Monday, December 24, 2007

2007 Family Christmas Letter

Greetings from the Land of Corn and Soybeans --
With cheerful smiles and a twinkle in the eye, we hereby bring you our 2007 Annual Christmas Letter and Stanfill Family News Update.
My, my, how things have changed for the Stanfill family this past twelve months. The obvious and by far most momentous event of our year was, of course, the propagation of our own kind. Or in other words, we have been blessed with our firstborn baby boy, Perry Jed Stanfill. He arrived, most obligingly, at exactly midnight between February 1st and 2nd, the two disputed dates upon which he was "due." As planned, he was born in the living room of our cozy cottage Orem home where his Daddy Michael caught the baby and was the first to discover that he was a boy! Everything was perfect and Jed, as we call him, has remained perfect from that day forward. I call him my "Happy-Maker" because wherever he goes he is followed by a sea of adoring gazes and enchanted smiles.
Jed started out looking just like his dad, and I mean a freaky clone-like similarity with Michael's baby photos. As he gets older and his cheeks get fatter and fatter, however, people have started to comment that he looks just like his mommy. Gosh, thanks! Fat cheeks must be a Dowdle trait. Seriously, though, to be compared to anything so cute is incredibly flattering. In build, however, he still looks just like his father with a lean-mean-boy-machine body that's already wearing 18-month overalls at 10 months old. You could fit in three of him across, but they are just the right length. He pulled himself into a standing position for the very first time this last week while feeling ignored in the bathtub. Boy, did that wobbly and naked, but proudly standing little body get his parents' attention! He army-crawls with surprising quickness and agility. Also, the "go-go-gadget-arm" gets longer every day and has done everything from yanking the tablecloth and all the dishes on the floor to grabbing off dad's glasses while tossed in mid-flight and upside down. What a boy! Can't wait to see what he does NEXT year! He is the best toy I ever got for my birthday, and a continual source of hilarity and delight.
Michael decided that now he was a daddy it was high time to be done with his college years and move on to his "I actually make money now" years. After an internship with a fantastic photographer in Park City for the winter semester, he graduated in April, only 9 years after his entrance to BYU in 1998, with a B.F.A. in Photography and a minor in Business. Baby Jed wore a matching graduation cap and they made, hands down, the cutest pair in town.
Settling down as photographer, at-home-wife and gurgling baby in Happy Valley, Utah, however, proved not to be our lot in life. After lightning struck in the form of an unexpected "Business Analyst" job offer in Evansville, Indiana, we dug up our roots, threw our belongings into miscellaneous boxes, and ten days later we were off for a new life in Indiana. After a brief stint as Business Analyst, Michael was offered a different position more suited to his creative talents in the eBusiness department, where he is a front-end web developer (technically "Applications Analyst".) I've learned that this means he decides how the web site is supposed to look and work, and then he turns it over to a programmer in India who does all the hard programming. He likes this job, partly because he works with nerds and partly because they only require forty hours of work for forty hours of pay, unlike his last position.
Meanwhile, baby and I have set up house in a little two-bedroom townhome in an area of Newburgh, Indiana named, most aptly, "Paradise." Lovely fields and roads over-arched with thick, luxurious trees surrounded our quiet little neighborhood. Apparently, we live in the "Ohio River Valley," as we are a stone's throw away from the Ohio River. I laughed out loud the first time I heard this, since I had always assumed that a "valley" required the existence of mountains somewhere within a ten gazillion mile radius. Apparently not, and I offended the locals. We also live close to both the Kentucky border AND the state of Illinois, which means we officially live in the absolute middle of nowhere (more miffed locals at that, I thought very funny, observation.) I am throwing myself into the local culture and plan to cultivate a southern accent as soon as possible. After all, we live almost precisely on the Mason-Dixon line and our town was the very first to fall to the Confederacy back in the day (without a shot or a whimper, embarrassingly enough, but we were called "Sprinklesville" back then so there wasn't much honor to defend.)
As for Vanessa, I keep busy chasing my little diapered friend around. I also do laundry and feed my boys three solid meals and numberless baby nursings a day. I also serve in the Nursery on Sunday doing more chasing and feeding. I never knew that there would be so much chasing and feeding of men involved in my life, but I find it remarkably enjoyable and fulfilling. After all, they're so cute. What woman could resist the overwhelming primal urge to feed them? My understanding of womanhood is so much more full now that I have hungry mouths to fill!
Well, that's the news. Wishing you and your family the most delightful of years and the happiest of Christmas seasons. We pray that the light of Christ and the warmth of his love may fill your home and stay there forever. With hugs of love and friendship from our home to yours -

Vanessa and Michael and Perry Jed Stanfill
Christmas 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Early Morning Men

Baby and I awoke early and took his bath. I brought him down to Dad while I got dressed, and when I came down the stairs this is what I found:
Now I understand why cherubs are always little rosy-cheeked boys.

Standing Up


Jed, as proud as can be, because he just pulled himself up in the bathtub, all the way up standing by himself for the first time.

Baby's got new "skillz."

Playin' it cool for Mom. After the first standing up, he fell down on his bum and proceeded to repeat the process about 25 times until he nearly fell asleep half draped over the bath. What excitement!

This particular attempt was, well, "less successful." Notice the wet forehead and reddened eye, yet the steely look of determination.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

New Harmony

On a whim, Michael, Baby and I dropped our chores amid a long day of cleaning and organizing (oh, the moving will never end!) and took off for Christmas in New Harmony, Indiana. New Harmony is a little historical town about 45 minutes away that once served as the home for a communal society and later a haven for 19th century artists and intellectuals. We only had 2 hours there, but that was enough time for me to fall wholly and passionately in LOVE. Adorable, friendly, sophisticated, and gorgeous, it is like little-town-heaven-on-earth! I can't wait to go back and actually see the sites and take a tour. As it is, we wandered through the bazaars and artisan shows, listened to real bluegrass complete with hairy old men playing the mouth harp and washtub, and discovered a tiny little museum of contemporary art that housed a real Andy Warhol installment called "Silver Clouds." The exhibit was an empty wood-floored room filled with fans and floating silver cellophane clouds. I'm not usually a real installment art fan, but this was utterly captivating. Wandering around through the silver clouds, laughing and tossing and twirling... like a mini-wonderland!
Unfortunately, Jed doesn't think much of modern art. He bawled through the whole thing, those big silver pillows were SCARY! Here's a photo, you can see him in the baby carrier with a thrilled look upon his face.

We saw just enough of the town to know we can't wait to go back.

Uh oh

Jed has started pulling himself up on the furniture. Uh Oh! Here comes trouble!

Thanksgiving Travels

Baby and I are home from our vacation! We were gone for twelve days, and number which I am very precise about since certainly people whom I love and adore have a tendency toward exaggeration and claim, variously, that it was "only a week" (Mom) or "two whole weeks" (Michael.) No, it was the perfect length of exactly twelve days.

I chose to haul my teething, cold-recovering child across four time zones and back during those 12 days. The flight there was one long blurry memory of dirty diapers in enclosed areas and snot everywhere, coating all sorts of surfaces which snot has never been before. We made it to Utah, by some miracle, and spent several days basking in the glow of parental and grand-parental spoiling. Man, no one knows how to spoil like a mom. Or a grandma. MmmMmm! Long luxurious baths, sleeping in, favorite foods, and cute new clothes! I'm a spoiled brat, and so is Jed!

I have mentally prepared myself for a barrage of emails about to flood my box, shouting "WHAT!!!!??? YOU WERE IN UTAH AND YOU DIDN'T COME VISIT ME???" and all I can say is I was so busy being spoiled that very little time was left for visiting. And I'm not one to hazard the wrath of Mom for being gone with baby while she's home with spoiling activities prepared. Sorry, really, I wish we could have visited everyone. Maybe next trip, promise!

After a few days of recovery from the snot-trip, we loaded up the van for another 11 hours of cross-country travel to visit Mom's family in Sacramento for Thanksgiving. The rest of the week was one giant fete with too much food and baby and I both rolled home, having doubled our body weight with delicious treats. The highlight of the trip was probably visiting with Jed's 95-year-old Great-great-grandma Teresa. We finally got our five generation photo!

Somehow Jed escaped the family tradition and turned out male.

Baby also got his second tooth over a game of pinochle, and cousin Don came to spend the week with us anyway, thereby raising the testosterone quotient for the gathering. Dad and Jed were exceedingly grateful. We made cool birdhouses and watched the BYU/UT football game. Mom's family decided to go with that "other" team and showed up in red. Decked out in our blue regalia, we showed Don and his adopted UT fan friends up, big time. HA, TAKE THAT, SUCKERS!

Back across two time zones, one more day at home in UT, then back across two more time zones, eventually crossing back into Indiana and home again, home again, jiggidy jig. Jed and I are two very fat little pigs.

Happy holidays!