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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Here Comes The Sun...

Spring has come to remind us that Life goes on. The seemingly dead trees and plants are being resurrected by the warmth of the sun, the rain, and truly amazing cycle of the seasons. Elie and I have begun to explore the changes in earnest, finally breathing air outside of the cave-like home! 

She enjoys finding bugs, smelling flowers, and playing in the dirt. I'm thankful we have a little nature child in our family! (How could she NOT be, right?)

Holding a dead hornet

Showing the camera her hornet

Dancing with her hornet
She is alternately wonderful and frightening... having snuck out of the yard once, hidden from me once, and nearly given me several near-fatal heart attacks in the process. I exaggerate, but just barely. She tries to "help" mama sometimes, which results in early bath times. If I don't pay attention to her, then this can happen:

"Uh oh! Baby eye, owee!"

"Uh oh, mama. Baby uh oh." That's a lot of dirt.

We've had our good days and our bad days. Lately, they've been trending towards being more difficult, with her pushing a lot of boundaries that we've previously set up. Her growing vocabulary has become a weapon she wields when she's angry. She's not even a teenager yet!

Yesterday, after we had a little stand-off over her behavior, she came upstairs (where I was cooling off by folding laundry) and told me, "NO 'I wuv you,' mama! NO 'I wuv you!'" Ouch. Year of the Dragon, indeed. I'm going to need therapy and a lot more wine to get through these years, aren't I? I suppose it's a good thing we don't have much wine in the house. To save me from myself!

I'm very lucky to have Keith, who comes home after a long day of teaching (dealing) with other people's kids, and takes over for me when I really need it. Still, we also have some good days here and there...

The sunny side of life!

Learning to pour with actual water in the teapot.

More tea, mama!
Here are a couple photos from Easter, since I didn't post anything then... Elie had a wonderful time at her Nana's house, and thought Uncle Easter Hop was Da Bomb!

Looking precious for a rare still moment!

She never stopped moving, so this is as good as it gets!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Our Little Learner

So, yes, the Terrible Twos are still happening, to a lesser degree. Also, we actually have days where there are no tantrums at all, so I'd say that things are definitely improving! Or at least, we're heading into a turn on this crazy roller coaster of life, and just watch out for what's around the corner...

Elie has been sucking up her ABCs like they are made of chocolate. She loves letters, and is also picking up numbers. (So far only one, two and three. Nothing else exists to her.) She loves to play her alphabet applications on the old iPad. When she sees letters anywhere (sweatshirt, box, magazine) she's quick to point out the letters she knows. "B, 'baby'! M, 'mama'!" And so on. She knows A, B, D, E, I, J, M, N, O, and W. She also knows K is for Keith, but says, "K, 'dada!' " which is also what she says for D. We're working on the alphabet, still. I have to remind myself, She's just two! when I realize that I'm pushing her a little bit harder on identifying them correctly. Still, she takes it all in stride!

She picks up new words almost every day. We don't always notice that it's the first time she says something, because it's happening at a rate that's hard for us to absorb. Later on, we'll say, "I think she said, '(whatever the word is)'... have you heard her say that before?" She's just a sponge sucking up the world around her, and squeezing it back out, a little at a time. Pretty wild!

Here are a few pictures from Christmas that I never got to post...

This was actually from her birthday, a couple weeks before
Elie also had a birthday in December that I never posted. She had two little parties this year, instead of one big one. We had a small celebration at home, on her actual birthday of Dec. 9th. Then we had one that her Nana hosted that weekend... She got to blow out a few candles!

Blowing out candles at our house

Blew out candles at Nana's house!

Advertising her age

Playing with her magnet faces

My favorite of Elie's creations
I'm going to try to be better about posting... but I don't know if anyone is still checking to see if there are any new blogs from me! It's been a while, I know. Sorry about that! I hope that everyone is well, and that you'll get to visit us out here in PA soon! Elie would love to see family and friends!!

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Terrible Twos

Well, we're here: The Terrible Twos. Our darling daughter, Elison, has learned the Power of No. She uses it like the tiny tyrant that she is. She has learned how to throw a tantrum that sends the cats scattering to the winds in about the space of time it takes a person to exhale. She frightens with her sudden outbursts of frustrated screaming as much as she enchants with her sudden smiles and kisses. 

Photo Booth time!
She has learned that she sometimes needs a "Time Out," and must sit on a chair until the timer goes off... usually set for one to two minutes. She nearly always apologizes after her time out is completed, if not before. She has actually requested to do a time out all on her own... which seems to defeat the purpose, but what the heck? We did it anyway, and she seemed to enjoy it. It hasn't reduced the power of the required time outs, either. 

Because of her emotional intensity and propensity for getting into trouble, I don't have time during the day to do much more than prepare for her next meal, our meals, some house cleaning (more to keep things safe and me sane around here) and watch a little self-indulgent TV. She occupies the rest of my time. I am just so grateful that she is still napping so I can shower and maybe read a little. It's nuts around here.

Needless to say, I love her dearly anyway! She makes me crazy, but she also makes me laugh, smile, giggle, and run around the house saying, "Boo!" She is learning to express herself better, though she still hasn't the words for, "Get out of my face, parents, I am melting down right now and nothing you can do or say will stop me." I think it will take another 11-12 years for her to learn to say that.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Elie's Kitchen

For Christmas and her birthday, Elie got some kitchen playthings. She has been enjoying them very much! Then for Valentine's, her Nana got her some pretend veggies and foods in a basket, which she also loves to play with.

Before the paint job
Obviously, this girl needed a little kitchen! When we had to get a new carseat for her, it came in a box that was perfectly shaped for a little toddler's kitchen. So, we made a cabinet above the range, and fit it with a storage shelf inside, and put little pulls on the cabinet doors.

We also made an oven below the range, where the cats frequently spend time napping. Good thing it doesn't really work.

I just need to draw the stove range on again, since I painted over it with the blue spray paint. Keith still needs to install the handle for the oven door, too. Details, details! She's using it already, and has been for a while... It wasn't painted and she still loved it!

It's even better now that it's painted, though. She was very excited to see it all in blue. She's at that kitchen all the time, cooking up some delectable meals for herself and her critters!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mother-Daughter Bucket List

Inspired by this post, I wanted to create my own bucket list for Elie and I. I remember creating one back when I was in my mid-20's, though I don't know where it is anymore. Possibly still in a journal somewhere... but I'm SURE I've completed ALL the items on that list. Ha ha. Yeah.

The bucket list on Susan Merrill's blog was a great start, though we've already done a couple of the things on that list! We had a fun dance night and we got up early and watched the sunrise. 

Mother and daughter

Anyway.... Here is my Mother-Daughter bucket list for posterity. I can't lose THIS one, because it's now going to be public! I'll be able to find it and no excuses! (Many of the items on the list below will also be on a Family Bucket List.) Obviously, some of these things are better for her at younger ages, and others are better when she's older... though some of these things can be done at any time. I'll leave it up to serendipity for when we do these things.

  1. Develop a signature family recipe together
  2. Get in the car and drive somewhere spontaneous
  3. See a play together, on or off-Broadway - don't care, as long as we dress up for it!
  4. Take a mother-daughter trip abroad, or at least, off-continent 
  5. Bury a time capsule
  6. Be guerrilla artists for a day
  7. Work together in a shelter at Christmas time 
  8. Go on a hike together along part of the Appalachian Trail and also a trail in Yosemite
  9. Go on a day-long shopping trip to NYC
  10. Do a photography day together, somewhere beautiful
  11. Bake/make a fancy, decorated cake together for someone's birthday
  12. Have a spa day together, or go out for massages
  13. Plant a special garden together with our favorite plants & flowers
  14. Redecorate her room 
  15. Play in the rain together (she loves summer rain storms)
  16. Collect seashells together on a tropical beach, and build a sand castle together
  17. Visit an art museum
  18. Visit a natural history museum
  19. Take an art class together... pottery, glass-blowing, painting... whatever we decide
  20. Make a journal book together... I can teach her a coptic stitch
  21. Dress up and go out for a fancy French dinner together (something my best friend and I did on our birthdays when I lived in California!)
  22. Do each others' nails and give each other facials (my mom and I used to do this when I lived in California)
  23. See the monarch migration at one of their resting spots (Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz, CA, is one spot)
  24. Do something my daughter has always wanted to do
  25. Do something I have always wanted to do
  26. Spend a winter afternoon looking at old photos and drinking hot chocolate or tea
  27. Have a Q&A session, where she can ask me questions about my life before her, and answer all her questions truthfully
  28. Go antiquing together in a cute little town
  29. Cook a nice meal for the family together
  30. Make paper dolls and their clothes together, like my mom & I used to do when I was little
  31. Make mud pies in the backyard in spring time (something else my mom & I did when I was very young)
  32. Explore a town together for a day
  33. Learn something new together... whatever we decide
  34. Spend an afternoon browsing a library
  35. Lay on our backs under the night sky, and look for shooting stars
  36. Ride on the carousel under the Eiffel Tower together
  37. Wander the streets of Venice, Paris, or London together
  38. Make a scrapbook together of all the activities we do!
Have you ever made a bucket list? Did you do any or all of the items on it? If you haven't done any yet, what's stopping you? 

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Girls' Weekend!

Playing in the sun
Since Friday, Elie and I have been on our own... Keith went to South Carolina for the wedding reception of a good friend of his, who lives in South Africa. His fiancee, now wife, is from South Carolina, though, so they had a celebration there for her family, as well as his friends here. Keith, Kyle and Sara all drove down for the festivities, leaving Friday. They're still there because of a snow storm that hit the south. They had to stay the night last night in Harrisonburg, VA, because they could no longer drive in the blizzard. 

I thought it was going to be really difficult for me to be on my own with Elie, but as if sensing it, Elie has been almost a dream for me! Yesterday was the one exception... it was a tough night and morning for the both of us, but ended on a sweet note, at least.

She has somehow absorbed the meaning of "hugs and kisses," and if I ask her, I can get them from her. She suddenly started waving hello and goodbye again, after quite a while of not doing it. When we had FaceTimed with daddy, (video-phone call) she would kiss daddy's face on the phone and wave at him, though he couldn't always see her hand up in the air, when her face filled the screen! When I told her to say Hi to daddy for a photo, she would get a huge smile and wave for me. So sweet!

Hanging out in the attic
We played a lot... downstairs, where most of her toys are, and upstairs on the third floor, where she likes to look out the windows, rapping her fist on the glass when people walk past, and smooching the glass, too, lately. They're all fairly smudged from all the loving she sends through them! We even played outside on Friday, when the weather was in the 50's. While the sun was out, it was nice! When it disappeared, though, with the wind, it was too chilly, so we didn't stay out that long. Just long enough to be reminded that Spring is on it's way! Hooray!

She was eating pretty good for me, too! We had some fun meals, and some less fun meals, but all in all, she got enough food inside of her that I wasn't feeling too worried. She sometimes will give me hugs during meals if I don't put the tray in front of her, like at breakfasts... she just gets oatmeal mixed with yogurt and fruit, so I don't often give her the spoon. It's a bit messy. And that's when I get hugs, anyway! Also, I got her to try a Clementine today... she loved it when I peeled the skin off of the slices. Another fruit to add to her diet: YAY!

Looking devilish!
On Saturday, Diane came with us to swim class, so I got some photos and a video of Elie and I during her favorite activity: playing in water! She was so good! She doesn't mind her face getting wet, or going under water, so I don't have to worry about her being upset. We were next to Zeke, a little boy who kept splashing and kicking water with playful abandon, and even dumped water on his mom's head several times with a little pitcher. They get to choose toys from baskets at one point, and Elie chose a Dora doll, while Zeke got the pitcher. His mom was constantly doused, ha ha! Elie was splashed a lot, too, but she didn't mind. She flew down the water slide several times, quite happily! It was such an joy to be able to go to swim class with her. Her teacher, Miss Maggie, loves her. Elie is very comfortable with Miss Maggie, too, which makes it quite nice. I always wished I were as comfortable in water because I do LOVE to be in it. My swimming lessons weren't as enlightened as Elie's. I remember being pushed under water over and over again by the instructor. I hated swim classes and eventually refused to go.
Elie and Mama in the pool before class starts

Our little pumpkin goes under water without a worry in the world. She still doesn't like floating on her back, but if she's anything like her mom, she'll love that, too... And after swim class, we all went out for a Ladies' Lunch at Cosi... it was a lot of fun being social! Sadly, I don't think of it too often during the course of the day. They just kind of fly by.  

I know I've mentioned it before, but especially in light of the cold weather lately, I am REALLY looking forward to this summer! Elie is a lot more fun already, but this summer we'll get to play in her little pool out back and go to the park, and do all the outdoor things that she loves! Makes me feel warmer just thinking about it.... I hope you're all keeping warm wherever you are!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Ten Special Things I Love About My Daughter...

1. She smiles or laughs after she sneezes... it's very cute to catch, especially when she doesn't know you're looking at her.

2. After she shrieks or yells at Beckham, she shushes herself. 

3. When she's caught doing something that she knows (or suspects) that she shouldn't, she vocalizes with "Ooo! Ooo!"

4. She sometimes puts her snacks on the floor, or table top, and eats them without hands... like a cat (or dog) but the funny thing is, our cats eat from their bowls!

5. She likes to walk around shaking her head, or rolling her head around, for no reason I can figure out. It's pretty cute and funny looking, too!

6. She gets the giggles before nap time, or bedtime, every now and then... and I tickle her and she laughs and laughs. She is so full of joy at times, and also can be very serious. But I especially love her silliness and joy!

Running around with my (clean!) underwear on her head. 
7. She suddenly decides to put things on her head, or over her whole body, and run around the house that way... I don't know where she gets this from! We don't act this silly on our own!

8. She also will spontaneously decide to kiss or lay her head on Jimothy Boo. And then she goes back to whatever she's doing, like nothing ever happened.

Loving Jimothy in her way

9. She walks around the house saying, "Mom? Je-Je! Foo-fa!" Meaning: Mom, my cat, my favorite show. This usually goes on quite a bit first thing in the morning after she wakes up and comes downstairs. She has recently added "Dad?" to the repertoire!

10. She will blow kisses at people that I talk to on the phone, when she hears me wrapping up the phone call... even before I actually say, "Good bye," because she can tell that the conversation is coming to a close! It's pretty amazing that she figures that out from my intonations because she couldn't possibly understand all the things I'm saying. She's very intuitive!

All the three photos above are from last night... at her uncle's birthday dinner, she was making faces at his girlfriend, Sara, whom she loves. She is a fun, silly little girl. She knows how to charm people when she wants to!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What A Day... And It's Still The Morning

Yesterday was a dreamy kind of day... Elie was in a great mood, being very loving and falling in line with our regular daily schedule. I was feeling like the luckiest mom in the world! Elie ate all her meals with joy, took all her naps on cue, and didn't cry once! She played independently, and also with me. Cuddly and cute.

Napping sweetly

Learning to use chopsticks at lunch

Doing a darned good job!

Playing with her glow worm
And then there's today. Which started extra early, and with a little bit of an attitude. It wasn't a big deal that she wouldn't finish her breakfast, though it's normally the easiest meal to feed her. She typically finishes it with no problem. Not today. Then she was especially clingy, wanting me to be at her side instead of doing dishes or cleaning up. Okay. I can deal with that... there have been other days like this, too.

Day before yesterday (had to share 'cause she was so cute)

Then came nap time. It was actually my fault... I usually nurse her and hold her until she falls asleep, or almost asleep... but I had to go to the bathroom, urgently! So I put her down before she was ready and she started to cry. I went to the bathroom, and heard her in her bedroom screaming. She didn't stop. For forty minutes. I watched her on the monitor as she cried, paced her crib, then threw her lovey onto the floor, making her cry even harder. She wasn't going to fall asleep this way. So after forty minutes, I tried to nurse her again and instead of getting sleepy, she seemed more awake. She kicked her feet around, grabbed at my face, kept trying to sit up... so I finally gave in and stopped "nap time" for the time being. I now have her downstairs, and it's 11:49 am, and she hasn't had a nap yet! She's actually finally calmed down, and is sitting down looking at her books. Earlier she had some kind of crazy energy, and was climbing onto the sofa, over my body, back down to the floor, and around again. And again. Until she slid and tripped herself up and fell, which caused a big cry.

Let's hope she goes down for her next nap quickly and easily... I have a bit of laundry to finish up, and I was hoping to take her to the grocery store today, but won't attempt it if she hasn't had a nap! That's just asking for a melt down! Wish me luck...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Our Daredevil Child

I'm the first to admit that certain qualities that Elie possesses are entirely her own. She was born with them, and they continue to manifest in interesting ways.

She's quirky. She does things for no apparent reason... like her behavior in the grocery store, ha ha. Who knows why she does this when she rides in the carts with the child seats.

This is how we realized we needed gates
She's a daring explorer. As soon as she could walk, she was climbing up the stairs and trying to climb up onto boxes, stacks of books, anything to get herself up higher.

Climbing up the end table to see Jimothy
This was before she could actually walk, 3rd floor window
She's pretty fearless when it comes to climbing, heights, etc. Her dad is a little afraid of heights. Her mom is not, but I don't think I was climbing anything when I was her size! Who knows, though. My mom doesn't really remember those kinds of details about me. I was climbing trees and fences around 6-7 years old, though. That I DO remember. I climbed a 50 foot rock face at about 9 years old, with my friend and her rock-climbing father. We were harnessed, and all that, and I had a BLAST. Sooo... maybe she gets it from me? Is that trait genetic?

Trying cottage cheese mixed w/flaxseed oil & cayenne pepper, and liking it.

She's an adventurous eater. She didn't get this from me... As a child, I wouldn't eat much. The list was short. I remember hiding cauliflower in my dinner napkin until I could dump it into the toilet. I remember bartering off my meals with my mom & sister. Or trying to, anyway! Elie wants to try everything on my plate, and Keith's. She pretty much decides on her own what she likes or doesn't like. We now have to be careful what we eat in front of her... no potato chips, highly processed foods, or alcoholic beverages! She wants to try it ALL.

She's also a sweetheart, though! She's not ALL intensity and terror-inducing (for us, her parents.) She loves her pets, who are more like big brothers... and Jimothy, at least, loves her back! Beckham is still holding his reservations. 

Jimothy getting a bite of E's cucumber

Jimothy enjoying a belly rub from E

Going down for a kiss

Blissed out next to Jimothy
I know that these two will be close for years... Jimothy Boo has always been so patient and loving with E. She refrains from screeching at him, though she lets loose around Beckham. (Probably one reason he doesn't hang out when she's up and about!) 

This is Elie sliding off our tall bed, all by herself. 
When she gets off our bed, by the way, she has to drop blindly to the floor, as you can maybe tell from the photos... and sometimes she loses her balance and falls onto her butt. But she does it again and again, just the same!

It's amazing watching her grow and make connections... the changes are happening so quickly every day. It's hard to even mentally catalog all the new things she figures out every day, or says, or seems to understand. This blog definitely helps me to share those things, though! (Right at this moment, she is standing on the other end table, by the sofa, no, she's now next to me, pulling my arm to go with her somewhere... better go! She's hard to resist...