Ander Troup Update

I finally figured it out!

I am only good at blogging when I actually am at work.

With that said, I thought I would just do a full circle update on the Anderson's.

Gwen will be 15 months on Saturday. How did that happen?! We had her, albeit late, 1 year check up last week. She is a whopping 20 pounds! 30 inches tall, and a head circumference of 18 inches. Jeff was not too happy with the height. He blames the Korwicki genes. I say it's fine. She's 15 months for crying out loud! Nothing to worry about yet. Besides, I'm hoping she rounds out at 5'8 or so. That is the height I always dreamed of.

Let me warn you, this is a LONG post. Grab yourself a cuppa and settle in...

*disclaimer - all photos and video were shot with my iPhone*
Some of her milestones that I think are worth noting:

First long distance trip: (Andover to Tyler TX - 1,010 miles, 16 hours if driven straight thru)

We took a 10 day family road trip leaving Andover on January 24th. Destination: Tyler TX. We drove to Joplin MO the first day. (amazing that we stayed in this town considering what happened on May 22nd - devastating EF5 tornado ravished Joplin) We left the cities around 3PM. Gwen did great. She only got a little crabby around dinner time. We pulled off in Mason City IA for dinner.  Mommy and Daddy enjoyed Arby's while Gwen enjoyed mashed sweet potatoes, strawberry puffs and yogurt. We were back on the road around 6PM and she was soundly asleep by 6:30. She slept the rest of the night until we pulled off to a hotel around 12AM. She was wide awake for about an hour and a half, had a snack and bottle, and eventually started to get sleepy again. All three of us slept in a luxurious king size bed that night!
Our second day of travel led us to our destination of Grandpa Anderson's home in Tyler Texas. Again, Gwen did great in the truck. She would play for a while (as best she could in a car seat), then have a snack or a bottle. She napped a lot too. We stopped only twice for diaper changes, and once for lunch at Dennys. We arrived at Grandpa's just in time for dinner.
We stayed in Tyler until that Friday, when we packed up the truck again and headed to Magnolia TX, which is just outside of Houston. Grandpa Anderson and Grandma Sherri came too, driving in their own vehicle. We were on our way to spend a long weekend with more of the Anderson family. We had a great time visiting and getting to know Jeff's "Uncle" Bill (he's really Jeff's dads cousin), "Aunt" Ida, and cousin Jackie. We also met up with more Anderson cousins who lived a little closer to Houston. The weather was great the entire trip (remember it was January back home! We were living large in 60-70 degree weather while in Texas)

Road Trip part Duex:
(Magnolia TX to Phoenix AZ - 1,148 miles, 16 hours 47 mins if driven straight thru)

After our long visit, we packed up, yet again, and headed across Texas to Phoenix Arizona. WHOA! That is a very long drive! We drove all day and well into the night. Gwen, once again, did wonderfully. We stopped a little more often on the trip across Texas. One of the coolest parts of the drive was heading West and traveling towards the sun. I feel like we're usually driving into the darkness when the sun is setting ,so driving towards "the light" was pretty remarkable. As the sun went down and it became dark, we started driving into mountainous terrain. It was a bit scary at times because the wind was picking up too. Little did we know, a major MAJOR cold front was moving in. We spent the night in Van Horn TX. Complete dump of a motel, but we didn't plan on doing much more than sleeping.

We woke up on February 1st, in Van Horn Texas, basically at the US/MEXICO boarder, to SNOW! It wasn't more than a dusting ,but still, SNOW? We got on the road, eager to get the heck away from the snow. It wasn't long until we were on the road and I was amazed at the landscape around us. Huge brown and dusty hills and mountains dotted the, well, desert I guess. It was a little weird to see. Especially since most of the hills and mountains had a very faint dusting of snow. Not the prettiest scenery I've ever seen. I can't help but hearing in my head as I write this, "on the road again....." Because that's where we were. On the road again. We were only about an hour or so outside of El Paso when we began that day's drive. Now here is one of the strangest things I've ever seen. US/MEXICO boarder, right in the middle of an urban city. It was odd to see what looked like one large city, divided by a ginormous chain link fence. What was even weirder was the obvious difference between living conditions and overall condition of the buildings, etc. The US side looked like Minneapolis does. The Mexico side looked like, er, Mexico. No better way to describe it.
That whole days drive was pretty boring. It was neat to see the terrain start to change to desert and start to see cacti pop up, but that was the extent of the excitement. We finally arrived in Phoenix around 4:00 in the afternoon. Phoenix. You think of what? Sun, warmth, hot even? Nope. On that day, think windy and 40 degrees. Blah! I was ready for sunshine and a little warmth before heading back to the frozen tundra. No luck.
By the time we got to our hotel (actually I think it was a motel - and that's a WHOLE OTHER STORY!) Jeff and I were both starting to feel crummy. We were realizing what was about to happen. You see, going down to Texas, we knew that we would travel to Phoenix where Jeff would stay to find work (roofing due to a HUGE hail storm Phoenix had the prior October) and Gwen and I would return home to MN. The thought of being apart was starting to sink in. We both became grumpy and sad. We tried to make the best of it, but it was really hard. Gwen and I flew home without Daddy on February 3rd, Daddy's birthday, just to make matters worse. We (Jeff and I) cried a lot that day. When we woke up that morning, driving to the airport later that evening, and while at the airport waiting for my flight. It was horrible. I cried a lot on the flight home too. Gwen of course, was perfect on the flight home, which brings me to another milestone...

First airplane ride:

Her first airplane ride was on Daddy's birthday, February 3rd. We flew from Phoenix AZ to Minneapolis.
Gwen was awake practically the entire flight. I purposely had booked an evening return in the hopes that Gwen would sleep most of the ride home. Nope. She was awake. Thankfully the flight was fairly empty so they let me bring her car seat on board. Usually to do this, you need to pay for a seat. We had an entire row to ourselves. She played with her toys, ate dinner, and had snacks. She finally fell asleep about a half hour before landing. I know this is about Gwen's milestones, but bare with me. I was a wreck when we landed. The realization that I was going to be a "single" parent was too much. I kept crying and crying. And shaking. I couldn't stop the shaking. When Jeff's brother Pat walked in to the Humphrey Terminal to collect us and our luggage, I broke down and bawled into his chest. Thankfully he's a big guy like Jeff, although that made me feel worse. I had only been away from my husband for not more than 6 hours and I was already falling apart.

Four days after being home, Gwen got the stomach flu. Not sure this is a milestone, but definitely one to remember. She took it like a champ. Never cried once while vomiting uncontrollably. I did though! Single mom, sick kid with nasties coming out of every which way, not a great situation to be in. Then I got it. Oh boy!

She's gaining independence:

She sat up all by herself at almost 9 months (we were in MN, Daddy missed this, he was in Phoenix)
I have video of this one! Gwen was sitting on the living room floor playing with toys. She fell over, as she did often, but instead of going to pick up her, I let her play on her back for a while. Next thing I know, she sitting upright again. I did one of those double takes you see in the movies. So what does a mother do? She pushes over her infant child and makes her do it again! This time I had the video rolling so I could show Jeff. I was swelling with pride! Look at what my baby girl can do! After the excitement settled down, I got on my laptop and booked a return flight to Phoenix. I was not going to let Jeff miss another moment like this.

Second airplane ride:
The attendants at the gate in Minneapolis were not nearly as friendly as the attendants in Phoenix. They wouldn't let me bring the car seat on board. Turned out to be ok. Gwen was suppose to sit on my lap the entire flight, but when I checked in at the ticket counter, they gave me a row to myself. Gwen sat in her own seat like a big girl. The flight back to Phoenix was much more cheery and relaxing than the flight home to MN. We were finally reunited! What a glorious moment that was!

(nice big seat on our Sun Country flight)

Look out world! She's moving:

Gwen began crawling at almost 10 months (Daddy was witness, we were living in Mesa, AZ)
We lived in a condo with all tile floors. You can only image how much Shout I went through trying to rid her pants of knee stains. Oh, and the bruises. Poor little girl. But she was happy as can be to finally have some mobility!

She stands:

Her first time pulling herself into a standing position was in her pack-n-play. I whipped out my iPhone and snapped a picture. Gwen began pulling herself up on furniture at about 10 months (Mesa, AZ)
Cool for Gwen, sucky for Mommy and Daddy. We introduced the word NO into our parental vocabulary. Especially regarding the large flat screen TV that she so desperately wanted to touch.

(she was so proud of herself)

(eye see you)

10 month old snow bird? Eh?

I'm looking forward to the days when Gwen is older and I can regale her with tales of living in the Southwest! I really liked Phoenix and the outlying areas. We actually lived in Mesa, and spent a lot of time in Tempe. It was warm, sunny (every single day!) and it seemed like we did a lot of neat stuff while living there. Mostly because there wasn't much to do in our apartment. We had it barely furnished and we didn't really have much of our own belongings with us. We ate out quite a bit. Jeff and I keep talking about how we really enjoyed trying new places to eat, and how we should do that here at home. Of course we never do.

(shopping at sunset! Loved the Palms. This was taken outside Target)

Grand Canyon visit:

Splendid, Amazing, Unbelievable, Fantastic; just a few words to describe this national treasure. Gwen really didn't seem to care about it, but Jeff and I thought it was wonderful. That will forever be one of my favorite family trip memories.

Second REALLY LONG family road trip:
(Phoenix AZ to Andover MN - 1,861 miles, 26 hours 29 mins in driven straight thru)

On April 28th, the Anderson's began the long journey home. By this time I missed home, our friends, our family and most of all our DOG so much that I couldn't wait to go home. The day before we left Mesa for good was one of excitement and a little bit of sadness. Like I said, I really loved living there. I was sad to be leaving, but only a fraction compared to how happy and excited I was to be heading home. We spent our last day in Phoenix/Mesa running errands, packing, and cleaning up. We ate dinner one last time at our favorite place, Cactus Moon, home of the 12 wings for $5 deal. (I really do miss that place!)

We woke up on April 28th with smiles on our faces! We're headed HOME!! I had waited for this day to arrive. I cried a little as we pulled out of our parking lot. Jeff asked why, and I told him it was because we had gone through so much to get to that moment. Living away from your home for two months (over 3 for Jeff0 was really hard. But an experience not many get to have, so I was appreciating that as well as we drove away from our temporary home. The scenery on the first day was awesome! The mountains and the desert gave way to forests and lush green trees, something I had craved to see after all of the dirt and brown that makes us the landscape of the Phoenix area.  Coming into Flagstaff was really neat. It was like driving to our north woods, only with a HUGE snow capped mountain in the distance. Parts of New Mexico were really neat too. I took photos that some day I may share with the world. I think the coolest part of the days drive would have been crossing from New Mexico to Colorado, however it was too dark to see much. I say it was probably the coolest based on the curves and turns we encountered as we drove up and down mountains. After a very long day of driving we spent the night in Pueblo CO.

(Flagstaff AZ)

The next day of the drive...sucked. Nebraska is SO BORING! Not much to say about that part of the trip. Gwen had one very fussy moment (ok it was an hour!) but once we changed a very wet diaper she was fine. The major hassle of the day was a huge wind storm we battled. We got lucky and some how skirted around a fierce storm, but we did have the wind to contend with. Oh, and we discovered that Gwen had new teeth coming in. Her top two teeth were finally making an appearance! We spent that night in Lincoln. blah.(and one more note worthy item, shortly after we drove through Denver - we had stopped to visit some more Anderson family - it began to SNOW! ick!)


Last day of our journey home. The anticipation of getting home was ridiculous! I kept updating "the world" via facebook. When we crossed the Nebraska/Iowa boarder, I swear I heard angels singing. Iowa was actually very pretty. Hills, green, and WATER! You can't image how awesome it was to see lakes after being in the desert for two months. Gwen did well again on the final day of our road trip. She played and napped the whole day away. When we crossed over into MN, Jeff wanted to pull over and take a picture with the "Welcome to Minnesota" sign. We didn't, but looking back I wish we had. There's no place like home, there's no place like home.

She's WALKING! Hooray....now quick, child proof everything:

She took her first unassisted steps on her birthday (May 20th)
What a fantastic birthday gift to herself. The gift of vertical mobility! Jeff, Gwen and Frankie were playing in the living room as I worked on the finishing touches for her big birthday party the next day. I took a break to play with everyone else (Frankie is included in the "everyone") and was video taping part of our play session. {See video} You can actually here my surprise when she stands up and takes those first steps.

1st Birthday:

The party was so fun! Everything I dreamt her first birthday would be. Thank you again to all who made the day so special for Gweny!

And we're walking:

She decided to officially start walking exactly one month after her birthday. On June 20th, Gwen stood up, took her normal 10 or so steps, but instead of falling down, she kept going and going and going. She spent about an hour doing laps around the kitchen island, then the kitchen table, and finally around the dining room table. Over and over again. Frankie was getting into the fun and following her along for a large portion of it.

It speaks:

I can't quite recall when she started talking. It seems like it was around the time we came home from Arizona. She says Mama, Dada, yes, no, we think she's trying to say Frankie, and at one point (but thankfully she's forgotten) she was saying the phrase "shut up". That's totally my fault. I was dog sitting for Jeff's parents and I kept telling all THREE dogs (Frankie included) to SHUT UP, because all they do all day long is bark. Well, one morning, we were getting packed up and ready to head north for a fishing trip and I once again told the puppies to shut up. Then I hear this little voice saying something that sounds an awful lot like what I had just said. So, I said it again. And again, I hear this tiny voice mimic me. Uh OH! That went on for a few weeks. We stopped saying that around the house.

So here we are, Gwendalyn is 15 months old. We've had a lot of adventure in our life in the past 6+ months. (3,019 miles later!)

Oh, and Jeff's biz, Zip Zap Remodeling and Restoration is doing very well. My biz, Fancy That Studio, is also picking up. But I guess I'll save those updates for another post. This one kinda got away from me.