yes, mama!” she replied. “It came out here,” (pointing to her backside), “and went all the way down to the nest box!”(moving her hands down her back and ending them on the floor behind her).

Yup. They know where eggs come from.

Call And Response

Mommy: You are a goof-ball!

Stella: No–I’m a MAR-ball. (Marble)

The things they can say these days.

On Being Two

Stella is now just about the age Maia was when the twins were born…and everyday I am amazed we got through the toddler/infant days (years) to this golden time of two. Yes, golden. Stella is developing into a lovely and very typical–what ever that means–two year old. She is climbing and a master of daring-do. Maybe not as frightening as Elsie at the park, but most definitely a terror at home. She jumps. She runs. She twirls in circles and dances. She is a marvel of toddler locomotion.

Her special skill is in opening bags, undoing zippers and turning out boxes. You can not leave a purse, backpack, grocery bag, or really anything you want kept together within her reach. She loves to find out what’s inside and I think her favorite birthday treat was being encouraged to open boxes and spill the contents out.

Her laughter fills the house and more than the other girls she loves to sing. Her speech is still coming–shes working so hard on words that just aren’t quite there yet–but man she makes up for that with singing. She’ll bop around the house humming or singing snatches of songs from our Music Together classes. At times, she tries to use song to communicate with endearing results. Of course, after starting our preschool activities she loves to sing the ABC song and is starting to recognize some letters.

Stella’s tantrums are epic. The screams. The tears. The kicking of strong little legs. The spitting. The hitting. And the calm after the storm accompanied by her wonderful hugs complete with back pats from her little girl hands.

And the best times are when we’re walking and she slips her little girl hand into mine. I can feel her strength and her fragility in her soft, warm embrace. I can not believe that in two years she’s grown from a teeny-tiny infant smaller than my forearm to a solid child. she is her own person. Stronger in many ways than we give her credit for. I am blessed with her as a little daughter and I can not wait to see what the rest of her “terrible two’s” will bring.

Stella says “feed me”

Stella popped into the bedroom this morning while I was getting dressed for work. I think she made her point quite succinctly.

Stella does her best Snoopy impersonation

NIKON D200, ISO 800, ƒ/2.8, 1/30sec, 70mm focal L.

Stella Steps Out

Stella has been experimenting with walking on her own these past few weeks. She’s a bit wobbly as her feet still turn out fairly far but she’s working it. She walked across the kitchen and into the living room a few nights ago and she can be encouraged to walk…if we stand her up and let go. She still prefers “knee walking” (which is horror on her pants) and when she falls down from walking she’ll finish her journey on her knees instead of pushing herself back up to a standing position. Ah well. It’s still remarkable progress and I’m tickled by the sight of her hurdling forward, arms outstretched for balance, using those little feet of hers.

We went to the park yesterday to soak in some late January sunshine before the rain returns. It was a family affair with John and myself, a rarity. Stella surprised both of us by walking all over the place. She’d walk, fall, knee walk to an object, pull herself up and throw herself out on her feet again. It was a sight. And she is, of course, looking at us and smiling the entire time. Look at me, I can do this now.  She also learned how to slide down the toddler slide all by herself. I called her the “butterball express” as she swooshed down a giggles and shuffled (on her knees) back to the stairs to go down again. She was an amazing collection of energy and gross motor skills.

In the hustle and rush of our daily lives, I need to remember to back off and give the girls time to explore. To try things out and to also remember that for them each day is so new. One day Stella wouldn’t walk. Now she’s stepping out. It’s amazing.

Getting measured for the cranial orthosis

This is Part 2 of a series on Stella’s head. Part 1 is here.

We had an appointment Hanger Prosthetics. We had a lot of questions and were rather apprehensive about the doing this as the kids pediatrician really wasn’t very knowledgeable about the subject.

One of the first things that Julia, our assigned Orthotist, did was to get a large pair of calipers and measure the asymmetry of Stella’s head. Two measurements were taken in an X orientation from from each temple to the oposing back-side of the head. The result was 13 mm difference, which was well above the threshold of “medical relevence” (8 mm, IIRC). It wasn’t the worst she’d seen which was in the high teens.

The “good” news was that the severity was sufficient that insurance would pick up the bill. And, the bill was not cheep — list price for the whole procedure was about $2500! Regardless, we had committed to it and would have paid out of pocket if it came down to it. We made the commitment and proceeded to the next step: scanning her head.

The scanning process uses an laser scanner to map the precise shape and size of Stella’s head in order to build the custom helmet.

First, they put on a “sock” over her head. This served 2 purposes: kept the hair from showing up in the scan, and it allowed the positional reference transmitter/sensor to be affixed to her head without sticking in her hair.


iPhone, map

Then they affixed the sensor gizmo which lets the scanner know where it is scanning relative to Stella’s head movement.


iPhone, map

Then they darkened the room and scanned her head from top to bottom using about 10 swipes to get all the way around.


iPhone, map

Below is a screen shot of what the scan looks like after they applied a smoothing algorithm to remove the small bumps. I missed the shot, but, prior to the smoothing, the raw scanner output was a very precise rendering of Stella’s face with her little dimples and details of the hook and loop layers used to hold the sensor gizmo to her head.


iPhone, map

The blue lines scan are reference lines for where the top of her forehead is and an outline of where the ear holes need to be cut out.

And that was it. Quick and easy, well, other than trying to get a baby to hold her head still!

About 2 weeks later, the new helmet was ready.

Peek-a-boo

If you ask Stella to play peak-a-boo, she gets a coy smile on her face, and happily starts the game.

Peek-a-boo

NIKON D70, ISO 640, ƒ/2.8, 1/30sec, 50mm focal L.

And she’ll wait for you to ask, “where’d Stella go?”

Where’d Stella Go?

NIKON D70, ISO 640, ƒ/2.8, 1/30sec, 50mm focal L.

And, the predictable response she gets after opening her hands starts of a fit of giggling that makes it easy to keep the game going for as long as she wants to play.

There she is!

NIKON D70, ISO 640, ƒ/2.8, 1/30sec, 50mm focal L.

The “new”, outgoing Stella

Stella has become quite the little ham in front of the camera. Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with her Daddy being there too. Not that she isn’t equally fond of Mommy, but lately she’s been the most expressive in her excitement when I come home in the evenings. Her stranger anxiety is also abating as her personality blossoms and she realizes that the world is so much more interesting when she’s interacting with it rather than hiding from it.

And, for the record, it wasn’t that I didn’t try to get equivalent shots of both Elise and Maia (because I really *did* try), but, they were just so busy doing their own things that they wouldn’t stand still and be adorable when I had the lens trained on them.

Yeah, I’m cute

NIKON D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/400sec, 56mm focal L., map

All smiles — Stella seams to have taken lessons from Elise.

NIKON D70, ISO 320, ƒ/6.3, 1/400sec, 48mm focal L., map

Stella says “Hello!”

NIKON D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/250sec, 27mm focal L., map

Happy pumpkin

NIKON D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/125sec, 62mm focal L., map

This is probably my favorite picture. Perhaps it’s my own projection of her actual sentiment, but, I can’t help but think she’d sure like to play with that big orange ball. If only it weren’t so darned immovable…

Little help please? It’s too heavy to move by myself.

NIKON D70, ISO 200, ƒ/4.5, 1/160sec, 40mm focal L., map

Park Date

We did something today that I have been remiss in doing lately. We went to the park. My favorite park for little crawlers and just standers and the big sister that travels with them.

It was a beautiful day for it. Sunshine, cool breeze, temperate weather. The time was right…after lunch so it was very quiet. The girls had a fantastic time. Elise and Stella both loved the swings. Elsie has been loving them, but this is a new development for Stella. Stella spent the entire time laughing her perfect baby laugh, laughing to the point where she gave herself the hiccups…which only made her laugh  louder.

After swings we went to the small child play area with a large sandy area that is partially shaded. There is a small climbing structure with a “Maia sized house” and slide. Maia loves the play structure and Stella and Elise enjoyed the sand, both giving a shovel a try. They then scooped sand and, wonder of wonders, put it into their small buckets and not into their mouths. Yay!

Then it was teeter-totter time. This teeter-totter is really a cantilever type beam with a spring in the middle, so it bounces as opposed to moving the kids up and down in the air. Better for little ones. Elise loves to pull herself up by the seats and make the whole thing bounce and once she realized she could sit on the seat and bounce big time I had a hard time convincing her to do anything else. At one point she even tried to throw her little leg over the saddle herself, but the seat is still a bit high for her.

Stella also enjoyed the bouncy teeter-totter, but not as much as she enjoyed the sand area and flirting with the other moms and grandmas. Stella was holding court with her bucket and shovel. She’d do peek-a-boo and then smile and look away and then laugh as the other women coo’d at her. She was just too cute, and we almost lost her to the grandma who just wanted to take her home.

There were tears all around when we had to head out. I’m thinking that’s a good thing, in a way, because all the girls had such a good time playing.

And Then There Were Three…Four, Five, Six!

True to form, Stella does things late but makes up for the timing with intensity. She’s gone form only having her two bottom teeth to pushing her top incisor a few weeks ago to her current state of having the rest of her top front teeth poking on through. That’s two front and one more incisor coming down the pipeline. Sheesh! No wonder she was a grumpy gal all of last week.