Thursday, December 17, 2009

Up to Some Good

It's been two weeks since my last post, but I have a good reason to be remiss in blogging. Bella has been wearing underwear since Friday the 11th, and between trips to the potty and trying do do anything else I haven't been able to really sit at the computer for more than a few seconds at a time.

While the Harvey's were in town we got her a toilet to see if she liked it. She enjoyed dismantling the thing, but wouldn't really sit on it long enough to do any business. After a talk with my mom on the phone I decided to try potty training her my Mom's way. She apparently potty trained all seven of us at 18 months, in ONE day.

During the week she'd been kind of sitting on the potty- but mostly playing with it- Bella developed a fear of making a deposit. She was happy to sit on it and color, read books, or sing songs- until she needed to do her business. This fear complicated things a little bit, so it has taken longer than 1 day to accomplish what we have.

It took her 3 days to not scream and cry when she needed to go (sometimes begging for a diaper to go in). Since overcoming that fear she has been able to pee on command- on any toilet. She had one quazi-accident yesterday (her undies got a little wet, but she held in the rest till we got to the pot), and she still uses a diaper for nap time and bed time, but other than that she lets us know when she needs to go and keeps it in until we get to the toilet.

Yay! Can I just say- I didn't think it was possible to potty train a 19 month old. Happy Day!

We've been up to lots of good around here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Happy December

It's been December for a while now, but I haven't been able to sit down at the computer much in the last couple weeks. I was having way too much fun with Mark and Marlene (Ryan's parents), who came to Houston to do Thanksgiving with us. I won't go into details now, but we'll just say Bella was basking in more attention and play time than she is accustomed to. She now knows what the monkey says, and never fails to scratch her arm pit every time she does the sound. Thanks for coming to visit us! We had a blast.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fix it Friday 37

Today is Fix it Friday at I ♥ faces! Today I used a layer with overlay blend mode and grayscale to paint brighter her face and the background darker. I then used coffeshop's bold pop action, adjusted brightness layer, flattened image then added skeletalmess's chaotic soul texture in multiply blending mode. at 50% opacity. Done!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

i heart faces Autumn Beauty week

This week's theme at i ♥ faces is "Autumn Beauty." Although I haven't seen any changing colors around here yet, I do have a picture of a little beauty wearing fall colors in October. I used some textures from skeletalmess to make it feel more autumny. If I recall correctly we had news of snow back west in our home state on this same day. Perhaps the most beautiful thing about this autumn is that we can still wear shorts and T-shirts mid-November.

Friday, November 13, 2009

More Zoo

Last time we went to the zoo we didn't dare try any more than the petting zoo, and even that seemed to be a little lackluster for our little princess. Although it's only been about 3 months since then, she has learned enough new stuff to make the zoo a fun place.
This time Bella had been working on her animal sounds, her favorite being the cow. Every time she spotted an animal that day she shouted "MOOOOOOOOOO!" We tried teaching her the correct sounds but discovered that we don't know what most animals say (anyone know what the giraffe says?), and a disproportionate amount of zoo animals say "Raaaaaaaaar!"
Although the animals interested her this time, nothing captivated her like the merry-go-round. we decided it was worth an extra 1.25 to take her a second time. That girl was a load of fun!

Friday Night Date Night

Last week we commenced our Friday Night Date Group. We found two other couples so far (we are still looking for another couple...) and we rotate babysitting every weekend so we can go out every Friday (less the one when we watch all the kids). Bella loved having two girls play with her all night. They thought she was their personal baby doll and passed the time wrapping her up in blankets and carrying her around the apartment. Bella had perma-grin all night.

I Heart Faces Fix it Friday

Today's i ♥ faces challenge was fun. I started by sharpening the photo, then did the Coffeeshop action Bold Pop. I lowered the brightness on brightness/ contrast layer to -6 then flattened the image. I used spot healing for the little boogers near his nose, then graussian blur at .8 pixel radius to fix the ones inside his nostril. I added a new overlay layer with grayscale and used white paint at 70% opacity to brighten the eyes. On the same layer I switched the paint to black and lowered brush radius to 5 to define the eyes. Then I added texture. I used a couple textures from Skeletalmess in his Roughed Up collection. I changed texture blending modes to multiply and added layer masks to remove texture from his face and body (used brush at 10% opacity and repeated until I was satisfied). The textures darkened his skin so I added another layer in overlay blending mode with grayscale and used white paint to brighten his face and skin again (10% opacity brush, repeated until satisfied). Flatten and crop. Viola!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Princess and FrankenRyan

Bella was Snow White this year, in case you didn't notice, or don't know the Disney princess names (she got called Cinderella a couple times). She was quite the trooper, and just like last week, she wouldn't let go of her candy bucket until we put her in bed. By the end she opted to relax in the stroller while we did the work for her. She wouldn't even lift the bucket to make it easier for people to put the candy in it.
Ryan ended up being a quazi-Frankenstein's Monster for Halloween, but it wasn't planned. He was at baseball practice for a tournament he signed up for at work when he got hit in the eye with a fly ball. I was getting Bella ready for bed when he called and told me he had a big surprise. FYI, you shouldn't call your wife and tell her you have a big surprise unless you are talking about a king size Snickers. I was really excited until he walked through the door with an ice pack on his eye. It took until 10 pm to convince him he should get stitches (thanks Anika and Ryan T.) but he didn't go get his 6 stitches until 10 the following morning. Thanks to my googling skills we figured out how to make a butterfly bandage that held him together until then.
By the time he got to work that day pictures of his accident had already circulated the city hall network in an email titled, "Eye Got it!"

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's About Time

I know it's been a while since I've posted new video footage. I apologize to those of you who resort to replaying the old ones over and over and over again. To make up for it, here's almost 2 minutes of something I recorded on Wednesday. Bella was just being her cute self when we went out on the stairs and I happened to bring the camcorder.

Everyday Bella from Cecilia Harvey on Vimeo.

Other happenings this week- until now, Bella's monkey-like tendencies have been kept in check by her short reach (still in the 0 percentile, Yes!). She just wasn't tall enough to reach the things needed for her to mount the desk, counters or table. This week she figured out how to use the computer desk drawers as steps to climb on top. She also figured out that if Mommy moves the chair too far from the table for her to use it to get on top, she can move the chair closer. She also applied that concept to the counter tops. She now has free access to all of her favorite things; the computer, faucets, cupboards, and a Mommy going crazy trying to keep her feet on the floor.

At 18 months Bella has also become quite the organizer. She loves to put things away, and throwing trash in the garbage. After diaper changes she can't rest until she has taken the dirty diaper and deposited it into the trash can. She is the cutest little girl in the world!

Friday, October 30, 2009

I Heart Faces Fix it Friday

So, in case you are wondering what all this I ♥ faces business is all about, it's a photography blog that has weekly challenges and activities. Since I am newly obsessed with photography and photoshopping I've started doing the stuff and it's really fun!

This week's photo was the one on the left and the one on the right is the one I "fixed." I use PhotoShop Elements 7 for my editing and these are the steps I took in my edits.

1. use clone stamp to fix up her bruises
2. create 2 new layers with grayscale in overlay mode.
3. in first layer use soft brush tool at 15% opacity and black paint to darken background to taste.
4. apply low pixel graussian blur to layer to smooth paint job.
5. in second layer change brush to 10% opacity and white paint to brighten her skin and eyes.
6. apply low pixel graussian blur to layer to smooth paint job.
7. create new layer with overlay blending mode and changed opacity to 80%
8. flatten image and save!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Back in the day... some Old Pictures

These pictures escaped my photoshopping attention for several weeks, but I still thought they were worth posting. We took these at a park near our house.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Bella and I have been active in play group for the first time since we moved to Texas. I brought my camera this time and managed to catch a fun scene of her and Minnie playing together. I thought they were putting wood chips on the slide so I just took pictures of them going at it. It wasn't until both of them had brown water dripping down their fronts that I realized they were actually playing in a pool of last night's rain. It's a good thing it was 70+ degrees out there because I didn't have a spare outfit.

I Heart Faces Halloween Dress Up Challenge

This weeks photo challenge on I ♥ faces is to share a picture of somebody dressed up for Halloween. This precocious princess was Snow White for the evening, but her favorite part was hauling around the little pumpkin candy bucket. She wouldn't let go of it, even when it got so heavy that she had to drag it behind her.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


On Friday we watched two of Bella's friends while their parents went out. Bella and Darren got along really well. They transferred rocks into the play area together, sat together and shared dirt together. Way to make friends girls! Usually they just ignore each other.

On another note- today was Bella's 18 month check up. She is now 19 lbs, which maintains her uninterrupted status in the 0 percentile for weight. They didn't say how long she was, or how big her head is, so I assume she's doing okay.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Birthday Bash

This year's birthday bonanza was as splendid an affair as last year's. Ryan started it out with the traditional eggo waffle and omlette breakfast in bed. We decided to find an acceptable fall type activity to do as a family to celebrate the occasion. It turns out that pumpkin patches are pretty scarce in the greater Houston area. By and by we did find one, but to our delight Dewberry Farm was much, much more than a pumpkin patch. I think it was more like a carnival for young children. They had goats, horses, chickens, pigs (they do races every day). They also stocked the farm yard with big bouncing toys, a cart track, playgrounds for little kids and also for big kids, a corn maze, and a shed housing corn kernels 2 ft deep. That was way cooler than the balls at McDonalds. Bella was a little overwhelmed by the 10 other kids in there jumping/ throwing/ making corn angels in such close range to her.

Ryan also took me to the Olive Garden for my birthday dinner. Bella almost ate an enormous meatball all by herself. I think that's more protein than she usually gets in a week. After dinner we wrapped up the evening watching Pride and Prejudice. I just can't get over the music and cinematography of this latest version.
I give my hubby an A+ for this birthday. Thanks sweetie!

Dinner Party Disaster

We had a family come over for Sunday dinner this week. It was uneventful if you don't count me asking them to go home and grab some ingredients that I ran out of, burning the cake AFTER taking it out of the oven by setting it on a burner that got left on, smoke flavored cake (because cutting off the burnt part isn't sufficient) not even disguised by copious amounts of frosting, a clogged sink (word to the wise, don't ever let a whole potato make it's way into the disposal), and Bella beating up their 8 month old daughter. I wonder if they will ever come over again. Either way, we had fun with them.
**note: That is the actual smoke flavored cake pictured above. Using a serrated knife to saw it into serving sized portions didn't help its aesthetic appeal.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fairy Bella and an Eviction Notice

I've been getting obsessed with PhotoShoping and photography lately and one of the blogs I follow- I heart Faces - had a tutorial on how to put a little fantasy into your photos. I had a blast making Bella into a fairy. In fact, I got a little over zealous with the glitter brushes and stars I found on Obsidian Dawn as you might have noticed. Thanks for the awesome tutorial Amanda!

Besides photo excitement, Bella has just been through the flu for the first time. That was a rough 3-4 days for her, for me, for Ryan, and the neighbors- I'm sure. She seems to be making up for her long winded bout of orneriness by sleeping a couple extra hours in the day today and yesterday. Thank you Bella.

On Tuesday night we were served an eviction notice. Apparently the automatic payment we set up with our useless bank didn't get sent. I couldn't sleep all night. We never dreamed, not in a million years, that we would get evicted for not paying rent. We are responsible people and we pay our obligations, thank you very much. The next morning I rushed into the leasing office to explain that our bank had some kind of malfunction. I took deep breaths to keep the tears from my eyes as I gave her our sob story. Yes I included the fact that our little girl has had the flu and anything else that I thought would bring on a little sympathy. When she said it was okay, and we didn't even have to pay the 150$ late fee I cried anyway and blamed it on the pregnancy. She felt really bad and offered me her FiberOne bar. I thought about taking it.

So, we are still at the same address, Bella is not sick any more, and I am having a blast editing photos.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Random Pictures

Here are a few pictures from Thursday. We went to the little playground in our apartment complex. I heard it snowed in Utah. It's been a fabulous 80 degrees all week here in Houston. I also want you to please note that we aren't bad parents. Ryan didn't really let her drive, and she was only in the front seat for the 30 seconds it takes to drive to the other side of the parking lot where the playground is. Please don't call CPS.

These are from a couple weeks ago. She switches from imp to sweetheart in a flash.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hangin' with little Miss Bella

I just loved these pictures and wanted to post them. She gets obsessed with the most random objects and every day it's a new one. A couple days ago it was the hat, today it's the diaper box.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Labor Day

Here are some more pictures of our Labor Day extravaganza, posted by request. Marlene, I'm still waiting for you to send me your pictures so I can do a page for Darren (and kids) and Brad (and more of Amy).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Texan Jumping Bean

Yesterday Bella started doing a strange squatting/ standing motion repeatedly and I couldn't figure it out. I think we know what she was up to, and the video says it all.

Bella has had quite a busy week. Yesterday she turned 17 months old, and she has been adding words and phrases to her vocabulary in preparation for this event. It's just taken me a long time to figure out that she is actually saying something, but she's been doing this for a while. Last week she started saying "meeeeees" complete with a belly rubbing gesture (which would be the baby sign for "please" that I tried to teach to her 5 months ago). Her repertoire also includes, "oi go?" (where did it go?) "ge go" (let's go), "dat" (that), "gay goo" (thank you), and several other phrases that I haven't deciphered yet.
On another note we would like to proudly announce our anticipation of Harvey baby #2,'s a BOY! Which means that the Darley curse isn't real. I'm due on Feb 6, 2010. That means I'm at 20 weeks right now, although I look and feel like I'm 30 weeks along. Any ideas for boys names?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Labor Day Darley Barbecue

As I noted in my previous post, we were in Utah for Labor Day. Our holiday began with packing and loading up the cars after a weekend up at a condo. By the time we left we were dressed and ready for a two and a half hour photo shoot in Salt Lake. Bella, however, had other ideas. She redecorated her outfit with throw up before we had escaped the canyon. We made an emergency stop to clean it up, and another at the mall to buy another out fit so that she would still match Ellie. Bella cried the whole way there, until picture time. Drake Busath was so good with the kids that he brought a smile to Bella's face when he was trying to make the other kids smile.

Although it was technically a Harvey holiday, we had plans to pop into the Darley's for the usual celebratory barbecue. We made several unsuccessful attempts at giving Bella a nap. I don't think Ryan would have turned one down if he'd been given the chance.

Our labor day adventures didn't end until almost 2 a.m. The flight back to Houston was a series of hopeless efforts at getting Bella to sleep in our arms, being substitutes for a personal jungle gym, and trying to keep her from kicking the seats in front of us. She finally surrendered to her droopy eye lids 15 minutes before we landed. Just after Bella settled on the floor the stewardess advised us that she wasn't allowed to lay on the floor.

The fun wasn't over after we landed either. As we turned onto our street at 1:30 a.m. a police cruiser flipped a U behind us, followed us, then finally flashed his lights at us. He informed us that he had detained us because he clocked us at 6 over the speed limit, but added that we also have a light out on our license plate, we need to get our Texas registration, and change our out of state driver's licenses. Luckily he only gave us a warning.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Bliss

Although we are 24 hours (by car) away from family, we still got to spend the weekend with them for labor day. I must thank the photographer for failing to take even one acceptable family picture in our June photo shoot. If he had, Marlene couldn't have persuaded Mark to fly us back out for another try before Travis leaves on his mission. Thus it is that we came to be in Utah last weekend and spent most of our time boating/ jet skiing/ wake boarding/ water skiing at Pineview- compliments of the Harvey's.

We had a blast out on the lake. The weather was perfect and my brother brought up a boat and drove it all day for us. He was a hit- and the boat too. I spent most of my time on the boat because the doc gave a "no-go" on the water skiing, wakeboarding, jet skiing, tubing and everything else, so I'm especially glad Jon came up.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Moving Up in Life

After 4 apartments in 2.5 years of marriage, we've found one we love. Many of you may recall our humble beginnings with a "multi-purpose room" that functioned as front room, study, and bedroom (and there was no closet). Well I do. Now we are basking in the luxury of an apartment that includes not only an actual bedroom, but also a walk-in closet and a study that we converted into Bella's room. We almost have two bedrooms! We also pay three times more than we did for the studio apartment, but it is soooooo worth it (because we are done with school and Ryan has a real job).

Our last apartment, here in Houston, was the worst. Although it was an upgrade in the square footage- and it had carpet!!!- it was a scary place. Little homies were always lurking around the buildings and in the parking lots. The dumpsters were always overflowing, and the hot tub grew something green and slimy. I haven't seen any of the above in our new place. On the positive side, we've been enjoying the kiddie section of the pool, the playground, and a fitness center with state of the art equipment (ask Ryan how it is to run on a treadmill that shuts off if your pace is too fast). Anyway, we like it here.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pasty White Beach Bums

We went to the beach for the first time since living here, and Bella's first time ever. She didn't mind the lack of water toys- we didn't bring buckets, shovels, floaties or anything else. She had a blast running from the sand to the water and back, scooting on her knees in the shallows, kicking the incoming waves, and hanging out in her old bouncer when she got tired. I think that's the most use the bouncer has seen since she was a month old, when she realized she didn't like being strapped down to anything, music and relaxing vibrator notwithstanding.

Somehow, Bella didn't look as pasty as Ryan and I did, although she certainly doesn't get any more sun exposure than we do. I think I should spend a little more time out by the pool in the next couple of weeks, or the Harvey's are going to need protective eye wear when we go up to Pineview.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Gulf Coast Beach Experience

We took this video on Saturday down on Galveston Island. Bella had such a blast she didn't even mind missing her nap for it. As far as beaches go I would give it a 7 (1 being cold and ugly, 10 being Puerto Rico- warm and gorgeous). Ike didn't leave many trees standing when he came through last year, so there wasn't any shade. The water was a little brownish near the shore, but it was just as warm as the caribbean. After all the disclaimers we got from friends about Texas beaches being ugly, we were happily surprised. It was much prettier than lots of California beaches I've been to.

I'll post the pictures as soon as I can.

Friday, August 21, 2009

She Needs some Dress-Ups

Unless you have microscope vision, you'll probably need to click on the pictures to see them better. She was strutting around the house in my shoes- as usual- but when she saw me whip out the camera she started doing runway facials and throwing some cheesy grins.

She wandered the house with the tube on for at least half an hour, bumping into things and getting stuck in tight places. She didn't want to remove it until her shoe fell off and she couldn't see where it was to put it back on. And the swimsuit... She comes to me and brings me the top and bottom and insists I put them on her. She might just want to go swimming, come to think of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ballarina Bella

Bella was endowed with a great sense of rhythm at birth, but she is developing this talent more fully with the inspiration of Michael Jackson's musical talent. She was trying moves that I've never seen. I doubt anyone has.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Step Master in Training

I tried exercising while Bella was awake yesterday. Bella was thrilled about her front row seat, and bobbed her head to the beat of the workout music. I resorted to weight lifting when my jumping and stepping on the bench didn't deter her from reclaiming the throne.