Sunday, December 31, 2006

Swing, swing, swing...

Eliana loves to swing. When you walk by her in the swing she gives you the biggest smiles. It's hard to resist her charms. Here's a little video of her flashing those grins in the swing.

Laundry Time!

Look what I found in the laundry! Leif brought up a load of clothes and there was a cute little stowaway in the basket. Silly Daddy!

On the food front, Ellie is eating like a little piggy. So far she's eating three meals of solid food daily, in addition to nursing and formula. It's pretty hard to fill her up, but when she does get really full, she gets all cute and dopey and happy. She gets that "Thanksgiving-afternoon" look on her face. So far we've given her rice cereal and avocado, and tomorrow she'll have her first taste of sweet potato. I've been in baby food making mode, cooking, pureeing, and freezing fruits and veggies. Ellie has yet to make yucky faces at her food, so it'll be interesting to see if she turns out to be a baby who eats anything and everything (as she has so far) or if she will develop picky eating habits. Who knows. But for now feeding her is a joy. She doesn't like to drink water, though, so that's something we're working on. We have learned that she is capable of drinking out of a sippy cup, though once she realized it only had water in it she just wanted to play with it. This is once of my favorite pictures of her playing with her cup.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Home at Last

In the last week, we've been to Texas, Kansas, and Roundup. We've seen both sets of grandparents, both sets of great grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles.... and Ellie had three celebrations to commemorate her first Christmas. No travel glitches (despite flying through Denver on the 17th and 24th - completely missed the mayhem there, thankfully) or schedule hangups. Just a wonderful holiday. We spent lots of time with family and just enjoyed the relationships God has given us. We hope you had a wonderful holiday as well. Since we were gone and I haven't posted for a week (I decided not to even try with the dial-up connection in Texas), here's a recap of our holidays:

We left at 6am to drive two hours to the Billings airport. We had a 10:30 flight out and weren't sure what road conditions would be like, so we gave ourselves plenty of time. We met up with a family friend to drop off the car for the week and he took us to the airport. Our flight was delayed (oh - I guess that was a minor travel glitch), so when we landed in Denver, we had 10 minutes to run 35 gates to catch our next flight. We made it to the gate as they were about to close the door, but we made it. Whew. The flights were uneventful and we landed in Dallas safe and sound. Of course, Mommom, Poppy, and Uncle Robert were so happy to see Eliana.

Uncle Robert with Eliana.

Poppy spending some quality time with his granddaughter.

Things at my parents house were a little crazy this trip. They're in the middle of remodeling their kitchen and dining room. The project was supposed to have been done by Christmas, but, well.... a week before we arrived someone ran off the road and drove a truck into my parents' house. Yes, INTO the house. So.... there was a little re-working to do. Despite not having a kitchen (the fridge and microwave were in a spare bedroom and the dishes were washed in the front bathroom) and having extra furniture stashed in the rooms, it still felt like home, thanks to my amazing mom. There weren't the holiday decorations that normally adorn their home at this time of year, but I can't say that it was any less Christmas without them. It was just so wonderful to share part of Ellie's first Christmas with them. Thanks for letting us come visit amidst your remodeling, Mom and Dad. We really enjoyed it. Oh - and the house looks GREAT. Can't wait to see it finished.

Mom even let Leif spread out his computer stuff and build a computer while we were there. He was one happy boy putting together his new toy and then playing games on it for the duration of the trip. The computer even made it home in one piece after being checked as baggage on the plane. I'm not sure it's a good idea, but it worked.

Merry Geeking!

Thursday and Friday my dad flew us all (including Robert) up to see my grandparents in Kansas. This was Eliana's first time riding in a small plane and Poppy's first time taking Ellie up for a flight. She was fine for the flight, but really liked taking off and taxiing. She seems to have a need for speed - definitely Leif's daughter! It was also the first time my grandparents had seen Eliana, so it was doubly special to spend some time with them. We all had dinner with my Aunt Carolyn and cousins Jeff and Steve on Thursday night. Ellie was pretty much tired of being around new people at that point, so we finally had to head back to the hotel so she could go to bed. Again, though, it was so great to spend time, even just a little, with everyone. We flew back to Texas on Friday, but before we left Uncle Lyle and his wife Jan met us at the airport, so they could see Ellie, too. For such a brief trip, we really did manage to see everyone.

Mommom shows Ellie the world below.

The grin during takeoff.

Grand-Poppy with his great granddaughter before we ever stepped off the tarmac.

Grand-Mommom holds Ellie for the first time.

The cousins: Jeff, Elizabeth, Robert, and Steve

Saturday we celebrated Christmas as a family. We had our traditional Christmas eve dinner of crackers, cheese, and sausage and we opened gifts. To my shock, amazement, and delight, Robert made Ellie the cutest little coat - and a matching one for me! He's pretty much burned out on sewing these days, so the coats are that much more special to me. And seriously - there's nothing better than trying something on for the first time and having it fit perfectly. I don't know how he does it.

Bitikofer Family: Robert, Kathy, Eliana, Lauren, Elizabeth, Leif

Opening gifts - Ellie liked the wrapping paper AND the toy!

Sleeping in heavenly peace...

We flew out of Dallas on Sunday after church and made it to Billings and finally to Roundup at 1am on Christmas day. We stayed at Grandpa and Gayle's that night and went to visit Aunt Lillian first thing Christmas morning. It was amazing to see Aunt Lillian with Eliana. There are 101 years between them. Ellie smiled and grinned as Aunt Lillian held her. It was cute to see. Then we headed back to Grandpa's for brunch and opening gifts. It was just our family this year and we had a wonderful day. It was one of the best visits we've ever had in Roundup and I'm happy Eliana got to spend her first Christmas that way. Around 2:30 we got in the car to drive back to Bozeman. We opened the last of Ellie's gifts (from us) and enjoyed the Christmas lights and were happy to be home.

Eliana with great great aunt Lillian.

Grammee and Grandad with Eliana on Christmas morning.

It was a Merry Christmas indeed.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Since we won't be back before Christmas...

6th Anniversary

To celebrate our 6th anniversary, we went to "She Loves Me" at the Firehouse 5 theater in Livingston. It was good, but it wasn't a play... it was a musical. They did a great job and if there are ever any other musicals I want to see, I'll go there to see them. They were great. Leif wasn't feeling well =( and Ellie screamed for a smidge at Julie's (sorry Julie!), but all in all it was an okay way to celebrate. I just wish Leif weren't feeling ill. He's sleeping right now while I pack for our trip to Texas tomorrow. 5am will come awfully early.... we need to be on the road by 6.


Last night was the annual Christmas party for RightNow Technologies. It is the one formal event we attend each year. Everyone gets all spiffied up (and that is quite an accomplishment here in Montana) and heads to the Gallatin Gateway Inn for the evening. Most years we leave fairly early - after dinner, about when the band starts playing, and before everyone starts to get drunk. This year we left around 9:30 (we arrived at 6:30) and only left because we needed to go pick up Ellie from the sitter. We had fun this year! I'm not sure why it seemed so much more enjoyable this year - maybe because we actually got there early enough to sit at a table with people we (sort of) knew. Maybe because we actually knew more people this year and I knew enough people that I could go mingle on my own when the geek talk overwhelmed me. =) Maybe because Leif decided that this year he would be comfortable, no matter what he was wearing (the rare tie-sporting event). Whatever the cause, it was fun. The band was pretty good - way too loud, but pretty good. The food was EXCELLENT. Some years the food is just so-so. This year, though? Mmmm.... Salmon and filet mignon, delicious potatoes, green beans almondine, and a spinach salad with locally made feta. And you've gotta love the wait staff walking around with platters of bite-size desserts.

So... that was last night. We picked up Ellie about 9:45 and she was in a great mood. She stayed in a great mood until she went to bed (er... about 11:30) and she was in a great mood all morning. It's wonderful! Such a silly giggly girl.

Today.... well, today is our 6th anniversary. It's hard to believe that we've been married for 6 years already. We're celebrating by going to see a play in Livingston this afternoon. Julie (one of Leif's coworkers) is going to watch Ellie for us. Ellie just loves Julie, so they should have a good time.

Tomorrow we fly to Texas to see my folks for the holidays. I'm hoping the roads are clear since we're flying out of Billings for this trip. That means a 2 hour drive to the airport. Our snow was all gone, so it wouldn't have been a problem. But we got like 3 inches of snow in about an hour yesterday, so now there's no telling. Crazy weather! It went from being almost 50* yesterday morning to absolutely white-out blizzarding about an hour and a half later. Crazy.

Oooo! And speaking of crazy weather.... it's been really windy here lately. So windy, in fact, that they clocked record wind speeds up near Glacier National Park. 165 mph winds. Yeah.... that's category 5 hurricane wind speeds. On the news this morning they were reporting it and they also mentioned that the wind blew over a couple elderly people elsewhere in the state. I thought that was a funny thing to mention on the news and got a giggle out of it.

Well, I really ought to get packing and stuff before we head to town today. It's been a while since I'd posted, so I just wanted to catch everyone up on the latest happenings! Have a great weekend!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Eliana's First Cereal

Here's a video of Eliana's first "real" meal. She's having rice cereal and loving it.

Eliana's First "Solid" Food!

Today we gave Ellie some rice cereal for the first time. Everything indicated her readiness, so we took the plunge, even though it was about a month earlier than we'd planned. She's 20 1/2 weeks and she LOVED the food. She fussed when we put her in the chair (she's not very patient when she's hungry), but once that first bite of cereal hit her lips, she was content for the rest of the feeding. She was like a little bird, opening her mouth in anticipation of the spoon for each bite. She had plenty of cereal dribbling down her chin by the time we were finished, but it went well. As far as I can tell, she was definitely ready for food. It was a momentous occasion. Our baby is growing up. *sniff* *sniff*

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Recently in Ellie's World

Ellie has been doing a few things of note lately. First, if she wants to get out of something (like the swing, or your lap), she has started arching her back and trying to scoot out of her spot. I'm not entirely sure what she thinks will happen when she scoots onto the floor, but she definitely lets us know when she's tired of sitting there. If she wants us to pick her up out of the swing, she does the same thing, only with her arms raised. It's too cute and I usually can't resist.

Pick me up, please!

She has also started grabbing for things with two hands. We were at Cosmic Pizza the other day for lunch and Zuzanna (who was eating with us) was holding the pepper flakes container and it had Ellie's attention. She reached for it and tried to grab it from both sides with her little hands. It kept her (and us!) amused for quite a long time.

the two-handed grab

Ellie has started to become very interested in watching us eat, too. We used to be able to eat with her sitting on our laps, but now that is more difficult. She wants to put her hands in our food and watches us very carefully while we are putting food into our mouths and chewing. It's pretty cute. Last night she woke up hungry during the night for the first time in a long time, even after eating much more than usual during the day, so she might be getting ready for solid foods. I wasn't planning on starting her on them for another month, but we may start sooner with the way she's acting!

The teething has more or less subsided, and the little white bump of a tooth we could see and feel has now disappeared! I was looking forward to it popping through, but I guess I get to enjoy her toothless grin for a while longer now. She started being much snugglier when she was teething, though, and that has stayed. She's very good at putting her arms around your neck and nuzzling her head into your shoulder. It's about the best feeling in the world. I love my snuggly girl.

Eliana plays with anything she can get her hands on these days. If we're at the table, she plays with the tablecloth. If we're laying in bed, she plays with the blankets. If she's got a dress on, she plays with her skirt. If she's just in a jumper, she plays with her pacifier strap. She's definitely starting to explore her world, which means she should be pretty fun for Christmas. She'll definitely have a few new places to explore.

A Mr. K kind of day

Yesterday Leif took off from work. We dropped Ellie off with a babysitter and headed to Big Sky to go skiing. We got frequent skier cards this year and yesterday was the last of the ski free days. The snow coverage was pretty rotten - lots of rocks sticking through, and there wasn't much terrain open, but we had a great time anyway. Leif was kind enough to ski with me for most of the day, until I told him to go ski something a little more challenging than Mr. K. And yes, I did spend the entire time skiing that one green run. It had good coverage and gave me the opportunity to remember how to ski. The last time I skied was two years ago, and since then I've had a baby and haven't been particularly active. I was taking it easy and yet I'm still incredibly sore today. My legs hurt like crazy, but it's a good kind of hurt - it's that hurt that says I got to go skiing yesterday for the first time in a long time. Woohoo!

As we were parking at the resort yesterday, we noticed a group of protesters and I found out that this round of the Free Trade Agreement talks between South Korea and the US were taking place at the Big Sky resort. Apparently they came to Big Sky in part because it's a difficult place for a large number of protesters to assemble and because it's an uncomfortable place for them to protest outside. Did I mention that it was really warm yesterday (almost 40 degrees)? I didn't get to see any famous people from the talks, but there were an unusually large number of Koreans on the slopes.

Apparently Ellie was fine being at a babysitter's house for 6 hours yesterday. It's the first time we've left her with a paid sitter, not a friend or family member. She was sleeping when we dropped her off, and sleeping when we picked her up, but she managed to drink two bottles in the time we were gone, so I assume she woke up and played between the two naps. It was so nice to have someone watch Ellie so we had the freedom to get out and do something together.

Leif saw on the news that there's an El Nino forming, which means a warm, dry winter for Montana. That means we won't have much snow. In fact, our snow in the valley is almost all gone already, just from the past couple warm days we've had. It's sad, but maybe I'd prefer more snow during a year that Ellie will actually get to play in it anyway.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Last night we watched Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a look. I posted some of my thoughts on it here, if anyone is interested.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Updated Sidebar Links

I updated the sidebar links since our Target registry was no longer active. Now you can see Ellie's wishlist instead! =) Here's a picture for your viewing pleasure. Happy Monday!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Christmas Stroll

Bozeman's annual Christmas Stroll was this evening. They block of Main Street and thousands of people wander around downtown in ten degree weather eating, drinking, and doing their Christmas shopping. It's usually pretty chilly and this year was no exception. We bundled Ellie up in her cute pink and white bunting bag, put her in the stroller, and off we went. She was much warmer than we were; that's for sure. We stopped into just about every store we could to warm up as we strolled down the street. (As a side note, we saw a guy wearing shorts despite the sub-freezing temperatures - crazy Montanans.) We got some cider and some hot chocolate, and even got to see a woman perform "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" from memory. Most children get their picture taken with Santa around Christmas time... Our little Ellie got her picture taken with the Grinch. =)

The Wonder of Christmas

We took some Christmas photos of Eliana today. She wore her Ralph Lauren Christmas outfit from Mommom (cute as can be, but whose idea was it to put tiny buttons down the legs instead of snaps??) and we even got a couple smiles. Of course, she moved her head when she smiled, so those photos are blurry. =) I got some great pictures for scrapbooking. These are some of my favorites.